By: Dr Metod Berlec
In the spring of 1990, in Slovenia, which at that time was still part of socialist Yugoslavia, after the first democratic elections and the entry of the Demos government, we expected that with the fall of communism and the one-party system, with the advent of democratic parliamentarism and the gradual introduction of a free market economy, we would also say goodbye to the monuments dedicated to the former totalitarian communist government. But we were wrong.
Although the first democratic government was elected on May 16th, 1990, in the first democratically elected assembly, things moved slowly in a symbolic sense, as the last boss of the Party, Milan Kučan, was elected president of the presidency, and he pulled the “handbrake” throughout. Well, despite this, on July 2nd, 1990, the “Declaration on the Sovereignty of the Republic of Slovenia” was adopted in the Slovenian Assembly, which indeed had a more or less symbolic meaning, similar to the so-called reconciliation ceremony (actually a symbolic Christian funeral of the Home Guards) on July 8th in Kočevski Rog. The new Demos government had a weak majority in the assembly and an antagonistic dominant media, which prevented it from making a more concrete break with the socialist totalitarian red past. Even the president of the first democratic government, Lojze Peterle, had to remove Tito’s picture from the wall in the government premises with his own hands if he did not want the communist dictator to continue “breathing down his neck”.
At that time, I myself followed all this as a student and, together with my friends, I was angry because these monuments were still standing, even though we had already had the first democratic government after World War II in power for a few months. Therefore, in September 1990, at the evening “farewell party”, we came up with the idea to do something concrete. We drove to Ljubljana and in the middle of the night in protest painted Kardelj’s monument on Revolution Square (since 1992 Republic Square), actually his face, with orange (marker) sprayers. The paint ran down further, and he really looked like a true communist executioner. A few days later, when I, as the last generation of Slovenian boys, was already forced into YPA, I was informed that a picture of our “artwork” was published in Slovenske novice. Of course, I did not think then that a good three decades later, this totalitarian monument would still be standing there, that is, in the centre of the Slovenian capital, just like the monstrous horror monument of the revolution. That is why I have supported the idea of removing totalitarian monuments from Republic Square in Ljubljana and erecting a monument to the victims of all wars and a monument dedicated to Slovenian independence. Since July 2017, the monument to the victims of all wars has been standing in front of Park Zvezda, but not yet the monument to Slovenian independence. That is why I accepted with approval that even the last head of the Central Committee of the ZKS and the first President of the Republic of Slovenia, Milan Kučan, politically shrewdly advocated for the erection of a monument to independence on the Republic Square in Ljubljana, which would replace the current Monument to the Revolution. According to him, the monument would be a guide and unite and encourage us as a nation to successfully cope with future challenges.
It has been shown once again that the last boss of the Party is politically wiser and more cunning than his political successors in power, who think they can replace their incompetence and controversial work with a red ideology. Or as someone well wrote in a tweet: “Recipe for losers: if you do not know and cannot do anything, if you have a lot of indecency and investigations hanging over your head, if people doubt your sincerity in all areas – start performing at partisan celebrations.” And this is undoubtedly what Prime Minister Robert Golob is doing now, who gave a partisan speech at Orle on Monday. And Kučan is clearly aware that the ruling coalition has gone too far with its anti-independence outbursts. He himself jumped on the independence train only in the autumn of 1990, after the president of Demos, Jože Pučnik, publicly announced that a plebiscite on the independence of the Republic of Slovenia would be held on December 23rd of the same year and that he could not prevent it. And the monument to the revolution would/will be sooner or later. The only difference is that now it looks like it was Kučan’s idea. Although this is not even close to true! It was upgraded by the Association for the Values of Slovenian Independence, which proposes the removal of all totalitarian monuments in the centre of Ljubljana and the arrangement of the Republic Square and the Council of Europe Square in accordance with the values of the Republic of Slovenia…