European Interest

Foreign Ministers of Slovenia, Croatia and Austria discuss common challenges and energy solidarity

Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs - Republic of Croatia
Foreign Ministers of Austria, Alexander Schallenberg (left), Slovenia, Tanja Fajon and Croatia, Gordan Grlić Radman (right).

The foreign ministers of Croatia, Austria and Slovenia on Tuesday, April 25, supported the European Union’s enlargement to include Western Balkan countries, the strengthening of energy independence and cooperation in preventing illegal migration.

Addressing a press conference after their meeting in the northern Adriatic city of Rijeka, Croatian Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said that the three countries were committed to supporting Ukraine.

“We concluded that we can join forces in a developmental and humanitarian project with emphasis on reconstruction,” he said.

Grlić Radman and his Austrian and Slovenian counterparts Alexander Schallenberg and Tanja Fajon visited the LNG terminal at Omišalj on the island of Krk in the morning. Later at their meeting in Rijeka, they stressed the importance of strengthening energy independence and diversifying supply routes.

Both Vienna and Ljubljana support Croatia’s plan to boost LNG capacity

Both Vienna and Ljubljana support Croatia’s plan to increase the capacity of its LNG terminal. Schallenberg emphasised the importance of the Omišalj LNG terminal as a future energy hub and the value of the future gas pipeline for Austria.

Fajon also noted the value of the LNG terminal and the plan for the pipeline to run via Slovenia to Austria.

The three ministers discussed the importance of protecting the EU’s external borders and combating illegal migration and human trafficking.

In this context, Fajon said that Slovenia wanted the Schengen regime to be restored. Solutions regarding illegal migration must be adopted at EU level, and the number of migrants currently crossing the border illegally does not justify Austria’s decision to prolong border checks, she added.

“I don’t think anyone would want us to come to a situation where we would be forced to introduce internal controls in Slovenia as well,” Fajon said according to STA news agency. She noted that the number of illegal migrants using the Western Balkan route increases in the summer months.

Cooperation in consular and diplomatic protection of citizens

The ministers said they wanted to increase joint action in third countries, in particular in the Western Balkans.

“We have expressed our commitment to further EU enlargement and the EU path of the Western Balkan countries,” Grlić Radman said, adding that that would ensure stability in this part of Europe. He said that Slovenia and Croatia supported the Austrian initiative “Friends of the Western Balkans”.

Schallenberg said that Russia wanted to put pressure on the Western Balkans, “and we must not fail there.”

The three countries agreed to cooperate in providing consular services to their citizens in countries where they are diplomatically less represented, the Croatian foreign minister said.

Text: Hina/MVEP

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