President Pahor at the Vienna Diplomatic Academy: A ceasefire in Ukraine needs to be reached as soon as possible, diplomatic negotiations must continue and a peaceful solution must be found.
Vienna, 16. 3. 2022 | press release, speech
Today, at the special invitation of the Ambassador, dr. Emil Brix, Director of the Diplomatic Academy Vienna, the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, visited this oldest educational institution in the field of international studies in the world.
As a special guest, President Pahor addressed Viennese diplomats and students of the Diplomatic Academy and had a conversation with them entitled "Europe. Western Balkans and Beyond. A Central European Perspective". He also spoke about the war in Ukraine and its consequences for European and world peace, as well as the political and security architecture of the international community, and answered questions from diplomats and students.
Photo: Matjaž Klemenc/UPRS
Address by the President of the Republic of Slovenia (Check against delivery):
A war is not a natural disaster.
A war is a man-made disaster.
We are not destined to have wars.
The choice between war and peace is a man made decision.
Throughout the history of the international community, periods of peace have been interrupted by wars.
But this does not mean that a lasting peace is not possible.
The effort to ensure a lasting peace is indeed the noblest mission of European and global politics.
The hope that a lasting peace is possible, at least in Europe, had been strengthened above all by the fact that after the Second World War, with the exception of the war in the Balkans, peace had lasted for almost 80 years.
Peace had been possible thanks to the European idea based on reconciliation and cooperation for mutual benefit.
I do consider the European idea of peaceful association and cooperation to be the most significant political innovation in the recent history of the old continent.
In the spirit of reconciliation, the European idea paved the way for the peaceful co-existence of countries that had fought each other in the two world wars.
Furthermore, it inspired the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rise of democracies and peaceful changes in European geopolitics after the end of the Warsaw Pact and the disintegration of the Soviet Union.
It spread peacefully and peacefully survived, even survived Brexit.
The European idea was and still is the best thing that has ever happened to us.
It guarantees peace and prosperity to nearly half a billion people. And it inspires millions who dream to join it.
Until recently, the only danger had been the fact that we took peace for granted.
Well, this is no longer the case.
There is war in Ukraine, which was attacked by Russia.
Russia has not been forced into this war against Ukraine.
Russia was not provoked, not even in indirect way.
It attacked the sovereign country of Ukraine for no reason.
And it is still attacking this country.
The European security architecture founded on the principles of the United Nations and the Helsinki Final Act is at risk.
Innocent people are dying in Ukraine.
Several million refugees are on the run.
That is why a ceasefire must be agreed immediately, diplomatic negotiations must continue and a peaceful solution must be found as soon as possible.
This was the message of our meeting with president Van der Bellen yesterday.
This is not going to be easy but we must all make an effort to this end.
It is only right and good that the West, the European Union, the United States and NATO have imposed very strong sanctions.
The first goal of these sanctions and other measures should be to force Russia and its government to stop the war as quickly as possible.
There is no doubt that it is Russia that should make the first move and halt its military operations.
RUSSIA is morally responsible for this war.
and Russia can only lessen its moral sin if it stops the war immediately and seeks a peaceful resolution to the conflict.
It is very important how the war in Ukraine will unfold and end.
Important in the first place for Ukraine, for Russia, as well as for Europe and the rest of the world.
Legal and political multilateralism is being put to the test.
As an advocate of dialogue, reconciliation and peaceful resolution of all conflicts, I sincerely hope that it has retained its power and flexibility, I mean in international community, to contribute to the preservation of peace and security. Let us so very much hope so.
The identity and future of the European Union are also being tested.
As a staunch supporter of the European idea, I believe that the European Union is the cornerstone of peace, security and prosperity in Europe.
You probably know that I also advocate for a United States of Europe.
Not as a melting pot like, for example, the United States of America.
But as united states of Europe sui generis.
I am telling you this because I believe that only a deeper Europe internally can project its power externally, including in foreign policy and defence.
The war in Ukraine has revived an outdated geopolitical mentality.
In this sense, the enlargement of the European Union, including and especially in the Western Balkans, is a geopolitical issue of the first order.
I have pointed out on several occasions recently that the slowing down of the European Union’s enlargement process in the Western Balkans was reviving nationalisms and thoughts of changing borders.
I am confident that only an accelerated enlargement – which is, i confess, difficult – can stop these dangerous tendencies, which pose a threat to the peace and security of this part of Europe and of Europe as a whole.
At the Munich Security Conference, I even advocated a significantly accelerated integration of Bosnia and Herzegovina into the European Union.
It would of course be wonderful if such political will existed for all the countries of the Western Balkans, but I am under no illusion.
I do not underestimate other challenges, such as the dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina and the stagnation in the progress of North Macedonia due to Bulgaria’s blockade.
But Bosnia and Herzegovina is a special case.
I champion the idea that political leaders who are committed to the European perspective for Bosnia and Herzegovina establish an influence group called the Friends of Bosnia.
In this way, we would work with the Bosnian authorities and all three nations to find solutions for Bosnia to become a functional state. This is so very much important. Bosnia is a state, but it is not functional.
However, we are very much pressed for time when it comes to electoral legislation; indeed we only have until May, or else we risk BAD unforeseeable consequences.
Maybe to your surprise, I support the Open Balkans project.
I remain in a small minority on this support.
Most other leaders from the region and from Europe criticise this idea, saying it is just a Serbian version of the Berlin Process formula on deepening cooperation.
And my answer is: yes, It is.
But I find it valuable that the leaders of Serbia, North Macedonia and Albania have taken this idea as their own.
I was there in Novi Sad when the idea was presented.
It seems to me that this idea of open Balkans is one of the few constructive ideas on cooperation between the countries of the Western Balkans that has at least partly been met with sincere support and political passion among leaders.
But I know that many oppose it, saying that behind this idea is the policy of Great Serbia.
In this context, I have repeatedly asked my friend President Vučić to more firmly reject the idea of the Srpski svet (Serbian World).
With regard to President Vučić and Serbia, I would like to make one more point.
There are two completely different assessments of his role among the leaders in the Western Balkans:
that he is a pillar of stability
and that he is a pillar of instability.
I want to believe that he is a pillar of stability and I act accordingly.
But a condition for this is that (1) he rejects the idea of the Serbian World, that (2) he rejects the secession of the Republic of Srpska from Bosnia and Herzegovina (3) and continues the Belgrade–Pristina dialogue.
I understand that, because of the war in Ukraine, Serbia finds itself in an awkward position.
But one thing should be more or less clear.
The more the geopolitical dam between Russia and the EU grows, the harder it will be for Serbia to sit between two stools.
Nevertheless, I hope that Serbia will maintain its pro-European orientation and in a way get itself out of this situation.
This would be important for a pro-European future for Serbia and also the entire Western Balkans and would reduce the risk of the Russian temptation to cause instability in the region. This is very important.
The world has suddenly become even more complicated than it seemed to be.
It is now very much about believing sincerely in the rule of law, democracy, reconciliation, the peaceful settlement of disputes, and the strength of the European idea and the glorious future of the European Union.
Now it is about trusting in the power of dialogue, about being patient and seeking fair compromises.
It is also about showing firm resolve when this is the only way to achieve peace and security.
Man decides on war and peace.
He can decide for war or for peace.
Let me finish, In this context, with a quote the famous Chinese theorist Sun Tzu (in The Art of War), who wrote, "The greatest victory is that which requires no battle."
Photo: Matjaž Klemenc/UPRS