Athens – Prime Minister Janez Janša presented the priorities of the upcoming Slovenian EU presidency at the Delphi Economic Forum in Athens on Monday before meeting his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis and European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas. He highlighted resilience to health crises and cyber attacks, and the European way of life.
“The Covid-19 epidemic has strongly affected us all, and also exposed the vulnerability of the European Union. I think we have all learned a lot in the last few months and that a large majority of Europe agree we must build a Europe that will be resilient to new epidemics but also to other challenges that we have to be better prepared for, one of them being cyber security,” Janša was quoted as saying by the Government Communications Office.
The European way of life and the rule of law will also be among the priorities of the Slovenian presidency to the EU Council. “We must restore the union of balanced rights and duties, strengthen human rights protection, especially the freedom of expression, which is not only a right of the media but of each individual, and a right that many other rights are based on,” he stressed.
During Slovenia’s stint at the helm of the EU Council, a debate on the future of Europe will be held. The prime minister said that the views on this varied. He thinks it is right that these different views are expressed openly so that compromise solutions can be found.
European values need to be enhanced, Janša was quoted as saying by his office.
“We still have some European countries that are not members of the EU and the enlargement process is something that has to continue,” he said.
Janša noted Slovenia planned to host an informal EU-Western Balkans summit this October, where the current situation would be discussed and steps made to speed up the enlargement process.
“After the EU’s enlargement to the Western Balkans was not dealt with much because of the economic crisis, migration crisis and now the epidemic, the time has come to focus on enlargement,” he stressed.
Asked about the non-paper on the Western Balkans which has been in the spotlight in the last month, Janša said such a non-paper was not existent so he could not comment on it.
“Some non-papers are being published only to accelerate a debate in the interest of one or the other side. Slovenia is trying to help the Western Balkan region by making a European perspective of the Western Balkans a reality. The informal conference that we will host will thus not be a conference on border changes but on the European perspective of Western Balkan countries.”
After attending the forum, Janša met his Greek counterpart Mitsotakis. He was also scheduled to meet European Commissioner for Promoting the European Way of Life Margaritis Schinas.