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Prime Minister Janša at ceremony to mark the 30th anniversary of the seizure of the Yugoslav People's Army depot in Podstrmec pri Borovnici

The Prime Minister, Janez Janša, was the keynote speaker at a ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the logistical action to seize the military storage facility in Podstrmec pri Borovnici. Guests were also addressed by the president of the MORiS Kočevska Reka association, Tone Krkovič. The action in Podstrmec pri Borovnici was the logistical action of the century, in which 23 members of the reconnaissance squad of the MORiS Brigade, took place on 28 June 1991, the second day of the armed conflicts in the war for Slovenia. The squad seized the Yugoslav People's Army storage facility in Podstrmec pri Borovnici with no casualties on the Slovenian side.

Prime Minister Janez Janša at the ceremony marking the 30th anniversary of the logistics operation to seize the JNA weapons depot in Podstrmec near Borovnica | Author KPV

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In his address, the Prime Minister pointed out that Slovenia, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of its own statehood, had been remembering many of the larger and smaller events that led to Slovenia becoming an independent state and Slovenians obtaining a homeland which is internationally recognised and equal in the family of other nations that have their own statehood recognised. He said that the event marked by today’s ceremony was one of the most important events yet, regrettably, also one of the less known. He noted that the members of the Territorial Defence who carried out this action were awarded the Republic of Slovenia award by the President of the Republic of Slovenia and expressed his belief that this event would become increasingly well known, not least because it was an event that genuinely changed history.

The Prime Minister went on to stress that during the war for Slovenia there were two main events, which had a significant impact on what was happening at that time.

In psychological terms, this was the shooting down of helicopters flying over Ljubljana. He said that "Until that time, Slovenia was believed to be helpless in responding to aerial attacks and the Yugoslav People's Army thought they could do what they want with us because they had dominance in the air." According to the Prime Minister, when it turned out that this was not true, the situation changed. "When these helicopters were shot down, it became clear that Slovenia also had effective anti-aircraft defence weapons."  He pointed out that there were not many of these weapons, but that psychologically it was a major breakthrough.

Another important action, which not only psychologically but also materially changed the balance of forces, was the seizure of the Yugoslav People's Army storage facility in Podstrmec pri Borovnici, where more weapons were confiscated than those confiscated by the Partisan army in Slovenia in World War II. The Prime Minister mentioned that "it was not only logistical action, there was a battle, too, that were carried out without casualties." To carry out such an action without casualties, demanded not only military knowledge, but also intelligence, which is something that usually decides whether someone wins or loses the war, said the Prime Minister. "Once it was clear that the storage facility had been seized and that the Yugoslav People's Army was not even aware of this and that it could be emptied and the confiscated weapons secured, we knew that there was no force that would break us. We also believed in our victory before; however, we were aware of the real balance of forces.  The Yugoslav People's Army had huge heavy weapon capabilities, strong firepower and missiles, while Slovenia had nothing on that level. In the seized storage facility, crates were found that were still stowed by Territorial Defence unit. The Prime Minister said: "It was the weapons that had been stolen from us a year before, in May 1990, and we were able to recruit members of these Territorial Defence units practically overnight. Since their equipment was sorted and stowed, we knew exactly whom we could call. Those of you who are in the profession, know what that means in logistics and mobilisation."

The third bonus was that the seizure of the largest storage facility of military equipment, without casualties, gave courage to other the Territorial Defence regional commands and subgroups. In the following days, storage facilities fell one by one and in seven days the balance of power in the territory of Slovenia changed significantly. The Yugoslav People's Army had no more resources, and neither the will nor the power. In addition, it turned out that equipment, numbers, money and resources mean nothing on their own, if you don't have the right strategy and if there is no will. The Prime Minister mentioned: "We had no equipment, but we had the will, the courage and we knew what we were fighting for.  We fought at home and we had the right strategy." In the defence guidelines, there was a plan including activities to capture the Yugoslav People's Army storage facility in the event of an attack. Such plans had already been made under the manoeuvre structure for national protection. For the first time, we talked about it seriously at Pristava, at the famous meeting, the 31st anniversary of which we will soon celebrate. He continued: "But I doubt that you were aware of these plans. Actually, this was about an initiative at the lowest tactical level, at the squad level. Of course, many of the other storage facilities were not seized according to the plans. However, I have to say that most of these actions were carried out better than planned." And this despite the fact, the Prime Minister added, that these actions were carried out by the drafted members of the Territorial Defence units and not by professionals. He noted that "this was not a victory of weapons, military tactics and equipment, but a victory of the heart. Thank you sincerely for this victory. Because of you and others equally brave during the war for Slovenia, Slovenia drove out the Yugoslav Army in record time with minimal, though unfortunately some casualties."

The Prime Minister said that today’s ceremony was a tribute to the courage of all those who had taken up arms and done something without which there would be no independent Slovenia. He mentioned that "we could adopt a thousand more resolutions, we could have another 12 plebiscites and vote in favour of an independent Slovenia. If we were not able to defend this, we would not be speaking Slovenian here today." The Prime Minister thanked both those who participated in this logistical action 30 years ago and those who came to celebrate the event. He said that over the past 30 years there had not been much celebration and remembrance of the key events of Slovenian independence. "Often, a lot of chaff is thrown up with the grain. But as it is in nature, so it is also in history. The wind blows off the chaff, the grains remain, and as new generations grow, no one ever remembers the chaff again. Whereas the grains, I would say, when they start a new growth and a new life, remain a permanent foundation of what we call identity, what we call a homeland and what ultimately represents the meaning of life." The Prime Minister concluded his speech saying: "God bless Slovenia and God bless all who love Slovenia."