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Reception of His Serene Highness Prince Albert II of Monaco

Ljubljana, 05/31/2006  |  press release, statement

President Drnovšek today received Prince Albert II of Monaco at the presidential palace.

Following their conversation, the President spoke to the media:

“Ladies and gentlemen. Today, as you know, Prince Albert of Monaco is our guest. I am happy that this visit has come about. We have already met several times at various international events, but this is the first time His Serene Highness has made an official visit to Slovenia. Monaco and Slovenia enjoy very friendly relations and share very similar views on international events, and we would also like to deepen bilateral cooperation. It therefore seems to me significant that a large delegation representing Monaco’s business community has accompanied His Serene Highness. Together with representatives of Slovenia’s business community, they will study opportunities for economic cooperation. His Serene Highness and I have also established good cooperation in the World for Darfur project. In January we had a meeting in Paris on this subject, and together initiated an appeal to the international public to take more decisive action to resolve the crisis in Darfur and called for humanitarian activities in order to prevent an even greater humanitarian tragedy. Monaco is very active in humanitarian activities and is also closely involved in activities in Madagascar and the work of Fr Opeka, a missionary of Slovene descent whom we know very well and whom Monaco has been supporting for many years. Monaco is also collaborating on nature conservation projects in Slovenia. These include a number of projects that aim to preserve various animal and plant species in coastal and mountain areas. In these projects, too, we see many more opportunities for collaboration in the future. We are therefore happy about today’s visit and happy that together we can sometimes demonstrate that even small countries can change things for the better and move things in a positive direction. Thank you very much.”

The statement after dr. Drnovšek was followed by Prince Albert II of Monaco:

"Mister President, I thank you for your kind words and, as I said during our talks, I would like to reiterate my pleasure to visit Slovenia, your country upon your invitation, with the delegation of the Principality, composed of the representatives of different institutions of the Monegasque state, but also of representatives of the Monegasque economy, as you said a few instants ago. A record number of the Principality’s businessmen, members of the Economic development chamber of Monaco, joined us, to meet with their counterparts in Slovenia. I believe that this is a tangible sign of the interest shown by the Principality’s businessman for your country. I am very, very pleased about that. I am also very pleased about the reception that you have prepared for me and my delegation. As you know, Mister President, I have wished to see the Principality open up to, so to speak, the neighbours, countries that are like us situated along the Mediterranean, and also to the countries of Central Europe that are of such importance and with which we desire to maintain friendly relations. Yours is a country of exceptional nature and cultural heritage that we have discovered through our cooperation that we are maintaining for five years now. I am looking forward to be able to discover, in the following two days, these exceptional and wonderful places that your Government, Mister President, is trying to preserve with our help, if I may say so, be it the protected coastal regions, or the Alpine mountainous region, as you have told us, Mister President. Your country is very attractive for tourists and you are determined to successfully meet the challenge of balancing the growth of tourist industry and the preservation of biotic diversity both in the sea and in the Alpine region. The projects of cooperation between our two countries that you, Mister President, and I are committed to further develop, are dedicated to establishing such a useful, and harmonious balance. Likewise, I much admire your economic results that will make it possible for Slovenia to join the Euro zone on January 1 of the next year. The very diversity of economic sectors represented by the business people accompanying the delegation of the Principality testifies of their interest to establish fruitful business relations with representatives of your economy. The perspectives of economic cooperation was one of the themes we have addressed. You also mentioned, Mister President, that we have addressed the very painful and tragic situation of the refugees in Darfur for whom you have, Mister President, engaged with a lot of courage and determination, when you issued your call to the international community. It am pleased that I was able to support your efforts, as I whished, as you know, to express my belief that in the face of such a tragedy, we cannot remain passive observers, but need to react. As before, I would like to once more offer you my support in all your activities directed towards a resolution of this tragic conflict. Finally, we also spoke about the prospective deepening of diplomatic relations between Slovenia and the Principality of Monaco. The latter will now be represented in Slovenia by an Honorary Consul that was inaugurated in Ljubljana. I intend that my visit, and the visit of the delegation that accompanies me, is an expression of our desire to cooperate, and I hope that it is a sign of a friendship of long duration between our countries. Thank you!"

President Drnovšek also answered questions from members of the media:

With regard to the Darfur crisis, I would like to know whether you discussed or perhaps agreed on any specific actions in the joint collaboration of NATO and Slovenia as regards the resolving of the Darfur crisis? Thank you.

President Drnovšek: “As regards Darfur, Prince Albert and I met in January when I launched my initiative before visiting the UN Secretary-General in New York. On that occasion I also spoke in his name and in the name of a number of other figures. I believe that it is partly thanks to this initiative and the appeal I made at that time that the international community woke up and the Security Council intensified its activities, that negotiations in Abuja sped up and became more decisive, and that an agreement was then reached in Abuja on 5 May. Although the agreement has still not been adopted by all participants, it is nevertheless a step forward compared to the previous situation, which had lasted three years without a solution of any kind. And thus we hope that the situation will now be resolved. Even today we are still talking to the JEM rebel group, which has not yet accepted the agreement, and let us hope that the situation in Darfur will calm down. Otherwise, the humanitarian catastrophe will increase enormously. The rainy season is approaching and without rapid action to guarantee the security of the population and humanitarian workers, the number of victims could increase dramatically. For this reason our attention is at this moment directed towards a final resolution of the situation in Darfur. In the next phase the international community will probably have to further increase its humanitarian efforts in order to guarantee aid for the more than 3 million displaced persons in Darfur. I am happy to be able to report that Slovenia’s humanitarian campaign has to date raised 190 million tolars. In other words almost as much as was planned, which means that we have achieved the objective we set ourselves.”

What is your opinion on the spread of gambling in Slovenia?

President Drnovšek: “I don’t know what I can tell you about gambling or whether I can tell you any more or anything new about the situation. Since I cannot tell you anything new or offer any special information, I would prefer not to reply. Thank you.”