As part of the celebrations of the 30th anniversary of the proclamation and defence of the independent and sovereign Republic of Slovenia, a ceremony was held today in Ig, marking the 30th anniversary of the oath taken by the first Slovenian recruits. Prime Minister Janez Janša attended the ceremony and gave the key address on this occasion. Thirty years ago, more precisely, on 2 June 1991, the first generation of military recruits serving in the Territorial Defence forces were solemnly sworn in at the training centres at Ig and Pekre near Maribor. For the first time in the history of Slovenians, recruits were performing military service in the Slovenian Armed Forces. After the ceremony and the signing of the oath, the first generation of 270 young men began their military service at a time when the Yugoslav Army was preparing an aggression against Slovenia.
In his address, Prime Minister Janša said that these 30 years had passed quickly. “Sometimes it seems to me that these years passed faster than the year from 15 May 1990 to 15 May 1991, when the first Slovenian soldiers, recruits of the first peacetime generation of Slovenian soldiers in the history of the nation, arrived here at the defence training centres at Ig and Pekre,” Prime Minister Janša began his address.
From 15 to 16 May 1990, the disarming of Slovenia began. Exactly a year later, the training of the first generation of recruits started at this location. In between passed a long year of fear and courage, a year of great risks and a year of immense will, which contributed to the establishment of a force in this and other places in Slovenia that ultimately protected Slovenia’s independence,” continued the Prime Minister, adding that a number of Slovenian young men who swore allegiance to their homeland stood at this very place at that time.” “Our thoughts were also with the almost 7000 Slovenian young men, who were wearing the uniform of the Yugoslav People’s Army and whom we were very concerned about,” continued Prime Minister Janša.
According to him, this oath was not so important from a military point of view at the time, because, after all, the 300 recruits who were just starting their military training did not represent a major military force, especially not in view of the circumstances that prevailed in Slovenia then, but it was of great moral significance for Slovenia.” “This was the final proof to Slovenians that the emerging country was ready to take the most courageous step in its history, that it was ready to take that ultimate step in reality and not just fictitiously, in the manner of an operetta, and that it was ready to protect and defend it, persevering to the very end,” said the Prime Minister.
Mr Janša continued his address by reading a few paragraphs from the speech he had given 30 years ago, as some of its words are still relevant today.
“You will be serving your homeland in an army with one of the shortest military service terms in Europe and the world. Internal relations within the units have been organised on modern European lines and in the future, some things will be improved still further. As an armed force of the Slovenian Republic, the Territorial Defence is politically neutral and will not interfere in political decision-making, nor serve the interests of one party or one ideology. This is a guarantee that the Slovenian nation will never again in the future be affected by division, the consequence of which was internecine murders. It is important to remember that our soldiers also include all those Slovenian citizens who are currently still wearing the uniforms of the Yugoslav People’s Army. They are the same as you, a part of our first guard. We must not neglect their interests. At this point, we must also remember those who were drafted into the Territorial Defence forces to guard the centre during this initial period of training and also to defend it,” the Prime Minister said, recounting his thoughts at the time. He went on to say that “in May, the Yugoslav People’s Army decided to try to abolish the centre in Pekre – an attempt was made, it was quite dramatic and alas the first victim fell, but it ended in failure. Ig was set aside for the start of the war, but the defence was successful, and the name of Zoran Drnovšek, who shot down a helicopter of the Yugoslav People’s Army that threatened the training centre, should certainly be mentioned here.”
The Prime Minister then highlighted another paragraph from his address thirty years ago: “We must realise that our problems will not end on 26 June. Especially in the initial period, independent Slovenia will require certain preconditions in order to survive and develop. One of these is the greatest stability possible, which is closely linked to security, a sense of security and actual security. The country will need stability that is based on the effective functioning of the parliamentary system, a sound economic policy, a stable currency, the protection of human rights, and gradual integration into European economic, cultural and civilisational currents. One is related to the other. It is impossible to have a stable economy if the threat of a rally or an incident at the border can empty foreign currency savings, cause panic among the people and discourage foreign capital from investing in the Slovenian economy,” said Prime Minister Janša.
“Those of us who were there 30 years ago were aware that independence alone would not end the need for defence, security and the Slovenian Armed Forces, and the time that followed proved this. Today, defence and security is ensured in cooperation with our partners within NATO; 30 years ago this was only a distant dream, but we realise that the sentences I quoted still hold true,” said Prime Minister Janša. He added that “if we are unable to guarantee our own security, we are unable to guarantee stability, and if there is no stability, there is no progress and no prosperity. We can see that this is true based on what was happening in our vicinity in the 1990s and what is unfortunately still ongoing in many other parts of the world.”
Prime Minister Janša concluded by thanking those who, even today, are preserving awareness of the national identity, striving to ensure that the Slovenian Armed Forces firmly tread the path of the first generation, and are aware that it is necessary to be prepared for things that may happen tomorrow but are not yet visible today.
“Today, I repeat what I said 30 years ago: in the history of the nation, a special place will always belong to the first generation of Slovenian soldiers, who, in these trying days, are examining new programmes and legislative solutions, and are putting to the test both themselves and us. I sincerely congratulate all of you who today will solemnly swear allegiance to our homeland a few weeks before the date we gained independence,” said the Prime Minister, who concluded by saying: “After 30 years, I would like to express sincere gratitude and congratulations to the first generation, who have carried the homeland in their hearts for the past 30 years and preserved the same values for the future.”