|The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Danilo Türk, paid a working visit to Helsinki, where he is attending the informal meeting of the Arraiolos Group, an informal group of European Member States’ Presidents, which in addition to the President of Slovenia includes the Presidents of Austria, Finland, Italy, Latvia, Hungary, Germany, Poland and Portugal.|
|Last night, the President, Dr Danilo Türk, first met the former President of the Republic of Finland and the Nobel Laureate, Martti Ahtisaari. Their conversation concentrated on questions of international peace and security, particularly the crisis areas where Martti Ahtisaari is actively involved. They discussed various issues relating to the Middle East peace process, the situation in Southeast Asia, and items on the agenda of the U.N. Security Council. They also addressed the role of the United Nations in today’s situation and the initiatives of several non-governmental organisations in the Organisation.|
|At the discretion of the Hungarian side, the President of the Republic of Slovenia held a bilateral meeting this afternoon with the President of the Republic of Hungary, Dr Pál Schmitt. They particularly discussed their forthcoming mutual visit to the Porabje region. This visit is at present particularly important, because Hungary has adopted a new constitution which allows new interpretations of minority rights. The new Hungarian constitution enables the strengthening of the educational system’s financing and requires an appropriate interpretation of minority representation in the Hungarian Parliament, which will become topical during the election period in 2014. Both Presidents agreed that these issues have to be addressed immediately, and their mutual visit to the Porabje region will primarily concentrate on these questions. They also agreed to address the issue of the Verica – Gornji Senik road connection, and the idea of their mutual visit is also related to the desire to include the area at the three borders between Slovenia, Hungary and Austria more efficiently in the European development process.|
|In the afternoon, President Türk was received - with other participants - by the hostess of the meeting, the President of the Republic of Finland, Tarja Halonen. After the reception, the Presidents attended the 1st plenary session on the theme of 'Europe's Strengths and Interests in the Global Context’.|
|In his address at the plenary session, President Türk stressed that the European Union will have to confront many difficult challenges in the next decades, such as the aging of its population, economic reform, fiscal consolidation and the need for higher compliance with EU policies. Despite some pessimistic forecasts on the ‘decline of Europe’, the President pointed out that the European Union is still the largest single economic system in the world, and also the largest exporter, and the community is based on the values of human rights and a shared European identity.|
Among the important tools with which the EU could improve its ability to form policies and strengthen its presence in the global environment, the President indicated a common foreign and security policy, which has yet to be perfected, while priorities have to be elaborated. In addition to the formation of policies on the level of the entire community or within the framework of the European Commission, intergovernmental cooperation within the EU would have to be vigorously strengthened, according to the President, because national institutions have the most legitimacy for adopting serious decisions. As the third important tool, the President stressed the establishment of an efficient system for the prevention of financial crises in the future. At the conclusion of his speech, the President expressed his expectations that the European Parliament would become actively involved in the formation of a vision of the European Union’s development.
|Dr Danilo Türk later had a bilateral meeting with the President of the Federal Republic of Germany, Christian Wulff. The Presidents particularly discussed the official visit of the President of the Federal Republic of Germany to Slovenia which is to take place this May. They agreed that relations between the countries are excellent and well developed on all levels. The official visit of President Wulff is an opportunity to further strengthen and develop bilateral cooperation between Slovenia and Germany.|
|Later, Dr Türk also attended the 2nd plenary session, on the theme of ‘Tolerance and Combating Discrimination’. In his speech, he stressed that we need a better political language when discussing ethnic diversity, migration and similar issues, the rejection of extremism and of extremist slogans being employed in the political mainstream. According to the President, ways for immigrants to integrate themselves linguistically and master the language of the community they live in have to be found, because this is most necessary for their social mobility.|
In the evening, President Türk and his spouse, Barbara Miklič Türk attended a dinner hosted by the President of the Republic of Finland, Tarja Halonen and her spouse, Dr Pentti Arajärvi, in honour of all the Presidents, the participants of the informal meeting of the Arraiolos Group and their spouses. On this occasion, the President of Finland introduced the newly-elected President of the Republic of Finland, Sauli Niinistö, to participants at the meeting.