Ljubljana related

15 Mar 2019, 10:20 AM

STA, 14 March 2019 - Ireland was promised Slovenia's continued support with regard to Brexit as Minister of State for Food, Forestry and Horticulture Andrew Doyle held talks at the foreign and agriculture ministries on Thursday.

Meeting Foreign Ministry State Secretary Dobran Božič, Doyle was told bilateral cooperation was based on a shared understanding of values, principles and the rule of law.

"Božič provided assurances about Slovenia's solidarity with Ireland in the framework of the UK's exit from the EU," the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.

The officials also discussed the situation in the Western Balkans, the forthcoming Three Seas Initiative summit in Slovenia and Ireland's participation in the Bled Strategic Forum.

In talks with Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec, Doyle was quoted as saying that Ireland appreciated Slovenia's support in Brexit talks, in particular on the Irish border backstop.

Aside from the consequences of Brexit, the discussion also touched on the Common Agriculture Policy post-2020 and rural development, the Agriculture Ministry said.

All our stories on Slovenia and Brexit are here

14 Mar 2019, 16:00 PM

STA, 13 March 2019 - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said on Wednesday that he personally believes Britain's exit from the EU would probably be best postponed a little as things currently stand. He feels Slovenia would be ready to back a postponement provided that other member states did the same.

Speaking to the press during a two-day visit to Egypt, Cerar said a postponement "would probably make the most sense right now, but not for too long, since the matter is becoming unbearable".

Responding to Tuesday's rejection of the exit agreement by the British parliament, Cerar said an extension would still be better than a no-deal situation.

He repeated that an extension would need to be reasonably short, since all the cards have been on the table for some time.

"It is truly only about the UK government having to find some kind of path as soon as possible; things have been finalised enough on the EU27 side," Cerar said.

While stressing this was his personal opinion on a situation that still needed to be coordinated at government level, the minister said Slovenia would also be ready to back a reasonable extension should other member states do the same.

In any case, it will be first necessary to wait for a final decision by the British parliament, which will be deciding on a possible no-deal Brexit today, Cerar pointed out.

If this option gets rejected, a vote on an exit deadline extension will follow on Thursday.

All our stories on Slovenia and Brexit are here

03 Mar 2019, 12:08 PM

STA, 2 March 2019 - President Borut Pahor, who recently concluded an official a visit to the UK this week, has said in an interview with Sky News that the EU member states could agree with a short postponement of Brexit. "I think Slovenia and a lot of other countries would say yes" because "no one wants to see a hard Bbrexit in a chaotic way."

Speaking to the British TV station, Pahor added that Britain needs to show "clarity and consensus" and come back to the EU with a plan MPs can approve.

The Slovenian president's comments come as the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said he was ready to give the UK more guarantees that the Irish backstop was only intended to be temporary.

Pahor said he wanted a compromise on the Irish backstop to be found, but added that Slovenia would not approve a deal that Ireland disagreed with, according to the website of Sky News.

"It is not clear at the moment if United Kingdom has a clear position on some sort of compromise solution and if it fits the requirements of the majority in the House (of Commons)," he said in the exclusive interview.

Pahor believes that a delay to Brexit would not make a compromise any easier to find and expressed concern the European Parliament elections at the end of May could cause problems.

"If Brexit would become an issue of political campaign among the 27, I think this could even make more difficult the whole framework of negotiations between London and Brussels," he added.

Other stories on President Pahor’s UK Visit:

Pahor in UK this Week to Discuss Brexit (Background)

Pahor & Hunt Say Slovenia-UK Relations Good, Will Remain So After Brexit

Pahor Meets the Queen, UK Visit Continues Friday

President Borut Pahor: The Geopolitical Positioning of Europe (Video)

All our stories on Brexit and Slovenia are here

28 Feb 2019, 16:56 PM

STA, 28 February 2019 - President Borut Pahor was received by Queen Elizabeth II at Buckingham Palace on Thursday in what is considered the highlight of his official visit to the UK. The conversation with the queen was longer than had been expected, according to Pahor's office.

Pahor said the queen had been extremely friendly and very much focussed on the talks, telling TV Slovenija that he was surprised by how well informed she was. "Substantively the talks were much richer than I would have expected."

Even though the monarch does not take sides on political issues, Pahor said she did this time, and she induced him to share his views on issues that concern her.

Pahor started the second day of his official visit to the UK by laying a wreath to the memorial to innocent victims of war and oppression in front of Westminster Abbey. He then went on a tour of the 11th century abbey, which is one of the best known religious buildings in Europe.

He also met several British MPs and lords, including Labour MP Paul Farrelly, chair of the All-Party Parliamentary British-Slovenia Group, and Lord Speaker Norman Fowler.

The talks focussed on Britain's exit from the EU, which is planned for 29 March, although the divorce process may be extended.

Pahor told TV Slovenija he had been acquainted with a variety of views on Brexit, noting that his wish was to express support for those who are looking for solutions that benefit London as well as Brussels and Ljubljana.

"It is probably not possible to find a solution that will be good just for one side, such a solution would not be sustainable," he said.

Pahor said it was in Slovenia's interest to find a solution that will enjoy the support of the British Parliament and Ireland, whereby it may not divide the EU. "Chaotic exit from the EU is a danger for both sides, for Great Britain and EU countries."

A no-deal Brexit could prove problematic for an estimated 5,000 Slovenians living in the UK. Pahor will meet some of them at a reception hosted by Slovenia's Ambassador Tadej Rupel in the evening.

On the final day of his visit, on Friday, Pahor will visit the City to ring the bell of the London Stock Exchange and meet financiers at Goldman Sachs. He will also meet Lord Mayor of the City of London Peter Estlin and expectedly also British Prime Minister Theresa May.

Pahor started the visit on Wednesday by meeting Prince Edward and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Pahor and Hunt praised the relations between Slovenia and the UK as very good, with Pahor saying that Slovenia had "genuine interest" for the bilateral relations to strengthen also after Brexit.

The talks with Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, focussed on the the Duke of Edinburgh's award for young people as part of the MEPI programme. The awards are annually conferred in Slovenia as well.

According to Pahor's office, Prince Edward, who visited Slovenia in 2013 with his wife Sophie, accepted Pahor's invitation to visit Slovenia again soon.

 All our stories on Slovenia and the UK can be found here

28 Feb 2019, 10:00 AM

STA, 27 February 2019 - President Borut Pahor started his official three-day visit to the UK on Wednesday by meeting Prince Edward and Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt. Pahor and Hunt praised the relations between Slovenia and the UK as very good, with Pahor saying that Slovenia had "genuine interest" for the bilateral relations to strengthen also after Brexit.

The pair assessed that the two countries would be bound by many joint values and tradition also after the UK leaves the EU.

The UK will remain Slovenia's important business partner and an alley within NATO. The two countries share the awareness of the importance of multilateralism, security and stability, and progress in the world in general, especially in Europe, Pahor's office said in a press release.

Slovenia and the UK are enhancing their cooperation in business, tourism, investment, science, education and culture. Trade between the countries has been rising and has exceeded EUR 1bn for the first time last year.

Hunt presented to Pahor the parliamentary procedure for the passage of the Brexit agreement and the UK's possible scenarios for the future.

Pahor stressed the importance of finding appropriate solutions both for the EU and the UK and the responsibility in the efforts for the passage of the Brexit agreement as the best possible compromise solution that would enable an orderly Brexit and mitigate the potential negative consequences for the people and the economies.

Apology accepted over “vassal state” remark, Pahor will meet the Queen

Hunt raised some dust during his visit to Slovenia last week for referring to Slovenia as a former "Soviet vassal state". He and Pahor discussed the issue today with Pahor saying on Twitter that Hunt had started the conversation by offering an explanation, which Pahor accepted as an apology.

The Slovenian Foreign Ministry told the STA today that the British side had turned to the ministry about the matter after Hunt's visit. The ministry explained it to the British ambassador that Hunt's statement had been inappropriate and had caused unease.

Foreign Minister Miro Cerar is expected to discuss this with Hunt at the next meeting of EU foreign ministers, the ministry added.

Pahor's talks with Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, earlier in the day focussed on the the Duke of Edinburgh's award for young people as part of the MEPI programme. The awards are annually conferred in Slovenia as well.

According to Pahor's office, Prince Edward shared his memories of his visit to Slovenia in 2013, during which he and his wife Sophie had been received by Pahor.

The prince also accepted Pahor's invitation to visit Slovenia again soon.

Later in the afternoon, Pahor gave a lecture on the global positioning of Europe at Chatham House, the Royal Institute of International Affairs.

He will continue his official visit on Thursday by meeting Queen Elizabeth II, the representatives of both houses of the UK Parliament and expectedly also PM Theresa May.

He will address Slovenians living in Britain at a reception in the evening.

All our stories on Slovenia and Brexit are here

25 Feb 2019, 10:18 AM

STA, 24 February 2019 - Slovenia's Foreign Minister Miro Cerar has expressed regret after UK Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt described Slovenia as a former "Soviet vassal state" during his visit to Ljubljana last Thursday.

Hunt made the comment as he commended on Slovenia's progress over the past 30 years during a joint press conference with Cerar.

"I'm really happy to be here, because as a fellow European country the UK is very proud of the transformation there has been in Slovenia over the last 30 years.

"A really remarkable transformation from a Soviet vassal state to a modern European democracy, a member of the EU, a member of NATO, a country with a flourishing economy, growing its tourism year in, year out, and this is really an example of Europe at its best," Hunt said.

Before declaring independence in 1991, Slovenia had been one of the six republics of the former Yugoslavia, a socialist country that was not part of the Soviet bloc but formed part of the Non-Aligned Movement.

It was Cerar's former party colleague and former speaker of the National Assembly, Milan Brglez, who spoke out to criticise both Cerar and Hunt for what he called an "arrogant insult".

In a post on his Facebook profile, Brglez, an MP for the coalition Social Democrats (SD) after defecting from Cerar's Modern Centre Party (SMC), said the minimum he expected of the country's representatives was a prompt and adequate reaction to insults directed at the country and its citizens.

In a press release issued by his party on Sunday, Cerar said that Hunt came to Slovenia to discuss the UK's future relations with Slovenia and other EU countries after Brexit and the rights of Slovenian citizens living in Britain and British citizens living in Slovenia.

Cerar noted that Hunt complimented Slovenia on its transformation and that he also talked about Slovenia as a partner country from the perspective of the UK as an architect of peace after Second World War.

"This is why during his public address at the press conference I didn't want to respond and interrupt him as a guest.

"Unfortunately, the Soviet vassal assessment was an inappropriate and inaccurate one ... at the first opportunity with my British counterpart, on the sidelines of the EU ministerial meeting, I will talk with him about the matter and instruct him about our past. I believe there will be no similar rhetorical awkwardness in the future," Cerar said.

This was not the first embarrassing error for Hunt. During his debut visit to Beijing as the UK foreign secretary last year, he referred to his Chinese wife as Japanese.

TSN seems to have broken this story in the English-language media, which soon ended up in The Guardian, Independent, Daily Mail and other sources. Read our original article here

23 Feb 2019, 11:43 AM

Jeremy Hunt – the British Foreign Secretary who replaced the gaffe-prone Brexit-booster and serial adulterer Boris Johnson in mid-2018, the latter resigning to spend more time with his latest mistress and snipe at the government from the side-lines for being unable to enact the have cake, eat cake policy he promoted for nakedly careerist reasons – visited Slovenia on Thursday for bilateral talks on Citizens’ Rights. The headline result was a pleasing one, with assurances from both sides that as much continuity as possible would be provided in the event of a deal or no-deal Brexit.

However, Mr Hunt, a man who by now is surely well aware of the dangers of a slip of the tongue, perhaps failed to make the best impression while on the Sunny Side of the Alps. Indeed, it seems that while travelling from Berlin he and his team did little to prepare for the trip, making at least two unforced and undiplomatic errors in public, and who knows how many more in private.

First the tweet marking his landing in Slovenia referred to the country’s Foreign Minister as Karl Erjavec, the man who left this position after last year’s election to be replaced by the former Prime Minister, and Mr Hunt’s supposed focus for the day, Miro Cerar.

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The tweet was deleted, and this screenshot comes from the excellent Pengovsky, who you really should be reading, with his take on the incident here.

But these things happen – after all, Mr Hunt once referred to his Chinese wife as Japanese – and the tweet was soon corrected. More serious, in terms of being indicative of the lack of preparation or historical and geopolitical understanding that seem to surround the entire Brexit project, was what came in the public statement that Mr Hunt made while standing next to Mr Cerar:

This is my first visit to Slovenia as Foreign Secretary, not the first in my life but my first in a professional capacity. And I’m really happy to be here, because as a fellow European country the UK is very proud of the transformation there has been in Slovenia over the last 30 years. A really remarkable transformation from a Soviet vassal state to a modern European democracy, a member of the EU, a member of NATO, a country with a flourishing economy, growing its tourism year in, year out, and this is really an example of Europe at its best.

Now leaving aside the general patronising tone here – why is the UK proud of Slovenia? – or that while being a leading Brexiteer Mr Hunt seems to suggest that being a member of the EU is a good thing, there’s the simple factual error that Slovenia, even when part of Yugoslavia, was never a Soviet vassal state.

Thursday was not the first time Mr Hunt made use of the USSR to insult his negotiating partners

During the Second World War Yugoslavia was occupied by the Germans and Italians, but the partisans, led by Tito, managed to liberate the country with little help from the Russians, and thus the land was never part of the of the Soviet empire. And while in the immediate post-war period there was seen to be an uneasy alliance between Stalin and Tito, this broke in 1948. From then on Yugoslavia took a famously independent approach, receiving aid from the Marshall Plan as well as founding the Non-Aligned Movement. In short, Yugoslavia was never a Soviet vassal state, while Slovenia was always the most open of the socialist republics that made up the federation, a matter not only of historical fact but also considerable pride.

Of course, Mr Hunt’s statement did not go unnoticed in the country, once again proving that just because British politicians can’t understand what foreigners are saying, this doesn’t mean that foreigners can’t understand what they’re saying. For example, Milan Brglez, former Speaker of the National Assembly, made the following comment on Facebook that was then widely reported in the media:

Loosely translated:

Dear citizens,

Take a look at the footage below (somewhere around 14:30). A guest (the British Foreign Minister) comes to us with a request (to discuss with our Foreign Minister how to avoid a hard Brexit if the UK doesn’t sign the Withdrawal Agreement with the EU) and arrogantly insult. We have never been "the vassal state of the Soviet Union".

At a minimum what I expect and demand in international relations from my representatives (diplomats and those who have general powers to represent and bind the state under international law – i.e. the president, prime minister and foreign minister) is that they will react immediately when someone insults the state and its citizens. And not that they are meekly silent, perhaps not even noticing the insult.

With President Borut Pahor due in the UK next week, and Britain in desperate need of friends and allies as the March 29 Brexit deadline looms, one can only hope that his hosts in London are a little better informed, and a little better prepared for his visit.

All our stories on Brexit and Slovenia can be found here.

21 Feb 2019, 17:23 PM

STA, 21 February 2019 - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar and his British counterpart Jeremy Hunt said after a meeting in Ljubljana on Thursday that their respective countries would do everything possible so that the rights of Slovenian and British citizens did not suffer in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

 

Cerar said that Slovenia wanted a Brexit scenario with an agreement, adding that both sides had agreed that Slovenia and the UK must make sure that the status of their respective citizens did not deteriorate after Brexit.

"They need to enjoy the same rights and they need to preserve their status," the Slovenian foreign minister said, adding that reciprocity would be secured with legislative changes which were already being prepared in Slovenia.

The British foreign secretary added he agreed with Cerar about proceeding on the basis of reciprocity and that Slovenian and British citizens would enjoy all rights, including in the event of a no-deal scenario.

Slovenia has "confirmed that the rights of British citizens will be preserved", Hunt said, adding that one of the most important things was that individual citizens' rights did not suffer and that they could continue with their daily lives.

Cerar added that Slovenia did not want a no-deal Brexit because both sides would suffer damage in other fields as well. "There would be negative consequences in the economy," he said, estimating that Slovenia's GDP would drop by 0.25%.

Asked about the no-deal scenario, he said that ministries were preparing legislative changes in the fields of social rights and insurance, and potential changes to the citizenship act as British nationals would become third-country citizens.

Hunt expressed the hope that a Brexit deal to mutual satisfaction would be reached, also because of what are some 5,000 Slovenian citizens living in the UK, who are "contributing to the UK economy and social life".

Cerar stressed that Hunt's visit confirmed the excellent relations between Slovenia and the UK in politics and economy, as they were friendly countries which were also allies within NATO.

"The things are developing well in the field of economy," he said, adding that Slovenia remained open to and invited British investors to continue making "healthy investments with a good business model" in Slovenia.

Slovenia and the UK need to continue to cooperate also because of the security challenges and illegal migrations, Cerar said, adding that he had also discussed with Hunt other EU topics and the Western Balkans.

He said that they agreed that the EU must remain open to enlargement to the region provided that the Western Balkan countries meet the conditions, while the EU must provide economic and security assistance.

Hunt praised the transformation of Slovenia in the last 30 years into a modern democracy and a growing economy, noting that the UK had excellent bilateral relations with Slovenia.

"We will continue to provide strong support to Slovenia's efforts to preserve peace in the Balkan region," Hunt said, while also welcoming Slovenian President Borut Pahor, who is to pay a visit to London for bilateral talks next week.

All our stories on Brexit and Slovenia can be found here

20 Feb 2019, 12:30 PM

I’m a UK national in Slovenia, so trust me when I say I’m doing my best to follow the implications of Brexit for folk like me, and also that this article might no longer be your best source of information. Today is February 20, 2019, and with March 29 – “Brexit Day” – just 37 days away, things are likely to get very dynamic in the next few weeks.

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So whenever you’re reading this your most reliable source of information is the UK government’s official webpage for Living in Slovenia. This is clean, well organised and contains links to further information and how to apply for any documents you might need. I recommend you visit this site, bookmark it, and use it as your primary source of information for the UK side of things. You should also follow the Embassy on Facebook and / or Twitter. If you know any British people in Slovenia who aren't on Facebook, or who don't read Total Slovenia News, then telling them about these resources would be a kind thing to do.

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With regard to the Slovenian side, where the laws covering your life here are made, the government is still preparing a website to answer your questions. This is expected to be online by the end of February, when – as everyone hopes – there’ll be a more clarity with regard to deal or no deal, and thus what the situation will be. One benefit regardless of what happens, and regardless of whether you’re a UK national or not, is that this site will aim to remove the confusion and discrepancies that now exist at the various Upravna enota around the country, such as whether or not you need to change your UK driving licence to a Slovenian one (you do, and you can find out how to do that here).

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Please use these official sources of information, and do not rely on heresay, what was true two years ago, or even what your local Upravna enota says if it contradicts the messages from on high. What follows is a copy of the text being handed out at the various outreach meetings the UK Embassy is having around Slovenia at the moment, dated 18 February 2019

SUGGESTIONS FOR UK NATIONALS IN SLOVENIA (18 February 2019)

Under the terms of the draft Withdrawal Agreement, there will be broad continuity for your rights in Slovenia. The below is relevant only in a scenario in which the UK leaves the EU without a deal. [JL Flanner: But note that deal / no deal might not be clear until 23:59 March 29, so plan for no deal now]

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia (www.mzz.si) will shortly be launching a page on their website dedicated to UK nationals resident in Slovenia. providing instructions and advice on what to do before 291h March 2019. Please also follow the Embassy's digital channels and our Living in Slovenia guide for updates: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-slovenia.In advance of this more definitive guidance, on the basis of our current understanding of the Slovene Government's position, the British Embassy suggests UK nationals in Slovenia consider the steps below to safeguard their rights should the UK leave the EU without a deal.

  • Sign up to Living in Slovenia on gov.uk and follow the Embassy's social media channels (Facebook, Twitter)
  • If you're staying in Slovenia for more than 3 months, you need to apply for a residence registration certificate at your local town hall (Upravna enota). Please see entering Slovenia.
  • Exchange your UK driver's licence for a local one. The process takes up to 2 weeks at your local Upravna enota and costs €22. This will enable you to drive in all EU countries and will also be recognised by the UK.
  • If you meet the requirements of the Health Care and Health Insurance Act (ZZVZZ) to be included in compulsory health insurance in Slovenia you will receive a Slovenian health insurance card for the provision of services in Slovenia. You can therefore apply for this health card yourselves or for your family members by the Health Insurance Institute of Slovenia (ZZZS). We suggest all UK nationals resident in Slovenia obtain this health insurance.
  • If you are a pensioner and currently access healthcare in Slovenia via an S1 form, you will need to obtain compulsory health insurance as other residents are required to (monthly cost of approx. 30 — 50 euros)
  • If you own a 2nd property in Slovenia but are currently resident in the UK you will need to decide whether to consider Slovenia as your official place of residence to enjoy the rights of UK nationals resident here. If you continue to hold your residency in the UK, you may be limited as to the amount of time you are able to spend visa-free in Slovenia (90 days in a 180 day period).
  • If you are visiting Slovenia for 3 months or less or have family or friends travelling to Slovenia for short-term visits, we recommend obtaining private travel insurance to cover healthcare costs for the period you are visiting.
  • Dual nationality will not be permitted after 29 March 2019 for most people (exceptions include being of Slovene descent). The Slovene government have confirmed that all applications for dual nationality before 29 March 2019 will be treated on the same basis as now (i.e. you will be able to hold dual nationality).
  • If the UK leaves the EU without a deal, passport validity requirements will change. You should ensure that you have at least 6 months validity on your British passport before the date of entry to the Schengen area, including entering Slovenia.

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22 Jan 2019, 19:41 PM

A reminder that your best source of information on Brexit and what it means for you in Slovenia – in terms what’s happening right now and what you should be doing, if not what will happen next, in which case ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ – remains the UK Embassy in Ljubljana, with the latest update from the British Ambassador Sophie Honey below (as of Friday January 18).

So while we’ll make sure to post updates when we have them, if you want the latest official news be sure to follow the Embassy on Facebook, here. To keep things covered from more angles, the British Chamber of Commerce can be found here, and the Slovenian Embassy in London is here. Finally, the lobby / support group British in Europe, billed as “the coalition of UK citizens in Europe”, can be found here.

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