Inaugural address of the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor
Ljubljana, 22. 12. 2017 | press release, speech
Today, the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, attended the formal session of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia on the occasion of Independence and Unity Day and he was sworn in as the President of the Republic.
Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA
The text of the inaugural address of the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, follows below.
The spoken word applies.
Dear President of the National Assembly,
(good president for all)
I want to be a good president. A president for all.
I will sincerely strive to be the best president for all citizens.
I want you to be proud of me and the country I represent. I will strive to make everyone proud of our beloved country, beautiful Slovenia. So that everyone makes it their own and builds it together, according to our unique image. And that our homeland is proud of each and every one of us.
Together with you, I would like to shape Slovenia into a peaceful, safe and loving home for all of us, and for our children and grandchildren.
I will zealously seek to ensure that Slovenians, as a proud and confident nation, are involved actively in the common European future.
In short, together with you, I will do all I can so that our children do not look to the future with fear, but with great hope.
the fundamental guideline for my conduct is the idea that more things unite us rather than divide us. This is essential. Which is why – to quote Trubar – we have stood and withstood.
Equally important is the awareness that we are different and unique as individuals, and it is in the diversity and uniqueness of the individual that the main wealth of our community lies. No one should exclude another person, whatever their diversity and differences. It is thus our sacred right and duty to create an inclusive society, where there is room for everyone, no matter how diverse or different.
A tolerant society of this kind, Slovenia, giving room to all diversity and still firmly interwoven with traditional values, historical experience and dreams, is a strong and rich community of the future. Our children deserve nothing less. Everything in this regard depends on us.
Slovenians have a celebrated and brutal historical experience of unity and cleavage. After almost five hundred years of our own language and a quarter of a century of our own independent state, we certainly know that political and any other exclusion leads to divergence and even national division, whereas political inclusion leads to democratic cooperation and much needed unity at crucial times.
I do not call for unity. Luckily, there is no historical need for that. But in honesty, we do not know when an irreplaceable need for it will arise again. Thus, as President of the Republic, I allow myself to call for political and every other form of cooperation between us, which does not deprive us of serious political debates, arguments and disputes.
These are all normal and acceptable. But it is also appropriate to maintain a level of trust, dialogue and cooperation, which enables us to come together at crucial moments and landmark events when this is necessary.
Perhaps in the present time and conditions, the minimum definition of trust and cooperation is abstinence from hate speech. We all have the right to express our opinion, but we also have a duty not to do so at the expense of another person’s dignity. Let us care for one another and show respect.
A democratic atmosphere of this kind will give us tremendous power and great courage to overcome the most difficult of the problems we face. We will realise that we can rely on one another after all. There is hardly any other more important or inspiring feeling.
(psychological change for an innovative Slovenia)
as a nation and a country, Slovenians will be able to preserve and strengthen our character, what makes us special and our identity if we adjust to changes in the world and even create them. It would be quite wrong to shut out the world in our desire to maintain our identity. I believe we must open up to the world even more. Further still, I think we must, and are also able to, co-create these global changes.
It is crucial to understand the changes, to accept them critically, and what is even more important, to initiate them ourselves. I highlight the need for a thorough psychological change to the benefit of comprehensively promoting small and large innovations, which will improve the quality of our lives.
We must impart the idea that bad can be turned into good, good into better, and better into excellent, and how to create something new, particularly what seems impossible.
I will briefly elaborate on the need for such a psychological change with four examples:
1. After finishing their education, two thirds of our first graders will work in professions which today do not exist.
2. It is only a matter of time when Slovenia, similarly to Japan in 2016, will sell more nappies for the elderly than for babies.
3. Over ten years have passed since the introduction of the first smart phone. Today, few people are without one.
4. If things proceed at the current rate, there will be more plastic than fish in the seas around the world in the middle of this century.
In short, scientific, technological and social changes are so incorporated into our daily lives that it is better to create them than to adjust to them. In the long term, such a psychological change would enable the comprehensive development of our nation and country, including its existence.
(structural reforms for a competitive economy
and social solidarity)
Slovenia is recovering after a severe crisis. It is excellent that we are again seeing encouraging economic and social indicators. I nevertheless feel the obligation to emphasise that economic growth is not so evident for many of our citizens; in particular, it takes a long time to affect them.
In 2016, humanitarian organisations helped our citizens 770,000 times in various ways. The definition of poverty is changing. If, for example, we see a child with a smart phone, this does not necessarily mean that they are not one of the 46,000 people living severely below the poverty line. Striving for social equality, not levelling, and particularly striving to ensure equal opportunities for everyone, is one of the most important motives of a successful society and a country of the future.
But the best social policy is actually the best economic policy. In this sense, I want to call for thoughtful, but prompter and more ambitious adoption of changes in the Slovenian business environment. I strongly support all measures needed to improve the competitiveness of the Slovenian economy.
(Slovenia in the EU core group)
Slovenia is a sovereign state. It is our desire to develop and build it as an active member of the European Union. The successful development of the European Union is in our national interest.
Responsibility for a joint and connected Europe is similar to the responsibility for our common planet. Both are actually being borrowed from our children, and we must thus be careful to hand over to them a heritage worthy of them.
In the coming years, I will strive to ensure that Slovenia participates as much as possible in discussions and decisions regarding the future of the European Union. I believe that in this context, Slovenia’s efforts to maintain and strengthen its position at the core and mutually most connected part of the European Union are legitimate and understandable.
I personally assess that our country will focus on three fields in the next five years:
(reputation of, and respect for, Slovenia in the world)
Slovenia’s European and foreign policies begin with its relations with neighbouring countries. We are proud that we were able to resolve all open issues amicably after diplomatic recognition, including the manner of determining the border with neighbouring Croatia. The Court of Arbitration determined the border on the basis of an international treaty.
We can reasonably expect that the decision will also be observed by the neighbouring and friendly Croatia. To some of their expectations that middle ground would be sought after the tribunal decision, we reply that the arbitration agreement was the middle ground, and we must now implement this decision in its entirety.
Slovenia will be actively engaged in matters regarding the Western Balkans and South-East Europe. With our experience, knowledge and political will, we wish to help this region to maintain and reinforce peace and security and its Euro-Atlantic visions.
As a member of the European Union and the NATO Alliance, Slovenia will strive for the peaceful resolution of all disputes and for the establishment or preservation of peace in less secure parts of the world. Slovenia has no enemies in the international community; together with the Government and the Parliament, I will make every effort for it to have many friends. With my international activities, I will work for the reputation of our country and respect for it in the world.
one of the most important tasks of a country is to ensure its security. Although Slovenia is a safe country, we are all well aware of the changed risk factors.
We need a thoroughly updated system for ensuring national security. I do not speak only of the Armed Forces, although I have special responsibility as its Commander-in-Chief in this regard. I also refer to the deliberate strategic and thorough modernisation of the intelligence services, police and civil protection. It is difficult to believe that we are already in the digital era regarding security risks, while our security structure pre-dates modern times.
We can be pleased and proud that Slovenia is a safe country, but it is the country’s constant responsibility to keep it that way.
(divided we are weak, united we are strong)
we constantly talk about the future, but we actually do not know what it will be like. Slovenians have learnt one thing from the past. Divided we are weak and united we are strong. A lot of damage was done with the fratricidal war in the middle of the previous century. The wounds are still healing today. It took almost three quarters of a century to properly bury the victims. We are finally at a point where we speak less about reconciliation and we act on it more.
And how united we were exactly 27 years ago. At the plebiscite for an autonomous and independent Slovenia. And then at its declaration and in military defence. When it received diplomatic recognition. We achieved all of this because we knew what we wanted, and we wanted it together. This was at that time, and will always be, the only path to the stars.
(I represent the people and serve them)
at this solemn moment when I resume my presidential duties, I allow myself to think that the support I received was considerably linked with my past efforts and work. Many of these will remain in my new term, and I am also not deaf or indifferent to complaints. I will try to take them into consideration.
I attribute my success to being re-elected in conditions which, at home and in the international sphere were unfavourable to such endeavours, to the fact that in the first term I never overlooked what was essential, and that the focus in the second term will remain the same – namely, that I am obliged to serve the people, whom it is my honour to represent, to the best of my abilities.
People and my relation with them were at the centre of my work. Almost all my efforts were and will be dedicated to you, your problems, fears, enthusiasm, yearning, sadness and happiness. This remains. This is essential. After all, this is – although sometimes difficult – also the most wonderful part of my work.
(end of the crisis, great new opportunity)
the end of the crisis is a good opportunity to make many smart changes or make things anew, by observing past mistakes and lessons from the time of the transition. We are actually given a unique opportunity to start building many things anew. To write a new, better, more successful, fairer chapter of our future.
We are now smarter, more mature and wiser, equipped with bad and good experience from before the crisis. I do not know if we are fully aware of what great responsibility and also what a wonderful opportunity this will be for the Government, which will be sworn in in the middle of the next year, and to everyone in politics in Slovenia, including myself.
together with you, I wish to build Slovenia as a country open to the world.
As a safe country.
I wish to build it together with you as an innovative country.
As a country of prosperity.
As a country where there are fewer regulations, but they are observed to a greater extent.
Where the law applies equally to all.
Together with you, I wish to build a country in which the government provides public education and public health care, and does not disable but rather enables private education and private health care.
Together with you, I wish to build Slovenia as a state which recognises the beauty of the countryside and conscientiously and comprehensively takes care of it.
As a country which protects natural and cultural heritage and understands that both equally contribute to its character.
As a country that develops sustainably.
As a distinguished, recognised and respected country in Europe and the world.
And finally, together with you, I wish to build Slovenia as a homeland for all its people, who are proud of it.
At this point, I would like to thank the prime ministers, the presidents of the National Assembly and the National Council with whom I have had the honour and privilege to cooperate as President of the Republic. Former prime ministers, Janez Janša and Alenka Bratušek, and the current Prime Minister, Dr Miro Cerar. I am also grateful to former presidents of the National Assembly, Dr Gregor Virant and Janko Veber, and the current President, Dr Milan Brglez, and the former President of the National Council, Mitja Bervar.
Dear fellow Slovenians at home and around the world,
before wishing you a Happy Christmas and New Year holiday, I conclude with one finding, which I have remembered since I first heard it. A certain romantic drama starts with the thesis that just before dying, whether of a natural or violent death, people think about love and not hate.
In other words, when in distress or in fear of something bad, something definite, perhaps of a final farewell, we do not waste our strength on hatred, but on expressions of love.
In this sense, we can all ask ourselves whether it is actually necessary to wait until the end of life or the end of the world to recognise the need for kindness and love. Let us thus avoid all that is hateful, and give priority to cooperation, tolerance, goodness and love.
I would like to sincerely congratulate you on the occasion of the national holiday. I wish you with all my heart a pleasant celebration of the Christmas holiday while surrounded with the people you love. Send one good thought also to those who are alone and lonely.
I wish you health and much success in the New Year.
Good luck, Slovenia.