Tuesday , May 21 2024

The Slovenian President’s State Visit reflects the high level of Greek-Slovenian relations

 

President Katerina Sakellaropoulou rolls out the red carpet to welcome the visiting President of Slovenia, Nataša Pirc Musar.

 

President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina Sakellaropoulou welcomed President of Slovenia Nataša Pirc Musar at the Presidential Mansion on the occasion of the State Visit of the Slovenian President to Greece on April 8th-10th. The visit reflects the high level of Greek-Slovenian relations and the ties of friendship that lie in the deep past, President Sakellaropoulou said at an official lunch in honour of her visiting counterpart.

On this occasion, the Greek Head of State conferred upon her Slovenian counterpart the Grand Cross of the Order of the Redeemer, the highest distinction awarded to Heads of State for their contribution toward strengthening bilateral relations.

The Greek President said that during her State Visit to Slovenia three years ago, she had visited the town of Koper, the town of origin of Greece’s first governor, Ioannis Kapodistrias, “one of the most significant politicians that Greece has known, who has left an indelible mark on Greek and European history.”

The two countries’ relationship remains stable and is enforced through membership in the European Union and NATO, among others, while both countries remain committed to international law and good neighbourhood relations, despite worsening conflicts. “We unequivocally condemn every form of revisionism and every attempt for a violent overturning of recognised borders,” the Greek President said. “We recognise the right of countries to self-defence, but at all times with respect to international humanitarian law, and we support every effort aimed at protecting civilians and restoring peace.”

President Pirc Musar noted that the visit coincided with Slovenia’s celebration of the 20th Anniversary of its accession to NATO and the European Union. Slovenia, along with 10 other countries, signed the Accession Treaty in Athens, Greece, 21 years ago. The upcoming European elections are of great importance this year, given the complex interplay between numerous international issues and the national elections scheduled for 2024. The President stressed the importance of electing competent and forward-thinking representatives to European Parliament, recognising that preserving the international legal order and tackling the challenges of climate change are the central battles of our generation.

“We are already facing the devastating effects of climate change, as evidenced by the severe floods that hit both countries last year, causing billions of euros in damage. In the face of these challenges, a joint effort to tackle climate change is essential, building solidarity not only between nations, but also between generations. Both Greece and Slovenia are firmly committed to this effort,” she said.

In addition, respect for the international legal order is of paramount importance in safeguarding global peace, human rights and justice. The two Presidents called for close cooperation in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), in particular on issues such as promoting peace and justice in Gaza and Ukraine, protecting children and women in armed conflicts, pursuing climate and water diplomacy and addressing the Cyprus issue.

Particular attention was paid to the conflicts in Ukraine and Gaza. As a member of the UN Security Council, Slovenia played a crucial role in co-authoring a resolution with the other nine non-permanent members, highlighting the following commitments: hostilities in Gaza must stop. Humanitarian aid and protection must be provided to civilians. International humanitarian law must be respected. As President Pirc Musar stressed, Slovenia would continue to work for the recognition of Palestine and to promote peaceful coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.

Slovenia is also actively involved in promoting a just and lasting peace in Ukraine. It participates in various European aid programmes aimed at supporting the embattled Ukraine and calls for respect for the UN Charter and international law and order.

 

President Pirc Musar, accompanied by Slovenian Ambassador Tamara Pozar, with President of the European Affairs Committee and First Vice President of the Hellenic Parliament, Ioannis Plakiotakis and President of the Greece-Slovenia Friendship Parliamentary Group Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos.

 

Addressing the issue of migration also requires cooperation among nations and between the EU and countries of origin. As the Slovenian President highlighted, countries such as Greece and Italy or Spain should not bear the burden alone. She therefore considers the conclusion of the Pact on Migration and Asylum the right way forward and sees it as a step toward an integrated, efficient and fair European migration policy.

Both Slovenia and Greece support the EU’s enlargement to the Western Balkans and offer both political and technical assistance to the countries. The recent decision of the European Council to open accession negotiations with Bosnia and Herzegovina was hailed as a historic milestone. As emphasised by President Pirc Musar, the citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina deserve to live in the EU not as immigrants, but as full EU citizens.

Slovenia and Greece are also important economic partners. President Pirc Musar expressed her satisfaction with the re-establishment of the direct Aegean Airlines flight between Ljubljana and Athens, underlining the importance of transport connectivity for both tourism and economic cooperation. Bilateral trade in goods exceeds half a billion euros, with opportunities for further cooperation in areas such as the circular economy, renewable energy, digitalization, the food industry, pharmaceuticals and logistics. She also referred to Slovenian athletes in Greek teams, especially in the Panathinaicos FC.

The keynote speeches given by the two Presidents at the Delphi Economic Forum IX on 10th April 2024 also provide an incentive and opportunity to increase bilateral economic cooperation, while showcasing Slovenia’s tourism and economic prospects to Greek and foreign business people.

 

(Photos: GDL, Th.Manolopoulos & F.Kanellidou.)

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