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Prime Minister Janez Janša ends his visit to Paris

Today the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Janez Janša, travelled to Paris where he met the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, the French Prime Minister, François Fillon, and the Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, Angel Gurría.


Prime Minister Janez Janša and French President Nicolas Sarkozy (Photo: Kristina Kosec/Bobo)


The Slovenian PM and the French President focused mainly on the next year, when Slovenia is taking the helm of the European Union in the first half, and handing over the task to France in the second. The meeting – one of many during the course of this year and the third only this week – was also an opportunity to discuss close collaboration, as the countries will share many tasks related to the EU Presidency. The French side noted that in the first half of 2008, responsibility would be on the Slovenia's Presidency. "They are, of course, willing to help; however, they are neither ready nor entitled to assume a leading role," said Mr Janša after the meeting.


As the next presiding member state, France will inherit Slovenian Presidency agenda. This, according to Mr Janša, includes tasks which are in the interest of the entire EU. "One of the key priorities of both Slovenia and France are preparations for the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty – following the ratification process and carrying out all the activities that will enable the Treaty to become truly enforced as of 1 January 2009," the PM stressed. To this end, there have been a number of coordination meetings, not only at the highest, but also at the working level. "This is about one year, two Presidencies and one task," said Mr Janša. Both the PM and his host welcomed the conclusions which were adopted on the initiative of both countries at the recent European Council. These stipulate that next year the process of implementation of the Lisbon Treaty would be firmly in the hands of both Presidencies.


Prime Minister Janez Janša and French President Nicolas Sarkozy (Photo: Kristina Kosec/Bobo)


Among joint tasks is also the issue of climate change and the related Energy Efficiency Action Plan, which the EU will tackle in March. "This topic will most probably not be concluded during Slovenia's Presidency, and will continue in the second part of 2008 and possibly beyond, when the Czech Republic takes over the EU Presidency," said Mr Janša.


Mr Janša and Mr Sarkozy also discussed the situation in the Western Balkans. The French side asserted that it supports EU enlargement to this part of Europe. "I believe that in this respect French foreign policy has taken a major step forward. In the last several weeks, France has played a very positive role by calling on the EU to adopt a framework that will enable resolving the most burning issues in the region in the next year," said the PM after the meeting. The French side also expressed support to Slovenia with regard to Kosovo's future status. "This is all the more important in the light of the fact that during its Presidency, Slovenia will probably have to handle the most demanding issues relating to Kosovo's future status," stressed the Slovenian PM.


Prime Minister Janez Janša and French Prime Minister François Fillon (Photo: Kristina Kosec/Bobo)


Talks between the Slovenian and French Prime Ministers also focused on bilateral relations. Slovenia and France have been actively cooperating in economy, culture and science. The PM and his host exchanged views on the possibilities of strengthening bilateral relations, particularly in terms of business, and touched on energy issues, the situation in global financial markets, and the agenda of the next European Council held under Slovenia's Presidency in March 2008.


Prime Minister Janez Janša and Secretary-General of the OECD, Angel Gurría (Photo: Kristina Kosec/Bobo)


At the meeting with the Secretary-General of the OECD, Angel Gurría, the Slovenian PM presented the current economic situation in Slovenia, stressing that there is strong political will that negotiations about OECD membership be concluded as soon as possible. The PM and his host agreed that it is the quality of the process that matters the most as Slovenia will need to amend over one hundred regulations.


"The OECD is a club of thirty most developed countries, and one of Slovenia's final goals in terms of memberships in prominent organisations;" said Mr Janša, adding that the Government had authorised the development minister Žiga Turk to run the process. "In the coming weeks, many operational steps will be taken, which will allow us to establish all the mechanisms necessary to speed up our accession," said Mr Janša, adding, "We have also expressed our willingness to share our positive experience – once Slovenia becomes a member – with or in the countries that either seek the OEDC's assistance or, likewise, membership in the organisation."


The Secretary-General said that Slovenia had made great progress through reform processes. "Social partners are involved in the processes. Sometimes this is not easy, sometimes there is friction, but there is political courage. The results of decisions that seemed difficult in the short run can already be seen," he said. This is precisely why in his opinion, Slovenia could join the OECD in less then two years and thus provide an example to other countries.

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