Minister Dr Cerar in Stockholm on supporting accession of Western Balkans
Foreign Minister Dr Miro Cerar is paying an official visit to Sweden at the invitation of the Swedish Foreign Minister, Ann Linde. He met her and the Speaker of the Riksdag, Andreas Norlén, to discuss the importance of the European future for the Western Balkan countries, sustainable development and EU challenges around the world. At the round table held at the Swedish Institute of International Affairs, Minister Cerar touched on the challenges facing the EU and its relations with partners such as Russia, China, and the United States. He later visited the seat of the Smart City project in Stockholm.
“Slovenia and Sweden share the same values. Their foreign policies focus on respect for the rule of law, human rights promotion, multilateralism, cooperation on resolving global challenges resulting from climate change, and on cyber and other security threats,” stated Minister Cerar in discussion with his Swedish hosts.
He and his Swedish counterpart Ann Linde went on to discuss the Western Balkans, the EU’s role in the world, EU-China and EU-Russia relations and the priorities of the 2021 Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU.
“Slovenia will promote sustainable development, the rule of law, as well as efforts to consolidate the EU’s global role and to ensure security and prosperity for EU citizens,” assured Minister Cerar.
He also explained that the rule of law is vital to small states, as the EU has been built on law and thrives on it. During its Presidency, Slovenia will also strive to promote the rule of law in the Western Balkans, a strategically important region for both Slovenia and Europe. Minister Cerar presented for the Swedish side the Slovenian views on the progress made by the Western Balkan countries towards EU integration and the challenges facing the region.
The two ministers talked about concrete cooperation in the region, particularly the project of school and peer mediation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which Slovenia has been implementing since 2017 through the ITF – Enhancing Human Security. Currently, more than 330 pupils from 24 elementary schools in Bosnia and Herzegovina are taking part. The Foreign Ministry is committed to expanding the project to other Western Balkan countries and would like to invite other countries to participate. Sweden was one of the key supporters of, and donors to, projects implemented by the ITF in both the Western Balkans and Gaza.
The ministers also exchanged views on EU-China relations, Russia, EU-Arctic relations, and the impact of climate change in the Arctic on the entire world. They went on to discuss projects and possibilities for cooperation during the Swedish OSCE Chairmanship and the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU, with both taking place in 2021.
In the afternoon, Minister Cerar and Minister Linde visited the seat of the Smart City project launched by the Swedish Government. The project is based on the use of renewables and green technologies in the design and construction of buildings and urban planning.
In the morning, Minister Cerar and his delegation were received at the Swedish Parliament by the Speaker of the Riksdag, Andreas Norlén, where they discussed European policy towards the Western Balkans and EU-China relations. During his visit to the Swedish capital, the Slovenian Minister also took part in a round table organised by the Swedish Institute of International Affairs. The Minister outlined for the eminent members of the Institute the Slovenian priorities, particularly in the Western Balkans. They also talked about enhancing European integration, the challenges facing the EU in relations with partners such as China and Russia, the future of transatlantic relations, and EU-UK relations after Brexit.
Sweden is Slovenia's foremost trade partner among the Nordic countries, with trade between the two countries totalling EUR 545 million in 2018 (+0.7). Slovenian and Swedish companies have also developed successful cooperation on the circular economy.