Political Overview

7


Pahor tells Sky News EU short delay of Brexit possible

London, 2 March – President Borut Pahor, who recently concluded an official a visit to the UK this week, has said in an interview with Sky News that the EU member states could agree with a short postponement of Brexit. "I think Slovenia and a lot of other countries would say yes" because "no one wants to see a hard Bbrexit in a chaotic way."

Speaking to the British TV station, Pahor added that Britain needs to show "clarity and consensus" and come back to the EU with a plan MPs can approve. The Slovenian president's comments come as the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said he was ready to give the UK more guarantees that the Irish backstop was only intended to be temporary.

Pahor said he wanted a compromise on the Irish backstop to be found, but added that Slovenia would not approve a deal that Ireland disagreed with, according to the website of Sky News. "It is not clear at the moment if United Kingdom has a clear position on some sort of compromise solution and if it fits the requirements of the majority in the House (of Commons)," he said in the exclusive interview.

Pahor believes that a delay to Brexit would not make a compromise any easier to find and expressed concern the European Parliament elections at the end of May could cause problems. "If Brexit would become an issue of political campaign among the 27, I think this could even make more difficult the whole framework of negotiations between London and Brussels," he added.

Šarec accepts Leben's resignation as environment minister

Ljubljana, 27 February – Lavishing praise on the work of Environment Minister Jure Leben, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec announced on Wednesday that they had come to a conclusion that it would be hard for Leben to continue in his job whilst investigation is under way over his role in the previous term in a tender related to the Koper-Divača rail project.

"We made this decision with a heavy heart," said the prime minister, underlining that they had made the decision together after a lengthy talk. He added that he would be happy to work together with Leben in any other capacity in the future if no fault is found with the outgoing minister for the tender for a scale model of the Divača-Koper track, a project Leben oversaw in his capacity as Infrastructure Ministry state secretary.

Šarec said that Slovenia had not had an environment minister like Leben for 15 years. "He was the first after a long time to start moving things [at the department], the first to be out in the field, the first to regularly report to me about all activities, be it Saturday or Sunday or any other day of the week. He really cares about this department." The prime minister underlined that he would demand that Leben's successor kept up the work he started and the pace he had set.

He believes that the Modern Centre Party (SMC), which got the department in coalition talks, would provide a good candidate but "I will reserve my right to decide whether the candidate is appropriate for the job". "Minister Leben has done a very good job, he will continue doing it until his successor is appointed and I want the same work continue at the ministry."

The prime minister also expressed surprise that the alleged wrongdoings had only been voiced now, wondering why the people who "now claim to have known a lot" had not acted earlier. Today's announcement comes after weeks of speculations about a 2017 tender for the track scale model in which the more expensive of the two bidders got the order, only to hire the cheaper bidder to actually make the model, which had ultimately not been paid.

 

Prime Minister Marjan Šarec

 

Interior Minister Poklukar attends Brdo-Brijuni Process conference

Skopje, 26 February – Cross-border security challenges were in the focus of a conference as home affairs ministers from the Brdo-Brijuni Process, an initiative encompassing the Western Balkans, met in Skopje, North Macedonia, on Tuesday. They shared a view that such challenges could only be successfully addressed through efficient cooperation.

Slovenia's Boštjan Poklukar said initiatives such as the Brdo-Brijuni Process facilitated better cooperation and the search for common answers to the challenges in the region, the Slovenian Interior Ministry said in a press release. The 8th conference of Brdo-Brijuni Process interior ministers was held in collaboration with the Integrative Internal Security Governance (IISG) in the Western Balkans.

The IISG is a new approach to internal security governance capacity-building and reform introduced by Brdo-Brijuni Process members with the support of international and European organisations, including the European Commission. "I'm glad the initiative effectively supports Western Balkan countries in transferring EU standards regarding police work, border security and the fight against the most dangerous threats to internal security," Poklukar was quoted as saying. "In this manner the IISG significantly contributes to improving the security situation in the region," said Poklukar, the presiding member of the Brdo-Brijuni Process.

The IISG was also praised by his Macedonian counterpart Oliver Spasovski, saying it was a means of enhancing external cooperation, but noting that Western Balkan countries should more efficiently use the assistance coming from EU members. The director of the Slovenian intelligence agency SOVA, Rajko Kozmelj, bid farewell as the head of the IISG, and was replaced by Ramiz Huremagić.