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President Pahor received the President of the National Council of Austria Sobotka

Ljubljana, 6. 3. 2019 | press release

The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, today received the President of the National Council of Austria, Wolfgang Sobotka, who is currently on an official visit to Slovenia.

Mr. Pahor and Mr. Sobotka talked about bilateral relations and agreed that the two countries maintained friendly and extensive relations both at the political and professional level and strengthened them through successful cooperation in regional, European and multilateral connections. President Pahor stressed that successful European and foreign policy was based on good relations with neighbouring countries. They agreed that maintaining and upgrading excellent relations between the two neighbouring countries was a common goal. President Pahor expressed satisfaction that cooperation with the Republic of Austria has developed well and highlighted the importance of regular and intensive dialogue at all levels.

They touched upon the Euro–Atlantic future of the Western Balkan and possible incentives for the countries of the region to continue implementing reforms, despite the slow-down of the EU’s expansion. President Sobotka was interested in President Pahor's assessment of the current situation in the neighbouring region. According to President Pahor the European Union enlargement to the countries in the Western Balkan region is to be considered in geopolitical rather than in technical terms. As the co-leader of the Brdo–Brijuni initiative, he also outlined his expectations for the summit this May in Albania.

President Sobotko also mentioned the status of the German–speaking ethnic community in Slovenia and expressed his expectations regarding changes to their current status. In this regard, President Pahor reiterated his position that the Agreement on Cooperation in the Fields of Culture, Education and Science from 2001 and programmes periodically adopted on the basis of this Agreement represented an appropriate framework for diverse activities and programmes of the German–speaking ethnic community in Slovenia, which enrich Slovenian culture. As the President of the Republic, he always pays great attention to this area. He added that he saw no need for a constitutional amendment to this arrangement. President Pahor also pointed out that the Austrian State Treaty required Austria to provide for the protection of the Slovenian minority.

President Pahor and President Sobotka touched upon economic cooperation, which is very important in bilateral relations. Austria is the largest investor in the Slovenian economy, comes second in terms of the number of tourist visits, and is Slovenia’s third-largest trade partner. In 2017, the volume of trade between the two countries amounted to EUR 5 billion.

President Pahor received the President of the National Council of Austria Sobotka
Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA