Prof. Dr. Roman Jerala National Institute of Chemistry

I saw the referendum twenty years ago as a strong and united will of the Slovenian people defying the will of great powers. I was at the location of the declaration of independence, at the Trg republike square, with ill-omened low-flying jets, the euphoria and then tanks on the streets on the following day, air raid alarm when I went to the basement with my pregnant wife.

It was hard to imagine in those days of the fight for independence the path that we would take in the next twenty years. The aggression ending relatively quickly because of stiff resistance, international recognition, EU membership and of course personal achievements – children, postdoctoral education in the USA, finally suitable conditions for lab work after several years of efforts, original scientific discoveries etc.

We’ve also made many mistakes in the twenty years which have slowed us down for several years.  Although they may be explained away by childhood diseases of a young country, we would expect more mature decisions and more than just maintaining status quo from a twenty-year old.

As Alice was told in the Wonderland we must “run as fast as we can just to stay in one place”.  More than ever, the game of globalisation decides which countries will be winners and which will fall behind. The illusion that progress can be made solely by financial wizardry is giving way to realisation that value creation is needed with the leading role played by science and technology. Education and development of creative potentials need more attention because only top quality enables competing with the best. We have proven in recent years in several scientific fields that we can be equal to the best in the world. Let’s support the best team!