Slovenia Marks 31 Years Since Declaring Independence

By , 25 Jun 2022, 10:04 AM Politics
Some of last night's celebrations Some of last night's celebrations Twitter

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STA, 25 June 2022 - Slovenia celebrates Statehood Day on Saturday, marking 31 years since the country declared independence from the former Yugoslavia. A number of events and celebrations were held across the country last night to mark the occasion, with President Borut Pahor addressing the main ceremony in Ljubljana.

Before the ceremony late on Friday evening, President Pahor held the annual reception for the families of those who had fallen or been injured in the 10-day war that followed Slovenia's independence declaration.

He also laid a wreath at the monument to the victims of all wars in Congress Square, underlining that the courageous people who gave their lives for an independent Slovenia will never be forgotten.

Preserving peace is the most important mission of all, said the president, noting that the war in Ukraine was a clear reminder that peace cannot be taken for granted.

Addressing the main ceremony in Congress Square, he noted that more than 30 years ago "we, Slovenians, were capable to create the conditions to establish our own country". There are many challenges that the country faces today, including the sustainable, green and digital transition, but if there will be unity and solidarity, Slovenia can achieve anything, he said.

It is a respected country in the international community and one of the safest countries in the world, the president pointed out, adding that just as Slovenia was ready to meet challenges more than 30 years ago, it is ready to do the same now.

"Slovenia will help Ukraine as much as it can together with allied countries and will not let it down," he said, noting how important it was to achieve "a just peace" in Ukraine.

In the current situation, Slovenia "needs to further strengthen all the elements of statehood, democracy, its institutions and, of course, its values" and it needs to ensure that "the usual political differences do not escalate into dangerous political divisions".

He also noted that the country should help make the EU stronger, while making sure it preserves its own identity.

In addition to the Guard of the Slovenian Armed Forces and the flag-bearers of the army and the police, the ceremony once again featured flag-bearers from all veteran, independence and patriotic organisations after this was not the case in the past two years. In 2020 they were all excluded, ostensibly, due to Covid restrictions, and in 2021 the flag-bearers of the WWII veteran organisation NOB were not invited to attend.

Prime Minister Robert Golob could not attend yesterday's ceremony since he was still in Brussels for his first EU summit, but he attended a reception for Slovenians working in European institutions to mark Statehood Day.

In his message dedicated to this public holiday he extended congratulations to all citizens, underlining that strength lies in unity. Times are hard, but just the fact of knowing that "we can overcome any obstacle if we work together gives us hope for a brighter and better future".

More than three decades ago, Slovenians decided to live in a society governed by the rule of law and democracy, and a society in which everybody will be able to live a dignified life, he said.

"Looking back today, we can proudly say that we not only preserved independence and sovereignty, but we also became proud and equal members of a wider European family," Golob said at the sidelines of the EU summit on Friday.

Before the main ceremony, the National Assembly and the National Council, the lower and upper chambers of parliament, each held a ceremonial session to mark the holiday.

National Assembly Speaker Urška Klakočar Zupančič said that the many divisions faced by Slovenia were unnecessary and so were perpetual quests for a new or one's own truth, which can never be absolute.

"How nice it would be if we embraced our history such as it is, and the diversity of the Slovenian nation in its entirety. This should make us strong, not divide us ... we don't have to deny a part of history, and it would not be right. But we also don't have to play the victim."

National Council President Alojz Kovšca said in his address that Statehood Day was a holiday that unified all Slovenians without exception. He believes the celebrations of last night were an opportunity to show through actions political correctness and mutual respect.

"Only empowered and enlightened leaders know how and are capable of overcoming political divisions which undermine people's trust and basic values, such as tolerance, harmony and peace." These values will forever remain a key part of Slovenian identity, he believes.

Today, President Pahor will decorate Ludvik Toplak, a former university rector, for his contribution to Slovenia's independence efforts, and Roberto Battelli, a former MP for the Italian minority, for his contribution to the development of Slovenia's democracy and efforts dedicated to the Italian community in Slovenia, the president's office said.

Pahor will also hold an open day at the Presidential Palace in honour of Statehood Day.

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