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Pahor in Athens with 12 other presidents

Athens, 11. 10. 2019 | press release

On the invitation of President of the Hellenic Republic Prokopis Pavlopoulos, the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, met today in Athens with presidents of twelve EU Member States: Bulgaria, Croatia, Estonia, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, Malta, Poland and Portugal.

The presidents have been meeting in this format every year since 2003, when they came together in Arraiolos for the first time on the initiative of the Portuguese President.

The main topic of this year's meeting is the fundamental principle of solidarity as the key to strengthening the EU and further promoting European integration, and responding to the question of which steps to take next.

In the first discussion entitled "Effectively Tackling the Economic and Refugee Crisis", the presidents talked about the implementation of the solidarity principle in addressing the internal and external security challenges of a long economic and refugee crisis.

During the discussion, President Pahor expressed solidarity with Germany following the gun attack outside the synagogue in Halle. He proposed that the presidents make a joint call for abstention from violence and a peaceful resolution of current disputes on the Turkey–Syria border, remarking that Turkish President Erdogan should be urged not to use migrants as a weapon to blackmail the European Union.

Speaking in the first part of the meeting, the Slovenian President presented his views on the handling of the economic crisis a few years ago and the refugee crisis today. He said that the European Union had been more successful in combatting the economic crisis than it was in dealing with illegal migration which, in his opinion, was due to the fact that significantly less effort was devoted to the latter. He called attention to the numerous European Council meetings held ten years ago that would end up paving the way out of the economic crisis. He reiterated that, at the moment, the two most burning issues in the EU were migration and Brexit. He was certain that, if the EU failed to deal with these issues, it would be difficult to imagine a common future.

Later on, the Slovenian President said that one of the goals of solving the economic and financial crisis was to make the EU strong enough to be more resilient when faced with the next economic crisis. Elaborating on this issue, President Pahor stressed that the completion of the banking union would be valuable. Like many other countries, Slovenia is already seeing its economy slowing down; however, we believe that, this time, Slovenian companies and banks are better prepared than they were before the last crisis, said Pahor.

Unlike in the case of the economic crisis when the EU showed resolve that enabled it to achieve a specific result, fewer efforts were being invested in overcoming the migration crisis. President Pahor reiterated that an efficient resolution of the refugee issue required a coordinated and effective response from the entire international community.

Mr Pahor emphasised that solidarity was a much broader concept than the cohesion policy. Without solidarity, equality and respect, we will not succeed in responding to challenges such as climate change and digitisation, nor will we succeed in overcoming the security challenges, he said, adding that we needed to think outside the box when devising solutions.

In the second discussion entitled "Facing the EU's Current Security Challenges Together", President Pahor stressed that the EU had to develop its own security and defence policy. According to him, it is extremely important to realise that our security is tied in with the fate of the European Union. He called for an in-depth discussion and a new convention on the future of Europe.

The presidents will conclude the meeting with a state dinner in the Presidential Palace, hosted by the President of the Hellenic Republic Pavlopoulos.

Pahor in Athens with 12 other presidents
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

          Athens Declaration (as adopted on 11.10.2019).docxAthens Declaration (as adopted on 11.10.2019).docx