Informal meeting of ministers and state secretaries for European affairs in Prague
Ministers and State Secretaries discussed the priorities of the Czech Presidency of the Council of the EU and exchanged views with Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Olha Stefanishyna. They discussed the EU’s continued support for Ukraine in its defense against Russian aggression, as well as in its recovery, reconstruction, modernization and subsequent actions following the recent granting of candidate status to the EU.
State Secretary Štucin expressed his support for the priorities of the Presidency and in particular for the EU response to the war in Ukraine and all its consequences. According to the Secretary of State, the Union must continue to give its full support to Ukraine, because it is a question of preserving fundamental values and freedoms. Slovenia is ready to cooperate fully in this regard, for example in the rehabilitation of victims and mine clearance, as well as in long-term reconstruction. He also welcomed the agreement on granting candidate status to Ukraine and confirmed Slovenia’s readiness to help Ukraine in the key steps towards reforms in the state sphere. of law and democratic standards in particular. He recalled that the fulfillment of the conditions remains an important requirement of the enlargement process and also called for the rapid confirmation of the granting of candidate status to Bosnia and Herzegovina.
In the second part of the meeting, ministers discussed options to make democratic institutions more resilient, focusing on updating and strengthening the rules for European elections and challenges related to freedom of expression and plurality of media in Europe. Štucin welcomed the recent publication of the European Commission’s third annual report on the rule of law; the rule of law binds us and is essential to citizens’ trust in the EU institutions and how they work. He stressed the importance of independent journalism and a pluralistic media environment as a prerequisite for democracy, and called for greater protection of journalists, their economic security and transparent media funding. He also welcomed the forthcoming European law on freedom of the media.
Over a working lunch, ministers discussed the way forward to implement the proposals and recommendations of the Conference on the Future of Europe. They largely agreed that all existing mechanisms and possibilities offered by existing treaties should be exploited in efforts to make the European Union more effective. State Secretary Štucin pleaded for the enlargement process not to be subordinated to internal EU reforms, as this would damage the credibility of the process and alienate the Western Balkan countries from the European Union.