Minister Dr Cerar: “European perspective of the Western Balkans will be among priorities of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU”
Today, Foreign Minister Dr Miro Cerar attended an event organised by the Institute for Strategic Solutions, where the new edition of the Adriatic Journal: Strategic Foresight 2020 was presented. Prior to the event, Minister Cerar held an informal meeting with the former Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs Dr Karin Kneissl, where they discussed the formation of the new Austrian government, the cooperation between the two countries in the year of neighbourly dialogue, the regional situation and the state of affairs in the Middle East.
The central topic of this year’s event was Opportunities in the Western Balkans. During the opening discussion moderated by Delo’s foreign policy correspondent Jure Kosec, Minister Cerar affirmed that the European perspective of the Western Balkans will be one of the priorities of the Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU in the second semester of 2021. “Slovenia is one of the main proponents of constructive debate on the future enlargement policy. By March, an agreement should be reached on the main methodological aspects of enlargement to allow for a green light for accession talks with North Macedonia and Albania,” Minister Cerar told the participants.
He underscored the role of economic diplomacy as one of the priorities of our foreign policy. Through economic diplomacy and related efforts, the Ministry and Slovenian embassies aim to provide assistance to Slovenian companies wishing to penetrate the market in the receiving countries, and, conversely, to companies in the receiving countries wishing to succeed in the Slovenian market. Minister Cerar explained that the objective is to offer business information and open up business opportunities quickly and cost effectively, adding that: “Diplomacy is opening doors that usually remains shut.”
Economic relations between Slovenia and the Western Balkan countries are excellent, with trade exchange amounting to EUR 3.4 billion in 2018, up by 9.4% compared to 2017. In 2018, exports to the region witnessed an 8.5% growth, while imports rose by 15.7%. Slovenian exports amounted to EUR 2.1 billion, while imports stood at EUR 1.3 billion. In the first nine months of 2019, the volume of trade in goods was EUR 2.66 billion, which is a 4.5% increase compared to the same period in 2018.