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Transcript of the speech of President Drnovšek at the World Economic Forum on Improving Transatlantic Relations

Davos, 01/25/2003  |  speech

Click to enlargeStatement by H.E. Dr. Janez Drnovšek at the World Economic Forum on Improving Transatlantic Relations

You can imagine this is a certain problem for us. Our public opinion is relatively divided on the issue of NATO. It’s relatively in favor of EU enlargement, but on NATO issue there is a lot of discussion. The present situation linked with the Iraqi question certainly doesn’t help us too much. We will have a referendum in March on NATO membership and it’s very risky to say today how everything will develop, how the partnership will develop now, how will perhaps just at this time NATO look.

I must say that I became worried, increasingly worried, during the last days, last week, when I saw the statements very explicit at the highest level from Germany and France on the one side and continuing – let’s say – rhetoric on the American side about Iraq, going just in the opposite directions. And when we have statements on the highest level there is not much room then for maneuver and to find some compromise, or there is no room. So I am worried and I think that Mr. Solana is right, yes, we should all stop now and think abut the situation. It’s not only Iraq now in question but it’s also Transatlantic partnership now which is at stake. And this is I think a great responsibility on both sides of the ocean. I think that both sides should do something and renew the spirit of partnership and that there are mistakes on both sides, probably.

And I must say that I see the future for partnership and for NATO and necessity for NATO also in the future. Bosnia, the Balkans – this is not so far away. I was very close during all this situation in the Balkans and it is very clear that Europe was not able to act alone efficiently to resolve this crisis. And Southeast Europe, the Balkans – this is in Europe, this is of vital importance for Europe, and it was such a serious crisis, it was a war. And only together with - I must say - very determined American lead this situation was somehow resolved. And I remember that there was a lot of doubts in Europe at that time, a lot of questions: should there be intervention or not? But I think in these kinds of situations so-called credible threat, linked with diplomacy, when you deal with dictators and similar people, that probably is the only way, you cannot do it with normal diplomacy. And sometimes even the credible threat must then become something more material if it should remain credible. So this happened in the Balkans and this is for me still a very clear example that also in European affairs we still need American participation. Even today the Balkans are not yet stabilized and consolidated. The former Yugoslav republics - we still have some problems and tensions in Bosnia and Kosovo and Macedonia and Montenegro. And without international participation and also American participation I cannot see a good future for this region.

This is just one example of necessity for the partnership. On the other side I think that NATO certainly develops and should develop into something new. Sometimes we are not very sure how it should work, what are the challenges of the future. But still I think that there are still so many challenges and so many risks in the future that we should continue to work together, to cooperate – United States and Europe. And there is a new relationship with Russia, which developed. Relationship NATO-Russia, Europe-Russia and the United States on the other side. I think we should not forget that these are developments, positive developments, that there are new countries also entering this Alliance, countries that see a perspective in it. And, really, I think that some politicians now should stop at this moment, stop to act - probably also inspired from internal political situations. The Transatlantic partnership somehow can also be sometimes a victim of internal political situations - sometimes it’s good to focus on some other issues to avoid or forget other, perhaps, for politicians more difficult internal problems, at least in the short term.

So I certainly hope that also in the Iraqi situation some solution will be found. It would certainly not be good if in the end the United States would somehow have to act alone, or unilaterally. This would mean many more reactions also in the public opinion in the world. It would certainly not help the partnership and it would certainly not help me or our Government in Slovenia to win the referendum on NATO, if we find ourselves in such a situation – that there would be a split in the partnership, that there would be intervention in Iraq and a very uncertain international situation coming out of this.

Thank you.
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