Skip to main content

Prime Minister Janez Janša at the main national celebrations to mark the 30th anniversary of Slovenian statehood and the handover of the Presidency of the Council of the EU

In today’s address, Prime Minister Janez Janša not only marked the ceremonial state celebrations with those present but also the handover of the presidency of the Council of the EU.

His speech looked back to those times, 30 years ago. "With the constitutional act, we declared an independent state based on the support of more than 90 percent of the people in the plebiscite. When we proclaimed independence a day later, we were attacked." He emphasised that Slovenians stood tall and stood firm, and that we, to a great extent, stood alone on this day 30 years ago. "We had only our fellow Slovenians abroad. Except for neighbouring Croatia, which found itself in a similar situation, no one recognised our independence." He underlined that we nevertheless endured. "The year before, we managed to hold free elections and Slovenia breathed freely."

Continuing his address, the Prime Minister said that the times of 30 years ago could not be more different from the present. "Today we have peace, one of the lowest unemployment rates in the European Union and high economic growth. Slovenia is a member of the European Union and NATO. All our neighbouring countries are with us in the European Union, and they are not only friendly countries, but are, together with us, a part of the common European family." In his address, the Prime Minister thanked the Republic of Croatia, which was the first country to recognise Slovenia 30 years ago. He noted that Slovenia was taking over the presidency of the Council of the EU for the second time and that the country is an experienced member of the multinational community. "We know what works well in such a community and what does not. We know that the fastest way to break up any community is to use double standards. That is why we will always strive for the same standards to apply equally to everyone, both at home and in Europe."

In his address, the Prime Minister thanked Portugal for having successfully carried out its presidency in an extremely difficult situation during the epidemic. He stressed that Slovenia would do everything possible during its presidency to make Europe’s recovery from the epidemic faster and more effective, and to ensure that the essential elements for making the European Union more resilient against future crises would be set up as early as possible and that due consideration would be given to Europe’s strategic autonomy.

The Prime Minister said that today is time to look to the next three decades. "We see a Slovenia that has completed its transition, at ease with itself, full of joie de vivre and taking pride in its journey. We see a Europe that is based on European civilization and respect for difference; a strong Europe boasting a European way of life and strong member states. A Europe with efficient and lean European Union institutions, free and as united as possible. We see a Europe that is at peace with itself and set in peaceful and prosperous surroundings. We see Europe as part of a strong North Atlantic Alliance, as a world leader in terms of freedom and quality of life, as home to justice and prosperity. We see Slovenia and Europe as a place of dynamic and free expression of opinions, mutual cooperation, high standards in terms of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and in terms of the rule of law, which is based on equal standards for all and on the cooperation of democratic institutions elected by the people."

The Prime Minister said that a lot of work is still needed to make this a reality. "However, the most important thing is that we know who we are and that is who we want to be. And that we know how to dream and we dare to dream, just as we dared to dream during the Slovenian Spring." He went on to say that courage and dreams must be returned to young generations. "The words we speak, however, must hold true. For in the beginning was the word and from it all things were made. We would never have succeeded 30 years ago if we had spoken and done only what was easy and agreeable."

At the end of his address, Prime Minister Janša thanked the citizens for their patience during the epidemic, and thanked the healthcare workers, especially those who had been on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. He recalled that Slovenians had fought for and won their democracy, freedom and statehood. "We were not born in prosperity. We are a resilient, but also an open and optimistic nation. We value ourselves and respect others. We possess the knowledge and the ability. The Prime Minister said that we may never be the greatest, but we can be the best, the safest, the most sustainable, the most cohesive and the most persistent. He added that we can be confident and courageous, just as we were 30 years ago. "Slovenian culture has sustained us over the centuries. We won the battle 30 years ago not with weapons, but with our wits. When it came to taking decisions and risks, we made the right choices. Let us continue to do so in the future. God bless our friends, long live all nations and God bless Slovenia," said the Prime Minister.

In his address, Prime Minister Janša thanked the distinguished foreign guests, the President of the European Council and the Prime Ministers of Austria, Croatia and Hungary, as well as the Foreign Ministers of Italy and Portugal, who honoured the state celebration with their presence. The Prime Minister also thanked the Portuguese Foreign Minister for presenting him with a compass, which symbolised taking over the helm of the Presidency of the Council of the EU, saying: "Europe's seas are rough so a compass will be of great help."

                                                                                        ***

We are publishing the speech of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia. The speech is not authorized.

Dear President of the Republic, dear President of the National Assembly, dear Archbishop, Excellencies, dear fellow citizens, dear fellow Slovenians.
On this day 30 years ago, it was the day of all days for Slovenia. With the constitutional act, we declared an independent state.
It was based on the support of more than 90 percent of the people who voted in the plebiscite. When we proclaimed independence a day later, we were attacked. Our lives were threatened and our future was threatened. The planes of the Yugoslav Army were in the air, and tank columns streamed towards our border crossings. We were infinitely weaker in military terms, but united as a nation and brave. That is why we successfully defended our new state. We stood tall and stood firm. And we to a great extent stood alone on this day 30 years ago.

We were on our own, with the support of only our fellow Slovenians abroad. And we more or less celebrated on our own. Except for neighbouring Croatia, which found itself in a similar situation, no one recognised our independence at the time.
That June, the last units of the Red Army were withdrawing from neighbouring Hungary. We nevertheless endured. The year before, we managed to hold free elections and Slovenia breathed freely.

Freedom gave Slovenia wings. The times of 30 years ago could not be more different from the present. Today we have peace. We have one of the lowest unemployment rates in the European Union and high economic growth. Slovenia is a member of the European Union and NATO. All our neighbours, Austria, Hungary, Croatia and Italy are with us in the European Union. They are not only friendly countries, but are, together with us, a part of the common European family. I sincerely congratulate the Republic of Croatia, which was the first country to recognise us then, and we recognised it, and which is also celebrating today, on the 30th anniversary of its statehood and independence. Thank you, Andrej, for honouring us today with your presence. As I said, this day could not be more different from that of 30 years ago. This is the second time that Slovenia will hold the Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

We have some experience of this challenging task, and we also have a lot of different experience from when we lived in a multinational or federal community. We know what works well in such a community and what does not, and we know that the fastest way to break up any community is to use double standards. That is why we will strive for the same standards to apply equally to everyone, both at home and in Europe today and in the future. We thank Portugal for having successfully carried out its presidency in an extremely difficult situation during the epidemic. A lot of work has been done, some of it in the recent days, and we extend our congratulations on all these successes. Slovenia ... In its coordinating role in the next half of the year, Slovenia will do everything possible to ensure that the recovery from the epidemic in Europe is swift and effective, that the essential elements for making the European Union more resilient against future crises will be put in place as quickly as possible and that due consideration will be given to Europe’s strategic autonomy.

Now, when Slovenia is celebrating its 30th anniversary and taking over the Presidency of the Council of the European Union, it is time to look ahead to the next three decades. We see Slovenia and Europe in 30 years. We see a Slovenia that has completed its transition, reconciled with itself, full of joie de vivre and taking pride in its journey. We see a Europe that is based on European civilisation and respect for difference; a strong Europe boasting a European way of life and strong member states. A Europe supported by efficient and lean EU institutions, free and as united as possible. We see a Europe ... We see a Europe that is at peace with itself and set in peaceful, democratic and prosperous surroundings. We see Europe as part of a strong North Atlantic Alliance, as a world leader in terms of freedom and quality of life, as home to justice and prosperity.

We see Slovenia and Europe as a place of dynamic and free expression of opinions, mutual competition and cooperation, high standards in terms of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms and in terms of the rule of law, which is based on equal standards for all and on the cooperation of democratic institutions elected by the people. There is much to do if we are to achieve this, but nothing that is not possible, nothing that cannot be done.

The most important thing is that we know who we are and want to be. And that we know how to dream and we dare to dream. Just ... Just as we dared to dream during the Slovenian Spring. And we succeeded, despite everything. We have to bring back courage and dreams to young generations and everything will be possible again. The words we speak, however, must hold true. For in the beginning was the word and from it all things were made. Never ...

Dear Slovenians, dear friends, dear fellow citizens.

We would never have succeeded 30 years ago if we had spoken and done only what was perceived as pleasing. Instead, we saw the circumstances as they were in the real world and did what we believed was good. For us, for the generations of our descendants and for other nations. We expanded the space of freedom and democracy and rose against those who threatened it. In the last year, our threat has been the pandemic. I would like to join the President of the Republic of Slovenia in extending thanks to you all, dear fellow citizens, for your patience and for your joint efforts to overcome this threat. My thanks to all healthcare professionals, in particular those who have been on the front lines of this fight. It has not been easy and the fight is still ongoing, but we will succeed. Happy thirtieth anniversary, dear Slovenia.

We have fought for and won democracy, freedom and statehood. They were not given to us on a platter and we were not born in prosperity. We are a resilient, but also an open and optimistic nation. "Happy people will live in the heaven under Mt Triglav," wrote Cankar. We value ourselves and respect others. We possess the knowledge and the ability. We know how to build, create, collaborate and unite.

We may never be the greatest, but we can be the best in many areas. The safest, the most sustainable, the most cohesive and the most persistent. Confident and courageous, just as we were 30 years ago. Slovenian culture has sustained us over the centuries. We won the battle 30 years ago not with weapons, but with our wits. At the thousands of crossroads, when it came to taking decisions and risks, we made the right choices. Let us continue to do so in the future. God's blessing on our friends who are here with us today.

God's blessing on all nations. God bless Slovenia. Thank you.