MOSCOW (Sputnik), Ksenia Shakalova — Erjavec held talks with Lavrov on Thursday, discussing the relations between the two countries in the light of the row between Russia and the Western powers, including the European Union and the United States.
"We have acknowledged that despite the fact that Slovenia is a member of the European Union and a member of NATO, our relationship nevertheless remains friendly and minister Lavrov understands that Slovenia has commitments with regard to partnership with these organizations and empathizes with us in that we have to show solidarity with the decisions of these organizations," Erjavec.
Erjavec noted that since he had taken the office of foreign minister in 2012, Slovenia and Russia have significantly reinforced their relations. He also pointed out that he was engaged in regular dialogue with Lavrov, having bilateral meetings at least once a year.
Political Agreements Between Russia and Slovenia
The two officials have discussed an agreement on cooperation between the interior ministries of Russia and Slovenia that was signed in 2001 and now needs to be updated, because, as Erjavec noted, "life has changed, new threats have appeared."
Erjavec said that the agreements discussed at the meeting with Lavrov might require some final touches before being signed, but "the existence of the political will" was confirmed at the meeting.
The trade between Slovenia and Russia was also on the agenda of the talks between Erjavec and Lavrov. Russian President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with his Slovenian counterpart Borut Pahor in February, and the two presidents agreed to boost economic relations.
"We have noted positive tendencies," Erjavec said, adding the first six months of the year have seen the trade turnover between Russia and Slovenia growing by up to 26 percent.
"In fact, we have 35 bilateral projects to discuss on our agenda … I hope all of these projects will be implemented and it will have a positive impact on the economies of both our countries."
Deliveries of Russian Gas to Slovenia
Speaking on the gas issue, Erjavec said Slovenia and Russia may sign an extension of the agreement on Russian gas deliveries to the country. The deal will likely be inked during the visit of Slovenian Prime Minister Miro Cerar to Moscow, which could take place in either late 2017 or early 2018.
"In principle, Slovenia is interested in prolongation of this agreement and the deliveries of Russian gas, now it will be signed for a five-year period … Given the Slovenian prime minister’s visit to Moscow is expected, it [the signing] may take place during his visit. It is difficult to give the exact date … but in the near future, at the end of the year or in the beginning of the next year," Erjavec said following his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in Moscow.
The current contract, which stipulates annual supplies of 830 million cubic meters of natural gas, expires in 2018.
Lavrov Announces Trip to Slovenia
Erjavec said following the talks with Lavrov that the Russian foreign minister will visit Slovenia in 2018. He said that Lavrov's visit will be arranged so it will coincide with the opening of the research center about the World War II in Slovenia’s Maribor. The two nations are also expected to sign a memorandum on cooperation.