24 May 2019
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Western Balkans is a traditionally important market for Slovenia with companies from the country already boasting a strong presence. However, Dr Cerar believes there is still room for growth and new businesses should get the government’s support to enter the region’s market.

Among other top national priorities remains a strong Europe and good transatlantic relations with the USA and Canada. Dr. Cerar recently paid an official visit to the United Sates of America, the first Slovene foreign minister on a state visit to the country in eight years. During the visit, dr. Cerar urged Washington to be more present in Europe. In a comment to this publication, he also emphasised that having a strong economic US presence in Europe is not enough.

“It is a fact that partnership between Europe and USA is still irreplaceable for both sides. Political, economic and security relations between EU and USA are unique also on global scale. There are many more things that unite us, than those that divide us“
“Historical friendship ties Slovenia and the United States”

As he points to close political, economic and defence alliances between the United States and Slovenia, Cerar also stresses that economic cooperation continues to grow, with the United States being the third biggest investor in Slovenia.

Slovenia’s relations with Russia were seen by some as being better than would be appropriate for an EU member state, but dr. Cerar dismisses the allegation, saying that political relations are in line with the European Union policy.

“Slovenia is conducting a constructive dialogue with Russian delegations. To provide transparency and strengthen the atmosphere of trust, we need an exchange of opinion on current issues”

However, dr. Cerar points out that Russia is Slovenia’s important economic partner. Indeed, economic cooperation between the two countries is thriving with an increase in exports and direct investments.

Western Balkans are of geostrategic importance

“More micro, small and medium size companies should be encouraged and supported to expand to Western Balkans”

Western Balkans is historically important market for Slovenia and dr. Cerar believes there is a lot of room to further strengthen economic cooperation with countries in this region. A number of Slovenian largest companies have their branches across the Western Balkans but dr. Cerar believes that the government should also help other companies enter the market.

Peace and stability in the region is a top priority and Slovenia strongly supports European integration of Western Balkans. Following European Commission’s positive opinion on Macedonia and Albania to start accession negotiation process with the European Union, dr. Cerar is firm in his belief that when standards and obligations are met, the EU should be credible and take political decisions.

“Slovenia believes the enlargement policy is the most effective tool for peace and stability in the Western Balkans”

There is much need for cooperation in the Balkan region on many other issues, too. Fight against organised crime and fight against terrorism as well as cooperation on prevention of radicalisation and recruitment of foreign fighters which is also taking place in the region. The Balkan migration route is not closed, therefore managing migrations cannot be one-sided – cooperation among all states on the Balkan route is needed. In all of these respects – from economical issues to security challenges – peace and stability of the Western Balkans is crucial not just for the region, but for Slovenia and Europe as a whole.

Full interview was published in the annual The Adriatic Journal: Strategic Foresight 2019 magazine. To get a copy of the magazine, contact info@adriaticjournal.com

Adriatic Journal

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