Ljubljana – President Borut Pahor has appealed for parliamentary parties to take their cue from their predecessors almost 30 years ago, and come together to defeat the coronavirus crisis.
Addressing the nation on Sovereignty Day in a ceremony without an audience streamed from the Presidential Palace, Pahor said independence could not be a success story without political and all-national cooperation.
He recalled that there was also political discord in the run-up and following the first democratic election in the country in 1990, but that politics was willing and capable of focusing on independence as a major goal.
“A cross-party agreement was a signal of political cooperation, and all-national cooperation followed. In the end, we won,” the president said, 29 years to the day since the last remaining Yugoslav army soldiers left Slovenia’s soil following the declaration of independence on 25 June and a ten-day war that followed as the Yugoslav army tried to prevent the country from breaking independent.
Pahor said that Slovenia was now again facing a situation when political and all-national cooperation was absolutely vital.
He urged “all political and national forces” to focus on overcoming the health crisis and for the government and opposition to engage in genuine and productive cooperation, something that he said was of life essence.
Pahor believes that such cooperation will have a beneficial effect on the general mood in the country and that solidarity will prevail.
He thus urged parliamentary parties to reach a new agreement on cooperation to overcome the current crisis, and for everyone in politics to focus on that effort and aspire for national unity, understanding and solidarity.
Earlier, similar calls for unity in the face of the crisis were also aired in messages by Prime Minister Janez Janša and National Assembly Speaker Igor Zorčič.
The ceremony was also addressed by Major-General Janez Slapar, who served as the head of the general headquarters of the Territorial Defence during the independence war, and Brigadier General Robert Glavaš, the current chief of the general staff of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF).
Glavaš said that Slovenia’s independence took time and courage. “We had war, we had casualties and injured, substantive material damage, but it all ended for ever with the departure of the last Yugoslav soldier,” he said, remembering the last ships carrying Yugoslav troops departing from the Koper port.
Since then, the SAF has developed into a modern, highly qualified and credible institution, highly esteemed at home and abroad, said Glavaš. “We are present wherever Slovenian residents need us,” he added.
Slapar noted that the SAF had developed from the Territorial Defence, which with the help of the police and the civil defence made it possible for Slovenia to be able to celebrate today.
Noting the need for the SAF to keep developing and modernising, Slapar welcomed the plan to invest EUR 780 million in the SAF by 2026, Slapar said the opposition-sponsored petition for a referendum on the bill making that investment possible was an offence to service members.
Sovereignty Day, which is not a work-free day, was declared by the National Assembly in 2015 in remembrance of the day in 1991 when the last remaining Yugoslav Army soldiers departed from the Koper port in one of the final steps in the independence effort.