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Politics & press news – Embassy 4 – January 2008

Ambassador launches ‘historic presidency’

Ambassador Iztok Mirosic launched his country’s presidency of the EU by saying it was a historic occasion as the first country formerly behind the Iron Curtain to take over the helm.

Speaking at a briefing at Chatham House, the Ambassador said the Slovene presidency would focus on getting as many EU countries to ratify the Lisbon Treaty signed last December.

Agreeing on the Climate Change package announced this week is also going to be a top priority, added Mirosic, who predicts some “long meetings” as EU countries tussle over emissions targets.

As a country from the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia will try to strengthen the role of the EU in the Western Balkans, always keeping an eye on developments on the status
of Kosovo. He also said it would be important to increase "inter-cultural dialogue" with the region and the EU's other neighbours, including Russia, with which Slovenia has good relations.

As the first of the new Accession countries to host a presidency, Slovenia is keen to burnish its EU credentials. For a small embassy that poses a challenge, but the Ambassador has help: his wife Tina Kokalj, a diplomat herself, has been drafted in.

And, in a display of "European solidarity", the Spanish Ambassador has offered his large Residence in Belgravia as a venue for the monthly EU Ambassadors' meetings.
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