Prime Minister Janez Janša today, at the invitation of Mayor Ivan Žagar, attended the municipal ceremony in Slovenska Bistrica to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Slovenia’s independence and the seizing of the military storage facility in Zgornja Ložnica, where he also delivered a keynote address. As part of the ceremony, the busts of Dr Jože Pučnik and Ivan Pučnik made by the sculptor and restorer Viktor Gojkovič were unveiled in the park near the municipal building.
Prime Minister Janša highlighted that Slovenska Bistrica is a place with a beautiful name, where progress can be seen at every turn, and congratulated the mayor and his team. Progress should not be taken for granted, as nothing happens without people’s courage and vision. He said that people in Slovenska Bistrica have both. Those who negotiated and fought here in those difficult times 30 years ago also needed courage and vision. “Those who seized one of the biggest storage facilities of the Yugoslav Army and thus considerably strengthened the Slovenian defence potential. Many people were willing to fight but we only had weapons for every fifth of them. With every seized storage facility our power increased and in the first days of July 30 years ago it was clear that no one could stop Slovenia’s independence.”
Prime Minister Janša stressed that everything that we see today would not be possible without vision and courage. Talking of vision, wisdom and courage, we cannot overlook Dr Jože Pučnik and his brother Ivan Pučnik whom Slovenska Bistrica honoured with the two busts. Prime Minister Janša said that he worked with both of them in the Democratic Opposition of Slovenia (DEMOS), the Assembly, the Parliament and numerous meetings where it was deliberated what would enable Slovenian people to implement the decision adopted in the plebiscite. Both of them were realists and aware of potential danger and of the need for protection – which meant the army. Prime Minister Janša also said that we are grateful today for this support, which should not be taken for granted.
He also said, among other things, that he remembered Dr Pučnik from many late-night sessions and meetings, where he argued pragmatically and with strong arguments which could not be refuted for a clear path to the implementation of the plebiscite decision. He recalled that much remains to be done to honour the contribution and memory of the Pučnik brothers.
He said that 30 years ago we started from a starting point that at that time represented 27 percent of Austria’s purchasing power per capita. Today, after the economic crisis and a long period of recession after 2008, Slovenia is once again approaching the European average, something we could only dream of 30 years ago.
He went on to stress that Slovenia currently ranks among the top ten countries in the world in terms of security and sustainable development. Currently, Slovenia is one of the EU member states with the fastest growth rates after the epidemic and one of the lowest unemployment rates. A comparison between the present time and that of 30 years ago shows that we did the right thing. Opportunities that we have not yet seized are still here.
In his address, he expressed the belief that we need to draw strength from the times that united us – the times of Slovenian independence, when the Slovenian nation was not divided. The result of the plebiscite is a magnificent fate shaped by the Slovenian nation itself. The only time in history that it did so. Every good development policy stems from the time that united us.
In his address, he thanked all those who remember those times, particularly those who helped create them. “Those were the times of fear and courage, and we had to choose courage over fear.”
In closing, the Prime Minister congratulated the Municipality of Slovenska Bistrica, saying that the future lies in the next 30 years. “If we build on the values of Slovenian independence, then the next 30 years can be even more successful. I wish you every success, and God bless Slovenia,” he concluded.