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Speech by Borut Pahor upon taking the oath of office as President of the Republic of Slovenia

Ljubljana, 22. 12. 2012 | speech

Our homeland needs all of us, just as we need our homeland

Dear President,
Dear President of the National Assembly,
distinguished guests,
Dear citizens.
Dear President of the Republic of Slovenia Dr Danilo Türk, I would first like to express my and our sincere thanks for your work, carried out conscientiously and with commitment. We would like to wish you every success in your future career and every personal happiness for you and your family. Thank you and I wish you all the best, sir.

Dear President of the National Assembly,
Dear deputies,
Dear citizens,

We are experiencing hard times. Four years of crisis have left us exhausted. The patience of our people is understandably limited. It seems we are being spared almost nothing. The socially weakest groups struggle for their human dignity. Some already feel as if they have indeed been robbed of it. The situation is thus extraordinarily demanding. However, it can be overcome.

The future can still depend on our willingness. The decisions of our generation may mark the fate of many generations to come. This responsibility cannot be transferred. Above all, a resolute and strong political will is necessary to be able to focus on solutions to exit the crisis. In the end, this will be a historical achievement of all our people.

When I say that we are still masters of our destiny, I do not intend to say that we started the global crisis and that we will end it. I do point out, however, that Slovenia may take or miss its opportunity. This and as much is in our power. We have unfortunately not yet been particularly successful. The crisis hit our country much more unprepared than most others. As a result, Slovenia has been shaken to its foundations.

At first it seemed that we were exposed to financial, economic and social unrest, but the worsening and deterioration of the crisis stressed its moral dimension. Over time people could well understand that, with a view to tackling the crisis, it was necessary to take measures. However, they have not accepted the social inequality and injustice that resulted from the transition process. By rejecting the measures, the impression was often given that this inequality and injustice were not being eliminated but protected. Actually, this feeling has not always been justified. But our task is to eliminate it entirely. This is a must.

Dear deputies,

Awareness that a just state can only be one governed by the rule of law grew too slowly and has only recently become more dominant. The support of our people to urgent economic and social reforms will, to a large extent, depend on the perspective of building a more fair society.

If we prevent and punish, through an effective functioning of the rule of law, the abuse of authority and political power in the economy and society in general, we will have people’s support for reforms which are urgently needed for our existence and development. We have no doubt in the prudence and courage of our people. If they know that these are fair causes inevitable for a better future for their children, there will be no great obstacles in order to achieve the objective.

We are in a position when the course of our action will tip the scales of our future. If we are overcome by discouragement and despair, we might lose the battle. If we stand against them and find courage to deal with the problems, we will solve them. I am fully determined that we will manage. It is true that people are critical and even angry, but it is also true that they want changes for the better.

As soon as they get encouraging signals that the political system has started to act more harmoniously and uniformly and to devote more attention to finding solutions for the common good, they will respond encouragingly. The atmosphere in the country will change. No matter how difficult this might be, the feeling that we together are successfully fighting the invisible monster of crisis will bring a positive attitude. This will overcome pessimism and fear and bring back hope and faith in the future among our people.

If today our Slovenian politicians have not provided all the solutions, they must, and as soon as possible, present uniform plans for them. Only prompt and persuasive joint action might enable a situation in which our people will remain tolerant and patient in the interim period before the measures give results. Time and determination for joint commitment and hard work are of crucial significance in this time. And none of us should expect special commendation if this succeeds. The most important reward will be a feeling of satisfaction that people were not left in the lurch and that we all, without anybody being left behind, exited the crisis.

Within my competence I will strive to ensure this from the first day of my term of office. Among other things, I would like to make every effort in this respect to reach a framework agreement between the government and the opposition if and inasmuch as the political parties assess this trial and my role in this process as useful. The essentials of the agreement are measures to be taken to exit the crisis, which need wide political support and dialogue and the understanding of social partners. This would be a real signal to our people and to the international community.

Rapid and successful action means primarily access to sources of financing. An acceptably low cost of money would facilitate our finally obtaining fresh resources for investments with large overall effects. Economic growth will return, new jobs will be created, there will be new investments in state-of-the-art technologies, research and development, and the interest in foreign investments will increase. The social state will thus have stronger foundations. This would change the atmosphere and return trust that politics is for the good of the nation and not only for itself.

Dear deputies,

This could be a turning point in the solution of the crisis. Too little for a solution, but enough for a promising fresh start. We need the feeling that we are working together for the common good. We need each other. Not only in politics but also in general. Each of us as individual and as citizen has something that makes up the mosaic of 21st century Slovenia. This may be talent, nobility of mind or knowledge, diligence or experience or strong will. We need the best of each of us. In short, our homeland needs all of us, just as we need our homeland.

Therefore, let not give up. Let us make this mosaic into a whole so that a new image of Slovenia will soon be seen. For this generation and for generations to come. It will not be easy; indeed it will be tough. However, with strong will, even the unlikely can be achieved. We, the Slovenes, all the people of this wonderful country, can do it together. This defiance to remain is the backbone of our national character. In the hardest of times, we are the best. When we are unified, we are better and stronger.

Some will shrug their shoulders that I get carried away by enthusiasm. I can understand their doubt. Let me respond to these concerns by quoting Michelangelo’s warning: "The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we hit it."

Dear deputies,

In our efforts to exit the crisis successfully and with solidarity, we will be allowed and be able to pay more attention to the changes in the European environment, in which we take an active part. If this remains unchanged, we have to note strategic movements in implementing the European idea. In maintaining peace for over 50 years, it was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. But how will it be in the future? The crisis disclosed its limited response power to the changes in the international environment. However, the need for greater powers granted to Brussels remains one of the main issue of the present and future.

In this respect I would like to present my view on this issue in one sentence. It is in the Slovenian national interest that we remain an active part of a Europe which will be ready to embrace an increased political, economic and social cohesion. If we are excluded from this because of development retardation, our responsibility before history will be unrelenting.

I anticipate a time when a new constitutional convention for Europe will require the appropriate choice from all European nations and states. Dilemmas will not be simple. This will probably involve a transfer of additional elements of national sovereignty. And this is something we have been enjoying for only a little over two decades. How will we and all our people understand and answer these dilemmas of strategic importance for the nation and state?

I as President will make every effort to prepare our country for them. I would like to invite all intellectual powers available, irrespective of their political views or conviction, to cooperate and mutually consider our national and common European future. We have to win a place among the countries of high intellectual activity. This is a basis for new ideas which we urgently need to deal with challenges of this century.

A Slovenia internally socially coherent enough so that it will not be paralysed in finding the way out of crisis. Politically more unanimous, so that a difficult situation will bring us together to develop greater cooperation and unity and not division. A Slovenia enjoying good and friendly relations with all four neighbouring nations and countries, an active European partner, within the Eurogroup’s healthy nucleus. A Slovenia recognisable and respected in the international community because of its endeavours for peace and co-existence. This is the Slovenia of the 21st century.

Since the establishment of the state, we have never been so close or so far from fulfilling these ambitions. Tonight dreams are not only allowed: they are urgent. Much depends first of all on our will. And on our mutual trust. And on faith that we can manage it. And last but not least, as regards politics, on the responsibility towards the people who entrusted us with difficult decisions.

We do not bend under the weight of these burdens. We are not weaklings. Let us take a more demanding but more promising path. Let us bear the following in mind. Nothing was ever simply granted to our nation. The nation itself had to fight for everything. Not much has changed now. Let us walk together forward into the future.

For fortune favours the brave!