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Address by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor

Brdo pri Kranju, 5. 2. 2013 | speech

Your Excellency, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps,
Distinguished Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Dear Friends,

May I begin by wishing you all the best of luck for this year? Not that we should count on luck too much, but current domestic and international circumstances are demanding and, in order to successfully address challenging issues, besides courage and wisdom, we will also be needing a touch of good luck coming our way.
Address by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor
Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA

In the history of its independence, and in contrast with today, Slovenia showed its brighter side. In recent years, we have been in the grip of financial, economic, social and moral crises. But there is no doubt that when the going gets tough, our small but strong nation shows its best qualities. I am deeply convinced that with the necessary unity, tolerance and determination, in this and in the coming years, we will overcome our difficulties and find the driving force to face future development challenges and opportunities.

As President of the Republic, I will strive to ensure that our strong engagement in measures to overcome the crisis will not weaken our European and foreign policy efforts for good neighbourly relations, peace, safety, friendship and multilateral cooperation between nations and states. Please communicate our firm commitment to these fundamental values and principles to the Heads of your Governments and States. Slovenia wants to be – to the best of its ability – an ally in all initiatives taken to create a just and safer world.

In my speech, I will touch briefly on some of the major issues:

Firstly, the development of friendly relations with neighbouring nations and states. Undoubtedly, the ratification of the Accession Treaty of the Republic of Croatia to the European Union has been and will continue to be at the forefront of our attention in the coming months. Slovenia is sincerely looking forward to welcoming Croatia as a new member of the European Union. I firmly believe that the Governments of both states will find appropriate solutions in line with the conclusions of the December European Council and within the framework of the Vienna 2001 Agreement on Succession Issues. The ratification of the accession treaty requires a two-thirds majority vote, and last week the National Assembly proved it can also adopt decisions with such a demanding quorum in this term of office. As EU Member States, Slovenia and Croatia will be even more successful in continuing the process of enhancing their friendships and comprehensive bilateral cooperation.

Furthermore, Slovenia will maintain its focus on cooperation with all neighbouring countries. As regards Italy, Austria and Hungary, we will continue to pursue our policy to foster common interests regarding both bilateral and multilateral issues. Slovenia will devote particular attention to economic cooperation, since, in these times of crisis, the increase in the volume of trade and services is of considerable importance for boosting economic growth and reducing unemployment.

The future of the European Union. I allow myself to think that you are familiar with my personal views. I am very much in favour of strengthening the Member States in political terms. The crisis has revealed institutional and other weaknesses of the current arrangements. For this reason, irrespective of different views on issues regarding the political strengthening of cooperation, the topic of the future of the EU deserves our close attention. Slovenia wants to actively participate in this debate, which is only about to begin. Both the Government and the National Assembly are well aware of the significance of this debate within national borders and our responsibility in this respect.

Last but not least, Slovenian citizens might wish to decide on a potential new treaty at a referendum, and they have every right to do so. Therefore, thorough information and the exchange of views within national borders and between the Member States are of essential importance. In this way, we will have the opportunity of stressing the relevance of the Nobel Peace Prize, which reflects the success of the EU in the promotion of solidarity, tolerance, stability, respect for human rights and democratic development.

The future of the NATO Alliance. Slovenia comprehends the process of global, political and economic changes, and will, as I have already stated, make every effort to ensure that these changes will take place in a peaceful manner. It is for this reason that we attach considerable significance to the NATO alliance. This is not just a matter of assistance in the event of possible aggression by a third party, but also highlights the active role of the alliance under the umbrella of the United Nations. In light of this, Slovenia has been and will continue to be in favour of a political dialogue between the NATO alliance and the Russian Federation.

The relations between Slovenia and the countries of the Western Balkans. As members of the Diplomatic Corps, you have been acquainted with the 'Brdo Process' initiative created by Slovenia and Croatia after the conclusion of the Arbitration Agreement and aimed at promoting political dialogue. I had some opportunities to exchange views with Heads of State from the region or their representatives, and found their considerable interest in continuing the informal political dialogue in any form. I trust that there is a general consensus that the reconciliation process is of fundamental importance for the lasting peace, security and welfare of the people in this part of Europe. I will indeed discuss this issue with the Slovenian Government in the forthcoming months, and I believe the initiative will be given the positive consideration it received by the Governments of the Western Balkan countries.

Slovenia understands that at this moment the European Union is focused on measures to exit the crisis and hence is paying less attention to the enlargement process. In spite of this, or for this very reason, Slovenia will be among those Member States that will be calling attention to the significance of the European encouragement to the reform processes in these countries. Slovenia sees the European Union enlargement process directed towards south-east and concluded with the membership of all the Western Balkan countries and Turkey.

The future of the United Nations. I believe it is extremely important to ascertain the irreplaceable role this organisation plays in the peaceful resolution of the outstanding international issues in compliance with the principles of the UN Charter. Many decades after it was established, the UN must be reformed if it is to maintain and further strengthen its role. Slovenia supports the efforts of the Secretary-General and the dialogue between the UN Member States on this issue. Peace is not everything, but without peace everything is nothing.

In this context, I would like to particularly highlight Slovenia's understanding and support to the Arab Spring. The process might seem to encounter some obstacles, but the historical arc of these changes is to bring about the inevitable co-existence within and between the Arab nations.

Slovenia takes an active part in the current international processes that are vital for the future of mankind, is involved in the processes following last year's Rio+20 UN sustainable development conference, and will participate in shaping the objectives for sustainable development. Today, successful foreign policy covers a wide variety of human activity fields. Slovenia may further promote its foreign policy cooperation on the basis of its numerous advantages, natural endowments, significant scientific and research achievements and competitive technologies of the future, which take account of the aspects of sustainability.

The significance of the economic diplomacy of Slovenia. It may be appropriate to draw your attention to the importance of the Asian, African and South American economies in this context. Slovenia is not large enough to systematically focus its attention on the entire spectrum of these rapidly growing economies. In the coming years, it will therefore take interest in finding partners displaying genuine interest in economic cooperation with us. I must take this opportunity to clearly underline Slovenia's interest in attracting more foreign investment to our country. I am aware of Slovenia's low reputation regarding this issue. The Slovenian Government has resolved to thoroughly overhaul this area, and I will, within my powers and possibilities, strongly support these efforts. The role of diplomacy and the modernisation of the Slovenian diplomatic network will probably follow suit.

A final emphasis. Slovenia has many friends and would like to make many more throughout the world. The countries that are our strategic political and economic partners (France, Germany, the USA, the Russian Federation and Turkey) receive priority attention, but we leave our door open for strengthening cooperation in line with our possibilities. Please convey to your leaders my sincere wishes and the wishes of the Republic of Slovenia for mutual respect, understanding and cooperation. I wish us all wisdom and courage and a touch of good luck.
Address by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor
Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA