Pahor makes renewed appeal for cross-party dialogue

A ceremony at the Presidential Palace marks the 30th anniversary of an agreement on the independence referendum signed by the then parliamentary parties. (Photo: STA)

Ljubljana – President Borut Pahor made a renewed appeal for cross-party effort to break out of the crisis, as he addressed a ceremony on Friday ahead of the 30th anniversary of a cross-party agreement on the independence referendum.

Pahor noted that three decades after the historic events leading up to Slovenia’s independence, the country was seeing worryingly deepening distrust between political players and people, and growing discontent.

He thus appealed again on parliamentary parties to consider an “agreement, a coordination of parliamentary parties to give dialogue a chance to bridge what now appears to be insurmountable differences”.

“The health crisis has cut deep into our society. The risk of recession looming in the wake of the crisis needs to make politicians of various persuasions realise that now that the differences are deepest we need an inspiration to reach compromise and find joint solutions to overcome the crisis,” he said.

The president warned that the economic crisis following the health crisis would deepen social differences and people’s distress. Political divisions make those only deeper and make the authorities’ response less successful, he argued.

Slovenia has a tradition of cross-party agreement on key strategic goals and measures to deal with crisis situations in the country, which should be seen so vital as to close ranks despite differences of opinion, he said.

The ceremony was also addressed by Spomenka Hribar, who gave the initiative for the agreement, signed by political parties and deputy factions in the then assembly on 6 December 1990.

Based on the agreement the assembly adopted a law on the same day setting forth that the country would hold a plebiscite on independence on 23 December 1990, in which an overwhelming majority voted in favour of independence, declared on 25 June 1991.

Hribar said in her speech the agreement had been the product of the need to overcome distrust between the ruling DEMOS coalition and the opposition and of the need for coordinated action to achieve the best possible result in the referendum.

She is proud to have been a delegate of DEMOS, which she said had done more in two years than all the other government coalitions, having carried out independence, defended it militarily, established the Slovenian army, drafted and adopted the Constitution, introduced its currency, secured international recognition and throughout this period ensured social, cultural and political sustainability.

Still, it is not possible to merely celebrate the successes and ignore what went wrong and the consequences of that can still be felt, she said, adding it had all started with the sale and trafficking of weapons in the Balkans. Apart from that, due to their appropriating the plebiscite outcome and independence merits, independence figures are now divided, she said.

Hribar, a sociologist by profession, was also critical of the current government’s actions.

“The one who undoubtedly did a bit more than others in the war for Slovenia, Janez Janša, secretary of defence at the time, is now selling us as his own property … to the Hungarians and others. He is pushing us towards authoritarian states which are rejecting the rule of law.

“The left is also partly responsible. It took the threat of Janša’s right-wing radicalism as an alibi to peacefully privatise Slovenian property,” Hribar said.

The ceremony was attended by some other signatories of the agreement, including the former Italian minority MP Roberto Battelli, the then PM Lojze Peterle, Ciril Ribičič, the then leader of the precursor to the Social Democrats, Dušan Plut, who was at the time leader of the Greens, and Franc Gradišar, for independent deputies.