Foreign Ministers of Slovenia, Croatia and Austria discuss common challenges and energy solidarity
Slovenian Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Tanja Fajon attended a trilateral meeting of the foreign ministers of Slovenia, Croatia and Austria in Rijeka. Together with the Croatian Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, Gordan Grlić Radman, who hosted the meeting, and the Federal Minister for European and International Affairs, Alexander Schallenberg, they discussed the possibilities to deepen cooperation between the countries and common challenges.
"This was the first foreign ministers' meeting of its kind. Gatherings like these are always a great opportunity to enhance trust between three neighbouring and friendly countries. We talked a lot about what unites us and about the challenges our countries are facing", said Ms Fajon in her opening remarks, identifying migration as a pressing challenge. "Effective and sustainable solutions to tackle irregular migration must be found at the EU level, by building trust, not by building walls", she urged and advocated for increased investment and cooperation with the countries of origin and transit, including the Western Balkan countries. She also called for a reinforced role of Frontex at the external borders of the EU and for the abolition of internal controls or the restoration of "Schengen as we knew it". "Before the summer, we want make sure people can travel as freely and without restrictions as possible to Croatia or Austria".
One of the topics on the agenda was also the EU's enlargement policy towards the Western Balkan. "I am extremely pleased that in less than a year since I took office as Minister for Foreign and European Affairs, important steps have been made for some of the Western Balkan countries on the European path. Albania and North Macedonia have started negotiations, Bosnia and Herzegovina has been granted EU candidate status, and a few days ago, we welcomed the much-awaited news of visa liberalisation for Kosovo citizens", said Ms Fajon.
In Rijeka, foreign ministers Fajon, Radman and Schallenberg also discussed cooperation in the reconstruction of Ukraine and, in the light of major geopolitical changes, called for a common approach to third-country partners. They also touched on plans for joint missions in selected African and Asian countries, which, according to Minister Fajon's words, "are struggling with energy and food supplies, not least because of the war in Ukraine".
On the margin of the meeting, the ministers visited the liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal in Omišalj, Krk, and discussed the importance of energy solidarity and connectivity between countries. Minister Fajon took the occasion to announce the conclusion of an agreement with Croatia on solidarity measures to ensure steady gas supply, while negotiations of an agreement with its northern neighbour are underway, along the lines of the one concluded with Italy.