By: Anita Gužvič / Nova24tv
The Consultation of Slovenian Diplomats continued on Wednesday at Brdo pri Kranju. The aim was to outline the guidelines for the work of the Ministry, which will now be called the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs. The diplomats were presented with a renewed foreign policy strategy, which had already been criticised at the first announcements of the new emphasis. Former Minister of Foreign Affairs Anže Logar explained that the previous strategy did not use the phrase “nuclear Europe,” because the European Union’s classification does not recognise it, while the former Ambassador to the United States of America, Tone Kajzer, believes that it is essentially a division between first- and second-tier countries. Political commentator Boštjan M. Turk was even more critical. He said that the Foreign Minister is insulting the countries and citizens of the Visegrad group.
The first Slovenian foreign policy strategy was adopted in 1999, followed by the next one in 2015. “The changed geopolitical situation, especially the search for the right answers to the global crises – health, security and economic – made it necessary to revise the strategy. The new strategy of the end of 2021 preserved the key elements of the 2015 strategy and added coherent positions and responses to the new challenges that are emerging on the international scene,” said former Foreign Minister Anže Logar about the strategy.
Why change the foreign policy strategy?
It is a common diplomatic practice that foreign policy strategies are refreshed every five to ten years. Logar believes that changing the strategy on an annual basis also changes the purpose of such a document. “It means that the ministry is changing it from a strategic document to an operational one.” He adds that no foreign policy strategy has ever used the term ‘nuclear Europe’ because the European Union does not have such a classification. “But Slovenia has been at the core of the EU since it joined the Community. We (can) be an equal and, above all, an active player on the European dance floor if we are aware of this, if we are confident and if we act like it. I hope that the current leadership of the ministry feels this way even without the new operational plan that has been announced,” Logar said.
Following Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon’s announcement that she was turning Slovenia towards nuclear Europe, commentator Boštjan M. Turk said that it was Boris Kidrič, to whose statue she bowed, who led Slovenia away from “core Europe,” to use the term she coined.
Fajon is creating opponents
Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon said that they had already promised in the coalition agreement to return Slovenia to the core part of the EU – “respecting the values of democracy, human rights, freedoms. This is also what we believed changed for the negative in the previous strategy,” she stressed. Commentator Boštjan M. Turk wondered what Anže Logar’s specific failure to respect human rights, democratic values and freedoms was. “This is an example of making things up. This is such nonsense that any person in their right mind cannot even comment on it. It is like Tanja Fajon reproaching Tina Maze for not being able to ski,” he said, adding that Logar was a completely different kind of diplomat than Tanja Fajon. Logar had not created any opponents, while Fajon already has a front in the Balkans, and this talk of returning Slovenia to nuclear Europe is humiliating for the Visegrad Group, which numbers up to 100 million – and no mature politician does that.
It is worth noting that after years of lost visions in foreign policy, under the leadership of Karl Erjavec and Miro Cerar, Slovenia returned to both the European and international map under the government of Janez Janša. Several neighbouring countries have said that they have never had such good cooperation with our country before.
In addition, according to former Ambassador to the USA, Božo Cerar, the visit of the former USA Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in August 2020 was a bright spot in Slovenian diplomacy. In the past, we had a really absurd situation in our relations with the USA for ten years.
Foreign policy must not be activistic
Former Ambassador to the USA, Tone Kajzer, began by noting that the international context has indeed changed over the past year, but that from a strategic point of view, the Foreign Policy Strategy adopted in December 2021 is still a relevant basis for pursuing a proactive foreign policy based on European and transatlantic values, which puts the interests of Slovenia and its citizens at its centre. He then went on to say that “the notion of a so-called core Europe is a casual figure of speech, which assumes that the EU is composed of a core and a periphery, or that the EU countries are first and second class. I personally refuse to classify Slovenia, or any other EU Member State, in a foreign policy context on the basis of such ideological terms. Slovenia is an equal and credible member of the EU and respects the EU’s value base, including democracy, the rule of law and human rights.”
He then commented on the announcement that Slovenia’s foreign policy will now also be “feminist.” In his view, foreign policy cannot be activistic in the sense that it only highlights certain aspects, such as feminism. Some governments have tried this, but later abandoned it, for example, Sweden, where they explained their decision by saying that in the real world, it is actions that count, not slogans. Kajzer argued that “when it comes to key value issues, we must always conduct a tolerant dialogue and reach the broadest political consensus for the good of Slovenian citizens, where I expect that proposals for possible changes to the strategy will first be discussed by the Foreign Policy Committee in the National Assembly.”
On the successes of the Janez Janša government
Kajzer concluded, “Our credibility in the foreign policy sphere was particularly strengthened during Slovenia’s second Presidency of the Council of the European Union, under the government of Janez Janša, when Dr Logar was Foreign Minister, and when we were also supporters of strengthening the EU-USA cooperation and trust, and of strengthening the transatlantic partnership. Last but not least, it was during this time that we launched the strategic dialogue with the US, when the US Foreign Minister visited Slovenia, and we signed a Memorandum of Cooperation on the use of nuclear energy for civilian purposes and an agreement on ensuring the security of 5G networks.”