President Dr Drnovšek at the plenary session in Salzburg
Ljubljana, 05/22/2003 | press release
The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Janez Drnovšek, as part of his participation at the 10th Meeting of the Presidents of Central European States in Salzburg, today addressed the plenary session opened by the Austrian President, Dr Thomas Klestil. The session was dedicated to the issue of the role and perspective of the countries of Central Europe in the future enlarged EU.
As highlighted by Dr Drnovšek in his address, Europe is currently in a very interesting period, since mutual relations have been under increasingly more pressure than six months ago. The Iraq crisis has changed the global situation a great deal despite the fact that, following the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, great solidarity had reigned between Europe and the USA. After the war in Iraq, which the USA linked directly with 11 September attacks, these relations have changed. In this sense, it is good that the negotiations for the candidate countries to join the EU concluded in December of last year in Copenhagen, since they would probably be more difficult to conclude at this time because of the new international situation.
Dr Drnovšek said he hoped that the EU would, also through the discussions of the Convention, succeed in making a step forward. He went on to add that he had no high expectations, but that it would be good if some progress was achieved. It is important in current circumstances, however, that the EU and the USA come closer again, since this is important both for the USA, the EU and, indeed, for the whole world. The international situation is worse after the end of the Iraq crisis than it was before. The influence of the United Nations has further diminished, the EU has internal divisions, NATO is paralysed, the USA has won the war but lost many friends, and confidence, throughout the world. Therefore, we must all analyse together how this has occurred, and try to improve the situation. It has to be stressed that the projects of European integration and transatlantic partnership are both important for stability in the world and indeed for the future as a whole. Dr Drnovšek therefore agreed with the Polish President’s opinion that the reconstruction of Iraq represented a good opportunity for all involved to find common ground again. It would definitely be positive if a long-term solution was found for Iraq so that this country would no longer pose a threat to the region. It would help to stabilise the situation in that part of the world if the USA and the EU joined forces in resolving the Palestine issue.
Regarding the situation in Europe, Dr Drnovšek said that, after the signing of the accession treaties in Athens, the enlargement process must be continued. The EU has to continue expanding and new Member States must, together with the existing ones, ensure “the European perspective” for the countries of Southeast and Eastern Europe. Nobody should be denied the prospect of membership of an integrated Europe.
President Drnovšek concluded his address by saying that a great deal of work lay ahead. The world situation is complex, which means that a mutual exchange of opinions is all the more important. The countries of Central Europe can definitely contribute their share to the improvement of the situation.