The Slovenia Times

Protests, Ideology Dominate Independence Day Celebration


Delivering the keynote address, Prime Minister Janez Janša picked up Pahor's theme of unity and said he accepted the new president's offer that he would attempt to join all political forces to reach consensus on measures to overcome the economic crisis.

He said Slovenia had two choices: "Either we find common ground as a society on there being a division between right and wrong, that there are no more truths and that we seriously tackle the obvious misconceptions of development...or we hope that everything will sort itself out."

By choosing the latter, Slovenia would "sink deeper into the swamp of fatalism, powerlessness, the rule of financial and political backgrounds and lobbies and eventual chaos."

"The people are warning us every day that we have failed the test," he said in view of what had been overlooked and left untouched in the 20-year period of transition.

However, he also criticised the protesters expressing their discontent with the country's political elite in recent weeks for showing up with "the flag of the country that killed our people" and "totalitarian symbols".

He used the words of dissident Jože Pučnik when the results of the independence referendum were declared: "Yugoslavia is no more, this is about Slovenia".

The celebration featured senior officials, politicians and diplomats, but there was one notable absence - Positive Slovenia (PS) president Zoran Janković.

The opposition leader said he was not attending due to "ideological issues" that the coalition has been stirring up, including with regard to the independence day ceremony.

His statement referred to the decision by the organisers to include the second stanza of the anthem "A Toast", which mentions God, in the ceremony in addition to the seventh stanza, which is officially the national anthem.

The celebration was also accompanies by Protestival, a manifestation organised by artists as part of the ongoing wave of protests around the country.

They booed the politicians as they made their way from nearby Parliament House, where Pahor was sworn in as the new president.

However, the estimated 1,000 protesters were not allowed near Cankarjev dom, which was cordoned off by police over security concerns.

In response to the official celebration, the protesters staged their own event with an alternative cultural programme.

The rally also featured a number of people dressed up as zombies, a retort to Janša's Democrats (SDS), which labelled Friday's anti-establishment protests in the capital as an "uprising of zombies" on the party's official Twitter account.

Prior to the ceremony Janša also received the families of victims of the 1991 independence war.

Slovenia celebrates Independence and Unity Day on 26 December in honour of the declaration of the results of the 23 December 1990 referendum at which the vast majority of the people voted for independence.


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