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Prime Minister Cerar at the EU-Western Balkans Summit

Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar attended the EU-Western Balkans Summit. The leaders confirmed the European perspective for the Western Balkan countries and discussed specific projects within the action plan to connect the EU and this region. They also focused on common security issues. The leaders of the 28 Member States met yesterday over an official dinner and debated innovation and digitalisation. They also discussed the withdrawal of the USA from the Iran nuclear deal and trade relations with the USA.

“Innovation and digitalisation are key topics for the future of the European Union,” said Slovenian Prime Minister Cerar and added that new technologies were inseparably connected with the quality of life and social development. In his assessment the EU and its Member States play a crucial role in creating such an environment and legal background together with innovators and the economy, and new technologies were for the benefit of people and the society. He pointed out smart regulation, consumer protection and cyber security issues. At the summit, Prime Minister Cerar presented Slovenia’s progress in digitalisation, measures to encourage the circular economy, the achievements of Slovenian startup companies and the experience of the country and companies with blockchain technologies.

 

Over yesterday’s dinner, the leaders also addressed the recent decision by the USA to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal and trade relations with the USA. “I regret the USA’s decision. They made this decision even though the International Nuclear Energy Agency confirmed that Iran was respecting its part of the deal. The leaders agreed to continue respecting the deal as long as Iran wholly fulfils its responsibilities,” said the Prime Minister in a press release. Regarding trade relations with the USA, the European leaders agreed to continue the efforts for proactive communication and to keep a united stance and advocate a common European policy.

 

On the second day of the summit in Bulgaria, the leaders of the EU Member States and Western Balkan countries discussed the European perspective for the Western Balkans. They agreed that stability in the region was in everyone’s best interest. “Connectivity is crucial here, in the broadest meaning of the word,” emphasised Prime Minister Cerar. “Infrastructure projects in the areas of transport and energy are extremely important for economic growth and creating new jobs. However, connectivity measures in the social and economic fields as well as in digitalisation and youth mobility are also important,” he added, and emphasised that all these aspects were addressed in the action plan for the connectivity of the Western Balkan countries.

 

At the summit, Prime Minister Cerar pointed out Slovenia’s support of the Western Balkan countries in their efforts to join the European Union. He said that what was crucial was an attitude towards reform, the strengthening of the rule of law and fulfilling the accession criteria. He welcomed the recommendations by the European Commission to commence negotiations with FYR Macedonia and Albania, and pointed out that he wished the decision about the negotiations with both countries might already be made in June. He also welcomed today’s progress regarding the name of Macedonia that was presented at the summit by the Macedonian and Greek prime ministers.

 

Another shared challenge of the European Union Member States is the issue of security, particularly the fight against organised crime, the fight against terrorism and border security. The leaders agreed that collaboration in this field was essential. Prime Minister Cerar pointed out the importance of a rapid exchange of information between security authorities, and called for a coordinated approach in preventing illegal migration. He emphasised that Slovenia would continue to support a common European approach to address the causes of migration, to ensure better supervision of the external borders and to prevent people smuggling.

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