Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia Janez Janša today attended the Summit for the Mediterranean in Paris, at which the prime ministers and presidents of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership upgraded the so-called Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean. In so doing, the Member States intended to emphasise that the new Union represents an upgrade of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership established in 1995. The new framework of cooperation will contribute added value to the political, economic and cultural partnership by focusing on priority projects which will be broadly recognised by residents of the Euro-Mediterranean Partnership region.
Prime Minister Janez Janša and, as host, French President Nicolas Sarkozy (Photo: Kristina Kosec/Bobo)
“Slovenia is a Mediterranean country, and therefore upgrading the Barcelona Process with greater activity, integration and concrete projects will be beneficial for us in a general sense, and particularly because these projects include the establishment of the Euro-Mediterranean University, which occupied a very prominent position in this Summit’s joint statement,” stated Prime Minister Janša. The Euro-Mediterranean University, with its seat in Slovenia, was inaugurated at the beginning of June 2008 during Slovenia’s Presidency of the European Union and now represents one of the six central projects within the Barcelona Process: Union for the Mediterranean.
From left to right: Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations; Janez Janša, Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia; José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission; and Andrus Ansip, Prime Minister of Estonia (Photo: Kristina Kosec/Bobo)
“The young University endeavours to become Slovenia's permanent contribution to integration, exchange and research in our common space. Both students and professors will be able to coexist and cooperate,” asserted Janša in his speech at the Summit. In addition, he stressed that today’s discussion explicitly referred to this University at least ten times as one of the concrete initiatives realised during the Slovenian Presidency of the EU. “We received numerous acknowledgments and expressions of appreciation for this initiative and for our determination to realise this project in record time,” emphasised Janša. The Euro-Mediterranean University project was specifically mentioned in the speech of Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor. She stressed that this is a very important initiative and pointed to its influence on globalisation, as well as on the economic and social development of the Mediterranean space. In addition, she urged the attendees to contribute to this project to the greatest extent possible within their powers. The Summit’s joint statement, covering all six projects discussed, paid the most attention to the University with its seat in Slovenia. The Euro-Mediterranean University can contribute to greater understanding among people, as well as encourage cooperation in the higher education sector, according to the statement, which was adopted later in the afternoon by the heads of the Member States.
Prime Minister Janez Janša and Austrian Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer(Photo: Kristina Kosec/Bobo)
Other than the University, the Summit’s joint statement included five other priority projects: prevention of pollution in the Mediterranean area; development of maritime waterways and roads; civil protection; the Mediterranean solar plan for renewable sources of energy; and the initiative for development of the Mediterranean economy, particularly micro, small and medium-sized companies.
According to the Prime Minister, apart from the concrete project of the Euro-Mediterranean University, Slovenia wanted to add special emphasis on intercultural dialogue, which was a priority during the Slovenian Presidency to the EU and which continues during the French Presidency as well. “The special added value is the fact that the new Union provides a framework for a more serious examination of the migration problem. For the security of the European Union, this represents one of the key problems, one which cannot be faced by banning immigration or closing down borders,” cautioned the Prime Minister.
“Since today’s Summit unites those who generally speak on a daily basis more of differences than of possibilities for cooperation, we take this to be a great success in itself,” emphasised the Prime Minister towards the end of the Summit. “Despite certain initial doubts, we can now say that this Summit constituted a step forward despite concrete conflicts, because it brought together people who haven’t talked seriously to each other for a very long time. Participation was the highest ever in the history of Euro-Mediterranean summits, showing that persistence can unite those who are divided by differences, even substantial differences,” added the Prime Minister.
Prime Minister Janez Janša and Stipe Mesić, President of the Republic of Croatia (Photo: Kristina Kosec/Bobo)
Prime Minister Janša met towards the end of the Summit with Stipe Mesić, President of the Republic of Croatia, to discuss the border question, the introduction of vignettes in Slovenia and Croatian endeavours to enter the EU. “We talked about common themes, which substantially exceeded the number of problems we are dealing with, but also about the problems themselves,” explained Janša. He added that a number of good prospects existed with regard to the border question, which is being dealt with in the mixed commissions established by both Governments. “By establishing both mixed commissions, the whole process gained a direction for problem solving which has not yet been explored. We tried all other routes and after 15 years established that we are not heading anywhere. We hope the result will be positive now,” said the Prime Minister.
However, Prime Minister Janša rejected the objections of the Croatian Government that vignettes are not a fair solution and that they have not reduced the traffic jams. He added that Slovenian tourists who are currently travelling extensively round Croatia would much rather pay EUR 35 for a 6-month vignette than participate in the current, much more expensive system of toll tax collection.
(Photo: Kristina Kosec/Bobo)
On this occasion, Prime Minister Janša supported Croatia in its endeavours to join the European Union. “I believe that from the moment we solved the problem of the protected ecological fishing area, the whole process certainly entered a phase in which we are able to distinguish between the open questions of both states and the Croatian endeavours to enter into the European Union,” emphasised Janša.