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Saturday, December 3, 2022

Foreign Minister Fajon Declined The Invitation To Join The Visegrad Group

By: Tanja Brkić / Nova24tv

“The Visegrad Group, which includes the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary, should be extended to Slovenia,” Czech President Miloš Zeman said at the first meeting of the Visegrad four (V4) since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, European media outlets report. At the meeting in Bratislava, the leaders discussed energy security, inflation and the possible expansion of the Visegrad Group to other countries.

“Slovenia should be invited to join the Visegrad Group. The proposal was made by Czech President Miloš Zeman at the first meeting of the Visegrad Group leaders after the Russian invasion of Ukraine. If this happens, the Visegrad Group will stretch from the Baltic to the Adriatic Sea,” reads the tweet on the official Twitter account of the Visegrad Group, with which the former Prime Minister of Slovenia, Janez Janša, agreed and promptly thanked the Czech President Zeman. “We fully support this proposal. Thank you, Miloš Zeman,” he wrote on his profile.

Zeman said that he appreciated that all V4 countries had helped Ukrainian refugees and stressed that cooperation within the group was as useful as other similar formats, for example, those in the Benelux countries. “Visegrad has proven its role by preventing attempts to distribute illegal migrants in quotas among individual European countries,” said Zeman, who also advocated extending the V4 group to include Slovenia, which he said was part of the Visegrad cooperation. Janez Janša

also commented on his decision and said that he agreed with it and fully supported it.

The Presidents of Slovakia, Poland and Hungary used the post-summit press conference to praise Zeman, whose second term as President ends early next year. Polish President Andrzej Duda described him as a witty politician, while President Katalin Nováková said that Zeman would be missed at the meetings. Slovakian President Zuzana Čaputová pointed out the inconsistent position of the V4 countries on military aid to Kyiv. Hungary had previously refused the flow of Western arms through its territory to Ukraine. However, Zeman, who was also known for his pro-Russian stance before the war in Ukraine and who also had sympathy for the Hungarian government, said that Budapest was helping Kyiv demine Ukrainian territory.

What does the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tanja Fajon, have to say about this? Given the fact that Czech President Miloš Zeman has proposed Slovenia’s inclusion in the Visegrad Group, we wanted to know whether the current Minister of Foreign Affairs, Tanja Fajon, agrees with this and how she comments on Zeman’s proposal, in addition to what she sees as the advantages or disadvantages of a possible association of Slovenia with the group in question. We addressed our questions directly to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

We are publishing the Ministry’s response below:

“The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia has not received an invitation for Slovenia to join the Visegrad Group (V4). The Czech President Miloš Zeman has publicly stated on several occasions in the past that the V4 should invite Slovenia to join its ranks.

Slovenia has been cooperating with the Visegrad Group for many years now, in various areas and at various levels, including at the level of the President of the Republic and the Speaker of the National Assembly, in addition to the government level. Slovenia shares common interests with the V4 countries, stemming mainly from their geographical location, membership in the European Union, and extensive economic cooperation. We have other common interests with the V4 countries as well, such as infrastructure and energy integration, increasing growth and competitiveness, and reducing development disparities between the EU Member States. Cooperation is particularly well developed in the areas of cohesion policy, agricultural policy, the EU budget, and the construction of regional transport infrastructure, and we also share support for the Western Balkan countries on their path to the European Union. The importance of Slovenia’s cooperation with the V4 group of countries was also confirmed during the COVID-19 epidemic.

Representatives of the Republic of Slovenia attend meetings to which they are invited in the extended V4 format, which include other countries in addition to Slovenia.

There is no need for an additional platform for Slovenia’s otherwise extensive cooperation with V4 at this time.”

To interpret the answer of the Ministry, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has no particular desire to join the Visegrad Group.

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