Prime Minister Janez Janša yesterday attended the ceremony at the Club 90 to mark the 30th anniversary of Slovenia’s independence, where he delivered a speech. Before the ceremony, a moment of silence was observed for deceased deputies.
The Prime Minister, who was minister for defence at the time of Slovenia’s independence, began by saying that whenever we remembered the past, we idealised it and tried to compare it with the present. “This idealising of the past is something that helps humanity to survive, but sometimes it may prove to be a huge disconnect from reality. When it comes to our independence, and especially to that most pivotal act, the only time in history the Slovenian people wrote its own judgement in a plebiscite in the most democratic way possible, one could say that idealising was the right word. But not in the sense in which we repeatedly hear how in 2021 we are facing such a difficult time, and that everything was fine when we were all united, that everything fell into place by itself, that things were simply a set path of history without anything needing to be done, because I think it was the other way around. The time we are living in now is psychologically exhausting, but there is no comparison in terms of complexity and fate,” said the Prime Minister. He continued: “We are now the masters of our own land, the biggest problems we have are of our own making, no one wants to do us harm, we are part of many different international alliances, the external environment is the most favourable it has been for Slovenia in all our known history, and our future is in our hands.”
“It was very different 30 or 31 years ago. Back then, no one outside Slovenia, and many in Slovenia, would not have bet a dime on it working out well for us. When we told our colleagues abroad that Slovenia would declare its independence, the reactions we received were anything other than a show of faith in our project. But we gained independence against all the odds,” the Prime Minister said, adding that today we can say that it was worth it.
“30 years ago, Slovenia represented 8% of the then Yugoslav population, and generated 16% of the GDP of the former Yugoslavia. We used to contribute a quarter of the federal budget to Belgrade. After 30 years of independence, two million Slovenians generate more in nominal terms, not just per capita, than any other country that has emerged on the territory of the former Yugoslavia, with some of them being two or three times larger,” underlined the Prime Minister. “When we look at the road we have travelled over the last 30 years, despite the difficulties and missed opportunities, we see that we have stood on our own feet and that after 30 years Slovenia is a capable country with a good reputation worldwide, with others inviting us to run for the United Nations Security Council and other international positions because they trust us,” said the Prime Minister.
“In those winter days just before the plebiscite, when we were all deciding together and everyone for themselves before that most pivotal vote in the history of our nation, there were all kinds of debates going on, and not everything was clear-cut,” recalled Prime Minister Janša, saying that at that time a well-known person wrote an academic paper on the plebiscite, stating that the plebiscite was an important matter but that it would not succeed if just a small part – the nation – was in favour, but only if the whole international community recognised that nation. “One reply to this statement was that it wasn’t important whether others recognised it, it mattered more whether you were able to realise what you had decided to do, because then others would recognise it too. You can get recognition for anything, but if you are not able to realise it, you can repeat the plebiscite over and over. Even in the EU, something like this is now happening in some parts of the Member States within the European family,” said the Prime Minister, adding that what was always needed when talking about the Slovenians’ most pivotal decision and what should be emphasised was that we were able to realise that decision.
“It is not that important what others think, it is important how a nation, a community, a state democratically formulates its decisions and how it is willing and able to realise them within the framework of international law – something Slovenia has always been careful to do, including at the time of independence – and the key is not to be full of empty words,” said the Prime Minister. He thanked everyone who was present in the National Assembly at the time these pivotal decisions were taken. “As has been said before me: it was worth it. Be proud of it,” said the Prime Minister.
“Slovenia declared its independence, including making the decision to hold a plebiscite built on unity, in a unique, innovative way that is still somewhat shrouded in mystery. This year, as we celebrate the 30th anniversary of our statehood and have had many visits from abroad, I have often been asked how we actually succeeded. Many did not pay attention to the events at that time, many were even hearing of Slovenia for the first time, its history and the issue of how such a small nation managed to gain independence in such circumstances – without having to pay a heavy price. And the more one explains it, the more this mystery remains. It cannot be explained by figures, the balance of powers, statistics or who was willing to recognise us, but it can be explained by the fact that we were united as a nation, that we physically manifested this unity in the plebiscite and that we managed to carry out this nation’s “command” with the first independence government. This is something that cannot be repeated, something that will forever be written in our history, and all of you who were there at that time should be proud of that. With every year that passes, this pride can grow even stronger,” concluded Prime Minister Janša, who wished everyone a proud Independence and Unity Day, a merry and blessed Christmas and a healthy and courageous 2022.
After the opening address delivered by the President of Club 90, Marjan Podobnik, addresses were also given by the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, the President of the National Assembly, Igor Zorčič, the President of the National Council, Alojz Kovšca, and the first Slovenian Prime Minister Lojze Peterle.
The President of the National Assembly, Igor Zorčič, and the President of Club 90, Marjan Podobnik, presented commemorative certificates to the deputies who were present.
The cultural programme was performed by the Parlament Dixie Band and the New Swing Quartet featuring Oto Pestner.