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President Pahor’s speech at a formal sitting of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia

Beograd, 28. 1. 2019 | press release, speech

The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, addressed deputies of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia at a formal sitting during todays formal visit to the Republic of Serbia.

Below is the keynote speech by the President of the Republic of Slovenia. The spoken word applies.

"Dear Madam President,
deputies of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia,
dear friends.

Ten years ago, in 2009, I was the first Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia to officially visit Serbia after years of poor relations between the two countries. I was received by then Prime Minister Mirko Cvetković and President Boris Tadić.

The visit and discussions opened a new chapter in relations between the two countries. These relations used to be marked by different views on the Kosovo issue. However, since then, all challenges have been met in favour of mutual interests and benefits.

Five years ago, in 2014, I was the first President of the Republic of Slovenia to officially visit Serbia. My host was President Tomislav Nikolić, and I was also received by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić.

Wide-ranging cooperation between the two nations and countries was in full swing. At that time, Slovenia selflessly helped Serbia to face severe floods. This was an illustration of sincere friendship between the two nations, between Slovenians and Serbs, and between the two countries, between the Republic of Slovenia and the Republic of Serbia.

During the ten years, there have been many visits by prime ministers and presidents to Slovenia. A particularly fond memory I have is of the most recent visit of President Nikolić, with whom we unveiled a bench of peace and friendship between Serbia and Slovenia in Tivoli Park, and a statue of Mihajlo Pupin in Bled.

Two days ago, your president and I were honorary patrons of a ceremonial evening prayer in the Orthodox Church in Maribor, and a ceremony at the Slovene National Theatre on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of the independence of the Serbian Orthodox Church and the 600th anniversary of the birth of Katarina Branković, the Countess of Celje and the first Orthodox person in Slovenia.

In this period, Slovenia and Serbia not only settled open bilateral issues, but also enhanced economic cooperation, cultural exchange, and intensified purely human mutual sympathies and affection.

Dear Madam President,
High Assembly,

Slovenia has actively advocated and promoted Serbia's progress and accession to the European Union since the outset. It has always been our opinion that Serbias accession to the European Union is in the mutual interests of Brussels and Belgrade, and would significantly contribute to political and economic stability in this part of Europe.

During this time, trust and friendship have developed up to the point where we are cooperating at the level of presidents, as well as within the Brdo-Brijuni Process, and at the level of prime ministers, within the Berlin process which is the economic framework of the Brdo-Brijuni Process and includes some of the most important European countries.

The Brdo-Brijuni Process, albeit informal and held at the highest level of representatives of states in the region, has several characteristics.

Firstly, it preserves and strengthens basic personal trust among leaders and expresses the political will for basic trust and cooperation among participating countries.

Secondly, it is the basis of the Berlin Process, which is focused mainly on economic cooperation, and directly incorporates the most important European countries in this process.

Thirdly, it includes high representatives of third countries and the European Union, and constitutes an opportunity for the periodic exchange of assessments of the development of the EU enlargement process.

And fourthly, it is a litmus test, a touchstone, with which we can assess the atmosphere in the region.

I would like to thank Serbia and its president for participating in this process.

At the Brdo-Brijuni Process Summit in Sarajevo in 2016, I assessed that the European Union could deal with itself in the next few years rather than enlargement. It does not even deal with itself as much as I would have liked. Instead, Member States are dealing with themselves more, and less with the joint European Union. This brings us to a situation in which no great political will for enlargement may be expected in the coming years. Therefore, I reiterated at the summit in Sarajevo and have reiterated at all subsequent meetings what I want to say today before the high assembly.

Since the dynamics of negotiations of the countries of the Western Balkans with the European Commission on membership could slow down, it is very important for all countries in this region and the countries on its border to unconditionally participate, resolve all open issues, and preserve trust between us and stability in the region. Our political role and responsibility are irreplaceable. No other power or even superpower can do it for us. Therefore, it is very important that we talk and persist in finding solutions.

The Western Balkans is at a crossroads, and the situation is made more difficult by lower predictability and increased security risks in the international community. Despite that, or perhaps because of that, we must do our utmost to resolve all conflicts peacefully. There is no historical imperative for the Western Balkans to come into conflict in such a situation.

But should this happen against our will, we must all know. That would be a perfect storm.

High Assembly,

Slovenia supports Serbia on its way to the European Union. Regardless of my assessment that enlargement dynamics will slow down, Slovenia will always actively point out its significance. I wish Serbia the greatest success on this path. I know from the experiences of Slovenia that much depends on the national social consensus as to how quickly and successfully national legislation adapts to the Community acquis, and how difficult it is to convince the public that this must be done, although this is not immediately reflected in the speed of negotiations.

Dear Madam President,
dear friends,

Slovenia understands Serbias right to independently choose its security policy. In this sense, Slovenia respects the priority you give to cooperation with the Russian Federation. However, it is clear that, in such circumstances, negotiations of Serbia with the European Union will end sooner and more easily if relations between the European Union and the Russian Federation are good.

Slovenia supports the efforts of official Belgrade and Priština to conclude agreements to determine mutual relations. Such agreements must be respected by both sides.

Regarding certain ideas to resolve the most sensitive bilateral issues, Slovenia points out the basic prerequisite: negotiations must be conducted peacefully, without threats or use of force, and result in peaceful enforcement of the agreement without collateral security implications in the region.

Slovenians and Serbs respect, and are fond of, each other. Slovenia and Serbia are friendly countries. They have been developing in-depth versatile relations. They help and support each other.

They both see the European Union as a place of reconciliation, peace, safety and welfare. The security policies of the two countries differ. However, they mutually respect the difference and believe that it does not hinder the opening up of all other versatile opportunities.

Both feel committed to regulating all bilateral and multilateral issues of countries in South-eastern Europe. Their views of certain issues are different, but they are not so irreconcilable that they will hinder the development of excellent political and economic relations.

Dear Serbian friends,

It was a great honour for me to address you here. I came and I am leaving as your friend. I will strive for Slovenians and Serbs to strengthen warm relations. I will do everything in my power for Slovenia and Serbia to cooperate in exemplary fashion for the benefit of their nations, citizens, the whole region, Europe, and peace and welfare in Europe and around the world.

Thank you for your attention and the honour you have shown me.

Long live SlovenianSerbian friendship.

Govor predsednika Pahorja na slavnostni seji Narodne skupščine Republike Srbije
Photo: STA

Govor predsednika Pahorja na slavnostni seji Narodne skupščine Republike Srbije
Photo: STA