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Address by the President of the Republic of Slovenia Dr Janez Drnovšek at a Reception for the Diplomatic Corps at the start of the New Year

Brdo by Kranj, 01/15/2003  |  speech

Click to enlargeMr Prime Minister, honoured Doyen of the Diplomatic Corps, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Guests

As on several occasions before, we have gathered here today to mark the holiday season now coming to an end. New Year's is a welcome opportunity to look back and assess our past achievements as well as to look ahead. I am sincerely glad that in my new role as President of the Republic I shall have the opportunity to get to know those of you whom I have not yet had a chance to meet and to renew contacts with old acquaintances. I should like to take this opportunity to bid special welcome to the newest member of the diplomatic corps here, Mr Zaldívar Miquelaren, the newly appointed Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain. I wish him as well as other new Ambassadors a professionally successful and pleasant stay in Slovenia.
Excellencies, Dear Guests

The year 2002 was an extremely fruitful one in diplomatic terms. The highlights of diplomatic activity were certainly the NATO Summit in Prague and the EU Summit in Copenhagen. I should like to thank those of you who worked together with us and contributed to Slovenia's receiving an invitation to join NATO and to the conclusion of negotiations with the European Union. These are two symbolic milestones marking the end of a lengthy ten-year period during which time Slovenia endeavoured for accession to Euro-Atlantic institutions. Without a doubt the successful conclusion of the Prague and Copenhagen Summits is also a consequence of your work and efforts as well as your professional reporting on the situation here in Slovenia.

Click to enlargeAnother year of peaceful development is now behind us, a year in which Slovenia further enhanced its international reputation as a country with good economic foundations and a strong democracy. It is perhaps precisely due to these successes and to the feeling of not being threatened that different views are also emerging in Slovenia about the two fundamental orientations our foreign policy has been pursuing for many years, orientations which were formulated in the first years of independence and which our country has been firmly committed to throughout this time. The present debate about the referenda on NATO and European Union accession are thus raising the question of what Slovenia's values are and how Slovenia as a country is to be positioned in a global world.

I myself am firmly convinced that Slovenia must take on its own share of responsibility for the situation in international relations. More than ever before these relations are marked by processes of globalisation, both in their positive and negative aspects. There is a new interdependence based on the recognition of a reciprocal connection between all parts of our planet and of the indivisible nature of peace. Slovenia therefore must and is also capable of shouldering its own share of responsibility for the future of Europe and the world. It has already proven so several years ago as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council where it acquitted itself as a competent and credible factor that directly shared responsibility for maintaining international peace and security. It is also proving so now with its role in the international antiterrorist coalition as well as with its active involvement in South Eastern Europe. If only a few years we still tried to distance ourselves as far as possible from events in our neighbourhood we are now returning to the region as an exporter of stability.

Slovenia's full membership of NATO and the European Union represents a logical continuation of such a responsible, world-oriented foreign policy. The readiness to enter these two Euro-Atlantic institutions proves the will, the strength and the self-confidence that Slovenia is capable of not merely following contemporary events in the world but also of participating in them with equal roles and tasks thus also shaping those events. It is in this light that we should look at the organisation of the highly publicized American-Russian summit in Slovenia a year and a half ago, which contributed to a new partnership between the West and the Russian Federation. Our confidence and openness is also reflected in Slovenia's contribution to the work of the European Convention. Not least our responsible approach to foreign policy is clearly discernible from our preparations for an important role in the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

It is in this context that I should like to point out that we are living in a time when Europe is facing an unprecedented development. The forthcoming accession of Slovenia and of other Slavic candidate countries to the European Union will for the first time add an important Slavic dimension to the Union. It is for this reason that I would like to emphasise that I too will strive for the establishment of a Forum of Slavic Cultures in Ljubljana that could act in a special way as a bridge between Europe's East and West.

The responsibility of a country's foreign policy is also reflected in its relations with its neighbours. I should therefore like to underline that we shall continue further developing these relations based on mutual trust and all-round cooperation. In its relations with neighbouring states Slovenia focuses on protecting territorial integrity and inviolability of state borders, protecting the rights of ethnic minorities and their all-round development, strengthening economic ties and higher forms of economic cooperation, as well as the construction of infrastructure links. All of this also constitutes an important element of the future political, economic and security architecture of Europe. We have made important steps forward in this field last year. I am confident that we shall do the same in the future.

Your Excellencies, Dear Guests

Allow me to thank you once again for the work you have done so far. The opportunities offered to Slovenia with accession to international structures are also a result of your endeavours. I am therefore convinced that this year, too, you shall continue successfully representing your countries in Slovenia and that you will contribute to fruitful and friendly relations with Slovenia. It is in this spirit that I wish you lots of peace of mind and of course the best of health in the year to come.
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