Pretoria - South Africa and the Republic of Slovenia have much to offer to each other after showing signs of mutual interest in fostering their friendly relations for about a decade.
This was the sentiment expressed by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Slovenia, Tanja Fajon, following her diplomatic talks with International Relations Minister Naledi Pandor in Pretoria on Friday.
Fajon was on a three-day visit to the country to meet with her counterpart with a view to discussing bilateral co-operation between the two countries.
Part of the talks explored possibilities of working together in business, artificial intelligence, science, and other fields.
For about a decade, both countries have been steadily growing bilateral relations, and Fajon’s first official visit to South Africa was seen as a way to further firm the relationship between the two partners.
She said in an interview with the Pretoria News on Friday: “With the minister (Pandor) we really discussed in depth the worrisome conflicts, extreme weather conditions, challenges when you look at women, peace, and the security agenda. It was really a good visit and I have to say that after today’s discussions.”
Also on the table were talks around bilateral political and economic relations, regional and multilateral co-operation, and Slovenia’s non-permanent membership of the UN Security Council from 2024 to 2025.
“As a country with an observer status at the UN Security Council as of October 1, 2023, we will also talk with South Africa about common global challenges,” said Fajon.
Slovenia, she said, wanted to serve in the UN Security Council as a bridge builder striving for constructive solutions. The EU-Africa partnership, the war in Ukraine, the situation in the Western Balkans, and the visa regime between the two countries came under the spotlight.
South Africa’s geostrategic role in maintaining peace and security in the region was also part of the discussions.
Fajon said: “We also discussed a lot on the situation in Africa in general and also geopolitics.”
According to her, listening to and hearing her country’s partners was very important, especially in Africa and South Africa.
“I really believe that both of our nations have much to offer to each other. We share a good history of good relations with Africa,” she said.
Every year Slovenia hosts an Africa Day event when foreign ministers discuss different global challenges at the strategic forum and Fajon was happy to have invited Pandor to be part of the occasion in May next year.
She said: “We would like to both enhance our partnership and both ministers agreed and we proposed continuation of political conversation deepening of economic relations.
“We hope to soon sign an agreement on economic co-operation and also the agreement on co-operation in science. We are very close to doing so. But there is also an interest in the Slovenia companies to work in South Africa. I proposed a follow-up of the Slovenian delegation visit.”
Fajon had an opportunity to deliver a lecture at the University of Pretoria, focusing on Slovenia’s foreign policy, including the concept of feminist foreign policy. She also visited a project in Katlehong-Germiston called the Masibambisane: Creating Gender-based Violence-free zones, which is co-financed by the EU and the Apartheid Museum in Sandton.
Another highlight of her visit was her announcement of a development project funded by Slovenia in South Africa, in which the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Ljubljana will participate.
The project will see architecture students collaborating with locals to construct a school using eco-friendly materials.