Prime Minister Golob in Zagreb: We are focused on the future and strengthening cooperation for the benefit of citizens
The Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Robert Golob, today paid an official visit to Croatia at the invitation of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, Andrej Plenković. He was accompanied in Zagreb by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, Tanja Fajon, and the Minister of the Environment, Climate and Energy, Bojan Kumer.
At their third joint meeting, the current Slovenian and Croatian Prime Ministers discussed strengthening cooperation between the two countries, energy, illegal migration and the situation in the Western Balkans. The two Prime Ministers signed an agreement on cooperation in the provision of emergency medical assistance and hospital treatment, and the two Line Ministers signed a solidarity agreement to ensure security of natural gas supply.
After his meeting with his Croatian counterpart in Banski Dvori, Prime Minister Golob said that Slovenia and Croatia have close mutual relations. He thanked Croatia for its support in voting for Slovenia as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council and congratulated Croatia on its fully joining the Schengen area and on its adoption of the euro. He expressed his satisfaction that, after 20 years of preparation, the Prime Ministers of the two countries signed an agreement on the access of the population of part of the Croatian Istria to the Izola General Hospital. As the Slovenian Prime Minister pointed out, the Izola General Hospital is returning to its old role and, with the agreement signed today, will provide important support of emergency medical assistance and hospital treatment for part of Istarska županija.
The conclusion of the bilateral agreement lays the foundations for the provision of emergency medical care in the cross-border area of Istarska županija and the Obalno-kraška region. The agreement refers to the cities of Umag, Novigrad and Buje, and the municipalities of Brtonigla, Grožnjan and Oprtalj. The area concerned has a population of around 320 000, which can double during the tourist season. Under the agreement, residents and visitors to the area will be able to access emergency medical services and treatment at the Izola General Hospital.
On the sidelines of the visit to Banski Dvori, the Slovenian Minister of the Environment, Climate and Energy, Bojan Kumer, and the Croatian Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development, Davor Filipović, signed an agreement on solidarity measures to ensure security of gas supply between the Governments of the Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Croatia. The agreement lays down the technical, legal and financial basis for the implementation of a solidarity mechanism between EU Member States to assist in the supply of gas to protected customers in accordance with EU regulation.
The full solidarity support mechanism is activated as a last resort for a Member State after it has already taken all measures to ensure the supply of protected customers, including the suspension of gas supplies. "Today's signing of the intergovernmental agreement on solidarity measures to ensure security of gas supply is of great importance. It is another in a series of examples of good practice in deepening relations between the two countries," said Minister Kumer at the signing of the document. "With this agreement, Slovenia has obtained alternative routes for its gas supplies, and we thank Croatia for taking this step of solidarity," added Mr Golob in a press statement made by Minister Kumer at Banski Dvori.
During the official visit, Prime Ministers Golob and Plenković also touched upon the issue of illegal migration in the Western Balkans. Slovenia will continue to support measures to prevent illegal migration, and in protecting the EU's external borders, it sees a key role for agencies and a better use of the units of Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency.
In migration management, the Prime Minister advocates open dialogue stating that in order to tackle migration effectively, Europe must look outwards, to solve the problem in the countries of origin and in transit countries. With regard to the Western Balkans, he called for coordinated action and cooperation. This should start with the police: "The Slovenian police cooperate very well with the police of Bosnia and Herzegovina, precisely to curb illegal migration. Frontex can only show its true value when it manages national police forces along the entire Western Balkan migration route." On the other hand, Mr Golob is convinced that Frontex should strengthen its operations along the entire Western Balkan migration route, including in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, the main transit countries. He welcomed Croatia's decision to host six Frontex advisers who are in charge of returning illegal migrants.
Regarding cooperation in the field of nuclear energy, the Slovenian Prime Minister is convinced that "the two countries can find some solutions for low and intermediate-level radioactive waste that would be of benefit to both countries." He also believes that the Krško NPP 2 project is in the common interest of both countries – from the point of view of the population and the economy. That is why he not only informed the Croatian side about the NPP2 project phase, but also invited them to participate. Slovenia is also interested in participating in the project of upgrading the LNG terminal on the island of Krk via which gas would be transported through Slovenia to Austria and on to Bavaria. In Zagreb, the two Prime Ministers called for mutually reinforcing economic, energy and transport ties.
Regarding the Slovenian-Croatian border issue, the Slovenian Prime Minister made it clear that the current government had not changed its position. Every head of the executive power is obliged to respect and implement the border arbitration award. "I have not and cannot change my thinking. We respect the position of the Government of the Republic of Croatia, but for us the arbitration must be carried out," added Prime Minister Golob. The implementation of the arbitration award is in our national interest, while the Croatian side would prefer to look for other solutions.
In the second part of his visit, the Slovenian Prime Minister also met with the President of the Republic of Croatia, Zoran Milanović, with whom he exchanged views on the situation in the region and advocated strengthening stability.
Prime Minister Golob concluded his first official visit to Croatia at the Croatian Parliament, where he was received by the Speaker of the Parliament, Gordan Jandroković. Mr Golob and Mr Jandroković confirmed the excellent relations between the two countries and called for the strengthening of neighbourly relations and cooperation.