Ladies and Gentlemen,
More than a decade has passed since Slovenia became independent, and since it has decided independently on its own fate, this being the consequence of a conclusion that our prospects, at least in certain areas, were different from the political aspirations of the other nations with which we were living communally at that time. Although that community helped us to achieve a range of developmental goals, which perhaps we might not have achieved on our own, at a certain point the community became too cramped, and in certain areas there were even opposing developmental prospects. One of such oppositions was in the attitude to human rights and the rights of a variety of minorities. Today I am still proud of my nation, and of the civil society, which in the eighties – with no concern for the consequences and the cost – stood decisively on the side of repressed minority nations and also of other minority groups in the population. May I refresh your memories by mentioning just the indignation across the entire country that was caused by the more tolerant attitude of Slovenian society towards same-sex relationships, or to us offering refuge to a series of “dissidents” from the other parts of Yugoslavia. I am also happy to have been actively involved in these events, which furthered the desire for the right to free self-determination of nations, minority groups and individuals. It was primarily this harsh attitude to human rights that led Slovenia into conflict with the others, and towards independence. Sadly the other nations, which were excessively subordinated to the manipulation of various political groups, paid a much higher price than we did for the same goals. If we can draw something from the tragic and sad events, it is that intolerance and non-respect of those that are different from us generally leads to catastrophe.
Next year, as members of the European Union, we will link our fate even more closely to the extended family of European nations. A majority of Slovenian citizens opted for this step, since we are convinced that our wishes and developmental goals can evolve even more successfully. And this does not apply simply to the area of more rapid economic growth. Even more important than this is social development, and above all the spiritual culture, which must be tied to the unfettered creative life of the individual and nations. This demands first and foremost respect of human rights, together with tolerance and respect for what is different. Each of us must be aware that a full and creative life can only flourish if this is made possible for all others. There is no happy life in a locked cage, even if that cage offers every material benefit that an individual might desire.
It should be recognised that in just over a decade of life in our independent state, we have done a great amount, both in the development of economic and social life, and in respect for human rights. We have without doubt been forced into this in part by our desire for inclusion in the European Union. We have also made many mistakes. And I hope that we will put them right as soon as possible. Unfortunately we are forgetting too much of the fundamental message from the period of independence. Here I am thinking primarily of tolerance towards others and those that are different. It seems that just as in times of difficulty for us we did not forget about others, in our “good” times we are starting to become indifferent to the problems and desires of others and those that are different. Opposing the correction of wrongs that we did to others in gaining our independence, casts a very poor light on our efforts to be included in the society of European nations whose first axiom is respect of legality and human rights. It is especially bad since a number of politicians are fuelling this opposition, although on other occasions they will swear their vocal allegiance to human rights and respect for the rule of law. Just as there is a need to make unconditional reparation for the injustices that were done after the Second World War, it is equally important to make unconditional reparation for the injustices we did in building our independent state. I would expect above all greater commitment and clearly expressed views from our leaders.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Permit me nevertheless to express my conviction that these are just momentary difficulties, which we will soon resolve successfully together. Indeed I am certain that we all share the will to respect the obligations placed upon us by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the adoption of which we are remembering today.