The Slovenia Times

Slovenia aspiring to greater role on global stage


The aspiration for Slovenia to take on a more prominent role on the global stage, also in view of its bid for the UN Security Council, and a shift of focus back to the core Europe headlined discussions at the annual meeting of Slovenian diplomats at Brdo pri Kranju.

The meeting, on 25 and 26 January, focused on a review of the country's foreign-policy strategy and other key documents and Slovenia's role in the EU and worldwide, and the strengthening of diplomacy, including in business, science and culture.

Both Prime Minister Robert Golob and Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon argued that Slovenia and its diplomatic service must act globally, regardless of their size.

Golob believes small countries have an advantage in foreign policy because they can act as an intermediary when they have no direct interest. He would like Slovenia to explore how it can contribute to world peace and progress.

"In foreign policy, despite some limitations, such as our weak diplomatic presence outside Europe and the key world capitals, we need to think about global issues. We need to have a broader picture in which we place regional issues and Slovenia's challenges," Fajon said.

Golob, Fajon and President Nataša Pirc Musar identified Slovenia's bid to become a non-permanent member of the Security Council in 2024-2025 as the first priority in the coming months and a common national project.

"If we are elected, many doors in the world's capitals will open for Slovenia, which brings a lot of responsibility," Fajon said.

Confident about the success of the bid, Golob said the work would not finish there. "We're not entering such an important race for the prestige alone, the expectation is that Slovenia will get something out of it during the two years."

Shift to core Europe

The government's aim is to ensure that the country "reaffirms itself as a fully-fledged member of the core Europe", he said, noting his expectation that Slovenian diplomats should advocate this position.

He believes the policy has borne fruit in the past six months, pointing to Bosnia and Herzegovina being granted EU candidate country status, a move championed by Slovenia. He pledged for Slovenia to continue to support the country to join the EU as soon as possible.

The change of focus is set down in the new foreign policy strategy, a draft of which was presented at the meeting. Apart from providing for a return to the core Europe, the document is also seen as a response to the changed global situation.

Fajon referred to the ruling coalition's commitment to have Slovenia "at the core [of the countries] that respect the values of democracy, human rights and freedom". The new strategy will be followed up with updates to the foreign affairs act.

In her address to diplomats, Fajon said EU membership gave Slovenia more weight and a foreign policy direction. She does not think there is an alternative to integration within the EU.

However, recent developments have exposed key challenges, such as the need for more efficient decision-making and a more efficient union, especially when it comes to the common foreign and security policy, she said.

Fajon also believes that the EU must continue the policy of enlargement as an instrument of stabilisation in its neighbourhood.

Another challenge dealt with in the strategy is strengthening efforts to fight climate change and deepen relations with Africa, Indo-Pacific, the Gulf, and Latin America and the Caribbean.

Firm support for Ukraine

The officials reiterated that in the war in Ukraine, there should be no mistake that Slovenia is on the side of those who respect the
international law and the UN Charter.

Golob said Slovenia was fully ready to lend its ear to Ukraine's interests as it was clear that the victim and the aggressor were never equal. "That is not a matter up for negotiation," he said.

"If an opportunity for peace arises, it is important to give it a shot," said Golob, adding that Slovenia could perhaps play a mediating role or act as a bridge between the West and the East as it had done in the past.

But once peace is restored, the most important thing besides reconstructing Ukraine will be re-establishing dialogue with Russia to prevent a new Cold War in Europe, said Fajon. She believes lasting peace and stability in Europe will not be possible without Russia.

The strategy also puts in focus the Mediterranean, which is regaining importance with the deglobalisation of global trade and attempts to reduce dependency on China, gender equality, and relations with Slovenians abroad.

The diplomats were also addressed by President Nataša Pirc Musar, who highlighted the need for coordinated foreign policy. It is important to listen to each other and work together for Slovenia and its visibility in international environments, she said.

She too spoke about the geopolitical dimensions of the war in Ukraine and the impact it has on stability in Europe and the international community, and pointed to the Brdo-Brijuni Process initiative as an element of stability in the Western Balkans.

She is worried about geopolitical interests playing out in the region as well as about a flood of fake news and rekindled nationalist rhetoric.

As a guest of honour, the meeting was also addressed by Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares Bueno.


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