Speech by the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr Borut Pahor, at the 12th Bled Strategic Forum

Bled, 4. 9. 2017 | speech

Speech by the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr Borut Pahor, at the 12th Bled Strategic Forum

Speech by the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr Borut Pahor, at the 12th Bled Strategic Forum
Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA
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"We were justifiably concerned about the future of the European Union at last year’s Bled Strategic Forum. It seemed that our trust in the common European future had never been so low. And resorting to national policies had never been more popular. 
 
This concern was so great that it did not reach only the political elites, but it also directly affected the people. At the end of 2016, it was completely clear to many of us that a common European future was not self-evident. It became clear that it must also be fought for in elections and referenda. As for now, this has been successful. 
 
This year’s series of election results restored hope that pro-European political forces all over Europe have not given up. We are prepared to pledge (our) authority to joint European values, the existence of the European Union and further enhancing of its integration. 
 
I would like to express great satisfaction at such unravelling of events. However, I must emphasise immediately that we must not rely on these outcomes. We must practically and strategically consider and take measures regarding further steps to enhance the reputation and authority of, and trust in, the European Union. 
 
As you know, I am one of those who see the possibility for successful existence and development of the European Union in its improved integration. Once again, I do not speak about a melting pot in which national and other identities would be lost. On the contrary. We must particularly nurture our diversities. It is clear that practical and institutional solutions must be put in place to take economic, technological, political and finally also security measures, which are in accordance with the high expectations of its people. 
 
This is a complicated and long-term task, and I believe that we have to address it immediately. This encompasses a certain risk, but it is nonetheless a reasonable risk. 

Therefore, I express hope that a new joint French – German initiative, which will be aimed at modernising the European Union, will be launched after the German parliamentary elections and the formation of a new government. 
 
I believe that it is in the interest of the Member States of the European Union that the Union be strong on the outside and within, and is thus a successful strategic partner to the United States of America and the Russian Federation. When dealing with the most important issues of world peace and security—in a peaceful manner whenever possible. The Transatlantic Partnership has been and still is a foundation of European security. It is exceptionally important for its development as well. And so are better relations with Russia, which are vital for global and European security as well as welfare. 
 
The European Union, which is internally integrated, successful and respected by its own citizens, is possible only when European and international laws are respected. Europe is supposed to be a paragon of the rule of law, based on respect and implementation of obligations adopted at the international level. It is based on the observance of rulings of international and European courts and arbitral tribunals. The rule of law is equally as important in the European context as it is in our national frameworks. I mention this due to the difficulties in enforcing the decision of the Arbitral Tribunal regarding the border between Slovenia and Croatia. 
 
It is in the interest of the European Union that the Tribunal’s decision be respected and that the agreed obligations are met. Slovenia and Croatia have resolved the dispute peacefully. And Slovenia will make further efforts to enforce the Tribunal’s decision in a peaceful manner. This is possible only in dialogue with Croatia and with further clear expectation and support from the European Union. Let me emphasize: the role of the European Union was exceptionally important when the arbitration agreement was concluded.

Slovenia and Croatia are now both in the European Union. That enables to find a way to enforce the decision of the Arbitral Tribunal. Appropriate arrangement of the living conditions of people on either side of the border is now much easier due to the membership of both in the European Union. With this the significance of the common European future for resolving important issues within the European Union would be reaffirmed. 
 
If faith in the future of the European Union prevails, cases such as the issue between Slovenia and Croatia will be resolved in the spirit of common goals. If there is no such faith or certainty in the common future, I am worried that solutions will be sought in nationalisms, which will instigate fear and hatred.
 
We have thus found ourselves at a crossroads. The conditions are favourable enough to head decisively in the direction of a reformed Europe with somewhat more political courage. With hope that this direction will be chosen, which will also ensure a safe future for us and our children, I welcome you to Bled Strategic Forum."