en English

Mr. William Jefferson Clinton, the founder of the institution and the 42nd President of the United States has recently arrived to Slovenia at the invitation of Mr. Tomaž Lovše, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia and the owner of the Diners Club Slovenia.

The Gallus Hall of Cankarjev dom hosted 1400 people. Among the guests there were Dr Danilo Türk, the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, the Prime Minister, Samuel Žbogar Minister of Foreign Affairs, Katarina Kresal, Minister of Interior, Dr Patrick Vlačič, Minister of Transport, Igor Lukšič, Minister of Education and Sports, Dr Ljubica Jelušič, Minister of Defense, Mitja Gaspari, M.Sc, minister without portfolio, responsible for Development and European Affairs, Aleš Zalar, Minister of Justice, Dr Franc Križanič, Minister of Finance, Karl Viktor Erjavec, Minister of Environment and Spatial, Zoran Janković, Mayor of Ljubljana and Milan Kučan, former President of Slovenia.

Tomaž Lovše, host of the evening, introduced the esteemed guest, former President of the United States Bill Clinton with the words: “/…/nowadays the state of spirit in Slovenia is not well. We need optimism, ideals, hope – everything our guest Bill Clinton is representing.” Former US president spoke about Accepting Mutual Responsibilities for Humankind and held a speech for over an hour.

Highlights from Bill Clinton’s Speech about Accepting Mutual Responsibilities for Humankind

Bill Clinton in his speech proved to be an extremely charming speaker, charismatic leader, a great teller of stories and excelling himself with an incredible memory for names, people and events

At the question “Whether the recession was over?” He answered. “Yes. No. Maybe.”

Yes, since according to the economic theory in the last two quarters economic growth evolved. No, because people who have lost their jobs, cannot either sell or rent an apartment, cannot provide for the education of their children, cannot get loans … they do not feel like it. Maybe, since there have more than once after the Second World War, during the mild recession a few progresses occurred, only temporary though – for stimulated (dis)trust. Further on, in his belief, one should think in a long-term way and only within one can influence entirely by oneself.

In a modern world, according to his opinion, there are three main obstacles; the world being unstable, unequal, and unsustainably oriented.

Unstable world. In his hotel room in Ljubljana, while watching various channels in English language such as BBC, CNN and Sky News, Mr. Clinton suddenly saw everything as chaotic, as something that cannot be influenced. However, if the effort is put into a perspective of observation the positive forces of interdependence struggling with the negative ones, somehow everything starts to appear more easily mastered.

Unequal world. He enlisted a number of data about the unfairness in the world, i.e., half of humankind struggles its life for two dollars or less per day, hundreds of millions of children are not attending schools, the system supports only the educated and those with acquaintanceship. Inequity exists in all areas: income, education, health, etc.

Unsustainably-oriented world. Perhaps the atmosphere of 2006 really started to cool, however it is merely because the year of 2005 was the hottest ever, the preceding year of 2004 even more, and so on. If by 2050 we will not be able to maintain only 80% of the today’s amount of CO2 emissions, hundreds of millions of people will lose their homes on the coast and become refugees. He stated it as another reason for Slovenia and Croatia to agree upon maritime borders.

Instability, inequality and intolerance affect all of us. Therefore we have to, at all levels join our forces. Governments, private sector and NGOs need to foresee what they are able to do. He pointed out the government inefficaciousness in the U.S. health system, which is giving as much us 17% of GDP for health. Switzerland as the second on the list gives 11.5%. Most other industrial countries spend 2-5% on health. America spends on its health 900 billion dollars more than the rest. Hence it is so difficult to introduce changes. One would not like to give up on shares in such amounts, when once earned.

After the lecture, Bill Clinton answered some questions addressed to him by Ajša Vodnik, M.Sc,, the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia.

Highlights from Bill Clinton’s Answers to Ajša Vodnik, M.Sc.

At the first question whether he has forgiven his enemies, he replied that he is trying to. As an example he pointed out his friend and idol Nelson Mandela, who while in jail decided that in spite of the fact that everything has been taken from him, he would not let his soul and his heart to be touched. When released, he found out that he will feel really free only if he forgives and cooperates. As an unsuccessful example regarding the forgiveness, he mentioned Yaser Arafat’s decision of not accepting his proposal for peace offer with Israelis merely for his feeling of honor.

On the second question whether he had more influence and sense of usefulness when in office or as Bill Clinton today, he answered that the president is bound to promises to voters on one hand, and to the events which are beyond his control on the other. Today, he may have some influence on his wife, otherwise he responds to invitations received and if questioned, explains his opinions and thus tries to do the best as he can. As the president, he could probably do more for more people, whereas now he may be even more beneficial at fewer cases.

On the question what a small country like Slovenia can do for the world, he proposed that we all should explain how we managed to succeed, and so we will also liberate our energy and abilities to continue. Pride is not arrogance if earned, he added.

Last question was on what in his life he is most proud of, and the prompt reply was his daughter. Further on he continued that he is proud on his wife because she succeeded in the political world. He has politics in the genes, but also Hillary Clinton, current U.S. foreign minister, prominently found herself in the role of an excellent public servant, as he put it, since she has lost just closely the electoral battle for the post of the President of the United States.

He concluded that he is proud of a lot of things he did in his life, personally of his daughter and wife.