Remarks at U.S.-Slovenia Mutual Legal Assistance Protocol and the U.S.-Slovenia Extradition Treaty Signing Ceremony
Secretary of State
MODERATOR: The Secretary and Foreign Minister Zbogar will now sign Protocols of Exchange of Instruments of Ratification for the U.S.-Slovenian Mutual Legal Assistance Extradition Treaty.
SECRETARY CLINTON: I am very pleased to welcome the foreign minister here to the State Department. Many of us remember that the foreign minister was ambassador here to Washington on behalf of Slovenia, and he was a legendary distance runner, I’m told. He told me that he took a run this morning for old time’s sake. Well, there was great regret among the diplomatic community when he left, and now we’re delighted to welcome you back in your new position.
Slovenia is a valued ally of the United States. We cooperate on a wide range of issues, and our partnership enhances the security and prosperity of both nations. As members of NATO, we are working together to bring stability and peace to Afghanistan and to update our historic alliances to meet the challenges of today. As trading partners, we’re working to promote global economic recovery. And as democratic countries, we are working to stand up for responsible governance and human rights.
The minister and I reaffirmed our commitment to those basic values. We had a broad discussion on a number of issues that are of mutual importance. And today, we signed the Protocols of Exchange of Instruments of Ratification for the 2005 U.S.-Slovenia Mutual Legal Assistance and Extradition Treaties. That’s why it took so long to sign, because it’s long. And we expect these agreements to enter into force shortly after related agreements between the United States and the European Union take effect.
These agreements between the United States and Slovenia on extradition and mutual legal assistance will give our police and prosecutors state-of-the-art tools to cooperate more effectively and bring criminals to justice on both sides of the Atlantic. They form part of a network of agreements that the United States has reached with countries of the European Union to mutually reinforce our law enforcement obligations.
I look forward to continuing to work closely with the foreign minister, and I am very glad to see him back in Washington.
FOREIGN MINISTER ZBOGAR: Thank you. Thank you very much, Secretary Clinton. I am also very happy to be back in Washington. I had a great time. This is a great city. It’s a city of power, and it’s always great to be back. And I hope for many happy returns, and I hope for many joint projects that we’ll be working together, Slovenia and the United States, for the sake of people, our people, and for the sake of our alliances that we are in and for the sake of international community.
We all remember 1999 as a very important year for Slovenia, when you also had the visit of the first – the first visit of the American President to Slovenia and the First Lady. And I recalled the messages that we got at that time during that visit that we took very seriously, the messages that we should continue reforms to get into NATO and the EU, which we did, and to be more active on the Western Balkans, which we took very seriously, and I think we are as well.
We exchanged views on several issues. I think most importantly, of course, for us is our region, the region of the Western Balkans, where – which we want to see in the European Union, each and every country of the region, and the region that we’ll continue to work intensively to try to help them get ready and also to try to – and to work within the European Union to get the EU ready to accept them. So that’s the commitment that I can repeat today that we will do even more in the future.
I reconfirmed our commitment to our presence in Afghanistan, and in Kosovo we have many soldiers. We are a small country, but I think we have relatively big number, especially in Kosovo, but we are present also in Afghanistan. We are ready to add some civilian presence, some civilian projects to the military ones that we have in Afghanistan.
We also – you know, as a new minister I’m looking also to some new priorities, and I’m looking toward global warming and what can the small country do about global warming and climate change. And the issue of water, which Slovenia has plenty of but which is the reason for several wars and which is something that will be much less in the future because of global warming, is something that we’ll be focused in the future with some of similar countries of our size.
So I want to just reiterate our commitment to work with the United States, with our ally, on all the projects that we mentioned and other projects that we’ll be working in the future. Thank you very much for having me here.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you so much, Minister Zbogar. Thank you so much.
FOREIGN MINISTER ZBOGAR: Thank you.
SECRETARY CLINTON: And I did reminisce with the minister about our wonderful trip to Slovenia and how beautiful it was. And even in the rain on that memorable day, it just had an absolutely welcoming and gracious feeling to it. And I’m sure that the summer is beautiful. And that’s why we have to protect the planet.
FOREIGN MINISTER ZBOGAR: So we’ll have to get you in the summer, too.
SECRETARY CLINTON: Even better. Thank you.
QUESTION: Did you discuss about Croatia?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Beg your pardon?
QUESTION: Did you discuss about Croatia and Slovenia situation?
SECRETARY CLINTON: Well, we’ve talked about that. And obviously, the two prime ministers are going to be meeting on Friday, and we are hopeful that the matter will be resolved to the benefit of both countries.
QUESTION: Thank you, Madame Secretary.