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Slovenia swears in new president, Danilo Turk, who vows to work for smooth foreign policy

Slovenia swears in new president, Danilo Turk, who vows to work for smooth foreign policy

Slovenia's new leftist president, Danilo Turk, took an oath of office Saturday and vowed to work with the center-right premier to ensure smooth foreign relations as the country takes over the rotating EU presidency.
The 55-year-old career diplomat was elected in Nov. 11 elections to become Slovenia's third president since its 1991 independence.
Turk officially takes over the office on Sunday from predecessor Janez Drnovsek _ one week before Slovenia takes over the six-month EU presidency.
During a ceremonial parliament session Saturday, Turk said he would work "for the benefit of all people in Slovenia."
He pledged to nurture "constructive, coordinated and balanced cooperation" with Prime Minister Janez Jansa's center-right Cabinet, which had often quarreled with Turk's predecessor, creating tensions that hampered decision-making.
Turk, an expert in international law, spent most of his career in diplomacy: he was Slovenia's first ambassador to the United Nations in New York from 1992-2002, and then assistant to the U.N. secretary general at the time, Kofi Annan. He returned to Slovenia in 2005, becoming a deputy dean at the Ljubljana Law Faculty.
He resurfaced on the political scene with the presidential ballot, running as an independent backed by the opposition left and grabbing 68 percent of the runoff vote to defeat the government's candidate, Lojze Peterle.
Drnovsek, who has been fighting cancer for years, did not seek another five-year term. He has not attended public events since October, and as not at Turk's inauguration Saturday. However the country's first president, Milan Kucan, attended.
The role of Slovenian president is largely ceremonial, though the job includes being the army's supreme commander, and nominating the Central Bank governor and Constitutional Court judges, whose candidacy must be approved by parliament.
The president also has some say in foreign policy, and Turk's longtime diplomatic experience could be appreciated, especially as the tiny nation of 2 million assumes leadership on Jan. 1 of the 27-nation, 490-million-people European Union.
Turk said he would participate in foreign policy-making, aiming for "principled, well-considered positions on all important international issues."
Earlier on Saturday, Jansa led a separate ceremony to mark the elimination of borders between nine new EU members and the rest of the bloc.
"This is something we did not ever dare to dream of 15 years ago," Jansa said, as he was joined by EU officials in celebrating the expansion of the EU passport-free zone to Slovenia, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Malta.


Updated : 2021-07-24 17:17 GMT+08:00