Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou on an official visit to Slovenia

Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou on an official visit to Slovenia

At the invitation of Slovenian President Borut Pahor, Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou will be paying a two-day official visit to Slovenia today and tomorrow. President Sakellaropoulou’s visit constitutes the first official state visit since the declaration of the epidemic in Slovenia, while it also marks the Greek president’s first visit abroad since her appointment.

The official reception with military honors on the Congress Square in Ljubljana and the private meeting of the two presidents was followed by plenary talks in the presence of the two countries’ delegations. The two presidents exchanged decorations: President Pahor presented President Sakellaropoulou with the Order of Outstanding Merit for her contribution to the development of friendly relations between the Republic of Slovenia and the Hellenic Republic and the strengthening of comprehensive cooperation and integration between the two countries.

At the press conference after the talks, President Pahor underlined the long history and solid foundations of relations shared between the two countries. He mentioned Ioannis Kapodistrias, whose family originates from Koper, and who went down in history as the founder of modern Greece and its first governor, but also as a participant in the Ljubljana Congress, the bicentennial of which is being celebrated this year. The Slovenian President recalled that two years ago, during his official visit to Greece, he unveiled a memorial plaque in Kapodistrias’ honor in the city of Nafplio, adding that tomorrow him and President Sakellaropoulou would unveil a bench of friendship between Slovenia and Greece to be set up in Koper as a monument to Ioannis Kapodistrias.

The president placed particular emphasis on the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery. This recovery must be exploited as much as possible for the transition to sustainable development, said President Pahor. He stressed the need for an attitude change when it comes to protecting the environment and making better use of technological possibilities and digitalization. President Pahor and President Sakellaropoulou also detected many opportunities for closer co-operation between the two countries in the areas of green transition and digitalisation.

A central point of the talks between the two presidents was the European Union. The two heads of state agreed on the need to further boost cooperation and solidarity at European level and on the need to strengthen the efficiency of European institutions. They particularly highlighted the conference on the European future, which Pahor said may not have enough time to help achieve serious progress but is enough to allow for certain steps to be made so that citizens can rely even more on the Union. President Pahor reiterated his proposal for the establishment of a health union, which would enable the EU to provide even more efficient assistance to member states in overcoming the consequences of the epidemic. In response to a journalist’s question, President Pahor said the EU Member States should use development funds for promoting smart, green and innovative solutions, thus minimizing development delays.

President Pahor said that him and President Sakellaropoulou also discussed some of the more pronounced security challenges facing the European neighborhood, the situation in the eastern Mediterranean and the Western Balkans. They called for the speed-up of the EU enlargement process for the countries of the Western Balkans, with President Sakellaropoulou also stressing the importance of respecting EU criteria and values. President Pahor recalled that Slovenia condemned Turkey’s illegal actions in the eastern Mediterranean. He argued that it is extremely important that pending issues are resolved through dialogue and in a peaceful manner, in line with the principle of good neighborly relations and solidarity in the European Union. President Sakellaropoulou briefed President Pahor on the situation in Greece regarding illegal migration.

As today marks Earth Day, the two presidents will be meeting with a group of Classical students at the Diocesan Classical Gymnasium to discuss a green European future. Day one of the visit will end with a gala dinner hosted by President Pahor in Brdo Castle, in honor of President Sakellaropoulou.

The two presidents will kick off day two of the official visit from Koper, where they will unveil a bench of friendship between the two countries next to the memorial of Ioannis Kapodistrias. They will visit the Port of Koper, which cooperates very well with Greek shipowners, and the Innorene Center for Excellence for Green Technologies in Izola, which is constructing the largest green building in Slovenia. /ibna