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Presidential Visit to Slovenj Gradec

Slovenj Gradec, 06/27/2007  |  press release, statement

Click to enlargeThe President of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Janez Drnovšek, today met with the Mayor of Slovenj Gradec, Matjaž Zanoškar.

After his visit to the municipality, Dr Drnovšek and the mayor visited St Elizabeth's Church and the exhibition at the museum Koroški pokrajinski muzej, held on the occasion of the 800th anniversary of St Elizabeth's birth. In his presentation of this cultural and historical exhibition entitled Crown, Bread and Roses, the curator of the museum, Marko Košan, related the life story of St Elizabeth of Hungary and the message of her charity work, which is still of interest nowadays, with emphasis on her active care for the poor and sick.

Dr Drnovšek accepted honorary patronage of the Congress of Slovenian Humanitarian Organizations, to be held in Slovenj Gradec on 7 July, and added:

Click to enlarge"I find it most appropriate that Slovenj Gradec, beside organizing annual events which foster a special longstanding relationship with peace initiatives and with the United Nations Organization, also added to its peace tradition charity work related to this saint, who represents a special symbol through St Elizabeth's Church ­– one of the first churches in the world dedicated in her honour. All this gives Slovenj Gradec a special image, and I find your activities the best you could have chosen, since they help people foster their best qualities and make them good."

Click to enlargeIn Slovenj Gradec Dr Drnovšek also answered questions from the press: (unedited)

On Sunday you announced that there would soon be changes in the country and that bad conditions must not last long. How should we understand this?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: According to history and the experience of the world, a bad condition is usually followed by improvement. So, I expect this will also happen in Slovenia.

Today, certain commentators have understood it as a reduction of the term of office of Janez Janša's Government. Did you mean that?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: I'm not a commentator, so I leave this to them.

What is your opinion in respect of the Government's term of office: should it be completed or should there be a vote of no confidence in this Government?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: In my opinion it should act in a different way, better and more frankly, and should not exert the sort of pressure on institutions and people that is does now.

Yesterday, the Former President of the Republic, Milan Kučan, said that he had not attended the celebration of Statehood Day in protest because you were not given the possibility to give a formal address at the celebration. There are different interpretations now. Is it true that you were not offered the possibility of giving a formal address at this celebration, or did you yourself give up that possibility?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: I expressed my interest in giving a formal address at this celebration, but it was not accepted. I did not wish to get into conflicts and quarrels on the issue, since I cannot force anybody to anything; so I did not accept playing the role of a supernumerary and listening to the speech of a person with whom I do not agree in the slightest.

But in April or March you declared your intention not to participate in the state celebrations or to give an official address there. Is this true?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: This time the issue was on the agenda of the Coordinating Committee for State Celebrations, and I notified them of my interest when the relevant decision was being taken.

That means that the responsibility lies exclusively with the Coordinating Committee for State Celebrations, i.e. Mr Zorn, who obviously offered Mr Janša the chance to give the address.

Dr Janez Drnovšek: I will not discuss this. Obviously someone else decided to give the address and that is how it is.

Mr President, what is your opinion of the fact that some people understood your absence as an act of boycotting the Slovenian citizens who had elected you, and that if not for the Prime Minister then for the sake of them you ought to have attended the celebration?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: This is not the case at all. I think that citizens understand this situation, at least the majority of them. Concerning the celebration itself, I think that celebrations are not that important in life anyway. Other things are important. What matters are the actions of the Government and the politicians for the benefit of citizens. Really, to try to save oneself with celebrations because not enough has been done in other areas, and so now let us have some more celebrations, that simply does not work. Other regimes tried that in the past. We all know which regimes had the most celebrations – the totalitarian ones.

The Prime Minister spoke about Slovenia's catching the wind in its sails, the right direction and new opportunities... At this moment, you perceive the country entirely differently. How is it possible that the two most prominent national representatives are experiencing Slovenia diametrically differently?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: Obviously, it is possible. Obviously someone continues to walk along his path in his own manner, which I regard as absolutely wrong.

Mr President, what is your comment on yesterday's events in connection with SOVA? Your advisor, Mr Podbregar, also had problems yesterday demanding the attendance of his lawyer. Have you talked to him about that?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: No, I have not.

What is your opinion of these recent developments? Certain new elements are emerging again.

Dr Janez Drnovšek: I am not sure if can keep track of them. I could hardly comment on them.

In light of the changes which in your opinion Slovenia requires, I would like to know whether in autumn you intend to actively engage yourself in any way in politics in terms of strengthening the left?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: First, I must think where the left is. Here?

Will you engage yourself in any other way?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: I think things will develop by themselves, as they should.

Only one more question, Mr Drnovšek. On Saturday, the congress of your former party is taking place. Have you perhaps already examined or listened to the viewpoints of the most probable new president, in fact of the first woman to lead a parliamentary party in Slovenia? What is your position? Do you not think that the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia (LDS) has consolidated itself again and found the right course?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: This remains to be seen. After a long crisis I wish them consolidation. This is probably an opportunity for that. And some new faces in Slovenian politics are welcome in any case.

Mr President, should the so-called centre left appear in the presidential elections in which you have chosen not to participate with a single candidate? Do you think that any kind of unification is required there?

Dr Janez Drnovšek: No. I think that in presidential elections people tend to choose personalities or individuals, and not parties.
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