Address by the President of the Republic of Slovenia, the Prime Minister and the Apostolic Nuncio in Slovenia for the Diplomatic Corps at the start of the New Year
Ljubljana, 5. 2. 2021 | press release, speech
Due to the epidemiological situation, this year's speeches for the diplomatic corps on the occasion of the New Year were delivered virtually. Members of the diplomatic corps were addressed by
His Excellency the President of the Republic of Slovenia Borut Pahor, His Excellency the Prime Minister Janez Janša and His Excellency the Archbishop Jean-Marie Speich, Apostolic Nuncio in Slovenia and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to Slovenia.
Address by His Excellency the President of the Republic of Slovenia for the Diplomatic Corps at the start of the New Year
"Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps,
Allow me to wish you a warm welcome to this New Year's reception which I am hosting virtually – as is appropriate to the epidemiological situation – for the first time.
A difficult year is behind us. The new coronavirus pandemic has reminded us how closely we are connected, and we have realised that we will only overcome it through cooperation and solidarity.
We were confronted with the destructive power of nature. On the other hand, we were inspired by humanity and empathy.
We know now more than ever that we have only one planet and that we must care for it together – for the benefit of us all and of our children.
As is customary, I will briefly address the most important issues.
With regard to the situation in Slovenia
This year, Slovenia will mark the thirtieth anniversary of its declaration of independence. In these three decades, we have developed a stable democratic political system and an efficient economy, as well as consolidated our international position.
Slovenia has a government with a sufficient political majority. As in many other parts of the world, the epidemic has had a less than desired effect on political stability. I believe that Slovenia would face the epidemic easier, faster and with less dissatisfaction among the people if politicians were more united. I will personally strive to achieve this.
Slovenia has a thirty-year tradition of in-depth cooperation between parliamentary parties in difficult times or in the implementation of strategic goals. Now is such a time, and I hope we will be successful.
Regular elections are scheduled to take place in just over a year. Before the elections, it is necessary to enforce the constitutional decision on amending the electoral system.
Fighting the epidemic and its consequences is a priority to us all. The first task is to protect people's lives and health, while minimising the disruption of individual segments of society. Slovenia was more successful in some areas and less in others. The economic indicators that show the vitality of the key pillars of the economy are satisfying.
With regard to relations with our neighbouring countries
I am proud of the excellent relations we have cultivated with our neighbouring countries. We have resolved almost all bilateral issues with all of them, including with Croatia, with which I believe Slovenia will sooner or later reach an agreement on the execution of the arbitral tribunal's ruling on the border between the two countries.
Furthermore, last year we were able to improve relations with all our neighbouring countries. I met with the new president of Croatia, Milanović, a few times, and I paid an official visit to Hungary.
Above all, I am glad that we marked two anniversaries in the true European spirit of tolerance, understanding and friendship – the 100th anniversary of the arson of the National Hall in Trieste and the 100th anniversary of the Carinthian plebiscite.
Together with President Mattarella, I attended the signing of a document on the return of the National Hall to the Slovenian national community in Italy a hundred years after it was burned down by fascists. We paid tribute to the first Slovenian victims of Italian fascism and the victims of post-war massacres.
Slovenian-Italian relations are at an all-time high. They have been further strengthened by the recent choice of both Nova Gorica and the Italian Gorizia as the European Capital of Culture 2025. This is a beautiful illustration of the common future in the European Union, as a shared, borderless European identity is emerging in the cooperation and co-existence of different languages and cultures.
Together with the Austrian President Van der Bellen, we reached a common understanding on how to mark the 100th anniversary of the Carinthian plebiscite, which has always strongly divided the majority German-speaking population and the Slovenian minority in Austrian Carinthia. I believe that we managed to position an understanding of the events of 100 years ago in a European context and to focus on a future in which mutual respect and co-existence prevail.
With regard to the European Union
The European Union has been and still is facing great challenges.
We may not have been overly satisfied with the first responses to the pandemic outbreak, but it soon became apparent that we could only fight it together and in a connected way.
The agreement on the new multiannual financial framework and the recovery fund, which I hope will come to life quickly, is extremely important. Furthermore, I applaud the efforts and achievements regarding the development of the vaccine and the coordinated action in its purchase.
I am very pleased with the climate agreement reached, the details of which I hope will be further elaborated this year so that the EU can continue to lead the efforts to tackle the effects of climate change.
I am less pleased with the UK's exit from the EU, but I believe that the recently concluded agreement on the new relationship will serve as a good basis for future close cooperation and alliance.
I look forward to launching the Conference on the Future of Europe this year. At first glance, the discussion on the future of Europe may not seem like a priority in these difficult times. However, the very topics we are intensively dealing with, such as how to make the European Union even more effective and resilient and how to build on its fundamental values, such as democracy, the rule of law and human rights, require in-depth reflection on the EU's current and future role.
I intend to continue regular consultations on this topic and to address all the issues that will also be raised at the European conference.
Slovenia is one of the most connected EU Member States and must always strive to consolidate this position. I believe in the French-German engine of European integration, which should be inclusive and open. I greatly appreciate the excellent relations with both countries and their presidents, Steinmeier and Macron.
Slovenia has several identities, as it is also a Central European and Mediterranean country. At the same time we need to deepen and foster bilateral relations with other EU Member States. For example, last year, between the first and second waves of the epidemic, we were able to have an excellent visit to Slovakia, where the main focus was our green future. This year, I look forward to many meetings with the leaders of the EU Member States, as well as other countries, as soon as the situation allows.
The Western Balkans
One of the most important forms of cooperation between countries in the region is the Brdo-Brijuni Process initiative, which I lead together with the Croatian president. On its tenth anniversary, I planned a special meeting and I am sincerely pleased with the great interest of all leaders to attend it. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented us from doing so. I hope that the situation will improve as soon as possible so that we will be able to hold the Brdo-Brijuni Process summit in Slovenia. It is an important platform for cooperation at the highest political level, which strengthens trust between countries and helps to increase the visibility of the Western Balkans.
Slovenia sincerely and strongly supports the European Union's open door policy and deeply regrets that the Republic of North Macedonia has not yet been given a date for the start of EU membership negotiations.
I hope that EU partners will finally acknowledge that EU enlargement in the Western Balkans is primarily a geopolitical issue and all unnecessary delays are thus unacceptable. Slovenia will also pay special attention to the EU's policy towards the Western Balkans during its presidency, when it intends to host the EU-Western Balkans summit. This will require a great deal of effort on the part of the countries that hope to join the EU.
Slovenia has good relations with all Western Balkan countries and, as such, can act as a facilitator in the consolidation of the reconciliation process and in enabling a closer cooperation between individual countries.
With regard to bilateral relations with key partners
I am sincerely pleased that we have taken an important step forward in our relations with the United States of America. The United States are our close ally and partner, with whom we want to further improve relations. I look forward to working with President Biden. I applaud his decision for the US to return to the Paris Climate Agreement, the World Health Organization and other key multilateral initiatives and organisations. I hope that European–American cooperation and alliance will deepen.
We hope to foster political relations and strengthen economic cooperation with the Russian Federation and China, both members of the Security Council.
We also want good, orderly, sincere and, if possible, friendly relations with all the other countries around the globe.
With regard to multilateralism and international peace,
Last year marked the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. On the one hand, this anniversary was overshadowed by the pandemic that made New York summits impossible. On the other hand, it was the pandemic that reminded us of the importance of multilateral cooperation and the significance of international organisations.
I can say with certainty that today’s world is less predictable and less secure than it was yesterday. The basic principles of the United Nations remain extremely relevant. The first principle is a commitment to the peaceful resolution of all disputes.
Together, we must work to build trust, the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights. Effective multilateralism is in the interest of all countries, regardless of their military, political or economic powers.
With regard to climate change
I think we are increasingly aware of the threat posed by climate change to international peace, security and development.
However, awareness is not enough; clear, focused and decisive action is needed.
It is right that everyone contributes to tackling the challenges posed by climate change, both in our own countries and internationally.
The permanent consultative climate policy committee with top experts, which I formed just over a year ago, helps me make sound recommendations to the Government and the National Assembly. The most important realisation is that this decade will be crucial for the fulfilment of the Paris climate goals at both national and global levels. Any delay will be difficult to make up for.
The fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that we can do it. We can do it if we place our trust in science and experts and if we are focused on what we aim to achieve. We have a great opportunity to take a big step forward in climate change by COP26.
It is time to unite for the sustainable development of our country, the European Union and the world.
I am guided in my work by a sincere desire to maintain good relations with all countries in the EU and around the world.
Slovenia is and will remain an active partner in efforts for peace and cooperation to ensure a better and safer future for all.
I want to thank you for your generous assistance in strengthening partnerships between Slovenia and the countries you represent. This is not easy in the current situation, so thank you.
Please, convey again to your heads of state my best wishes for the beginning of the new year with my sincere hope of enhancing our mutual trust and cooperation for the benefit of the people we represent and the broader international community."
Address by H. E. Prime Minister Janez Janša
Address by H. E. Prime Minister Janša_eng.pdf
Address by H. E. Archbishop Jean-Marie Speich, Apostolic Nuncio in Slovenia and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to Slovenia:
Address of H. E. Archbishop Jean-Marie SPEICH eng.pdf