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Address by the President Dr Drnovšek at the forum "Community of the Democratic Choice" in Ukraine

Kiev, Ukraine, 12/02/2005  |  press release, speech

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First I would like to thank President Juščenko for sincere hospitality, that we are enjoying our stay in Kiev. It is really a place to admire and we have the possibility to admire old tradition of Ukrainian people, the old monasteries, churches, which show that here is an old culture that exists for centuries. It is the fact that Ukraine often had very difficult times, difficult history. The past century was very difficult; there was a lot of suffering and Ukraine really deserves a better future. I hope and I wish that under your leadership, Mr Juščenko, Ukraine would make further decisive steps towards the better future.

Click to enlargeEuropean perspective is something that unites us all in Europe. European integration is an achievement that has no comparison in the history. There is no alternative for Europe, for European integration; we have come a long way. It is not an easy process; it is complicated and takes time and a lot of energy. And sometimes we have to stop for a while, sometimes we have a little crisis, but we have to continue, we must go further. European perspective embraces all European countries including Southeastern and Eastern Europe. Integration must not stop.

We hear sometimes that there is some enlargement fatigue in Europe. That the last enlargement was too much to digest for European institutions and public opinion. This certainly is not true and should not be true. European integration cannot stop. It cannot afford new divisions. It cannot afford in the future to have on one side European union as union of states of prosperity, security and of high quality of life and on the other side to have another Europe with low quality of life and insecurity. It is clear that this kind of divisions would affect also the old Europe, the integrated one. There cannot be welfare and security only on one side and insecurity and poverty on the other. It is in our common interest to continue this integration and not to stop. We cannot afford it. And there is the responsibility in European union, its members - Slovenia is one of the members - that we must construct such an institutional framework to allow further integration. That is why it is very important that present delay, which started with referendums in France and Netherlands, should be overcome, sooner the better. European constitutional treaty provides institutional framework for existing members and for future enlargements. That is why we have to make additional effort to convince the remaining countries to ratify the treaty and then come back to France and Netherlands to make a decision once again. I see no alternative.

Click to enlargeBut it also means we have to be more convincing toward the public, toward the citizens. They do not know enough, they do not identify with European priorities. We have to discuss the priorities. Financial perspective, which we discuss now, is one of the priorities. I think changes are needed there. We need some new energy and we need support from the public. People in France, Netherlands, Italy and everywhere must identify themselves with these priorities and perhaps the inertia over the last years was too much. People do not see the perspective in present objectives of the European union. We should put a new energy in European leadership to overcome this situation, which we face now. It is a great responsibility for the existing members, but also for future members. That is why we have to do this effort. I am convinced that we can succeed and we can provide future for everybody in Europe. New democracies in Eastern and South-eastern Europe deserve such perspective and future.

Click to enlargeDemocratic and market institutions are important, but this is not everything. There is something more needed to build a real democracy and freedom for people. We need moral values in these institutions, in people in institutions. We need honesty and transparency. If we do not have this, then we only have formal institutions and market that will produce only huge social differences with more and more tensions. We need leaders with moral values who will fight corruption. Corruption cannot be accepted as way of doing business. What is the meaning of democratic institutions if there is corruption everywhere? What is the value of this kind of democratic process? And what it the value of market forces if corruption is everywhere?

Click to enlargeThe result is absolutely wrong and this is not freedom and democracy, which we strive for. It is very important that everybody does everything they can to develop moral values, honesty and in this way convince the citizens that this is the right direction to go. It is very difficult to have public support that will last if there is no honest leadership. People will go along for some time, but if they see that things are not correct they will stop and there will be problems, conflict and tensions again. Also we cannot accept that large groups of people in our countries should be marginalised, socially and in other ways. It is not necessary that with working market forces, we accept that a large proportion of our population would be impoverished and that on the other side we should have small elite of extremely rich people. This kind of society cannot last. People will not accept it. There is no social cohesion in such society. So it is equally important to maintain social balance in the country, to find a balance between economic efficiency and social security on the other side. This is what we are trying to do in our country since our independence and results are not bad, showing that this is possible.

Click to enlargeWith the wish that we all be successful in our endeavours in forthcoming years, I wish also to all other colleagues that this kind of initiatives as this meeting, this forum would continue good tradition, good forum to exchange our experiences and views.
Thank you.

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