Počivalšek urges Janša to bear economy in mind in relations with China

Ljubljana – Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek noted the importance of economic interests in the aftermath of Prime Minister Janez Janša’s recent comments about Taiwan. China is one of Slovenia’s largest economic partners outside the EU and personal views “must take into account the economic reality,” he said.

“Slovenia is only as strong as its economic performance. Despite the pandemic, we’ve strengthened our economy, particularly our exports, which shows that we have the right approach.

“China is one of Slovenia’s biggest economic partners outside the EU. As [Chinese] President Xi Jinping and I noted at a 17+1 initiative meeting, this cooperation is getting even stronger,” Počivalšek, a deputy prime minister, wrote on Facebook on Wednesday evening.

Slovenia’s foreign policy, he said, must therefore keep the country’s economic interests a priority. “Personal views, even if given with the best of intentions, must take into account the economic reality,”

In an interview Janša gave on Monday to the Indian public service broadcaster Doordarshan, he said that Slovenia and Taiwan were “working on exchanging representatives”, adding the representatives would not be at the level of embassies.

He was quite critical of China’s response to a decision by Lithuania to open a diplomatic representation office in Taiwan, saying Slovenia would support any sovereign decision of the Taiwanese people.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China described his statements as “dangerous”, whereas the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry expressed “gratitude” for his “staunch support”. The interview has also sparked strong reactions by some Slovenian opposition parties and a part of Slovenian public.