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Reception by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Slovenia and Ms Tanja Pečar for the Diplomatic Corps at the start of the New Year

Brdo pri Kranju, 31. 1. 2020 | press release, speech

Reception by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Slovenia and Ms Tanja Pečar for the Diplomatic Corps at the start of the New Year
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

Address by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Slovenia.

"Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps,
Allow me to wish you a warm welcome to the annual diplomatic corps reception.
I would like to, first and foremost, emphasise Slovenia's sincere commitment to the comprehensive deepening of friendship and cooperation with the countries that you represent. We are all responsible for peace and a secure future for both ourselves and our children. To achieve this, Slovenia will work together with you to the best of our ability.

As is customary, I will briefly address the most important issues for the purposes of this reception.

With regard to the situation in Slovenia
In three decades, Slovenia has succeeded in developing a solid democratic political system. Therefore, the resignation of the government and a short period of lower political stability until the appointment of a new government should not have major consequences for the further favourable economic and social progress of Slovenia.

Slovenia needs a government – either in this term of office of the National Assembly or after an early election – that has an overwhelming political majority and a clear vision of its work. This will give the public a clear indication that the coalition parties are together in the government in order to implement a joint programme, not because they fear an early election.

In the case of the potential early election this year, there will be no doubt about its constitutionality, legality and legitimacy. The deadline set by the Constitutional Court for the implementation of the constitutional decision on changing the electoral system expires at the end of the year. However, I will continue to do my best to ensure that the National Assembly enforces the decision as soon as possible and amends the electoral legislation. In this situation, following the Government's resignation and the potential early election, it is clear as day how important it is for the Slovenian democracy to change the electoral legislation.

In all my speeches, I emphasise the importance of dialogue and cooperation, political and otherwise. In a situation where there is no deep social and political division in Slovenia, Slovenia stands as a pillar of social and economic stability in this part of Europe.

With regard to relations with our neighbouring countries
Slovenia's foreign policy begins with a sincere effort for nurturing the best relations possible with our neighbouring countries. This is important in many aspects. For security, for economic cooperation, for scientific and cultural cooperation, and last but not least for coexistence and friendship with neighbouring nations.

In the almost thirty years of Slovenia's independence, we have succeeded in settling virtually all open issues with our neighbouring countries. The issue of the border with Croatia has also been resolved. Today's decision of the European Court of Justice does not change anything. The neighbouring and friendly Croatia is not yet ready to honour its commitments, but I am convinced that this will happen sooner or later. I look forward to meeting President-elect Zoran Milanović for the first time since taking office. I attach great importance to his statements about his desire to improve relations with Slovenia.

In few months, we will, together with Italian President and friend Sergio Mattarella commemorate the 100th anniversary of the burning down of Trieste National Hall with. Even after recent discussions with him, I expect that this will coincide with the return of the restored National Hall to the Slovenian community in the Trieste region. This will be an important event. As we remember the dark chapters of our history, we will work together for a common, bright, European future.

This year, I will officially visit Hungary and meet President and friend János Áder. We have agreed to focus on environmental issues. Our two neighbouring countries also have national minorities on the other side of a border, a border that no longer exists. I am convinced this meeting will take place in the spirit of friendship, cooperation and co-existence.

I am very proud that with Austrian President and friend Alexander Van der Bellen we jointly decided to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Carinthian plebiscite this year. This will be an unprecedented event in history. We both want this ceremony and everything around it to be linked to high hopes for our shared European future, which places some past events in the context of new historical opportunities.

This in itself indicates our strong commitment to consolidating good neighbourly relations and thereby enhancing regional security and prosperity.

With regard to the European Union,
Before I continue, I must first address the fact that the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union today. I respect the will of the British people and the duty of the British government to implement it. Nonetheless, today is a sad day for me as a proud European citizen. A country we have so much in common with is leaving. In the end, differences prevailed. All will become clear in the fullness of time. Therefore, I shall not bid them goodbye forever, but just for the time being.

In the increasingly unpredictable international situation, Slovenia wants a Europe that works more closely together and has more influence on the international stage.

In this context, Slovenia welcomes the recent establishment of the most important European institutions and their leaderships, as well as their ambitious goals for the future. I find it very important that, after years of waiting, the European Union has decided to reconsider the way in which it works and will launch the Conference on the Future of Europe in Brussels in a few months.

At this point, I would like to take this opportunity to inform you that I have decided to set up a Slovenian Conference on the Future of Europe. Final preparations for its establishment, which is expected to take place next month, are currently underway. At the Slovenian conference, we will discuss all the issues that will be raised at the Brussels conference with the aim of giving our positions a strong Slovenian mark. In this way, I would like to encourage lively discussions on our common European future and help to make decisions for its complete renaissance.

Consideration of the European future and the way in which the EU works is particularly urgent in the light of the United Kingdom leaving the Union. This process is still ongoing and we will face many new challenges of future good EU–UK relations. It is essential for the EU to maintain unity in these negotiations, while at the same time consolidating its partnership with the UK.

Slovenia will continue in its efforts for the EU to find common ground on the issue of migration, in particular illegal migration. If successful, this would greatly strengthen our faith in the EU’s ability to solve the most complex of value-based issues and political ones.

With regard to the Western Balkans,
Slovenia sincerely and strongly supports the EU open door policy and regrets the delay in the enlargement process. We hope and believe most EU member states will acknowledge that EU enlargement in the Western Balkans is primarily a geopolitical issue and all unnecessary delays are thus unacceptable.

Slovenia has good relations with all Western Balkans countries and as such, it can act as a facilitator in the consolidation of the reconciliation processes and in enabling a closer cooperation between the individual countries.

Slovenia presented the initiative for the Brdo-Brijuni process that we are now leading together with Croatia. This process was launched 10 years ago and it was the first form of integration and cooperation between these countries at the highest political level. It gives me great pleasure to see that many other cooperation opportunities and forums emerged from this initiative.

With regard to relations with the US, the Russian Federation and China,
I would like to state very clearly that our foreign and security policy is based on our membership in the EU and NATO. The US is our ally and partner. Slovenia wants to deepen its partnership with the US in all relevant areas. At the same time, we want to better overcome differences in approaching certain issues, namely respecting the Paris Agreement and the Iran nuclear deal.

The Russian Federation and China, both members of the UN Security Council, are not Slovenia’s military and political allies, nevertheless we aim to strengthen our relations, especially our economic ties, with both of them. Slovenia strives for sincere relations, based on mutual respect and understanding, with all Security Council members.

We also want good, orderly, sincere and, if possible, friendly relations with all the other countries around the globe.

With regard to multilateralism and international peace,
The United Nations Organisation will celebrate 75 years of existence this year. Its main mission was, is and will be to ensure and consolidate peace. At the same time, the UN with its many agencies and offices is the centre of efforts to resolve the problems of the modern world. These problems are numerous and we can only efficiently tackle them on a multilateral level in this multi-polar world. It is therefore important to further improve the functioning of the UN for the sake of peace, stability and balanced economic and social development.

In that respect I feel that a consolidation of multilateralism is in the interest of all countries, regardless of their military, political or economic power.

Today’s world is less predictable and less safe than it was yesterday. Nonetheless, or perhaps precisely because of this, I want to emphasise Slovenia’s commitment to peaceful settlements of all disputes and conflicts.

I am particularly concerned about the recent escalation in the Middle East. As an EU and NATO member, Slovenia calls for the de-escalation of tensions and for the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. In this view, Slovenia is committed to the fight against terrorism and remains a strong ally of the Global Coalition against Daesh in accordance with the UN Security Council resolution from 2014.

We cannot solve these issues unilaterally. The world is, if we like it or not, becoming more and more connected and interdependent.

This is why joint efforts for strengthening trust in the rule of law, diplomacy and the amicable settlement of disputes are of such great importance.

With regard to climate change,
Threats to international peace and security are coming from other areas as well. Climate change is one of them. This is a serious problem that is threatening our modern lifestyle. We must take solving climate change more seriously at the level of our individual countries as well as within the international framework.

In light of this, I recently formed a permanent consultative committee for climate policy with top experts to help me form recommendations for the government and the national assembly. It is the commitment of Slovenia and myself personally to the active management of climate change consequences and to the sustainable development of Slovenia, the EU and the rest of the world.

And finally, by way of conclusion,
I would like to once again stress my sincere desire to maintain good relations with all countries in the EU and around the world.

Slovenia will remain an active partner in efforts for peace and cooperation to ensure a better and safer future for all.

I want to thank you for your efforts to further strengthen partnerships between Slovenia and the countries you represent.
Please, convey again to your heads of state my best wishes at the beginning of this year with my sincere hope of enhancing our mutual trust and cooperation for the benefit of the people we represent and the wider international community."

Reception by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Slovenia and Ms Tanja Pečar for the Diplomatic Corps at the start of the New Year
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA