Minister of Culture Asta Vrečko announced the merger of two museums at the end of October. The opposition parties Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS) and New Slovenia party (Nova Slovenija – NSi) oppose the merger, as does the Association for Values of Slovenian Independence (Združenje za vrednote slovenske osamosvojitve – VSO). The importance of an independent Museum of Independence was also highlighted by the President of the Republic, Borut Pahor, a few days ago when he announced that he would like to consult with Prime Minister Robert Golob on the matter.
The Museum of Slovenian Independence was established by the government of Janez Janša in March last year, which was described by the NSi MP Janez Žakelj at Monday’s press conference as “an honourable, patriotic and state-building act.” According to him, Slovenia has been waiting too long for a museum of this kind.
Therefore, the NSi party sees the announced merger of the museums as an “ideological project of the Left party (Levica),” which, in their view, is doing everything in its power to destroy the values of Slovenian independence. “Slovenian independence was not a project of one political party or a few individuals, but an achievement of the unity of the Slovenian nation and the plebiscitary will of all Slovenians to live in an independent Slovenia,” Žakelj said.
This is about erasing the good work of the previous government and the memory of independence
He described the intended merger as a deceptive manoeuvre and said that the intention behind it was the deliberate policy of the Left party, which is trying to minimise the importance of Slovenian independence and the establishment of its own state. He also accused the current government of wanting to erase all of the good work that was done by the previous government. If the Ministry does not back down from its intention to merge the museums, the NSi party is planning to file an interpellation against the Minister of Culture Asta Vrečko. “As this is a key and central value of our nation, we are convinced that the parties of the coalition, with the exception of the Left party, will also support the interpellation,” Žakelj concluded.
Is the abolishment of the museum a solo action of the Left party or part of the coalition programme?
“I am firmly opposed to this matter being seen or presented as an ideological project. Because if this is an ideological project, the plebiscite was also an ideological project, and the whole independence was an ideological project,” said the President of the first Slovenian government and President of the Association for Values of Slovenian Independence, Lojze Peterle. He believes that it is not wise to introduce ideology into the national and cultural project of the previous government at this time, as it will undoubtedly further feed polarisation. He stressed, however, that the decision to establish the museum was a political one, and what would be in the museum itself, he said, was a matter of profession. He said it is also important to find out whether the intention to merge the museums was an item on the coalition’s agenda, or just a “solo action” by the Left party.
The Minister is avoiding taking responsibility and refers to unnamed experts
The Committee on Culture is currently discussing the “liquidation of the Museum of Slovenian Independence.” On the sidelines of the meeting, when asked by the press at what stage the intention to merge the museums was, Minister Asta Vrečko replied that the Ministry was currently arranging the documentation on the basis of expert documents. At the moment, the intention does not have the support of all coalition partners, but she believes that it will be given as soon as the documents are presented. Criticism, she says, is coming from only one side, with the Museum of Independence also being opposed by veterans’ organisations as well as the profession.
She added that they themselves would like to see this period evaluated in terms of scientific research, but within the existing museums. In Slovenia, she explained, there are several museums and galleries that are already working on this subject. They have collections, archives and recorded testimonies, which they write about and exhibit. The Museum of Slovenian Independence, however, does not have a
As for the announced interpellation, the Minister believes that the profession and the general public are on their side. “We will present our arguments, and I am sure that all political parties will support our intentions,” she concluded.