President of the European Commission
A historic day for Nova Gorica and Gorizia
Nova Gorica, 30 April 2004
Ladies and Gentlemen,
First of all, I would like to thank you for giving me the opportunity to celebrate with you a historic day for Europe, for Slovenia and for this border region.
Today we are celebrating the biggest enlargement in the history of the Union. It has taken years of dedicated and passionate preparation and now the big day is finally here.
For the first time in centuries, much of the continent of Europe will be united in peace and democracy rather than by force.
The celebrations will be more intense and meaningful in this city, which for years has been a symbol of division in Europe. From tomorrow, instead of administrative and ideological separation, we will have new forms of dialogue, cooperation and stability.
The peoples of Europe will be better able to live together in harmony in a national and European political framework which affords respect for democratic values and individual and collective rights.
Here in Nova Gorica and in Gorizia enlargement will have special significance.
The painful division recent history has inflicted on your land and its inhabitants has finally given way to cooperation. In a few hours we shall meet on Transalpina Square to witness the symbolic destruction of the last fragment of the Iron Curtain.
Slovenia’s accession to the European Union will give everyone the opportunity to definitively overcome past divisions and to build the future together.
In many ways, enlargement has already begun in this region. Cross-border cooperation is already well-established and the European Union has taken various initiatives to support the development of business, the environment, tourism and culture.
But today your desire for cooperation and your sense of belonging are being formally recognised; today this external border is becoming an internal border of the Union and will lose much of its formal significance.
The European Union is delighted to welcome Slovenia into our family of peoples and of nations. It gives me personally great pride and satisfaction to be here today.
Slovenia will contribute a great deal to the Union through its cultural traditions, of which you can be rightly proud and which will enrich the cultural diversity of the whole Union.
Above all, it will, together with the other new Member States, boost the Union’s confidence and enthusiasm for the future and give it the strength to make our common goals a reality.
The accession of the new Member States will do Europe good, and will open up new horizons for everyone. Together we will be better able to defend our common interests and the values on which the Union is founded.