President Pahor on Statehood Day: We must do our best to make sure that what we have in common will be triumphant again

President of Slovenia (Foto: Polona Avanzo)

In his speech at the ceremony on Statehood Day, President of the Republic Borut Pahor, called for everyone to give up actions which would deepen the mutual distrust or incite hatred. “We do not deserve this. None of it will benefit us. There has been enough, even too much of it,” he was clear. We must make an effort to make sure that “what we have in common will be triumphant again,” as this will result in a decisive push for our national and state development.

He pointed out that we became an independent state during the Slovenian political spring, on a wave of great democratic changes. Without democracy, however, there will be no bright future for our nation.

He added that he misses this democratic enthusiasm today. “I miss the trust and the self-confidence we had, which meant that we were able to openly talk about everything, without insults, and agreed on many things. No problem in our modern Slovenia is so big that we would not be able to solve it together. But we will probably not be able to solve it divided,” he warned. He said that he was not asking for the political unity from the times of gaining independence, but rather, for a dialogue, and cooperation. “There is definitely not enough of those. And we desperately need them now,” he was clear.

According to the President, an unpleasant, even annoying feeling has been imposed lately, that each of us must decide for or against the government or the opposition. “It is as if the rakes are pulling each in their own direction and leaving little room for different reflection or restraint. A general impression is trying to be created, that it is shameful not to be defined and blindly loyal to one or the other. This divergence of political spirits radically narrows the space for dialogue, and sees weakness, helplessness in cooperation,” he described, warning that this is a “dangerous short-sightedness.”

He also “dared to make the assessment that there is a rather large silent majority of people in our homeland, who want to believe that the current division is a mere transient phenomenon, and hope that on the threshold of a new, coming era, what we have in common, will be triumphant again.”

He therefore urged everyone to make an effort to hear the other side and try to be considerate. “To quarrel in a respectful and cultural manner, respecting each other’s dignity. Let’s revive the power of democracy, democratic political culture, and democratic spirit in our homeland. Let’s speak of our most opposing views honestly and confidently, but without insults and exclusion. At the same time, let’s try to look for what we do have in common, in spite of our differences,” he said.

He also added that “For brave people, determined but tolerant, with a strong character and their own conviction, making smart compromises is an honourable and responsible action.”

The President also pointed out that three decades ago, Slovenian society was arguing over a very important, leading main idea: the establishment of our own state. Today, however, it seems, “that there is no one great idea, that there is no one imposing vision, which would unite us all once more.”

However, it is also true that modern Slovenia and Europe are about to face extremely demanding times, with extremely demanding tasks that require a clear vision and social consensus, he believes.  According to him, the time after the pandemic will not only bring out the usual uncertainties of a crisis but also a great opportunity to actually change Slovenia and Europe, in accordance with sustainable development and innovative approaches.

In his opinion, the vision of a green and digital Slovenia is perfect for us. “If we include this in the concept of the trio Germany, Portugal, Slovenia of the presidency of the European Council, under the motto Renew Europe, we are given a great opportunity to turn the current crisis situation around, to work in the interest of our most noble expectations. The aspirations, associated with the destiny of our children and their children, to make sure they will live in peace, prosperity, and a preserved environment,” the President stated.

He, therefore, called for the consolidation of political and national power at a time when the divergence of political spirits is being imposed, and freedom of speech is being dangerously mixed with hate speech.

“After all, what was it that made us stand out during the first two months of the health crisis? Cooperation and trust. It inspired our wonderful people to dramatically change their lifestyle for the needs of the common good. This enabled us to start the new, unpredictable, but perhaps great chapter of our future, from a high starting point,” Pahor said, and also reminded everyone that “a kind of magical intuition was always present among our people,” which, despite the downfalls and detours we have taken, has always guided us back to the right path, forwards and upwards.

The beginning of the national celebration was announced shortly after 9 p.m., with celebratory gunfire from Ljubljana castle, and Pahor’s speech was followed by a cultural programme with various musical genres. The main theme of the musical performances was love for the homeland. The celebration was concluded with Oto Pestner, with the song Slovenia, my country (Slovenija, moja dežela).

Due to compliance with the coronavirus containment measures, which limit the number of people gathered in public places to 500, the organizers were forced to reduce the number of performers and invitees, and they also had to cancel the participation of flag-bearers. They thus celebrated Statehood Day in Trzin. However, the Slovenian Guard Units and the police orchestra were part of the celebration.

Representatives of state authorities, led by the Prime Minister Janez Janša, and Speaker of the National Assembly Igor Zorčič, were also present at the ceremony. Former President of the Republic Milan Kučan, Former Prime Minister Lojze Peterle, and some representatives of the opposition were also there. Due to disagreements with the government’s policies, the representatives of the opposition’s LMŠ and Levica did not attend the official ceremony, but they did attend the alternative celebration on Prešeren Square. Due to the exclusion of the flag-bearers, the SNS champion Zmago Jelinčič was also not present, and neither was the President of the SAB party, Alenka Bratušek.

Prior to the celebration, the National Assembly and the National Council met in ceremonial sessions. At the solemn session of the National Assembly before Statehood Day, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Igor Zorčič, emphasized that in everyday controversies about history and ideologies from another time, we forget that we have a country that most of the world’s population can be envious of. That is why we must “move forward from history and do more, with courage and high political culture,” he urged.

Statehood Day is celebrated on June 25th, to remember June 25th,1991, when the then-Slovenian assembly adopted the basic documents for Slovenian independence.

Rok Krajnc