Source: Temeljna ustavna listina o samostojnosti in neodvisnosti Slovenije (Basic Constitutional Charter on the Independence and Sovereignty of the Republic of Slovenia)
The new Slovenian government is led by an ex (radical) communist. Apparently, he was too radical even then and was dismissed from the Party on that account. Ever since, he has been doing his very best to erase his red record. Except that by doing so, he is demonstrating how firmly the principles and M.O. he learned as a young man have stuck within.
An important concept in Slovenia ever since the late eighties has been that of reconciliation. As we (should) know, war is good for absolutely nothing. Glorious victories actually mean years or decades of rebuilding and healing. Physically and psychologically. On both sides. In Slovenia, part of the nation collaborated with the occupying armies. The reasons they did so were varied and personal. Atrocities were committed. Violence invariably leads to more violence and after the war ended, extra-judicial executions were carried out, which included the collaborating Slovenians. But the nation survived contrary to what the Nazis had planned. And the foundation for Slovenian sovereignty was laid right there and then. Literally.
After decades of rebuilding and yes, healing, Slovenian citizens decided to take the route towards independence at a plebiscite where 95% of voters voted in favour of at a 93.5% turnout. The result speaks for itself. The desire for independence crossed all lines of division within the population. Ever since independence became a reality, however, some of the people involved in the process have been trying to hijack the unique event in Slovenian history and appropriate it for history books to record. The man referred to in the first sentence of this blog post, for example. They easily dismiss the population-wide support for the project, the role of other political actors and civil society (except what they consider their own) at the time and paint a story of how they as the heroes struggled for the country’s independence while the big bad wolf, I mean the damn communists obstructed them. And in doing so, they keep biting at the role of resistance fighters in Slovenia during World War II. Because the Yugoslavia that was formed after the war had a communist regime, which BTW is not something that all the freedom fighters fought for, they are using every opportunity to represent the collaborators (i.e. Slovenians who fought the Slovenians fighting the occupying armies) as anti-communists who had the nation’s best interests in mind and were actually at least as good a guys as the freedom fighters if not better on some level.
Well guess what. Reconciliation does not mean shifting blame from one side to the other or making excuses. It does not mean repairing injustice by causing more thereof. Reconciliation involves fessing up for both sides. The winners of the WWII who should not have committed extra-judicial executions nor cause problems to collaborators’ relatives after the war and the collaborators who should have thought twice when picking sides. It involves recognising that – again – war is good for absolutely nothing and that it is time to move on and stop the bloody persistent practice of checking what side somebody’s father, grandfather, great-grandfather may have been on. It means respecting the feelings of the families of the deceased on both sides. They were all, after all, human. Lord knows not all of them were humane, but human they were. That’s all there is. Can we please move on? Yes?
No. See, when these guys who are in the process of appropriating Slovenian statehood (patent-pending?) take the wheel (I meant to say win the election, but they actually came in 2nd) of the country, this red-herring keeps popping up. I’ll come back to the herring thing later. The Slovenian MEP who happened to be the independent state’s first PM, for example apparently drafted the resolution for the European Parliament to state that all totalitarian systems, including communism, were equally bad. (Read: therefore Slovenians fighting the Slovenian red threat is equal to the Slovenian freedom fighters fighting the occupying forces whose ultimate objective was to erase the nation.) The latest has to do with the celebration of the Statehood Day. The celebration, which will be marked by folk dances. How is that for an art programme?
The government led by the man who in his younger days marched proudly to Jajce in remembrance of the glory days, decided that this year, for the first time ever, the flag bearers representing the veterans of Slovenian WWII freedom fighters and their legacy would not be invited to the celebration. Only veterans of the independence war were deemed worthy to participate. Actually, several other organisations were invited as well, but refused because the WWII veterans had been excluded. The police veterans from the independence war era rejected the invitation based on solidarity with the WWII veterans as well.
The veterans of 1991 who endured the 10-day war and fought bravely while the politicians, diplomats and media people were engaged in their own important battles, would do well to realise that they are being played and exploited and either demand that their colleagues representing those who fought to keep the nation alive for four years and more are shown respect or refuse to participate in the ceremonies themselves.
As for the red-herring aspect of the whole thing. It is rather obvious that the anti-commie we-are-your-saviours issues are much easier to deal with and respond to in public (especially after years of practice which probably trigger an autopilot with these guys) than to answer questions related to slashing maternity leave benefits and how exactly cutting funding for research and education while lowering taxes for the well-off is supposed to stimulate growth. Or why the ruling party opposed the structural reforms prepared by the previous government claiming they were unnecessary whereas now it wants to bulldoze the public sector and syndicates claiming the exact opposite. You know, the insignificant little issues.
This whole thing would be funny were it not so sad.
PS: I am quite sure that I will immediately be called a commie for having written this text. I can see communist, Murgle, agitprop and komsomol coming up. All would-be name-callers are kindly referred to the first sentence in this blog post.