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Dr Rupel participates in EU-LAC Summit

On 27 and 28 May 2004, Dr Dimitrij Rupel, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia, is participating in the 3rd Summit of Heads of State and Government of the European Union (EU) and Latin American and the Caribbean (LAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico. The main topics of the summit are the issues of efficient multilateralism and social cohesion. Considerable attention is also paid to strengthening cooperation through talks on the agreements between the EU and the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean.

This is Slovenia's first participation at such a high level in a summit meeting of the EU and the LAC countries, a consequence of the country's participation in EU's Foreign Policy and its new role in EU foreign policy and in world issues in which the EU members participate jointly. By becoming an EU member, Slovenia has assumed co-responsibility for foreign policy matters, as well as for the social, economic and environmental issues.

In a meeting held separately to the summit, EU foreign ministers met on 27 May 2004. Along with the preparations for a political declaration, a vigorous and heated debate took place at the summit on many topics: xenophobia, the reform of the UN, protecting the Caribbean countries from accidents involving nuclear wastes, and new economic agreements between the EU and Latin American countries.

During the summit, Foreign Minister Dr Rupel, the Head of the Slovenian delegation, held separate bilateral meetings with Dr Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Austria, with Mr Eduard Kukan, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Slovak Republic, and Ms Maria Soledad Alvear, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Chile.

The talks between Dr Rupel and the Chilean Foreign Minister underlined the positive relations between the two countries, and these are expected to improve further in the light of Slovenia's entry into the EU. Likewise, Slovenia's status as a permanent observer in the Organization of American States will contribute to strengthening relations with Latin America and, particularly, with Chile. Dr Rupel was of the opinion that Chile is of special interest to Slovenia due to its open and dynamic economy. There are many opportunities for the development of relations between the two countries, both in the economic sphere and in other areas. Dr Rupel outlined to his Chilean counterpart the economic situation in Slovenia and the opportunities to strengthen cooperation. He expressed interest in concluding with Chile the Agreement on Cooperation in the Fields of Culture, Education and Science, as the Association Agreement, concluded last year between Chile and the EU, does not include cultural issues. The two ministers particularly highlighted the good level of cooperation between the two countries in multilateral forums; for example, within the framework of the Human Security Network. On the occasion of their meeting, Dr Rupel invited Foreign Minister Ms Alvear to pay a visit to Slovenia.

As EU-LAC Summit continues, Dr Rupel will participate in a working table on the issue of efficient multilateralism and social cohesion. During the summit, he is expected to hold separate meetings with Mr Luis Ernesto Derbez, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of the United Mexican States, and Ms Carolina Barco, Minister of Foreign Relations of the Republic of Colombia.