President boosting ties with Latvia and Slovakia
President Nataša Pirc Musar visited Latvia and Slovakia from 18 to 20 December to meet the countries' top officials and visit Slovenian troops serving in NATO-led missions in the two countries. She and her Latvian counterpart also inaugurated the Slovenian embassy in Riga.
The embassy is expected to strengthen the bonds between Slovenia and Latvia and open up opportunities for deeper and more comprehensive cooperation with the Baltic region. Pirc Musar encouraged Latvia to consider opening its embassy in Ljubljana.
The embassy in Riga is also responsible for Estonia and Lithuania, being the only Slovenian embassy in the Baltic states. None of these have their embassy based in Slovenia, but Latvia's ambassador in Budapest, Estonia's in Prague and Lithuania's in Vienna serve concurrently as ambassadors to Slovenia.
Opportunities for cooperation, including in tourism and trade, are expected to be boosted as Air Baltic launches scheduled flights between Riga and Ljubljana in summer 2024 with the help of airport fee subsidies offered by the Slovenian government.
The Slovenian president and her Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevičs welcomed the link as they met. They also discussed topical security and foreign policy issues, and climate change, among other things, reaffirming the countries' positions on Ukraine and EU enlargement.
Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar (left) meets her Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevičs in Riga. Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA
In Latvia, Pirc Musar also met other senior officials, including Prime Minister Evika Silina with whom she discussed ways to strengthen bilateral ties and exchanged views on topical issues.
As the supreme commander of the Slovenian Armed Forces, she visited Slovenian soldiers at NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence military mission in Adaži near Riga ahead of Christmas.
The Slovenian troops operate within a 57-member contingent which participates in peacekeeping activities of the mission. The president thanked the soldiers for their motivated, professional and committed efforts in securing international peace and security.
She also greeted members of the armed forces of Montenegro and North Macedonia participating in the Slovenian contingent. She hailed the joint contingent as an example of excellent regional cooperation.
She commended the troops on their role in strengthening the security not only of Latvia and the region, but of the alliance as a whole, which is particularly important in light of the war in Ukraine.
Slovenian President Nataša Pirc Musar visits the Adaži military base during a visit to Latvia. Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA
In Bratislava, Pirc Musar met Slovakian counterpart Zuzana Čaputova and other senior officials. The two presidents noted the good relationship between the two countries and called for ambitious and universal climate and environmental measures.
Ahead of the upcoming 20th anniversary of the two countries' membership in the EU and NATO, they welcomed the recent decision to start EU membership talks with Ukraine and Moldova, and expressed support for the countries of the Western Balkans on their path to the EU.
Pirc Musar thanked her Slovakian counterpart for logistical and other support to Slovenian soldiers participating in the NATO enhanced Vigilance Activity battlegroup in Lešt before visiting the troops herself.
According to data on the website of the Slovenian Armed Forces as of 7 November 2023, 35 Slovenian members serve in Latvia and 99 in Slovakia.