China & Slovenia Discuss Multilateralism, EU Relations & 17+1 Initiative

By , 15 Dec 2019, 09:36 AM Politics
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Šarec Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Šarec Twitter

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STA, 14 December - Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi urged protecting multilateralism against unilateralism as he and his Slovenian counterpart Miro Cerar discussed bilateral relations, EU-China cooperation, and the 17+1 initiative, which brings together 17 Central and East European countries plus China.

Making a case for multilateralism at a time of major global changes, Wang stressed that both countries must continue to defend multilateralism and build open economy.

"We must adopt concrete measures to reject unilateralism and avert power politics in a bid to protect the international system with the UN at its centre, the international order backed by international law, and a multilateral trade system with the WTO as its basis," he said at a press conference in Ljubljana on Saturday.

Wang stressed that despite having different culture and history or being different in size, China and Slovenia respected the basic rules of international relations.

"This is the basis for our mutual trust, which benefits both countries," said Wang, who believes China-Slovenia relations are becoming increasingly mature and stable.

Cerar noted China was a superpower, a permanent UN Security Council member and an indispensable strategic partner of the EU's, but indicated the two sides did not always share the same positions. But he said China was a key partner of the EU's in fulfiling commitments from the Paris Agreement on climate change.

"We have different stances or standards in the EU and China, but we need to discuss it with respect and openly, but most of all we must seek common areas of cooperation, enhance constructive relations and respect each other," he said.

Cerar stressed political and economic cooperation had been growing, making China Slovenia's most important trading partner in Asia and the 13th most important one overall.

Since 2013, trade in goods increased by some 15% a year to reach EUR 1.3 billion in 2018, with several Slovenian firms opening their offices in China and China's investment increasing in Slovenia.

He also noted that 2020 would be a year of enhanced dialogue between the EU and China, with two EU-China summits planned alongside a 17+1 initiative summit.

Cerar also announced Slovenia and China would further strengthen cooperation next year in view of Slovenia's EU presidency in the second half of 2021.

Wang announced the 17+1 summit, to be held in Beijing in April, would focus on mutual connectivity, green development, innovation and openness.

It is Slovenia's wish to take the lead in the 17+1's coordinating mechanism for winter sports, an area where it has developed good cooperation with China.

The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is another area of cooperation, with Slovenia promoting its port of Koper as "one of the best points for good from Asia ... to reach Central and East Europe", stressed Cerar.

Wang would meanwhile also like to see more cooperation within the BRI in science, technology, advanced production, pharmaceutical industry, healthcare and winter sports, while he belives infrastructure, such as railways and ports, should be better connected.

"Let's hope for the Beijing summit to create better synergies between the 17+1 forum, the BRI, the EU's strategy to connect Europe and Asia, and the Three Seas initiative as well as development strategies of Central and East European countries," he said.

Cerar announced he would visit China with a business delegation next year, while a China-Slovenia Day of Science and Investment would be organised here.

Wang, who is en route to the Europe-Asia meeting in Spain, which will be also attended by Carer, also met President Borut Pahor.

The pair discussed topical issues in the international community and urged enhancing the good relations between the EU and China, Pahor's office said in a release.

Pahor also took the opportunity to invite Chinese President Xi Jinping to visit Slovenia.

Wang also met Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and Speaker Dejan Židan before completing his visit, the first to Slovenia by a Chinese foreign minister since 2008.

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