State Secretary Tone Kajzer attended an informal meeting of the EU Foreign Affairs Council in the format of development cooperation ministers via an audio/video conference. The ministers discussed the EU’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and upheld a joint approach to assist partner countries termed ‘Team Europe’. The main goal is to ensure emergency assistance to partner countries, particularly the most vulnerable countries in Africa, the European neighbourhood and the Western Balkans, and at the same time to strengthen the EU’s role and increase the visibility of its development and humanitarian aid.
The ministers talked about the need for a coordinated response of the EU and its Member States. They advocated for a single framework termed Team Europe, which will ensure prompt, comprehensive and tangible assistance to partner countries. Africa was identified as the region in most dire need of assistance, particularly the vulnerable Sub-Saharan states, but a number of ministers noted that the countries in the European neighbourhood should not be overlooked, including those in the Western Balkans.
As we face one of the toughest challenges in the last few decades which demands daily adaptation and ever new measures, solidarity with developing countries and those afflicted by humanitarian crises is paramount, stressed State Secretary Kajzer. He underlined that special attention should be devoted to the Western Balkan countries as they must not feel neglected by the EU in this time of crisis. He called for a more topic-focussed response and said that the EU should prioritise ensuring access to safe drinking water and sanitation, as water is the cheapest and most effective means of curbing the Covid-19 spread. He also advocated the deployment of new technologies and AI in searching for answers on how to promptly respond to and solve the crisis.
As a responsible member of the international community and development aid donor, Slovenia intends to allocate all available humanitarian aid planned for this year to countries facing grave humanitarian situations to be better able to cope with the Covid-19 pandemic (Yemen, Rwanda, Western Balkans). In addition, Slovenia will reschedule all development and humanitarian projects already under way to include activities needed to fight the pandemic and its ramifications.
Slovenia has already provided material aid to the Western Balkan countries that requested it through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism. Material aid for North Macedonia was sent off in early April, and aid for Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina is scheduled to be dispatched by the end of this week.