President of Slovenia

Speech made to the Assembly

Tuesday, 28 June 1994

Mr President, Mr Secretary General, distinguished members of the Parliamentary Assembly, ladies and gentlemen, I am very grateful to you for giving me the opportunity to address the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. I would particularly like to thank President Martinez for his kind words as well as for the invitation to me to come to Strasbourg during this session of the Parliamentary Assembly. I would also like to avail myself of this opportunity to extend my best wishes to the new Secretary General, Mr Daniel Tarschys, who took up his duties a few days ago. I can assure him that Slovenia will support him, along with other member states, in his efforts to enhance the role of the Organisation in European relations.

I am sure you will understand that for me this opportunity is above all an occasion to offer the views of my country, the Republic of Slovenia, on the realities of present-day Europe and its dilemmas, as well as to substantiate Slovenia’s wish to confirm itself as a European country and to become, after having acceded to the Council of Europe, a member of the European Union. This is my country’s undisguised wish, a desire that has its real foundations in our conviction that the expansion of the European Union, and with it the formation of a common European home, is in the interest of Europe as a whole.

Despite their great differences – ethnic, geographic, economic, political, even spiritual – the constituent parts of Europe are nevertheless closely tied to and dependent on one another. Every major event that has taken place in one area of Europe has brought with it weighty consequences for all European countries, for the whole. After every such occurrence throughout the ages, Europe has sought a new balance in the ashes of what had gone before, and reshaped internal relations among its component parts.

Throughout history, this necessary balance has been made by might, with the more powerful forcing their interests upon the majority – as a rule of the victors upon the vanquished. The centuries of wars in Europe were in essence the process by which this balance was established, from the earliest times recalled by historical memory until the Potsdam and Paris Treaties following the second world war. Such dictated balances remained in place until a change in historical circumstances came about, bringing with it the collapse of the balance and a threat to peace and to the existence of each and every country, both individually and as a whole.

I am strongly convinced that only two options are available to Europe. First, that this necessary balance between all of us who live in this region and who are fated to continue doing so be established by the logic of might, through each endlessly fighting for his own space, an approach that has generally ended in catastrophe; or, that the opportunity be grasped to reach an agreement on everything in the name of a common peace and a common future. History teaches its lessons, but only to those willing to learn. We have everything to gain from trying to find a balance that will respect equality, a balance that emerges from the free will of all people. It is worth struggling for an agreement in which each party compromises so that all may enjoy peace, tolerance and co-operation. This will permit a steadfast coexistence that will significantly reduce the possibility of perilous conflict, if not eliminate it completely. The west of Europe has built such a world of cooperative relations for itself, in which it has been able to avoid confrontation, a course taken partly in response to the endless confrontation with the east and the east’s threat to annihilate once again the coerced balance with its military might, fear and political agreements. This experience testifies that such a balance in Europe is possible – not simply that it is in Europe’s vital interest, but that it is also a possible reality, a reality in which the nations and countries of Europe preserve their identity and in which co-operation is based on the same values, as well as the principles of democracy, respect for human rights, civil society and an open, competitive market economy. There is simply no alternative to this option. The only other possibility is a return to an era in which the balance in Europe was a consequence born not of reason, but of violence.

This historical experience speaks of something else too. It bears witness that the divisions in Europe – even this most recent ideological one which was perhaps the most fateful of them all – were artificial and collapsed for that very reason. Europe is not doomed to crisis and division; on the contrary, it is destined for co-operation.

It would be extremely short-sighted and without historical foundation to think that peace, dignified human life and economic well-being can be assured at one end of our continent if they are absent at the other. And if war is raging and poverty rife, and if human rights and dignity are abused, this is all the more true. It is an illusion to think that in an increasingly small world which is turning ever more towards co-operation, Europe can be a catalyst for peace, stability and collaboration if it does not first provide this for itself, if it does not change itself. The borders within Europe and those separating us from other parts of the world have become too insubstantial for events taking place behind them not to interest us; indeed, for us not to share responsibility.

In the light of these realisations, it is my deep conviction that the time Europe is currently living in, and the period which is to come, will bring a great many more challenging questions than we have answers for. The search for answers is our common task, just as the future is common and belongs to us all. The seeds of all our futures lie hidden in the answers to the questions posed by the present.

Not long ago, our planet was divided into many self-satisfied worlds and civilisations. Today, the consciousness of a common, interdependent and responsible world is gaining strength. Circles of interests, nations, countries, economies and even religions that were previously closed are opening up and forging ties.

In parallel to the disintegration of closed systems, new and smaller entities are arising: national and ethnic ones, religious and spiritual, economic, cultural, language-based entities that are shaping an identity for themselves.

Europe, too, is a participant in these processes, with its painful experience of the first and particularly the second world war, the fateful consequences of the cold war and the historic détente following the fall of the Berlin Wall. The unification and formation of new countries in Europe are an expression of the process of globalisation as well as of individualisation. The new states that have emerged from the former Yugoslavia, Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia are natural and legitimate phenomena within these processes – not only in the eyes of the nations themselves, but as seen through the eyes of history.

The life of contemporary Europe is decisively marked by new realities, new relations, new countries; among them my own, the Republic of Slovenia. The Europe that was divided into a political East and West and in which life was subject to the bloc-determined logic of a balance of weapons and fear, is no more. What remains is the division into an economically well-developed West and an undeveloped East. This dividing line is of ever- greater concern to us. It runs precisely where once the demarcation lines of ideological and political division lay. The gap in economic and technological development, in ecological consciousness, in the protection of human rights and particularly in social tension, demonstrate that the fate of all of Europe is decided in the east of the continent.

At this time, the answers to the fate affecting all of us are primarily held by the western part of Europe. In order to remedy the conditions in the east, an understanding of these processes and the active support and solidarity of the west will be needed. Such aid will undoubtedly not slow the western economies and societies. On the contrary, it represents a long-term investment in the development of the European spirit and the expansion of Europe’s economic and cultural sphere at the beginning of the new millennium. Ignoring the problems of a world in transition may lead to deterioration and to conflicts with unimagined consequences for the entire old world. For this reason, serious joint efforts to diminish and overcome this divide are necessary. This is not a matter of passing the buck; it is simply a recognition of our necessarily linked, common life in this arena, from which we cannot escape.

The past few years have shown that the Council of Europe is probably the best placed European organisation when it comes to the enhancement of the democratic security in central and eastern Europe. Therefore, my country expresses its strong support for the co-operation programmes of this Organisation, which help to promote reforms and stability of democratic institutions in this part of Europe. We should also spare no efforts to continue and expand these programmes in candidate states.

Events in eastern Europe have a corresponding effect on the west, and are not limited to the economic sphere. The great expectations on both sides of the Berlin Wall of a new world of friendship and co-operation arising independently with the removal of the ideological oppositions became bogged down in the reality of minor but significant problems. The related frustrations that arose gave birth to all types of fundamentalism, sadly on both sides of the unfortunate wall. Wherever frustrations manifest themselves, they must challenge and cause concern to the democratic public in the countries in which they originate and in all of Europe. They also worry the democratic public in Slovenia, particularly because of our country’s participation in the antifascist struggle on the side of the victorious, democratic Allied coalition during the second world war. This is the most valuable moral legitimacy that the Slovenian nation possesses before its own honour and before history.

Fundamentalism in every country has its own basic characteristics. These include an expression of protest against poverty, unemployment, a reflection of moral disintegration, hardship and powerlessness, social and legal uncertainty as well as the appearance of self-proclaimed prophets who instigate violence, anarchy and chaos. In Europe, the new fears of fascism have their roots in historical experience and memory. Words that serve to lessen the danger this mind-set presents are not sufficient; actions alone are true proof of intention. Only actions are relevant in political judgment.

Equally, mere judgments of fundamentalism in its many forms do not suffice. We must urgently uproot this problem, otherwise individual radical groups will continue to hide behind trenches dug in the past, revive old divisions, justify all types of new discrimination, force intolerance and xenophobia in social values and use methods of political activity that have already been consigned to the antique shops of history, all suggesting that human society can return to the past, instead of directing itself towards the future. This is why the campaign against racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance that is being set up by the Council of Europe, in the follow-up to the Vienna Summit is so important. I believe that democratic Europe will not allow a band of radical extremists to destroy the future for the majority, nor its moral values and hopes in order to impose models from the past. I do not fear the revitalisation of Bolshevism, at least not in the countries that I am familiar with. They have neither a real social basis nor convincing political forces that would wish to, and be capable of, introducing it. I am concerned, however, by populism in all its forms, and especially by those types that attempt to place on other shoulders the demanding burden of solving the difficult problems that face individual nations, while casting around endlessly in a xenophobic manner for enemies, creating an atmosphere of constant threat.

One of the questions to which there are at present no precise answers is exactly what kind of Europe we wish to have and how Europe will integrate. Will it be according to the demands of the lessons of history, with integration based on the principle of the equality of all countries involved, each participating in its own way, in accordance with its own circumstances and at its own pace, but with the clear assurance that they will become complete members of the great European integration? Or will it be founded on the principle of complete equality for some members, with partial equality for others? This would mean the formation of one, two or possibly even three Europes, with a special category in terms of the degree of integration and multilateral relations represented by the members of the European Union; a second, a sort of buffer, a reserve, not-quite Europe, by the countries of the former political eastern Europe, and a third, perhaps of some type of para-Europe, by Russia.

It is precisely this question of the relationship between Europe and Russia that could be crucial. Will Russia be a partner capable of making demands to suit its spheres of interest? And where will the borders of these spheres lie? Can the politics of dividing spheres of interest be consistent in any way with the concept of a new Europe? It may well be that the Council of Europe will be the first international organisation that will be able to answer in practice these questions, as it is most likely that Russia will become a member of this Organisation in the foreseeable future.

The Council of Europe will consequently soon become the largest permanent forum for intergovernmental co-operation and political dialogue. While this represents new challenges it also offers new possibilities for the Organisation. We should use these possibilities judiciously and boldly. Without infringing on other organisations’ competencies, the Council of Europe should translate its political will into action wherever it has legal instruments or other mechanisms that make it possible.

Today we deposited with the Secretary General the instruments of Slovenia’s ratification of the European Convention on Human Rights together with all additional protocols, including Protocol No. 11, which opens the way for the reform of the European Court of Human Rights. This act symbolises not only the importance that my country attaches to the protection of human rights, but testifies to the high level of protection of human rights that we have reached within the area of the Council of Europe. Nevertheless, no country can pride itself on having done enough for the protection of human rights, including collective human rights, or for the protection of the rights of minorities.

That is why the work that is currently under way in the Council of Europe on a framework convention on the protection of minorities is so important. We need an instrument of international law that will become a point of reference for old and new member states alike, a legal basis that will ensure better protection of minorities and respect for their rights and which will serve as a safeguard against manipulation of minorities from outside.

The Balkans are a part of Europe and part of its divisions. While there is no peace on this peninsula, peace throughout the old world will be threatened. Young men from all over Europe are losing their lives in this arena. The present-day face of the Balkans is tragic and grotesque. That results primarily from a lack of preparation and an inability to move beyond conflicting interests so as to implement the fundamental realisation that there is no longer room for the politics of local wars in the tightly interwoven interrelations of countries on the European continent. An aggressor can and must be stopped at his first step, and the question of nationalities in this part of Europe is not exotic or an invention of arrogant politicians but the belated appearance of a historical inheritance.

The heart of the Balkan crisis is the Serbian national question, which is as legitimate as any other. As in the case of others, its resolution demands and permits only legitimate means and methods. The search for legitimate answers to this complex national question that will not violate the equal rights of others requires the collaboration of Europe. A resolution that is forcibly imposed by war cannot be legitimate and is therefore unacceptable. War does not bring lasting peace. In considering possible solutions we should incorporate the prospect of the Europeanisation of all the countries that have emerged or will emerge in the Balkans, each under set conditions and in its own time. Isolation and the sense on the part of these states that the path to Europe is closed will render the search for peace as well as long-term stability in the Balkans all the more difficult.

In the pursuit of common perspectives for Europe the countries of the eastern part of the continent do not wish to be treated as communist countries or as previous members of the now defunct Warsaw Pact. Slovenia does not wish to be treated as a former republic of the former Yugoslavia. We did not desire independence so as to become a former republic of some former country. Such treatment would make us out to be a second-class European country, requiring a special relationship and reserve, even caution. The countries in the eastern half of Europe are simply European countries with differing pasts and experiences. We must consider the future together.

It is in the interest of the common future to transfer as rapidly as possible certain aspects of the west to the east of Europe so as to establish the greatest possible degree of compatibility between the two halves. That is a prerequisite for real integration and the fact that this is primarily, at the moment, in the interest of the eastern countries – an interest that has been clearly expressed – is understandable. It is equally clear that the countries of the European Union will evaluate independently, based on the common European experience, their interest in accepting new countries. They will be the judges of both the positive and negative aspects, but I believe that they will rectify the negative aspects by setting special conditions for each of these countries within a general framework and by making use of joint efforts to help these countries meet their special requirements at an early date.

If the doors to the European Union were closed, Slovenia would see it as a new historical injustice. At present, due to certain decisions taken in die past months, we do not have this feeling, and with justification. Modest Slovenia cannot threaten anyone, cannot pose a danger to any country. She has not even established her right to self-determination to the detriment of any right held by another. I do not believe that any country would wish to demonstrate its power and influence in the European Union by preventing the inclusion of Slovenia or by conditioning her inclusion on its own narrow interests. Bilateral relations should not be a cause for such action. Life in the European Union is the life of countries that have submitted themselves to the same principles and the same standards of political order and rules of behaviour. These make possible the resolution of bilateral problems without conflict, without damage being caused to anyone. In the action I referred to, in the placing of conditions on Slovenia, can there perhaps be perceived an inclination for different relations, for the implementation of one’s own will, for the forcing of resolutions?

Many in Europe have wished to live with the illusion that the collapse of the Berlin Wall was the answer to all European enigmas. As we have seen, its destruction in truth brought with it a series of new questions. The East and the West have both changed. The Berlin Wall crumbled, as has every other wall – on both sides. This actuality now creates a demand for a new European architecture. Slovenia wishes to play a part in the designing of the future of Europe, not only with regard to rights, but also in terms of responsibilities. It is my personal wish that the countries of the Union recognise this fact. A waiting list with a predetermined order simply cannot exist. What do exist are only the criteria of European principles and policies that those desiring to form a part of the European Union must fulfil.

It is for this reason that Slovenia wishes to be a part of this integration. It is not our desire for the architecture of the new Europe to be drawn by others, without our input, with us being left solely with the option of accepting or rejecting it. The injustice of history has managed to force this sole choice upon us so far. Now, for the first time, we have our own country, and it is a part of that central European arena to which the Slovenian nation, although small, has always spiritually belonged. It is this factor that rendered the historical attempt at union with other nations into a common Yugoslav state unsuccessful, although Slovenians invested tremendous effort in that political project following the world wars because the nation was under threat. But this labour was in vain, as our expectations of equality for all the peoples who joined forces to create Yugoslavia came to naught. This led Slovenia to choose dissociation in a plebiscite.

In that part of central Europe in which our country is located, many economic interests, political interests and cultural influences have met and continued to intersect, and it is here that European spiritual currents confront one another. Here, many European conflicts have had their genesis and their conclusion. Slovenia could not hide from anything that took place in this arena. We have been directly influenced by everything that has affected Europe. From this historical fact stems our conviction of our solid and predetermined connection with Europe and our sense of responsibility for what happens there. We believe that, together with other central European countries, we can reinforce in the European Union the values that were shaped in the course of time by the many diversities among those of us who live with great differences in the small area of central Europe. Those values, among others, are pluralism, dialogue, tolerance and consensus.

It is to be hoped that the Pact on Stability in Europe will represent a step forward in these efforts and will link what has already been achieved with what might still be achieved to form a coherent network. The Council of Europe with its incomparable experience in the field of human rights protection and also in the field of negotiating European conventions should play a major role in this process.

In the current processes of European integration, one may see a place for Slovenia and an opportunity for her. Even in Yugoslavia, Slovenia chose openness and inclusion in the global processes which the age of universal communication brought forth and made possible. Slovenia views transition as a great challenge. Under the conditions of the globalisation of international politics, she attempts to preserve a sense of the distinctive and of detail. She realises that without an active role on the part of small players, the balance is lost and the large and powerful players thereby lose too. I am convinced that nationally recognisable open countries, based on the principle of the equality of citizens, regardless of nationality, race, religion or political conviction, are those that have a future. Only such countries are capable of coming together on an egalitarian basis to form the European, all-encompassing community that, in spite of everything, appears to be a reality.

In the negation of these principles one can find the true reason for the Yugoslav crisis. A multinational community, such as Yugoslavia was, can survive only if founded on the principle that all community members’ interests are equal and if common rules of the game, as well as legislative, legal and institutional mechanisms, are established which permit the harmonisation of various interests to everyone’s benefit. This is the prerequisite for its survival. Additionally, as perfect as these mechanisms may be, such a state can live on only if these institutions are based on a unifying idea, on values that give meaning to such a community and function as the fundamental integrative tissue and catalyst. If this idea is absent or ceases to exist, the mechanisms alone cannot preserve the community. The Yugoslav experience, which was not inevitably condemned to such a tragic and irrational disintegration, bears witness to the need for the establishment, at some point, by the European Union of its own ideas, its own system of values, which will strengthen its cohesion.

The higher the level of integration in the Union and the greater the demands on individual countries to renounce individual sovereignty, the stronger these conceptions of values must be to allow Europeans to identify emotionally with them and to convince them of the importance of such a significant step. This value system will understandably need to be exclusively founded on values that have been shaped by European civilisation over its lengthy development and which represent its moral foundation, the basis of contemporary democracy, of the political order in a civil society in which the rule of law governs.

One of the fundamental goals of the Slovenian declaration of independence was the desire to accelerate its development in order to reach the level of countries that respect democratic standards. Our interest in fortifying democracy is permanent. Democracy guarantees equilibrium in society; it resolves the questions of internal stability without threatening international peace. A stable democracy is capable of continuously adjusting this balance, thus preventing the rise of forces that wish to replace the rule of law, and thereby democracy itself, with violence in the name of apparent order. It is particularly true in those countries that are still forming a social contract or consensus that the only permissible political activity is that which takes place within the rule of law.

Freedom and the consolidation of democracy in a country undergoing transition are vitally linked to questions of the country’s own national and international security. All such countries live under a sense of danger, in varying degrees, due either to their own weakness or to a feeling of external threat, which is particularly true in the uncertain conditions in the lands of the former Soviet Union or the former Yugoslavia. Such circumstances lend objective strength to the status of the military in these states. These are young democracies which, as a rule, have not yet developed sufficient control over the types of monitoring mechanisms that guarantee the subordination of this sector in civil society. During the transition, the armed forces make significant contributions to democratic progress but, at watersheds in history, they can also pose obstacles to these processes as well as represent a means of establishing the most varied, undemocratic, populist alternatives. History offers ample evidence of this.

From this truth stems Slovenia’s particular interest in working with the Partnership for Peace and, through it, with Nato and Western European Union. We expect with good reason that this connection will establish an appropriate relationship between civil pluralist society and the defence complex in accordance with established European principles and standards – most notably in accordance with requirements for the development of democratic institutions and respect for human rights, for the non-political nature of the armed forces, for civilian control of the armed forces and for transparency of the military budget, all of which are basic components of the Partnership for Peace. Without the Europeanisation of these sensitive relations, there can be no democratic development in a country in transition, nor stable international relations and co-operation.

I believe that you will understand that, as a young country, we are faced with the demanding task of harmonising the process of globalisation and individuation within our country, as well as consolidating our own identity and distinctiveness on the path to Europe while not losing it in the process of integration. It is our wish to become a building block of Europe as an identifiable spiritual and political entity, as the Republic of Slovenia, which will not lose itself in Europe but which can make a substantial contribution to the community of which it will form a part. Slovenia does not wish to be a country based on any specific ideology; we wish to be a democratic state, guided by the rule of law and founded on respect for human freedoms and rights. We wish simply to be a proper, educated, just, peaceful and safe country, a country that assumes its share of responsibility for the fate of Europe and, as a part of Europe, for the destiny of the world.

The real possibility of integration with Europe, and facing all the dilemmas that entails, presents Slovenia with a challenge and a motive for rapid domestic economic and political development that will allow us to be compatible with the Union. We cannot demand that Europe wait while we resolve our problems. Nor would we wish it to. We expect, however, equitable understanding of our situation. Like that of every other European country, it is unique and not easily compared to those of others. In closing, I stress that Slovenia forms a part of Europe as she is. She wishes to be a part of the Europe that will emerge from our common endeavours.

(The speaker continued in English.) Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your attention, especially as I was addressing you in Slovenian. The Slovenians are a nation with an old, integral and rich culture and spiritual creativity. I therefore wanted the Slovenian language to be heard in this respectful European House which has justly protected its entrants by maintaining very high standards and which so kindly opened its doors to Slovenia a year ago. I thank you for that, too.


Thank you very much, Mr Kučan, for that very impressive statement. Thirteen colleagues wish to ask questions. I remind all of them that questions must be limited to thirty- seconds and that they should be questions, not speeches. However, I think that there is a possibility of colleagues being allowed to ask a supplementary question, especially if they stick to the rule. Mr Muehlemann has the first question.

Mr MUEHLEMANN (Switzerland) (translation)

Mr President, ladies and gentlemen, we have had the opportunity to ascertain with President Kučan the situation in the former Yugoslavia, and have been most impressed by his knowledge of it.

Is there not a possibility at present of a certain détente over the question of Kosovo, and of the Serbs reconsidering the matter of partial autonomy in relation to the Albanian people? The Council of Europe could offer its good offices in this matter.

Mr Kučan, President of Slovenia (interpretation)

replied that the Yugoslav tragedy had begun with the violation of human rights of minorities in such areas as Kosovo. The Yugoslav Federal Government had declared a state of emergency and had suspended human rights in such places. The issue could only be resolved if Serbia began to respect human and political rights in accordance with the guidelines set down by the Assembly. Otherwise there could be no resolution of the problem.

Mr MARUFLU (Turkey)

A census is taking place in the Republic of Macedonia, which will be highly instrumental in making clear the ethnic set-up of that new independent state. That census has been realised thanks to the assistance and very fruitful cooperative efforts of the Council of Europe. The Republic of Macedonia is a candidate country, which aspires to become a full member soon. In that context, as the President of a neighbouring country situated in a highly sensitive region, what should be the next avenues of co-operation between the Council of Europe and Macedonia?

Mr Kučan, President of Slovenia (interpretation)

said that they were all interested in Macedonia being permitted to develop without violence. Perhaps Macedonia was an example of something that he mentioned in his speech: the national question leading to social disintegration and the violation of human rights. He was certain that Macedonia would continue to respect the rights of minorities, and that the present census being carried out under the auspices of the Geneva committee would make it easier for them to do so.

Mr RODRIGUES (Portugal) (translation)

Mr President, you said that it is not legitimate to seek to solve the conflict in the former Yugoslavia by warlike means.

Do you consider that actions such as the Nato air strikes in Sarajevo and Gorazde have brought peace any closer? What do you and the Slovene people think of this type of action?

Mr Kučan, President of Slovenia (interpretation)

said that the reason for the former Yugoslavia’s crisis was the unresolved national question and especially the unresolved Serbian national question.

Whilst Serbia’s desire to resolve its national question was legitimate, it was not legitimate to use violent means to attempt to do so. This was contrary to the norms of the Helsinki Act, which he saw as the constitution of a future Europe. War and aggression could not be successful as a way of suppressing violence.

He believed that it was a mistake to classify the war in the former Yugoslavia as a civil war as it was really a war of aggression against Bosnia- Herzegovina, the aim of which was to invade territories with Serb populations.

Mr RODRIGUES (translation)

I will repeat my question because it is essential. What do you think, Mr President, of responses like the Nato air strikes in Sarajevo and Gorazde?

Mr Kučan, President of Slovenia (interpretation)

apologised for not making himself sufficiently clear in the first place, and reiterated that it was essential to identify the aggressor in this situation.

Mr RUFFY (Switzerland) (translation)

Mr President, an Italian political movement has laid claims to Istria as part of Italian territory. How have you yourself and your country’s government reacted to this claim? Is it to be taken seriously?

Mr Kučan, President of Slovenia (interpretation)

said that the Slovaks and the Italians had had a long history and were fated to live in the same territory. However, the best solutions had not always been found to this problem. Italy had demanded border changes in its official capacity, and other individuals had made demands which everybody knew about. Under the Osimo agreement, of which Yugoslavia was a signatory, it was not possible to raise such demands when faced with the reality of Europe. This would entail other changes in the European balance established after the second world war.

Mr MÜLLER (Germany)

Mr President, after such an impressive plea in favour of Europe, I should like to return to the question put to you by the previous speaker. Does it worry you that certain persons, including the President of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the Italian Parliament, have cast doubt on the Osimo Treaty?

Secondly, is there any possibility – this again is an Italian claim – of Slovenia considering individual cases of compensation for former inhabitants of Slovenia who moved to Italy?

Mr Kučan, President of Slovenia (interpretation)

said that, as he had mentioned before, Slovenia was preoccupied with such developments, but considered multilateral approaches unacceptable. Matters would proceed on a bilateral basis: Slovenia had shown its willingness to resolve these problems according to modem standards. Slovenia was awaiting Italian proposals, and was developing its own.


In our discussions upon what the further structure of European security should be based on – the CSCE process or the Nato process – what can we learn from the Balkan experience, from the Herzegovina experience and the role of the international organisation?

Can you envisage the role of those organisations in the new structure of European security?

Mr Kučan, President of Slovenia (interpretation)

said that the Yugoslav experience pointed to a simple answer. All structures needed implementation mechanisms. Neither the CSCE nor the Assembly of the Council of Europe had prevention mechanisms of the diplomatic type required. The matter was one of great topical interest for the United Nations, the common organisation of all other organisations. Each of the European assemblies, by acceding to the UN, said that it would subordinate itself to the principles of that organisation. The question was one of selfprotection against such phenomena as the strife in Bosnia-Herzegovina.


Mr President, you talked in your speech about a Partnership for Peace. Do you think that such an initiative can play any role now?

Mr Kučan, President of Slovenia (interpretation)

said that Partnership for Peace (PFP) was very important at the moment. However, it did not yet provide security guarantees, although no doors were closed by it concerning the future membership of Nato. Integral to PFP were respect for democratic principles and civil control of the military. If these had been in place the Yugoslav crisis could have been avoided.

Mr FIGEL (Slovakia)

Thank you, Mr President. My question follows those dealing with security in the Balkans and in the south of Europe. You mentioned some reasons why the situation is so bad. I want to ask one question. If you think that the international community should change something, what should preferably be changed in the attitude to the crisis in Bosnia-Herzegovina?

Mr Kučan, President of Slovenia (interpretation)

said that the efforts made by the international community so far were all oriented in one direction, and that it was impossible to go backwards. War had changed the initial positions. Bosnia-Herzegovina had been a multinational community, divided between Muslims, Croats and Serbs. Genocide had been carried out, although in diplomatic language this was referred to as “ethnic cleansing”. A model for a future state now had to be based upon a map of these “ethnically cleansed” areas. A function must be found for the state as it now existed; only if that proved impossible should other options be considered.

Mrs JAANI (Estonia)

Your Excellency, we all know that the economy of Slovenia is one of the most stable economies in the former eastern bloc. Will you please elaborate on the mysterious secret of your economic stability. Thank you.

Mr Kučan, President of Slovenia (interpretation)

replied that there was no secret. The Slovenian economy had looked both to the former Yugoslavia and to the West to strengthen its economy, and two thirds of Slovenia’s exports went to the European Union. In the estimation of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, the economy was now valued at US$ 1 800 million, and this year for the first time it had experienced a period of economic growth after several years of decline. There had been a restructuring of the economy, and now 93% of companies were small businesses, 5 % were of medium size, and only 2% were large. This year represented the deadline for privatisation, and Slovenia hoped to sign an agreement for association with the European Union.

Mr LATRONICO (Italy) (translation)

Mr President, in stressing the importance Italy attaches to relations with Slovenia, and that, as you yourself said, there are no problems of territorial claims, I confirm that Italy intends to act and co-operate fully in keeping with existing agreements.

In the name of equality of rights for European citizens, however, I should like to ask you, now that the Slovenian Government recognises and protects private property and accepts the principle of the recovery or re-acquisition of property formerly confiscated and nationalised in a historical context which now no longer exists, whether the property confiscated from Italian citizens will now be restored to them.

Mr Kučan, President of Slovenia (interpretation)

replied that he hoped his speech has made clear that Slovenia will honour all international agreements. The events after the war had been resolved by agreement, and a legal framework for co-operation was now in place. The question could be resolved by Italy and Slovenia by bilateral agreement.

Mrs KALISKÂ (Slovakia)

Mr President, Slovenia has signed and ratified agreements on the free trade zone with the Slovak and Czech republics. Do you support the conclusion of similar agreements with some other countries or are those recent agreements, more or less, the only exceptions on the main road to expected and projected economic integration into the European Union?

Mr Kučan, President of Slovenia (interpretation)

agreed. He said that Slovenia was also about to sign similar agreements with Poland and other countries of the Visegrad Group, whose economies were complementary to its own. Discussions were also under way with Croatia, and with Austria, although the latter’s membership of the European Union might alter the basis for negotiation.

Mr ATKINSON (United Kingdom)

Assuming that the current cease-fire holds and the war ends in the former Yugoslavia, the Council of Europe would expect to receive in due course an application for special guest membership from Serbia. The question that I would like to ask you, Mr President, is what advice do you offer us about how we should respond to such an application from Serbia for special guest status with a view to ultimate full membership of the Council of Europe? Should we be convinced of Serbia’s commitment to economic and political reform and what conditions should we impose on Serbia on full membership?

Mr Kučan, President of Slovenia (interpretation)

said that the key to long-term stability in the Balkans was the opening up by Europe of the process of democratisation to those countries in the former Yugoslavia. Full consideration should be given to such an application, but it would be necessary for the country concerned to honour all conditions and obligations imposed by the Council of Europe.

Mr PAVLIDIS (Greece)

What is your opinion, Mr Kučan, on the idea of a peace and friendship agreement to be signed by the Balkan countries to guarantee the borders of the re-govemed countries, with a similar provision for other countries in the area that will be re-governed in future?

Mr Kučan, President of Slovenia (interpretation)

replied that the Balkans were historically a very turbulent area. The signing of such an agreement would be of great help in preserving peace. However, not all countries in the area of the former Yugoslavia could be considered as Balkan countries: Slovenia considered itself to be a central European country and did not believe that it would be appropriate for it to be a signatory to such a treaty.

Mr LAURICELLA (Italy) (translation)

Mr President, rest assured that my political entourage, the Left Wing Democratic Party and the Progressive Party in Italy, are unreservedly in favour of Slovenia’s membership of the European Union, which would improve relations and the movement of goods and people and no doubt help to solve any outstanding disputes. Could you, however, explain what your government proposes to do to protect minorities in Slovenia, and what steps it intends to take to compensate the Italian minority for lost property or return that property to them?

Mr Kučan, President of Slovenia (interpretation)

replied that Slovenia was making progress in the area of guaranteeing rights to minorities. Minority rights for Italians and Hungarians were taken more seriously by Slovenia than was often the case in other countries. The property debate had been taking place for several years and, while the protection of property rights for Italians and Slovenians was not as sophisticated as the protection which the Italians granted the South Tyroleans, the Slovene Government recognised that hard work was necessary in that area.


Thank you. Do you want to ask a further question, Mr Lauricella? I understand that you do not.

That is the end of questions to Mr Kučan. Thank you very much, Mr Kučan. Your performance has been most impressive. You will have noticed that my colleagues did not ask you questions as the head of state of a former anything. You were questioned as a sound member of this sound institution and as an important future part of the future democratic Europe that we are all building. Thank you, dear friend. Take to your people the Assembly’s best greetings and those of the Council of Europe as a whole.