8th SDS Congress
AGENDA1. Election of the Congress working bodies
2. Adoption of the rules of the procedure
3. Address by the President of the SDS 4. Report of the Executive Committee of the SDS
5. Report of the Supervisory Committee of the SDS
6. Discussion groups on:
8. Adoption of the Statute of the SDS
9. Elections of the President, the Executive Committee and the Supervisory Committee of the SDS
10. Adoption of the Resolutions of the 8th Congress of the SDS
11. Any Other Business
The Slovenian Democratic Party
SLOVENIA ON A NEW PATHThe year 2004 represents one of the most significant turning points in the development of the young Slovenian state. This is the year Slovenia joined Euro-Atlantic integrations, namely NATO and the European Union. Slovenia thereby became a constituent part of an alliance of states sharing not only the same geopolitical position but also common values and processes involving training, development, culture and the economy. As a democratic and self-confident state responsible for its own development, Slovenia has taken a new path which offers a proper spiritual, cultural and material perspective.
The original idea behind the European integration processes was to maintain peace in lands totally exhausted by the wars of the last century. Today, the European Union has easily satisfied that objective and the united Europe is now able to respond to contemporary globalisation challenges much more efficiently. These challenges require that European countries consolidate the roles they play in the world and, in addition, demand close co-operation with third countries in recognising the EU's role as a superpower of global significance.
In making decisions on the European Union's future development, account must be taken of its limited resources, environmental concerns and responsibility towards fellow human beings. Clearly the most important factor in constructing a globally competitive Union is its human resources. That is why in a state of ever tougher competition Europe decided to unite and associate on the basis of knowledge - given its relatively expensive labour force and usually expensive social states this is the only way to remain in the position of one of the leading global economies. Encouraging competitiveness, the more useful output of knowledge, sustainable development and inter-generational responsibility are the objectives embedded in both the original and amended texts of the Lisbon Strategy. In order to implement this ambitious strategy, the related tasks and responsibilities are assumed by both individual Member States and by the EU as a whole.
European integrations which form part of globalisation processes also offer Slovenia an opportunity to take harmonised action in line with these processes as well as to turn them to the benefit of its own development. It is only development that complies with the European policy and its objectives that facilitates the optimum results of Slovenia's EU membership and the promotion of well-being in Slovenia.
We, the Slovenian Democratic Party, accept the responsibility entrusted to us by our voters at the 2004 elections to both the European Parliament and to the National Assembly. At the same time, the broad support shown by our citizens at the referendum on joining the EU commits us to encourage Slovenian development that is comparable with European development trends. The main starting point for the activity of Slovenian Democrats is the people's wishes and demands, according to which Slovenia should enter the modern European and global reality in an open and relaxed manner. New opportunities for development and for a higher quality of life for our citizens will only be achieved by integrating closely in the international spheres of education, research, the economy, culture and energy.
The activities of Slovenian Democrats will be directed to those spheres and processes which, in the long run, will foster Slovenia's competitiveness as well as its citizens' well-being and social security. Our basic guidelines are in harmony with the guidelines taken up by the EU within the framework of the 2000 Lisbon Strategy whose contents were revised in 2005.
Our wealth lies in our peopleYoung people's desires to acquire formal qualifications makes Slovenia one of the top European countries in terms of the share of school-going youth aged between 20 and 24 years. This fact obliges us to enable the youth of Slovenia to acquire qualifications which in terms of quality are comparable to those available to people of the same age in other countries, particularly in the most successful EU Member States.
We will therefore endeavour to ensure that the Slovenian training system is opened up and upgraded in accordance with best practices developed by other European countries. We will foster the close integration of Slovenian university programmes within the international arena and harmonisation of national programmes with European ones. We will bring the education system into line with modern international trends which offer young people sufficient knowledge and an appropriate basis for creating a knowledge-based society. As regards school-going youth, we will promote mobility and the possibilities for obtaining experience in various educational environments.
We believe that with his knowledge and creativity man is the most important key to innovations and improved products and production processes, whose influence on the performance and efficiency of every organisation is decisive.
Every organisation should establish and foster internal relations among its employees and an environment in which the employees are motivated to perform high-quality work and improve work processes.
This is a significant step along the path to creating a competitive edge.
We will encourage all institutions engaged in the fields of research and university training to develop lifelong learning, which is a key to maintaining and improving competitiveness in the labour force of all education levels.
We will support the close integration of education institutions with both scientific institutions and the economy in Slovenia, the EU, NATO, and in an even broader context.
We are mindful of the fact that the knowledge and experience held by those engaged in the fields of training, science and other expert fields are also needed for devising expert bases on which crucial political decisions are to be taken.
Our efforts at fostering research and science have long-term objectives whose task is to pave the way for future technologies. Slovenia will devise a research policy that will clearly define those priority spheres important for the spiritual, cultural and economic growth of our citizens.
Our aim is to foster international integration, open up and unify research activities at the European level and to promote Slovenia's competitiveness, which will also improve our national competitive advantage in the international environment. The guidelines for future EU policy encouraging research activities will be transposed into the domestic environment in due time. We will promote the better co-ordination of activities among EU Member States. By pursuing a research policy which is in line with the EU guidelines, we will encourage both the integration of Slovenian research groups into the European research area as well as their equal and efficient participation in European research programmes. We are committed to making Slovenia attractive to researchers from other EU Member States and from third countries. We will eliminate administrative hurdles and simplify application procedures for licences and the mutual recognition of professional qualifications in the international research arena.
Particular attention to the even development of the Slovenian research area will also be paid within the context of making use of the assistance provided by the European structural funds. The European objective of research investments reaching 3% of national income (GDP) is an objective shared by the Slovenian Democratic Party. In this context, public funding should account for one-third of investments, whilst private sector funding should cover the remaining two-thirds.
In order to meet the objective which is set ambitiously both in terms of the level of investments and the appropriate ratio of various funding sources, we will promote the co-operation of Slovenian research groups with the economic and services sectors which will foster the transfer of knowledge to everyday life. We will be committed to simplifying the procedures for submitting research project applications and to establishing a public administration that will provide expert and proper information making Slovenian research groups even more competitive in international tenders.
Particular attention will be given to the co-operation of research & development (R&D) groups with small and medium-sized enterprises which require highly qualified human resources motivated to push through new ideas, provide timely, clear and efficient information, create new development opportunities and simplify administrative procedures.
We are conscious of the fact that adequate protection of intellectual property is a powerful initiator of innovations within a society. We therefore seek to promote the lower costs of granting patents and the simplification of procedures when applying for patents.
We will create circumstances in the economic environment that favour young holders of MA and PhD degrees seeking employment. This sphere also enjoys our endeavours to test new high technology ideas in the market, especially within small and medium-sized enterprises.
A high employment rate is crucial for achieving improved social cohesion. Our objectives involve an active and flexible labour market policy, which is closely connected with a modern and efficient social policy as well as investments in qualified human resources. Our aim is thus to improve competitiveness by creating the synergy of highly qualified and mobile human potential, i.e. people capable of facing the new challenges. This is our biggest asset. Another important objective is all-round support of equal opportunities as regards the employment of women, backed by the provision of care and protection for children and the elderly." Particular emphasis is placed on creating the opportunity for senior workers to work longer, particularly if account is taken of the guidelines applying to the education system and lifelong learning, which should be accessible to all. We do not, however, want to disregard concerns for health and the improvement of working conditions. The Slovenian Democratic Party seeks to promote the swift elimination of obstacles to the free movement of workers in individual Member States which were created in transition periods.
Slovenia's competitivenessThe EU Single Market, involving the free movement of capital, goods, services and workers, is crucial for enforcing the principles of the Lisbon Strategy. We will ensure that Slovenia contributes significantly to the functioning of the Single Market and we will foster Slovenia's integration with the European Single Market. Our activities will be particularly aimed at eliminating administrative hurdles of a national character and at the prompt transposition of European legislation into the Slovenian environment. Both will play a decisive role in the economy's faster growth and, consequently, in improving job opportunities. In the process of liberalising the services market, we will attempt to create conditions favourable to fair competition. Those fields creating the most significant value added will be regarded as a priority. In order to better integrate the market at the EU level, liberalise the services market and promote the growth of trade, we will develop appropriate infrastructure particularly as regards electronic communications, energy and transport. Special attention will be paid to implementing European cross-border projects in the fields of energy, information technology and transport.
Energy is vital to the functioning of every modern society. The Slovenian Democratic Party recognises the fact that the sufficient and reliable delivery of energy combined with stable business conditions is crucial for the full development of industry, entrepreneurship, services, and the quality of life in general. We will therefore emphasise the energy field by regarding liberalisation of the energy market as one of our key short-term challenges. We will foster various sources of energy and will not exclude any possible energy sources in advance. In devising and implementing the energy policy, account will be taken of each and every citizen's right to live in a clean environment and of Slovenia's commitment to meeting the Kyoto Protocol objectives.
The development of information technology over the last two decades facilitates a completely new, thorough and efficient way of learning, research, business, trade, providing services and many other activities. A modern information society can only be successful if the latest trends in the information technology field are followed. That is why the Slovenian Democratic Party will promote the use of state-of-the-art technology standards and electronic media at work, including the introduction of teaching electronic literacy skills and electronic services within the public administration and the education system. In this context, access to broadband networks will have to be improved and the related costs reduced; moreover, we will promote the development of new technology standards.
Creating conditions favourable to the development of entrepreneurship is considered one of our prime objectives. Small and medium-sized enterprises, which are able to respond promptly to the actual situation, require a stable environment. A priority to be achieved in order to promote the process of setting up new small and medium-sized enterprises in Slovenia is therefore to establish a fair, efficient and stable legal system, as well as strict compliance with the principles of the rule of law.
We are committed to improving the country's legislation which should ease the burden of rules and regulations, reduce the time and cut the costs relating to the incorporating of new enterprises. This is of particular importance for small and medium-sized enterprises whose ability to take on major financial burdens is incomparable to that of large companies. Following the European Union's recommendations we are committed to introducing what is termed a "one-stop shop" and applying up-to-date and efficient commercial law.
In the process of enacting new legislation we will examine its impact on Slovenia's competitiveness and, in particular, on small and medium-sized enterprises.
We will foster access to favourable sources for financing entrepreneurship.
We are conscious of the fact that a high-level and ongoing environmental concern offers a competitive edge, particularly in the case of certain economic activities, and is a necessary cause to ensure the well-being of our citizens.
The Slovenian Democratic Party is committed to the sustainable use of natural resources. We aim to ensure that Slovenia maintains a constant and long-term concern for the environment; in co-operation with the EU, Slovenia can use its advantages and experience in those markets where the environmental impact is particularly great. When looking for answers to environmental challenges we will choose political instruments that balance economic, social and environmental factors.
Our committment to sustainable development justifies our support for inter-generational responsibility. In recognising the strategic importance of clean natural resources, we emphasise the objective of ensuring sufficient quantities of healthy drinking water. We promote the development and application of ecologically relevant innovations with a special emphasis on the area of renewable energy sources.
Achieving the objectivesIn order to achieve the said objectives, measures to tackle and cover several spheres will have to be taken in addition to the abovementioned specific measures aimed at individual spheres. The most important horizontal measures to be taken include the following:
RESOLUTION ON PROMOTING SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISESThis year's research conducted by the GEM (Global Entrepreneurship Monitor) showed that Slovenia's entrepreneurship culture is extremely poor. We will therefore take specific measures to promote entrepreneurship at all education levels as well as in the public. One must not, of course, disregard the changes needed to existing training programmes, which will have to become more flexible and attractive and take the demands or needs of the economy into account.
Various figures show that Slovenia lacks technically qualified human resources, a fact also resulting from the very low enrolment rates seen in the academic fields of the natural sciences and engineering. Specific measures will thus aim to promote the said academic fields at lower levels of the education system.
Numerous bureaucratic hurdles often impede the normal development of enterprises. We will therefore be particularly committed to the abolition of various bureaucratic hurdles and to encouraging the establishment of an efficient system of national VEM and e-VEM (one-stop shop) portals. We will also be committed to improving the functioning of those institutions promoting the operations of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
We will, in particular, aim to pursue the efficient integration of research & development (R&D) institutions within the economy as regards common R&D and market projects, as well as the improved involvement of R&D human resources in the economy. In this context, one must mention the advantages Slovenia might gain provided that its future development is in compliance with the Lisbon Strategy.
Setting up business incubators and science parks will have to result in an ever-growing number of newly established companies fostering high value added as regards both products and services. Apart from that, we also promote the development of new science parks whilst the existing science parks will have to consolidate their missions, thereby becoming an attractive environment for foreign companies. We promote the development of business zones in which appropriate infrastructure can foster the development of the business sector, especially in less-developed regions.
With the EU applying many mechanisms aiming to promote SMEs, we will encourage efficient support of SMEs not only in terms of providing information but by helping them to manage application procedures, which often involve assembling complex documentation. When allocating the European structural funds assistance, particular attention will be given to SMEs.
SMEs most often fall victim to a lack of financial discipline, as they have neither sufficient funds of their own nor the possibility to efficiently and promptly collect debts. We will therefore encourage the process in which the general government, realising all its potential, will participate in ensuring financial discipline in payments and in meeting contractual obligations.
The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia ought to be a platform on which entrepreneurial interests and concerns are voiced. To this end, we support voluntary membership.
Given the current low rate of innovations in both R&D and the economic sector, specific measures will be aimed at fostering innovations in the entire process ranging from the idea to putting the product in the market.
Special emphasis will also be placed on the introduction of various new financial mechanisms, such as setting up risk capital funds and providing seed capital and raising start-up capital. A suitable tax environment will improve the chances of entrepreneurial development, thereby making it more attractive to foreign investors.
The Slovenian Democratic Party undertakes, within the framework of developing Slovenian society as a whole, to provide every citizen of the Republic of Slovenia with access to sources of knowledge via the informational infrastructure. It is knowledge that should foster entrepreneurial development and, as a consequence, rural development.
It is of equal importance that all ministries carry out concerted activities in various fields since this is the only way to ensure that the objectives are effectively achieved.
RESOLUTION ON THE EUROPEAN UNION'S ROLE IN THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITYSlovenian Democrats are pleased to note that Slovenia became a full member of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty in 2004. By realising the two key priorities of Slovenian foreign policy in the period of Slovenia's independence - which have always also been priority tasks of the SDS foreign policy programme - we have further strengthened Slovenia's international standing. This opens up new possibilities and opportunities to intensively assert Slovenia's national interests in the international community and enforce our common European interests in the world.
Being aware that for several decades the European integration process has positively contributed to guaranteeing peaceful coexistence, stability and security on the European continent, ensuring economic progress in the member states of the European Union and the social well-being of its citizens, while also creating modern standards for protecting ethnic and other minorities, Slovenian democrats will proactively support the European Union's enlargement process and will strive to preserve its dynamics. In the spirit of our historical experiences and continuing the policy of good neighbourly relations, we will pay special attention to the European Union's enlargement in the Western Balkans region. A larger and more closely associated European Union means better opportunities for all Slovenian citizens.
Considering the interest expressed by European Union member states and the whole international community for the European Union to participate more actively in events at the international level and become a global player prepared to significantly co-create international policy and thus assume a greater share of responsibility for international stability and progress, Slovenian democrats express our determination to actively participate in the work of European institutions and help design solutions that will bolster the European Union's role in the international community.
Given the significance of transatlantic co-operation in the setting up and successful continuation of the European integration process, Slovenian democrats emphasise that solidarity between the European and North American partners, who are linked by their historical experiences and common values, is crucial for preserving the fundamentals of the international political, economic and security system. Only a European Union with a well-coordinated foreign policy and a prosperous economy can strengthen the efforts of both the transatlantic and the entire international democratic community in meeting the challenges of the 21st century. br>
RESOLUTION ON ENFORCING THE POLICY OF EQUAL OPPORTUNITIESEuropean modern democratic principles justify the significance of democracy and equality in both political and social life. A democratic and equal dialogue excludes discrimination and facilitates the equality of opportunities, it is a prime motivation for committed and responsible participation in decision-making processes. Equality of opportunities for both men and women is thus one of the preconditions for sustainable economic, social and democratic development as well as for the improved quality of life.
It is therefore necessary for the Slovenian Democratic Party, as a leading Slovenian party, to define and adopt a decision on how the equality of sexes will be fostered in planning, implementing, monitoring and evaluating both various policies as well as political and social life. This is a question which the Slovenian Democratic Party as a leading political party must pose within its own organisation and at all levels and forms of participation and action.
In order to justify the endeavours aimed at promoting equal opportunities for both sexes, it is necessary to enact equal opportunities legislation defining both the scope and strategy of introducing and implementing equal opportunities for both sexes as regards participation in decision-making processes at all levels and in all spheres of political and social life. Such a regulatory framework would represent systematic endeavours aimed at implementing equal opportunities for both sexes; it would moreover serve as a basis and a network defining the conditions of systemic, systematic and constant concern for establishing equal opportunities at all levels and stages and in all spheres of social action.
The Women's Committee within the Slovenian Democratic Party will, in line with the European principles, seek to pursue the equitable, systematic and efficient implementation and promotion of equal opportunities at all levels and in all spheres of political and social life, particularly in science, the economy and in the fields of employment, social protection, social welfare, health care, education, training... It will act as a consulting body of the Slovenian Democratic Party and an initiator of ideas and proposals for the constant implementation and consolidation of equal opportunities in terms of the equal participation of both sexes and the concern for improving living and working conditions and opportunities in compliance with the directives and policies pursued in the EU; this will contribute to improving well-being in both Slovenia and the European area as a whole. Along with that, the Women's Committee within the Slovenian Democratic Party will monitor and evaluate the performance, systemic nature and efficiency of these processes in order to both raise the present level of the rights and protection (occupational risks, violence…) of women and to encourage women's participation in decision-making processes in various social and work environments to achieve the optimum level of equality of the sexes. At the same time, opportunities for the improved co-ordination of one's family and professional life must be sought.
That is why the Women's Committee within the Slovenian Democratic Party seeks to ensure that the principle of equality of the sexes thus established and agreed upon is mutually and permanently integrated and respected - in decision-making processes at all levels and in all spheres of political and social life - as a constant priority objective and a form of further action and co-operation. In such an open dialogue Slovenian Democrats will at all times share a working attitude distinguished by the creative power of confidence and co-operation, of responsible participation and co-decision-making, which is characteristic of those groups functioning as working groups.
RESOLUTION CHRISTIAN ETHOS INSPIRES COURAGE TO TAKE A NEW PATHDevelopment is a new name for peace. It is mainly about developing relationships. Despite its amazing achievements, material development has not fulfilled its own promises, let alone met the expectations of many people and many nations. Also disappointing has been the type of humanism which has failed to respect the human being in all its dimensions: physical, intellectual and spiritual.
It is the Christian ethos that can tell us much about relationships. It invites Slovenians, like all citizens of the European Union, towards solidarity. This is a special form of solidarity, solidarity among people as citizens and not market participants. Solidarity is impossible in the market. There is fierce competition, a result of the prevailing economic logic and widespread liberalism. Among citizens, solidarity is not only possible but also necessary and even beneficial. It is not only about solidarity in the sense of social assistance for survival but also solidarity as regards access to the knowledge, information, rights and other goods of the modern world. It is namely best for the whole when it is good for all its constituent parts.
The principle of fierce competition in the market combined with great solidarity among the people is a principle of the European Union. It is something new and demanding. It requires a new vision, audacity and courage. It combines freedom and responsibility, rights and obligations. Whilst leaving man the freedom of creativity, it also commits him to care for both his fellow human beings and the world. This principle evolved from the generally valid fundamental human rights on one hand, and from the recognised essential human responsibilities and obligations on the other. Rights and obligations - they are both based on the Christian ethos, which in European nations have aroused knowledge, will and strength which enabled them to overcome separations and oppositions leading them on the path to co-operation and shared development: both material-economic and spiritual-social, with the latter being even more important.
The Christian ethos is based on both the Christian tradition of divine creation of the world and human beings as well as on the ongoing verification thereof in the actual Christian community. It reflects the internal nature of the world and life, helping man to direct his existence towards its true meaning.
In light of the Christian ethos, man is a superlative being. He reaches beyond his body as well as beyond the time and place in which he lives. In his spiritual dimension, man is a being of the future. As such, he can ascend above everyday distresses, troubles and resentments, grasping the freedom to create the new, the good. He is free to start each day anew. He is not left to the tender mercy of coincidences and unlimited arbitrariness of the mighty, but can decide freely on the basis of his own knowledge and consciousness, which are also given through Christ's Gospel and God's voice.
Knowledge of freedom and a sense of responsibility give man the strength to stand for justice in society. In order to encourage progress for himself and for others, he bravely seeks ever new ways. The path is equally important to him as the aim. Both must comply with the truth, which - although vast and many-sided - is only one and shared by all those awake. Given its indestructibility and ever new freshness, the Christian ethos is sure proof of the fact that Christian values are surely wayside shrines on the path leading to the true aim. This is not the path of shapeless nihilism, nor that of pragmatic situational ethics. It is the path of a personal attitude and a decision for commonness, which also involves a concern for those disadvantaged. It is only about recognising the dimensions of evil in the world and man's incompleteness which enables him to make a realistic estimation of his own position in the world and, on that basis, to create the conditions for the social development of himself, society and the world at large.
RESOLUTION YOUTH POLICYWe promote free and voluntary integration and the organisation of the youth based on their own cultural, political, social, economic, sports and other interests. The key role to be played within youth activities is young people's own initiative and it is this initiative that needs to be supported by the government.
The current situation as regards organising youth and their needs must be analysed. We will endeavour to ensure that the essential laws required for planning the development of youth policy - the Youth Act and the National Youth Programme - are adopted as soon as possible.
A structure similar to that at the national level must also be established at the regional and local levels, which implies the consolidation of local and regional youth organisations as well as local and regional committees of national youth organisations. In this context, we seek to promote the principles of the co-decision-making and participation of young people.
All entities belonging to society should have equal opportunities to acquire an education. Education is one of the crucial criteria of modern society.
In ensuring quality education, the key role is usually played by the policy regarding students. It is only the students policy which can effect substantial changes to a student's day-to-day life, thereby making it more familiar, pleasant and better quality.
We are mindful of the trends aiming for better conditions leading to accomplished and accessible study courses whose quality will make Slovenian students more recognisable in both the European Union and around the world. We are committed to complying with the guidelines of the Bologna Declaration, adoption of the necessary legislation and the consistent realisation thereof in practice.
We aim to pursue the systematic development of voluntary work and solidarity. This should be one of the self-evident commitments of society involving the entire community, stimulating young people and teaching them positive attitudes to life, enabling the acquisition of new knowledge and skills and at the same time promoting personal development, independence and creativity. Voluntary work should complement and not replace the work of salaried workers.
RESOLUTION ON SOCIAL PARTNERSHIP1. The Slovenian Democratic Party is committed to developing the European social model and to considering social partnership as a foundation of democratic society. To this end, trade union plurality is necessary. Since its independence, several trade union centres have come into existence in Slovenia with their positions now being distinctly unequal. The property of the former trade unions has come into the hands of a single trade union centre, which is unjust. The dividing up of trade union property must provide the material basis for trade unions acting on an equal basis.
2. Despite the fact that the employees of certain enterprises and public institutions do have the possibility to participate in decision-making processes, most of the public sector in this area still lacks the relevant legal regulation. Our objective is therefore to ensure the appropriate legal basis to enable all employees to participate.
Employee participation in Slovenia should be based on the following principles:
RESOLUTION ON THE MARKETING OF SLOVENIAN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTSSlovenia is a member of the World Health Organisation, within which an agreement was reached to the effect that each country would devise its own food policy which is most appropriate for it. It is a fact beyond doubt that individual countries have different natural conditions and hence possibilities for producing and processing food locally. In this context, one must not forget each nation's nutritional tradition, culture and customs. Individual countries manifest different levels of economic development and social protection. The prime objective of the national food policy programme is to protect public health and reduce the extent of nutrition-related diseases.
The Slovenian Democratic Party supports the following:
PRESIDENT SPEECHSpeech given by the president of the SDS, Mr. Janez Janša, at the 8th Congress of the SDS on May 14, 2005 in Portorož
dear colleagues and friends,
The following sentences appeared on the front of the programme adopted at the 5th congress at the end of the last century, which also took place in Portorož:
"There are problems of national importance which first need to be clearly defined, then we can establish their dimensions and find solutions.
We are aware of the fact that in relation to the search for the necessary solutions, the future has not yet happened. We are all responsible for it and we are all called upon to shape it.
Many successful solutions become exhausted with time and new ones are needed. However, we must find them as the horizon is wider than it seems now."
And that is exactly what has happened. Some solutions that we included in our programme at the 5th congress have been used up. More precisely, we have implemented them. In the short period of six years much has happened, at least ten important, even historic, events, both for Slovenia and for the SDS.
1. Slovenia has become a member of the EU.
2. Slovenia has become a member of NATO.
3. Slovenia has, for the first time in its history, taken over the presidency of OSCE.
4. Slovenia has ratified the European constitutional treaty.
5. The SDS has become a fully fledged member of the European People's Party.
6. The SDS has become a fully fledged member of the International Democrat Union.
7. The SDS has become a fully fledged member of the Centrist Democrat International.
8. The SDS has become represented in the European Parliament.
9. The SDS has won the elections for the National Assembly.
10. The SDS has become the strongest democratic political force in the country.
In short, Slovenia has started on a 'new path'.
Presently, the SDS has even greater support in Slovenia than at the elections. New challenges are ahead of us. Or, as we have already noted: there are problems of national importance which first need to be clearly defined, then we can establish their dimensions and find solutions
Today we are gathered here to do just that. To find solutions to the new challenges that lie ahead of Slovenia and the SDS.
But first, allow me to take a short step back into our history. It seems more than symbolic that at our present congress we can for the first time greet both the first presidents of the predecessors of our party: France Tomšič, the founding president of the Social Democratic Alliance of Slovenia (SDZS) and Dr Dimitrij Rupel, the founding president of the Slovenian Democratic Union (SDZ).
In 1990, almost exactly fifteen years ago, these two predecessors together got a majority of votes at the first free and democratic elections in Slovenia. Then we experienced a period of transition, full of conflict, searching, losses and great efforts to again form a strong democratic political core of the Slovenian Spring. We succeeded last year. So we can say after fifteen years, everything is in its rightful place again.
Of course, things are considerably different from fifteen years ago. On 14th May 1990, two events were being prepared in Slovenia, which had already set up a democratic assembly, elected at the first free elections. The first was the election of a new government on 17th May and the second the disarming of the Territorial Defence. We were aware of the former, but not of the latter. The old Communist authorities, which controlled the former government and the secret services, knew about it but did not inform the new government until it was more or less too late. The new government, the backbone of which was formed by the SDZ and the SDZS, thus took over responsibility in the worst possible conditions and started preparing for independence. Dr Jože Pučnik, the president of Demos and the father of Slovenian independence and statehood, on that first day, when the Demos government was sworn in, said: "Now it's definitely for real."
Today, fifteen years later, all the events and successes I mentioned at the beginning, are behind us. And before us the challenges waited for by generations.
Now, too, it is for real, but in conditions when we can decide about our future and when the future, in view of our integration in the EU and NATO, is more secure than ever before.
When last year, after 3rd October, we took over the brunt of the responsibility for leading the country in parliament and in government, we had no illusions and we were right. All the negative things that have built up over decades can not be dealt with in a few months. Even a few years will not be enough. But not all is bad and by carefully choosing priorities and with a realistic approach we intend to gradually considerably improve both the economic and general social environment and do our utmost to increase the well-being of everybody in Slovenia.
The basic long-term strategic goal of the Slovenian Democratic Party is Slovenia's well-being. The well-being of all who live here. But the foundations for this are high economic growth and a high GDP, comparable to that in the most developed EU member states.
The EU has set out its basic developmental goals in the Lisbon Strategy, which was updated this year, following enlargement. The key term from the Lisbon Strategy that we have adopted is sustainable development. The new concept of Slovenia's future development will be built around this idea. The main resolution of our 8th congress, too, defines the SDS's attitude to sustainable development and the Lisbon goals, which Slovenia shares with the EU.
The way in which Slovenia will realise these goals is to a large extent harmonious with the approaches other EU members adopt, as we all share numerous economic problems: unfavourable demographic movements, an inflexible labour market, and lack of efficiency in research and development resulting in Europe's technologically lagging behind the USA and the Asian countries. The specific economic problems in Slovenia are, with respect to the other EU countries, considerably less crucial for our economic development than the core of the problems we share.
At the same time we must be aware of the fact that our opportunities for development are considerably greater than we realise and are consequently able to grasp at this point. Modern information technology has enabled a large proportion of the accumulated wealth of human knowledge to be accessible to a wide professional and lay public, that is potential users, via the World Wide Web. Recently sixteen leading Dutch universities, academies and institutes created a joint portal on which all their scientific achievements are accessible to the public in digital format. The number of similar examples of such strategic opening of global libraries of knowledge will only grow. The technology and its capabilities are to a large extent already far ahead of the organisational capabilities and the readiness of numerous societies - ours sadly included - to make full use of the advantages offered. For example, in Slovenia there is still great resistance to the idea of school books being accessible on the Internet.
According to reliable forecasts, in the next decade every fourth demanding job is likely to be connected with information technology. But when we look at the lists of the available positions for university study at our universities, especially the University of Ljubljana, we can see that young people are offered a smaller number of places on courses related to modern information technology and computing than for studies in philosophy and journalism and in social studies. The Faculty of Computer and Information Science is one of the few still without their own premises.
We need thorough changes in the thinking of all those who make decisions about the most important aspects of the preparation for the key challenges of the future. We need a considerably shorter reaction time in all the institutions that are connected with the preparation of the various generations for the future. We need healthy competition within and between these institutions.
Some of the key challenges of the next few years lie in the economic area, where we as a party that carries by the will of the voters the brunt of the responsibility for leading the country, do not intend to and must not neglect the social issues relating to young people, those in employment and pensioners. Our ambitions and plans are big, but it is not possible to live outside the scope of the possibilities we create for ourselves. Only economic development on healthy foundations can be the basis of a long-term well-being.
When leading the country we will thus take into consideration the fact that, as in the economy, good sense, moderation and accountability to the present and future generations are necessary.
For the common future good we must, above all, ensure equal starting opportunities for the young, as well as a friendly and successful education system. Combining these two principles is not squaring the circle but a real necessity. The future lies in knowledge, but not for its own sake - knowledge must not be above man, but for man.
The same applies to Slovenian culture. It will be interesting to our European partners only in as much as it is original. We will not be of interest to anybody by creating copies of foreign models and trying to be the same as others. We in the SDS believe that the whole point of European integration is the creation of unhindered and relaxed links in all areas of life rather than the creation of a melting pot out of which a single European culture will emerge. We perceive Slovenian culture as one of the foundations of the Slovenian nation.
In the SDS we are completely aware of the fact that the voters at the last elections gave us the main part of the mandate to lead our country and we take this as a great responsibility. We know that this mandate is limited and that we are being monitored on an on-going basis. We are also aware of the pitfalls and temptations brought about by power and we will continue to affirm democratic standards and endeavour for as much transparency as possible in all the procedures involved in governing.
However, we will equally decisively never give in to attempts to deny the right of the democratically elected majority in parliament - a body which can, according to the Constitution, elect judges, numerous supervisory bodies, even members of the constitutional court and the court of audit - to appoint members of considerably less important institutions. Instead of decisions being taken in a democratically elected parliament, some wish to make them in a corporative manner as was known in the nineteen-thirties in one of our neighbouring countries. So that, behind the veil of the so-called civil society, relics of the former communist regime are brought to the helm of various institutions.
Such a non-transparent decision making system, forcibly pushed by informal and illegitimate centres of power, is intertwined with another widely spread anomaly in Slovenia, that is the informal and formal cartel-like links in our economy. This is one of our most acute problems, hindering economic and democratic development. Often links bordering on criminal activities are involved, such as the parking of shares, which due to their capital and media power the regulatory and other responsible bodies still cannot fight effectively. These cartel-like links have two types of negative consequences: taking advantage of consumers and lowering economic growth.
While we must firmly remain in favour of and defend the independence of the judicial branch of power, and especially independence and impartiality in dealing with individual cases, as taxpayers and as a part of the legislative and executive branches of power we must equally firmly demand that the judiciary is efficient. It is unacceptable that prosecutors mislay hundreds of unsolved cases and then leave without punishment to become lawyers. We will do our utmost to ensure as soon as possible the effective legal safety of our citizens through organisational measures, changes to legislation and the promotion of those within the police, the prosecution service and in judiciary who have already with their good work proved their efficiency.
We in the SDS know how important it is to be independent. However, we also know how important it is to have friends and links at home and abroad. Thus, even now that Slovenia is a member of both the EU and NATO, we shall from within speak in favour of an open door policy. We believe that every country which fulfils the conditions for membership deserves to be included in these forms of integration and that enlargement on this basis is a positive project of common benefit. We are pleased that today among us there are presidents, secretaries and other high representatives of many of our sister parties and international organisations from the EU, with which we work together. We are very pleased to welcome the presidents and high representatives of political parties from Germany, the Czech Republic and Greece, the high representatives from the Robert Schumann and Konrad Adenauer foundations, two institutions carrying the names and the tradition of two key founders of European integration. In addition, we are also pleased that we are joined by presidents and representatives of sister parties in our neighbouring countries Croatia, Hungary and Austria. We are also glad to see the representatives from Turkey. Good cooperation between political and civil society organisations from different countries is always a good basis for good cooperation in the economy and every other field.
The regular four-year term that you at the 7th congress in Celje granted all the bodies within our party expires at this congress. The executive committee that I have led during this term has adopted all the necessary decisions for the growth and development of the party, as well as all the necessary decisions for the party to take a correct stance in relation to the steps of national importance faced by Slovenia during this time. More detailed statistics of our work can be found in the materials you have received and I will not go into that here. You were able to follow our work on an on-going basis and influence it. You were informed via e-mail about all the decisions taken. You assessed us as we went along, and the voters gave us their assessment, too. Personally, I can say that the work of the executive committee during this term was very good, serious and responsible. Colleagues from all the regional organisations took part, so the decision making was balanced and the SDS was bound by a policy of even regional development. I wish to express my sincere thanks to all my colleagues in the executive committee as well as those from the main secretariat and the group of deputies in parliament. We were a good and united team, building firm foundations on which we can continue to build in the future.
At today's congress we will adopt a new political programme for our party. In it, our basic values have been updated. Slovenia shares its values with societies from the same cultural and civilisational circle of Western and Central Europe. In this sense, we accept the principles of the Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe and the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union. Slovenian Democrats emphasise the following values: freedom, human dignity, justice, solidarity and patriotism.
Freedom, above all freedom of the individual, is at the very heart of our culture and civilisation and can only be limited by the equal freedom of others. An individual can be free when he or she has the chance to act autonomously and when the social structures enable him or her to realise his or her justified interests and rights.
Human dignity means that each individual, irrespective of race, religious, sex, political and social environment or any other difference, has equal rights, freedoms, responsibilities, honour and respect.
Equality means that every individual is equal before the law and other rules, and has equal starting opportunities for their own development in society. The state is obliged to ensure just circumstances.
Solidarity assumes that people depending on each other take on mutual responsibilities for one another and for the society for both present and future generations. The ethical aspect of solidarity presupposes that nobody can remain indifferent to people around them living in hardship and unable to cope on their own.
Patriotism is a positive attachment to the homeland, its culture and tradition, in particular language, all of which is related to the shaping of a collective identity at the national level and cultural diversity at the global level. Patriotism is especially important for the preservation and development of smaller nations and cultures.
All these values can only assert themselves under democratic conditions. Democracy does not only mean the rule of a political elite elected by a majority, but also an equal and tolerant dialogue based on rational arguments, and the protection of the interests of various minorities.
The SDS, firmly rooted in the above mentioned values and principles, will follow balanced centrist policies with which we shall set up a society of connected and cooperating individuals and a society of equilibrium. A society of a just equilibrium between a market orientated and socially orientated state, a state in which when faced with the dilemma of choosing between labour and capital we will always have a firm guideline: we will choose man. Man, a free and responsible individual, who is at the forefront of our efforts towards the common good.
The more of us there are involved in this enterprise, the more successful we shall be. Our door is open. We wish to invite into the SDS all the people of good will who are willing to act for the common good and well-being.
We are a party whose members are proud of Slovenia and of the successes achieved so far. At the first free elections in 1990 both our predecessors appeared together within the democratic coalition with the slogan: It is time for Demos! And so it was. With Demos we democratised Slovenia and made it independent.
In 1992, we appeared with the slogan: Together we can manage. The result, to put it mildly, was not very good. But we considerably improved it at the next local elections. Then our posters said: There is today and there will be tomorrow. Tomorrow is a new day.
Our posters for the 1996 elections said: It is time for change. The voters confirmed the slogan. But those in power changed the election results.
In 2000, we appeared with the slogan: It is time for Slovenia. The result did not confirm this. We, however, did not give up, the voters are always right. We continued to work hard. With New Slovenia we formed the trustworthy and solid Coalition for Slovenia. We supported all the state-forming projects of the government, and also initiated some ourselves. We participated and rejoiced when Slovenia joined the EU and NATO. We made great progress at our first European elections.
This is one of the reasons why at last year's elections our slogan said: Slovenia on a new path.
We consolidated the potential from 1990 and added some new ideas. The young generation has joined us. We doubled our performance at the elections. Nobody else has ever done that before. Thank you for your persistence, belief and courage.
There was yesterday, a time for change. Now it is the time for Slovenia. We believe in it and love it. Now is the time for the Slovenian Democratic Party. And the tomorrow we spoke about eleven years ago is today. Slovenia is on a new path. We can succeed for the common good. Thank you.