In the SDS, we are building Slovenia. We are not interested in quarrels. If we are attacked, we know how to defend ourselves, let no one doubt it. We are stronger than ever. But our focus is on the next 30 years, on the opportunities we have now more than we have ever had before. Also because of us. That’s why we build.
The honourable speaker at the 12th SDS Congress, which took place in Slovenske Konjice on 19 June 2021, was the Prime Minister and President of the SDS Janez Janša.
We publish his full speech below.
Dear Slovenian democrats, dear friends! In the last 32 years since we have been building the SDS, and 30 years since we have been building Slovenia, we have experienced many things, including dances in masks, but we have not had a congress in masks yet, therefore I thank you for your patience. At the same time, I hope that this is the first and last such congress and that in the future both Slovenia and Europe, as well as global civilization, will be able to stop the epidemic, like the one that attacked us at the beginning of last year, at the very beginning. I also hope that we will no longer have to deal with epidemics for a year or more, like we have had to deal with COVID-19 lately. Thank God the epidemic is subsiding, there are enough vaccines. Slovenia has provided sufficient and diverse vaccines, and so today we are gathered here only those who have already been vaccinated, or have been tested, or both – many of us many times as far as testing is concerned. And in the coming months, our lives and the lives of our fellow citizens will be easier given how many people will be vaccinated voluntarily.
As already mentioned, there is enough vaccine, both vector and mRNA, and from Monday onwards, there will be enough vaccines and people will be able to choose which vaccine they want. If anyone had any doubts about the various campaigns and everything that is happening around us and in Europe, any preferences – from Monday onwards it will be possible to choose a vaccine in Slovenia. The key goal is to achieve such a share of vaccination coverage that it will allow us to live a normal life not only over the summer, which is relatively reliable, but also in the autumn. I think we all want that and we deserve it, given all our renunciation over the last year. It was a real miracle that vaccines were tested earlier, in ten times less time than usual, and it would be not only a tragedy but nonsense if Slovenians, Europeans and mankind in general did not use this achievement and thus make their life difficult.
We have had our congresses for the last 20 years, we meet at regular congresses every 4 years, we evaluate our work and above all we look into the future. A little more than 4 years have passed since our last congress and during that time a lot has happened, we have had all the possible elections that exist under our constitution, there have been as many as five, and of those five elections we have won as many as four. Thank you for these victories, thank you for this strength, thank you for this perseverance in this time, in times that were not easy. Four wins out of five is something many other parties would like.
This year, Slovenia is also celebrating its 30th birthday, and this is our common holiday, in fact the biggest holiday. A comparison of time between then, between the time before those days or weeks 30 years ago, and between the time we live in today, shows us that as a nation as well as as a country, we have done a lot during this time. The move forward has been enormous, greater than ever before in our known history. It is a feat of a generation, unique and all-encompassing and, as we hope and believe, lasting.
At the same time, Slovenia was changing during this time, and the world around us was also changing. Many things are better, but new challenges have also arisen, completely unimaginable 30 years ago, both external and internal. Thirty years ago, we could not even dream that in 2021 Slovenia would lead the Council of the European Union for the second time as a full member, to achieve such a jump in the standard, when in 30 years we have progressed from 27% of the average Austrian standard to 90% of the European average. There are few countries, except some in Central Europe, that would be faster in development at this time, but some were faster and something needs to be learned from this. Of course, 30 years ago, when we finally experienced the first multi-party elections, no one believed that after 30 years it would be necessary to defend representative or parliamentary democracy, equality before the law, freedom of expression, the right to property and free enterprise and everything else that some question today. And this despite the fact that these are the basic constitutional foundations of Slovenian democracy. But unfortunately, all this is happening today. Maybe we were a little surprised at the beginning, no one believed that this was even possible, but it is happening today, here in Slovenia, in the middle of the European Union. They are even bringing back to the public space the speech from the cruel times of the civil conflict in the last century, including the mass and unfortunately unpunished use of the death threat. We are therefore forced to respond to all these threats to the constitutional foundations of the Slovenian Republic at this Congress, and we are responding to this in a special resolution of this Congress, which you discussed and which we will discuss and adopt again later. Dear all, the Slovene Democratic Party, we are the only Slovenian parliamentary party that was formed at a time when an independent Slovenian state was being born, at a time of fighting for human rights, democracy and independent Slovenia. Today, the Slovene Democratic Party is the only party that was formed at that time, which is still in one piece, in an even bigger piece, because in the meantime we have combined the scattered energies of Demos and we are still a parliamentary party. Even more. Today, the SDS is the Slovenian political force with by far the greatest support of voters. It is true, however, that in these last 30 years we have been in a position where we have been able to co-create solutions and also implement them for only 10 years, and two thirds of that time we have been in opposition. However, fate somehow wanted the burden of responsibility to always fall on us when it was hardest. During independence, when dr. Jože Pučnik led the Demos coalition, during the war for Slovenia, during the struggle for international recognition at that crucial time between 1990 and 1994. We were also in the government for a short time during the key period of fulfilling Slovenia’s conditions for joining the EU and NATO in 2000, during the accession to the euro area and Schengen, as well as during the EU or European Council or the Council of the Union during our first government, which we led between 2004 and 2008. We also had the burden of responsibility during the rescuing of the economic and financial crisis in 2012, when we had to adopt more restrictive solutions in a single session than was previously necessary in 22 years, and in 2012 we saved Slovenia from the “troika”. This was not done by those who came later and just sat down on our score and distributed the money we collected to the tycoons who wasted some banks and now they are saying the opposite. And of course the burden of responsibility has been on us in the last year and more, since March last year, when the epidemic was declared, when we had to take over the government only a day after that – with empty warehouses, disregarding the advice given by the World Health Organization to Slovenia already three years earlier, how to prepare for the epidemic, and without serious plans on how to organize health care to meet this challenge. And, of course, the burden of responsibility is on our shoulders even now, when we are essentially taking over the files that need to be resolved within the EU Council. This task starts practically in less than two weeks.
Many of our friends abroad, whom I meet and talk to about the parties we lead, ask how the SDS managed all this. Even in other transition or post-communist countries, today we meet parties that did not exist 30 years ago. We encounter a variety of political forms and organizations, many of which, as in our country, are one-day flies. They ask us how we were able to succeed, not only that we survived, but that we also progressed together with Slovenia. When we had the first elections to the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia under the new constitution, we came to the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia with less than 3.5%; and now we are therefore asked how a party that barely survived those first turbulent years could have emerged as the leading political force in the country. I believe that each of you knows a lot of answers, and they are all probably correct, but in the general answer to these questions, I see two main, essential points in particular.
First. We succeeded because of you, because of the answers that each of you has to the questions of why someone decided to join the SDS, and to build a common future in this party. We succeeded because of the thousands of members you represent, who are not here today, but many follow us through the transmission on the networks or through Nova24TV. And, of course, we also succeeded because of those we respectfully remember at every congress, which we did today at the beginning: because of the thousands of members who worked with us, but are no longer with us today. Just since the last congress, just under 1,000 members have left us, including many prominent members who have been building local committees, provincial organizations and the SDS at the state level for decades. We remember all of these, we are grateful to them and yet we are happy that instead of these, almost 1,000 who died, between 6,000 and 7,000 new members joined the SDS at that time, therefore we grew and today we are much stronger than we were four years ago, despite the fact that we were already the strongest in Slovenia at that time. We succeeded in this because of all of us who did not yield even during the most difficult pressures, but persisted in the democratic struggle and in the end always prevailed. In my opinion, this is the most important thing, despite all the effort, effort and sacrifices – some others also tried, sacrificed, but they did not succeed – this would not have happened in our country if the SDS had not been able to continue Pučnik’s tradition and to fight for the thing, for the truth.
Even when the amplifiers and speakers of lies were loudest, we knew what was true. We knew what was true, and we knew for ourselves who we were. We had our own identity and we lived that identity as well. We had and still have a strong identity of a Slovene and democratic political force. When they convinced Slovenia that there were several truths, we knew they were lying. When they shouted against the falsification of history, we knew that history could not be falsified. History is only one, what has happened has happened, it cannot be changed, nor can it be denied if you are faithful to the truth. History, therefore, cannot be falsified, for there is only one history, just as there is only one truth. Something happened or didn’t happen. People see and evaluate events differently. We need to have respect for these differences, and freedom of expression also allows an individual to have completely opposite views from someone else. But a commitment to the truth is the foundation of everything. Because if something doesn’t exist, you can’t have different estimates about it. You may otherwise claim that something exists even though it does not exist, but it is no longer an assessment or opinion, but a lie. And here begins the struggle for truth, up to this point, respect for differences, different opinions and assessments is absolutely one of the fundamental values of democracy. When it comes to claims that something exists, but it doesn’t exist, or vice versa, then it’s not about respecting diversity. And because of this fact, the lie is always endangered by its very nature, so all totalitarian ideologies have a lot of problems with this, which is why censorship has arisen at all.
Even today, much effort is being made to censor or drown out the truth, to suppress the individual’s right to freedom of expression, and recently this has been sought to be replaced by the syntagma about freedom of the media. But here we must be very clear. Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right and belongs to the individual, and not to media houses or corporations. Those who mix this together have no good intentions, and neither the media nor the media or digital corporations have the right to restrict the fundamental human right in any way. This fundamental human right and political freedom is also the foundation of democracy. All institutions that consider themselves civilized, including media houses, have, of course, great power, but also great responsibility, to defend this fundamental human right, not to inhibit it. And lately, we’ve been facing dilemmas that claim just the opposite.
Today, obviously, whether we like it or not, the so-called digital transformation and the green transition are taking place in the world, with which we want to preserve our planet for future generations. And the SDS has been committed to this from the very beginning; read our first program – at the time when no one was talking about ecological issues, we already had an ecological forum and one of the basic commitments was the commitment to do everything to leave Slovenia as intact as possible. even cleaner and less polluted even for the 5th generation of our descendants. At the same time, in this world globally, not only in Slovenia or the EU, we are also facing attempts at censorship, suppression of fundamental human rights, which is a basic condition for democracy to function at all.
We are facing the exploitation of globalisation processes to greatly enrich some of the world’s corporations. The conclusion of the last meeting of the seven most developed countries in England to introduce a global corporate tax is a big step in the right direction to curb this and we hope that this will be followed by steps to prevent censorship. There is also speculative financial capital, which generates profits where there is more chaos. And the more socialists in power, the greater the chaos, so this connection between them is not as illogical or unnatural as one would sometimes think. We are also facing attempts to create a parallel world order, which would not be based on the agreement and cooperation of democratically elected representatives of countries and institutions, but on the strength of technological and capital networks, which in their own way subordinate democratic processes.
I say this because I want to emphasize once again that today the whole dilemma regarding democracy, the dilemma of the modern world, Europe and also Slovenia, is actually gathered around the fight for the truth. Whatever is going on around us and you don’t like much of it – when you analyse things and get to the bottom of it, you see that it’s a fight for the truth. This truth is attacked by censorship and propaganda even in the countries of the old, consolidated democracy. In the SDS, we answer these dilemmas with words that were written more than 100 years ago, we answer these dilemmas with Ivan Cankar, who wrote in the Bela Krizantema (White Chrysanthemum): »As long as I am faithful to the truth, I am true to myself. As long as I work in the name of truth, my work will be fruitful …«
We can only add that this applies to both the individual and the party, and that it applies to Slovenia, Europe and the whole world. Ivan Cankar wrote something more than 100 years ago that is still the essence today. The question of truth is a question of fundamental universal value. With 3.4% in 1992, the SDS advanced to the strongest political force in Slovenia because we did not lose sight of that.
Second. In my opinion, we, the Slovenian Democratic Party, have managed to become and exist as the central political force in Slovenia because we know what we are, because we fight for the truth, but at the same time we respect the freedom and differences that it presupposes. In the SDS we do not hate anyone and we do not exclude anyone, we are also able to cooperate with those who think differently when it comes to the common good. And we are not talking about it, but that’s how we actually work. We are the only party in Slovenia that has so far participated in governments with all the classic political options in the last 30 years. We were not able to cooperate with those who did not exist at that time, but with all the classic political options in Slovenia, we have been in the government so far. And whenever we led a coalition, we led a coalition of different-minded parties. In this term of office, we thank our partners in the government, Nova Slovenija (New Slovenia) and the Stranka modernega centra (The modern center party), as well as the DeSUS party, for state-building.
Many of you attended the council meeting where we discussed whether to go to the elections we actually demanded after others formed a government after our victory, at a time when a great danger threatened whose dimensions we could not even assess at the time. To take a risk and form a government, even with those against whom we have previously filed interpellations, with those who took our mandates in previous formations and with whom we had many differences and many clashes of arguments in the National Assembly. Despite all the dilemmas and despite the fact that the bare political calculation dictated to us early elections – and maybe not only to us, but also another party with which we are in a coalition today –, we decided for state-building. Looking back, we can only imagine what it would be like if we acted differently. I will not go to the last year when those who gave up and left empty warehouses behind blamed us for everything possible, every measure we took to curb the epidemic … If they had been allowed to run the country until the elections, Slovenia would have experienced chaos like never before in history, probably not even during World War II. Looking back, we see that we have also taken some measures with support outside the coalition, therefore we also thank the SNS MPs and both MPs of nationality who supported these measures when it came to the common good, who supported the eight anti-corona packages which resonated abroad and were also copied by many. We also thank all the other members of the coalition for their support, when they supported the majority or at least some of the necessary solutions during this time. When the wind of history blows away the chaff, these actions will be shown in the right light.
The SDS also has many friends in Europe and around the world. We are capable of cooperation and overcoming political divisions. As you have seen before, but we have not published everything yet, we are receiving support from our political group as well as from others in the European Parliament. There was support from the world’s two largest political internationals, we were supported by leaders from three different European political groups.
Also at home, in government, we have formed three important strategic councils to help us with debureaucratization, social policy reform and digital transformation. We included everyone who wanted to participate, including those who publicly criticized the government; there is nothing wrong with that. Everyone who is willing to contribute their knowledge to making Slovenia better is welcome. Slovenia has a lot of knowledge, we have excellent, even top experts of all necessary profiles. We are aware that not all knowledge is in the government or in the National Assembly, nor in the institutions, most of the knowledge is elsewhere. The ability to govern is the ability to engage this knowledge for the common good. In the coming years, we will significantly increase the well-being of Slovenia by organizing this knowledge.
Let me list just a few measures that will save people millions of hours of time and enable them higher salaries, pensions and more quality time for themselves and their families:
- The application for an electronic building permit will at any time enable the completion and insight into the status and phase of resolving the application, which will significantly speed up the procedures. The Construction Act removes a number of bureaucratic hurdles. Even more of them are being eliminated by the first legal package for debureaucratization, which is also already in the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia.
- An informative calculation of family benefits will save parents from filling out a number of forms with data that the state already has collected.
- The electronic identity card will provide a secure and fast way to access the online services of public administration, banks, telecommunications operators and other service providers.
- The tax direct debit will enable the payment of tax and other financial obligations without wasting time.
- The virtual administrative window will allow you to edit administrative and other public services via a secure audio-video connection. A single portal will serve as a unified entry point to services, which are available today through various and unrelated portals.
- The unified tax decision will cover all annual liabilities of an individual, from various taxes, including the total settlement of all tax liabilities.
- We will introduce only one-time annual e-reporting of companies to state authorities through a single state platform and a single form. We will simplify teleworking.
- We will introduce systemic incentives for institutional investors, such as insurance companies and pension funds, to increase the share of funds in their portfolios for investments in start-ups and alternative investment funds.
- We will introduce a comprehensive digitization of notary services with the possibility of performing as many of these services as possible remotely.
- We will introduce income tax relief for domestic and foreign experts who return or immigrate to Slovenia for employment in the field of engineering and other deficient professions with high added value.
- We will make taxation of employee options and shares attractive to both employees and employers.
- We will create an unified platform with a mobile application that will connect various forms of public and other transport, such as city and suburban buses, trains and city bikes.
- We will introduce a digital token designed to promote lifelong learning in the field of digital skills. In the first phase, retirees will be eligible for digital tokens.
- We will introduce a compulsory subject of computer science and informatics in primary and secondary schools, and we will digitize the learning process in schools of all levels.
- With the help of already developed and tested e-care tools, we will introduce an electronic home care service for at-risk elderly people, the disabled and the seriously ill. This will provide all involved users with comprehensive institutional health care while constantly monitoring their health status. We will expand the health program of telemedicine services to all target groups. We will digitize price lists and bills for health services and make them simple and transparent.
- We will open an office that will provide informational, legal and administrative support to Slovenian experts who want to return to Slovenia.
- We will also establish a unified database of Slovene experts abroad, intended for connecting Slovenians abroad with their homeland.
- We will design and defend policies that strengthen European cybersecurity, improve the business environment and maintain consumers’ freedom of choice. In doing so, we will connect with other countries working towards a more competitive and safer Europe.
- A few days ago, at a single session, the government adopted more systemic laws or solutions and sent them to the National Assembly than the two previous governments in their two terms together did. These include the Long-Term Care Act and the Healthcare Investment Act. The first solves the problems of hundreds of thousands of elderly and disabled people, and the second will spend almost 2 billion euros or five times more on healthcare investments over the next 10 years than previous governments have spent on healthcare in the last decade. During this time, however, they devoted three times more to their media and their pro-government organizations than to health care and care for the elderly.
These were their priorities; therefore, new and new versions of the law on long-term care were written – that it did not have to be adopted, because then funds would have to be provided and these funds would not go to Rog, Metelkova and for those paid to cycle on Fridays. This is the whole truth of Slovenian development. And the main motive for opposing the current coalition, the main motive for the attacks on the parties that formed this coalition, is exactly that. Not only have we redirected these funds; by redirecting them, the difference has become apparent and it will continue to be difficult to say in the future that there was no money for the things we desperately need. And I hope that there will be enough courage and a majority in the National Assembly in the coming months that these laws will also get their final binding form. And then, even if there will be some other government, it will be very difficult to change the funds we allocate for what is obviously needed. These are historical shifts, historical achievements, and thank you for participating in this.
As we have written on the background of the congress and on the website, and as we have already internalized and adopted in a way – lately we have been directing our efforts to the motto Building Slovenia. We are building Slovenia in the SDS. This is our basic goal and message to Slovenes on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Slovenian statehood.
Therefore, in the SDS we are building Slovenia. We are not interested in quarrels. If we are attacked, we know how to defend ourselves, let no one doubt it. We are stronger than ever. But our focus is on the next 30 years. On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Slovenian statehood, our gaze is focused mainly on the next 30 years. It focuses on opportunities that exist and that might already have been exploited but were not. Above all, in the opportunities that have arisen and that there are more of them today than ever before. Also because of us. That’s why we build.
We are building Slovenia based on the truth.
We are building Slovenia based on reconciliation.
We are building Slovenia based on the values of its independence.
We are building Slovenia, in which the sound of bells will continue to echo in the future and in which the hills will continue to be littered with churches.
We are building a Slovenia that respects natural laws.
We are building a healthy Slovenia, Slovenia with an efficient health care system accessible to everyone, without long queues.
We are building Slovenia, where we will be equal before the law, Slovenia without division into first- and second-class. We are building a Slovenia of equal citizens. We are building a decentralized Slovenia.
We are building a family-friendly Slovenia, a Slovenia full of joy of life.
We are building a Slovenia that protects the environment and preserves nature for the next generations of our descendants. We are building Slovenia, where there are plenty of opportunities for young people.
We are building a Slovenia that protects the health and dignity of the elderly and takes into account their contribution and experience.
We are building an innovative Slovenia. We are building an enterprising Slovenia.
We are building a Slovenia of culture and art. We are building a sporty Slovenia, Slovenia of a healthy mind in a healthy body.
We are building a Slovenia in which the participation of people who think differently for the common good is welcomed, welcomed and – self-evident.
We are building Slovenia, a homeland for all her sons and daughters.
We are building a brave and confident Slovenia.
Long live the Slovenian Democratic Party. God bless Slovenia.