Portuguese FM confident Slovenian presidency can make breakthrough in N Macedonia, Albania EU accession

Ljubljana, 24 June – Portugal will hand to Slovenia as the next EU presiding country many dossiers, including the endorsement of national recovery and resilience plans and EU enlargement to the Western Balkans, Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said after meeting his counterpart Anže Logar in Ljubljana on Thursday.

Both Logar and Santos Silva said at their joint news conference they hoped the first national plans would be confirmed at the July session of EU finance ministers.

Slovenia’s task will be, according to Santos Silva, to closely monitor the implementation of the national plans in collaboration with the European Commission.

Logar said he would like to see the national plans endorsed promptly to facilitate a fast post-pandemic recovery.

Post-pandemic recovery coupled with resilience to various crises and to cyberattacks is one of Slovenian presidency’s main priorities, with Santos Silva happy with the focus Slovenia gives to it.

As for the other key dossier, EU enlargement, Santos Silva said Portugal’s presidency had managed to organise the first inter-governmental accession conferences with Serbia and Montenegro under the bloc’s new enlargement methodology.

Now the accession negotiations frameworks for North Macedonia and Albania will have to be confirmed to enable the start of accession talks.

The Portuguese minister is convinced that Slovenia will manage to do this. “I believe this will be a major achievement of the Slovenian presidency.”

Logar said that as EU presiding country, Slovenia would like to encourage debate on the strategic role of the Western Balkans, so it would organise an informal EU-Western Balkans summit in October.

As for other key priorities of Slovenia’s presidency, Logar highlighted migration, saying Slovenia would like to make progress in certain parts of the new migration and asylum pact, such as the external dimension of migration and the establishment of the EU agency for asylum.

Logar also highlighted the role of transatlantic relations, while Santos Silva pointed to the revival in transatlantic relations under the Portuguese presidency.

The Slovenian presidency will continue the Portuguese presidency’s work in social policy and climate, said Logar, who pointed to the rule of law as another priority.

Slovenia’s presidency will also play an important role in the Conference on the Future of Europe, chairing it at the level of EU citizens and the highest political level.

The top-level debate will start at the 16th Bled Strategic Forum in Slovenia in early September, to which Logar invited Santos Silva, which the minister accepted.

“We are presiding at a decisive moment when the EU is adopting important dossiers about green and digital transformation and is building its resilience.

“The presidency is an opportunity to intensify integration within the EU-27 and the union’s institutions and to direct development towards an innovative and creative community which is based on sustainable development,” said Logar.

The Portuguese minister was also received by President Borut Pahor and parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič, while on Friday, he will attend the main Statehood Day ceremony, which will also mark the start of Slovenia’s EU presidency on 1 July.