Slovenia observes Independence and Unity Day

Ljubljana – Slovenia observes Independence and Unity Day on Saturday in memory of the 1990 independence referendum in which Slovenians voted overwhelmingly to leave Yugoslavia. Almost 95% of those who cast their votes, equalling 88.5% of all eligible voters, voted in favour of independence.

Three days later, on 26 December 1990, the National Assembly declared the outcome, triggering a milestone year that included the declaration of independence in June 1990 and a ten-day war.

Even though this is the 30th anniversary of the landmark event, celebrations are muted due to coronavirus restrictions.

Like every year, the Slovenian Armed Forces guard of honour stands guard in front of the Presidential Palace while the traditional open day at the Presidential Palace is this year held in the form of a virtual tour.

President Borut Pahor again called for unity and exceeding of divisions in his address today, noting that the first shipment of Covid-19 vaccine that had arrived in Slovenia today was a reason for optimism ahead of New Year. He also pointed to the upcoming Slovenia’s EU presidency in the second half of next year, wondering whether this was not reason enough for politicians to see that people needed united politicians.

The president said next year would be challenging, which was why politicians should set an example by standing united. “Now we need political will and skill and a path of compromise that will lead us forward.”

A call for unity was also the main message of posts by parliamentary parties and their leaders on social media today. Most of them called for unity in the fight against the new coronavirus like the one that united the nation 30 years ago.

Opposition parties’ leaders also expressed some criticism with Marjan Šarec of his namesake LMŠ party saying on Facebook that those who had been involved in independence efforts had not had the right to do what they pleased for 30 and blame others for all bad things.

The opposition Left said on Twitter that the political class that was taking credit for the 1990 referendum decision for independence was now trying to prevent a referendum on investments in the army.

In the run-up to the anniversary, senior officials and the main protagonists of the independence efforts too invoked the unity of 30 years ago as a source of inspiration for the present and a prerequisite for tackling the current crisis.

Prime Minister Janez Janša noted that two-thirds of the time since then had been marked by ostracising instead of a policy of cooperation and inclusion.

He likened the “virus of ostracising” with the new coronavirus in that it “has the same consequences on the body of the nation and the state.” Today, he tweeted that the nation had made the order of independence to politicians of all colours 30 years ago, and that Slovenians had became masters of their own land.

Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič noted that thirty years ago the nation had managed to overcome differences at a key moment, and this kind of unity was needed today.

Not just the citizens, politics must invest some effort into that and reach out to the other side, he stressed.

At a mass for the homeland, Ljubljana Archbishop Stanislav Zore called for a reflection on the attitude towards the homeland.

According to him, it sometimes appears as if people are ready to even harm the homeland if they cannot hold sway over it.