Janša says talks under way on “exchanging representatives” with Taiwan

Ljubljana – Prime Minister Janez Janša revealed in an interview with the Indian public service broadcaster Doordarshan that Slovenia and Taiwan are “work[ing] on exchanging representatives”. He was critical of China over its response to the decision by Lithuania to open a diplomatic representation office in Taipei.

Janša noted that the mentioned exchange of representatives between Slovenia and Taiwan would not take place at the level of embassies, as it would take place at the “same level that many EU countries already have.”

Much of the half an hour interview aired on Monday revolved around China, with the Slovenian prime minister pointing to the country’s responsibility for the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said that “we have to discuss this issue” and to “make the Chinese accountable” for “not acting in good faith” when it comes to notifying the rest of the world about the threat of the novel coronavirus in a timely manner.

As for Taiwan, Janša said that Slovenia would support any sovereign decision of the Taiwanese people. “If they want to join China … without any pressure, military intervention, blackmailing or strategic cheating as it is happening in Hong Kong currently, we will support it”.

“But if the Taiwanese people want to live independently, we also have to support this position,” Janša added.

He criticised China for its response to Lithuania announcing the opening of a diplomatic representation office in Taiwan and a Taiwanese diplomatic mission in Lithuania with trade restrictions.

Janša noted that “a vast majority of EU member states hold a kind of representative office with Taiwan” and that there were some slight differences in the naming of the missions, which was however not significant.

While China protested the opening of such offices by some European countries, “they never went so far as they did in this case”, the prime minister said, adding that it was “terrifying” to try to isolate a country in such a way.

“The EU has formally backed Lithuania, and I think that any kind of pressure on Lithuania and some other countries in Europe will not benefit China’s government. Good trade relations are in the common interest.”

Commenting on the relations between Russia and the EU and NATO in relation to the crisis in Ukraine, Janša spoke about the possibility of “coordination between Beijing and Moscow” in instigating crises in order to put pressure on NATO.

“If somebody is pushed to deal with two major crises in two different parts of the world, they have to split their diplomatic, economic and military efforts. This is why those threats are somehow linked, coordinated.”

As for Slovenian-Indian relations, Janša noted the visit to Slovenia by Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at the Bled Strategic Forum last September, when the situation in the Indo-Pacific region was discussed.

The prime minister assessed that “despite all the problems with Russia and Ukraine, the key issue now is the Indo-Pacific”, adding that “India is a crucial country for balancing these tensions and for this part of the globe to live in peace.”