“No matter what we do, we will be criticized in our homeland, because the system is what it is. Unfortunately, there is no cooperation in trying to find the best possible solutions,” is how Minister of Foreign Affairs Anže Logar assessed the current actions of the opposition, which could affect the search for a compromise between the European Union, Poland and Hungary. Meanwhile, Slovenia, together with its Prime Minister, is actively participating in finding a compromise between all EU members. Logar rates his work as very good, as he says that they have managed to establish certain partnerships that did not exist before. The number of meetings with many foreign countries, and the number of relations which are being strengthened, is also increasing. Logar is also pleased with the fact that the opposition has finally woken up and is concerned about the relations with the United States, as he explained: “I look forward to connecting with the opposition when it comes to working on the relations with the United States. I must say that we have taken some very important steps forward in the last eight months, and we have established close cooperation with the US administration.”
Slovenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Anže Logar recently addressed the participants in the Berlin Foreign Policy Forum. In his address, he presented the challenges of voting in the Council of the European Union in the second half of next year and emphasized the importance of solidarity between the Member States of the European Union. The forum on “Common European Cooperation and its Future” was opened with the addresses of the Foreign Ministers of the three Presidencies of the Council of the European Union. In addition to Slovenia, Germany and Portugal also took part in the talks. They also talked about the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic as an opportunity, and about the European Union’s recovery fund. Logar emphasized that solidarity between the Member States of the European Union also means finding a compromise that is acceptable to all. “We have to think outside the box, we all view the problem from different starting points, but we all have the same goals,” Logar pointed out at the meeting.
“Being the EU Council Presidency Trio means that we are very carefully coordinating with each other, not only when it comes to the coronavirus issues, but also issues related to the green deal, climate change and migrations,” said the German Minister of Foreign Affairs, Heiko Maas. Even though Germany holds the presidency for six months, Maas believes that this is not enough to reach the final decisions on a number of different topics. “Climate change will keep us busy for many years to come,” he said, explaining that they are closely cooperating and coordinating with others as part of their presidency track, as the countries must hand over files to each other, which they want to continue developing further. Other issues also include Brexit, financial assistance, and according to Maas, Slovenia is a great help in this area. “I firmly believe that this will also be the case when we are looking for solutions for the question of the rule of law,” Maas explained at the meeting.
The European Commission, led by its President, Ursula von der Leyen, still seems to insist on making the provision of funds conditional on the rule of law, which is something that could be blocked by Poland and Hungary. Minister Logar emphasizes that the rule of law is of key importance for Slovenia, and the insufficient level of the rule of law was also the reason why he himself wrote to European Commissioner Didier Reynders, regarding the state of the rule of law in Slovenia. “After all, the rule of law will be one of the priorities during the Slovenian presidency, where a new round of annual reports on the rule of law by the member states will also take place,” he explained. According to Logar, this is only a question of who the arbiter is, who decides on the level of the rule of law in the EU member states. “Given that this is a separate branch of government, it should probably be the court,” he said, explaining that in this case, some countries want the Court of Justice of the European Union to be the one to rule on the level of the rule of law in each individual country.
Slovenia has always strived to respect the rule of law
According to Logar, everything that is passed by this government is then fought over by the opposition and the coalition. “No matter what we do, we will be criticized in our homeland, because the system is what it is. Unfortunately, there is no cooperation in trying to find the best possible solutions,” he explained the current situation, which he believes will also affect the possible cooperation in finding a solution between the EU, Poland and Hungary. He pointed out that Slovenia has a special responsibility at the level of the European Union, firstly it is part of the trio of the presidencies and will take over the presidency in 2021, and it wants to be an active and creative partner in finding a compromise for the current situation. In this respect, any initiative that tries to help find the right compromise for all 27 Member States, so they could all take a step in the right direction, is a good thing. “In the very process of drafting the provision on respecting the rule of law, Slovenia already pointed out that a solution must be found that will be in line with the conclusions of the July EU summit and acceptable to all 27 members,” Logar emphasized. At the moment, the problem is that there is no common ground among all 27 members and there are deviations in both directions, among all of which a balance will have to be established, and a decision will have to be made, that will be acceptable to all.
“Slovenia is active in finding a compromise, which requires talks at the highest level, meaning at the level of the prime ministers of the member states, and our Prime Minister is actively cooperating with all key stakeholders in this debate,” he explained. He says that given the number of visits he has made and talks he has been a part of in recent months, despite the challenges of the coronavirus crisis, other countries want to cooperate with Slovenia, and we are heard abroad. After all, we established coordination of the Central European countries, called the Central Five, the members of which are keeping in contact with the Mediterranean group Med7, and the Prime Minister was one of the initiators of the letter, which supported the creation of the so-called corona bond, which would lead us to an agreement at the level of the European Union. “Slovenia is an agile partner with concrete proposals, which is something that the partners appreciate in our talks,” he explained.
On the show Politično (political), the former Minister of Foreign Affairs and Prime Minister Miro Cerar said that Slovenia is moving away from some of the foundations laid by his government in 2016, which Logar describes as complete nonsense. “It is the current government that is implementing the strategy adopted by Cerar’s government, unlike the two previous governments, which, in essence, did not follow this strategy at all before,” he explained. As he said, the previous two governments acted in direct contrast to this strategy and no one, except the opposition at the time, ever questioned it. “What we are doing now was already adopted in 2015 – by them, but it has become unacceptable for other reasons. Moreover, I believe that we have even strengthened the key points of this strategy and actually taken over this active role of foreign policy by finding partners and joint strategic alliances for the realization of Slovenian interests,” he added.
Logar is pleased with the opposition’s involvement in upgrading the relations with the United States
Logar is also pleased with the fact that the opposition has finally woken up and is concerned about the relations with the United States, as he said that in recent years, they have not been worried about this at all – they were more worried about some other capitals. “I look forward to connecting with the opposition when it comes to working on relations with the United States. I must say that we have taken some very important steps forward in the last eight months and we have established close cooperation with the US administration,” he explained. He believes that he also has the support of the entire opposition when it comes to his work, which will make it much easier for him. On the other hand, we have a high level of cooperation with Germany, from strategic dialogue to a meeting with the German Foreign Minister. “Remember, he was in Slovenia on the 3rd of July, and in November, I travelled to Berlin, where I will travel again in three weeks for a meeting,” he explained. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister also met with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel in an online meeting. Were it not for this crisis, however, they would have actually met in person. “In short, politically, this dialogue is at a high level,” Logar added at the end.