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Slovenian President at the European Forum Alpbach: We are united by our commitment to the European idea

At the invitation of the President of Austria Alexander Van der Bellen, the President of the Republic of Slovenia is attending the European Forum Alpbach, which has been held since 1945 in the Austrian village of Alpbach, to discuss topical issues in the social and political spheres. Over the last decades, it has developed into a meeting place for influential experts, thinkers and decision-makers.

Alpbach, Austria, 30 Aug 2023


Upon their arrival in Alpbach yesterday, President Pirc Musar and her husband Dr Aleš Musar were welcomed by President Van der Bellen and his wife Doris Schmidauer at an informal meeting. Today, the Slovenian President and the Austrian President continued their talk at a bilateral meeting, where they began by reaffirming the good, friendly relations between the two countries and expressing their satisfaction with the regular political dialogue at the highest levels. President Pirc Musar said she looked forward to further joint cooperation, in particular a joint visit to Moldova in November 2023. The two Presidents also highlighted the excellent economic cooperation between the two countries.

The Slovenian President thanked the Austrian President for the many expressions of neighbourly solidarity and for Austria's assistance following the worst natural disaster in Slovenia's recent history. She also expressed her support for the people of Austrian Carinthia who were affected by the devastating floods. The two presidents share a strong common interest in environmental issues and the green transition; therefore, given the recent extreme weather conditions, they also spoke about the urgency of combating climate change.

They also discussed in detail the situation of the Slovenian minority in Austria. President Pirc Musar thanked President Van der Bellen for his sincere support for the Slovenian national minority in Austria. "In a world marked by instability and the daily erosion of fundamental human principles, your support for the Slovenian minority holds exceptional significance," said the Slovenian President. She stressed the need for a systemic approach in further regulating rights. In this context, she highlighted the importance of the right to quality education in the Slovenian language from kindergarten onwards, as well as the right to use the Slovenian language within the judiciary system in the region inhabited by the Slovenian minority in Austria.

The two presidents agreed that the Schengen Area, and by extension the free movement of people, represents a core pillar of the EU's fundamental values. President Pirc Musar expressed her regret at Austria's decision to extend their border control at the internal Schengen border and called for the establishment of a fully functioning Schengen Area.

The Slovenian President and the host also discussed the situation in the Western Balkans and the EU enlargement process. Both are committed to strengthening and accelerating the enlargement process for the countries in the region, and President Pirc Musar outlined plans to continue and build on cooperation with these countries as part of the Brdo–Brijuni process on the topics of climate change and the challenges faced by young people.

One of the most important topics of the discussion was the war in Ukraine, and the two presidents called for peace negotiations to start as soon as possible. "We must help Ukraine to achieve just and lasting peace based on the restoration of its territorial integrity and ensure that the Russian regime is held accountable for its crimes," stressed the Slovenian President. She condemned Russia's decision to withdraw from the Black Sea Grain Initiative, putting millions of vulnerable people at risk and undermining global food security. "We must continue to urge Russia to resume its involvement in the initiative," the Slovenian President stressed. In addition, she thanked the Austrian President for the donations Austria is making to the ITF, an organisation for enhancing human security, which is also active in Ukraine.

In the afternoon, President Pirc Musar took part in the panel discussion entitled "Austria in Europe" with President Van der Bellen, focusing on the contribution that countries like Austria and Slovenia can make to tackling climate change and enforcing democracy, security and the economy, as well as to creating a common future within the EU.

In her speech, President Pirc Musar underlined her commitment to the European idea. "Despite the challenges we face," she remarked, "I firmly believe that Europe continues to be the best place to live and work." Her words resonated with the notion of a functional social system and economy, always open to refinement and enhancement. "It is essential that we identify and address unacceptable social problems and work to find solutions. In this way we can ensure that our social system truly serves all members of society," said the Slovenian President.

She also spoke about one of the most pressing challenges facing humanity: climate change and its consequences. She spoke about the remarkable support shown by Austria and other neighbouring countries. She stressed the need for a green transition.

The Slovenian President expressed her firm belief that a stronger Europe was needed: "My vision is of a more robust and more united Europe. I am committed to a Europe guided by the values enshrined in Article 2 of the Lisbon Treaty: a Europe based on respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of minorities."