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Prime Minister Janez Janša: The Slovenian World Congress is a strong link between Slovenians abroad and their homeland

Prime Minister Janez Janša today attended the ceremony of the Slovenian World Congress (SWC) on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of its founding. On this day 30 years ago, more than 500 founding members gathered to make it their mission to bring Slovenians at home and abroad together in science, culture and democracy. At the time of gaining independence, Slovenians living outside Slovenia were particularly committed to having our country internationally recognised.

At the event, the Prime Minister unveiled a commemorative plaque to mark the journey of the SWC, its members and friends who helped to make the dream of our country's independence a reality. The Prime Minister was also presented with a SWC gold coin. The SWC awards the gold coin to worthy individuals and institutions whose activities strengthen the national consciousness of fellow Slovenians at home and abroad, bringing them together. As was pointed out at the award ceremony, the Prime Minister has been connecting with Slovenians in neighbouring countries and around the world since before Slovenia’s independence, and has been committed to making them feel part of the Slovenian nation. He supported the organisation and establishment of conferences of Slovenians at home and abroad, which was also a prerequisite for the convening of the SWC's founding assembly. At the event, the SWC expressed its gratitude to the Prime Minister and, on behalf of Slovenians worldwide, presented him with the organisation's highest award for bringing together and uniting Slovenians around the globe based on mutual assistance.

The Prime Minister gave a speech upon receiving the award and beginning by expressing his sincere thanks for the recognition. "Today when we recall those days 30 years ago, we feel a great sense of gratitude because Slovenians stood together then and because our fellow Slovenians abroad and around the world helped the fledgling country where its own institutions had not yet existed for this purpose," said Janša.

"The members of the Slovenian World Congress briefly celebrated the declaration of the independent Slovenia on the evening of 26 June at Cankarjev dom Culture and Congress Centre. I met many of those mentioned today there for the first time, and it was a wonderful experience, which was unfortunately cut short and interrupted by the news of YPA troop incursions and the tank battalion's leaving the Vrhnika barracks," the Prime Minister described his memories of the events surrounding the founding of the SWC, regretting that he was not able to attend the wider meeting of the SWC at the time when it was being constituted. With the establishment of the SWC, a certain dispersed energy, which at that time supported Slovenia’s historic step on all continents, gained its own organisation. Prominent Slovenians with direct personal connections to governments, ministers, presidents of states, heads of regions, mayors of important cities, then tirelessly either from Ljubljana or from their homeland, to which they were returning in chaotic conditions, because the YPA had already occupied some of the border crossings, worked to ensure that the truth about the events in Slovenia reached the world and that the global public opinion about Slovenia's independence completely shifted in our favour within a week, and that we became an entity, a player on the international map," the Prime Minister emphasised. He added that, at that time, Slovenia did not have its own diplomacy, nor official networks around the world, "and all of this was replaced by our compatriots. It was a powerful energy at that time." He also recalled that the information group which coordinated the defence operation, received thousands of faxes, telegrams and phone calls of support. "I still don't know how Slovenians from Australia, Cleveland, Argentina, America and elsewhere got hold of our phone numbers; young guys from various continents called to ask if they could come and help and if they could come and fight for Slovenia," the Prime Minister reminisced.

The SWC has weathered many storms in its 30 years, "but it has nevertheless persisted and survived and is a strong link between Slovenians abroad and their homeland".

 

"Just as some of our compatriots were involved in the efforts for independence and provided concrete help when the first Slovenian government needed experts, we are trying to channel this energy and knowledge today by forming the Strategic Council for Digitalisation, which brought together several extremely capable, eminent, insightful compatriots who work worldwide, who have succeeded globally, who have founded high-technology companies and who are now assisting Slovenia in digitalisation. This is also direct proof that the Slovenian World Congress serves its purpose," said Janša.

 

"Regardless of the fact that times are different today than they were 30 years ago, when it was a question of to be or not to be, the importance of connecting Slovenians at home and around the globe is just as key today. There is a huge amount of Slovenian knowledge around the world today in all industries and all professions, including multinational corporations, entrepreneurs, athletes, and so on, and of course we want young people not to go abroad or, if they do, to come back, to expand their knowledge. Many people who have left Slovenia, their homeland, and thought never to return again are nevertheless invited to reconsider and come back. We will welcome them with open arms," said the Prime Minister, expressing his congratulations on the 30th anniversary of our homeland, which became a country 30 years ago.

 

"Long live the Slovenian World Congress, may it continue to connect for the next 30 years and beyond, and God bless Slovenia," concluded Prime Minister Janša.