On Thursday, the Golob government decided that Janez Zemljarič, the former director of the State Security Service of Yugoslavia, who was considered one of the most influential godfathers from the background, will be buried with military honours, even though Zemljarič has been accused in the last decade of playing an important role in the State Security Service’s murders. “This is an utterly despicable act. Namely, Mr Zemljarič signed documents that facilitated terrorist acts, the murders of Yugoslavian citizens abroad. These are acts for which there should be zero tolerance,” Roman Leljak, a publicist and Mayor of Radenci, commented on the government’s decision.
It was Marjan Šiftar who, together with the other initiators, members of the Executive Council of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia between 1980 and 1984, submitted the proposal to organise a funeral with military honours for Janez Zemljarič, who died on Friday, the 30th of December last year.fir
“Janez Zemljarič was the former President of the Executive Council of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia (between the years 1980 and 1984), who, while successfully performing many responsible duties in political and public life, committed to the economic and general development and well-being of Slovenia, operationally managed major projects of lasting national importance: organising the construction of the Cankarjev dom congress hall, the construction of the University Medical Centre in Ljubljana, the Ljubljana ring road, the Tivoli Hall, the start of the construction of the motorway cross, and the promotion of the export economy on global markets,” Šiftar wrote in the explanatory memorandum of his proposal. As the government agreed to the proposal, Zemljarič will be buried with military honours on Friday at noon at Ljubljana’s Žale cemetery.
When he was head of the State Security Service, a series of dirty things happened
In reality, Zemljarič was one of the most controversial businessmen of the generation of old politicians from the failed communist regime and the secret political police of the State Security Service, who, as its head, persecuted and killed political opponents, and later as a lobbyist, he drained the Slovenian health care system. “During his four-year “leadership” of the State Security Service, Zemljarič organised a series of dirty deeds (bombings, kidnappings, threats against Kocbek) and smeared his public image for all time. After Slovenia gained independence, he became a “kšeftar,” which is a derogatory word for entrepreneur, as the partisan and secret policeman Janko Heberle disparagingly described him,” columnist Igor Omerza pointed out about Zemljarič.
Since the columnist Roman Leljak is the one who in the past dared to publish, among other things, that Zemljarič, when he was the head of the former State Security Service, had authorised an action in which the Security Service killed two Croatian emigrants, and Zemljarič came after him and accused him of defamation, we decided to ask Leljak how he comments on the government’s decision. Leljak said that this was an utterly despicable matter. “Mr Zemljarič signed documents that facilitated terrorist acts, the murders of Yugoslavian citizens abroad. These are acts for which there should be zero tolerance,” he explained.
Granda: Zemljarič had blood on his hands
We also decided to ask historian Dr Stane Granda for his comments on the matter. He explained that there are actually two things to consider here. “Zemljarič was the Prime Minister of Slovenia’s state government, after all, and secondly: he was the head of the repressive authorities, who in his specific case have blood on their hands.” In Granda’s words, this is a question of our relationship with the past. “The authorities, not only the current ones, but also some of the previous ones, do not seem to realise that a break happened in 1990/1991, and thus they still consider that the present Slovenia is a continuation of the former Communist Republic of Slovenia,” he stressed.
Users of social networks: This is a rehabilitation of the communist regime
“Can you imagine if, in Germany, a high-ranking Nazi official who headed the Gestapo was buried with military honours? A former head of the secret political police and a communist functionary will be buried with military honours by the government,” the long-time journalist Peter Jančič wrote on Twitter.
According to journalist Bojan Požar, we are the only country of the ex-Socialist-Communist bloc to do this. “It is as if Slovenia were a social experiment.”
“Obscene, tasteless, non-civilisational! The rehabilitation of the previous regime is over before we have even “de-communised” our country well,” Dr Žiga Turk, former Minister of Education, Science, Culture and Sport, commented on the government’s decision.
Judging by the reactions of social media users on Twitter, the government’s decision came as a negative surprise to many. “I have been silent until now for the sake of respect, but this ends now. Zemljarič and a funeral with military honours are two things that do not go together in today’s democratic country. The man was the head of the secret political police, for God’s sake.”; “Janez Zemljarič will be buried with military honours. Because there was no lustration at the right time, the leaders of the murderous State Security Service continued to leech off the Slovenian healthcare service for years, and as a reward for all those killed and all the money that was stolen, they will be buried with military honours – in the year 2023!!!! Shameful!”; “And some people still keep on saying that we do not live in a real communist State Security Service-land!”; “Man, we are a downright cowardly country.”; “Are you really not ashamed of what you are involving the Slovenian army and soldiers in?? First, you deny them the right to equipment, and then you drag them to the funerals of criminals!? This cannot be true; someone, please tell me that this is not true!”; “Unbelievable and disgusting. The head of the State Security Service, who ordered the murder of political dissidents, will be given a statesman funeral in democratic Slovenia.”
They used Kocbek’s expression in the obituary
Referring to Zemljarič’s death, publicist Omerza also took issue with the very content of the obituary, which was dedicated to Zemljarič by members of the Executive Council of Slovenia in the 1980s. They used the words of Edvard Kocbek and wrote: “Our “comradeship” (E. Kocbek) has been abandoned by its indispensable member, comrade and friend, for many years the first among equals.” Omerza commented critically: “In the following obituary, the members of the Executive Council also used the word “comradeship” (by Edvard Kocbek) as parting words. Oof, how can one say goodbye to someone using Kocbek’s expression, since the deceased, as head of the State Security Service and Minister of the Interior, had him stalked night and day and threatened him personally.”
Zemljarič’s friends even claim in one of his obituaries that Zemljarič’s work was embedded in the foundations of the Slovenian state. “On the 30th of June 1976, Zemljarič’s State Security Administration seized Franc Miklavčič’s private “independence” records, and he was punished for them with prison. Is this Zemljarič’s work, which was ‘embedded in the foundations of the Slovenian state,’ as his friends have written?” Omerza commented on the obituary in question.