EU values and rule of law common ground for all presidential candidates

Ljubljana, 7 October - The seven presidential candidates have pledged their commitment to the rule of law and common EU values and most supported the country's membership of international organisations as they responded a set of questions posed by the STA. The Left's Miha Kordiš is critical of the EU and the only one to advocate exiting NATO.

Slovenian and EU flags in front of the Slovenian Parliament Building.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Apart from the commitment to the rule of law and EU values, and trans-Atlantic relations as the guiding principles of Slovenia's foreign policy, Milan Brglez, an MEP running for the Social Democrats (SD) and Freedom Movement, also noted commitment to human rights.

Asked about relations with Russia, China and India, Brglez says Slovenia should have a clear policy on those countries and clearly set national interests it wants to pursue in its relations with those countries.

"The EU is our wider homeland. We are part of the EU and share responsibility for its functioning. It is important that the EU is strong and works well," he says.

He would like Slovenia to get involved more in the efforts to deepen EU integration and find common policies. The Covid-19 crisis showed that "because we are a part of the EU we got through it better".

Anže Logar, the former foreign minister now an MP for the opposition Democrats (SDS), says that all the mentioned foreign policy guidelines had been part of Slovenia's foreign policy strategy since 2015 and were re-asserted as the document was updated during his term.

"India is the world's largest democracy with which we share many values. Russia and China opted for a different model of governance and international relations," says Logar, adding that Slovenia coordinates its relations with those two countries within international organisations and associations it is part of.

"The EU is our political and economic and value environment. Slovenia can be a fair broker between the interests of large and small member states. We can be a bridge to overcome dangerous divisions between eastern and western parts of the EU. This is possible only if we are first credible and successful at home."

Janez Cigler Kralj, the candidate for the opposition party New Slovenia (NSi), supports commitment to the rule of law, EU values and trans-Atlantic relations, but advises caution "when decision-making on alleged breaches of the rule of law is transferred to a political sphere because then there's a greater risk of the rule of law principle being abused for political purposes".

Slovenia's role in relations with Russia, China and India is to co-shape the common European foreign policy. "Only if Europe speaks with one voice, can it be a match to other global superpowers."

Cigler Kralj believes the EU needs more understanding for differences between the countries as this is the only way for the bloc to make progress in the long term. Slovenia should focus on ensuring stability in the Western Balkans and helping countries in the region in the European integration process.

Kordiš says the EU serves mainly the interests of capital. Instead, he advocates a Europe based on solidarity, cooperation, peace and brotherhood between nations. He believes Slovenia should become a neutral country and the EU should stop "servicing the US's interests".

"Normalising relations with Russia is essential for peace in Europe, and constructive cooperation with China and India is a prerequisite to changing the world's economic system. Slovenia has experience and a history of cooperation with both East and West, let us use this," says the Left's candidate.

"If the EU does not democratise, meaningfully develop the peripheral countries into more than just suppliers of German corporations, and ensure common social, environmental and labour standards, it will fall apart," he says.

Nataša Pirc Musar, a lawyer and former information commissioner who like Logar runs as an independent, says commitment to the rule of law and EU values, trans-Atlantic relations and membership of international organisations are Slovenia's norms and values.

"I see regional cooperation and multilateralism at the global level as an environment where Slovenia can develop into a successful country."

She sees Russia, China and India as powers that are co-responsible for preservation of international peace and security, and so is the US. "Small countries must work together and the big powers must assume responsible leadership based on sovereign equality and cooperation, while respecting international law."

She believes Russia's aggression against Ukraine has shown that Europe can act as a credible player only when it acts united.

Vladimir Prebilič, Kočevje mayor who runs for the non-parliamentary party Vesna, finds the rule of law and respect for common EU values vital for cooperation in the EU, in particular commitment to peace and human rights. "Europe must look for allies, not enemies, and be an ambassador for the peaceful settlement of disputes."

In a complex multipolar security architecture, the EU must defend its values by deepening economic cooperation and promoting sustainable solutions, the defence expert says, adding that Europe must be a link and mediator between the world's geopolitical centres of power.

As an EU country, Slovenia must "constantly warn of the fragility of democracy, the negative consequences of populism and extremism, and promote a common voice of all member states in addressing the issues of the EU's sustainable and green transition."

Sabina Senčar, a gynaecologist who runs for, a non-parliamentary party that opposes Covid restrictions and vaccination, says the EU can only function well if it safeguards European values.

"Unfortunately, the EU has fallen victim to the US-Russia dispute where it needs to take a clear and independent position."

Senčar believes Slovenia does not function as a sovereign country and she would do everything to restore the country's sovereignty and revise treaties that could be harmful to the nation. Slovenia should also have its say in the EU rather than just put up its hand in consent.

She also advocates for thawing relations with Russia, China and India.

© STA, 2022