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Minister Fajon at the Union for the Mediterranean meeting: “We all want peace”

Tanja Fajon, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs, attended the meeting of foreign ministers of the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM) in Barcelona, co-chaired by Josep Borrell, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, and Ayman Safadi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of Jordan.

Although initially planned as an occasion to celebrate the 15th anniversary of the UfM and to showcase its achievements, the meeting was entirely devoted to discussing the dramatic developments in the Middle East.

The format of the UfM, which brings together 43 Member States, of which 27 EU member states and 16 partner countries from the Southern and Eastern Mediterranean and the Balkans, allowed key players from the region to sit at the same table. The ministers agreed on the urgency of calming the situation and ending the humanitarian crisis by providing as much emergency humanitarian aid as possible.

Minister Fajon shared her impressions from her recent visit to the region. “We are at a critical moment. The situation in Gaza is dire. 7 October was a shocking day for everyone. Since then, two mothers have been killed every hour, seven women every two hours. Every ten minutes a child dies. Terrible statistics that cry out for a strong condemnation of the violations of international humanitarian law and for a ceasefire. Our primary task must be to protect civilians, which is why Slovenia strongly condemns the terrorist attacks by Hamas and calls for the immediate release of the hostages. We all want peace,” the Minister stressed in the debate. 

She announced a significant increase in Slovenia's humanitarian aid to Palestine and warned that it is necessary to start thinking about the future of Gaza and a peace plan for a lasting peace and stability in the Middle East: “We need to start working for tomorrow now. For a solution that will also guarantee the safety of Israelis. The best guarantee for their safety is a Palestinian state and the precondition for it is a stable and empowered Palestinian Authority.” She added: “The culture of hatred is something we must resolutely resist. We must not allow a war between two religions, between Jews and Muslims. We must do everything to avoid falling into this trap. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been going on for decades. Both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in peace and dignity."

On the sidelines of the meeting, Minister Fajon met separately with Secretary-General of the League of Arab States Ahmed Abul Geith, Secretary-General of the Union for the Mediterranean Nasser Kamel, and with the Foreign Ministers of Ireland and Lebanon, Micheál Martin and Abdallah Bou Habib, respectively.

In addition to exchanging views on the current situation in the Middle East, the Minister also used the bilateral meetings to promote the Euro-Mediterranean University (EMUNI). “More cooperation between nations means more understanding, and it all starts with young people and their education. Slovenia hosts EMUNI, a priority project of the Union for the Mediterranean, and we are committed to giving EMUNI a more prominent place as a platform for exchange between students and academics from the region," said Minister Fajon on the sidelines of the meetings.

Today, Minister Fajon will travel to New York to participate in a UN Security Council Open Debate on the conflict in the Middle East on 29 November 2023.