In a completely predictable (and, indeed, predicted) turn of events the much-hyped initiative to recognise Palestine by Slovenian foreign minister Karl Erjavec unceremoniously petered out earlier today as the parliamentary committee on foreign affairs failed to vote on the motion, thus freezing the entire process and for all intents and purposes killing it.
To be fair, there’s an off chance of the parliament picking up the pieces of the broken foreign policy ambitions in the plenary session this coming Friday but as this the session will presumably be its last before early elections are finally called, it is highly unlikely there will be a quorum to even allow a debate much less a vote on this.
So, what happened? To put it bluntly, reality kicked in. The high-flying declarations of an independent and up-right foreign policy met with the very down-to-earth set of economic and political interests that go beyond the amateur mechanics of the if-this-then-that approach to foreign affairs. At some point the Israeli ambassador shuttled in from Vienna and said his piece and no doubt the US did some quarter-backing on Israel’s behalf, too. Equally important was the assessment by the ministry of economy that economic costs of such a move would amount to EUR 100 million (as the number represents the entirety of Slovenian-Israeli trade it is disputed by some).
At the end of the day, both the parliament and the government saw it convenient for the issue to go away for the time being. For while the authority to recognise Palestine (and independent countries in general) lies solely with the parliament the majority of MPs, for all their bluster, is loath to do so without a detailed government analysis of what this would mean for Slovenia. And since the government as a whole isn’t really keen on recognising Palestine (but coalition members are mighty keen on using the issue as a campaign plank), they simply fail to do the analysis, leaving the issue in limbo.
None of this is exactly new. The parliament is waiting for the government report since 2015 at least. What is new here is that everyone was keen to score political points by raising an issue with a huge rallying potential but zero actual effect on domestic policy. And when they realised that actions have consequences, all the talk of an independent and principled foreign policy “even without EU support if need be”, suddenly vanished.
Which brings us to the recent Russian conundrum, of which pengovsky will write soon…