I am very happy that I can again, here in beautiful Ljubljana, meet with my Slovenian friends. I still remember my first official visit in 2008. A lot has changed since then. Matej Tonin was at the time a very young and promising municipal councilor in Kamnik, and I was a bit older, but also a promising Prime Minister of the Polish government. One thing has not changed: just like then, also today, it is Janez Janša who is at the head of the government.

Slovenia is present in my daily life not only because of my close cooperation with my partners and friends from the three parties, which form part of the European People’s Party, namely Nova Slovenija, SDS and SLS. I am, like Matej Tonin, an ardent athlete and sports fan, a fan of basketball, cycling and ski jumping. I admire Luka Dončić, who in my opinion will soon become the best basketball player in the whole world, too bad that Dallas Mavericks have dropped out, I am also cheering on Primož Roglič in the Tour de France race. It is really amazing that his main rival in claiming victory is also a Slovenian, Tadej Pogačar. You have reasons to be proud. I wonder, which one of them, Matej, do you wish to win? Taking into account the size of the population, you are a global sports superpower.

Andrej Urlep, whom I met when he was the coach of the Polish basketball team, was once asked: “How do you do it?” He replied that Slovenia is too small to allow itself to waste talents. I must admit that you do not waste talents also in politics, the proof of which is standing right beside me. You don’t waste time or opportunities either. Ever since I can remember, and for sure since 1989, you have always been one step ahead, the whole of Central and Eastern Europe wanted to emulate you. You were a role model for many, you quickly showed that the integration of the old and new Europe is not a political fantasy, but a goal which is possible to achieve.

Today I can also whole-heartedly congratulate Slovenia for the way it is going through this time, a hard time for the whole world. I will of course start with congratulating Matej Tonin and his party. I am here today together with you on the occasion of this beautiful 20th anniversary of Nova Slovenija, and I will be frank: you are the hope not only for many Slovenians, but for the whole European Christian Democracy.  You have proven that an indeed not easy synthesis of tradition, modernity and freedom is possible. That one can defend their values and not attack others, that an ideal of an open and tolerant society is reconcilable with effective governance. That one can pursue a tough and firm policy and respect the rules of democracy, pluralism and the rule of law.

By coping better than many other governments with the pandemic, you have demonstrated to Europe that democrats can be more effective than autocrats also in the time of a grave crisis, and that one does not have to restrict freedom and rights in order to ensure safety and security of their citizens.

The European Union needed some time, after the initial shock, to undertake energetic actions in the fight against the virus and for the protection of the Member States against the economic consequences of the pandemic. Today we can safely say that nowhere in the world have so many means been mobilized for grants and credits in order to rescue economies, firms and places of work. What was needed, and will continue to be, was to reconcile conflicting interests and different needs, to heal divisions between North and South, and East and West.  In one year, it will be Slovenia as the rotating presidency, who will be dealing with this, and I am confident that no-one else is better fit for this role than you.

We also have to take care together of the unity of the European Union when it comes to very serious international challenges. As Matej Tonin often says: "We are all different, but there is no need that we are divided." Slovenia, and personally Matej as the leader of co-ruling party, deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence, are active in the field of the security of the region and the whole of Europe. The events in Belarus, the continuously aggressive policy of Moscow vis-à-vis its neighbours, especially Ukraine, provocations by Turkey against Greece and Cyprus, an ever worsening atmosphere of relations between China and the West, all this demonstrates how important European solidarity and allegiance to our fundamental values are today. Ahead of Slovenia and ahead all of us are trying times.  I am happy that the Slovenian and European helm will be in the hands of such people like my host today.

 

Zelo sem vesel, da se lahko zopet tu, v prelepi Ljubljani, srečam z mojimi slovenskimi prijatelji. Še vedno se spominjam svojega prvega uradnega obiska tukaj, leta dvatisoč osem. Veliko se je spremenilo od tistega dne. Matej Tonin je bil takrat zelo mlad in obetaven občinski svetnik v Kamniku, jaz pa malce starejši, a tudi obetaven predsednik poljske vlade. Ena stvar ostaja ista: prav kot takrat, je tudi danes na vrhu slovenske vlade Janez Janša.


Slovenija je prisotna v mojem vsakdanjiku, pa ne le zaradi mojega tesnega sodelovanja s partnerji in prijatelji iz treh strank, ki so del Evropske Ljudske Stranke, se pravi Nove Slovenije, SDS in SLS. Tudi jaz sem, kot Matej Tonin, zagret atlet in športni navijač, oboževalec košarke, kolesarskih dirk in smučarskih skokov. Občudujem Luko Dončića, ki bo po mojem mnenju kmalu postal najboljši košarkaš na svetu. Res smola, da so Dallas Mavericks izpadli iz končnice. Prav tako navijam za Primoža Rogliča na Tour de France. Neverjetno je, da je njegov glavni nasprotnik, ki se poteguje za zmago, prav tako Slovenec, Tadej Pogačar. Lahko ste ponosni. Sprašujem se, za koga navijaš ti, Matej? Glede na število prebivalstva ste globalna športna velesila!

Spoznal sem Andreja Urlepa, ko je bil trener košarkarskega tima na Poljskem. Nekoč so ga vprašali: "Kako vam to uspe?" Odgovoril je, da je Slovenija premajhna, da bi si lahko privoščila izgubljati talente. Priznati moram, da tudi v politiki ne izgubljate talentov, in dokaz za to stoji poleg mene. Ravno tako ne izgubljate časa in priložnosti. Odkar pomnem, in zagotovo od leta tisoč devetsto devetinosemdeset, ste bili korak pred drugimi. Cela Srednja in Vzhodna Evropa vas je želela posnemati. Bili ste vzor mnogim. Hitro ste pokazali, da integracija stare in nove Evrope ni le politična fantazija, ampak cilj, ki ga je mogoče doseči.

Danes lahko iz srca čestitam Sloveniji, kako gre skozi te čase, težke čase za ves svet. Seveda bom najprej čestital Mateju Toninu in njegovi stranki. Danes sem tukaj z vami, ob prelepi dvajseti obletnici Nove Slovenije. Odkrito rečeno: niste le upanje za veliko Slovencev, ampak tudi upanje za celotno Evropsko Krščansko Demokracijo. Dokazali ste, da je sicer ne tako enostavna sinteza med tradicijo, modernim in svobodo, dejansko možna. Da lahko nekdo varuje svoje vrednote, in ne napada drugih, da je ideal odprte in tolerantne družbe v skladu z učinkovitim upravljanjem. Dokazali ste, da se lahko sledi odločni politiki in spoštuje pravila demokracije, pluralizma in vladavine prava.

S tem, ko ste se spoprijeli s pandemijo bolje kot veliko drugih vlad, ste dokazali Evropi, da so demokrati lahko bolj učunkoviti kot avtokrati tudi v času hude krize, in da ni potrebno omejevati svoboščin in pravic, da bi zagotovili varnost svojim državljanom.

Evropska Unija je, po začetnem šoku, potrebovala nekaj časa, da je se je energično odzvala v boju proti virusu in za zaščito držav članic pred ekonomskimi posledicami pandemije. Danes lahko z gotovostjo rečemo, da nikjer drugod po svetu ni bilo namenjenih toliko nepovratnih sredstev in posojil za reševanje gospodarstva, podjetij in delovnih mest. Kar je bilo potrebno, in bo tudi v bodoče, je uskladiti nasprotujoče si interese in različne potrebe, da se je ozdravilo delitve med severom in jugom, med vzhodom in zahodom. Čez eno leto bo Slovenija presedovala Svetu EU, in bo delala na tem, in prepričan sem, da ni nihče bolj primeren za to vlogo, kot ste vi.

Skupaj moramo tudi skrbeti za enotnost Evropske Unije, ko pride do zelo resnih mednarodnih izzivov. Kot večkrat pravi Matej Tonin: "Vsi smo dugačni, toda ni potrebe, da smo razdeljeni". Slovenija, in osebno Matej kot vodja koalicijske stranke, podpredsednik vlade in Minister za obrambo, sta aktivna na področju varnosti v regiji in celotne Evrope. Dogodki v Belorusiji, nenehna agresivna politika Moskve vis-à-vis njenih sosed, predvsem Ukrajine, provokacije Turčije proti Grčiji in Cipru, in vedno slabše ozračje v odnosih med Kitajsko in Zahodom, vse to kaže na to, kako pomembni sta danes evropska solidarnost in zavezanost našim temeljnim vrednotam. Pred Slovenijo, in pred nami vsemi, so časi preizkusov. Vesel sem, da bo krmilo Slovenije in Evrope v rokah takšnih ljudi, kot so moji današnji gostitelji.


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