Slovenian diaspora praised for contribution to independence
Ljubljana, 27 June - Prime Minister Janez Janša and the first prime minister of the independent Slovenia, Lojze Peterle, noted the vital role that the Slovenian diaspora played in the independence efforts, as they addressed the 27th annual get-together of Slovenians living abroad on Sunday.
The gathering, held at St Stanislav's Institution in the Šentvid borough, marked the 30th anniversary of Slovenia's independence under the motto Slovenians 30 Years Ago and Today.
Slovenia is where it is because it was more than just the people living here, said Janša. "The belief in a democratic and free Slovenia had survived mostly outside the borders of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia, because the purge here had been merciless," he said.
He offered the first meeting of the Slovenian World Congress as what he called the empirical evidence of the fact that only the entire whole made independence possible. Slovenians living abroad replaced the diplomatic service that Slovenia did not have at the time.
"Our voice in the world, lacking or weak at the time, was strengthened to the skies by our compatriots everywhere," said Janša. "There was practically no fellow Slovenian that would not contribute something at the time. It was what created the impression in the world that tipped the scales in favour of our step in a week."
"We were a whole back then and that was why we succeeded. Even later, when it came to international recognition, it would have been all much harder without that help."
The prime minister said Slovenia enjoyed an international reputation that was not built over night and which was being manifested in recent days as many landmarks across the globe were illuminated in the colours of the Slovenian flag.
Peterle, who led the independence government, also acknowledged the key contribution of the diaspora to the independence cause.
"We felt your support, that is why we succeeded. The Slovenian spring, an amazing political fact, was possible because you preserved the seeds alive for winter, because you fostered the value world that understood what is freedom and what is human dignity. Hence I say that we Christians were ready for that moment of grace."
For Slovenia's troubles today Peterle blames those who understand politics as an opportunity for themselves, rather than as service to the nation and the common interests.
"As always I will leave Šentvid with a strengthened hope that Slovenia is looking at a great future," said Peterle, appealing to young people to dream the impossible and they would make great things.
The emigrants abroad were also thanked for the effort they put into independence by Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch.
The gathering, organised every year by the association of expatriates called Slovenija v Svetu (SVS), opened with Holy Mass celebrated by Auxiliary Bishop of Ljubljana Anton Jamnik and emigrant priests.
An exhibition of works of art by expatriate Slovenian artists was also launched. It is a show of "the pulse of Slovenian hearts abroad, the care, pride and the all-round efforts of the Slovenians abroad at a time when Slovenia was gaining independence," the SVS association said.
As part of the gathering, the SVS and the cultural association Glasbena Matica Ljubljana staged a concert at the Slovenian Philharmonic on Saturday evening to celebrate the independence anniversary.