Pahor & Johannesson Talk Ukraine, Western Balkans

By , 28 Aug 2022, 22:44 PM Politics

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STA, 28 August 2022 - President Borut Pahor and his Icelandic counterpart Gudni Thorlacius Johannesson called for a diplomatic solution to the Ukraine crisis as they met in Ljubljana on Sunday. They highlighted Slovenia's important role in the Western Balkans and reaffirmed the good relations between Slovenia and Iceland.

"It is a special honour for me to officially host the president of Iceland in a year when Slovenia is celebrating the 30th anniversary of international recognition of its full-fledged entry into the international community, including its admission to the United Nations," Pahor said, noting that Iceland was the first internationally recognised country to recognise Slovenia in December 1991.

The two presidents confirmed that relations between Slovenia and Iceland are good, as the two countries, which have similar positions, cooperate in the European Economic Area, NATO, the United Nations, the Council of Europe and other international alliances. At the same time, Pahor announced that Iceland supports Slovenia's candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council.

They again condemned the Russian aggression in Ukraine and noted that no one seemed ready to come to the negotiating table. They expressed their wish for negotiations to start as soon as possible in order to spare human suffering and to resolve the conflict peacefully. However, Pahor added that the Ukrainian authorities, state and people should not be pushed into a peaceful settlement of the conflict until they themselves were ready to do so.

The presidents underlined the importance of multilateralism and the political and legal order in the international community and pledged to work to revitalise and strengthen multilateralism.

They also highlighted that both Slovenia and Iceland were affected by internal social divisions and stressed the need to maintain a sense of community and promote tolerance. "We do not want to see differences grow in our societies. We want to see a society in which xenophobia is not allowed, in which hatred towards parts of society is not allowed and in which there is freedom of expression, freedom of religion and freedom to maintain society as a whole," Johannesson stressed.

Turning to the Western Balkans, Pahor said this was a region with great potential for development, but also as a region which, until the war in Ukraine, was the only one in Europe to have experienced war after the Second World War. He pointed out that the region should be viewed with particular sensitivity and stressed that Slovenia had good relations with all the countries in the region and was working to make Euro-Atlantic integration, in particular, faster and more effective.

The Icelandic president underlined the important role of Slovenia for the region and said that he believed that Slovenia, with its position and history, could do a lot of good in this part of Europe.

This morning, Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon met Johannesson and Icelandic Foreign Minister Thordis Kolbrun Gylfadottir. The officials talked about the importance of honouring international law in the light of the war in Ukraine, and the possibilities for cooperation, Fajon said on Twitter.

In the afternoon, the two presidents inaugurated a bench of friendship between the two countries in Bohinj.

Johannesson will attend the Bled Strategic Forum on Monday and take part in a panel of leaders. He will also meet with Prime Minister Robert Golob, President of the National Assembly Urška Klakočar Zupančič and Minister of Environment and Spatial Planning Uroš Brežan, Pahor's office said.

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