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Friday, December 2, 2022

Discussion about Dr Jože Pučnik: In the memory of contemporaries and historical memory

By: L.K.F.

In the Museum of Slovenian Independence, as part of the exhibition about Dr Jože Pučnik, there was a discussion entitled Jože Pučnik in the memory of contemporaries and historical memory on October 3rd . The speakers are gathered in the hall of the Slovene Society association.

The welcome address was given by Dr Željko Oset, director of the Museum of Slovenian Independence, and the keynote speech by the President of the Republic, Borut Pahor.

Participating in the round table: Son of Dr Jože Pučnik, Gorazd Pučnik; philosopher and sociologist Dr Spomenka Hribar; Janez Janša and Lojze Peterle spoke about Pučnik’s profile; prof. Dr Dimitrij Rupel and Dr Rosvita Pesek shed light on Nova revija and Demos; and with moderator Alenka Puhar, assoc. prof. Dr Aleš Maver talks about Jože Pučnik at the Maribor Classical High School.

Jože Pučnik, as the central figure of the Slovenian political spring and one of the founders of the Slovenian state, should be better placed in the Slovenian collective consciousness, they urged at today’s consultation of Jože Pučnik in Ljubljana. As President Borut Pahor said, no one can compete with Pučnik in terms of importance and influence.

11:00-12:00: SDS President Janez Janša pointed out: “It took three decades to get a museum of Slovenian independence. I am glad that one of the first events is a symposium on Dr Jože Pučnik.”

And he continued: “Independence was one of the two key points of the Demos programme and it succeeded because Demos won the majority in the assembly. The big illusion was that this new time would change everything and that now everything would go on by itself.”

“The resolution of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in 1996 warned exactly where the post-communist world would go if the basic structures of the totalitarian system were not dismantled. The warning was timely but silenced. There are minutes, testimonies, and audio recordings of the negotiations, so there is no need for someone to interpret this from some articles from Dnevnik. From the last negotiation with the so-called reformers, Pučnik told that they would never agree to the fundamental norms of civilisation,” Janša emphasised.

He also warned: “We have seen that it is not enough to establish a new form, but that it is also necessary to enforce the fundamental norms of civilisation. The fundamental norm is that everyone is treated equally, that a crime is a crime and that this is the basis for reconciliation and coexistence.”

10:30: All interlocutors agreed that Pučnik was always consistent in his opinion and that no environment hindered him from expressing his convictions. They unanimously characterised him as a fighter for the Slovenian state, while he did not seek personal benefits and was neither power-hungry nor honour-seeking.

10.20: Gorazd Pučnik, son of Dr Jože Pučnik, shared some thoughts about his father with those present at the consultation. He said that otherwise he would not be as clear as his father used to be:

“Contemporaries repeatedly criticised father Jože for haste and lack of patience. He was really in a hurry. He knew that things change slowly. That there is no time to hesitate, there is no time to be afraid.”

He then quoted some of his father’s thoughts, which he said were very telling: “There are plenty of problems and complications. The future is cunning. Never the way you imagine it. It always surprises you. The more general the content, the higher the slope. Think broadly and act concretely.”

10.10: Spomenka Hribar used her appearance at the symposium to sharply criticise Janez Janša and his government. Pučnik’s son Gorazd could not remain silent at this, who said with sadness that he had the feeling that Janša was being talked about more than Jože Pučnik at the symposium: “I would like us to talk more about Jože.” That he does respect the exchange of different opinions, but in a different context, such as this consultation. Mrs. Alenka Puhar pointed out Hribar’s ugly condemnations of Janša and his arrogant, authoritarian leadership: “I have never met such an authoritarian leader who would listen so calmly and bear the condemnations to his own account.”

At the provocation of Dr Spomenka Hribar that it was Janša who allegedly prevented the meetings with the so-called reformers, the president of the Slovenian Democratic Party replied that there remains solid evidence of the untruthfulness of her statements.

10:05: Pahor also tried to deal with the question of Pučnik’s placement in the Slovenian collective consciousness. “We could say that Slovenians are reluctant to glorify individual political figures, especially if there is no great or long historical distance to the events that this figure set the tone for. Maybe someone would say that for part of the public the worship of Pučnik was not acceptable because of his dissidence, others could say that he had a political character that did not suit everyone,” he said.

He himself believes that the historical grievances of part of the Slovenian public towards him began in his efforts to discover the truth about the post-war massacres. “When Pučnik took over the leadership of the investigative commission in 1993, he considered that it was of central importance for the continuation of this process of democratisation, independence and the establishment of a democratic state,” Pahor emphasised. At the same time, he pointed out that Pučnik had encountered many problems in the commission’s work, and he had begun to be stigmatised in the public eye.

10:00: Pahor described Pučnik as the central figure of the Slovenian political spring, the process of Slovenian democratisation. “Pučnik never had a famous political position before, during and after independence, but there is probably no doubt for us that with his vision, clear-headedness and determination, he was a central figure in both the processes of the political spring and the independence of our country,” said the President at a meeting in the hall of the Slovene Society in Ljubljana, which was also attended by Pučnik’s son Gorazd Pučnik, former Prime Ministers Janez Janša and Lojze Peterle, former foreign minister Dimitrij Rupel, and Spomenka Hribar.

The former Prime Minister Janša was of the same opinion, adding that Pučnik was constantly striving to create a consensus in society that a crime is a crime, regardless of who commits it. At the same time, Janša said that there is no such consensus in Slovenia yet.

The consultation takes place at the exhibition about Dr Jože Pučnik, one of the founders of the Slovenian state, prepared by the Museum of Slovenian Independence.

On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Slovenian independence, the President of the Republic, named one of the central halls in the Presidential Palace after Dr Pučnik, and in June 2018 he took part in the ceremony in Brussels to name a hall in the European Parliament after him. In 2018, on the 15th anniversary of the death of Dr Pučnik, he organised a solemn reception in his honour and lasting memory, which was attended by his son Gorazd Pučnik and his family, the then director of the Institute Dr Jože Pučnik, Mr. Boštjan Kolarič and Academician Janko Kos, colleague and companion of Dr Pučnik.

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