The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, and the Federal President of the Republic of Austria, Dr Heinz Fischer, believe that there are a number of potential opportunities of mutual interest to the two countries as yet untapped
Ljubljana, 2. 9. 2013 | press release
At the invitation of the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, the Federal President of the Republic of Austria, Heinz Fischer, and his wife Margit are paying an official visit to Slovenia. The second day of the official visit began with the reception of the Austrian President and his wife at the Presidential Palace in Ljubljana, which was followed by talks between the two presidents and their delegations. After the talks, a ladies’ programme was organised for Ms Tanja Pečar and Ms Margit Fischer. They visited the exhibition “The Wheel, 5,200 Years” at the Ljubljana City Museum and the House of Experiments.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA
Today’s talks between the two presidents represent a continuation of the dialogue initiated after President Pahor’s visit to Vienna in February this year. The purpose of the talks was particularly to strengthen the bilateral dialogue and seek opportunities for closer cooperation between the two friendly neighbouring countries, especially in the economic field.
The Slovenian President first highlighted the friendly relations between the two countries and called for continued strengthening of bilateral friendship and cooperation. Such bilateral dialogue has been upgraded in regional, European and multilateral frameworks, as the two countries have striven to increase their influence and the potential for the realisation of their joint interests through integration. During the past year, Slovenia has particularly intensified its relations with the governments of Austria’s federal lands, where there remain a number of unexploited opportunities for cross-border regional cooperation.
Also today, Presidents Pahor and Fischer had a telephone conversation with Croatian President Ivo Josipović. The three agreed to hold informal trilateral annual meetings from next year onwards with a view to promoting economic, political, cultural and other cooperation in the region.
Photo: Stanko Gruden/STA
In his statement to the media, President Pahor said that political cooperation between Slovenia and Austria was extremely important, since it paved the way for other possibilities of cooperation between the two nations, not only political but also economic, and stressed that he was in favour of Slovenia’s further opening up to foreign investment.
As regards the solving of the domestic economic crisis, President Pahor emphasised that he was still convinced that Slovenia could solve its problems alone, though he warned that time was running out. Therefore what is needed is courage, political determination and political consensus and agreement to implement the necessary measures without delay and hesitation, he noted. Mr Pahor further said that he encouraged and supported the Government in the realisation of its plans and effective fiscal consolidation, rehabilitation of the banking system and incentives for economic recovery: “Only in this way can Slovenia preserve its status in the international political community: the status of a country capable of solving its own problems,” said President Pahor.
The two heads of state agreed that their respective countries could make better use of untapped potential in their common interest, in particular in the fields of energy, transport infrastructure, and the integration of enterprises in the automotive and pharmaceutical industries. During the talks, President Pahor stressed that Austria has been the major foreign investor in Slovenia for several consecutive years. Austria was also the third most important trading partner of Slovenia in 2012, accounting for 10% of Slovenia’s total foreign trade. Austria boasts one of the lowest rates of unemployment among the young in the EU, so President Pahor listened with great interest to Austria’s experience with the employment of young people.
During the talks, President Pahor said that Slovenia would greatly appreciate more significant progress being made particularly in the area of the protection of rights and the regulation of the status of the Slovene minority in Carinthia and Styria.
The Austrian president thanked his Slovenian counterpart for yesterday’s visit to the German-speaking ethnic community in Kočevje. In this regard, President Pahor reiterated his position that the activities and projects to the benefit of this ethnic community are regulated by the Agreement on Cooperation in the Fields of Culture, Education and Science from 2001 and programmes periodically adopted on the basis of this Agreement, which represent an appropriate framework and scope for meeting this ethnic community’s needs and wishes. He also announced his intention to receive the representatives of the aforementioned ethnic community to discuss possible solutions for improving their activities aimed at preserving their language and cultural heritage. President Fischer agreed that the situation of the Slovene national minority in Carinthia could not be directly compared to that of the German-speaking ethnic community living in Slovenia.
The discussion also focused on topical EU issues, particularly on the future of the EU and topics associated with the strengthening of the Economic and Monetary Union and anti-crisis measures. The two presidents also exchanged views on the developments in Syria and agreed that the use of chemical weapons was unacceptable and that the UN should play the key role in preventing their use. They further exchanged views on the Western Balkans, expressing particular satisfaction with the Brdo Process, and on other topical foreign policy issues concerning the wider international community.
The Austrian and Slovenian Presidents will also participate today in the main panel discussion at the Bled Strategic Forum under the title “A Changing Europe in a Changing World”.