Dr Logar, this was your first participation in a conference in India in recent months. Can you share your experience from the Raisina Dialogue?
Obviously, the virtual nature took away many important aspects that meeting in person allows. Nevertheless, it was a privilege for me to take part in this prestigious conference. Eyes of the world are increasingly turning to the Indo-Pacific region – owing to the many opportunities as well as challenges –, and India is among the key players. It is good to get away from the way of looking at things, which is sometimes overly Euro-centric. On the other hand, I can see that Raisina focuses on very similar issues as are dealt with in the Euro-Atlantic region, and there seems to be a sense that the world democracies need to work together to counter techno-autocracies, which the pandemic has exposed in a new way. The question now is how successful will the benign virus of democracy be. Its success will greatly depend on the effectiveness of the democratic vaccine, both figuratively and literally. We should be wary of putting the free world in new relations of dependency.
Where do you see India-Slovenia relations emerging over the next few years and what would be contours of this partnership?
I look forward to the EU-India summit in Portugal in May. During our forthcoming EU Presidency, we want to further pursue the EU-India Strategic Partnership, be it in connectivity, technology, global health preparedness, green growth or trade. Slovenia wants to be a part of this. Our companies are involved in the Ganges River Revitalization Project, our ultralight aircrafts fly the Indian skies, and we not only import pharmaceuticals from the “pharmacy of the world”, but also sell them to you. We want to do much more, especially in high-tech, ICT and AI, where India has become a partner of the IRCAI centre in Ljubljana, in global supply chains, in the environmental technologies and, of course, in logistics.
What are your plans to popularise Slovenia in India?
In 2019, we had the honour to welcome the President of India in Slovenia. On that occasion, a number of agreements were signed, from sport to standardisation. The Raisina Dialogue was another excellent opportunity to put Slovenia on the map. Our goods and services will, hopefully, add to that. Slovenia is already featured in Indian movies, there are Indian students in Slovenia. Literature, culture and even sport are important for our ties. What I find very encouraging is that, despite the pandemic and the virtual format, the Joint Commission for Trade and Economic Cooperation between Slovenia and India resumed its work this March.
Is the Indian Foreign Minister expected to attend the Bled Strategic Forum in September?
Over the last 15 years, the Bled Strategic Forum has turned into a leading conference in our part of Europe. We like to think of the BSF as the Raisina Dialogue of Central and South-Eastern Europe. This year, the BSF will feature a key panel on the Indo-Pacific and we would be very honoured to have India represented at a high level.
Do you have any plans for Indian presence in the Port of Koper?
One of Slovenia’s main attractions is precisely its geographical position between Italy and Austria. We are a Central European and a Mediterranean country. Koper is thus the Mediterranean northernmost gateway to Central Europe. Indian companies that want to ship their products to customers in Central Europe will therefore find the route through Koper ideal, in particular for industrial and consumer goods, metals, raw materials and food products. Koper would very much welcome a direct link with Indian ports. This is something that I will be talking about with my Indian counterparts.