Prime Minister Janez Janša on Sovereignty Day: What happened in October 1991 had been inconceivable for most people even a year before
Nothing in the life of a person or a nation should be taken for granted. Especially events as glorious as birth and the successful defence of an independent country. The Sovereignty Day is a national holiday when we commemorate one of the crucial events in Slovenia’s process of gaining independence. In October 1991, the last soldier of the occupying Yugoslav People’s Army left Slovenia. Slovenia thus not only formally, but de facto became a sovereign country.
In its war for independence, Slovenia did not have allies to lean on. We also could not rely on anyone’s help in our fight for our own sovereign state. We could only rely on ourselves — on our knowledge, our competences, our determination to have our own homeland. At the same time, we were also hoping for a bit of God’s blessing.
Despite the treason against the Slovenian nation and the disarmament of the Slovenian Territorial Defence Force, we managed to form our own army. The victory in the war for Slovenia and against the communist Yugoslav People’s Army was achieved by the Slovenian army together with the Slovenian police; an army of Slovenian patriots who formed the Slovenian Armed Forces from the National Defence Manoeuvre Structure. Never in the history of the Slovenian nation were so many people grateful to a small group of their compatriots.
The power of courage, born out of love, can be seen in the videos of those historical days from almost 30 years ago. We watch those videos with deep respect for our compatriots from the Vipava Valley and elsewhere who faced the Yugoslav People’s Army tanks with bare fists. With a great deal of not only national courage, but wisdom as well, we managed to beat the army, which at the time had a repuation of the tenth strongest army in the world.
Slovenians can be proud because in the battles we fought we also showed goodwill and a sense of honour. The wounded soldiers of the Yugoslav People’s Army were provided with the same medical treatment that any of our citizens would receive. We took no revenge on the Yugoslav soldiers, not even when they left Koper with their heads bent downward. The young boys who were sent to attack us against their will and who probably thought they would be lined up and shot were put on the train in civilian clothing and sent home. During the Slovenian War for Independence there were no mass movements of refugees fleeing Slovenia, nobody was forcibly mobilised and we did not experience the division of the Slovenian territory.
Although times of war are always cruel, we, as a nation, can always be proud that we fought a battle of honour. Therefore our goal, to implement the plebiscitary decision of the Slovenian nation for an independent and sovereign Slovenia, is even more noble and bright. It will be written forever in the history as a proof of maturity of the Slovenian nation and as a proof of courage of its soldiers.
Due to the courage, the wise decisions and the unity of the Slovenian nation sharing the same vision and despite political differences and obstacles posed by some, Slovenians have got an independent state which many generations before us could only dream of.
This day should thus serve as a memory and reminder of how unity for a common goal can keep us alive and strong as a nation. We should strengthen the awareness that together we can always defeat everything that seems undefeatable.
And already tomorrow we may achieve what was still unimaginable yesterday. History has taught us that nothing is impossible if we are united as a nation.
I would like to sincerely congratulate you on the occasion of our national holiday, the Sovereignty Day! Stay healthy and stay brave.