As part of the Slovenia-30 project, RTV Slovenija conducted an interview with the first Slovenian President, Milan Kučan. This in itself would not have been a problem, had Kučan not made certain statements more than 20 years after Slovenia gained its independence, saying that Slovenia was never his preferred personal option. Even though in the plebiscite, Slovenians supported the creation of an independent Slovenia, with 88.5 percent of all votes, Kučan’s comments reveal that the first Slovenian President was not part of the group that wished for its own, independent country. Moreover, he strived for Yugoslavia to survive.
This is also evident from the interview with the former Slovenian President, who was also the President of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Slovenia before our country gained independence, Milan Kučan. The interview was conducted by the RTV Slovenija journalist Rosvita Pesek.
With this, it is hard to ignore the comment made by Jože Možina, Ph.D., who wrote that he had invited Kučan to come on his TV show Interview (“Intervju”) a few times before, but Kučan was unresponsive at the time.
An independent Slovenia would be the most pessimistic option
“An independent Slovenia would be the most pessimistic option… But we must do everything to make sure that Yugoslavia stays,” said Kučan, the President of the Presidency of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Slovenia, on October 26th, 1988.
And this was not a lone statement. “It is clear that we do not want to leave Yugoslavia and that despite the amendments, no one has the right to expel us from ti,” Kučan repeated in Belgrade a year later, on September 28th, 1989.
He said something similar in Belgrade in December 1989: “We define ourselves as part of Yugoslavia. We understand and accept Yugoslavia as our country, and we will not let it be taken from us.”
“It is difficult to even think about the secession of Slovenia from Yugoslavia because this was never a personal option for me. I cannot come to terms with it.” These are Kučan’s words from January 31st, 1990, when he was the President of the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia.
“I never talked about the path of secession from Yugoslavia; however, many political people in Slovenia did speak about it,” said Kučan, the President of the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia, on April 20th, 1990. And in order to make what he really thinks about Slovenian independence clear to everyone, Kučan said the following on December 23rd, 2015: “They reproach me, saying that I was against the secession. I still am.”
A “reformed” communist who sought to keep Slovenia a part of the communist Yugoslavia
In the entire hour-long interview with Pesek, there is not a single question about all of these statements. However, there is the building of the myth about Kučan’s connectedness, with the implications that Demos was the one who did not trust the “reformed” communists, who took the leading positions. Kučan’s leadership and slow decision-making are being portrayed as caution and forethought, but by no means as hesitation of someone who, in his own words, led Slovenia to independence, which he never even wanted.
Something like this is comparable only to the leadership of the United Kingdom during the time of Prime Minister Theresa May. Just as Kučan opposed Slovenian independence, May also opposed Brexit. To carry out Brexit, the British had to first get rid of May, while Slovenia, despite Kučan’s deliberations, still managed to gain independence.
In the interview with Kučan, Pesek also touched on the disarmament of the Territorial defence. “I was not used to acting in haste, you could say. First, we had to find out what was happening, in what context, what was the actual goal of everything that was happening at the time as of course, this decree, Jović‘s decree on the disarmament of the Territorial Defence, was just a result of that. And that is why I first wanted to hear from the person in charge, the person in Slovenia who was responsible for this, to find out what was happening. At the time, this person was the Chief of the Territorial Defence Hočevar, General Hočevar, a Slovenian, who was appointed to this position with the consent of the previous Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia, and he assured me that this was a matter of exchanging trophy weapons. And as this continued on the second day, I called him again, there were also members of the Presidency there at the time, and that is when he broke down and told me what it was about, that it was an attempted seizure of weapons and that he had received the explicit order that the Slovenian political leadership must not be informed of this, of the true purpose of the action. So, then I called Jović, it was on the afternoon of the 18th, and we agreed to meet on the 21st. I told him what it was about, he, of course, denied it, but then on the 19th, we issued an order, and the seizing of weapons stopped,” said Kučan. Below, you can read a chronology detailing how the disarmament actually happened.
Chronology of the disarmament of the Territorial Defence:
On May 14th, 1990, the General Staff of the Yugoslav People’s Army (YPA), issued an operational order to disarm the Territorial Defence (hereinafter referred to as the TO). Municipal Headquarters of the Territorial Defence (hereinafter referred to as the OŠTO) Ljubljana found out about the order on May 14th, and the next day, they informed the close associates of the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia about the order.
On May 15th, 1990, Colonel-General of the Yugoslav People’s Army, Commander of the Republic Staff of the Territorial Defence (hereinafter referred to as the RŠTO) Ivan Hočevar, on the basis of an unconstitutional order from the Federal Secretariat of People’s Defence and instructions from the SFRY Military Council, ordered the transfer of weapons of the TO of the Republic of Slovenia and the administrative bodies of People’s Defence to the facilities under the control of the Yugoslav People’s Army. The order had to be executed by May 19th, 1990, before 7 p.m., and nobody was to be informed about it (Order No. SZ 6251-90). The order was signed by the head of RŠTO, Major-General Drago Ožbolt.
The provincial headquarters of the TO and the 31st development group received the order on May 15th, 1990 and forwarded it to the municipal headquarters. The provincial headquarters of the TO immediately informed the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia and the then-Secretary of the Republic for People’s Defence, Janko Kušar, that they received the order. On May 16th, 1990, both bodies were notified by the municipal headquarters of the TO that they had received the order; the OŠTO Slovenj Gradec Report shows that the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia was informed on May 16th, 1990, as evidenced by the OŠTO Jesenice Report: “On May 16th, 1990, at 10.00 a.m., the President of the Assembly of the Municipality of Jesenice, Tomaž Keršmanc, informed Stane Dolanc, who spoke to comrade Milan Kučan at 10.30 a.m.”
On May 16th, 1990, Miran Bogataj sent a telegram informing Janko Kušar, the Republic Secretary for People’s Defence, of the order of disarmament of the administrative body for People’s Defence Šmarje pri Jelšah. On May 17th, 1990, Milan Kučan was notified about the TO receiving the disarmament order from the OŠTO Sevnica as well, as they called for instructions on how to execute the order three times, and from the OŠTO Krško – they informed the advisor to the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia Bojan Ušeničnik.
In the days from May 16th to May 18th, 1990, individual TO commanders, representatives of municipalities, mayors, and the Demos government put pressure on the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia, demanding it to stop the disarmament of the TO. On the afternoon of May 16th, a crisis meeting was held in the office of the President of the Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, France Bučar, Ph.D., due to the disarmament of the TO; at the meeting, Milan Kučan stated that he had no information about the disarmament of the TO, which is a conscious lie in the face of all the written evidence about the sent notifications and a telegram which prove the opposite. Even from his own information, which the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia sent to the Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia on June 14th, 1990, it can be concluded that Milan Kučan was informed about the disarmament of the TO on May 15th, 1990, which was ordered by a YPA General, which was unconstitutional. In an interview for the newspaper Delo on April 23rd, 2011, he said that he had learned about the order on May 16th, 1990, while his other information for the Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, sent on July 17th,1990, showed that this actually happened on May 17th, 1990.
The evidence indisputably proves that Kučan found out about the fact that YPA was disarming the TO on May 15th, 1990, at the latest. And even if it were true that he only found out about it a day later, in any case, his reaction was too late; he only reacted when the weapons had already been handed over, and he did it in a way which would not have prevented the seizing of the TO weapons. Milan Kučan did these extremely corrupt and secretive actions at the time when he was the President of the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia. He assumed the role on May 10th, 1990, and the Presidency was the only official body that still operated in Slovenia at the time when the SFRY General Staff sent an order to disarm the TO, as the new government was only being formed back then, and took office two days after the order.