STA, 17 March 2021 - The parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee was to set up a friendship group with Taiwan today. But its chair Monika Gregorčič of the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) decided not to rush things. She said "a comparative study" on the matter would be commissioned before proceeding with the plan.
The committee has discussed the friendship group with Taiwan in previous terms, but the parliament's legal service drew to its attention that Slovenia recognises the Chinese government as the only legitimate government in China, while Taiwan is its unalienable part, said opposition Social Democrat (SD) MP Matjaž Nemec, a former chair of the committee.
He said a decision to set up a friendship group with Taiwan would in his view mean the committee "treats Taiwan as a state, which it isn't".
Nemec stressed the proposal to set up this group raised the important question of Slovenia's attitude towards both Taiwan and China.
He thus asked Foreign Minister Anže Logar whether setting up such a group with Taiwan, with which Slovenia has good relations, would affect its relations with China.
Logar assessed Slovenia's relations with China as good while its stance on relations with Taiwan remains unchanged.
"Slovenia and the rest of the world act in the direction of one China, which in terms of Taiwan means renouncing official ties but not economic and cultural cooperation."
He said several EU countries had business representations in Taiwan to advocate their economic interests, while some parliaments have groups of friendship with it.
As for Slovenia's good relations with China, Logar also said that soon after assuming office, he had talked over the phone with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, and Deputy Prime Minister and Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek had recently attended a 17+1 summit between Central and East European countries and China.
However, "with China we have a distinctly unbalanced bilateral trade in goods where we mostly import while we export little, which is not optimal from the aspect of exports".
Following the debate, the committee's chair Gregorčič decided to postpone the vote on the establishment of the friendship group.
"We don't want to act hastily and we'll commission a comparative study to make sure ... that all legal norms are respected," she announced.
Jožef Horvat, an MP for the coalition New Slovenia (NSi), inquired whether MEP Tanja Fajon's (S&D/SD) statements about democracy and media freedom in Serbia being at risk affected Slovenia's relations with Serbia.
Horvat believes the statements by Fajon, who chairs the European Parliament delegation for relations with Serbia, upset Serbian politics while he would like Slovenia to have good relations with the country.
Logar said Fajon did not express "heavy positions" only on Serbia in the European Parliament but also on Slovenia, saying this did not contribute to Slovenia's good reputation.
"If Tanja Fajon were foreign minister, this would have a very detrimental impact on relations with Serbia," said Logar, assuring the MPs he himself had very good relations with Serbian government representatives.
Logar said he would like to see those who represent Slovenia in the international arena to act in its best interest. If they are on "some other mission", then they should refrain from harming Slovenia's good reputation, he added.
Gregorčič meanwhile asked Logar about his visit to Ukraine yesterday.
He said Ukraine was a relatively large market which was developing very fast and had until recently been neglected "for one simple reason - because the foreign policy in the past was directed towards a country slightly more to the east and forgot to weave cultural and economic ties with Ukraine".
He believes there is great potential to increase economic cooperation. He said the Ukraine representatives would thus like to see a direct air route between Kiev and Ljubljana to be promptly introduced.