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    Copyright: The following text is for personal information only. Any professional use or publication in written or electronic form is subject to an agreement with AIM, 17 rue Rebeval, F-75019 Paris, France

    SUN, 13 NOV 1994 08:33:49 GMT

    Why did Lojze Peterle have to go and who is he?


    Summary: The former Slovenian Foreign Minister, Lojze Peterle, also the President of the Slovenian Christian-Democrats, submitted his resignation of his own will being completely aware that otherwise he would have been relieved of office. At the meeting in Aquileia in Italy he accepted the Italian proposals according to which Slovenia would lose its sovereignty over a major part of the state. Peterle did this on his own initiative, without the approval of the Government and Parliament. That is not the first sin of Peterle and his Party. When, after Slovenia gained independence three and a half years ago, he went to Austria to pay tribute to the Austrian fascists and - it is not known in whose name - apologized for the partisan "crimes" in Carinthia, the Slovenian Home Guard emigrants and collaborationists from the Second World War were becoming increasingly influential in his party. Even today the Christian-Democrats have much sympathy towards the former occupiers, which receives much publicity in Slovenia. They will perhaps have to leave the Government coalition, because if they wish to remain, they will probably have to relieve their President of office.

    The Aquileia document, which the Italian Farnesina calls an interstate agreement, and the former Slovenian Foreign Minister, Lojze Peterle, a gesture of good will on the part of Slovenia and a letter of intent which is not signed, but only initialled by the two ministers in the right upper corner, and which the Slovenian Government and Parliament reject in full, because it represents a "sale of Slovenian land", has not yet been made public, it is not known what it says, although everyone is speaking about it. It was because of it that Peterle definitely left the Slovenian foreign political scene.

    Because of Peterle's departure (although he had resigned a month before Aquileia, but had continued to discharge the office of Foreign Minister) the Christian-Democrats are giving serious thought to leaving the "big coalition" in the Government of Janez Drnovsek - but it is public knowledge that they are not undivided on that score. Namely, those who are still in the Government are loath to leave their posts of ministers and secretaries of state, while others think that it is not to the Party's benefit to neglect national interests on account of its President (Lojze Peterle is in fact the President of the Slovenian Christian - Democrats). Thus, Peterle might also lose his post of President of the Party, which has been "shaky" for a long time.

    The gravest accusation, both from the public and from the ranks of his own Party, is that Peterle pursued state policy in a party fashion, and that he identified party policy with his own person, because of which at the last Congress, when he was re-elected President, one of the intellectually strongest and most influential members, the till recent Secretary General of the Slovenian Christian-Democrats (SKD), Edvard Stanic, left the leadership of the Party. Marjan Sedmak, editor-in-chief of the daily the "Republika", gave the most lucid assessment of this whole mess when after the closed Parliamentary session dedicated to the Aquileia document, he wrote that Peterle "started with a crisis in relations with Italy, continued on the edge of the Cabinet crisis and ended up with a crisis of Slovenian democracy".

    The " Winners" of a Won Battle

    There is no doubt that the process of political moulding of parties in which those created from the former Socialist Alliance of the Working People (SSRN) proved themselves best, is still going on in Slovenia. They did not only lead the process of democratization of the Slovenian society, but also defined Slovenia's strategy up to a federation, as a process of peaceful abandoning of power, which resulted in the political pluralism of the Slovenian society and state and the first multi-party elections. The elections were won by the Demos coalition, comprising also parties which were not built on SSRN foundations and tradition. The Demo-Christians in Demos were a party with a "dual" membership - those who had established the party had worked in cultural and civil movements, which previously operated within SSRN and in their political - programme demands followed the example of modern European Christian democracies. The others, who had become active and joined the party during the election campaign, were emigrants or those connected with them and clerical circles. The guiding idea of the latter was clericalism and revengefulness towards everything that existed earlier, both at the time of anti-fascism and at the time of the socialist Slovenia within Yugoslavia. Their main aim was to rehabilitate all those defeated, historically and politically, in the anti-fascist struggle. Today, these circles are taking credit even for Slovenia's independence.

    Even before Slovenia's independence, Lojze Peterle, as the President of the most powerful party in Demos, got a mandate to form the government. According to 1989 data, his government inherited 15 thousand billion dinars of accumulation, the lowest unemployment in Europe, a sound economic infrastructure, the already adopted parliamentary amendments legalizing the economic independence of the Republic, the impossibility of introducing a state of emergency without the consent of the Republican Assembly, legalized military service of Slovenian recruits in Slovenia, a changed system of financing underdeveloped regions - on the principle of joint investments instead of from the budget. Customs dues did not automatically spill over to the federal (SFRY) budget, but were paid to a special account pending agreement on the manner of their distribution, etc.

    Political and state power had been separated. The present Slovenian Prime Minister, Drnovsek, as the President of the SFRY Presidency, refused to take part in the work of the highest party body (the League of Communists), after which the Federal Prime Minister, Ante Markovic, followed suit, which was all achieved through strenuous, unpleasant, conflict-fraught negotiations and clashes at the federal level. These were the main demands of the "Slovenian spring", which were fulfilled by a disruption of party relations, when the delegation of the League of Communists of Slovenia walked out on the XIVth Extraordinary Congress of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, at which it advocated the abolishment of democratic centralism, the creation of an alliance of equal republican party organizations and above all the adoption of a resoluton on the observance of human rights.

    All their requests were rejected because they were outvoted. But, it is evident that even before independence was declared, everything demanded in the process today termed the "Slovenian spring" and for which all those who subsequently joined that process ascribe to their credit today, realizing that the process of democratization had been won, although not yet completed, had been practically achieved.

    In June 1990, instead of 15 thousand billion dinars inherited from the last, (Cinigoj's) socialist government, there was a deficit of minus 7 thousand billion dinars. In the first one hundred days of its existence, Peterle's government managed to "squander" 22 thousand billion dinars, and still no one has asked where, how and for what. Then, scandals started cropping up. First with the "Elan", a world renowned ski factory, when its financial director admitted that with part of the missing funds he had financed the election campaign of the Christian - Democrats and taken the documentation to Austria, wherefrom it had not yet been returned. Then there was the "Metalna" affair, where funds for rehabilitation were promised if its director of a left orientation was relieved of office. The attempt of the party (SKD) to take control over the economic space, ended up disastrously for the economy, there were conflicts about the Law on Privatization, when Peterle discarded the concept adopted in Parliament and tried to bring Jeffrey Sacks to implement his "shock therapy", because of which the Vice-Premier, Joze Mencinger, and Minister of Finance, Marko Kranjc resigned.

    Clashes abated at the time of the ten-day war, but sprang up again on whether the moratorium, accepted at the Brioni meeting with the SFRY leadership, was in Slovenia's interest. The "hawks" in Peterle's government were in favour of continuing the armed conflict with the YPA (Yugoslav People's Army) and when those upholding the moratorium proved right, they started producing scandals which destabilized the internal political scene and eroded Slovenia's foreign political renown, which did not recover even after Peterle became Foreign Minister so that his party might remain in the "big coalition", while previously a vote of no-confidence had been placed in him as Prime Minister, so that Janez Drnovsek succeeded him to that post.

    Trade in the Dead so as to Rule the Living

    Even though the state did not have then nor has today a foreign policy strategy, already Peterle's first ministerial moves, the paying of tribute to Austrian fascists and apologies to Austria because of partisan "misdeeds" in Carinthia, his attendance at the mass for the Home Guard and the laying of a wreath at their monument in Canada, stirred up turbulent reactions in Slovenia. This was not satisfactory even for his party members who place emphasis on democracy as opposed to that wing in the party which places emphasis neither on Christianity or democracy, but on clericalism and revenge. The latest programme of the Party of Christian Democrats contains the following, which only proves that that wing is on an offensive:

    "The Slovenian people were hard hit both by fascist and by communist totalitarianism. In particular, the Communist Party led by the Comintern, at the hardest moment of fascist occupation began a bloody revolution from 1941 to 1945, initiating thereby a fratricidal war among us, which ended up with the mass killing of those Slovenians who opposed the communist ideology and revolution...The measures of redress must encompass all the victims of the revolution and the civil war it brought other words, it must be officially recognized that they constituted anti-communist resistance during the war and opposition to the non-democratic government after the war, which was a legitimate, legal and honourable act stemming from the universally recognized right to self-defence and from the natural right to give resistance to a totalitarian regime..."

    Apart from openly rehabilitating collaborationism and collaborationists, this programme stance contains a series of falsehoods and, on the basis of it, the same accusations could be levied at the expense of all the states-members of the anti-Hitler coalition, who never even thought of making the role of anti-fascists and collaborationists equal with that of fascism, although they equalize them in death. It is unclear why the Slovenian Christian-Democrats are today again beginning to trade in the dead, unless if they, over dead bodies, do not wish to decide on the fate of the living. And judging by public reactions, they will hardly succeed. In all this, the "Aquileia document" can only have the role of revising the previously signed and ratified Osimo and Rome international agreements.

    Those agreements were accepted by both Italy and Slovenia and they guarantee inviolability of borders. The "catch" is in a sentence to the effect that borders can be changed only by peaceful means and by agreement of the countries concerned. As we learned, the "Aquileia document" contains something which leaves that possibility open and which Peterle (consciously or unconsiously, but certainly without the approval of his government or Parliament) initialled of his own will, so that the Italian side is taking advantage of that today. Immediately afterwards, the Slovenian government convened and rejected the document with only one, Peterle's, vote against. That is why the Slovenian Christian - Democrats are facing a double challenge - to solve the dilemma "the President of the Party or the Party", and the dilemma of their political orientation - towards clericalism and the rehabilitation of fascism or towards a modern German-style Demo-Christian orientation.