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Prime Minister Janez Janša at the 16th Bled Strategic Forum international conference

Prime Minister Janez Janša is attending the 16th Bled Strategic Forum, which is being held under the theme "The Future of Europe".

opportunities of our common future. Recent crises, in particular the COVID-19 pandemic, and changes in the international environment have shown that the EU needs to adapt and change. It needs to strengthen its resilience to be able to tackle future crises more effectively. Recovery after COVID-19 is a unique opportunity to put the EU on the much-needed path of an inclusive green and digital transformation. On the global stage, the EU needs to increase its political power and build strong partnerships with allies.

Upon his arrival at the Bled Festival Hall, Prime Minister Janez Janša said that Europe was actually at a crossroads, and he was pleased that a very open debate would take place today on the future of Europe and the European Union, the pillar of the European continent. "In my opinion, the building of Europe needs to continue to be built on stone, on a solid foundation built by the fathers of the European Union. Every attempt to further build the building of Europe on sand has so far failed, and it will do so also in the future," said the Prime Minister. He added that the basic principles should be followed. “Unity in trials and strategic decisions, freedom in everything else. Mutual understanding, assistance and solidarity in everything, just like in a family. These are the foundations on which we should also build in the future, so that Europe can stand and withstand," noted the Prime Minister.

Prime Minister Janez Janša: We see a strong Europe composed of strong member states

In his opening address, Prime Minister Janez Janša stressed that clearly, there are different visions about the future of the European Union, but we cannot afford any exclusion. "That is why we are so keen on having a sincere and open discussion about our common future. We want to preserve our European family," he said. He also believes that the debate needs to be guided by procedural fairness, which allows everyone to participate, be listened to, and be heard. "Only so can we achieve a mutual understanding. The dynamics of relations within the EU, like family relations, needs to reflect the search for consensus and mutual respect much more than relations between international actors," said the Prime Minister, adding that the debate on the future of Europe is about learning and understanding.

"Thus, the debate on the future of Europe is foremost a discussion about who we are and how we understand the logos, pathos and ethos of European nations. This will also enable us to broaden the strategic horizon of the EU’s foreign policy," said the Prime Minister, adding that the main challenge of European integration is to ensure unity while preserving diversity. "Europe has not yet found all the answers to this question. In our quest, however, we do not have to reinvent the wheel but must return to the basics: the search for consensus, mutual respect, subsidiarity and solidarity," stressed the Slovenian Prime Minister.

"I started by recalling the events that occurred thirty years ago. Let us now conclude with a view to the next three decades. We imagine and see a Europe that is based on the European civilization. A strong Europe composed of strong member states. A strong Europe, able to project and execute soft and hard power. A European Union enlarged with new members from the Western Balkans and the Eastern Neighbourhood. A Europe with efficient and lean European Union institutions. We see a Europe that is at peace with itself and living in a peaceful and prosperous environment. We see Europe as part of the strong North Atlantic Alliance, as a world leader in terms of freedom and quality of life, as a home to justice and prosperity. We see Europe as a place of dynamic and free expression of opinions, mutual cooperation, high standards in terms of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and in terms of the rule of law, which is based on equal standards for all and on the cooperation of democratic institutions elected by the people," emphasised the Prime Minister. According to him, this is what the debate on the future of Europe is about, "How to create such a Europe. A Europe whole and free and at peace with itself."

After an interesting debate at the Bled Strategic Forum in the morning, Prime Minister Janša hosted a working lunch for the heads of state and government who took part in the discussion on the future of Europe and those who will participate in the discussion on the issues related to the EU’s enlargement to the Western Balkans.

Prime Minister: The enlargement of the European Union is a strategic issue

After the working lunch, Prime Minister Janez Janša held a series of bilateral talks and then took part in the second panel of the Bled Strategic Panel where the participants talked about the EU’s enlargement to the Western Balkans.

In a statement to the press on his arrival to the afternoon debate, the Prime Minister said that today Bled was hosting representatives of countries who have been member states of the European Union for a long time as well as of those who joined the EU in 2004. "As already mentioned in the morning discussion, one of the strategic topics of the EU is enlargement, and I think that it is natural that those of us who know what enlargement means, what needs to be done to achieve it and what the priorities are, should show more solidarity in helping those who are still waiting in the waiting room," said Prime Minister Janša.

He also emphasised, "The Bled Strategic Forum has limited capacities, and the interest in participation largely exceeded our capacities, which meant that we could not invite everyone who wished to join us." "However, today in Bled we wanted to have an open discussion, where no harmonised conclusions need to be adopted at the end and everyone can say what they actually think. This is also the aim of the implementation of the priorities related to the discussion on the future of Europe ahead of Slovenia in this semester," said the Prime Minister. He concluded by saying, "Our aim is to create a wider space for debate and allow everyone who has a view on how Europe should look like in the future to freely express their opinion."