On Wednesday, Prime Minister Janez Janša attended the unveiling of the memorial commemorating the 30th anniversary of the DEMOS coalition meeting, at which the commitment to realise the plebiscite decision regarding the independent and sovereign Republic of Slovenia was confirmed, and it was also decided that the key steps in the process of Slovenian independence would be accelerated. The event brought together some of the key players of that time, including Dimitrij Rupel, Lojze Peterle, Igor Bavčar, Janez Podobnik, Marjan Podobnik, Franci Feltrin and Vitomir Gros.
The keynote speakers at the event were dr. Dimitrij Rupel and Lojze Peterle. In his address, Rupel pointed out that with the current developments, it seems as if we have returned to a time where we used to be. “A new, left-wing DEMOS, the adjustment of borders in the Balkans, and national reconciliation were being discussed,” he said, further stressing that the people who gathered on Račji otok 30 years ago had to resolve one main issue, “whether we would be ready for independence on time or not.”
Dr. Rupel continued, saying that today, “our adversaries nurture and modify those chapters of history in which they declared themselves winners and they are gravely offended because they have proved themselves losers in the chapter on our state-building and they now generate myths, that are falsifications.” The Slovenian left is not unsuccessful nor isolated in its fervour. Similar ideas are spreading throughout Europe, where the moral superiority of the left is being discussed, Dr. Rupel said. He further noted that originally, DEMOS was not a uniform structure but a coalition of six parties that covered all classical political directions. Dr. Rupel concluded his address by saying that the “left-leaning DEMOS is something similar to a right-wing Liberation Front.”
In which concentration camp would the leaders of the independence project have ended up if the project had not been successfully carried out to the end?
Lojze Peterle, president of the first Slovenian democratic government, began by saying that the April of 30 years ago was one of the politically most hectic months. He continued by stating that he had asked himself today which concentration camp the leaders of the independence project would have ended up in if they had not succeeded. “I remember this because we are only now becoming aware of the scale of the project we undertook, and I regret that it is still so poorly internalised 30 years later that, after a century of dreams, declarations and appeals, we finally succeeded 30 years ago,” said Peterle. He noted that on the 8th of April 1990, Slovenian voters had a chance to vote for the programme of an independent Slovenia for the first time. “Our people seized the opportunity and supported DEMOS, which presented a state-building programme. Once DEMOS won, the conditions were set to carry out the independence project,” explained Peterle. He remembered that after the government was elected, ‘congratulations’ arrived from Belgrade, together with the decision on the disarmament of the Slovenian Territorial Defence. “The war for Slovenia began there and then, and so did the preparations for defence,” said Peterle, going on to say that those who gathered on Račji otok at the time showed unity, decisiveness and courage.
“Unity and decisiveness also accompanied our governmental work. The question raised at the time was: do we agree to continue the independence project and complete it? And the decision was that we follow it through. This was a very risky act, but we assumed the responsibility and demonstrated political commitment,” explained Peterle and once again expressed pleasure that such a decision was made. He also noted that he remembered this day 30 years ago with great joy and gratitude towards the team for which he was responsible. Furthermore, Peterle expressed his regret that the meeting on Račji otok was, in his opinion, the last major strategic meeting of DEMOS.