STA, 16 February 2019 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec has criticised the conduct of senior Italian politicians in the aftermath of controversial statements made by European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini last week, saying that historical revisionism was "completely misguided".
"This is reminiscent of Marshal [Pietro] Badoglio, who took over the government after Mussolini and succeeded in Italy hardly being recognised as a country in which Fascism was in power. Germany has gone through profound denazification, Italy has not had such a process," Šarec told Večer in an interview published on Saturday.
"As a Slovenian, I'm sensitive to falsification of history and in such cases things have to be said clearly. The Slovenian nation has never attacked anybody, it never had territorial designs, on the contrary, we lost a lot, which is why depictions of Slovenians as occupying forces need to be forcefully resisted," he said.
Šarec was among the first Slovenian officials to respond after Tajani and Salvini addressed a ceremony in Basovizza, Italy on Sunday marking the day of remembrance for Italian victims of post WWII-executions. He called the statements "unparalleled revisionism" and said Fascism's goal had been to destroy the Slovenian nation.
While Salvini has expressed surprise at Šarec's comments and reactions in Slovenia overall, Tajani issued several apologies, after his first comments were interpreted as a textbook example of a non-apology.
Šarec told the newspaper what Tajani had initially said was "not an apology. It sounded as if you called someone a complete idiot, they demand an apology, and you say: 'Sorry, you really aren't a complete idiot.' This is just saying the same thing differently."
In Slovenia disputes over postwar history are not rare and Šarec has faced his share of criticism for several speeches he has delivered at ceremonies commemorating the victims of WWII, but he says that he is "not the one bringing up history".
"I don't raise such issues, nor does the Marjan Šarec List, other politicians do it. But I will never not react to statements that do not belong in the 21st century. Polarisation is not good, we should learn from history by acknowledging what was wrong and celebrating what was good."
Slovenia not turning foreign policy towards the US
Asked whether Slovenia's support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido "is a turn of Slovenian foreign policy towards the US", Šarec said it was not.
"It's not a turn in foreign policy. We always try to have good relations with all. We also don't have very close relations or too many visits with Russia."
He added he did not consider the support for Guaido as turning in the US direction "because we are Europeans".
"The whole EU has problems with the US policy of President Donald Trump," Šarec said, noting "twitter diplomacy does not suit us". As a small country, Slovenia must also pay attention to its own interests, he told the Maribor-based newspaper.