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This program will be translated. The President will speak paragraph by paragraph, and each paragraph will be translated for you. His Excellency President Mesic has served as President of the Republic of Croatia since the year 2000. He was a deputy in the Croatian Parliament in the sixties and in 1990 became a member of the Croatian Democratic Union, that's the HDZ, these abbreviations are, you're going to have to keep track of, they're hard to watch so pay attention to them, later the Prime Minister of Croatia. He was elected Croatian member of the Yugoslav Federal Presidency where he served first as Vice President and then in 1991, as the last President of the Yugoslav Federal Presidency. In 1992, he served as President of the Croatian Parliament. In 1994, he left HDZ to form a new party, the Croatian Independent Democrats, the HND. In 1996, the majority of HND members, including President Mesic, merged into the Croatian Peoples' Party, the HNS. Following the death of Franjo Tudman in December of 1999, Mr. Mesic was elected President of the Republic of Croatia in February 2000 and was re-elected in January 2005 for a second term. President... Today will discuss the critical role that Croatia and other small countries serve in a dynamic and independent world. Please join me in welcoming His Excellency Stepan Mesic to our program today. Dear Mr. Bonning , Dear Mrs. Pygnika Distinguished members of the World Affairs Council and the Commonwealth Club from California, Ladies and Gentlemen, I have no ambition to repeat or beat to the achievement of Phineas Fogg, the hero of Jules Verne's famous novel, and tour the world in a 10 times shorter period. The truth is, however, that I have practically set off on a trip 'round the world in order to be able to meet you between two state visits, that is, to accept your invitation to present a lecture in this distinguished institution. I generally accept invitations like yours with pleasure, for this gives me opportunity to present my own views regarding current trends on the international scene, their significance, and a possible far reaching implications to people involved in one way or another with the developments on that scene. I believe that an active politician cannot and may not be satisfied with dealing only with daily issues, however important they may be. I have never understood lectures as opportunities to teach lessons. The way I see them, such appearances are simply good opportunities for thinking aloud, opportunities to share my thoughts about a specific topic with an interested audience. Today, this thinking will also be framed by an exercise in chance. Did you invite me by chance to give this lecture? I doubt it. You evidently wanted to hear my views on various topics in international relations. Having said my views, I have in mind myself, as the President of a small European country which has been present as an independent entity on the world scene for less than two decades. Did I accept your invitation by chance? Not at all. I wanted to take the opportunity to present my thoughts on a topic, the choice of which was kindly left to me, without any mediators or people who might re-interpret my words, in who knows what way. Have I chosen by chance to speak on the place and role of small countries on the international scene of the 21st century? Absolutely not. I'm the president of a small country, elected by the will of the majority of its citizens, and I obviously feel strongly on the treatment of this country on the international scene. And since I am aware that the Republic of Croatia is not sufficiently interesting in any respect to enjoy a special position on that scene, I have to consider the place and role of small countries in general, because Croatia is simply one of them. And finally, is it by chance that I have selected this very topic for my appearance in the United States? It is not, of course. The United States is not one of the major powers in the present-day world, but rather, it is the only superpower in it. It is natural that whatever anyone may think about it, that such a power will view the rest of the world from its own perspective. And all this, inevitably, from such a perspective certain things will look distorted, while others will not be seen. Maybe even small countries will not be seen, or at least will not be seen the way they would like to be seen. Therefore, it is perhaps proper to hear right here, on American soil, the thinking of a president of a small country about the place and appropriate role of states like his own on the international scene in the 21st century. Let me first explain what I mean when I say a 'small country'. For the purposes of this presentation it means, first of all, a country which cannot have a decisive influence on international trends by virtue of either its economic or military potential. I could even go as far as to say that I'm actually talking when speaking about small countries, about countries that have been predestined, and do not get me wrong, to be objects and not subjects during history. These are countries that cannot impose their views on others, and that cannot efficiently defend themselves when others impose their views on them. Therefore, they are small in terms of their capability to influence the behavior and life of others. In other words, they are weak both economically and militarily. In the present-day world, the basic prerequisites for being strong are also powerful expensive economy, and a mighty armed force along with political will to conquer whether directly and overtly, or somewhat more subtly and less obviously, but obviously not less efficiently. So I'm speaking about the relation between the weak and the strong. And my question reads, "What is the place of the weak in today's world, and what role can they play in it?" Having raised it, I clearly cannot accept a situation in which the small countries would be definitely doomed to having no role at all or, to repeat an expression I already used, to be mere objects. Regarding the expressions I'm using, just an incidental digression. In the past, one used to speak about conquests and the conquered. Today, in the best of cases, one speaks about the establishment or expansion of zones of influence, but let us ask ourselves, to which extent is a country which finds itself in a specific zone of influence still really independent? To which extent can a country be independent if it does not control its finances, its economy, its banking system, or even its armed forces, however large and well equipped they may be? I'm not a radical or an advocate of conspiracy theories, I'm simply a realist, and it is as a realist that I ask you, isn't such a country comprised in someone's sphere of influence actually a conquered country? Or in other words, can such a country still pretend to consider itself independent? I am making this point because whoever or whatever has covered it by its umbrella of influence certainly does not consider it independent. Let me be quite clear: I don't belong to those people who are still slaves of the 19th century concept of national sovereignty. It's significance and importance belong to the past. Today, nobody is or can be absolutely sovereign. The point is actually whether a state relinquishes parts of its sovereignty to an international integration of alliance through the democratically expressed will of its citizens, or whether it is forced to cede elements of its sovereignty because it simply cannot prevent that. The so-called eastern bloc, from the time of the Cold War, serves as a perfect example of the latter. The countries dominated by the Soviet Union were satellites in the real and full sense of the world, in the foreign and home policies, they were abound by guidelines, not to say orders, issued from Moscow. In order to gain a better understanding of such developments, one should bear in mind that authoritarian, single party regimes were in power in all those countries, and by their very nature they disregarded the will of their citizens and could not care less about their citizens' thoughts and feelings. There was only one European country which opted for socialism and managed to extricate itself from the Soviet sphere of influence. That was Yugoslavia, in which Croatia was one of the federal units. Let me add, Yugoslavia managed to do so also because the leading Western countries, led by the United States recognized their own interests in helping a state extricate itself from the eastern bloc and supported it in its endeavors. Yugoslavia was also ruled by an authoritarian regime, which underwent significant liberalization in the years that followed under the leadership of President Tito and grew closer to the West in many elements. In separating from the Soviet Union, the regime made a move which matched the mood of a sizeable share of the citizens, although that mood was not tested by democratic methods. Thus, the eastern bloc was a perfect example of countries that were forced to renounce essential elements of their sovereignty and accept a restriction of their own independence. That was additionally inaugurated during the Prague Spring and confirmed by the invasion of Czechoslovakia by Warsaw Pact troops under the so-called Brezhnev Doctrine of Limited Sovereignty. At the other end, a counter-bloc was set up in the West, although based on entirely different assumptions. Western countries transferred by will of their democratically elected governments parts of their sovereignty first to NATO and then to the common markets that evolved from the present-day European Union in which my own country also seeks its place. In addition to eastern and western countries, there is also a third world which grew in size particularly in the years of decolonization and which comprises with some exceptions mainly countries belonging to the small and weak category. Their weakness is the consequence of the former colonial status that is of the fact there were for years and even centuries merely a source of raw materials and cheap labor. They won their independence by release from colonial bondage or by force of arms, and emerged as underdeveloped countries with no educational or health structure and actually no prospects of ever catching up to the developed countries. They apparently had no, and could have no full-fledged place on the world scene. Of course, in the world we live in, at least in theory and in the U.N. General Assembly, all the states are equal, have equal rights, and are entitled to decision making and each has one vote. While risking to be called a cynic, I shall repeat: That is how things are in theory, and in the U.N. General Assembly. In real life, matters are rather different. We witness divisions between the big and the small, between the mighty and the weak, ultimately into those who rule and those who are ruled. The scope to which one respects the forum which tries to suggest something different than the substance is a matter, I should say, of political pragmatism or even cunning. Occasionally, the illusion can be sustained quite well. In other cases, we are brutally confronted by the unembellished and stark reality. And the reality of the world at the beginning of the 21st century, of the first Cold War and past (word unclear) world, is the following: Along with the only superpower capable of dominating the world, and not infrequently willing to do so in both military and economic terms, there are several big powers, old and new alike, primarily economic powers, and a vast number of those that are called others, including even some countries which are developed and truly small, and hence disinterested in any role that would transcend the boundaries of their region. There are also quite a few underdeveloped or developing countries that complete the list. The last are dependent on the big ones directly or indirectly, and that dependence places them among the small, that is, weak, countries. From the perspective of the big countries, such small countries are interesting when they can fit as numbers into support group or a scheme. They're interesting either as an aye or a no vote in international bodies. They're interesting, to call things by their right name, insofar as they're not masters of their will and their decisions, insofar as they can be instrumentalized or have to accept this instrumentalization. However, I sincerely believe that size and power are not and should not be attributes which exclusively determine the specific weight of a state on the global scale. Analogously, the fact that a country is small or weak need not and must not automatically imply that such a country has no business among the big, or that its voice need not be heard. Before you conclude that I am talking (word unclear), I shall admit it. Of course I am. In assuming the office of President, I have also assumed the responsibility of co-creating the foreign policy of my country and participating in the care for its national security and defense. To put it briefly, I have accepted and assumed the responsibility to speak and act in the best interests of my country, a small European country. Therefore, if everything truly matches my indications, and I'm sure it does, how should a small country behave in a world dominated by the big? How should a small country behave, a small country aware of the need to open up and take part in globalization processes, and yet trying to preserve at least a minimum of freedom in deciding its destiny without shorting itself? A small country cannot and need not try to act alone. It must first and foremost seek and find allies. Natural allies, similar countries. This does not mean that I support any rallying based on weakness and powerlessness. No. Quite the contrary. Small countries are and should remain in the company of the big countries. They are, and should be members of the integrations which always involve a mixed company. However, wherever they may be, small countries should tend to act together. They have similar situation, similar interests and needs deriving from such situations, and it is logical for them to use similar methods in seeking answers to the issues that trouble them. Looking at what I have said so far, someone may have the impression that I am trying to re-assert the non-aligned movement, the only thus far recorded movement involving the weak of this world, the movement that nevertheless demonstrated its power and influence on several occasions by giving its members an opportunity to act they had never had or could individually have before. Admittedly, Croatia is one of the successor countries of the former Yugoslavia. Under the leadership of President Tito, Yugoslavia played a key role in creating and directing the non-aligned movement. However, Croatia has committed itself to membership in the European Union and NATO and follows the activity of the non-aligned as an observer. Therefore, I am not re-asserting nonalignment, nor am I indoctrinated by it, but at the same time, I'm very prepared to re-assert one of the key principles on which the nonalignment movement is also based. Let me stress this also, because this is a principle which the nonaligned countries could present as their own because it had almost lost its universal significance not by any proclaimed policy, but first of all because of the will and practices of the big countries. I'm speaking, of course, of the principle of full and free equality amongst subjects in international relations. By insisting on that principle, the so-called Third World has won the right to discuss not only its own parochial problems, but also global issues from bloc confrontation through the arms race to the need to overcome the gap between the developed and the developing countries. By insisting in its right to participate in the shaping of the global scene, by expressing its views, representing its position, and choosing specific options, the Third World has opened up a new chapter in international relations, a chapter within which I am also trying here today to get an answer to the question of the place and role of small countries in the present-day world. With its global activities, the Third World has irreversibly established the small countries on the international scene, and given them an opportunity to be subjects rather than mere objects. The world is changing. It undergoes occasional radical changes. We no longer live in a bipolar world. The Cold War and the bloc division are gone, but there are still many problems inherited from that time along with new problems which emerge from transition, a process with which we became familiar in spite of inadequate definition of it in the period following global failure of the socialist model in its Bolshevik variant. And there are still policies, regional and global alike, which seem unable to renounce submission, imposition, inhibition, and restriction, or to be quite clear, there are policies which would still like to grant practically everything to some and nothing to others, apart from the right to be subservient. In this gap, in this imperfect but the only world that we have, where do I see a way out for small countries? For most, in the United Nations. I plead for a comprehensive reform of the imperfect but irreplaceable global organization, a reform that will help it to accommodate to the current world. The U.N. was conceived and formed 60 years ago .It was designed for the world at the end of the Second World War. It is a reflection of that world, and of the wish of their founders, to prevent a new global conflict. Let us remember the words of the charter: "We the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war." As we have seen over the 60 years of U.N. existence, wars have not been the only scourge from which we have to save our children and the children of their children. Of course, there are still wars, local wars, because a global war would destroy the attacker and the attacked alike, but there is also underdevelopment, poverty, inability to provide education and health care, global terrorism. I shall refrain from further enumeration. The United Nations should have avoided the pitfall of inefficiency which brought the downfall of its predecessor, the League of Nations. It is quite obvious that the U.N. is not perfect of ideal or adequately efficient. Owing to the tragic wars in which the former Yugoslavia disintegrated, Croatia also experienced a peacekeeping operation of the blue helmets on our soil and in the immediate neighborhood. Therefore, I know quite well what I am talking about when I mention insufficient efficiency, but believe me, I also know what I am saying when I say that the U.N. is irreplaceable. I believe that the U.N. is not only the ideal , but also the only forum in which the small and the weak can fight for their interests and secure them precisely because the underlying concept of the U.N. is full equality of its members, the principle of one country, one vote. This has been proved in the past. For example, we would have never discussed sustainable development if there had not been the world organization and small countries in it. We need the U.N. if not more than ever, then at least as much as we needed it in the past decades. In the present day world, with only one superpower, but also a number of old and new potentially big powers seeking their place in the sun, world in which the balance of fear which was the basis of peace, stability, and global equilibrium in the second half of the last century no longer plays the role that it used to play. We know that the U.N. should undergo reform but reform seem to be stuck. Reform is being blocked. Let us be straightforward, because a strong U.N. does not suit the strong in today's world, and that brings me to the answer to the question about the place and role of small countries on the international scene in the 21st century. Their place is in the United Nations, and their role is to push through the reform of the organization, a reform which will turn the U.N. not into a mere global debating society, but into a place where decisions will be made and implemented in order to push the world forward, not in the interests of one country or a group of countries, but in the interest of all. And what is in the interest of all? A world of peace, security, stability, equality, development, tolerance, and co-existence in diversity. I would like to place particular emphasis on the last point, co-existence in diversity. That is where I see one of the key tasks of the United Nations, to assert the idea of unity through diversity, and to oppose the imposition of any model. The United Nations must re-assert the basic principles governing the arrangement of international relations and reassert the principles containing its member declarations. It's up to the member countries to implement these principles in line with their specific conditions. Without a U.N., and particularly without an efficient U.N., we are threatened by chaos, in which a strong-armed policy might turn up a salvation.