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We Have Won A Seat On The UN Security Council – What Now?

“The people who urged Slovenia to run for the non-permanent seat during the Janez Janša government hoped that Slovenia would represent a standing voice of reason in the Security Council. I fear that under this government, Slovenia’s position will be much more unaligned and fainter. In the sense of Kučan’s statement that it takes two to have a war,” commentator Žiga Turk recently wrote, mentioning Albania as an example, which has strongly condemned Russian aggression, as well as crimes and lies of Putin’s regime.

We spoke to diplomat Božo Cerar about what Slovenia should stand for in the UN Security Council, now that it has become a non-permanent member. Albania, for example, which held the role before us, planned its role very well. Among other things, it strongly condemned both the Russian aggression and the war crimes and, above all, all the lies with which Vladimir Putin‘s regime misled the world before and during the aggression. Since the government of Robert Golob took office, Slovenia’s foreign and domestic policy has been accompanied by worrying indications that are not exactly in line with Western, democratic values and the fact that Slovenia is a member of the European Union and NATO. At times it seems that we are still living somewhere in the colourful, exotic company of the non-aligned, among various socialist dictatorships, military juntas, and the like. One would not be wrong to say that certain moves by the current government and its “spiritual gurus” (Milan Kučan and comrades) are more to the benefit of the Russian Federation than to the benefit of the international organisations of which Slovenia is a member. Here, we should mention the disgraceful vote on the resolution declaring Russia a state sponsor of terrorism, which was ultimately not adopted. Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon also served up some interesting excesses during her time in office. The fact that the left-wing MEPs are aligned with the domestic transition elite was also demonstrated by the subsequent rejection of the condemnation of Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism.

In our conversation, long-time diplomat Božo Cerar stressed that “responsible behaviour is what will be needed. The result as such is good, taking into account all the circumstances (late candidacy, etc.). In a sense, the Belarusians have had ten, 15 years of advantage over us, because they have made many connections.” According to Cerar, in a large part of the world, there are perceptions of the West (which Slovenia is a part of) that are not always in Slovenia’s favour. He believes that we must remain true to ourselves. He sees foreign policy as “a kind of continuity” and sees no major deviations. However, he did admit that there have been “certain occasional nuances, or even a little more, in a direction that is not the most favourable …”

He then added: “However, I do not want to prejudge matters. Let’s wait … I would be very surprised if we did not remain true to ourselves or to what we are. We are a member of the EU, we are a member of NATO, we are a Central European country, we are a Mediterranean country, we are on the edge of or even part of the Balkans, etc. All of this is reflected in our foreign policy.” Cerar pointed out that although Slovenia has put forward its own candidacy, it should be borne in mind that it is also a member of international associations …

Our country has some room for manoeuvre within these frameworks, certain views and ideas of its own. It is right that it has listened to the problems of African countries, but now we also need to continue in this direction and help as much as we can. If we have listened to the problems of African, Asian and Latin American countries, which they are primarily concerned with, whether in the area of development, climate change, water, poverty, etc., then Slovenia cannot just stay in the election and forget about the support of these countries, but must keep its word. “And regarding the war in Ukraine: not everyone may agree with me, but when it comes to this war, I think we are dealing, to a large extent, with continuity, whether it is the previous or the current government, but of course, there are certain nuances… Certain issues are not being put at the forefront, and it is also quite difficult to talk about them…” Cerar does not expect any major differences in the foreign policy area, especially when it comes to positions on Ukraine. He pointed out that the Foreign Ministry condemned the destruction of the dam and called for the culprits to be found.

Logar made a good judgement call when deciding that it was the right time for us to run for the UN Security Council

And if Slovenia stays true to its path and promises, it can play a certain role (given its “specific weight”), and influence certain issues… Above all, it is necessary to find one or two issues to which it can contribute “some added value”. This can also be the “basis for foreign policy interventions” in later years. The next candidacy can realistically be expected only in 20- or 30 years’ time … This is a nation-wide project, as the previous Foreign Minister, Anže Logar, correctly assessed that this was the right moment to run for the UN Security Council. But the current government has also run a successful campaign.

Cerar expressed some concern about certain foreign policy moves of the current government… And finally, the diplomat also listed some areas where the current government could be active. In particular, some of the most pressing issues affecting global security could be addressed. One of these areas could be the problem of climate change, which affects the whole world. It is especially important to point out the conflicts between the superpowers in the Security Council, which are crippling the functioning of this body. That is precisely why it is the role of the smaller members to try to defuse tensions and find common ground.

One of the common points is undoubtedly the cessation of the nuclear arms race. At the same time, however, we should not forget the problems of individual continents, which could take on broader dimensions, for example, in the Middle East, Africa and the Balkans, etc. In addition, it would make sense to touch on the pressing area of the development of artificial intelligence. “Of course, in order to make the right inroads, we also need the right team, which we have, generally speaking. But to prove ourselves internationally, we need to have a domestic policy that is as united as possible, and financial resources are also important, and Slovenia has limited resources in this area. Let’s not expect miracles, but I expect that we could have a lucky hand on two or three issues where we will try to prove ourselves and where I think we can be successful.” At the same time, it is important to take into account the fact that in the coming years – say two years – many things will happen that we do not yet know… Cerar also acknowledged that Slovenia’s membership coincides with an extremely important period of time, which is fundamentally different from that of years and decades ago, because we are dealing with a multi-polar world. “The opportunity is here, I hope we will seize it, but this requires a unified approach by Slovenian politics, both the government and the opposition, otherwise there will be no positive outcome.”

Domen Mezeg

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