Adress by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Slovenia
Ljubljana, 27. 1. 2016 | press release, speech
Dear Doyen of Diplomatic Corps,
Please let me extend, again, best wishes for the year that has already begun. May all nations and the respective countries you represent enjoy peace, freedom and progress. On behalf of the Republic of Slovenia, I would like to point to our determined and sincere aspirations to enhance our friendships and mutual cooperation.
In the mid-year, Slovenia will celebrate the 25th anniversary of its independence and statehood. The efforts to achieve the Slovenian independence were at their peak some 25 ago. At that time, both Europe and the world were changing dramatically. And they were changing for the better. The fall of the Berlin Wall, the end of dividing the world into two blocs, as well as the emergence of new democracies and free countries in Europe and their integration represented great hope for a fairer, safer and also more democratic and peaceful Europe and the world.
Now, as 25 years have passed, we can observe two things regarding the European and international environment. The first one is that hope at that time was justifiable and expectations are mostly fulfilled. Over the last 25 years, a new Europe has been emerging and it seems that all that time the world has been capable of solving every problem it has produced. The second thing is that, 25 years later, we found ourselves in a position when we look at the situation both in Europe and the world with reasonable concern. Our broader homeland, which is the European Union, has encountered problems. It already seemed it would overcome the financial crisis and step on the path of success once again, but now it seems that it is not capable to solve the refugee crisis. The absence of a common European policy leaves the burden of responsibility to various national solutions, which might turn out either good or bad.
The current refugee and migration crisis is our common challenge. Its size, in terms of both the scope as well as the moral and security dimension, requires mutual understanding and solidarity. Any national selfishness can have disastrous consequences. We hear demands for the withdrawal of some central European players, who took actions and brought decisions aimed at preserving the fundamental values of the European Union. Such standpoints do nothing but further justify the atmosphere of intolerance and hatred towards everything that is different. I think we should all try to understand and help each other. Resolving the refugee and migration crisis together in a humane way – safely and effectively, would be a great inspiration for the future and a strong boost for our self-confidence.
In such circumstances, it is very important to engage prudence, tolerance and greater responsibility to find common solutions, regardless of the situation. The history has taught us that complex cases require two kinds of simultaneous actions. First of all, they require carefully planned practical measures to overcome problems in the short term. Secondly, and I would like to particularly emphasize that, they require a clear and longterm vision, the vision of a new Europe.
Developing a vision for the future is so much more demanding as the European Union is not burdened only with the current crisis but also with different perspectives on its future such as, for example, the standpoint of the Great Britain. Slovenia would like the European family to stay together. Achieving this goal, despite all contradictions, will be a real challenge. However, this is precisely what our goal should be and we have to succeed in achieving it.
I would like to emphasise, once again, that I see a better future and a more democratic and safer Europe only if the EU will be able to strengthen its mutual cooperation. I see the future in more Europe, not less of it. The gradual loosening of common policies and the loss of citizens' trust in the united Europe can undermine the foundations of peace, safety and prosperity in the Old Continent.
The 25 years old Slovenian idea of national and political liberation was strongly tied to the idea of a united Europe. Both the Slovenian nation and its state saw the future in connecting with other European nations and states on the basis of the respect for human rights, the rule of law, the democracy, the market economy and reconciliation. The national idea and European idea mutually inspired each other. You can therefore imagine how careful Slovenia is in assessing the situation in Europe and how sincere are its efforts to preserve and reinforce the European Union and the values of peace and coexistence in the world.
Our broader homeland, the European Union, found itself in a situation which is not sustainable in a long term. In the following months and years, we will see, and it will also be decisive for the future of the European Union, which concept will prevail – the concept of doubting the European idea and strengthening the national egoisms, or the concept of placing trust and faith in Europe and defeating those political aspiration that see the common European future in its past. Slovenia will do everything that is in its power to reinforce the values of cooperation, tolerance, compromises and integration. The time and need have now come to thoroughly refresh the European idea and develop it as a vision that will convince the vast majority of Europeans about the value of our joint efforts.
There is no doubt that the new vision of Europe requires an overall consolidation that will strengthen the mutual cooperation between its member states. When we talk about cooperation among the EU member states, it should be emphasized clearly and without any doubt that our state's vital interest is to stay in the most integrated part of the European Union. The refugee crisis undermined the principles of Schengen and we now have to defend them. But it is not only about Schengen, it is also about the euro currency and other projects which are based on extended cooperation and integration. To sum up, I can say we need both practical short-term solutions and a long-term plan for the future of the European Union with a new vision.
It would be wrong, however, if the architects of the new Europe would underestimate the importance of its enlargement. I would like to repeat, once again, that I understand their concerns regarding this issue; however, I would like to kindly ask you to consider how significant the enlargement policy is for the peace and safety of the entire continent. One such example is the Western Balkans. Countries in this part of Europe, who would like to become EU members, are not naive and they know that their way to enter the common homeland will be much more demanding and prolonged due to the problems the European Union is facing right now. It is essential, however, that they do not lose hope. This would pose a direct threat not just for the stability of these countries and relationships between them but also for the entire Western Balkans territory.
Slovenia and Croatia, both members of the European Union and Nato, will make efforts together for the Brdo – Brijuni process to continue successfully. Its current significance has exceeded my expectations from six years ago, when I presented the initiative for its commencement. This way, Slovenia and Croatia will act responsibly to help the European Union and international community so that the Western Balkans do not become yet another hotbed of conflicts and tensions. I am glad that Slovenia and Croatia continue to cooperate successfully in the joint initiative.
I am also glad that I and my colleague, President of Croatia, Ms Grabar Kitarović, agreed on this despite Croatia's unilateral decision regarding the Arbitration Agreement. For Slovenia, it is vital that the arbitral tribunal proceeds with its work, and I hope it will impartially determine the border between the two neighbouring countries which have established friendly relations. Frankly, I cannot imagine the events to turn any other way.
A more integrated and strengthened European Union will be able to justify expectations regarding its role on the global level. The examples of good practice show that this issue is worth working on. The most recent such example is the excellent international compromise on Iran's nuclear program and the lifting of sanctions. Such involvement of the European Union in global affairs, and cooperation with the world's major players for a peaceful resolution of sensitive disputes, encourage people around the world to keep believing in peace and safety.
Slovenia makes efforts for and would like to see a more sincere and successful cooperation from the major world powers and the entire international community in order to achieve a peaceful resolution of every possible dispute. We welcome the Paris Agreement on climate change and the Minsk II protocol. We hope that their provisions become effective as soon as possible. A solution to the Ukraine crisis would significantly contribute to greater engagement of Europe to resolve other problematic global political and safety issues. In the context of this debate, when the ultimate questions regarding the foreign policy and safety practices in Slovenia are being raised, we have to take into account the fact that Slovenia is an active member of the European Union and NATO. The aforementioned refugee and migration crisis will not be solved until we resolve the Syrian crisis, overcome the lack of trust in the Middle East, and create prospects for a brighter future of North Africa. It is hard to imagine that we could achieve these objectives without the cooperation of the USA, Russian Federation and Arab countries. It is in the best interest for the international peace and safety to achieve a compromise on political objectives of the Syrian crisis solution as this is the only way to act against the Islamic state and terrorist groups over the globe.
If, in such atmosphere of international cooperation, we come to a conclusion that there is no other way to destroy ISIS than to organize a comprehensive military intervention, then it is essential to obtain a mandate from the UN Security Council. I am aware how important the role of the United Nations is when it comes to regulating the international affairs in a peaceful and prosperous manner. Let me mention, at this point, that this is yet another reason why Slovenia is proposing its former President, Dr Danilo Türk, to become the new Secretary- General.
Slovenia has no complex political issues with another state, which could not be solved through mutual dialogue in a peaceful manner. Slovenia makes efforts to establish as many friendships around the globe as possible. In the future, the Slovenian European-related as well as its foreign policy will continue to serve as instruments of peace, friendship and comprehensive cooperation between all nations and countries. The same as most other countries, Slovenia will pay great attention to good neighbourly relations, to the enhancement of trust and cooperation with countries in the two central integrations ‒ the European Union and Nato, and to its relations with strategic partners. We will make efforts to enhance our relations with countries who have so far, due to various objective reasons, not received enough of our political and economic attention. Preserving the international peace and safety is our primary task, which we are obliged to carry out decisively and wisely, also on behalf of our children and grandchildren.
Please convey my best wishes at the beginning of this year to the leaders of your nations with a sincere hope that we will enhance our mutual trust and cooperation for the benefit of the people we represent.