Logar to meet Italian colleague on-line, visit Vatican Friday

Ljubljana – Foreign Minister Anže Logar is expected to hold talks with his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio on Thursday, although virtually and not in-person as was originally scheduled, as Di Maio is self-isolating. Logar will nevertheless travel to Rome, as he is also scheduled to visit the Holy See on Friday.

The Slovenian Foreign Ministry has announced that Di Maio is self-isolating after being in contact with Italian Interior Minister Luciana Lamorgese, who has tested positive for coronavirus, and that he and Logar will meet on-line.

The foreign ministers are expected to talk about the Slovenian minority in Italy, Italy’s plans to declare an exclusive economic zone in the Adriatic Sea, topical EU issues and Slovenia’s presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2021.

According to the ministry, Logar and Di Maio are to review bilateral meetings in 2020, including the marking of the centenary of the Trieste National Home arson on 13 July and an agreement on the building’s restitution to the Slovenian minority.

In this context, the ministers will also discuss other relevant issues. The most burning one at the moment is representation of the minority in Italy’s parliament. The ethnic community wants the electoral bill to ensure its representative get elected to the national legislature.

The latter states that the territory populated by the Slovenian minority must largely be within one MP district. The Trieste-based Slovenian newspaper Primorski Dnevnik reports that a plan for new districts, on which the parliament in Rome needs to vote by Friday, includes a solution under which this territory would be divided into three one-seat MP districts.

Moreover, the ministers will discuss Italy’s plans to declare an exclusive economic zone in the Adriatic Sea.

The intention was unveiled by Di Maio during his visit to Zagreb last week where he urged Croatia to follow suit. Both countries have since launched the declaration procedure.

Regarding this, Logar said last week Slovenia had always acted in a European spirit and expected the same from European partners. He added this was a strategic issue that would be addressed in tolerant dialogue, not in the public square.

Foreign Ministry State Secretary Gašper Dovžan said at Wednesday’s session of the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee that Slovenia was closely monitoring the developments, as it had vital interests at sea, which it would continue to protect.

“We are not looking at this as a dramatic and unexpected turn,” Dovžan said, adding that the ministry “pursues Slovenian interests, but without unnecessary nervousness”.

Logar and Di Maio are also expected to exchange views on anti-coronavirus measures, most notably current debates at the EU level, including improving the poor epidemiological situation, Covid-19 vaccination and the EUR 1,824 billion pandemic recovery package.

Recovery of the European economy after the pandemic is among the priorities of Slovenia’s EU Council presidency in the second half of 2021, which Logar will present to his Italian counterpart. Resilience to crises and EU enlargement are also among the priorities.

Regional cooperation, collaboration on EU macro-regional strategies and other regional frameworks will be on the agenda as well.

While the meeting will be held on-line, Logar will nevertheless travel to Rome, where he will meet on Thursday David Beasley, the executive director of the UN World Food Programme, the organisation that was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2020.

On Friday, he will visit the Holy See, where he will meet bishop Paul Richard Gallagher, current secretary for relations with states within the Holy See’s Secretariat of State, and the Holy See’s secretary of state, cardinal Pietro Parolin.

The officials are expected to discuss the current situation in Europe and worldwide, with a focus on humanitarian issues, protection of the most vulnerable groups, the role of the fight against poverty and efforts to ensure sustainable development.

Logar is also to attend a private audience with the Pope for members of the Slovenian delegation who have been organising the Vatican Christmas Tree project this year. He will also address the tree-lighting ceremony in St. Peter’s Square.