Address by H.S.H. Prince Windisch-Graetz, Ambassador of the Sovereign Order of Malta and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to Slovenia, on the occasion of the Presentation of New Year’s greetings to the President of the Republic of Slovenia, H.E. Mr. Borut Pahor
Your Excellency Mr. President of the Republic and Madam Tanja Pečar.
Your Excellency, Mr. Prime Minister and Madam Barbara Iskra Šarec,
Distinguished Members of the Government.
Colleagues of the Diplomatic Corps,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I have the honor and privilege as the “Temporary” Dean of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Slovenian Republic to extend New Year’s greetings to you, Mr. President, and to the Government and People of Slovenia, in the name of all my fellow Ambassadors resident here in Slovenia and the non-resident Ambassadors who have jointed us for this special occasion.
This is the first time that I address you in this role and I must confess that I do so with some trepidation after the departure of my distinguished predecessor, His Excellency Archbishop Juliusz Janusz who always carried out such duties with finesse and aplomb.
First of all, I would like to express my gratitude to you, Mr. President, and to the People of Slovenia, for your warm welcome in this beautiful country. I would like also to stress our sincere desire that our noble efforts in relation to cooperation between our countries will encourage development, mutual understanding and enduring friendships.
Mr. President, we trust that this coming year may bring to Slovenia continued peace and prosperity, as these are essential aims that require our daily common commitment.
In a world increasingly influenced by the relatively new channels of Social Media, which are too often misused, and where the border between truth and falsehood is sometimes not apparent, or where the opinions become more important than the facts, the diplomat is often one of the remaining reliable channels available to any democratic government trying to navigate these uneven seas of opinions and facts. Please, Sir, involve us in this endeavor; it will be to our mutual benefit.
The Republic of Slovenia, was internationally recognized as an independent, sovereign republic in 1992, and entered the European Union in 2004 as a Member State. Situated in the geographical center of this union of nations, Slovenia can play an important role on a global scale at this crossroads between east and west and north and south of Europe.
The impact and significance of the European Union cannot be overstated.
Since 1945, Europe has been spared a continent-wide conflict. The founding leadership of the European Union understood the importance of the European dimension based on Christian and human values and placed it above more narrow interests. We can all draw inspiration from their example in a context of pressure to focus only on a national perspective. We have recently celebrated the centenary of the First World War, a conflict that led many thousands of young men to fight each other. Division opens wounds and does not solve problems. Learning from the past and from mistakes, we should try to be wiser: it is through diplomacy, friendship and shared institutions that peace is maintained.
There were few such institutions in 1914. It is necessary to reiterate forcefully, that all of us together, by eschewing the path of war, demonstrate that we prefer friendship and cooperation. The highest expression of such a choice is shown by the historic decision to create a union of European countries.
I am confident that this beautiful and young state will continue on her path within a rules-based Europe.
Not just within Europe, but also at the wider international level, Slovenia plays a meaningful role and demonstrates concrete engagement in respect of several current issues. We note, in particular, its defense and advocacy of human rights and the openness in discussing and seeking solutions in regard to global issues such as migration and climate change. Slovenia has, for example, participated in the meeting in Katowice and signed the Global Compact. Even if it is often difficult to find an immediate solution to challenges, it is important to maintain dialogue, as this helps to keep our minds open to eventual, durable solutions. In this regard, the Bled Strategic Forum is a good example to follow. I would also like to mention and thank the many volunteers in Slovenia who are daily in action with the Sovereign Order of Malta, Caritas and Red Cross to help other people in need.
Last year, following the elections, the Parliament of Slovenia elected a new Government and we congratulate Prime Minister Šarec and his Cabinet of Ministers, wishing them all the best in their service to their country. We appreciated their ability and determination to overcome difficulties in order to guarantee to this country freedom, stability, and prosperity.
I can only encourage and pray for this openness to continue across the generations, and that younger people will have a greater appreciation of the relevance of politics and take an active and informed interest in it. The future belongs to them and they are our hope. May many more of them learn the importance of dialogue; may they recognize that politics is but a service for the common good; and may they choose the way of respect, justice and peace.
It is a rare opportunity for me, as Dean of the Diplomatic Corps, and also as Ambassador of the Sovereign Order of Malta and Head of the Windisch-Graetz Family that have been in these territories for more than 800 years, to be able to address you and the Slovenian Nation in the name of my distinguished colleagues and I am sincerely grateful for this.
“May God Bless You and Slovenia”