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Address by the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr. Janez Drnovšek at the 13th Meeting of Presidents of the Central European States

Varna, Bulgaria, 05/19/2006  |  speech

President Dr Janez Drnovšek is attending a meeting of the presidents of Central European countries in Varna. Today, Dr Drnovšek addressed the first plenary session:

Click to enlarge"What will be the future of Central Europe? It will be the future of Europe. The term Central Europe will remain a geographical term, with a fairly broad definition and sometimes we will talk about the Central European common cultural heritage, even though this in itself can be very diverse. There will, however, be no political concept of Central Europe.

There will only be the European Union. Are we, Central Europeans, going to establish a special political entity within the European Union? I think not. There is no particular need for that. We will discuss matters on case by case basis in accordance with the current situation and prevailing interests. Our common interest is a united Europe. This is the only goal that makes sense. We must establish it in an appropriate manner, on solid foundations.

We need to give it a robust formal framework and thus we must find a way out of the current stalemate caused by the unsuccessful referenda in France and the Netherlands.

The Constitutional Treaty remains both an open challenge and a responsibility. The current generation of EU political leaders must take on its share of historic
responsibility and ensure that European integration continues to be strengthened.

The European project means not only a responsibility towards those living in Europe, but also a project for all humankind. Within the framework of globalisation we are far from being able to talk about balanced development. The level of poverty across the world is still unacceptably high; the suffering of a large proportion of humankind is a reproach to those who have the means to help or to effect change but who fail to do so. Nor has humankind been able to ensure the protection of the environment in which we live.

By constantly harming our planet we are sawing off the branch on which we sit. And we are denying the future generations the possibility of survival.

The world needs better coordinated and long-term sustainable development. Europe, with its values and goals, is closest to an acceptable model of development. Here, social relations are more balanced and ecological awareness is relatively high.

We are becoming increasingly aware that profit alone can not be the basic motivation for and criterion by which we measure human relations and development. Something more is needed in order to achieve and preserve social cohesion and an unspoilt environment. The goals we are achieving in the European Union are, to a certain degree at least, moving us in that direction. If the European model is successful, it could become an example for the whole of humanity.

Moreover, stable European integration could also become an effective element in the settling of world conflicts and a guideline for the overcoming of the disagreements that in the past have so often ended in war.

We must complete European integration and gradually include those areas that, for various historical reasons, have thus far been unable to achieve sufficient stability or institutional readiness.

Enlargement to the South East Europe is a necessity, as this area can not remain a blank area on the European map. In our presidential meetings, we have included this area in Central Europe, sending a clear signal that it represents a constituent part of European civilisation and can not be excluded from integration. The same applies to Eastern Europe. There is no longer any need for a clear border separating the two Europes. That would not end well. I can not help but be surprised by those who are eager to see a return to Cold War rhetoric.

They are not guided by the interests of Europe or of mankind as a whole, but by the obsolete logic of national geo-political interests, which should have long ago been consigned to the scrapheap of history. Dressing it in the colours of spreading democracy or of a new authoritarian nationalism does not change this fact.

The role of Central Europe in these processes must be encouraging and constructive. Its goals can be no different from those of the Europe as a whole.

The common cultural and historical heritage of Central Europe that is of value to the future is based on broad human knowledge and values, and it can only encourage and lead us to establish a better common Europe and a better world. This is the only way I can envisage the significance and the role of Central Europe in the present and in the future."
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