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Speech by President Drnovšek at the opening of the meeting of European Liberals in Ljubljana

Ljubljana, 09/07/2004  |  speech


The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Janez Drnovšek, today addressed members of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), a parliamentary group in the European parliament, who have come to Ljubljana for one of their regular meetings. Over the next few days the members of the European parliament will discuss the key challenges facing the European Union at a series of round tables. In his speech, President Drnovšek presented his view of the issues awaiting the European Union and the role of the EU in the future:


Click to enlargeLadies and gentlemen,
I am very happy that you have decided to meet in Ljubljana to discuss the challenges facing the Europe of today and tomorrow. This is a particular source of happiness to me since we worked together for many years while I was head of the Liberal Democrat government in Slovenia. Those were years when Slovenia was drawing closer to the EU and our aim was to become a member as soon as possible. We enjoyed strong support among European Liberals during those years. This support, together with our efforts, brought a result: Slovenia’s membership of the EU. Many challenges still lie before us and I hope that you will be successful in your search for answers to these challenges. We all expect the European constitution, a significant achievement regardless of the degree of satisfaction with individual solutions, to be ratified as soon as possible. This will mean a great deal for the consolidation of the present EU and for preparations for future steps. An important period lies ahead of us. The financial perspective up to 2013 is important for new and old Member States alike. In this period the EU must adapt to ever fiercer competition from around the world. Not just from the United States of America but also from Asia, above all China, and elsewhere. We will find solutions in greater efficiency based on the knowledge of individuals. A special challenge we face is proving that an EU of 25 states, soon perhaps 28 states or more, can function successfully. There have been fears about whether there will be enough efficiency in decision-making. We are faced with such a great responsibility that we have no other choice but to succeed. Every other choice would be very bad, catastrophic even, for Europe and for the world. I also see a special role for the EU at the world level. Global relations are complex.

Click to enlargeOne of the fundamental questions of today’s world is undoubtedly the question of equitable globalisation. I believe that with its own model, a model that involves addressing jointly the most urgent problems of life today, not just in Europe but in the world at large, the EU can give that impetus in the search for good solutions. In seeking answers and solutions while giving due consideration to foreign cultures and traditions, the European Union can take the lead in numerous fields, from respecting the rights of all to the model of good governance, social cohesion and sustainable development, and the addressing of environmental issues. We are also faced with the specific issues of further enlargement of the EU. The most topical of the various enlargement issues at present is of course the question of Turkey’s membership. This is not merely a question of enlarging the EU to include one new member, it is a question with a larger dimension: can we, in such a close connection as the EU, establish coexistence with a predominantly Muslim country? Were this to succeed in the EU, this would be very significant for future relations between Western civilisation and Islam in general. It could offer the right formula for coexistence and joint, non-confrontational action. This will therefore be a very important question, not just at this moment but for long into the future.

I am sure that you Liberals and Democrats can give some consideration to this in your documents and help find the right solutions.

I hope that your work is successful here in Ljubljana and, of course, in the European Parliament, and that you will manage to find the right responses to all the challenges – and that Liberals will make their contribution to all this.

I wish you a pleasant stay in Ljubljana.
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