PM Šarec Warns of Populism, Calls for Proactive, Balanced Foreign Policy

By , 24 Apr 2019, 15:54 PM Politics
Marjan Šarec speaking at the meeting of Slovenian diplomats Marjan Šarec speaking at the meeting of Slovenian diplomats Facebook

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EU must resist populism

STA, 24 April 2019 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec warned of the danger of populism in an interview with the Associated Press, arguing that the EU needed more efficient leadership to successfully counter the populist surge.

Mainstream officials and parties have failed to deter right-wing groups, and populists are advancing in Europe because moderate parties have not been successful with their agenda, he said in an interview released on Tuesday.

Šarec cited prolonged Brexit talks as an example of the EU's slow decision-making, even though he said that delaying Britain's departure from the bloc was nevertheless positive.

"Brexit is quite good example how things are done in European Union, endless debates, then the date of exit is coming, then we are faced with it and we prolong again," he said.

"We need another leadership ... we need such leaders that will be proactive that will be more capable of fast decisions."

Turning to the upcoming elections to the European Parliament, Šarec also warned that elections are "always unpredictable," even though projections indicate mainstream parties will retain the majority.

"You can never know what will occur on the elections and that's the main problem that we have now," he said.

He compared the current situation in Europe with the late 1930s and the actions of the British prime minister at the time, Nevil Chamberlain, who he said believed Hitler when he sought to negotiate rather than confront him.

Still, he said, "there is always a chance and we must act in that way."

Slovenia needs a proactive, balanced foreign policy

STA, 24 April 2019 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec made the case for a proactive and balanced foreign policy as he addressed Slovenian diplomats gathered for their annual consultation on Wednesday.

"Some events in the world and in our immediate neighbourhood which raise doubt about the universally established principles of international relations, international law and European values affirm my conviction that such conduct must be resisted with a proactive European and foreign policy," he said.

For small countries with restricted resources, being principled and consistent, and having clear priorities, is crucial. "Slovenian diplomacy has all that."

Highlighting Slovenia's "continued commitment to a strong and effective EU and a firm transatlantic alliance," Šarec said it needed to remain in the most integrated group of EU countries and join forces with like-minded countries in strengthening the bloc's foundations. This will also be the guiding line of Slovenia's EU presidency in the second half of 2021.

A functioning EU is in Slovenia's interest, which requires addressing shortcomings and casting aside bad practices. "Member states must be treated equally and European institutions and their representatives must work in the interest of all member states and in accordance with European values."

Turning to the upcoming EU elections, Šarec was hopeful that "integrative and forward-looking European forces will prevail." He also has high hopes about the performance of EU institutions after the vote since "their conduct will largely determine the future development of the EU."

Šarec also highlighted Western Balkans as a region of strategic importance and said Slovenia wanted to shortly see North Macedonia and Albania making progress towards the EU.

Implementation of the border arbitration agreement with Croatia would also be an important message to the region, he said, reiterating the long-standing position that Croatia's refusal to implement the deal is "unacceptable and raises concern about the state of the rule of law."

Despite challenges, Šarec wants a strengthening of relations with all neighbours in areas of shared interest. But it is also important that Slovenia expand its circle of partners and strengthen bilateral ties with other countries with shared interests.

"It is important that we are responsive to the developments in the international community and to constantly seek alliances and opportunities," he said.

Šarec also highlighted the need to pursue a balanced foreign policy, play an active role in international institutions, and actively participate in the preservation of international peace and security, including by investing in the defence and security system.

The prime minister also urged economic officers working at diplomatic missions to leverage economic diplomacy to help Slovenian companies penetrate foreign markets and promote Slovenia as a location for foreign direct investment.

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