It cannot be true, but it is. The public broadcaster RTV SLO again showed its professionalism during the Odmevi show when it invited the former president of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Slovenia and the former president of Slovenia, Milan Kučan, to comment on Tuesday’s session of the Catalan parliament. Apparently, the broadcaster, which lives at the expense of Slovenian taxpayers, is not aware of the fact that it should report neutrally and give its viewers the opportunity to hear the views of experts, such as Dr Ernest Petrič, Dr Dimitrij Rupel, and Dr Peter Jambrek. It seems RTV is losing its compass, and as the deputy of the biggest opposition party SDS, Žan Mahnič, humorously quipped, TV Odmevi finally hosted its proper editor-in-chief.
Asked whether the protests on referendum day had caused the Spanish government to lose a large part of support from the international community, which would otherwise have sided with them, Kučan responded that everyone lost. “Spain and ultimately the European Union have lost part of their credibility. It’s hard to predict what will happen since the crisis is very deep. I believe there will still be hope. The hope that judgement, wisdom, and responsibility will prevail. That they’ll move from issuing ultimatums to some negotiation process, the seeking of solutions, some agreement on how to get out of this situation.”
Regarding the possibility of a civil war in the heart of Europe in 2017, Kučan said that Spain has already experienced a civil war and added that it is hard for him to imagine that it would erupt after only 50 years. Both in Barcelona and in Madrid, they have to think about how they will live together and find some way to coexist. “When Yugoslavia was ending, we also suggested parting ways peacefully, finding some new foundations for living together. All of our attempts, suggestions, were rejected. Now, after almost 25 years, we’ve repaired relations, or they’ve repaired relations, between Slovenia and Serbia. If they’d accepted what we’d proposed back then, we’d have avoided the military violence between Zagreb and Belgrade in this part of the world. So many lives were sacrificed. There was so much violence and a deepening hatred. It’s possible to reach a solution in a peaceful way,” emphasises Kučan.
Concerning parallels between Slovenia and Catalonia
The right to self-determination had been enshrined in the Slovenian constitution from 1974, but the Catalans do not have that. On the other hand, they claim that at least two United Nations conventions confer the right to self-determination. In Kučan’s opinion, parallels are of secondary importance. Regarding the reasons that had led to the collapse of Yugoslavia and of course the Slovenian decision for independence, Kučan said that he believes there are some similarities but also some differences. “As far as constitutionality is concerned, the Catalan constitution is what it is. This constitution also has some prehistory – before this constitution, there was a contract between the government, led at the time by Suarez, and Catalan authorities, which is not being mentioned by anyone. Why did Madrid so persistently reject all suggestions from Barcelona for some different discussion on a different organisation of the country?” According to Kučan, Spain is in fact a centralised but not formally centralised country as it has many autonomous regions with different levels of autonomy. “If you refuse a discussion, then it’s hard to refer to what you were unprepared to take as the subject of your discussion. And on the other hand, there’s of course also the question of legitimacy or this natural right to self-determination that’s recognised in United Nations documents, which Slovenia appealed to, though of course the Slovenian constitutional situation was different.”
“It wasn’t a secession but a separation, which was conditioned by the origin of Yugoslavia – Slovenia had joined Yugoslavia of its own volition and left it in the same way. The history of Spain and also Catalonia in Spain is different. That’s how it is with democracy. It’s been 50 years since the fall of Franco’s regime, that’s the period of democracy in Spain. It bothered me that in a democratic country citizens were denied the right to vote on the future organisation of the country in which they live. I simply cannot understand this violence, because, if I greatly simplify it, it seems permissible to beat citizens in a democracy, but this is forbidden in a dictatorship or undemocratic country. After all, this position is also reflected in the current behaviour of the European Union.”
Kučan recalled the protest for the unity of Spain, which showed that Catalan society is extremely divided. “It’s a question of legitimacy. This information about the relatively low turnout, a turnout that didn’t even reach 50 percent, has been overshadowed by the issue of legitimacy. When Slovenia adopted the plebiscite act, we also had serious discussions on how to set a quorum. There was a number of politicians in Slovenia who wanted a positive plebiscite result at all costs. We reached a qualified majority because we understood the mood of the people – there was no question how the majority would vote – and secondly, because we considered the legitimacy of the plebiscite, which represents an important argument in seeking international recognition.”
Completely different position on independence of Catalonia and Slovenia
In the end, Kučan said that he supports the argument that this is not an internal Spanish matter because Spain is part of the EU. “The EU should become involved because the problem is deep, and it’s necessary to find a solution that will not lead to radicalism and cause separatism to appear in other parts of Europe.” Based on the above, we can see that Kučan is very much in favour of Catalan independence, but the story was completely different when it came to Slovenia. “It’s hard to even think about a secession of Slovenia from Yugoslavia because this has never been my personal option. I cannot come to terms with it,” Milan Kučan, 31 January 1990. Who could understand him.
“An independent Slovenia would be the most pessimistic option … But we must do everything to ensure that Yugoslavia remains,” Milan Kučan, 26 October 1988.
“No matter how hard we’d like to imagine it, there’s no Slovenian identity in Europe and the world, at least not as part of something autonomous and completely distinctive. It’s primarily the identity of Yugoslavia or even the Balkans,” Milan Kučan in Ljubljana, 8 February 1989.
“It’s clear that we don’t want and don’t wish to leave Yugoslavia, and that despite such amendments no one has the right to chase us out of it,” Milan Kučan in Belgrade, 28 September 1989.
“This is not about any departure and separation from Yugoslavia. With the amendments, we’ve created important conditions for the future, for socialism of the people,” Milan Kučan, 2 October 1989.
“We definitely side with Yugoslavia. We understand and accept Yugoslavia to be our country and won’t let it be taken from us,” Milan Kučan in Belgrade, December 1989.
“The important question for me is primarily whether it’s really not possible for Slovenians to live in Yugoslavia,” Milan Kučan, February 1990.
“I’ve never talked about the option of separation, but it’s been discussed by many politicians in Slovenia,” Milan Kučan, 20 April 1990.
“They criticise me for having been against the separation. I still am,” Milan Kučan, 23 December 2015.