Interview with President of republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor for the Middle East News Agency (MENA)
Egypt, 6. 11. 2022 | press release, interview
Interview with H. E President of republic of Slovenia Mr. Borut Pahor by Shohrat Aref, Managing Editor of the Middle East News Agency (MENA)- Egypt are hereunder:
1. Would you please assess climate change as a geopolitical problem which can be a trigger of conflicts in the Continent and can cause new waves of immigrants influx from Africa to Europe?
Climate change is the ultimate issue of our generation. In the past year, I sense that activities on the matter have taken a step back due to war in Ukraine and I am concerned about that. Undoubtedly, we must make every effort possible to end the war as soon as possible and peacefully resolve the conflict, but we must not forget that climate change had been the ultimate global issue up until the war started in February 2022. This is something I have discussed with members of my Standing Committee on Climate Policy ahead of COP27 and we have issued a special Recommendation, in which we expressed our strong support to the youth and the message they carried in Climate Relay from Glasgow to Sharm-El-Sheikh: the time is running out.
Slovenia shares concerns regarding climate change impact and other environmental issues. This is one of the focal points of my presidency and together with members of my Standing Committee for Climate Policy, we have worked extensively and hard to contribute to raising awareness, finding solutions and calling on decision-makers and the people to joining the cause. One of the most important aspects is that climate change is a global issue and as such needs global engagement. It is our common responsibility to find effective solutions.
We are all in some way affected by the climate change and climate change already has and will have geopolitical consequences. The effects of climate's impact on security have become impossible to deny. However how this plays out in various conflicts depends on local, social, political and economic dynamics of the area where conflict is taking place. Climate change consequences are multifaceted from floods, droughts, deforestation, hunger, and lack of water to conflicts, insecurity, human mobility and migration. Concretely we can observe that farmers, indigenous, ancestral land owners are facing multiple risks due to climate change and climate variability and those risks combined with insecure tenures can be a potent mixture for instability, conflicts and violence.
Although people fleeing the consequences of climate change try to find refuge within the country or in the homeland neighbourhood, we are also witnessing new migration influx from Africa and elsewhere to Europe. Our first duty is to combat the consequences of climate change and avoid people taking many times too dangerous migration routes. We have to do more to build better resilience of the most affected countries by climate change and to step up our help when it comes to adaptation and mitigation of climate change consequences. We need to make a case for an ‘EFFECTIVE Climate security’.
2. Would you please evaluate Egypt ‘s role as a stout advocate and champion on behalf of the African countries, to reach the target “from commitment to implementation“ in COP 27?
We welcome the active role of Egypt in the phase of implementation. We believe that organisation of COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh clearly demonstrates the importance Egypt pays to climate change. This is the critical decade for stepping up climate action. In order to reach our goal strong implementation of all parties is needed. We are aware of the great diversity of needs and vulnerabilities of countries and communities in Africa and around the world.
3. How far the EU states as developed countries are committed to provide finance at a value of $ 100 billion per year starting from year 2022 to combat climate change and assist the developing countries adapt and mitigate climate change?
The EU and its Member States have committed themselves to deliver on the collective USD 100 billion per year as soon as possible and through to 2025 from a wide variety of sources. In line with the Climate Finance Delivery Plan: Meeting the US$100 Billion Goal, incl. national strategies, we will continue working with other developed country Parties to properly address climate change challenges, aiming to meet the goal already in 2023. Our efforts have been underlined with climate finance figures, which clearly demonstrate the EU and its Member States are the largest contributor to international public climate finance and have more than doubled their contribution to climate finance to support developing countries since 2013. Nonetheless, we will continue progressing on our efforts, keeping in mind lessons learned, and needs, as well as priorities of developing countries. Additionally, we will strive to incentivize making finance flows consistent, which will provide an important part of our efforts to face the scale of the challenge ahead of us.
Slovenia is committed to doubling adaptation finance in line with the commitments agreed upon in Glasgow. In 2021, Slovenia has already significantly increased its financial contributions for adaptation and will continue to do so. We will strive to gradually increase our overall contributions to climate finance, both in the form of bilateral and multilateral financial flows.
4. Slovenia pays a great attention to the climate change and environment issues with special focus on water as it will preside the UNECE water conference in year 2024, an issue of great interest to Egypt because of the impact of climate change on the River Nile. Please comment
Water is very important to my country and the people. Like climate change, we take it very seriously. The right to clean drinking water is a human right under our Constitution and the motion to include that additional article to the Constitution gained widespread political and public support. Water is also one of our important foreign policy priorities with an important focus on Africa.
It is true, Slovenia is one of the most active parties of the UNECE Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, and will take over the Chairmanship of the Convention from 2024-2027.
Slovenia is a country with abundant and clean water resources, good expertise in integrated water resources management, the right to drinking water enshrined in its Constitution, and an excellent track-record in transboundary water cooperation.
There is a clear need for progressive development and a more ambitious transformational approach to water-related challenges. In this regard, Slovenia is also actively engaged in the preparatory process for the 2023 UN Water Conference.
Water is the biggest victim of climate change, yet the climate & water nexus is still not well recognized. We therefore welcome and support Egypt's determination to put water firmly on the agenda of COP 27 in Sharm El Sheikh.
5. Can we expect cooperation between Egypt and Slovenia after COP 27 on the climate change?
Climate change remains one of the most pressing global issues, especially now in the changed geopolitical context. And we are all destined to cooperate on these issues if we truly want to prevent the climate disaster that is looming on the horizon; it is our common responsibility to find effective solutions. As already mentioned, water is one of the areas where both countries could perhaps find ground for closer cooperation. After all, climate change is primarily a water crises.
6. Would you please brief me on the recent developments of relations between Egypt and Slovenia and what could be done to further develop these relations ?
Slovenia and Egypt maintain excellent relations. We consider Egypt our most important partner in the Middle East and North Africa, and we value your country's role and engagement in the region, including within the Union for the Mediterranean. I recall with great pleasure my visit to Egypt and the meeting I had with your President Mr El-Sisi in 2016. The intention of both, your president and myself, was to provide new impetus for the strengthening of bilateral relations, and I think we were successful. Since then, political contacts have intensified and new areas of possible cooperation have been explored. Although the overall trend in trade relations has also been very positive, I think in the future, more attention should be paid to finding new ways to promote stronger economic relations.
For example, Slovenia with the slogan Green.Creative.Smart. aims to be a pioneer in innovations and creativity, also focusing, inter alia, on sustainability and green technologies. Similarly, sustainability, knowledge and innovations feature prominently, as I understand, also in Egypt's development vision (Vision 2030) which both create new opportunities for bilateral cooperation. Information technology, with Ljubljana hosting a seat of UNESCO International Research Centre on Artificial Intelligence (IRCAI), is another area with potential for cooperation, as are logistics, electronics and electrical engineering, renewable energies, health and tourism, to name just a few.
I would also like to emphasize that Slovenia and Egypt share common values and are both strong supporters of multilateralism and the central role of the United Nations in ensuring international peace and security and respect for international law. I should therefore mention that Slovenia has presented its candidature for the UN Security Council for non-permanent seat for the period of 2024-2025. As a non-permanent member, Slovenia would contribute to the preservation of international peace and security, deepen dialogue with other UN members and strengthen confidence in multilateralism. We would, of course, continue to work closely with our partners and friends, including Egypt, in achieving our goals.
Last but not least, I would also like to mention a unique historical connection between our two countries, the so called Alexandria women. Namely, from the second half of 19th century to the beginning of the Second World War, several thousand Slovenian women came to Egypt, particularly to Alexandria, to work in rich households as servants and to look after and to educate children. Most of these women were loving mothers who crossed the sea to be able to provide for the families they left behind. Many eventually returned home, but the descendants of those who stayed still form part of the Slovenian community in Egypt. I thought it was important to recognize the value of preserving this part of the Slovenian cultural and historical heritage, therefore, last July, I decided to officially acknowledge the contribution the Slovenian Society for the Preservation of the Heritage of the Alexandria Women has made to this end. This is one example of connections that bring our peoples together, and I am sure there will be many more in the years to come.