President Pahor and Tanja Pečar host president of North Macedonia and spouse on official visit to Slovenia
Ljubljana, 15. 7. 2019 | press release
Today and tomorrow, President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor and his partner Tanja Pečar are hosting President of the Republic of North Macedonia Stevo Pendarovski, who is on an official visit to the Republic of Slovenia, accompanied by his spouse Elizabeta Gjorgievska.
Following an official reception with military honours in Congress Square in Ljubljana, President Pendarovski laid a wreath at the Monument to the Victims of All Wars and Victims Connected with Wars in Slovenia. Presidents Pahor and Pendarovski then had a private meeting, followed by plenary talks between the official delegations of Slovenia and North Macedonia, headed by their respective presidents.
The purpose of the official visit is to review cooperation between the two countries and to examine opportunities to intensify relations in various areas. In the talks, President Pahor reiterated Slovenia’s support for North Macedonia to join NATO, paying special attention to the expectations of starting North Macedonia’s accession negotiations to the European Union. Slovenia strongly supports this process and would like to see it start as soon as possible. President Pahor believes that the commencement of accession talks and the invitation to join NATO are crucial for further reform progress and political stability not just of North Macedonia but for the region as a whole. President Pahor also stressed that he expected the EU to rectify its mistake and give the green light for the start of North Macedonia’s accession negotiations in October. “It is not right that the EU failed to honour its promise to North Macedonia in June by not approving the start of accession negotiations, as the country has taken incredibly difficult steps to meet the high expectations of Greece and the international community to be able to continue its journey towards the Euro-Atlantic alliances,” stated President Pahor at a press conference. He added that this was also a strategic issue which impacted the entire Western Balkans and promised Slovenia’s continued support.
At the press conference, President Pahor again emphasised that enlargement to the Western Balkans must remain on the EU’s agenda, as it was a geopolitical issue, and postponing it could trigger instability in the region. According to him, it would be helpful to distinguish between candidates such as Ukraine and Turkey on the one hand and Western Balkan countries on the other, with the latter representing the natural progression of enlargement. The EU should treat the countries of the Western Balkans as a whole, so that they are encouraged to resolve their mutual issues.
President Pahor sees the fact that the visit to Slovenia is the first official visit by the new president of North Macedonia abroad as a continuation of excellent and exemplary relations between the two countries, good understanding, mutual support and assistance.
In the course of official talks, the presidents exchanged views on the current situation in North Macedonia and in the wider region, as well as on current international topics, including migration. President Pahor invited President Pendarovski to take an active role in the Brdo–Brijuni Process, a presidential initiative.
Economic cooperation between the two countries is good. In view of the interests of the Slovenian economy, North Macedonia is a very attractive investment destination, ranking fourth among the countries in which Slovenia invests the most (after Croatia, Serbia, and Bosnia and Herzegovina). In recent years, an upward trend has been observed in total trade, which amounted to EUR 307 million in 2018, mainly driven by imports. The two countries share a mutual interest in intensive continuation of cooperation in other areas.
During the official visit, the first ladies also had a programme. Tanja Pečar and Elizabeta Gjorgievska visited Ptuj and toured Ptuj Castle, followed by a visit to the Special Social Care and Employment Centre and Residential Unit of the Sožitje Ptuj Association. At Panorama Archaeological Park, they unveiled a bench of friendship between the two countries on behalf of the presidents. The Municipality of Ptuj and the twinned Municipality of Ohrid nurture understanding and friendship between the citizens of both cities and countries. The bench in Ptuj is already the seventeenth bench of friendship unveiled by President Pahor and his guests during official presidential visits to Slovenia as a lasting reminder of these visits and of good and friendly relations.