Working visit by State Secretary Simona Leskovar in Paris
On the margins of the UNESCO General Conference in Paris, where she met with UNESCO Assistant Director-General for Communication and Information Moez Chakchouk, State Secretary Leskovar held talks at the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Office of the President of France and in the Senate.
State Secretary Leskovar met with Amélie de Montchalin, State Secretary at the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and they agreed that addressing the many challenges in the international community requires a strong and unified EU. In this light they also touched upon the situation in the Western Balkans and the importance of meeting the commitments and objectives by both the countries of the region and the EU.
State Secretary Leskovar reiterated Slovenia’s support for the progress of Western Balkan countries in their Euro-Atlantic integration and added that Slovenia sees the EU enlargement process as a geopolitical decision and a commitment of EU member states that needs to be fulfilled.
The EU enlargement to the Western Balkan countries was also the topic of discussion with other interlocutors, including Jean Bizet, President of the European Affairs Committee, and Senator Colette Melot, Head of the France–Slovenia Friendship Group of the French Senate.
At the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, State Secretary Leskovar also met with Secretary-General François Delattre to discuss key strategic and foreign policy issues of the global community, from Iran and Syria, China, Russia and Ukraine to cooperation within the EU and Nato. In particular, they discussed issues on the functioning of an effective multilateral system and agreed that Slovenia and France are close allies and partners who need to strengthen their cooperation and activities in this field.
State Secretary Leskovar underscored the strategic partnership between the two countries and the importance of exchanging visits at the highest political level. The high officials spoke in favour of a strengthened dialogue at all levels, including the political, particularly in light of the preparations for Slovenia’s and France’s presidencies of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2021 and first half of 2022 respectively.
At the Office of the President of France, State Secretary Leskovar held talks with the Strategic Affairs Adviser to the French President Etienne de Gonneville, both advocating a strong and unified EU in its partnerships with third countries and in ensuring peace in its neighbourhood and beyond. A strategically autonomous EU would better protect its interests and operate within a multilateral system, they agreed.
State Secretary Leskovar also attended the plenary debate of the 40th UNESCO General Conference, which is taking place from 12 to 27 November, and in her talks with other participants reaffirmed Slovenia's strong commitment to the organisation and many areas of joint action. At the conclusion of the conference, the setting up of the International Research Centre for Artificial Intelligence in Slovenia is expected to be approved. Slovenia, a member of the UNESCO Executive Board, cooperates with UNESCO in many areas, from education and science to youth, human rights, climate change and artificial intelligence.