Coat-of-arms of Republic of SloveniaRepublic of Slovenia
15 Years of Slovenian StateSlovensko

Formal address by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia Janez Janša at the main celebration on the occasion of Slovenian National Day, 24 June 2006

Dear Slovenes, dear compatriots - members of the Italian and Hungarian national communities, dear fellow Slovenes living outside our borders, and all around the world, Excellencies, relatives of the fallen in the war for Slovenia, dear citizens, dear friends.

We had waited a very long time for that day. For centuries. It was 26 June, 1991. A hot day, a hot evening. Full of anticipation. Full of joy. It was so full of joy in the anticipation of the birth of our nation, that there was little room for fear.

Nevertheless, enemy planes were already in the air, and on the roads of Primorska there were enemy tanks. From the sky the threat of aggression was imminent. They wanted to erase independent Slovenia from history.

They failed. They had been suppressing freedom for a long time, but could not prevent it. The aspiration to freedom is universal, written in the hearts of every person in this land.

We succeeded, and we won, because we were a courageous generation interlinked and unified, and therefore able to gather in such numbers in Congress Square and Roška Street.

Self-confidence returned to our hearts, hope filled the Slovenian soul, unity returned to the Slovenian nation. All these factors generated a new strength that no-one could break.

That is why we are celebrating our 15th birthday. I would like to express my warmest congratulations to everyone on Slovenian National Day.

Fifteen years ago the first honour-guard company of the Slovenian Armed Forces stood in this square for the first time in Slovenia's history. Today, it is here again, just as it was then. Welcome.

How proud we were of you then. And, during the fighting and after the victory, how proud we were of all those who in formations in the uniforms of the Manoeuvre Structure of National Defence, of the Territorial Defence of Slovenia and of the Police, did the best that one can do when called by the homeland. You defended our homes, our families, and our homeland. Today, 15 years later, Slovenia is even more proud of you. Sadly, in the meantime we witnessed the tragedies of Vukovar, Sarajevo, and Srebrenica. We witnessed fates that were also intended for us. It is thanks to you that this did not happen here. There is not enough marble in the world to build a fitting monument for the Slovenian soldiers and police. Thank you.

Today our skies are free. The Slovenian Armed Forces are protecting it. It is protected by our NATO allies. It is protected by our determination to keep the freedom that we won 15 years ago, forever.

Some say that we fear changes. Fifteen years ago we proved this is not true. Fifteen years ago we defeated not only the communist Yugoslav army, but also our fear of change. We have to keep this courage. We need it today, too. We are facing a global world that is changing every day. Every new day demands new decisions from us. I often meet people who say, "As long as it doesn't get worse". But my answer is, "This is by no means enough. It has to get better. We can do much more. When, if not now? We are members of the EU and NATO, we have met the criteria for the adoption of the euro, and our development rate stands at 80 per cent of the EU average. Have our opportunities ever been better? Never - neither for us nor for our ancestors."

However, we need to change the way in which we treat each other as co-citizens. We cannot speak only of rights, but also of responsibility - our responsibility to each other. Everyone should be given opportunities and everyone should carry responsibilities, including the responsibility to show respect and tolerance towards their fellow human beings, and at the same time the determination to prevent crime and abuses.

Dr Jože Pučnik wrote, "The message of Slovenian statehood is the demand for establishing conditions for the well-being of citizens, and the nation with its culture and as part of European civilisation." This is what today is all about. We have reached this point, finally.

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have opted for a market economy, and this decision has facilitated our welfare. In fifteen years, we have increased our GDP by 56 per cent, and real net income by 57 per cent. We have been successful. Nevertheless, we know that the market is not all-powerful. It will never be possible to buy everything.

The market cannot teach and educate us. For this, we need good schools and teachers devoted to the most important future mission.

The market cannot heal us. For this, we need a good healthcare network and doctors devoted to the most responsible profession.

The market cannot provide for our security when we retire. For this, we need solidarity between generations.

The market cannot protect individuals against the abuses of those who take advantage of their power. This is why we have to establish the rules of the game and monitor them.

We cannot buy a formula for solidarity and mutual aid. We have to support and develop these systematically, including solidarity beyond our borders. Hundreds of millions of people all over the world are suffering in oppression and poverty. We must not be blind to their misfortune. They, too, deserve freedom and life with dignity.

The war and the revolution in the past century damaged our culture of confidence. For a society of relaxed and happy people we need mutual trust, partnership. The culture of confidence is a sensitive value. It has to be supported by honesty and good experience. The kept word. Sincere and honest, well- intentioned public words.

Let us ask ourselves if a nation, constantly putting forward the traumatic periods of its history and neglecting those that united it, can develop well? Let us not bring up generations in hatred, or in the mentality that all crime can be justified. Let us not do so, as this is the fastest way for the experience of evil to become their future.

What is there to emphasise if not that which united us? What was and still is the source of our strength and common pride? What has united us more than the birth whose 15th anniversary we are celebrating today?

Dear Ladies and Gentlemen,

Our achievements in all fields, particularly those of the last, free fifteen years, are easily comparable with the best in the world.

We are a nation of poets, writers, and culture, and much more than that.

For a long time, we have been a nation of good entrepreneurs, scientists, engineers, soldiers and missionaries. We know of the best Slovenian enterprises. We know of the best Slovenian sports achievements, and we are justly proud of them. It is, however, less known that the achievements of Slovenian know-how and work are today incorporated in the most prestigious makes of cars. The programme solutions of a Slovenian enterprise are used by the NASA space centre. We produce the best ultra light planes in the world, and the European boat of the year made of carbon fibres.

The solutions, the fruits of the Slovenian know-how, push the boundaries of the possible in the pharmaceutical industry, in the development of new materials, in nanotechnology, in research in particle accelerators.

Our enterprises achieve ten per cent market share in Europe and in the world in the production of electronic motors, electro-safety elements, in the production of specific electronic gauges, and in many other products which are competitive globally. We do not know these achievements very well, we do not emphasise and emulate them enough. Let us change this attitude. Let the best also be given more public attention.

Today, more than at any time before, we can set ourselves high aspirations for the future. We seek to become nothing less than one of the most successful countries in the world, one of the beacons of the 21st century. To achieve our aim we will make use of the best that is in our national character; even if in the past this was buried somewhere deep. Creativity. Diligence. Entrepreneurship. Dedication. Justice. Openness. Tolerance. Honesty. Solidarity.

Traditional Slovenian values. New Slovenian self-confidence.

Let us be open, and not underestimate others. Those who once developed rapidly, but are now experiencing a standstill achieved their success in a different time and environment. We must look up to those who are fast and successful today, in the space and time in which we are competing. We need answers to present and future challenges, not those of the past.

Let us become the best. Let us modernise Slovenia. Let us participate in this bold venture. Unite our forces. There is enough room for everyone to participate in our venture. Let us have confidence in each other. Let us make the best in us work towards the common good. Let us invest in Slovenia our ideas, energy, hopes, and all our talents, and use them to build a community in which every individual will be able to say, "I do care what happens to Slovenia, for I know Slovenia cares what happens to me."

We will never be the biggest. We will never be the strongest. But we can be the best. We can create the best environment for a fulfilling life. The best environment for the safe and sound growth of our children. The best place for happiness.

Ivan Cankar was right. You can search throughout the world, but you will never find in a place the size of Slovenia so many natural beauties. So many beautiful rivers, meadows, mountains and lakes. Vineyards, karst fields, large forests and azure sea. It is true, we have a paradise at the foot of Mt Triglav.

We have been told that we were not important, that we were too small, that we would live on grass, that we would not survive, that we did not know how to fight, that we should not dream. They were wrong. We knew how to survive, we knew how to fight, we were able to march together. Therefore, today is a new day. And ahead of us lies a new path.

Dear compatriots, the Slovenian lime tree, symbolically planted and blessed in this square, has grown in 15 years, and has put down strong roots. It will continue to grow and blossom. There is enough room for all under its crown.

Slovenia - a land of prosperity. Our Slovenia - our homeland.