Prime Minister Janez Janša on a working visit to Brussels
Today, Prime Minister Janez Janša was on a working visit to Brussels. In the morning, he met Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General, and later in the day, the Prime Minister met Janez Lenarčič, the Slovenian Commissioner, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission.
During their morning meeting, the Prime Minister and Charles Michel discussed the Multiannual Financial Framework, the recovery fund, the efforts for a stronger and more resilient Europe, and Slovenia’s presidency priorities.
The Prime Minister then held discussions with Jens Stoltenberg, NATO Secretary General. In a joint statement for the media, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that the discussions with the Slovenian Prime Minister involved the response of allied countries to the coronavirus, whereby he thanked Slovenia for the assistance within the Alliance and its role during the Alliance missions and operations. He also highlighted Slovenia’s role in the promotion of peace and stability in the Western Balkans, which the Secretary General stated was good for the region.
In the press release, Prime Minister Janša expressed satisfaction that he and the Secretary General were able to continue their discussions, which started in mid-May, during their telephone conversation. The Slovenian Prime Minister emphasised that Slovenia had enhanced its presence in the Alliance and also met its obligations.
"One of the largest problems is the situation evolving regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, regarding which we are at the onset of the second wave and require additional measures to avoid a halt in public life or the so-called lockdown. The measures being adopted are vital to the stability and economic recovery of countries," said the Prime Minister. On that note, he also added that, although NATO was not the organisation that was required to respond to the coronavirus crisis first, it nevertheless played a significant role. "So far NATO’s response in this crisis has been very accurate and coordinated, and at this point, I would like to thank Secretary General Stoltenberg for his cooperation in these challenging times," said the Prime Minister, going on to add that NATO and allied countries were prepared for the second wave of the epidemic. "It is vital to act in accordance with the lessons learned during the first wave of the crisis, and I am pleased that we have already prepared a good plan for the future," stressed the Slovenian Prime Minister and added that the COVID-19 pandemic revealed how very important it is to further enhance the strategic partnership between NATO and the EU.
Prime Minister Janša said that he had also spoken with the NATO Secretary General about Slovenia’s cooperation in NATO missions and operations. "Slovenia will maintain an active role in this respect in spite of the challenges we face due to COVID-19 and its economic consequences," emphasised the Prime Minister.
The discussion partners also spoke about the modernisation of the Slovenian Armed Forces. "The Slovenian Government approved the act on the provision of funds for investment in the Slovenian Armed Forces, which will ensure EUR 780 million for enhancing the capabilities of the Slovenian Armed Forces in the next six years to provide stability for our defence forces in the coming years. Our defence system will thus be stronger and our commitment to NATO missions and operations and our obligations will be more realistic and realistically met than in recent years," added the Prime Minister.
In his reply to a reporter’s question, Prime Minister Janša explained in more detail that the main difference between promises about the modernisation of the Slovenian Armed Forces given to NATO in the last decade and the commitments currently being given was in the fact that the past promises were based in particular on the size of the annual budget. "There was no stability in those promises because the budget depended on relevant political debates. Which is why we have proposed an act that will allow planning, stable investment in, and financing of, the Slovenian Armed Forces over the next six years," said Prime Minister Janša. He also pointed out the importance of a suitably functional transport system, which was especially brought into focus at the time of the coronavirus crisis. "During the epidemic, it became evident how important transport capacities are during a period when regular routes are being disrupted, and medical and protective equipment is needed in real time," explained the Prime Minister, and added that part of the funds from the relevant act will be earmarked for the provision of suitable transport. "We are also committed to improving labour standards in the Slovenian Armed Forces and have already adopted certain measures to improve the wage system of our military personnel and their working environment."
To a reporter’s question about the discussions with Charles Michel, President of the European Council, particularly in relation to the recovery fund and his comments in regard to the letter from Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, relating to the ECB archives, the Prime Minister replied that Slovenia has two key objectives in the negotiations concerning the future Multiannual Financial Framework and the recovery plan, i.e. that the final agreement must be as close to the proposal of the European Commission as possible and that the agreement be reached as soon as possible.
"We know that certain compromises will be necessary, but the greater the similarity between the final agreement and the Commission’s proposal, the better that will be for Slovenia and the majority of Member States," replied Prime Minister Janša. According to the Prime Minister, the second key objective is to reach an agreement as soon as possible. He highlighted that time was money and that we are all aware that the pandemic is not over, which is why quick steps were very important for a proper response and provision of solutions.
The EU Recovery Package consist of the future seven-year EU budget in the amount of EUR 1,100 billion and the recovery plan worth EUR 750 billion, of which two thirds would be earmarked for grants and one third for loans.
In connection with the letter from Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, the Prime Minister expressed his satisfaction that the European Commission was prepared to discuss this topic, and that "it is not possible to say at this point what the result of future discussions will be."
Prime Minister Janša then met EU Commissioner Janez Lenarčič and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission. With the latter, he discussed current European affairs, particularly, the revised Multiannual Financial Framework, the instrument for recovery and measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic.