STA, 1 May 2019 - "The European Union is strong because it is united by its diversity and differences, big and small," Foreign Minister Miro Cerar tweeted on Wednesday. The minister, who is attending a ceremony in Warsaw, marking the 15th anniversary of the accession of ten countries to the EU, including Slovenia, congratulated Slovenians on the anniversary.
"On 1 May 2004, Slovenia celebrates 15 years in the European Union, along with Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland and Slovakia, who joined the EU on 1 May 2004. The enlargement has benefited all member states and their citizens," Cerar said in another tweet.
In the last 15 years, trade between old and new member states had tripled. It increased five times, among new member states alone. The purchase power of Slovenians rose by 30%, exports doubled, foreign investments tripled, the Foreign Ministry tweeted.
Širitev #EU je prinesla koristi vsem državam članicam. V 15 letih se je trgo. menjava med starimi in novimi članicami povečala za 3x, samo med novimi članicami pa za 5x. Kupna moč ?? državljanov se je povečala za 30 %, izvoz se je podvojil, vrednost tujih investicij pa potrojila. pic.twitter.com/jITC9f5llY— dr. Miro Cerar (@MiroCerar) May 1, 2019
"Slovenia is now co-deciding together with other EU countries on European projects and European future," Cerar wrote on the web site of his Modern Centre Party (SMC).
"Slovenia remains an eager supporter of the European enlargement in the Western Balkans," he said, stressing the importance of the upcoming EU election.
"This year's election is one of the most important elections in recent years. They will be held in a time when rallies honouring Benito Mussolini are being held in Milan, when an extreme rightist party returned to the Spanish parliament after 40 years, and when the voices of extreme rightists are becoming stronger in some other parliaments."
Cerar said that citizens must turn out for the election to defend the friendly, compassionate and liberal Europe and stand up to the attempts to demolish the European project.
The 15th anniversary of the enlargement is celebrated by high representatives of the ten countries in Warsaw today. The event is hosted by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
The officials were also joined by Romanian Prime Minister Viorica Dancila, Croatian PM Andrej Plenković and Hungarian PM Viktor Orban. The European Commission is represented by its Vice President Jyrki Katainen.
Cerar, who represents Slovenia at the celebration, also held bilateral talks with his Polish counterpart Jacek Czaputowicz on the sidelines of the event.
The pair talked about cooperation between Slovenia and Poland as part of the EU, according to Cerar.
Cerar also congratulated Slovenians on Labour Day, saying he wished everyone a decent job and pay.
Fifteen years after the big EU enlargement, the bloc is faced with Brexit and Euroscepticism, while the enlargement process has come to a standstill.
Western Balkan countries should be treated as a package if reconciliation is to be achieved in the region, analyst Stefani Weiss of the Bertelsmann foundation told the STA.
The enlargement process should be graduate and multilayered; there should be more intermediate steps before the final one - full-fledged membership, Weiss told the STA.
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