President of the Republic Borut Pahor at the national commemoration in memory of the victims on the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War
Ljubljana, 9. 9. 2014 | press release, speech
Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Ms Tanja Pečar today attended the national commemoration in memory of the victims on the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War. The Slovenian President gave a keynote speech at the ceremony.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA
President Pahor’s speech read as follows:
Today we remember the victims of the Great War. When it started, a hundred years ago, nobody imagined that it would attain such global proportions. Nothing in human history before it had caused such widespread destruction. It left a deep scar on the soul of civilisation. And after it ended, nobody wanted to believe that it was only the first such war.
This is understandable. Tens of millions of dead and wounded should have been enough to ensure everlasting peace, as a moral apology for the billions of tears spilt in grief and suffering. Instead, the opposite happened. A mere two decades later, the earth was again being soaked with the blood of innocent people. The Second World War was so terrible that it clouded the grim view of the tragic heritage of the first. Thus the First World War can often seem something of an apocalyptic overture to the second.
This dangerous impression creates an image of a demonic narrative arc, where it is only a matter of time before, according to the logic of historical sequence, a third will follow. Such a mindset harbours threats to peace and excuses for the use of force. It reflects powerlessness in the face of supposedly inevitable destiny. Like an invisible dark spirit, it swirls around the graves of the victims of the First World War. This is the reason we have gathered here today – to banish this baleful and cowardly thinking. The victims of the Isonzo Front were not a historical necessity. They were the victims of errors in judgment and wrong decisions.
Is war avoidable?
It is. This belief is essential for peaceful resolution of disputes. War or peace is a fundamental political question. It is a matter of choice and decision. Looked at this way, a war is indeed something that can be avoided. Today, on the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War, at our national commemoration of its victims, I do not pose a strictly legal or political question, but foremost a moral one. What justifies a war morally, except self-defence against it? Nothing.
The fact that we have witnessed and still witness wars does not mean that they are unavoidable. It only means that we have, time and again, to make judgements and decisions on this matter. Therefore: When war breaks out, this is not because it is inevitable. A war starts because someone who could prevent it decided otherwise. Thus a time of peace is not only a time when there is no war, but also a time when we should consciously try to eliminate the reasons and excuses for war.
If the use of force is deplorable in the elementary moral sense, we have to strive to use the peace as an opportunity to make our belief in war unwavering. We have to prove with our actions, judgements and decisions that none of the questions posed by human and social development challenge the peace itself. Only in this way will we show respect to the victims of all wars, including the First World War, and allow them to rest in peace.