(Ottawa) Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly is visiting Eastern Europe as part of an effort to strengthen Canada’s ties with countries on Russia’s periphery.
His trip to Slovenia, North Macedonia and Albania follows the commitment of members of the NATO military alliance to support democracies facing Russian interference and disinformation.
In Slovenia, MMe Joly will participate in a panel discussion on multilateralism at the Bled Strategic Forum, an annual conference on security and development in Southeast Europe.
She plans to meet government officials from the Moldovan and Belarusian oppositions, two countries facing anti-democratic forces backed by Moscow.
In North Macedonia, Minister Joly is expected to meet Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski and his top ministers to discuss trade and defense issues.
In Albania, she will meet Prime Minister Edi Rama and members of his cabinet on rule of law and rights issues, according to a press release.
Ms officeMe Joly says the trip is part of a plan announced by the minister in May that encourages Global Affairs Canada to engage more with the United Nations. Albania has a temporary seat on the UN Security Council, which will be transferred to Slovenia next year.
North Macedonia, meanwhile, chairs the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the continent’s largest security organization and one of the last forums where Russia and the West can discuss defense and conflict.
The trip aims to “listen to the experiences of countries in the region and explore concrete ways to support these partners,” the minister’s office wrote in a statement, calling the three countries “key partners for Canada” on the continent. .
“Our shared values, including the defense of democracy and the pursuit of a rules-based global order, unite us,” Mr.Me Pretty.
His trip comes as North Macedonia undertakes politically difficult reforms as part of its year-long quest to join the European Union.
In 2019, the country gave in to demands from Greece to add the word “north” to its name. Recently, Bulgaria demanded that it recognize ethnic Bulgarians on an official list of groups living in North Macedonia, a move that conservative parties opposed.
MMe Joly said Canada needs to engage more with countries facing Russian influence, especially smaller countries. The Liberals have announced the creation of new embassies in countries like Lithuania and Armenia, even though they have been criticized for the closure of the Canadian International Arctic Center in Norway.
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