Slovenia enhancing ties with Algeria
Slovenia and Algeria explored the potential to boost their cooperation further, including in areas such as energy and IT, and called for peace in the Middle East, as Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon hosted her counterpart Ahmed Attaf for a visit on 6 November.
Slovenia and Algeria are working for peace in the Middle East, Fajon said as she addressed a joint press conference with Attaf in Ljubljana.
"Both countries share a commitment to peace in the Middle East. Protecting civilians, strengthening humanitarian aid in Gaza and preventing the conflict from spreading is of paramount importance to us," Fajon said.
She stressed that Slovenia has been striving for a humanitarian pause in fighting as soon as possible, which would then lead to a ceasefire.
"The fact is that we have neglected the Middle East peace process for the last 15 years or more, and now we have a renewed opportunity to take concrete steps towards a two-state solution by revitalising this process," she added.
The Algerian foreign minister said the escalation in Gaza was a concrete example of the UN Security Council's inaction and ineffectiveness. He said the council was currently not meeting the expectations of the member states about preserving and maintaining peace in the international community.
"The position of Slovenia on the situations in the Middle East and the Saharan region is highly appreciated in our parts of the world," he said.
The visit comes before Slovenia and Algeria are due to serve together as non-permanent members of the UN Security Council in the 2024-2025 period.
Cooperation in energy
Algeria is Slovenia's third most important economic partner in Africa, Fajon said, noting that the two countries signed an economic cooperation agreement last year.
"The areas where we see opportunities for further cooperation are renewable energy sources, agriculture and beekeeping, digitalisation, artificial intelligence and new technologies, and of course energy," said Fajon.
Cooperation in the energy sector was strengthened in November 2022 as gas wholesaler Geoplin signed a natural gas supply contract with Algerian energy giant Sonatrach. Geoplin has been supplying natural gas to Slovenia from Algeria since 1 January, and the three-year contract provides for the supply of 300 million cubic metres of gas per year, which is expected to cover around a third of Slovenia's needs.
Plans to open embassies
Slovenia is in the process of opening an embassy in Algeria and Algeria has announced taking similar steps.
"This will undoubtedly further strengthen our cooperation in the future," Fajon said. Slovenia dispatched a chargé d'affairs to Algeria in October.
The Algerian minister announced that his country will soon apply for the accreditation of the first Algerian ambassador to Slovenia.
"We both agree that the opening of these embassies, yours in Algiers and ours in Ljubljana, will give new impetus to this promising and rewarding partnership that we are building between our two friendly countries," Attaf said.
He said that Algeria wished to enhance cooperation in digital economy, traditional and renewable energy sources, and information and communication technologies.
"I am glad to announce that Algeria has joined the International Research Centre on Artificial Intelligence created under the auspices of UNESCO and hosted by Slovenia," he said.
Other areas of cooperation he identified were water resources management, tourism, agriculture, forestry and mining.
"We are also considering positively the proposal made by Slovenia to have a direct maritime liaison between the port of Koper and the Algerian ports on the Mediterranean," he said.
He was in Slovenia also to explore the "possibility of taking advantage together of the entry into force of the African free trade zone".
Apart from Fajon, the Algerian foreign minister also met President Nataša Pirc Musar and National Assembly President Urška Klakočar Zupančič.