Slovenia: mediator or pawn for the big players?
Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met with his Slovenian counterpart Karl Erjavec in Ljubljana on Wednesday. During the visit he accused the EU of demanding that the western Balkans to turn their back on Russia. After the meeting Erjavec called for enhanced dialogue between the EU and Nato with Russia. For Slovenia's media the visit reveals much about Slovenia's role as a foreign policy go-between.
The return of the Russian bear
Lavrov's criticism of the EU voiced in Ljubljana is warranted, Večer believes:
“With its harsh terms for membership the EU is creating a sense of hopelessness and apathy in the Balkans that other global powers will seek to exploit: Russia, Turkey, which has given up hope of EU membership and now wants to access Europe via Bosnia and Herzegovina, and China, which is also looking for a springboard to Europe. These countries play for the long term. If some of the countries in the Western Balkans do become EU members later on, they will secure major advantages for these (global) powers. The Russian bear never really left this region. Perhaps it just withdrew and is now making a comeback. Via Slovenia.”
Slovenia always wanted to be a bridge
One of the few advantages smaller countries have is that they can act more freely in foreign affairs, Delo explains after Lavrov's visit:
“Slovenia is not the centre of the world and neither Washington nor Moscow care about our opinion about their policies. ... It's clear whose side we would be on if it came to a confrontation. But this shouldn't prevent us from working with both camps as long as the rules of fair play apply and it is in our interest to do so. ... Slovenia can once again play host to global powers that aren't exactly popular right now - that is also the function of a small country. To act as a bridge. And that too was always one of Slovenia's dreams.”