Cerar, Hunt want to protect citizens in no-deal Brexit scenario
Ljubljana, 21 February - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar and his British counterpart Jeremy Hunt said after a meeting in Ljubljana on Thursday that their respective countries would do everything possible so that the rights of Slovenian and British citizens did not suffer in the case of a no-deal Brexit.
Cerar said that Slovenia wanted a Brexit scenario with an agreement, adding that both sides had agreed that Slovenia and the UK must make sure that the status of their respective citizens did not deteriorate after Brexit.
"They need to enjoy the same rights and they need to preserve their status," the Slovenian foreign minister said, adding that reciprocity would be secured with legislative changes which were already being prepared in Slovenia.
The British foreign secretary added he agreed with Cerar about proceeding on the basis of reciprocity and that Slovenian and British citizens would enjoy all rights, including in the event of a no-deal scenario.
Slovenia has "confirmed that the rights of British citizens will be preserved", Hunt said, adding that one of the most important things was that individual citizens' rights did not suffer and that they could continue with their daily lives.
Cerar added that Slovenia did not want a no-deal Brexit because both sides would suffer damage in other fields as well. "There would be negative consequences in the economy," he said, estimating that Slovenia's GDP would drop by 0.25%.
Asked about the no-deal scenario, he said that ministries were preparing legislative changes in the fields of social rights and insurance, and potential changes to the citizenship act as British nationals would become third-country citizens.
Hunt expressed the hope that a Brexit deal to mutual satisfaction would be reached, also because of what are some 5,000 Slovenian citizens living in the UK, who are "contributing to the UK economy and social life".
Cerar stressed that Hunt's visit confirmed the excellent relations between Slovenia and the UK in politics and economy, as they were friendly countries which were also allies within NATO.
"The things are developing well in the field of economy," he said, adding that Slovenia remained open to and invited British investors to continue making "healthy investments with a good business model" in Slovenia.
Slovenia and the UK need to continue to cooperate also because of the security challenges and illegal migrations, Cerar said, adding that he had also discussed with Hunt other EU topics and the Western Balkans.
He said that they agreed that the EU must remain open to enlargement to the region provided that the Western Balkan countries meet the conditions, while the EU must provide economic and security assistance.
Hunt praised the transformation of Slovenia in the last 30 years into a modern democracy and a growing economy, noting that the UK had excellent bilateral relations with Slovenia.
"We will continue to provide strong support to Slovenia's efforts to preserve peace in the Balkan region," Hunt said, while also welcoming Slovenian President Borut Pahor, who is to pay a visit to London for bilateral talks next week.