The Slovenia Times

Diplomatically reserved



an back home? Hagard: Slovenes are like Swedes, reserved, hard-working, result-oriented, ready to accept new ideas and gadgets and home-loving, A Slovene specialty is that it is a big decision to move permanently even 40 kilometers, but no problem to drive daily between Maribor and Koper. Kizildeli:Friendly, accommodating, positive. Quietly determined; but also self-questioning. Strong work & social discipline. A strong interest in other countries, cultures. Fouere: Just like the Irish - friendly, unassumingly confident, mood swings depending on the weather, strong sense of pride in cultural identity, but not as talkative as the Irish. Can you list some of the projects that you have done in Slovenia? Hagard: On the cultural scene we work actively to foster musical links and to establish connections between authors and publishers in the two small languages. In business our bimonthly meetings of managers working in trade and investment in both directions is important because manifestations can easily be forgotten but networks stay. Kizildeli: In the way of principles rather than projects: - be present, available; - participate; - enjoy an active interest in people & events; - identify & develop common interests between Turkey & Slovenia. What is your biggest professional and personal accomplishment in Slovenia so far? Hagard: The most important feat was the State visit of Their Majesties in June of 2004. Kizildeli: Perhaps my biggest achievement in 40 years in government service: The Ptuj Museum/Castle houses a unique collection of 47 Ottoman portraits (Turquerie) from the 17. Century. My project to have a book/catalogue written in Slovenian (Podoba Turkov v Evropi 17. stoletja), Turkish & English (Image of the Turks in the 17th century Europe) & to take the Turquerie to Istanbul for a three-month exhibition came to fruition in July 2005. Fouere: It's not in my nature to talk about myself or achievements; perhaps one aspect to emphasize is to have been able to show that even aging diplomats can run, underlining the importance of sport in daily life. What are your projects in the pipeline? Where are we going to see you in the future? Hagard: The next project is the visit in February 2006 of the second in the land of Sweden, The Speaker of Parliament. Both visits [of their majesties and of the Speaker of Parliament] bear witness to the excellent relations between Sweden and Slovenia. You will also see me in Kranjska Gora Ski championship 21-22 December, In Pohorje, the Golden Fox in January when Anja P"rsson hopefully will have Tina Maze behind her and in the Ski event where I shall also participate in Pokljuka in February. Kizildeli: I shall retire in May 2006. Before or after that, I hope that you can see me here in Slovenia again. Fouere: Hopefully for the traditional cross country ski race in Pokljuka in January as well as the Bloke cross-country ski half marathon. In your eyes, how has Slovenia changed since you have come here, both generally and in the field where you are active? Hagard: It is not possible to talk about change in Slovenia over two years, because this Nation, established more than half a millennium ago but an independent state since only 15 years is on a steady course of preserving its uniqueness, the pride of its people and the savoring of its difficult, but (for national identity) so important language. Kizildeli: Generally, Slovenia's opening to the world has progressed visibly. Its voice has become more audible internationally with its NATO & EU membership & its current chairmanship of OSCE. How would you define Slovenian political culture? Hagard: Politically, Slovenia, an old nation but a young state, is a well-established and respected parliamentary democracy. Kizildeli: This is not a fair question to ask a foreign diplomat on active duty. Is it true that diplomats in foreign offices around the world fight for a diplomatic post in Slovenia? Hagard: In the history of Swedish diplomacy, there has never been such a sought after post as the head of mission in Ljubljana in 2003. Kizildeli: Yes, I believe increasingly so. Do you think Slovenia should take a bigger role on the international stage? Hagard: Slovenia is not shy on the international stage. See how well it handled the task as chairman in office for the Organization of Cooperation and Security in Europe culminating in the ministerial conference in Ljubljana 5-6 December 2005. In 2008, Slovenia shall be the Presidency of the European Union. Kizildeli: Difficult to answer: it already has a much bigger role than before through NATO & EU. It will soon assume EU term presidency. A bigger role than all this? For what purpose & at what cost? Fouere: Certainly, seen from Skopje, its proactive role in the Balkan region is particularly important. Its Presidency of the EU in 2008 will offer a unique opportunity for Slovenia to shine as a proud member of the EU and on the world stage. It should use its great sporting achievements both in the Olympics and beyond as an inspiration and example Can you tell us your opinion about the future of Slovenia? Where will we be in 10 years time? Hagard: In ten years the hard working, inventive entrepreneurs and workers in Slovenia have achieved an economic development that places Slovenia on a standard of living above the average of EU 25, yet it is probably even better placed than some of the old 15 member states. Kizildeli: Bright.


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