Prime Minister Janez Janša yesterday attended the 16th Bled Strategic Forum, which is being held under the title “The Future of Europe”.
In the morning, Prime Minister Janez Janša took part in the leaders’ panel on the future of Europe together with other leaders: President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, President of the European Council Charles Michel, Secretary of State of the Holy See Cardinal Pietro Parolin, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, European Commission Vice-President and Commissioner for Democracy and Demography Dubravka Šuica, and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić.
By way of introduction, Prime Minister Janša and other leaders discussed the importance of politics. In this regard, Prime Minister Janša said that the main purpose of politics was to reconcile different interests. “We all want to live in freedom, and for a society to develop, it is necessary to reconcile the different interests of people who are different from each other.” He also said that politicians should be truthful and keep their promises and deliver what they have promised.
When asked by the moderator about migrations and the European Union’s soft and hard power, he said that the EU’s soft power was not enough and that hard power was also necessary. He highlighted that EU aid to poor countries often fails to reach those who need it most because a safe environment is not guaranteed. In his opinion, soft power is also not enough to ensure a safe environment, particularly after what has happened in Afghanistan. “We see that the United States will no longer get involved with the actions of failing countries around the world,” he said. He said that hard power and how to bring hard power into European politics is one of the most important issues in the debate on the future of Europe. In his words, the crisis area at this moment is not only Afghanistan, drawing attention in particular to the Sahel region in Africa. “This is our immediate neighbourhood with 400 million people, a third of whom are ready to leave these countries,” he said.To be effective in terms of soft power, the EU also needs hard power, “otherwise we are just spending money and arguing with each other.” He also stressed that the European countries did not want to repeat the mistake that was made in 2015 regarding the expected wave of migration. “Not a single EU member state wants to repeat the experience of 2015 or the open borders policy, as happened in 2015 after the Syrian crisis.”
He said that the debate on EU enlargement to the Western Balkans was a strategic debate that was closely related to the debate on the future of Europe. “My view of the Europe of the future is that we need a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace with itself and its neighbourhood, and this cannot be achieved without enlargement.” He added that he is sad that in the last ten years, as shown in the programmes of European institutions and reports by the media, 90% of the topics were about how to “banish” a member state from the EU or how to shrink the EU. The discussions were not devoted to the strategic goal –enlargement. “This was a completely wrong direction, not only due to the substance, but also because this sends the wrong message to the candidate countries,” said the Prime Minister in commenting on the fact that the EU only talks about the exit of member states. He also thanked President of the European Council Charles Michel, who recognised that the process of EU enlargement to the Western Balkans needs to be included in the priorities of this semester. “The enlargement of the EU to the Western Balkans is one of the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU and that is why we will organise a summit of all European leaders in Slovenia in October. The issue of enlargement is a crucial strategic issue and after 15 years we are changing the attitude and the narrative. We are starting to talk about solutions and not about how to cause new problems,” said Prime Minister Janša in concluding his reflection.