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Minister Fajon initiates signing of a letter in support of EU enlargement to the Western Balkans by C5 ministers

  • Ministry of Foreign Affairs

At the invitation of Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjárto, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon took part in a meeting of foreign ministers of five Central European countries (C5) in Budapest.

The meeting between Austrian Minister for European and International Affairs Alexander Schallenberg, Czech Minister of Foreign Affairs Jan Lipavský, Slovak Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Ivan Korčok, the Hungarian host, Minister Szijjárto, and Slovenian Minister of Foreign Affairs Tanja Fajon focused on the Czech Presidency of the EU Council and the war in Ukraine, with an emphasis on energy and food security. The ministers discussed EU enlargement over a working lunch. They were pleased to see that the C5 (Central 5) format has moved beyond the coordination of measures against COVID-19 and the cooperation of countries during the pandemic, which had been the basis for closer collaboration over the past two years.

Minister Fajon expressed her support for Slovenia's continued active participation in the C5 format. "Cooperation in the region is key to effectively tackling the challenges ahead, especially those related to energy prices and food security. Solidarity during COVID-19 must also bring us together to mitigate the effects of the war in Ukraine on our economies and peoples," she said after the meeting, adding: "I am pleased that as Slovenia's first woman Foreign Minister, I bring some of the feminine energy that has often proved important to reaching a compromise.”

The Slovenian Minister congratulated her Czech counterpart on taking over the Presidency of the EU Council, assuring him of Slovenia's support in finding common solutions, especially in implementing the Recovery and Resilience Plan for Europe.

As to the developments in Ukraine, Minister Fajon again condemned the Russian aggression, reiterating Slovenia's support for granting EU candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, as well as for approving the European perspective for Georgia. "However, we must not forget the importance of enlargement. I would like to thank my colleagues who today signed a letter of support for granting candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina by the end of this year. In this letter, we, at Slovenia's initiative, remind European leaders of the need to support enlargement to the Western Balkans and renew the discussion on Bosnia and Herzegovina at the October Summit," the Minister said after the meeting. She also called for accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania to start at the earliest possible opportunity, recalling that Kosovo has been waiting too long for visa-free travel.

She also reminded the ministers of the importance of Schengen for Slovenia, both due to migratory pressures and the dynamics in the neighbourhood, pointing again to the need to abolish unnecessary and lengthy border controls within the Schengen area. "Unless we restore Schengen to the way we knew it, any further enlargement in our neighbourhood, to Bulgaria, Romania and Croatia, will be difficult or seriously jeopardised", she cautioned.

After the C5 meeting, Minister Fajon met separately with Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó. She expressed her willingness to continue the dialogue between the two countries in a spirit of mutual respect, transparency and trust. She highlighted the opportunities in the areas of economic cooperation and the completion of infrastructure projects. Minister Fajon and Minister Szijjártó pledged to support both the Slovenian national community in Hungary and the Hungarian national community in Slovenia.