The Slovenia Times

Pahor hosting meeting with presidents of Austria and Croatia


Ljubljana - At the invitation of President Borut Pahor, the presidents of Austria and Croatia, Alexander Van der Bellen and Zoran Milanović, will pay a working visit to Slovenia on Thursday. The main topic of this trilateral meeting will be the future of the EU and the challenges it is facing in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The three presidents will focus on the recovery from the pandemic, which should be oriented towards environmentally sustainable development, Pahor's office said. Recovery from the pandemic is also a priority of the Slovenian presidency of the EU Council.

The EU set up an EUR 750 billion Corona Recovery Fund. The key conditions for receiving funds are that the country must spend 37% of the funds on green objectives and 20% on digital objectives, and that it must respect the general principle; no measures are supposed to cause damage to the environment.

In addition, the presidents will discuss their expectations for the Conference on the Future of Europe. A large part of the conference, which started on 9 May, will take place during Slovenia's EU presidency and will conclude in the spring of 2022 during France's presidency.

Speaking at this week's European Forum in Prague, Pahor expressed his belief that all EU citizens should use this conference to shape Europe's common future. "The conference will be an opportunity to remember how unique the European project is," said Pahor.

According to Pahor's office, the three presidents are also expected to pay particular attention to strengthening friendly relations between the neighbouring countries and the situation in the region of South-Eastern Europe.

In this context, they will discuss the continuation of the European perspective of the countries of the Western Balkans and the security challenges in Europe.

EU enlargement to the Western Balkan countries is also one of the priorities of the Slovenian EU presidency. After the Portuguese presidency failed to reach a consensus on starting accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania in the first half of the year, Slovenia is now expected to push this forward.

The start of negotiations with North Macedonia is blocked by Bulgaria because of issues related to the Macedonian language and identity. In the case of Albania, there is no blockade, but the prevailing view among EU members is that accession negotiations with the two countries should not be separated.

Pahor recently discussed this issue with Bulgarian president Rumen Radev and advocated a compromise solution that would open the door for North Macedonia to start EU membership negotiations.

This year's meeting of Slovenian, Austrian and Croatian presidents will be the third such get-together hosted by Slovenia. The previous two took place in Logarska Valley in 2015 and Goriška Brda in 2018. This time around, the meeting will be held in the eastern Dolenjska region.

The last time the trio met was in Vienna in July 2020. Austria's capital was also the venue of the first such meeting in 2014 that was attended by Pahor and the then presidents of Austria and Croatia, Heinz Fischer and Ivo Josipović, respectively.

The aim of the trilateral meetings is to strengthen relations and cooperation on regional as well as European and wider international levels.


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