A few days before the Slovenian Statehood Day, I met with the country’s Ambassador to Iran Kristina Radej, at the Slovenian embassy to review her views on the developments that had taken place in bilateral ties between the two countries, during the last two years after the reopening of Slovenian embassy in the Islamic Republic in November, 2016, AVA Diplomatic reports.
Slovenian embassy in Tehran was closed in March 2013 as part of the European country’s general austerity policies. Slovenia said at the time that the move came in response to the difficult financial and economic situation in the country. However, despite the closure, Slovenia continued to work on fostering and boosting bilateral relations with Iran within four years.
Ambassador Radej is well acquainted with Iran. For four years, between 2009 and 2013 she served as Chargé d’affaires to the embassy of the Republic of Slovenia in Tehran.
She warmly welcomed me and my colleagues from Mehr News and Tehran Times. She has got a great sense of humor as well, and at the same time, is a professional diplomat in her field of activity.
When we started the conversation she went straight to the main point, Slovenia’s Statehood Day, which is going to be celebrated on Monday, June 25.
She was excited about the upcoming commemoration of the country’s declaration of independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, underlining that “It’s been 27 years since that day, and now I feel 27.”
She smiled as she describes her feeling; “in May 1990, Slovenia formed its first democratically-elected government and appointed its first foreign minister. At that time, especially after the December plebiscite, foreign-policy activities focused on mobilizing international support for Slovenia’s legitimate aspirations for independence and sovereignty, which was by no means an easy task. This prompted the creation of a network of Slovenian representatives, advocates and friends, including journalists, business travelers and businessmen from Slovenia. Slovenian diplomats, who at that time were serving in the federal diplomatic service, joined these efforts.
After the declaration of independence on 25 June 1991, Slovenian foreign policy had a clear task: to secure the international recognition of the newly formed state. The first recognition came from Croatia on 26 June. On January 15, 1992, Slovenia was recognized by the European Community and most European countries. On May 22, 1992, Slovenian foreign policy and the diplomatic service completed their foremost task: Slovenia became the 176th member of the United Nations and a fully independent and equal member of the international community. Slovenia’s key objective was the membership of European and Euro Atlantic structures, the development of good bilateral relations, especially with neighboring countries, as well as active and constructive engagement within international organizations. Furthermore, Slovenia decided to redefine its role in relation to the countries in South-Eastern Europe.”
Ambassador Radej was absolutely clear about her country’s policies toward international relations. She stressed that Slovenia’s relations with Iran were always on the right path and that there were always effective and sustained cooperation in various fields, especially in agriculture, economy, culture and holding trade and tourism events and workshops.
Pointing to the first World Bee Day marked on 20 May 2018 at the Slovenian embassy, hosting many journalists, ambassadors and Iranian officials on the related fields, Radej said following more than 3 years of efforts at international level and following a Slovenian proposal, the United Nations last year declared 20 May as the official World Bee Day.
She also said the proposal aims to raise awareness of the importance of bees, beekeeping and other pollinators and their role in food security and sustainable development. On the World Bee Day ceremony last month, she said Iran has made noticeable progress in honey production, as it rose from 77,000 tons in 2016 to 88,000 tons in 2017, making the country the third biggest honey producer in the world after China and Turkey.
She asked us to see her AZ beehive in the yard of the embassy, where the photographer took many photos of her beside the colorful hive built with improved ergonomic designs, ensuring long term survival, as well as better housing for the bees. Slovenian AZ beehive is a great hive, and it is used by many urban beekeepers. It originates from the European country of Slovenia where it has been used for centuries.
There were also several paintings hung on the wall in embassy’s salon. Referring to them, she said these are original drawings of an artist illustrated for a story book for kids. She introduced Pegah Rakhsha to us, who was the creator of all these paintings for the book ‘The Buffalos and the Lilium’. This children’s book is republished by the Slovenian embassy in Iran, written in Farsi, English and Slovene, and is about a Plane Tree, who is the narrator and recounts the story of a city called City of Lilium, where buffaloes make troubles for liliums. The savior of this story is also a honeybee who saves the Liliums.
The meeting with Kristina Radej, a female diplomat with special taste in art and culture, was fantastic. She is an optimist who views the present and future ties between Iran and Slovenia with positive attitude; “my appointment as Ambassador was mainly dictated by the need for prompt and effective continuation of the work based on long-term excellent relations between the two countries,” she concluded in a firm tone.