Europe Day in Slovenia was celebrated amidst several days of festivities marking the country’s liberation in 1945 as well as official celebrations of their 10th anniversary as a member of the EU. As a guest of European Movement Slovenia, I visited the campaign stand for the Alliance for Liberals and Democrats in Europe (ALDE) candidates running in the forthcoming European elections. Set in the historic Presern Square, the campaign stand was a focal point for candidates as they handed out flyers and spoke to voters passing through the square. European Movement Slovenia designed a postcard encouraging citizens to vote on Sunday 25 May and candidates were distributing this postcard along with their own campaign material. The party ran eight candidates in total, including Jelko Kacin, a veteran Member of the European Parliament and a central figure from the transition period of the early 1990s. Mr Kacin took some time out of his busy schedule on Europe Day to welcome a representative from EM Finland and me to Ljubljana.
In the afternoon we were invited to the 10th Anniversary celebrations of Slovenia’s accession to the EU. Dignitaries, academics and members of the public gathered to participate in the event entitled “More Europe, More Slovenia”. Speakers at the panel discussion, which was broadcast live on national television, included former members of the Negotiating Team of Slovenia for Accession to the EU. They reflected on the intense negotiations that precipitated Slovenia’s highly anticipated accession to the EU, and the changes that the country has experienced in the past ten years. The speakers outlined the adjustments that Slovenia has had to make since joining the EU and the Eurozone, and discussed the opportunities and challenges that continue to be presented to Slovenia as a member of the EU. Keynote speeches were delivered by Slovenian Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek and European Commissioner for the Environment, who is also the former leader of the Negotiating Team, Janez Potočnik. Commissioner Potočnik told the audience that, “May 1 2004 was a joyful though not euphoric day in Slovenia. The Slovenian public saw membership of the European Union as a logical step forward on the path of independence and Slovenia’s affirmation in the international arena.” He went on to say, “By joining the Union, our conviction that we were returning home was confirmed, and the home is worth the effort, even when the going is tough”.
Kate O’Regan travelled to Slovenia as part of European Movement Ireland’s participation in Campaign Europe!, an international project, devised and led by European Movement Finland, which aims to boost awareness of and engagement with Europe in Ireland, Finland, Albania and Slovenia through 2014. Learn more about Campaign Europe! here.