The Slovenia Times

Peace in Europe must not be taken for granted


The pair discussed the challenges faced by the EU, from Brexit to migration, with Pahor saying that the EU's successful solving of these issues would be the basis of a more successful EU after the election.

Steinmeier believes that now, in the light of the upcoming EU election, it is time to review the situation the bloc is in at the moment. He said that he and Pahor had agreed that a debate or even a dispute was a part of political discourse aimed at setting the course for the future.

There will be challenges in the future, which countries will not be able to tackle alone such as climate change, migration and digitalisation, so a strong EU is needed, strong institutions, a parliament that has legitimacy and citizens who will go to election, Steinmeier said.

He noted that Europe had been embroiled in war for centuries and that the 1950 Schuman Declaration offered an insight into the lessons that the continent had learned from the past.

"I believe joint Europe is the only true lesson, the best lesson this continent has had," he said, noting that peace and the EU should not be taken for granted.

"We must make it clear to the young that nothing is guaranteed unless we invest in it and nurture it," he said, repeating the call to turn out for the election.

Pahor said that the young generation indeed did not experience the bitter times of history, but he believes that they are nevertheless increasingly aware of their responsibility and right to co-decide on the future of the EU.

He therefore expects the turnout at this election to be higher than in the last, also on account of young people.

The presidents agreed that the European idea must be promoted among the young also when it is not election time. Pahor said that during his many meetings with school children he always urged them to nurture both their Slovenian and European identities. Steinmeier in turn stressed the importance of student exchanges and EU programmes for vocational training abroad.

Turning to the Western Balkans and its prospects of joining the EU, Steinmeier pointed to the Berlin Process as a platform where problems can be identified and progress noted. He highlighted the breakthrough in the talks between Greece and North Macedonia on the name change of the latter.

Pahor said that some countries in the region would be very disappointment if the European Council did not make some decisions in June related to their EU accession.

He noted that the leaders of the Western Balkans who came together for a two-day summit of the Brdo-Brijuni Process in Tirana yesterday signed a declaration, urging the EU to make enlargement to the Western Balkans a "matter of geopolitical significance".

But he added that realistically speaking, the enlargement would probably not be the main issue the new European Commission will have to deal with, mentioning Brexit and migration as more urgent issues.

This is why he had proposed to the leaders in the region to call on the EU to change its approach to negotiation after the election, and start perceiving the region as a unit to avoid having bilateral issues hamper countries' progress.

If the EU could open the door to these countries with a sui generis enlargement policy in the next ten years, this would help solve bilateral issues, he believes.

Pahor and Steinmeier also reaffirmed the excellent relations between Slovenia and Germany, with Pahor stressing the role that Germany played in Slovenia's independence, democratisation and efforts to join the EU and NATO.

Germany, as a true friend, never asked anything in return for its support, Pahor said. "Slovenians appreciate this ... and would like Germany to stay our faithful friend, especially in these unpredictable times."

He also pointed to the regular political dialogue between the two countries, and cooperation ranging from culture to science. He particularly highlighted business cooperation.

The president also announced that Steinmeier would soon visit Slovenia again for the Three Sees Initiative summit hosted by the country in early June.


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