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Nataša Pirc Musar: I wish to deal with strategic and not ideological topics

On 13 November 2022, Slovenia elected its first female president in the nation’s history as an independent state. After two terms, Borut Pahor will be replaced in the Presidential Palace by 54-year-old Nataša Pirc Musar, who was supported by almost 54 per cent of voters in the second round of the election. She says she will work hard for fundamental human rights and democracy. As a former journalist and Information Commissioner, she is assuming the highest political function in the country as an attorney with no political experience, committed to liberal values and human rights protection. She took the oath of office at a formal sitting of the National Assembly on 22 December, and the handover took place a day later.


In the present circumstances, the presidential duties seem more important today than ever before. This also increases your responsibility, which requires decisiveness and courage. How will you approach this?

My vision of a presidential office is that it becomes a symbol of the overcoming of party and ideological divisions in the Slovenian political and social sphere. As the President, I wish to deal with strategic and not ideological topics. Politicians are the ones who must primarily ensure that people are not divided in accordance with ideological topics. And I will invest a lot of effort into this. The President’s task is also to speak up if strategic projects are suffering due to a lack of acceptance of the ideas from the opposite political pole. It’s time to bridge the divisions of the past and work constructively towards a better future.

I will work hard to reach a social and national consensus regarding key strategic fields that require continuous implementation for public welfare. Among these, I would particularly highlight four fields: healthcare and pension reforms, green transition and comprehensive human security. The presidential term lasts five years, so I will be in the role of the President under at least two governments. I will always strive for the implementation of good policies and projects, irrespective of which political option is in power.

The Presidents impact on the economy due to foreign policy is not negligible. Those who do business abroad know that a countrys reputation is important. In what way do you intend to contribute to our countrys reputation?

The President is one of the foreign policy actors who must, first and foremost, be harmonised with other foreign policy makers, the National Assembly and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, that is the Government of the Republic of Slovenia. I wish to see Slovenia as an active country at the core of Europe. I advocate for the European Union, European values and Slovenia’s membership in the NATO Alliance. This will certainly be the foundation of my work.

Coherence in Slovenian foreign policy to attain jointly agreed objectives and priorities is thus crucial. I will always support the democratic values, transparency, and human rights and freedoms, including in foreign policy.

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The values of democracy, respectful dialogue, and a free and open society won at the elections. You and your opponent proved that ideological differences are not insurmountable. Can you comment on this?

Politicians should lead an exemplary and respectful dialogue, but unfortunately the opposite is too often true. This is why I’m particularly pleased that Mr Logar and I proved that respectful, tolerant and cultural discourse was possible during this presidential campaign in spite of different views and positions. We must know that everyone cannot share the same opinion about everything – and that is how it should be. Diversity enriches us and if we know how to listen to one another, and above all, communicate respectfully, then we can find joint solutions. I think there are many topics that can connect us. If everyone works together for a better future and does not harbour resentments from the past, we have better chances of finding a common path quicker.

You are also expected to enrich the institution of the President with reputation and authority, looking ahead and renouncing past divisions.

Slovenia deserves a decisive, fair and devout president. A president with a statesmanship stance who advocates tolerant and respectful dialogue at all times. I will aspire to such service. I will always be on the side of the people, defending the Constitution and human rights. As the President, I will always defend the social state and highlight possible slips of democracy.

As the key priorities, you mentioned the harmonisation of solutions in the four fields that you assess as crucial for the development and social cohesion of the country. These are the healthcare and pension reforms, climate neutrality and the provision of comprehensive security. How will you make them happen?

The first step will be to reach a consensus on the fact that these fields need to be regulated in the long term. We must initially agree on the problem, only then can we start thinking about how to address it. I will strive for the consensus on key strategic topics to be built in cooperation with the public and politics, by means of consultations and public debate. In this regard, I will give the floor to the experts in various fields. I am well aware that I am not in possession of all the knowledge in this world, and I will get help and support from my advisers. In particular, I will listen to the people, especially those whose voice is otherwise not heard in society.

At this point, I want to highlight that I don’t just want a debate. I will do my best to find suitable solutions and reach conclusions on the key topics relating to Slovenia’s future.

What are your first tasks in your new role?

First, I want to meet the presidents of the parliamentary parties. If we wish to do something positive together, ground-breaking, make a breakthrough for Slovenia, I know that one meeting will not be enough. I wish to offer them my help in what I think is good and smart to do for Slovenia. I believe that they all have many ideas about what we need, and I am certain that it won’t be difficult to find at least one or two that we can realise together. All of us.

Youre already anticipating a tour of the Western Balkan countries.

There’s still some time until 23 December. But recent developments in the Western Balkans will probably require me to go on a tour of the Western Balkan countries soon after the official taking over of my duties. I want to meet the presidents of these countries and continue the Brdo-Brijuni Process, which I wish is not a meeting that takes place just once a year, but something that happens more frequently, at least twice a year. We could make commitments to one another at these meetings about what can be done in the periods between the sessions for the Western Balkans to become part of the united Europe more quickly.

Another short-term objective is to become actively engaged in Slovenia’s candidacy for a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council. This is a state project and I support all the efforts of the Slovenian diplomacy in this regard and Slovenia’s readiness to play a responsible role in the international community and not just that of a passive observer or a follower of developments.

Which conditions resulting from your work and presidential duties will have to be realised for you to be satisfied at the end of your term and say: I succeeded.?

I place our internal affairs, our national spirit, understanding of each other, and mutual respect first. If I, by setting an example and through my messages, and respectable and tolerant communication, contribute to the nation being more unified in our objectives and wishes, everyone will be better off. This is a never-ending path, but the moment we step on it, we will be on our way to the goal. On the international stage, I wish to contribute to the progress regarding the status of the Western Balkan countries striving towards EU membership. These will be my personal criteria to assess my success.

You stated that you look up to certain European presidents. Which of their statesmanship qualities do you respect the most?

The idea that I highlighted throughout the election campaign, and which will also follow me in the role of the President is that a politician works for the win at the next election, while a statesperson works for future generations. A statesmanship stance is something I exceptionally appreciate in individuals holding this position and I, as the President, also intend to assume it myself. The qualities I particularly respect in this regard are decisiveness, fairness, integrity, advocacy for tolerant dialogue, respectful communication and the ability to be reassuring in key moments or crises that demand such response. And of course, honest and proactive endeavour for the common good of citizens and future generations.

How do you "recharge your batteries" in your spare time? What inspires you in particular?

I bowl for relaxation. I take singing lessons and enjoy going to the theatre. My big passion is riding a motorcycle. I also enjoy baking desserts, adrenaline sports and travelling. All of the above relaxes and inspires me at the same time, but I get the most energy when spending time with my loved ones.

Author: Vesna Žarkovič

Date: 22. December 2022

Time to read: 10 min