5 questions with... Alojz Peterle
Alojz Peterle (EPP, SL) ispresident of the European Parliament's all-party MEPs Against Cancer group.
Alojz Peterle | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual
1. Which person have you worked with that has most inspired you in your career, and how?
On a personal level this would be my wife, because of her sense for people and politics. At a political level, I would say Mahatma Gandhi and Helmut Kohl. With Gandhi, his non-violent expressions of political will and his respect for the other have been a strong political inspiration for me. On Slovenia’s path towards democracy and independence, I had the honour of working closely with the German Chancellor Helmut Kohl. I admired his sense for history, strategy and his particular respect for the smaller countries of Europe. He began each of his European ideas by checking first with the smallest member state, Luxemburg.
2. What is the smallest change you have made in your career that has had the biggest positive result?
Early in my political career, I made the decision to devote more time to my family. Many of my advisors feared that this would come at a political cost to my work. What happened was just the opposite. Not only did this greatly improve the internal dynamics of our family, but it also created a stable emotional environment which continues to serve as a basis for my political work. I think that our society greatly underestimates how closely our home and professional lives are linked.
3. Is there anything you have personally achieved or done that would surprise people?
In 1991, many were surprised that Slovenia not only proclaimed independence, but also defeated the Yugoslav army. This was a collective achievement, but as a Prime Minister of Slovenia at the time, I am proud my government did its share. My music usually comes as a surprise to people. About ten years ago, I played harmonica in Auschwitz on the invitation of my Jewish friends to commemorate the Holocaust through music. More recently, I played for more than three million people in New Delhi who were certainly surprised to hear a song rather than a speech.
4. What do you do in your free time to relax and unwind?
I am very happy spending time with my grandchildren. Also, as a pilot I enjoy the peace that comes with soaring in a glider plane high above Slovenia. I also enjoy hiking, skiing, and cycling. Creating music is also a great outlet for relaxation, either with a group or on my own. Of course, sharing good Slovenian wines with my friends is also high on the list.
5. What was the most inspirational and influential book you have read and why?
My answer would be a book that has the concentrated experience of humanity throughout many civilizations - the Bible. While serving as a spiritual guide to those who share the Christian or Jewish faith, it’s also a book rich in history and full of individual stories that can inspire us in our life. I was reading about Job, a man who lost everything and faced great trials. The whole book of Job is a contemplation on why bad things happen to good people- a question to which our society continues to search for an answer. The teachings of Jesus are a guide for how to respect each other and the foundation for human dignity.
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