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In Croatia, relations are expected to deteriorate with Fajon’s arrival at the helm of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs

By Sara Kovač (Nova24tv)

The Croatian Večernji list is critical of Slovenia’s policy towards Croatia if the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is taken over by SD president Tanja Fajon. Croatia will lose support for joining the Schengen area, as Fajon does not support Croatia’s entry into Schengen, and the arbitration dispute will escalate. “Slovenia’s Foreign Minister will open a front with Croatia: she will blackmail with Schengen,” Croatian media are concerned.

In its article, Večernji list emphasises that a few months ago the leader of the Social Democrats, Tanja Fajon, calculated that she would be the new Slovenian Prime Minister. “It seemed that the current ruling coalition led by Janez Janša could not get a new mandate, and the Coalition of the Constitutional Arc (KUL), consisting of four centre-left opposition parties, was convinced of the election victory. According to the KUL agreement, the new Prime Minister should become the leader of the party that won the most seats, and that was Tanja Fajon at the time,” they said.

However, Fajon’s dream of a mandate collapsed with the arrival of Robert Golob on the Slovenian political scene. The deep state wanted to consolidate his position, so it did everything with a new face to ensure his victory in the elections, as it did not look good for KUL before the elections. It seems that Fajon will become the first female Foreign Minister in independent Slovenia, as according to the first guesses, the position will very likely be hers.

According to Delo newspaper, the influence of women in Slovenian foreign policy may increase at the end of the year if the vice-president of the Svoboda Gibanje, Marta Kos, decides to run for President in the autumn. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is the only ministerial position that would be of interest in the new government. But as can be heard from the party, the presidents of the coalition parties will not be ruined by their ministerial elections.

We should work with both sides

Fajon’s arrival at Mladika heralds greater autonomy for the Ministry and a decisive turn from the Visegrad group, they announced. Concerns about Slovenia’s future foreign policy are already emerging in the public. Above all, they fear moving away from very good relations with the West, especially the United States, and cooperation with the Russian aggressor. Geopolitical expert and university professor Bogomil Ferfila also believes that we should work with both superpowers. “I think it is necessary, for a small country like Slovenia, to maintain partially open channels of communication with both sides,” he said.

Fajon has gained foreign political experience in Brussels, but in the past her friendship with representatives of the Iranian regime and complications in relations with some statesmen in the Western Balkans have been controversial. Večernji list also reports on this, pointing out Fajon’s opinion that Croatia does not have the conditions for Schengen, and that relations with Ljubljana will certainly be strained due to the arbitration dispute. “Slovenia’s Foreign Minister will open a front with Croatia: she will blackmail with Schengen,” foreign media are concerned.

Croats expect a tightening of policy between Ljubljana and Zagreb

Croatia’s entry into Schengen would relieve the Slovenian border police and reduce queues at the border with Croatia, while improving relations with them. “Nothing seems to symbolise the expected change in Slovenian foreign policy as well as the arrival of Tanja Fajon at the helm of Slovenian diplomacy, not only when it comes to rejecting the Visegrad adventure of (Janez) Janša and the project of introducing an illiberal model of power in Slovenia, but also in terms of Ljubljana’s policy towards Zagreb,” the journalist added.

“Tanja Fajon has always insisted on the implementation of the arbitration verdict, and she is also convinced that Croatia does not meet the criteria for joining Schengen. It should be remembered that such views are shared by the rest of the Slovenian political scene, so the leaving Prime Minister is isolated here,” he added. The current government considers the conclusions of the December session of the EU Home Affairs Council that Croatia is ready to join Schengen to be one of the greatest achievements of Slovenia’s EU presidency. All procedures could be completed during the French Presidency of the Council of the EU in the first half of 2022.

According to her, Fajon would do the exact opposite. “Therefore, we must count on the fact that the arrival of Tanja Fajon at the head of Slovenian diplomacy also means the return of arbitration and conditioning relations with Croatia with respect and implementation of the arbitration verdict, which also applies to Croatia’s entry into Schengen. This probably also means a new aggravation of relations between Ljubljana and Zagreb,” concluded the journalist of Večernji list.

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