Slovenian President receives Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation Fontelles

Ljubljana, 9. 4. 2019 | press release

Slovenian President Borut Pahor met with Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation Josep Borell Fontelles, who is on an official state visit to Slovenia.

President Pahor and Minister Borrell Fontelles emphasised the excellent and friendly relations between the two countries and expressed interest in their further strengthening. The open and friendly discussion was aided by the fact that the foreign minister and President Pahor have known each other for many years.

Slovenian President receives Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation Fontelles
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA

The leaders spent the majority of their time discussing the current situation in the Western Balkans. They exchanged opinions on the Euro-Atlantic prospects of the neighbouring Western Balkans region and possible incentives for those countries to continue implementing reforms despite the slowdown in the expansion of the EU. The Spanish foreign minister was interested in President Pahor’s assessment of the current situation. President Pahor noted that the expansion of the European Union to the countries of the Western Balkans has to be looked at as a geopolitical and not a technical issue. As the co-chairman of the Brdo Brijuni Process, President Pahor also voiced his expectations regarding the leaders’ summit that will be held in Albania in May.

The leaders also exchanged views about the future of the EU, and agreed that the Union needs to be strengthened in order to be able to continue to provide security, progress and prosperity. With regard to the upcoming European Parliament elections, President Pahor expressed his hope that its future composition will allow the Parliament to form a strong and pro-European coalition that will be prepared to deal with the upcoming challenges. President Pahor repeated his conviction that these will be the most important elections to the European Parliament since 1979, the very first year they were held.

The president and Foreign Minister Fontelles also spoke about Brexit. President Pahor noted that it will be important to find a solution that will be appropriate for both the EU and the United Kingdom, and emphasised the importance of accountability in efforts towards the approval of an exit agreement which would represent the best possible compromise, that would allow for an orderly exit and mitigate as much as possible the negative consequences on both people and the economy.

The president and the minister also exchanged views on various other international issues.

Foreign minister Fontelles briefed the president on the current internal political situation in Spain before the early elections, which will be held at the end of April, and on the Spanish government’s efforts at dialogue regarding Catalonia’s expectations of increased independence.

President Pahor and the Spanish foreign minister also briefly touched on economic cooperation, which occupies an important place in the two countries’ bilateral relations. Bilateral trade has increased significantly in the last few years, but the leaders agreed that there are a great deal of opportunities for improvement. Spain ranks in 16th place among Slovenia’s trade partners. Merchandise trade between the two countries in 2017 and 2018 was in excess of EUR 1 billion, reaching a record EUR 1.09 billion (up 3.4% on 2017) – of which Slovenian exports EUR 552 million (-0.3%) and imports EUR 541 million (+7.4%).

At the end of the meeting, President Pahor recalled his last visit to Madrid in June 2017, when he and King Felipe VI opened an exhibition of Slovenian modern art at the Reina Sofia Museum. He also re-extended his invitation to the Spanish King and Queen to visit Slovenia.

Slovenian President receives Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, the European Union and Cooperation Fontelles
Photo: Anže Malovrh/STA