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Minister Fajon at the C5: “To preserve Schengen, the EU must protect its external borders”.

Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Tanja Fajon took part in a meeting of foreign ministers of the Central5 (C5) group, which comprises Slovenia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia. The focus was on Russia's aggression against Ukraine, the situation in the Western Balkans and the fight against irregular migration.

In the C5 foreign ministers' discussion, Minister Fajon argued for continuing to support Ukraine and maintaining pressure on Russia. Regarding the impact of the war in Ukraine on energy security, she called for cooperation between EU Member States and international partners to increase energy resilience. She expressed support for Ukraine on its path towards the EU and stressed that the countries of the Western Balkans and other EU candidate countries should not be forgotten. “With the enlargement of the EU to include the countries of the Western Balkans, the EU can improve political and economic stability in the region. I really hope that we will not forget the so-called Bled Commitment, which commits the candidate countries and the EU to be ready for enlargement by 2030.”

In the light of increased migration pressures in Slovenia, Minister Fajon stressed the importance of effective control of the EU's external borders in the Western Balkans and the enhanced role of Frontex. She reiterated her support for the full functioning of the Schengen area and said that the temporary internal border controls that Austria has been applying for the last eight years were unjustified and should be replaced by alternative measures. “We must protect the EU's external borders if we want to keep Schengen alive. This is in our common interest”, said Minister Fajon.

In a discussion between foreign ministers and OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid, Minister Fajon argued for the preservation of the OSCE, which is key to Europe's security architecture.

In the morning before the C5 meeting, Minister Fajon delivered a lecture at the Diplomatic Academy in Vienna entitled “Future EU - Enlarged and Engaged”, in which she emphasised that “the many crises in Europe over the last 20 years have made us forget that peace and security are at the heart of the EU. That is why we have to make an effort to convince our partners around the world of the true intentions of our policies. Slovenia, as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council, can help in this regard”.

The meeting was hosted by Alexander Schallenberg, Minister for European and International Affairs of the Republic of Austria, and was attended by Minister Fajon, Jan Lipavský, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Péter Szijjártó, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, and Miroslav Wlachovský, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of the Slovak Republic. In the final part of the meeting, the ministers were joined by OSCE Secretary General Helga Schmid to discuss in particular the role of the OSCE in the European security architecture.

In the late afternoon, Minister Fajon will attend the Slovenian evening, an event organised by the Slovenian Tourist Board at the Weltmuseum in Vienna.