The Slovenia Times

Žbogar Believes Slovenia to Get Another EU Diplomatic Post


While the number of positions held by Slovenians in the EU's diplomatic services is often deemed as low, Žbogar is positive about the issue. He noted that his was not the only appointment, as Slovenia also won the post of EU ambassador to Montenegro.

Moreover, "we should not only be focusing on ambassadors, I think we should not forget the people holding lower positions. We have very able people in very important positions: our diplomat heads a Middle East task force, we have our representative in the so-called EU security council, our diplomat leads a task force for transatlantic relations."

"I think we can be satisfied and I'm confident that we will get another important post in the future," the former minister said.

As a EU representative in Kosovo, Žbogar is in charge of EU's relations with political representatives of Kosovo. He is overseeing a total of 300 projects worth some EUR 70m annually. The bulk of the budget is set aside for construction, energy and development.

The office, which has 120 employees also provides consultancy services to Kosovar ministries on strategies, the setting up of ministries and government institutions. It also provides grants to farmers and small and medium-sized companies.

Despite the fact that as many as five EU members do not recognise Kosovo as an independent country, Žbogar says there is a common goal, which is to make Kosovo "more European".

"To make it an area with the rule of law, without or with less organised crime, with functioning institutions, legal system and courts. This is our common interest whether we recognise Kosovo or not."

"We got the go-ahead from 27 countries for visa liberalisation and a feasibility study that is to lead to a stability and association agreement," he said, adding that the agreement could be signed by the end of the year.

Kosovo got a roadmap of some 100 concrete tasks it needs to complete for the visa-free system to be introduced.

The list includes many small tasks but also several major tasks such as the fight against organised crime and corruption which are not expected to be completed immediately. "Progress should be visible in the fight against these problems, which are the biggest challenges of Kosovo's society."

"Kosovars say that most of the tasks had already been completed, but this will be up to [an EU] mission to decide when it comes toward the end of the year or in autumn," Žbogar noted.

When asked whether Serbia's recognition of Kosovo is utopian or realistic, Žbogar said this question was better left for the future. "I believe it will not happen any time soon, but many other things can be done in a short time."

"I believe that both Prishtina and the north of the country find the status quo unbearable... In Prishtina there is a growing dissatisfaction as it cannot reach to the north, because the north is not integrated."

"The north is frustrated as well, because they have been living in isolation for such a long time, constantly under pressure... There is a growing fear in the north of what else may happen."

"At the moment the EU should consider - probably alongside the US - how the situation can move forward," said Žbogar, who believes that an attempt to address the issue will be made once a government is formed in Serbia.

Žbogar says he is not in contact with Serbian politicians, but has established close ties with political representatives of Serbs from northern Kosovo.

Irrespective of varying opinions - some consider them legal others illegal representatives - they are legitimate representatives of the people, Žbogar said. "To understand the situation, one must communicate with politicians and the civil society and everybody in the north."

He underlined that the EU expected the dialogue between Prishtina and Belgrade to continue. "I think Brussels made it clear to [new Serbian President Tomislav] Nikolić that this was expected of Serbia as part of its EU accession efforts."


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