Prime Minister on a working visit to Rome
On his working visit to Rome, Prime Minister Robert Golob had an official meeting with his host, the President of the Council of Ministers of the Italian Republic, Giorgia Meloni. At the forefront of the meeting were the strengthening of cooperation, the migration issue, current foreign policy topics and the national communities of both countries.
The visit affirmed the strategic alliance of Slovenia and Italy with regard to all important European and global matters. At their meeting in the Chigi Palace in Rome, the two leaders discussed how the cooperation can be further strengthened to the benefit of the citizens of both countries.
Prime Minister Golob highlighted two important areas of cooperation – energy and defence. He recalled that last winter, when there was a shortage of natural gas throughout Europe, Italy was the first to come to Slovenia's aid with a solidarity agreement. The Algerian gas supplied to Slovenia today transits the territory of Italy. In the area of defence, the cooperation between the military industries of the two countries is expected to begin. Last year, Italy was Slovenia's third most important foreign trading partner. The volume of trade in goods amounted to 12 billion euro. Equally important were the trade in services, in particularly in tourism, and investments.
With regard to the migration issue, Golob reiterated Slovenia's position of strong support for Schengen and the open borders policy. He said that the temporary border controls must not become a permanent feature and that we must make every effort to ensure that the border populations and the economy do not suffer. Slovenia would like to abolish border controls as soon as possible. All further measures will be coordinated with Italy, as has been done so far.
Golob and Meloni also discussed the issues of the Slovenian national community in Italy and the Italian national community in Slovenia. The minorities on both sides of the border are a source of harmony and contribute significantly to the good neighbourly relations. Golob remarked that it is in our common interest to strengthen them, including financially. He said that today he received very clear expressions of opinion in favour of the possibility of the Italian Government supporting the strengthening of the Slovenian minority's financing. The discussion partners also talked about the permanent representation of the Slovenian minority in the Italian Parliament and the permanent representation in the Regional Council of Friuli Venezia Giulia.
Slovenia and Italy also cooperate at the EU level on the most topical foreign policy issues, such as calming the situation in the Middle East and supporting the European integration of the Western Balkan countries. At the December European Council meeting, Slovenia and Italy will therefore push for a decision to open membership negotiations with BiH, alongside Ukraine and Moldova. As Prime Minister Golob said, "The integration of the Western Balkan countries into the EU is a strategic interest of the Union. In this way, we will be able to stabilise the region and thus make our small contribution to peace on our continent in these very challenging times."
Prime Minister Golob today also expressed his clear support for Italy's humanitarian initiative for Gaza. "Italy has sent its hospital ship to the area and Slovenia will contribute its available resources to this initiative. We believe that the sea route is one of the ways to help the unfortunate people of Gaza," said the Slovenian Prime Minister.
Finally, the two officials discussed the opportunity for cooperation between the two countries provided by the European Capital of Culture 2025 initiative. He invited his colleague Meloni to the meeting on this occasion and underlined that all the interlocutors today had expressed their willingness and desire to cooperate in the project. "We all see this as a very important event to bring two countries and two peoples even closer together", the Prime Minister concluded.
The Prime Minister also had a working lunch with Slovenian Senator Tatjana Rojc. They discussed the need to further strengthen cooperation between the two countries, in particular for the benefit of the Slovenian national community in Italy. In the final part of the visit to Rome, the Prime Minister was also received by Ignazio La Russa, President of the Italian Senate, and Lorenzo Fontana, President of the Italian Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of parliament. They confirmed the excellent relations between the two countries and exchanged views on EU enlargement to the Western Balkans, the fight against illegal migration and the importance of the minorities on both sides of the border.