JULY 23 2012 17:19h

Ban Ki-Moon praises Slovenia's efforts in the region

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Dilma Vana Rousseff, the President of Brazil, pose for a photograph during a meeting at the 66th General Assembly Session at the United Nations in New York on September 21, 2011. UPI/Timothy A. Clary/Pool

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 At the start of his tour of Southeast European countries, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon met Slovenian President Danilo Tuerk and Prime Minister Janez Jansa in Ljubljana on Friday morning and visited the Slovenian parliament, thanking the deputies for Slovenia's active role in the international community, notably in the strengthening of regional peace and stability.

Ban Ki-moon also held talks with Slovenian Parliament Speaker Gregor Virant. Welcoming the UN secretary general to the Slovenian Parliament, Virant said Slovenia's admission to the UN on 22 May 1992 was the crown of Slovenia's independence process after the break-up of the former Yugoslavia, adding that membership of the UN gave Ljubljana an additional impetus and the possibility of active participation in the international scene.

In his address in parliament, Ban Ki-moon thanked Slovenia for its role in UN peace and humanitarian operations, notably on efforts to build peace and stability in the region of the former Yugoslavia.

Recalling his previous visits to Ljubljana, Ban Ki-moon said that the Triple Bridge (a group of three bridges across the Ljubljanica River) reminded him of Slovenia's role in the region. One bridge symbolises the bridge between Slovenia's Yugoslav past and its European future while the other two represent the connection of the countries in the region and their European future, the UN secretary general said.

Ban Ki-moon said that Slovenia was lucky not to have been hit hard by the war during the break-up of the former Yugoslavia the the birth of new, sovereign states, because of its specific geopolitical position. He also said Slovenia had assumed responsibility and provided for refugees from the war-struck countries, underlining Slovenia's participation in missions in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.

The UN secretary general stressed that in order to achieve permanent stabilisation it was necessary to remove "the last remains of the war" so that the region could move forward towards European associations.

After his visit to Slovenia, which Ban Ki-moon visited for the first time in 2008 during Ljubljana's EU presidency, the UN secretary general will continue his tour of the region by visiting Croatia. (Hina)