The Prime Minister Janez Janša gave a solemn address at the national celebration on the occasion of Independence and Unity Day, which this time was only in the form of a television show due to the epidemiological situation. The solemn address of the Prime Minister is published below.
“Dear Slovenes, dear fellow citizens!
Yugoslavia no longer exists, now it’s about Slovenia …
With these words, the father of independent Slovenia, dr. Jože Pučnik, marked the moment of the most important decision in the history of the Slovenian nation. It was a time, the only time, when the nation really literally wrote its own judgment. And this judgment was glorious, it resonated outside the world and in the soul and heart of every Slovene. Everyone who circled FOR an independent Slovenia with a pencil, regardless of their blood origin, became part of the Slovene community, part of the nation in the modern sense. As the poet wrote at the time, our souls were overwhelmed by solemn luxury and our hearts were filled with warmth. We knew what we were, and that’s what we wanted to be. We stood up, stood in spite of everything, and in half a year, with our resistance to the aggression of the Yugoslav People’s Army and the struggle and victory in the war for Slovenia, we also stayed.
Despite the wanderings of part of politics, the Slovenian nation was united. So united that the weight of this fact also pressed those decision-makers for whom independent Slovenia, in their own words, was not an intimate option. After the historic November decision of Demos in Poljče to propose a plebiscite, we reached a political agreement, unanimously adopted the law on the plebiscite and enabled the nation to decide freely.
Thirty years is a long enough time to assess what the plebiscite decision has brought to Slovenia and Slovenes. Time long enough to leave no excuses left to avoid this assessment.
Especially those of us who were part of the plebiscite Christmas fairy tale, its hard overture and sequel, the drama upon realization, and the happy ending, we don’t have that excuse. We need to ask ourselves some self-evident questions.
Was the decision correct?
Yes, it was correct. Correct and timely. Especially from what we know today about the horrors of hell and the wars in much of the territory of the country we chose to leave in time, this positive response is unequivocal.
Was the decision economically justified?
Yes. Compared to other countries that emerged on the territory of the former SFRY, Slovenia developed significantly faster in the three decades of its independent life. Today, we create 4 to 5 times more per capita in one year than in Serbia, Northern Macedonia or Bosnia and Herzegovina, and almost once more than in Croatia.
As we became independent, we were able to achieve greater prosperity, we were safer, more open to the outside world, more connected to the developed world, formerly involved in the European Union, NATO, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, and more internationally influential.
But with all these positive answers, after 30 years we are also obliged to ask ourselves the question: have we also used all the strategic development opportunities that we have created with independence?
Here, however, the answer is unfortunately more difficult and less unambiguous. Because we missed a lot of opportunities for a variety of reasons. At this point and at this time, it is worth noting in more detail one that is essential. To make the answer to this dilemma more understandable, let’s ask ourselves a sub-question:
Can we imagine where we would be today if we could breathe with full lungs and use all our strengths and potentials throughout our independence?
The opportunity, which we recognized as fatal and historical through Demos 30 years ago, we managed to use and realize mainly because we saw it as such as a nation, because we had enough divisions and because this unity before the plebiscite was followed by the then opposition politics.
Later, only once again, upon joining the EU, did we show such a degree of maturity. Even though we would need it all the time. Not always because of fatality, but because of usefulness for sure.
Instead of a policy of cooperation and inclusion, almost two-thirds of the time after independence was marked by exclusion. Most of what bothers most people of different beliefs in Slovenia today is the result of the exclusion of those who think differently. Those who think differently are generally excluded for ideological reasons. And if they defend themselves, they are accused of opening up ideological topics. Thus, half of the nation is often denied the fundamental democratic right to think and speak differently.
At a time when we are struggling with the insidious disease Covid-19, it is clear to everyone what damaged lungs mean to our body. But the virus of exclusion causes the same consequences on the body of the nation and the state. How will we be healthy, fast and successful if we can’t breathe with both wings of our lungs?
The policy of exclusion is also the result of public emphasizing on what separates us. Instead of emphasizing what unites us. And there is no greater symbol of the common than the plebiscite and independence. Throughout our long and stormy history, there is no time that is more sacred than the time of independence. And no time to be closer to reconciliation. Throughout our history, there is no hour in which we are more united and connected than the time of the common plebiscite decision. For this decision consisted of a completely personal, intimate, inner decision of each individual. From the sincere decision of each individual. From an honest decision.
Many other nations have territories in addition to the state with rich natural resources or simply the weight of their numerosity and size. We have our paradise under Triglav and ourselves. The wealth of our country is its people. We will never be the greatest, but we can be the best. Like many of our entrepreneurs, athletes, artists and scientists. But we can also be the best as a community and a country. Only our treasure of plebiscite unity, which unfortunately for most of three decades lies deeply buried underground, must be invested in our common future.
A year passes, named »annus horribilus« due to the consequences of the pandemic. Terrible year. Instead of taking a lot from the treasure of unity during the ordeal, some people rolled a few more quintals of rocks onto this year at this time. Therefore, in dealing with an epidemic, we are paying a higher price than would be necessary.
But at this point and on this occasion, let us rather say something about the steps that give hope and that the expiring year has brought a lot.
75 years after the tragic slaughter that overwhelmed and marked our nation at the end of World War II, this year we paid tribute together to the victims on both sides. Without anyone holding their hands in their pockets.
The return of the Narodni dom in Trieste and a tribute to the victims of both nations are historic steps in reconciliation with our western neighbor. The joint event and the participation of the two presidents on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the Carinthian plebiscite is a similar step towards reconciliation with our northern neighbor. However, the wounds inflicted on us by the tragic 20th century in Europe are slowly healing.
By far the biggest step this year in terms of plebiscite unity and the participation of dissidents is the formation of a mixed coalition of parliamentary parties. With this coalition in March this year, after the resignation of the previous government, we prevented the tragic consequences of the epidemic at a time of impending political disintegration. SMC (Party of the Modern Center), DeSUS, Nova Slovenija and the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) proved at the beginning of this year that they are capable of cooperating for the good of the present and the future, regardless of the past. In particular, the President of the SMC and the President of DeSUS, as well as the deputies of both parties, showed similar courage, breadth and reason as our predecessors when they signed an agreement on united support for the plebiscite 30 years ago.
Today, unfortunately, in some places they exclude from their ranks individuals who advocate the participation of those who think differently. However, this will never change the fundamental fact that cooperation policy gives birth to good solutions for the majority. And vice versa. By far the biggest, although for the most part imperceptible shift towards the plebiscite tradition, is indicated by a letter from a young member of the Social Democrats (SD); he wrote a month ago that there are two parties cooperating in their municipal council, which are otherwise on different sides at the state level. That they go to various celebrations on weekends, but this does not prevent them from cooperating in the municipal council and working for the common good of the municipality and its inhabitants.
The author of this letter was probably not even born at the time of the plebiscite decision and unity, but he still understands the plebiscite message of the nation. This understanding fills us with the hope that from the fountain of unity, happiness and reconciliation, as our greatest Slovenian poet would put it – from this sacred heritage of Slovenes – in the future sooner or later everyone will scoop, as the treasure is common.
Especially in the weeks and months ahead, when we will desperately need the courage and common sense of 30 years ago. We are facing the most demanding part of the epidemic. According to European experts, January and February will be the most difficult months to deal with it on our continent. However, this will not necessarily be the case in Slovenia. In any case, we will endure, because now, for the first time since its inception, we know that we will surely win. To date, the Slovenian government has prepared 7 comprehensive legal packages to mitigate the consequences of the epidemic. We saved jobs, helped people and businesses. We maintained and improved the country’s credit ratings and maintained the condition of the economy. The joint efforts of our European and world science have yielded an effective vaccine. We will receive the first doses of the vaccine exactly 30 years after the announcement of our historic plebiscite decision. The most vulnerable will get it first. But in the next few months, the most we can do to stop the epidemic and reduce its tragic consequences is to limit our contacts as much as possible for some time to come. For us and for others. Even though it’s hard. None of us is a lonely island. So let’s be in solidarity. However, we can make up for everything we missed during the time of restrictions, except for lost lives. Our sincere condolences to all of you who lost your loved ones during the epidemic.
But let the experience of this epidemic also be a lesson for the future. We need to correct the mistakes of the past, when we did not build new homes for the elderly or more modern hospitals for 15 years, nor did we regulate the situation in health care. The adoption of legal bases for the permanent care of the elderly has been dragging on for many years. But this time it can be different. We have provided enough resources in the European Union funds to make up for many delays. We will also regulate the pay system in health care and pass a law on long-term care for the elderly. We will make sure that young people get opportunities at home. With the Demographic Fund, we will relieve the burden on live labor and ensure the stability of the pension system.
Dear Slovenes, dear fellow citizens.
There are days ahead of us that are usually special every year. Festive. Solemn. As we remember our unity 30 years ago, we look forward to the new birth and the countless opportunities that each new year brings.
This year is not normal and we are all already tired from the long struggle with the epidemic. It is not easy for anyone. However, we do not let the whole festive atmosphere be taken away. We will celebrate separately but connected. In mind with those who fight in the first ranks for our health and lives. Connected in the awareness that we will be able to win this time as well. With a desire to breathe more with full lungs in the new year. We are a nation that joined forces in the most fateful moments and still exists. Even after this winter, spring will come. And next year, on Christmas and New Year’s Eve, we will again fill churches and squares in common celebration and joy.
Sincere congratulations on Independence and Unity Day. I wish you a Merry and Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Stay healthy and brave.”