SLOVENIA - SLOVENIE - ESLOVENIA
His Excellency Milan KuFan, President of the Republic of Slovenia
In September of this year, when the Director-General of FAO, Dr. Diouf, visited my country, Slovenia, this represented an opportunity for me to discuss the issues of the value of food and world hunger, and the issues of production of food and its accessibility to humanity, one of the fundamental benefits which should, in principle, be guaranteed to every person.
The goal in long-term sustainable development, and progress within individual countries, and cooperation between countries of the modern world, must be the dignity of individual people and their welfare, along with the creation of such a cultural, political, economic and social environment as would enable people to live in dignity, develop their creative abilities and affirm themselves as persons in a mutual, creative and supportive relationship with the other people with whom they share society.
Today, at the distinguished Summit of this specialized body of the United Nations, which records in its general declaration of human rights that all people are born free and with the same dignity and same rights, let me stress that hunger dehumanises and robs people of their dignity. For a hungry person, living in poverty, all talk of human dignity and rights, all the achievements of accelerating technological advance, all the processes of globalization and regionalization around the world, all the achievements in the development and welfare of people in individual countries, individual continents and between them, and within this, all the achievements of agricultural production and policies, are all abstract and removed from the world of his reality. For a hungry person, it is a question of life or death, how he might alleviate the pangs of hunger this moment, this day, and how he might feed himself tomorrow and the following days. Everything else for him is just hoping and talking about things which cannot help him.
The 800 million people in the underdeveloped and developing parts of the world and the millions of people in richer countries, who cannot satisfy their basic food requirements, represent at the turn of the millennium, a universal world problem for humankind, for the administrators of countries and for the various committees and bodies of the international community. Slovenia, which I represent here today, cannot in terms of quantity contribute a great deal towards resolving this universal problem. My country's economic and social development, provision of food and programmes and policies relating to food supply are presented to you in the National Report of the Republic of Slovenia for today's FAO World Food Summit. For this reason, permit me to offer you just some basic information: Slovenia occupies an area equivalent to only 0.6 percent of the European Union (EU) with which it has signed an agreement as an associate member, and its population amounts to only 0.5 percent of the EU.
Slovenia is, and will, in all likelihood be expected to remain a net food importer. However, it now covers and is expected to do so in the future, some 80 percent of its needs. Given the special features of its agricultural production capacities, it cannot produce sufficient quantities of all food products, while certain products are in fact exported and will continue to be in the future.
Agriculture provides employment for about 9 percent of the active population, the share of agriculture in GDP is 4.8 percent, and the majority of agricultural land is in private hands. The basic aim of the development strategy of Slovene agriculture are compatible with the principles of the EU Common Agricultural Policy.
In spite of the difficulties faced by Slovene agriculture during the period of the so called transition, which is being undergone by the majority of Central and Eastern European countries, we have succeeded in finding some specific solutions, which have contributed to the fact that since 1990 the stagnation in Slovene agricultural production has slowed down and is now in fact being reversed. It is even possible that for other countries with similar conditions and traditions of farming, the Slovene solutions could be useful and interesting in the areas of organizing and operating extension services, organizing farmers, and in the operation of selection and control services. Slovenia is prepared to offer these experiences through the FAO to others.
Although Slovenia is not able in terms of volume, to contribute much towards resolving the problem of food in the world, it can do so in other ways. Firstly, as a member of various international organizations, we support the efforts of the FAO towards eradicating hunger in the world and in this context, we are also adopting the Rome Declaration on World Food Security and the World Food Summit Plan of Action. And, secondly, in its development and economic policies, Slovenia is paying close attention to balanced development as a free-market, socially secure and ecologically aware country. For Slovenia this is no easy task, despite the favourable macro-economic indicators, according to which international institutions throughout Slovenia are among the most successful of the countries in transition.
With a high level of urbanization and a relatively low birth rate, Slovenia is facing the problems of abandonment of the countryside and unbalanced regional development. And of course, it is also dealing with the problem of an agricultural policy, which embraces the many important aspects of farming for the development of the entire country: from environmentally and healthy production and processing of food, through preservation of settlements in marginal areas of Slovenia, to preservation of the multi-faceted identity of the Slovene people.
In this way, Slovenia is fulfilling its common responsibility for the universal problem of eradicating hunger in the world, providing food in general and in particular, providing healthy food, in connection with its direct responsibility for its own development. It is doing so in a way which would not burden other countries or the international community with its problems. Through development, which will allow its citizens to fulfil their right to work, and to decent living conditions, within which the provision of health care, food and healthy nutrition, will have primary importance.
Given my views, I would therefore stand by the fundamental tenets of the FAO and numerous countries, that in the name of the full affirmation of human dignity we must, consistently, seek effective answers to the questions of how to provide sufficient food for all and in this way contribute towards eradicating hunger in the world; in all parts of this unique human world which has been given to us and in which we are destined to live.
I wish the organizers and participants at this Summit every success in their work, and of course, a favourable response to the proposals for resolving these problems among those world and international institutions and countries for whom the problems of hunger and food might not be dominant, but whose awareness of this plague of humankind, represents one of the foundations for cooperation between the so-called developed and developing countries towards finally eradicating hunger. On behalf of the Slovene State I guarantee our full cooperation in tackling this serious task.