Celebrating Slovenia Statehood Day - Speech by Mr Alfred Brežnik

Speech by Former Honorary Consul General Mr Alfred Breznik in Slovenian Association Sydney on Sunday, 22 June 2014

Dear President of Slovenian Association Sydney Mr Štefan Šernek and Mrs Ana Šernek, dear Board and Association Members, representatives of Slovenian organisation, guests, dear friends,

In the absence of both representatives of the Republic of Slovenia, the Ambassador and the newly appointed Honorary Consul for NSW Mr Anthony Tomažin, our president Štefan asked me to give a speech to celebrate 23rd anniversary of Slovenia statehood.

It is good to see so many people gathered together every year at the Slovenian Association Sydney to celebrate this historically most important day for our nation that took place 23 years ago: the birth of our independent state, the Republic of Slovenia, on 25 June 1991. It is our custom to start this ceremony with a mass at the Marija pomagaj Chapel that we erected on this beautiful block of land of our Association when we celebrated 15th anniversary of Slovenia statehood. I am pleased that we started our celebration with a holy mass. Our homeland needs again, just like 23 years ago, our prayer and God's help. We all know that in our beloved homeland not everything is right, including in economy, social welfare, law and diplomacy. 

It is appropriate that we remember every year what our country went through twenty-three years ago; that we revisit this event and pass our awareness onto next generations. For us, this day should be as important as ANZAC Day for Australians. Just as Australians celebrate and respect the fight of their ancestors of almost one hundred years ago, so should our youth know and respect the SLOVENIA STATEHOOD DAY which stands for the fight and causalities that were needed to gain independence. This applies to us and our descendants here in Australia. We are the generation that not only saw the beginning of independence of our country of birth, we also took part in its creation from the very beginning. The Slovenian migrants, including Australian Slovenians, could dream, write and talk about an independent Slovenian state, while it was forbidden and even dangerous to life 
for our fellow Slovenians in our homeland to do the same. Australian Slovenians can confidently and proudly say that we contributed to Slovenia's independence and the final recognition of the new country, Republic of Slovenia, especially by Australia.  

At the time, our aim was not only independence, we also wanted to create a truly democratic country modelled on western countries that are built on centuries old Christian values that are the basis of our European civilisation, culture and human rights.

On 8 May this year, Slovenia also celebrated 25th anniversary of the May Declaration. Representatives of opposition movements signed the May Declaration in Kongresni trg and demanded a sovereign state for the Slovenian nation. This celebration was attended by the President of the Republic of Slovenia Mr Borut Pahor who thanked everyone for making the event back then possible, organising it and showing their courage. The May Declaration was the foundation of all our demands. The new government should be based on three independent pillars - executive, legislative and judiciary. I wish to emphasise the word 'independent'! Whether this is true today is another question.  

Let us first have a look at the Slovenian economy. Slovenia was in the first years of independence at the top as a model country. Today, it is at the bottom in the EU. The unemployment rate has reached 13.4% in April this year; among the unemployed it is mostly young people who can't find work. The country debt has risen from 8 to 28 billion EUR which translates into around 14,000 EUR per citizen. In other words, it has reached 75% of Slovenia GDP. The icons of Slovenian economy are disintegrating. Tycoons who made huge profits hid this 'stolen' money in foreign banks, in so called 'tax havens'. Not to even mention corruption which is reaching a catastrophic level in Slovenia. And who is footing the bill? Our Slovenian people!  

Let us have a look how the Slovenian legal system works. A recent survey shows that the legal system in Slovenia is trusted only by 24% of the population. In the light of the events that took place last Friday, on 20 June 2014, this percentage will probably fall much further. 

Dear friends, very dark clouds are gathering over Slovenia. This day will remain in our national history remembered as the Black Friday - the day when the Slovenian rule of law reached its lowest level. On this day, a great Slovenian; our friend; the most dedicated fighter for independent Slovenia; the first Minister of Defence; a two-time prime minister; a president of the EU; the leader of SDS, the largest opposition party in the Slovenian parliament, Janez Janša was taken to the Dob prison. 

The high court sentenced Janez Janša to two years in prison for accepting a promise of reward from an unknown briber in an unknown place at an unknown time in an unknown manner! 

The charges were built on indicia with no evidence whatsoever. Even though this case was running over four years and Mr Janša was convicted back in April 2014, he was ordered to start serving his sentence only last Friday, at the beginning of a campaign leading to general elections that will take place on 13 July.  

And how is such sentence possible in a democratic country that Slovenia is supposed to be? Many Slovenian, European and other international lawyers are asking the same question: among them three former and current constitutional judges in Slovenia. We are convinced that this sentence will be overturned sooner or later; however, for general elections in July it will be too late. This is another proof that these proceedings have been politically motivated from the beginning. However, this is nothing new, as this kind of things happen to Mr Janez Janša prior to every elections. He has been the archenemy of the transitional left which controls all pillars of power including most media since the first day of independence. Their motto 'First disqualification and then liquidation, even physical if necessary' still applies!

Last Friday Mr Janša became a political prisoner for the second time: the first time in 1989 as one of the defendants in the JBTZ trial. At that time he was released after a big public protest attended by 35,000 Slovenians. The sentence was later repealed. The same thing will happen again. This verdict will not hold! It will be overturned! And the prosecutors and judges who are guilty of this shameful judgment will then have to apologise and defend their unjust acts, and so will the Slovenian government. At the end of the day, the truth and justice will prevail! 

Dear fellow Slovenians and friends, I am very sorry that I am so negative in my speech today. To tell you the truth, I am very sad. The fact is that our homeland is in trouble: we need to see the true situation in which Slovenia finds itself today after 23 years of independence. Part of the blame falls also on Slovenian voters who refuse to vote. 'What's the point, they are all the same!' they say. It is a pity that voting is not compulsory like in our democratic Australia. 

Janez Janša was on the way to prison accompanied by around 4000 supporters. And what about us? The question is, can Slovenians in Australia help to improve the situation in our country of birth? I believe that we can. And if you have any ideas or wish to help, come and talk to me, we'll think about this together. 

Our gaining independence 23 years ago and finally having our own country is for the Slovenian nation still the greatest event in our history. Let me thus conclude: My sincere congratulations on 23rd anniversary of independent state of Slovenia!

Thank you!

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