President of the Republic of Slovenia on first official visit to Hungary
Budapest, Hungary, 27.2.2008 | press release
The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Danilo Türk, today started his first official visit abroad, in Hungary, with a meeting with the President of the Republic of Hungary, László Sólyom. Dr Türk explained that the choice of the neighbouring country of Hungary for his first official visit abroad was a natural one in view of the fact that relations with neighbours are an important priority for the Republic of Slovenia.
The two Presidents agreed that relations between the two countries were traditionally excellent and that there were currently no outstanding political issues between them that needed to be resolved. They nonetheless highlighted the need for the border regions to be developed further, infrastructure to be developed and new jobs created. "We are talking about improving relations, exploiting the opportunities available to us," emphasised the Slovenian President. According to Dr Türk, Slovenia is very satisfied with the increase in trade between Hungary and Slovenia, which last year exceeded EUR 1 billion.
One of the main subjects discussed by the President of the Republic of Slovenia and the President of the Republic of Hungary was the issue of the status of minorities. Both Presidents agreed that exercising the rights guaranteed to ethnic communities on either side of the border under the national constitution and international treaties must be enabled not only de iure but also in practice. Dr Türk underlined that Slovenia had several decades of experience in developing new models to protect the national minority community and creating possibilities for the development of its language. "We have developed a model of bilingualism structured in such a way as to ensure that members of both the minority and the majority community have the opportunity to be taught both languages at school. This model is important since it also gives the members of the majority population a bilingual education," explained Dr Türk. He pointed out that this functional bilingualism was now enabling new development. He noted that these solutions, excellent as they are, still require continued efforts and political support.
The President of the Republic of Hungary, László Sólyom, among other things drew attention to the issue of the representation of the minority community in parliament. The Hungarian minority in Slovenia does, of course, have its own representative in the National Assembly. The Hungarian President also acquainted President Türk with the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for National and Ethnic Minority Rights in Hungary. In this context, President Türk mentioned the unresolved dilemma of whether to divide the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman in Slovenia into individual areas. He stressed that it was also important to have a single strong institution.
Both Presidents agreed that the financial support of institutions and activities was an important aspect of the national minority issue. "No commitment in this area can be excessive", said the Slovenian President and proceeded to say that this was a general principle applicable to all minority situations. The Hungarian President pointed out that both Slovenia and Hungary recognised the collective rights of minorities and expressed his hope that the EU Member States would increasingly advocate the view that without ensuring collective rights, it was impossible to ensure minority rights.
One of the topics of today's talks between the two Presidents was also environmental issues.
Next, President Türk pointed out the case of Hungary which through its early ratification of the Lisbon Treaty, could serve as an example to the remaining Member States. According to the Slovenian President, the new Member States are only just beginning to develop a sense of belonging to the European Union.
Both Presidents supported the endeavours of Croatia to join the European Union as soon as possible. President Türk emphasised Slovenia's wish that this process would be as rapid as possible, but that joining the EU was associated with the fulfilment of the membership criteria. As regards the issue of the Croatian Ecological and Fisheries Protection Zone, Dr Türk explained that solutions should be sought at the European Commission level.
Later on, the Slovenian President met the Prime Minister of the Republic of Hungary, Mr Ferenc Gyurcsány. Touching on some projects in the area of the economy, they shared the opinion that relations between the two countries were excellent. Among other things, the Hungarian Prime Minister mentioned the idea of a joint Slovene-Hungarian chamber of commerce, which could provide a new framework for increasing economic cooperation. President Türk supported this idea.
In the late afternoon, the Slovenian President gave a lecture at the Institute for International Relations of the Corvinus University of Budapest. The topic of his lecture was International Peace and Security at the Beginning of the 21st Century.