New UK ambassador to Slovenia highlights shared values
Ljubljana, 14 October - There are shared values between Slovenia and the UK representing the foundations for efforts to strengthen bilateral ties and tackle global issues together, including climate change and the Covid-19 crisis, the UK's new ambassador to Slovenia Tiffany Sadler has told the STA in an interview.
Succeeding Sophie Honey, who served as ambassador from March 2015, Sadler arrived in Slovenia roughly a week ago and presented her credentials to President Borut Pahor last Thursday.
She has spent a year learning the Slovenian language and is looking forward to finally putting her new skills to use.
"There are real shared values between Slovenia and Britain; I find that people think in the same way, that they care about the same things, be it the environment, democracy, freedom of the media, the rule of law," she summed up her first impressions.
As an economist she sees numerous ways to further boost business ties between the two countries, and she also believes that the UK and Slovenia could tackle global issues together, most notably climate change and Covid-19.
Next year will provide many opportunities for such cooperation since Slovenia will chair the EU Council in the second half of 2021, whereas the UK will chair the G7 and host the 26th UN Climate Change Conference.
"Despite these very uncertain times, I think next year will be a historic opportunity to work together to make progress and support each other on these global issues," she told the STA.
Sadler also sees opportunities and challenges for bilateral relations in Brexit. "A lot of the work that might previously have been done in Brussels will now be done bilaterally and here at the embassy. For me, this is an opportunity to build new dimensions to the relationship between our countries."
A deal between the UK and the EU seems increasingly unlikely by the end of the year when the transition period comes to an end.
"We want an agreement with the EU, but not at any cost," the ambassador said, highlighting that the deal was necessary, however it should be in line with what the British voted for in the referendum.
Regardless of the outcome of the negotiations, the ambassador will strive to make life easier for entrepreneurs and companies as well as people in general, and to boost trade and investment.
Sadler considers Slovenia attractive to British businesses including because of its geographical location and educated workforce.
There are strong political, business and cultural ties between Slovenia and the UK, she said, adding that she had been in contact with the new Slovenian ambassador to the UK Simona Leskovar and the pair had agreed to work on future visits when possible.
Sadler also believes that the UK will remain an attractive destination for Slovenian students after Brexit. For those already studying in the UK, the conditions will remain the same, for others there will be certain changes.
The embassy will run an online campaign with the British Council this month to present UK universities and the new conditions to future students.
She is also optimistic when it comes to cultural cooperation despite Covid-19, noting artists' ingenuity and the support of the British Council.
Sadler sees similarities and differences regarding anti-corona measures in both countries. "I think all governments are looking at each other and learning," she said, adding that face masks are more fun in Slovenia. "Perhaps this reflects the Slovenian artistic feeling."
Cooperation between Slovenia and the UK in medical research is also key. It was already strong before the pandemic, Sadler said. According to the British embassy, 40% of Slovenian publications in scientific journals have been co-authored with Brits.
Pointing to the silver linings of Covid-19, she hopes that the crisis has stressed the importance of science and the fight against climate change. "Hopefully, a lot of investment will go green."