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Speech by the Minister of Defence of the Republic of Slovenia : European Security and Defence Policy


Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour and a pleasure to welcome you to this event which marks our joint efforts for progress in the field of European security and defence policy. This event is important, as I see it, mainly in the context of thinking about the future of the ESDP. We are entering a period in which our common future is of prime importance. Europe is increasingly assuming the role of a global player involved in shaping world events. This brings new challenges in the field of ESDP and, undoubtedly, the Lisbon Strategy will have a critical role in the search for answers. In your joint efforts and work to date, you have come up against many questions but you have also found many solutions. I am convinced that your considerations and the conclusions reached at today’s meeting will make a significant contribution to the efforts we need to invest in developing future frameworks for the European Community and in developing and further shaping cooperation.

At the moment, I am sure, we are all paying attention to events in the Western Balkans, in particular in Kosovo and Serbia. It is not surprising, then, that the security situation, operations and missions in the Western Balkans were discussed at the informal meeting of EU Defence Ministers.

Allow me to sum up some of the common positions of the Defence Ministers on Kosovo and on Bosnia and Herzegovina, which are still highly relevant today.

The Ministers emphasised the importance of the successful preparations that had enabled the launch of the EULEX Kosovo mission, aimed at contributing to the establishment and functioning of the rule of law. In view of security conditions, in addition to the task of that mission, constructive cooperation with NATO/KFOR, the UN, the OSCE and also the local authorities will be of vital importance.

The Ministers were united in the opinion that, after the declaration of Kosovo’s independence and the new situation which had emerged, efforts for the stabilisation of the entire region should redouble. They took the view that the riots in Serbia did not show the real face of that country. Serbia must be given ‘expressions of support’ and assurances of a European perspective, which will lead to the further democratisation of the country, enabling the fastest possible economic and financial development.

With regard to Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Ministers agreed that the European Union must retain an adequate military presence in Bosnia and Herzegovina as long as necessary. Starting from a realistic assessment of the security situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the wider region, with particular reference to Kosovo, progress needs to be evaluated as a basis for deciding whether to continue or terminate the mission. Political, defence and economic reforms must proceed successfully. This is the only way the country will have real prospects of acceding to the Euro-Atlantic structures.

Our objective is to promote the rule of law, democracy, security and stability and European standards throughout the Western Balkan region. The European Union and Slovenia fully support a future in Europe for all the Western Balkans.

Stability in the candidate countries and the Western Balkans countries can be achieved only by keeping in view the integration of the region’s countries into the Euro-Atlantic organisations. At the same time we support strict adherence to the principle that countries wishing to join the European Union must fulfil the requisite criteria for membership. It will be easier for the European Union to incorporate Member States that are properly prepared.

European Security and Defence Policy is one of the fastest growing ‘institutions’ of the European Union and it is safe to say that relevant civilian and military capabilities also play an important role in the planning and execution of operations. This is an area to which ESDP pays close attention. I would also, therefore, like to refer to several other areas set out in the joint 18-month programme of the Trio Presidency of Germany, Portugal and Slovenia.

  • Revision of the EU Military Rapid Response Concept, which is critical for the conduct of crisis response operations. The concept is designed to enable the EU to respond immediately in the event of a crisis. However, it requires that Member States do not simply express political will in support of the concept but also make tangible contributions.

  • Continued work on the Progress Catalogue and beyond, focusing on shortfalls. Military capability shortfalls have been identified, particularly in the mobilisation of forces, strategic transport, protection of forces and further development of capabilities.

  • Strengthening EU-NATO and EU-UN cooperation. Cooperation with these organisations needs to be even more pragmatic and complementary. At a practical operational level, we must do everything possible to enable the exchange of information between partners.

  • Last, but not least is the area of human rights. It was already decided during the German Presidency that respect for human rights would be the ‘main message’ of all European Security and Defence Policy (ESDP) operations. In this area, Slovenia has established as its priority the problem of children and women affected by armed conflicts. To this end, EU Council working groups are preparing a review of existing documents relating to the respect of human rights and the rights of women and children.


While the present is conditioned directly by events, by time and the available capabilities, we all clearly recognise that future coexistence and cooperation call for a vision on the lines of that articulated 50 years ago. Looking into the future is the main focus of our discussions in the next few days.

Let me conclude with the motto of the Slovenian Presidency ‘Synergy for Europe’, with its connotations of unity and cooperation: working together in order to achieve more than one can alone is a principle which is appropriate for all levels of cooperation within European Security and Defence Policy.

I wish you every success in your work and trust that Slovenia’s natural beauties will encourage your creativity.

Thank you for your attention.


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Date: 09.04.2008