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President Drnovšek decorates the former President of Catalonia Pujol
Brdo by Kranj, 08/01/2006 | press release
The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Janez Drnovšek today conferred the Golden Order for Services in the diplomatic and international field on the former President of the Government of Catalonia, Mr Jordi Pujol i Soley. Mr Pujol was awarded the Golden Order in recognition of his exceptional services and personal contribution to the establishment, development and strengthening of relations playing an important role in international recognition of the Republic of Slovenia and its integration into Euroatlantic structures.
After the award ceremony the Slovenian President said (unedited text):
“Ladies and Gentlemen, it was a great pleasure for me to decorate Mr Pujol. He has been a friend of Slovenia for many years and we have met often in the past fifteen years. There has always been a special bond between Catalonia and Slovenia marked by friendly relations and frequent exchange of useful experiences. We have always been welcome in Catalonia, we have enjoyed its support and Catalonia has always demonstrated its interest in cooperation with Slovenia. Mr Pujol has been head of the Catalan Government for many years and we are very grateful for his support.”
Mr Pujol expressed his gratitude (unedited text):
“Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr President, each individual is honoured when a state believes that he deserves recognition and distinction. In this particular case, I am highly honoured. As a matter of fact, I have followed developments in Slovenia with special interest and have been favourably inclined towards Slovenia for many years when this was not so common. I followed Slovenian history, literature and political activities, most probably because I come from a nation that had to face similar problems as you did. I can understand what a poet of the nation like Prešeren stands for, or a linguist like Kopitar. The Catalan people have been firmly committed to preserving their language, culture and national awareness, national consciousness. I also understand your endeavours to set up a stable economy, as well as your support for Europe. Furthermore, Slovenia is a successful country and today greatly respected in the European Union. The economic and social progress, the stability of your country, self-confidence and European belief constitute an important contribution, not only to Slovenia but to Europe as well. You are setting a positive example for us Catalans; we would also like to preserve our national identity within the framework of Spain, of Europe, the world and globalisation. We, as Catalans, and you, as Slovenians, we can prove that small countries with a solid sense of identity and a strong desire to continue our journey are not only possible but can better than others coordinate democracy with progress, respect for the rights of individuals and the society, the sense of national identity and open-mindedness, open to Europe, open to the world. For all these reasons I would like to highlight my great satisfaction over the decoration conferred on me together with my sincere gratitude and great pleasure. Since I am a friend of Slovenia this also refers to the success of your country. You, Mr President, and all of Slovenia can be assured that I shall continue to be your true friend.”