The Prime Minister, Janez Janša, attended the 30th Economic Forum in Poland, entitled ‘Europe in Search of Leadership’. The Economic Forum in Karpacz is the largest conference in Central and Eastern Europe. The Forum, which is traditionally held in Poland in early September, annually attracts more than 4000 guests (political, economic and social leaders) from over 60 countries in Europe, Asia and America. The purpose of the Forum is to create a favourable environment for the development of political and economic cooperation between EU Member States and their neighbours.
Prime Minister Janša participated in a panel discussion entitled: Recovery of Europe After Covid-19: The way forward. In the panel discussion, the Slovenian Prime Minister was joined by the Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, and the discussion was moderated by Jacek Karnowski, Editor-in-Chief of the Polish newspaper wSieci.
The Prime Minister began the discussion by referring to the Covid-19 pandemic. “The pandemic is a serious challenge, both for us, the smaller countries, as well as for the larger European countries. I hope that vaccination will soon resolve the problem. I also hope that this is the last year we have to put so much effort into fighting the pandemic,” said the Prime Minister. He continued the debate by underlining that he sees two processes in Europe: the transformation of the European economy and the strengthening of resilience. He emphasised that Slovenia’s role in this would be important. In his opinion, it is because of the pandemic that we need significant changes and reforms. “In the Recovery and Resilience Plan, we will strengthen the health sector, closing some of the gaps. Another important area is the digitisation and transformation of those areas most affected by the pandemic.” He also said that we were aware of the limited financial resources available in Europe. “We intend to develop new programmes to reinforce the economy.”
“The geostrategic situation has changed since the pandemic. All major democracies – the US, the European Union, India, Australia and Japan – experienced a decline in gross domestic product a year ago, while China’s economy has grown.” The EU has a lot to learn from recent events, the Prime Minister said.
In the debate, the Prime Minister added that Afghanistan has shown that NATO is highly dependent on a number of factors. “The European Union will be much more exposed to illegal migration than the United States following the US withdrawal from Afghanistan, due to its geographical location,” said the Prime Minister, pointing out that we are already facing illegal migration and hybrid warfare, also in Slovenia. The situation in Afghanistan will make it even worse.
The Prime Minister concluded his reflections in a panel discussion at the 30th Economic Forum in Poland by saying that cybersecurity is one of the top priorities and of utmost importance for the European Union. “We need to be able to withstand these attacks, which are only getting stronger. Together, we have more potential than Russia.” On Afghanistan he went on to point out that the situation in Ukraine is actually more pertinent than Afghanistan and that Europe must focus on common challenges in the region as a whole.