The Slovenia Times

Janša and Mitsotakis talk Afghanistan, Western Balkans


Bled - Prime Minister Janez Janša met in Bled on Tuesday evening his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis to talk about the situation in Afghanistan and related migration challenges. They also discussed the situation in the Western Balkans and called for the commitments given to the region at the EU summit in Thessaloniki to be met.

After the meeting held on the sidelines of the Bled Strategic Forum (BSF), Janša and Mitsotakis gave a brief statement to the Greek media, pointing to a potential new migration wave that could be triggered by the situation in Afghanistan.

Mitsotakis said that, when it came to migration, a repeat of the 2015 situation must not be allowed, the office of the Slovenian prime minister said in a press release.

The Slovenian and Greek prime ministers also discussed the Western Balkans, with Janša saying in light of today's start of the BSF that he was looking forward to a debate on the future of the EU and its enlargement.

"Many Western Balkan leaders are coming to Slovenia, and Greece and Slovenia are strong supporters of enlargement," he added.

Janša noted that the EU leaders had committed to the European perspective of the Western Balkan countries provided that they meet the criteria, as they met for the summit in Thessaloniki in 2003.

"During our [EU] presidency we will try to convince other member states that it is high time to make further steps towards enlargement," said Janša, who thinks that a step forward also needs to be made in including countries in the Schengen Area.

Mitsotakis, who is also attending the BSF, added that it was high time that, 18 years after the summit in Greece, the promises that had been given to the Western Balkans countries at the time be met. "This is a true opportunity for stability in the region," he added.

According to Janša, he and Mitsotakis also talked about the Covid-19 pandemic, with the latter saying that Slovenia and Greece were facing similar challenges.

"We know that we need to convince citizens that vaccines are safe and that vaccination is the only answer for leaving the coronavirus behind," the Greek prime minister was quoted in the press release.

Mitsotakis also met President Borut Pahor. Pahor's office said they talked about how their countries have been coping with the Covid-19 pandemic, agreeing an all-out effort should be made to prevent potential new school closures.

President Pahor enquired how the decision on mandatory vaccination of health workers went down with the Greek public with Mitsotakis telling him the decision enjoyed strong approval from the public.

Pahor and Mitsotakis also discussed topical international issues, particularly in relation to the situation in Afghanistan. They called for a joint and coordinated response by the EU to the issue of asylum seekers and refugees.

They also exchanged views on the latest developments in the Western Balkans, calling for a stronger engagement by the EU with emphasis on opening chapters with North Macedonia and Albania.


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