Statements By PM Netanyahu and PM of Slovenia Borut Pahor
Photo by GPO 


PM Netanyahu:  I want to welcome you, Borut, to Jerusalem, and your delegation.  Your visit is an opportunity for Israel and Slovenia to strengthen our relations, and we have discussed concrete ways to do it in technology, in tourism – you have a beautiful country, we have a beautiful country, we’re close by.  Our GDP per capita is roughly the same.  We can afford each other and we should embrace each other.  And we do.  On technology, we think that it would be wise for our governments to see how we can bring in youth exchanges here, students, and frankly I’ve been looking at the medical universities, which are excellent in Slovenia, and we might want to send our people there.  I know that you have an excellent port, the Port of Koper, and we’re eager to see how much we can expand our possibilities there, because we want to increase our trade, both bilaterally, but with Europe, and you’re an excellent port of call. 

All these things and many others have been of great interest to me, and I was also particularly interested in hearing your experiences of achieving a resolution of a long-standing conflict with Croatia.  And I was struck by the fact that when we met in the OECD, I guess it was about two years ago, in 2010, a little less than two years ago, and you said to me: “There is a big referendum.  I have to deal with it, and I’m going to deal with it personally”.  And what you proceeded to do is to have direct negotiations and direct contacts with the leader of Croatia, and you and she achieved something quite remarkable.  I find that particularly instructive in the task that we face with our Palestinian neighbors, because I believe there is no substitute for direct negotiations to resolve conflicts and achieve peace and I take a leaf from your book.  It’s an impressive book, so I hope very much that we can proceed on direct negotiations as the real, effective and most promising course for peace, certainly not unilateral impositions by one-sided resolutions in the UN.  Peace has to come from inside, from the leaders who are convinced that they’re serving the interests of their people, in mutual compromises. 

I think that your experience is one that is very telling, one that is very instructive and one that is very important.  So for all these reasons, and for the personal friendship that we have developed, and the friendship between Slovenia and Israel that is developing by day – our trade, I think, has grown 60% in the last two years.  It can grow a lot more.  The possibilities are really limitless.

So for all these reasons, I wish to welcome you here in Jerusalem.  Welcome to you and all your delegation.

PM Pahor:  Thank you.  Mr. Prime Minister, friend, ladies and gentlemen,

It’s much more than just a pleasure, it is a privilege and an honor to be here to debate with my friend, the Israeli Prime Minister, how to boost our bilateral relations which are excellent politically and economically speaking.  As he said, we decided to boost these bilateral relations in three main camps.  The first one is high technology.  We would like to exchange students from both sides to visit Israel and Slovenia.  So, high technology is sphere number one.  Tourism: Slovenia is a very beautiful, green country, a country to be visited.  So I invited the Prime Minister to come in his private or public capacity to visit Slovenia.  And then I hope also, his visit to Slovenia would inspire your people to follow him, just to come and to see our beautiful country.  Not just to come there as tourists, but also to invest in our tourist capacities.  We have had some experiences, and they are very good, so we would like to prolong and extend this investment in tourism.

We would also like investments in different spheres of economic life in Slovenia.  We need foreign capital to come in our country to boost the economic growth, which is not as strong as in your country.  But as you know, we are facing, along with all other Euro-zone countries, a huge problem of several member states.  I’m very delighted to inform your Prime Minister that on Thursday, we came to a very important consensus to bail out, for the second time, Greece, and to avoid maybe the start of the next recession, the second recession in the European Union.

We also talked about the Port of Koper.  It is extremely important for us that your economy would go to Europe through the Port of Koper.  We provide all necessary facilities for very good help, if you want, for Israel to use it to go to Europe.

As the Prime Minister said, we used a lot of our time, and we will continue to do this at the lunch, how to go on with this Middle East peace process.  I’m thankful to the Prime Minister for mentioning my role in getting a final solution of border issues with Croatia.  It was a very, very huge problem, a very emotional one on both sides.  It could jeopardize our security; it could jeopardize Croatian dreams to become the next member state of the European Union, so basically, what I decided, and I’m very satisfied that Madam Prime Minister Kosor accepted, has been to sit down and negotiate directly.  That is my experience I can deliver to your Prime Minister, my very good friend: that it takes some courage and good political will to invite the Palestinian side to sit down and talk in good faith.  I’m absolutely sure that the end of the, in my view, very long process will be peace and stability in the region.  I think it is important for Israel and for all neighboring countries.

Prime Minister, I wish you all the best in this very, very difficult task ahead of you.