On Tuesday, the 8th of December 2020, Prime Minister Janez Janša met with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as part of his two-day official visit to Israel. In a joint press statement, the two Prime Ministers highlighted the good, friendly relations between the two countries that were formed when Slovenia gained its independence 30 years ago. They also emphasized the importance of innovation as a competitive advantage for the future of both countries. Janša’s visit to Israel did not go unnoticed by the Israeli media, which were filled with praise for him. Prime Minister Janša said that Israel is one of the most innovative countries in the world, and as such, an excellent example for Slovenia. During the Slovenian Presidency of the European Council, great emphasis will be placed on cyber security. The meeting with the Israeli President was also focused on key foreign policy topics, such as Syria, Iraq, Iran and the Middle East peace process.
“Thank you for recognizing Hezbollah as a terrorist organization,” Ynet highlighted the fact that the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked the Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, and also pointed out this was Janša’s first visit to a foreign country outside the EU. In Israel, they saw this as something worth their attention, as the Israeli Prime Minister also thanked Janša for choosing to visit Israel first.
However, Janša’s visit to Israel was not just a courtesy. As part of the meeting of the Prime Ministers of the two countries, a joint declaration was signed between the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology of the Republic of Slovenia and the Israeli Innovation Authority. The Declaration on Innovation was signed by the State Secretary at the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology of the Republic of Slovenia, Ajda Cuderman, and the Chairman of the Board of the Israeli Innovation Authority, dr. Ami Appelbaum, the Government Communication Office reports.
“The excellent meeting of the Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša, who came to Israel on his first visit outside of the EU,” the Ynet praised Janša.
An opportunity for a fresh start in the relations between the two countries
“Janez, this is an opportunity for a new beginning in the relations between Slovenia and Israel,” Netanyahu, who was in a good mood, said in the introduction to the joint statement of the prime ministers for the public, quoting an excerpt from the film Casablanca: “This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” Netanyahu also emphasized that Janša had always been “a great supporter of the alliance between Israel and Slovenia,” which, according to Netanyahu, was also confirmed by the fact that Janša’s first destination outside the EU was Israel.
Bimmae highlighted Netanyahu’s gratitude for Slovenia’s declaration of Hezbollah as a terrorist organization. “People will always ask, why didn’t you do this sooner,” Netanyahu said, which might have been a reference to the disastrous relations Slovenia had with Israel when Foreign Minister Miro Cerar was in office. In November 2019, as we also reported on Nova24TV, Cerar hosted the Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki in Slovenia and assured him that the international recognition of Palestine is one of the main priorities of Slovenian foreign policy. “We are continuing with our intensive efforts to form a group of countries within the EU that will recognize Palestine together with Slovenia. This is one of the most important goals, from which we will not deviate,” Cerar said at the time.
Slovenia as the key to a more pro-Israeli European Union
But Netanyahu did not bring up to the past; instead, he focused on the future. “Slovenia and Israel are two advanced democracies, technologically capable and future-oriented, and both countries also share the desire to provide a better life for their citizens.”
Meanwhile, The Jerusalem Post pointed out that the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu believes that Slovenia is the key to a more pro-Israeli European Union. As is evident, the Slovenian word actually counts for something in the international arena, at the times when Janez Janša is the Prime Minister. “After years of a more pro-Palestinian stance, Slovenia began to move closer to Israel under Janša,” they wrote. They also labelled Janša as “the Slovenian Trump,” as the US President Donald Trump is an unwavering supporter of Israel, and according to the Jerusalem Post, both Trump and Janša are advocating right-wing populism.