Pahor discusses Ukraine war effects for W Balkans in Turkey

Ankara – President Borut Pahor started a two-day state visit to Turkey on Tuesday, meeting Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Cavusoglu in Ankara. The pair talked above all about the war in Ukraine and its consequences for the Western Balkans. Pahor also raised this point as he addressed the annual meeting of Turkish diplomats.

Meeting Cavusoglu, Pahor praised Turkey for its role as mediator between Russia and Ukraine, especially as regards grain exports, the STA learnt from a source in the president’s entourage.

The war in Ukraine was also the main topic of Pahor’s address to the annual meeting of Turkish diplomats, which he delivered upon a special invitation by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The Slovenian president said the war had undermined the foundations of the already shaky trust between the West and Russia. Only just peace in Ukraine will be able to restore this trust, he said, assessing that this will be a long and complex process.

He believes that one of the key issues of peace and security in Europe will be the course of a likely border between the two blocs in the Western Balkans.

If the newly emerging area of Russian influence should have no room for countries wanting to join the EU and NATO, then the Western Balkans will be a part of the western world. “But this will depend just as much on Brussels as it will on the Western Balkan countries.”

The longer the EU enlargement process is drawn out, the more these countries are exposed to Russia’s appetite, or at least Russia’s influence, warned Pahor.

He pointed to fear that the border between the two blocs may run down the middle of the Western Balkans, saying Bosnia-Herzegovina seemed key in this regard.

“I’m trying to do everything I can to persuade the EU and the West to allow Bosnia in the EU quickly, and NATO as well, if at all possible.”

“It is in our strategic interest to avoid a new bloc division of the world and a new Cold War,” he said. But this will demand more effort being directed into building and nurturing peace, as well as more effective international organisations such as the OSCE and the UN.

The war in Ukraine further exacerbates problems created by the coronavirus world health crisis, said the president, who also said that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had been on good terms before the war.

Relations between Slovenia and Russia were also good, but the Russian aggression in Ukraine has “dramatically worsened” them, he said.

The deterioration of economic and social consequences of the war in Ukraine could threaten the political unity of the West and the EU, which must not happen, said Pahor. He believes political unity is needed in the EU and NATO until a just peace is reached in Ukraine.

Tomorrow, Pahor will meet his Turkish counterpart Erdogan and address a business conference organised by the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) and the World Turkish Business Council (DEIK).

Pahor is accompanied on his trip to Ankara by Economy Minister Matjaž Han and Foreign Ministry State Secretary Marko Štucin.

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