The Slovenia Times

Past must be confronted, SAZU says about reconciliation


Ljubljana - The Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) has presented a statement on reconciliation, underlining that Slovenians must reach an consensus about basic values on which the nations is founded. The past must be confronted because clarification is the only way to catharsis and reconciliation, the statement says.

Presented on Monday to President Borut Pahor, the statement says that it should not be contentious that resistance against World War II occupying forces was justified, while armed collaboration with the occupying forces was not. The usurpation of the National Liberation Front by the Communist Party and revolutionary terror were unjustified, but the resistance against it was.

Slovenians have two different views of World War II and the events that followed, shaped by the two sides, the statement notes.

Because of these two views, the nation is torn in its memory of this key era in its history. The past must be confronted because clarification is the only way to catharsis and reconciliation, the statement says.

But this does not mean that everybody needs to share the same view about World War II events in Slovenia. A uniform view is not possible in a democratic society, but the nation does need consensus about basic values, the statement says.

In Slovenia, World War II was a very complex time of occupation, liberation fight, revolution, counter-revolution, collaboration and civil war, the statement says.

It adds aspirations can be seen to swap one over-simplified narrative for another, diametrically opposite narrative that focuses only on the revolution and the resistance that followed. But this other narrative is just as ideological as the first one.

SAZU says that condemnation of revolutionary violence does not equate condemnation of the national liberation movement, "an inspiring act and one of the cornerstones of our statehood". Moreover, condemnation for collaboration does not equate condemnation of resistance against revolutionary violence.

The statement says that the biggest tragedy of World War II in Slovenia was the fratricide conflict that claimed many victims on both sides. Both sides carry the responsibility and guilt for this, as numerous crimes had been committed on both sides.

Standing out among the crimes were the killings of thousands of Home Guard members and civilians perpetrated by the Communist regime immediately after the war.

In 1990, as Slovenia was getting ready to break away from the former Yugoslavia, national reconciliation was widely seen as vital foundation upon which to build unity needed for independence, SAZU president Peter Štih said as he presented the statement.

A mass remembering the victims of post-war killings in Kočevski Rog forest was seen as cumulation of reconciliatory efforts, said Štih. The debt toward the dead was at least partially settled but if the nation wants to achieve a social consensus about the basics of its cohabitation, reconciliation among the living is more important than anything.

"We must undo the wrongs, make a stop to mutual accusations, exclusions and the instrumentalising of history, and show respect for those who think differently," the statement says, inviting the public to join the statement and act according to it.

Describing the statement, Štih said that it had been written "in line with values defined by the SAZU as a suprapolitical connector of the Slovenian community".

Pahor, who received Štih today, said the statement was an invaluable document that would contribute to clarification of recent history and that discusses the nation's values in the light of its future.

"In the past 30 years many symbolic and tangible actions have been taken, but never has a political institution or an institution of national importance, such as SAZU, been able to adopt a document that puts Slovenian reconciliation into words. This has been achieved by you today, after 30 year," Pahor told Štih.


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