Skip to main content

Prime Minister Janez Janša on the show Conversations with the people who fought for our independence: The Slovenian fight for independence was successful because the Slovenian people came together.

  • Former Prime Minister Janez Janša (2020 - 2022)

Prime Minister Janez Janša was a guest of the show Conversations with the people who fought for our independence on RTV Slovenija. In the interview, he spoke of the events that happened 30 years ago during the time of the independence process, about the victory of Demos, the plebiscite, the unity of the Slovenian people at the time of gaining our independence, about the political division of the time, the destroyed archives, the diving line in Slovenian politics, and the subsequent reinterpretation of the events from 30 years ago.

In the interview, he emphasised that 30 years ago Demos had won with its programme of national sovereignty, i.e. with a programme of something that was written in the May Declaration. The opposition, which had lost the elections and whose programme at the time still focused on socialism and Yugoslavia, was threatened by everything that pushed it away from its electoral goals. “As a notable member of the, I don’t know what they were called at the time, renewal, or what is today known as the Social Democrats, said: ‘You must understand that in independent Slovenia, we don’t see an option for ourselves.’ And that was the situation at the time.”

As regards the threats from Belgrade at the time, Prime Minister Janša emphasised that “at the time, until the war started, there was no serious concern in the general headquarters that Slovenia would pose a major obstacle if they were to use their armed forces. There were rumours roaming Belgrade corridors that the biggest obstacle for the YPA, if it intervened in Slovenia, would be the convoys of Slovenians fleeing to Austria and Italy.”

In the interview, the Prime Minister spoke of the confiscated weapons. Asked how many were confiscated, he answered that all of them, down to the last rifle. He further emphasised that “things are being manipulated when people say that the majority of these weapons, especially heavy weapons, had been located in the facilities of the YPA, as the Territorial Defence Forces did not have such weapons. Of course they did. First of all, we need to know that these were weapons that had been paid for directly by the Slovenian people; not indirectly through taxes that went to Belgrade, but directly. These weapons were bought by the municipalities. People and companies directly contributed the money. This means 100% Slovenian money. The weapons held in depots, which had been located behind the walls of the barracks, were the property of the Territorial Defence Forces that had the keys and were able to access those weapons at any time. This means that it truly doesn’t matter if these weapons were taken from a municipal depot or if the doors had been simply locked. Both represent an act of disarmament. As said before, these weapons were confiscated, i.e. 98% of heavy weapons, and when it comes to infantry weapons, 14 of 64 municipalities kept those weapons after local commanders rose up against the decision themselves.”

In the interview, the Prime Minister further emphasised that “those who claim that everything was good in Yugoslavia should tell us why they destroyed and burned 95% of archives from those times. If everything were good, I’d want to brag about that. There’d be nothing to hide.” Speaking of his visit to Gotenica, the closed military area, together with the then Minister of the Interior Igor Bavčar, he said that “even after the elections, the State Security Administration (UDBA) economy continued to function there.”

Asked at what time he saw the end and became aware that there was no turning back and that Slovenia was no longer under the Yugoslav boot and was now its own master, he said that this happened “when the last YPA soldier left our territory.” “We became a sovereign country, we disposed of our territory ourselves, we were masters of our own land, it happened as expected and there was no turning back. As regards whether we would persevere, i.e. whether we would be able to actually implement and keep what we, as the Slovenian people, had voted for the only time in history, writing our own judgement that became clear when the military depot in Strmec pri Borovnici had been taken over. "

Asked about the actual political power and the momentum of the war for independence, Mr Janša said that “the power of an army is in the minds of the people, the power of an army is in the minds of the soldiers. Yes, you need weapons, but no weapons can help you if you don’t know what you’re fighting for. At the moment, we’re struggling with both.”

In the interview, Prime Minister Janša also spoke of the divisions in Slovenian politics. He emphasised that “we’re not dealing with a dividing line between Kučan and Janša but a dividing line between those for whom the Slovenian independence was an intimate choice and those for whom the Slovenian independence was not an intimate choice. And, in a way, this conflict, first for the intimate option and later for the interpretation, has been dragging on until today and that is the difference between the May Declaration and the Founding Document.” In this respect, he emphasised that “it is not the one who is defending himself that is the one who divides. It is the one who attacks that divides. The one who defends himself, especially if he defends the truth, does not divide. Moreover, it is here that we can find two worlds in Slovenian politics. One world tries to defend the facts. The other world is based on the Nietzschean philosophy that there are no facts, only interpretations or that the Berlin Wall fell on both sides or that there are multiple truths. This is where the conflict lies in Slovenian politics.”

Mr Janša further emphasised that “as regards Slovenia’s fight for independence, it was successful because the Slovenian people came together. This unity is evident from the turnout and the vote in the plebiscite. However, Slovenian politics was divided. This is why certain key decisions were adopted with only a few votes of the Demos majority. There was no unity that we speak of today. This is very important.”

In the final part of the interview, Prime Minister Janša emphasised: “Of course, there were no such benevolent thoughts on the other side and the fight began for reinterpretation, i.e. for proving that someone who was on the wrong side of history was actually right. Just take a look which parties celebrate independence today and which do not. This still holds true. The indisputable fact remains that Slovenia’s independence and all events that led to it, are a sacred time and something that does not divide people. If we again held the plebiscite on sovereignty today, I believe the result would be similar or still show a majority vote for sovereignty. Indirectly, such will of the people was also evident in the referendum on the EU and NATO with a two-third majority vote.” The Prime Minister further said that the surface and noise being created by emphasising this divide are one thing, while the fundamental facts are something completely different. “This is why I’ve been inviting Mr Kučan to join me in a TV debate for the last 30 years. Who knows, we might get some things straight. However, I’ve never received a positive answer to this invitation. Both sides need to be willing for such an approach.”

The Prime Minister finally emphasised the role of the media in keeping the memory of the process of gaining our independence alive by emphasising concrete facts about the events of the time and not by consenting to interpretations of these facts.