Austrian President Van der Bellen Visited Slovenia

PeoplePoliticians ♦ Published: December 14, 2022; 23:25 ♦ (Vindobona)

Re-elected Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen traveled to Slovenia for an official visit with his counterpart Borut Pahor. Besides discussions around the common issues in Slovenian, Austrian and European politics, this visit was also a farewell meeting between "personal friends", as Pahor is leaving office.

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen (l.) and Slovenian President Borut Pahor (r.). / Picture: © Österreichische Präsidentschaftskanzlei / Peter Lechner/HBF

Slovenian President Borut Pahor received Alexander Van der Bellen with military honors at Congress Square in the center of Ljubljana. He gave the Federal President a welcome just as emphatically warm as during Alexander Van der Bellen's inaugural visit in 2017. This time, too, a group of kindergarten children came to Congress Square to wave Slovenian, Austrian and European flags.

Alexander Van der Bellen was the last foreign head of state to visit President Pahor before he hands over his office to the new President Nataša Pirc Musar in two weeks.

At the joint press conference, Borut Pahor stressed that it was a "great honor" to be able to welcome the Austrian president, whom he described as a "personal friend," on an official visit to Ljubljana shortly before he leaves office. Borut Pahor sees a meeting between President Van der Bellen and President-elect Pirc Musar, who also met informally on Friday, as a sign that the two leaders will continue to maintain excellent personal relations. Alexander Van der Bellen also thanked Borut Pahor - whom he also described as a friend - for his efforts in strengthening bilateral relations.

Bilateral relations, the Western Balkans and the war in Ukraine were the focus of the last meeting between Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen and his outgoing Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor.

Slovenian minority in Austria

This time, both heads of state emphasized the good relations between Austria and Slovenia. As an important topic, the two heads of state discussed the situation of the Slovenian minority in Austria.

"Some things are not as one would like them to be," Borut Pahor said, referring to the disappointment of the Slovene ethnic group because certain minority rights were not implemented as quickly as hoped. However, he praised Alexander Van der Bellen for his speech at the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the Carinthian referendum, calling it a turning point in the effort to implement minority rights.

Van der Bellen "regrets" Schengen veto against Romania

Federal President Alexander Van der Bellen has "extremely" regretted Austria's veto against the admission of Bulgaria and Romania to the Schengen area. Van der Bellen stated this during his visit to Slovenia at a joint press conference with Pahor.

As reported by, there was a veto against the Schengen accession of Romania by the Austrian government, allegedly because of the threat of illegal migration. Austria is in an extremely difficult situation because of the influx of refugees and migrants, but connection, the linking of this problem with the Schengen accession of Romania and Bulgaria, so Alexander Van der Bellen does not see.

"I do not see how this blockade of Romania's Schengen accession changes anything in the situation in Austria," the Federal President stressed at a press conference during his visit to the Republic of Slovenia. "I only see that we have incurred a lot of ill will at the European level," he added. This displeasure, as reported, was already noticeable when the Romanian Interior Minister accused Austria of lying because of the veto.

President Van der Bellen expects that the Austrian economy will have to pay a price because of this decision. On the one hand, the development is likely to hit domestic tourism. On the other hand, the head of state stressed that Austria is active in Romania with significant direct investments. "We will see how Romanian consumers react to this development. An economic price is inevitable in my eyes," said Alexander Van der Bellen.

Presidential Chancellery of Austria