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Speech by the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, at the main celebration of Slovenian Statehood Day

Ljubljana, 24. 6. 2013 | speech


Dear Slovenians
at home and around the world,
my dear fellow citizens,
Excellencies and friends,

on a cloudless day twenty-two years ago, we had dreams. Do we not still have them today? Was less than a quarter of a century needed for us not to dare to hope anymore? Or have today’s disappointments, stress and distrust shattered our former unity and connection beyond repair?

No. They have not. But I am obliged to warn myself and all of us: just as we finally managed to win an independent country, we can also lose it. However, this still depends entirely upon us alone. We are still the masters of our own fate. This must remain so forever. This is our moral duty and our duty as citizens to our brave and patriotic ancestors and especially to our children. We must not rob them of these dreams.

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
in the short time since we founded our country, we have achieved enviable successes. We became an internationally recognised and renowned state. Slovenia is an active member in the most desired European and world families of nations. But these successes have blinded us. Simultaneously, numerous negative social trends which we refused to acknowledge or were unable to control began to spread.

A severe crisis struck us five years ago. Everything that was bad and suppressed was violently forced to the surface. The only redeeming feature was that it brutally exposed the harmful results of the transition. The people’s anger and resistance have more or less limited these results. But the feeling of deception and injustice remains very strong. It has forced the Government, Parliament and other institutions in the country to move and take action.

In the right direction, I believe. But I also believe that the change is too slow and not decisive enough. It is a matter of quickly restoring people’s trust in the country and its institutions, in the integrity of political, business, legal and other decision-makers before it is too late. We have enough experience, knowledge and complete dedication to accomplish this task. We simply must succeed. Anything else would be a disgraceful betrayal. And Slovenians never surrender. Our proverbial resistance and heroism were the reasons for our perseverance and existence.

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
this crisis is not the most difficult ordeal in our nation’s history. But it is so challenging that it again requires great unity, mutual respect, solidarity, confidence and bold action in order for us to win again. In short, everything found in the foundations of our state.

The particular feature of the present problems is that the part of the world to which we belong politically, economically and militarily, also faces the same issues. Twenty-two years ago, it was different. The international environment we wished to enter was safe and growth ensured prosperity.

Today, this environment of which we are a part is encountering great economic, social and political problems. Although we are a small country, our interest in the peace and prosperity of our people is just as great as that of our allies with a longer tradition and much more power. We will succeed only with joint forces.

Thus, we have to fight on two fronts. Firstly, we have to solve the part of our problems that we caused ourselves. And secondly, we must actively participate in solving our shared European problems, because a successful future for Europe is also a better future for us. More Europe means more Slovenia.

So, we must never forget that our national aspirations were closely linked to the European idea. We did not establish our country in order to be isolated. We declared it enthusiastically in order to become voluntarily and actively involved in the current spiritual, technological, scientific, cultural, economic and political processes provided by the modern world.

The European idea is founded on the belief that, among the diversity of nations, more things connect us than divide us. The idea of our state is also founded on reconciliation. It is built on the belief that, although we are all different, the relationship with the nation and state is nevertheless even stronger. We did not, and we do not, care only about the state. It is more than that. It is about the homeland.

A state is a set of institutions, and a political and legal structure. The homeland means much more. It encompasses a feeling of genuine community, not based on rights and duties, but on a heartfelt sense of belonging to a community. An inclusive community, where there is enough room for all and no one is excluded. The homeland is all of us together as a home and family.

This is why it is necessary to remember and stress repeatedly the significance of a genuine will to cooperate, and of unity when state or homeland is concerned. Political and other differences are part of any normal democratic society. Transcending these differences and the formation of a united political will in exceptional conditions is part of a mature democratic society. Compromises for the common good are not a sign of weakness, but of power. The present times do not forgive weakness. Now is a time that demands all our strength.
Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,
many years from now, our children and grandchildren will ask us how we managed to gather so much strength to safely and successfully overcome the greatest crisis since the Second World War. Each one of us will tell them in our own way that we did not repeat our mistakes and that we knew how to promote our successes. We will tell them that we learned from experience. That we were not afraid. That we did not stop believing in a better and fairer world.

Before our playful, curious children and grandchildren fall asleep, we will wish them sweet dreams.

Sincere congratulations on the holiday and best wishes.