Speech by President Dr Janez Drnovšek at the Ceremony of the Signature of the Treaty of Accession to the European Union
Ljubljana, 04/16/2003 | speech
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Friends,
Europe has experienced almost everything in its history. And it has always started and ended with wars. The terrible experience of the 20th century, with the enormous devastation and destruction of the two world wars, left an unmistakable message: try finally to live in peace, well-being, mutual respect. Take account not only of your own interests, but of the interests of others as well. Regardless of the countries you live in, you are all people with the same needs, desires, goals. Cooperate. Democracy, freedom, the equality of people, respect for differences and minorities, tolerance and agreement, these are the foundations on which the project of a united Europe is being built.
The path is not an easy one. Sometimes it bogs down and then continues again. Here and there a reflex from the past is revived, an intolerance of sorts. However, nothing can stop the project. Who would dare to take the responsibility and turn the path back to a time when the argument of power prevailed over the power of argument? Sometimes the daily pragmatism and the conflict of interests cause us to see the trees at the expense of the forest. But not for long. The project of a united Europe marches onward. It is important for us Europeans and for the whole of mankind.
Europe can become a model of constructive and firm cooperation among nations. In addition to peace, the signature marks of the European structure are also successful and balanced economic management, social justice, the rule of law and respect for human rights. Respect for nature, protection of the earth, air and water resources, have also become the basic common goals, one could even say values, of European coexistence. This means responsibility not only for the present, but for the future as well.
These aims, these values, are becoming the foundations of a common European identity. The latter will never overcome the national identities but will be based on them: the different languages and cultures will be its integral building blocks. Life with differences, including racial and religious ones, must be its quality and not difficulty. The search for balance and patience are the tools that we use to build Europe. Solidarity is also important.
Slovenia is proud to be able to join such a project. Not so long ago, we experienced the terrible collapse of a multinational state with different religions and traditions, which was unable to find balance and common existence in democracy and equality. The disintegration of Yugoslavia was yet another reminder that European values are not just an abstract vision, but also a precondition for survival. Slovenia has long advocated such values and wanted to take part in the common European project from the time of its independence onwards. We are willing and ready to take on our share of responsibility for its further realisation.
Today is an important day for Slovenia and for Europe. The signing of the Treaty of Accession is the fruit of more than a decade worth of efforts. I would therefore like to thank all the European partners for their faith in Slovenia and in Europe. I am glad that I am also witnessing the accession of nine other countries today and the historical creation of a Europe of twenty-five states. We have already established mutual contacts of a very high quality during the accession process and I am sure that this represents a sound basis for our shared future. I also wish that other countries of Eastern and Southeastern Europe would soon follow us on our path. If we accept the common European values this also means that we cannot keep them just to ourselves.