STA, 1 May - President Borut Pahor urged Slovenians to cast their votes in the upcoming European Parliament elections in an interview with the STA ahead the 15th anniversary of Slovenia's joining the EU, observed on Wednesday. The vote will show whether more people support the union or oppose it, Pahor believes.
"All of us, who see the EU as brining a future of peace, security, prosperity and the future for our children have the obligation to do something ... It is our responsibility to encourage people to vote."
"Maybe some will vote differently than we would have wanted. That's democracy. But with it we lend democratic legitimacy to the European idea," he said.
The vote, scheduled in Slovenia for 26 May, will be a historic one, the president believes. This election will decide "whether we will hear of those who want more Europe or of those who want less Europe."
Pahor believes that the European Parliament will be "more colourful" after the vote. But he expects that pro-European forces will make up the majority. He is certain that Eurosceptics will not win the election.
It is crucial that MEPs vote according to their conscience, Pahor believes. He hopes that Slovenia's MEPs will "not only defend the interests of Slovenia but also join forces with those defending the same interests."
When asked what Slovenians could do for the EU 15 years since accession, Pahor said that casting their ballots would be the first step. "It is very important that the political forces which are in favour of further strengthening of Europe get more support."
"In the light of our upcoming presidency in 2021 it will be very important to be among the countries looking for a way out of the standstill." Overall, Slovenians should think more about the future of the EU not just their own country.
Whatever the result, Pahor hopes that turnover will be high for the sake of legitimacy. "Then we need to come up with new ideas. We need to use the next five years for a leap forward. I cannot imagine another five years of standstill."
When asked whether Slovenians have internalised their European identity, Pahor said he believed they did. "We have two identities: Slovenian and European. They are not conflicting, we mostly see them in harmony, nurturing each other."
The decision to join the EU was a logical step, according to Pahor, as the European idea was a part of Slovenians' aspirations for an independent state.
Slovenia showed a united position in both decisions. 95% of voters said yes to an independent country in 1991 and 90% said yes to EU accession in 2013.
"This legitimisation of decisions is very important for our life and our efforts for development in Slovenia as well as the EU."
"We need to realise that we have come to a situation in which the EU needs us, a position in which we are the ones who can give something to the EU. And that's our vote, to democratically legitimise the noble idea of a peaceful and joint Europe."
Several developments have caused the standstill the EU has found itself in. It was evident when the Lisbon Treaty was adopted that it was drafted in a hurry and on the wreckage of a failed attempt of an EU constitution, said Pahor.
"Those of us who are very pro-European want a step forward to be made after this election, to see a new constitutional process and a new constitution. I do not believe this can be done overnight, but I do believe this is the only way."
Many Europeans have come to believe that the EU is incapable of resolving problems. "For example the fear of migrants. The EU most certainly did not show the same wisdom, openness or the intensity in addressing this problem as it did in financial crisis, for example."
Once the new EU parliament and commission are formed, everything will have to be done to reach consensus on migration policy, the president said. "If we show that we can manage the problem, we will gain trust and anxiety will subside."
"One of the reasons why nationalists are calling for more national policies is the considerable ineffectiveness of EU institutions in tackling certain problems. Therefore it is a must to put an end to this absence of common migration policy."
When asked about Brexit, Pahor said it was a warning to all those who speak without thinking about leaving the EU, how rubbish it is. Brexit has shown that the EU is much more important to its big members than believed.
The extension of the Brexit talks was the least bad of all options, Pahor believes. However, this has led to the EU internalising the problem and this will affect the formation of the new parliament and commission, as well as life in general. "But this will still cause less damage than a hard Brexit would have."