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Prime Minister Janez Janša received the 2021 Kocbek Award, awarded by the Slovenian Mountaineering Club Skala – the Association of Mountaineering Clubs

Today in Luče, Prime Minister Janez Janša attended the 2021 Kocbek Award ceremony. He was one of the two award recipients. Ivo Jakob, a member of the club who passed away last year and would have turned ninety this year, also received the award for climbers posthumously.

At the ceremony, the first commemorative badges were awarded on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the work of mountaineers in Slovenia. They were received by their founding fathers – Janez Janša and mountain guides Anton Jeglič and Bojan Pograjc, MA. The mountaineers who gathered at the Slovenian Mountaineering Club Skala are preserving the tradition of the great men of Slovenian climbing and mountaineering. One of them in the Kamnik–Savinja Alps is Franc Kocbek – an idealist, a tireless leader of the mountaineers of his time, and a role model for the generations that follow him. The Kocbek Award is thus the highest award of the Slovenian Mountaineering Club Skala – the Association of Mountaineering Clubs for the contribution to the activities of mountaineers and the dissemination of their values, goals and work.

 Prime Minister Janez Janša was awarded as a mountaineer for his visionary and dedicated work, for numerous incentives, and as a model of perseverance on the way to a common goal – the establishment of the Slovenian Mountaineering Club Skala. Prime Minister Janša was the first leader and the mastermind behind the founding fathers, and has the greatest credit that Slovenes, after fifty years of communist oppression of the ideas of mountaineers, first gathered in the Skala Tourist Club and then the Skala Mountaineering Club between the two wars, revived the mountaineering spirit and heritage. First in 1995 in the Slovenian Dr. Henrik Tuma Mountaineering Club, and then in 1997 in the Slovenian Mountaineering Club Skala - the Association of Mountaineering Clubs.

Below is the explanation for the award:

Janez Janša started going to mountains when he was still a minor. He gained physical strength and developed love for his homeland by working at the family farm in Žalna near Grosuplje. The mountains on the horizon invited him to test his own perseverance and the necessary courage to be able to see abroad, Europe and the world from their peaks, as an aspiring young man. He attended school at Stična Gymnasium, where, regardless of the lead times, he was influenced by the Cistercian monastery of Stična, whether in thought, prayer or its image. He studied in Ljubljana, where his mind was repelled from the lies and theft of the then political system, which at the same time drew him even closer, also physically, to the mountains which also cleared his thoughts. A climber and an alpinist with a mountaineering certificate united in a mountaineer. Janez Janša never got anything for free, regardless of his social role. Not even in the mountains. He walked, skied, and climbed everything, in summer and in winter, alone or with his wife, children, acquaintances, and friends. His physical boldness, which he had in abundance, never overcame the feeling of safety, except, of course, the boldness of his mind, which often, as befits great men, guided him forward towards the top or back into the comfort of the valley and the refuge of his family. He climbed the great classics, as well as some paramount tracks in the Slovenian mountains, and also accomplished many climbs in the Dolomites, which all became his ticket to the summits of the Western Alps. The central pillar in Veliko Špičje, the Šimenc-Škarja route in Dolgi hrbet, the Belač-Zupan route in Šite, the Direct route in the Špik north wall, Skalaška with the Čop pillar on the Triglav north face and the winter crossing of the Košuta ridge were great overtures to Stüdl Ridge to Grossglockner, crossing the Mont Blanc massif and the first Slovene repetition of the Welzenbach route on the north face of Western Breithorn in winter. And not to forget, it is necessary to emphasise the participation of Janez Janša in as many as twenty-five mountaineering camps of the Dr. Henrik Tuma Mountaineering Club in Lepena in the role of organiser and participant. And today? It will be no surprise to hear the Lower Carniolan dialect in Janez Janša's beloved Lepena, Trenta, Bovec valley or on Kanin, whether it be in the middle of a climbing area, on top of a wall, or in the middle of a ski slope. This will definitely be Janez Janša, who will be willing to chat about mountaineering, share his last sip of water or desired leftovers of his snack, saved for the golden mountaineering reserve. There are many, or better to say, there are more and more people who are proud to be Janez Janša's mountaineering contemporaries. Or as they like to say with mountaineering enthusiasm: "Bog lonej, da smo pr'jatlj!" ("Thank you for being friends").

By giving him the award, the Kocbek Award Committee and all Slovenian mountaineers also wanted to sincerely thank Prime Minister Janez Janša for his contribution to the survival and development of the mountaineering spirit in Slovenia. After the award ceremony, the Prime Minister, in an emotional speech, expressed his thanks for the recognition, which means a lot to him because he received it together with Ivo Jakob, a climbing doyen who knew how to combine life in the valleys and on the peaks. He did not forget to point out that he fell in love with the mountains, even though he spent his youth around the hills and vineyards of Dolenjska. Mountaineering took him to the beautiful world of mountains, where he met and got to know many interesting and good people. With them on mountaineering tours, he learned many life lessons, and at the same time, got to know the history of the Skala Tourist Club. This history must empower today’s mountaineers, and inspire future generations to celebrate the two hundredth anniversary, as well as other jubilees to come.