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Prime Minister Janez Janša Shares His Memories From 30 Years Ago

This week, the guest on the show “Conversations With the Emancipators” (Pogovori z osamosvojitelji) was Prime Minister Janez Janša, who remembered and talked about the events that happened 30 years ago: the defence of the homeland, high treason, the beginnings of the defence power of the newly independent state, and the war in which Slovenia defeated the aggressor – the Yugoslav People’s Army (hereinafter referred to as the YPA). “Well, look. As far as the disarmament of the Slovenian Territorial Defence is concerned, this is high treason that has been documented. The collection called the White Book of Slovenian Independence contains reports from practically the vast majority of the municipal and provincial headquarters of the Territorial Defence, in which it is clearly written when certain people were informed of what was going to happen, and then we also have the documents proving at what time the people reacted, when people lied, and so on. The White Book came out, I think, seven or eight years ago; none of these documents have ever been argued against or otherwise rejected. That is to say, we are talking about facts here. Earlier, I said that before the disarmament, the Territorial Defence had enough weapons for a hundred thousand men, so for more people than there were members. If we had all of these weapons in our possession all the time, then independence would have never been questioned,” Prime Minister Janez Janša pointed out.

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of Slovenian statehood, the editor-in-chief of Nova24TV, Aleksander Rant, prepared a series of interviews with individuals who were key players in the process of Slovenia successfully gaining its independence and becoming a sovereign state thirty years ago. The last in a series of interviews was done with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Janez Janša, who was involved in the JBTZ process and was also the Minister of Defence in the DEMOS government (DEMOS or the Democratic Opposition of Slovenia was a coalition of centre-right parties).

At the beginning of the conversation, he remembered the meeting in Tacen that happened in the years 1987 – 1988. At the time, Milan Kučan and Tomaž Ertl invited all UDBA bosses to a meeting (UDBA – the Yugoslavian State Security Service or the secret police; Uprava državne bezbednosti in Serbo-Croatian). Around 100 participants gathered there. Janša recalled that at the meeting, Kučan said, “these fascist manners, as he called them, which are being shown in the writers’ tribunes in these political programmes of certain new youth organisations – one of which I wrote myself – need to be restrained. Ertl, however, said that the spikes will be cut,” Janša remembers. This meeting was the cause for the repression of all those who advocated for an independent Slovenia.

Among other things, Janez Janša also responded to the statement he once said, namely, “that I was pulled into politics by two UDBA members.” “Yes, Miran Frumen and Drago Isajlović. Had it not been for that arrest, I would probably have pursued a career in computer science, since we had just started working with a very promising company that was growing day by day. This was the beginning of the “boom” of personal computers and computer science in general.”

Slovenia was attacked by the fourth strongest military in Europe, with the goal of physically destroying the enemy
In today’s political situation, Janša and the SDS party are being accused of carrying out revanchism. Back then, all those who were in favour of an independent Slovenia were invited to join DEMOS. The future leader of the country during its time of Presidency of the Council of the European Union remembers that thirty years ago, that was a time “which did not divide the nation, it divided politics – just like those who did not consider independent Slovenia as their preferred option are dividing politics nowadays.” The current Prime Minister defines the time of Slovenia gaining its independence as the centre of values of the Slovenian nation from the moment we actually became independent.

It has often been heard that there was no war in Slovenia at all since it only lasted for ten days. However, at the time, Slovenia was attacked by the fourth strongest military force in Europe. Janša once again highlighted the doctrine of the operation of the Yugoslav People’s Army. Its doctrine was demonstrated in the most horrific way by the now-convicted Ratko Mladić. “The Yugoslav People’s Army doctrine was killing.”

“Namely, what was written in all of the YPA textbooks was that the basic goal of an armed attack is the physical destruction of the enemy,” the former Minister of Defence of the DEMOS government pointed out. He himself, as the then-Minister of Defence, is proud that Slovenia’s goal was not the physical destruction of the enemy. “The fewer casualties, the shorter the war, the less suffering, the greater the victory.”

“The disarmament of the Territorial Defence is a high treason that is documented,” Janša pointed out one of the key moments of Slovenia’s independence
The then-DEMOS government faced daily problems caused by the former regime’s political cadres. The problem arose because the then-parliament was composed of three branches. One of the branches was the assembly of united labour, which was not elected according to the universal suffrage and therefore, the communist party got most of its 80 seats, which meant that it had a two-thirds majority there. All of this posed a problem, as all of the important laws were usually just barely passed. However, the DEMOS government also faced challenges in trying to finalise the process of independence. Janša remembered that if even a few members of the DEMOS government missed some of those sessions, “the vote would not pas,s and the big question is, what would have happened then.”

Janez Janša has repeatedly pointed out that the then-order to disarm the Territorial Defence was high treason. All of the documents related to this incident were presented by the President of the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) in the White Book of Slovenian Independence. It presents several key documents on how some people wanted to leave Slovenia at the mercy of the YPA military forces, completely unarmed. “As far as the disarmament of the Slovenian Territorial Defence is concerned, this is high treason that has been documented. Earlier, I said that before the disarmament, the Territorial Defence had enough weapons for a hundred thousand men, so for more people than there were members. If we had all of these weapons in our possession all the time, then independence would have never been questioned.”
As he further pointed out, the disarmament of the Territorial Defence was carried out in agreement between the then-Communist Party of Yugoslavia and the “remains of this power in the new structures.” We must not forget that the YPA forces took up to 75 percent of all weapons that Slovenia had at the time from Slovenian barracks. “They disarmed us because they knew that if we could not defend ourselves, then we would not be able to become independent.” The presidency, headed by Milan Kučan, knew all of this, but they diligently kept quiet about it.

Even the former state security forces knew about the plan and what was really going on. Everything was planned. The disaster was prevented by the secretariat, as an order came to this body a few days later when the action was already underway. Janša also emphasised the power of DEMOS. In the key moments, it proved that only connection can lead to a historical goal. It was precisely this breadth that was key to “being able to organise the defence successfully, as military knowledge in the DEMOS ranks was rare.”

Janez Janša also touched on the role of the Committee for the Protection of Human Rights. In the key moments for Slovenian independence, Bavčar’s committee enjoyed the great trust of the Slovenian public. However, even then, there was no vision for the Committee for the Protection of Human Rights to become a single political force. According to one of the key figures at the time of Slovenia gaining its independence thirty years ago, the committee “contained all the alternatives at the time, they could have renamed it to a political force and could have acted in unison, they would have even received 90 percent of the votes in the election, because the committee had broad support,” Janša shared another missed historical opportunity. That is precisely why the Slovenian Democratic Union, and several other parties were then formed. Several of the newly formed parties then united in the DEMOS coalition for the first elections in April 1990 and successfully carried out one of the most important moments in Slovenian history.

Luka Perš

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