STA, 8 March 2019 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec told the weekly Mladina that UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt had raised the issue of a UK company's gas extraction project in the north-east of Slovenia during their talks in Ljubljana at the end of February. Šarec said he found the manner of inquiry unusual.
The fracking attempts in the Petišovci area were stopped by former Environment Minister Jure Leben after UK company Ascent Resources had been pressuring the country to issue an environmental permit and even threatening with a lawsuit before an EU court.
Several environmental NGOs and parties had also accused UK Ambassador Sophie Honey of lobbying and putting pressure on Slovenian authorities to secure the permit for fracking.
Šarec said in an interview with Mladina that the case had come up in the talks with Hunt in Ljubljana on 21 February.
Asked whether Hunt had lobbied during the talks, Šarec replied in the affirmative. "Yes, his questions regarding this case were, I must say, unusual.
"I believe that such talks do not become a foreign secretary, because it makes the whole thing resemble horse-trading."
Šarec said he had told Hunt that "in Slovenia we operate in line with the law."
"I'd like to point out that the permit for fracking is not a matter of a favourable political stance toward this or other party but a matter of legislation.
"I am also personally convinced that these procedures for extracting oil or gas undoubtedly entail certain environmental risks."
Šarec also noted that lobbying was usually reported to the Commission for Corruption Prevention but it this case this was not necessary, because he had publicly spoken about it now.