Address of the President of the National Assembly, Dr Pavel Gantar, on the occassion of the 20th anniversary of Slovenia’s independence
Twenty years ago, a new era began in the history of the Slovenes, a period when we grew from a people into a nation. By strengthening national awareness and cultural, social and political strength, we managed to exercise our historical right, to fight for our own country, and receive recognition from other nations.
We can proudly say that we have achieved much in the past twenty years. We took a path which was not always easy, where we often encountered problems and obstacles. Nevertheless, we never experienced a lack of stamina or the will to achieve new objectives and face new challenges. We have realised all the key goals of national significance, for which we have always managed to find social consensus. Independent Slovenia became a fact in international politics, and stands side by side with developed countries. By joining the European Union, we became part of the European family to which we always belonged culturally and historically By joining the major international alliances, we became equal and responsible members of the international community.
Despite what we have achieved, we are now at a crossroads. After almost two decades of independence, we have come to take our country for granted. We, and particularly the young, are not sufficiently aware that the path to independent Slovenian state was long and hard. We must not forget that today we live a thousand-year old dream, which remains unrealised for many peoples even in the 21st century.
Today, we face new questions and challenges. The key question is: how to progress? What are our major goals in the future, which will bring us together as the desire for an independent country, to make independent decisions about our destiny and common future, did twenty years ago?
We are still tackling the aftermath of the global economic and financial crisis and the increasing apathy of citizens. This is combined with the prevailing opinions that politicians cannot be trusted and that there is no place for the young in politics. Deepening mistrust in state institutions and increasingly lower political participation present increasingly serious challenges to democracy and, consequently, our common future.
The welfare of Slovenian citizens and, particularly an efficient social state, which will provide for a decent living even for those who have found themselves on the margins of society through no fault of their own, are among these major goals for we should strive and endeavour to achieve every step of the way. It is also important that we interest the young in political participation and participation in public life.
In order for Slovenian citizens to achieve their fullest potential and be even more successful, we must strive to consider the opinions of those who are about to begin life tomorrow, as the future largely depends on the cooperation of the young generation. They have to be heard and respected, so that they will want to build their and our common future with full creative power, knowledge and life energy.
Twenty years ago was a time of great expectations, courageous actions and bold decisions. It was also a time of fear of the unexpected and unknown. And because of the unexpectedness, fear and insecurity, it was also a time of extraordinary unity. I believe that we are also capable of facing the challenges of today. However, this will require a determined and well-considered approach, and particularly the solidarity and close collaboration of everyone.