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Third meeting of the foreign ministers of the informal Central 5 group in Slovenia

Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Tanja Fajon hosted a meeting of the foreign ministers of the informal Central 5 group, with the participation of Alexander Schallenberg, Minister of European and International Affairs of Austria, Jan Lipavský, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Czech Republic, Péter Szijjárto, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade of Hungary, and Juraj Blanár Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Slovakia.

The ministers met to discuss EU enlargement and internal reforms in the context of the EU's next strategic agenda, joint efforts in the Western Balkans, the EU migration policy, which is key to stabilising migration flows, and continued support for Ukraine. “This is the third time Slovenia has hosted the C5 meeting and I think this number speaks for itself. Cooperation in this format is an opportunity to discuss issues of key importance for our region. Regular dialogue also allows us to build mutual trust and exchange views on current foreign policy issues," Minister Fajon said in her opening address.

The ministers were in agreement on the importance of EU enlargement. “Together with the ministers of Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia, we reaffirmed our support for the Western Balkan countries on their path towards the EU. I am very pleased that the debate on EU enlargement has recently gained momentum, also thanks to the active role of the C5 countries. This is particularly evident in the European Council's decision to open accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina. We discussed how to provide concrete assistance to the Western Balkan countries in their reform processes, including during the Hungarian Presidency of the Council of the EU, and how to provide them coordinated technical assistance," the Minister said.

The ministers also discussed the situation in Ukraine. In this context, Minister Fajon outlined the assistance Slovenia has provided to Ukraine since the beginning of the war and stressed that, in addition to humanitarian and material aid, efforts should start to focus on development cooperation and reconstruction projects in Ukraine. “We must help Ukraine to achieve a lasting and just peace and to rebuild its country, both through EU mechanisms and bilaterally, and Slovenia will continue to be very active, especially in the areas of demining and providing rehabilitation to victims and psychosocial support to children and families.”

Part of the discussion at the ministerial meeting focused on migration. The C5 countries face a common challenge of irregular migration along the so-called Western Balkan migration route. “We all want our external Schengen borders to be strong," said Minister Fajon, recalling that Slovenia is committed to the full functioning of the Schengen area. The ministers agreed that people smuggling in the region is a challenge that can best be addressed together.

Minister Fajon also presented Slovenia's efforts on the Middle East conflict and stressed the importance of the resolution on Gaza adopted by the UN Security Council on Monday.

The foreign ministers of Slovenia, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia were joined by the Foreign Minister of Montenegro, Filip Ivanović, for a working lunch to discuss the current situation in Montenegro and the Western Balkans region and how the C5 countries can further help Montenegro make faster progress on its path towards the EU.

The next meeting of the Central 5 foreign ministers will take place in Slovakia.