EU issues, post-pandemic recovery top agenda of Slovenian, Greek presidents

Photo: STA

Ljubljana – EU issues and the post-pandemic recovery dominated talks as Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou was received by Slovenian President Borut Pahor on Thursday for the first official visit by a head of state since the start of the epidemic.

Pahor said they both shared the conviction that the post-pandemic recovery needed to be leveraged to the maximum possible extent for a transition to sustainable development.

“We must change our attitude to nature, to fellow human, and make better use of the technological opportunities for digitalisation,” he said.

The debate also revolved about Slovenia’s upcoming EU presidency, with Sakellaropoulou praising the presidency priorities, in particular the tackling of the health crisis.

“We agreed that more cooperation and solidarity is needed in our European family, and most of all better effectiveness of EU institutions,” according to Pahor.

He said it would be great if a step forward in the formation of a health union were to be achieved during Slovenia’s presidency, now that it has turned out that if there had been a health union, the EU would have been able to better respond to the pandemic.

The pair broached the events in eastern Mediterranean, where Greece has been at odds with Turkey over hydrocarbon exploration.

Pahor recalled that Slovenia had condemned Turkey’s illegal actions after a Turkish ship was despatched to the east Mediterranean last year.

“It is very important to conduct dialogue and resolve open issues in a peaceful manner. The principle of neighbourly relations and solidarity must be at the forefront.”

Sakellaropoulou said violations of international law, in the Mediterranean and elsewhere, should be punished with sanctions.

Turning to migrations, Sakellaropoulou highlighted the high burden on Greece and said she expected other member states to share a part of the burden. She called for a combination of stability on the borders and solidarity with migrants.

According to Sakellaropoulou, Turkey is not honouring its agreement with the EU on migrants and thinks the agreement should be reactivated. She noted this could perhaps be achieved during Slovenia’s presidency.

Debating the Western Balkans, Pahor and Sakellaropoulou called for an acceleration of the EU accession process, where the Greek president stressed the importance of adherence to EU values and criteria.

Turning to bilateral relations, Pahor said they had a long history and firm foundations, and Sakellaropoulou added there was plenty of room for economic cooperation.