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Meeting of Slovenian and Croatian Prime Ministers Janez Janša and Andrej Plenković at the unveiling of the memorial in memory of the cooperation of the two governments at the time of gaining independence

Prime Minister Janez Janša today had a meeting at Otočec with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Croatia, Andrej Plenković.

The working meeting was held at the unveiling of the memorial in the year when Slovenia celebrates its 30th anniversary of independence and sovereignty, in memory of the bilateral meetings and cooperation of two friendly countries at the time of gaining independence. The ceremony was also attended by the first Prime Minister of Slovenia, Lojze Peterle, and the then Prime Minister of Croatia, Franjo Gregurić.

In his speech at the unveiling ceremony, Prime Minister Janez Janša spoke about the events of 30 years ago, the defence against the aggression of the Yugoslav army, and the importance of cooperation between the two nations driven by the desire for an independent state, which is also the basis for subsequent cooperation between the two countries in various fields.

In his speech, Prime Minister Janez Janša said that this is an important anniversary in the history of both nations and that Otočec had always been a meeting place. “We first met here when we were still the Democratic Opposition of Slovenia – Demos, and when the Croatian Democratic Union was already a trailblazer of democratic change in Croatia.” The Slovenian Prime Minister went on to say that after the first free elections in both countries, this cooperation grew into cooperation between two governments, democratically elected authorities, and that Otočec was the venue of many meetings at the governmental level, especially at the level of defence and internal affairs. “Our cooperation at the time was crucial given the expected declaration of independence of the two countries and the anticipated reaction from Belgrade.” He also said that Otočec was also the place of meeting of the then opposition from both countries. “In June 1991, representatives of the parties who were successors to the former League of Communists from Slovenia, Croatia and Bosnia gathered here. At that time, they publicly declared that independence was acceptable to them only if the countries immediately reunited in the former Yugoslavia. History has sent this nonsense to the rubbish heap, so no one remembers these events and we all try to forget them as soon as possible.” He recalled that the two governments led by Peterle and Gregurić met here in Otočec in early November 1991, exactly 30 years ago. “I was a member of the then Slovenian Government delegation. Just over a week earlier, the last Yugoslav soldier had left Slovenian territory. We were free for the first time in the sense that there was no foreign army on our territory. At that time, a historic battle for Vukovar and Slavonia was taking place in Croatia.” He recalled that at that time there was a lot of talk about how to help Croatia after Slovenia had already defended its sovereignty months ago. According to the Prime Minister, there were a number of other open issues, such as the economy and trade, and many matters had to be settled. “I remember listening with interest to the then prime ministers, who knew the most about how international recognition was already coming our way. At that time, it was the strongest light shining on this place. And we were anxious for this news more than anything. We knew that international recognition would completely change the situation, where both nations could benefit from the direct, formal help of others.” The Slovenian Prime Minister said that they were aware at the time that Slovenians and Croatians were two friendly nations that had always lived here without ever being at war, and that such situations were rare in Europe. He said that many issues had been resolved back then, which now seems self-evident. “Some issues have remained open, but all can be resolved in the future on the basis of dialogue and good cooperation and friendship, which was forged here 30 years ago.”

He concluded his speech by saying that although there are still many challenges today, a comparison of today’s situation with that from 30 years ago is impossible. “Today, Slovenia and Croatia are members of the EU and NATO. We are in a space that is far ahead of where we came from in terms of security and prosperity.” He also paid a deep tribute to all those who made it possible 30 years ago for Slovenia and Croatia to be independent countries today.