Ex-president Pahor launches book and non-profit
Borut Pahor, Slovenia's former president, has published his first book, offering his insights and anecdotes from a political career spanning more than 30 years. He has also started a non-profit dedicated to the Western Balkans.
Subtitled a manual for political and other beginners, his book Victory is the Beginning is not an autobiography or a memoir, but a genre hybrid "written with lots of love", Pahor said at the book launch in Ljubljana on 21 November.
Pahor, who has just turned 60, wanted to share inspiring experiences, but also those that can serve as a warning to politicians not to repeat his mistakes, "because politics can be both hell and heaven".
"When I started my career, it was about proving myself, about winning elections. Over time, I realised I had to be more accountable to the people who trusted me with election, and that I had a duty to make a mark. And after two terms as president, it seemed to me I did leave a mark, especially in my efforts to connect rather than divide," he said.
Published by Beletrina, the book is divided into thirty chapters with titles such as Winners and Losers, Populism and Likeability, and Hard Work. Each is a combination of vignettes from his career, stories of other people that served either as inspirations or as warnings, and his personal insights.
Looking for answers to eternal questions boggling the minds of people in careers, Pahor has read many similar books, including Barrack Obama's, but has now written one he himself would want to buy. "I don't say it's better, but it's different."
Pahor wants to convey the message that "a political career, if taken seriously and responsibly, is above all a mission in the interest of the community". Another message is that "success is not linear" and that "you have to live with defeat and learn from it, but you also have to be able to survive victories".
President, PM and party leader
Pahor, the only Slovenian politician to date to have served as a party leader, speaker of parliament, prime minister, the country's president and a member of the European Parliament, feels that as prime minster (2008-2012) he was not strong enough despite not lacking in experience.
"It seems to me that on the centre-left, the last and, in fact, the only sovereign prime minister was Janez Drnovšek," he said, referring to Slovenia's late leader who served as prime minister for a decade (1992- 2002) and then one term as president.
Pahor believes such top offices require "a complex personality and responsibility that has to be built up, which does not happen overnight". In the opposite case, "you run the risk of not being able to live up to people's expectations, even with the best of intentions".
Friend of the Western Balkans
Having served out his second term as president in December 2022, Pahor recently founded a non-profit called Friends of the Western Balkans in a bid to continue his legacy as prime minister and president in trying to improve relations with and within the region.
Slovenians have "specific insight as regards the lack of understanding in the international community about what is happening in the Western Balkans", he said.
Pahor signed the agreement on border arbitration with Croatia in 2009 and helped initiate the Brdo Brijuni process of regional cooperation in 2013. He says he has friends across the region and doors are open to him among all nations and countries.
Pahor, a former leader of the Social Democrats (1997-2012), says he is not considering returning to politics for the time being and has ruled out running in the upcoming elections to the European Parliament, where he served as MEP from 2004 to 2008.
But he intends to continue to give lectures at home and abroad and host his podcast. Since September he has been included in the roster of speakers of the London Speaker Bureau, an international agency that provides keynote speakers for corporate and professional events.