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President Pahor at the official visit by President of Iceland Jóhannesson: “For countries as small as Slovenia and Iceland, multilateralism is extremely important.”

Ljubljana, 28. 8. 2022 | press release

On Sunday, 28 August, and Monday, 29 August 2022, President of Iceland Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson is on an official visit to Slovenia with his wife, Eliza Reid, at the invitation of his Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor. This is the first official meeting of the current presidents of Slovenia and Iceland, who came to know each other at the bilateral meeting during the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York in September 2018 and have met several times since. With this visit, the states are also marking the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between them.

President Pahor at the official visit by President of Iceland Jóhannesson: “For countries as small as Slovenia and Iceland, multilateralism is extremely important.”
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

After an official reception with military honours, President Jóhannesson laid a wreath at the Memorial to All Victims of Wars and War-Related Victims in Congress Square in Ljubljana. The formal visit then moved to the Presidential Palace for talks between the two presidents and presidential couples and a plenary session between the Slovenian and Icelandic delegations headed by the two presidents.

At the press conference following the talks, President Pahor warmly welcomed President Jóhannesson and highlighted the friendly relations between Slovenia and Iceland. “I am delighted that President Jóhannesson accepted the invitation and that he is also to attend the Bled Strategic Forum,” he said. Mr Pahor also affirmed that it was his particular pleasure and honour to be able to host the President of Iceland precisely in the year that marks the 30th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two states, as Iceland was the first internationally recognised state to recognise Slovenia, this as early as December 1991.

The presidents expressed satisfaction that the political dialogue has strengthened over recent years and confirmed further cooperation in various areas of common interest. The presidents agreed that the states are allies who sincerely support one another, share similar views and have interests in common in multilateral frameworks, especially within the United Nations, NATO, the Council of Europe and other international organisations. President Pahor emphasised the significance of multilateralism: “For countries as small as Slovenia and Iceland, multilateralism is extremely important.” Presidents Pahor and Jóhannesson agreed that, regardless of their (small geographical) size, the countries’ contributions to the international community is considerable. Mr Pahor took the opportunity to thank Mr Jóhannesson for Iceland’s support of Slovenia’s candidacy for becoming a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council in the 2024–2025 period.

President Pahor at the official visit by President of Iceland Jóhannesson: “For countries as small as Slovenia and Iceland, multilateralism is extremely important.”
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

The presidents highlighted the significance of respect, cooperation, tolerance and harmony – values they both find to be essential when it comes to creating an auspicious and shared future.

In their talks, the presidents focused on the question of security, especially in terms of the war in Ukraine and the situation in the Western Balkans. Mr Pahor pointed to the importance of like-minded partners working closely together in condemning the Russian aggression against Ukraine and providing all the necessary support to the invaded country. The Slovenian president also highlighted the impact of war in Ukraine on security in Europe, especially the Western Balkans, and stressed the necessity of expanding the EU. In addition, Mr Pahor thanked Mr Jóhannesson for his sincere interest in the situation in this region.

President Pahor at the official visit by President of Iceland Jóhannesson: “For countries as small as Slovenia and Iceland, multilateralism is extremely important.”
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

The presidents also talked about climate change and about how the issue could be tackled more effectively. Both recognised that this year’s drought and record-breaking temperatures require immediate measures to mitigate and adapt to climate change, adding that we should learn from one another in this process. The presidents agreed that climate change is a global issue and stressed that we must promote sustainable practices and climate-related ambitions at an international level. They were in unison that this year’s COP27 climate change conference in Egypt will be an important milestone in furthering this ambition. Slovenia and Iceland share a long-standing commitment to environmental protection and climate action, including within the Green Group, which comprises six countries. President Jóhannesson also said that he has recently had the honour of glimpsing the future from above, as he took a flight in an electric aircraft made by the Slovenian company Pipistrel. He remarked that all of us and our descendants will be able to enjoy this view once we begin using green energy and eliminate fossil fuel use.

As part of the visit, Presidents Pahor and Jóhannesson will mark the genuine friendship between the two states by setting up a friendship bench by Lake Bohinj this afternoon. To celebrate Mr Jóhannesson’s first official visit to Slovenia and because they are both recreational runners, the presidents will then jog around Lake Bled together. The first day of the official visit will conclude with a gala dinner, which President Pahor will host at Vila Bled in honour of the President of Iceland and his wife, Eliza Reid.

As part of the official visit with the President of Slovenia, the President of Iceland will tomorrow visit the National Assembly and meet with its president, Urška Klakočar Zupančič, the Slovenian Prime Minister, Robert Golob, and the Minister of the Environment and Spatial Planning, Uroš Brežan. Tomorrow, President Jóhannesson will also attend the Bled Strategic Forum, where he will take part in the Leaders’ Panel.