Židan and Swedish speaker urge stabilisation of W Balkans
Židan was critical of the EU for failing to keep the promises of continued integration for the Western Balkans, especially in light of the name dispute solution for North Macedonia. "This is worrying us," he said.
Norlen added Sweden agreed all needed to be done to stabilise the situation, promote democracy, human rights and the rule of law in the Western Balkans, a region whose development is also very important for the future of the EU.
The pair agreed on the importance of the rule of law as a cornerstone of democracy, a central topic of an afternoon panel to be held in the EU House in Ljubljana, while Židan expressed the wish "to also talk about solidarity, the fight against populism and simultaneously about shared values that are sometimes forgotten".
Norlen pointed to signs of totalitarianism in some parts of Europe and argued that even some EU members were undermining key institutions and values, for instance the independence of the judiciary. Židan called for more effective action against member states that violate these postulates.
The Slovenian speaker argued that part of the problem was that the EU was presently "a political minnow" when it came to security issues, which is why he called for political consolidation in this respect.
He also noted changes within the bloc and its challenges, including environmental and demographic. "As a society we still have not set up a system of solidarity," he argued in a reference to the ageing population and problems with long-term care.
Norlen also listed the need to get citizens more involved in politics and in the democratic process among the challenges of the EU.
The Swedish official, who pointed out he had picked Slovenia as one of his first countries to visit in the capacity of speaker, also met President Borut Pahor, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and Foreign Minister Miro Cerar.
Tomorrow, Norlen will visit the National Museum of Contemporary History, meet Western Balkans coordinator at the Foreign Ministry Peter Grk, with the chair of the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee Matjaž Nemec, as well as make a stop at ultra-light aircraft maker Pipistrel.