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četrtek, 13 maja, 2021

Prime Minister Janez Janša on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Military Service Act: We had three decisive things – knowledge, courage, and determination

By: Sara Kovač/ Nova24tv

“Thirty years ago, when this law was passed, we saw a completely different time before us than we see today, but there are three things that are exactly the same, and as history has shown, you need three things in such decisions. The first thing is knowledge that allows you to see a few steps ahead; the second thing is courage to recognise the challenges and dangers that lie in the future, and thirdly you need determination to be able and to be determined to take steps to protect your loved ones, your country, and your homeland from challenges,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša.

The gradual formation of a new defence system and its own military force was an important part of the preparations for the actual independence of Slovenia, which was conducted with special care due to opposition at home and abroad. After a heated debate, in which the MPs from the Party of Democratic Renewal (formerly the League of Communists) and the Liberal Democracy of Slovenia did not lack strong opposition to the law on military service, the Slovenian Parliament finally adopted the last urgent systemic act for independence in the area of defence. Despite 70 amendments to the proposed law, and despite sharp and bitter exchanges of views, the law was passed with 115 votes for, 25 votes against, and 12 abstentions. In addition to military service, the law also regulated the civil service.

In his address, Prime Minister Janez Janša pointed out that yesterday, 30 years ago, Slovenia received its first law on military service, which in Europe at the time enforced the shortest military service with the possibility of alternative civilian service and training, which according to calculations at the time was three times cheaper per soldier than what we paid the Yugoslav People’s Army. “Nevertheless, the saga that the law was passed was much more complicated than what we heard in the brief introductory words, because this law was not presented and passed on April 18th, but had almost six months of government and the parliamentary procedure, and the resistance to the adoption of this law were strong,” said the Prime Minister, adding that the balance of power was extremely close throughout the adoption and that the procedure had to be repeated several times.

The politics did not work as one – the opposition opposed the law to the full

According to Prime Minister Janez Janša, 240 delegates sat in the premises of the National Council and in the hall of the National Council in three separate assemblies, the Assembly of United Labour, the Assembly of Municipalities, and the Socio-Political Assembly. “There were 80 delegates in each assembly and the law was passed on condition that it was passed in the same text in all three assemblies. If it was not adopted in one of them, long-term coordination and re-voting was required, and if the vote failed in the second attempt, a joint session of all three assemblies could be convened, at which all 240 delegates decided,” Prime Minister Janez Janša described, adding that the Military Duty Act was a law that had to endure all this procedural ordeal, first in all three assemblies, then in a joint vote. “Myself, like Jelko Kacin and Miran Bogataj, have probably performed 147 times in all three assemblies. The opposition at the time claimed that Slovenia was establishing paramilitary forces and therefore opposed the entire law to the full, despite the fact that a plebiscite was behind us and that plans to recruit boys into the Slovenian army were prepared and planned practically at the same time as the plebiscite,” said the Prime Minister, adding that it took until April 18th, 1991, to get a legal basis so that we could recruit the first two smaller training contingents.

“The Military Service Act was the last of three conditions that had to be met. The first condition was the Defence Act, which went through a similar procedure and was passed around March 30th, and then another budget, because without money there is no training and no equipment. And the budget, although proposed by the government in October 1990, was not adopted until the end of March 1991, after all the complications,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša, recalling that the main reason the coalition voted against the budget at the time was defence expenditures, although these were ten times less than what Slovenia had previously paid for the army. “Nevertheless, the adoption of this actually enabled the conscription of the first symbolic generation of Slovenian soldiers who took the oath in Ig and Pekre in early June,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša.

As the Prime Minister pointed out in his address, Slovenia insisted throughout independence that it would take all steps of independence strictly legally, i.e. “nothing without a legal basis”. “Although it was clear to everyone that as the date for the proclamation of an independent state was approaching, these 300 boys who began military training would not be enough to defend Slovenia, for which we knew would be attacked when we implemented the plebiscite will. Everyone also knew that the adoption of this law was also a powerful and extremely important and irreplaceable symbolic step towards independence. As one of the delegates, France Tomšič, said at the time, it was clear that as long as you do not control the cash register or the pouch that buys rifles, you are not sovereign,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša. He also emphasised that in all these thirty years the Slovene Army had walked steep, straight, and winding paths, “but none of this can relativize the key contribution of the Slovene Army and the Slovene Armed Forces, consisting of the Slovene Territorial Defence and the Slovene police, in the emergence of the Slovenian state.” “If we did not have the Slovenian Defence Forces when we proclaimed the country, it would be an operetta proclamation, as many said at the time,” said the Prime Minister.

Knowledge, courage, and determination

According to him, by creating our own defence forces, we took the maturity exam for independent living, and this was also one of the key steps, which then served as the basic argument for international recognition. “When the US Senate discussed the membership of the new NATO member states, I think sometime between 2002 and 2003, the chairman of the US NATO Committee, Bruce Jackson, said that NATO is an organisation in which the principle of collective defence applies and where an attack on one is an attack on all, and the defence is joint. He also said that there was often a lot of discussion and doubts about when new members were accepted, what to do with them, but there is no doubt about that about Slovenia, because they are accepting a country that has recently proven that it can defend itself, thus they are not accepting someone who will only be a consumer of collective security, but a country that can make additional contributions,” the Prime Minister pointed out the address of the American politician. He added that this is an added value and one of the few events where the contribution of Slovenian armed forces to the emergence and existence of the Slovenian state directly demonstrated even later, when difficult decisions related to our country were made.

“Thirty years ago, when this law was passed, we saw a completely different time before us than we see today, but there are three things that are exactly the same, and as history has shown, you need three things in such decisions. The first thing is knowledge that allows you to see a few steps ahead; the second thing is courage to recognise the challenges and dangers that lie in the future, and thirdly you need determination to be able and to be determined to take steps to protect your loved ones, your country, and your homeland from challenges,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša.

According to Prime Minister Janez Janša, the challenges today are different than 30 years ago. “Namely, Slovenia today is internationally connected in an environment that is friendly to Slovenia. For the first time in our history, we are surrounded by countries that we can say have a friendly relation with us, and with which we share a formal connection, both within the EU and NATO. However, in addition to this relatively favourable direct external environment, the world is also facing many crises and we would be blind if we did not recognise the challenges and dangers that lie ahead,” said the Prime Minister. He also highlighted decisions regarding defence and military service as one of the main challenges. “With the new law on military duty, which sets military duty broader than we know it today, we want to prepare our country and homeland in time for the potential challenges we will face within the system of collective defence. Because this system of collective defence can quickly forget the one who is not ready to contribute anything to make the defence successful,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša.

Last but not least, the Prime Minister wished all present representatives of the Slovenian Armed Forces knowledge, courage, and determination to know the time ahead, adding that in the apparent dilemma of what has an advantage, butter or guns, great wisdom is to recognise that both are important. “History teaches us that if we forget about guns, we run out of butter sooner than later, and the Slovenian nation has experienced this very cruelly and hard throughout its stormy history,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša. “It is the duty of the Slovenian state, which we received 30 years ago, to ensure that the Slovenian nation will never have to go through such periods, and the Slovenian Army is a guarantee that this will not happen,” Prime Minister Janez Janša concluded his address.

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