STA, 3 November 2019 - Milan Kučan, Slovenia's first president, criticised political elites in Slovenia and Croatia in his address at a commemorative ceremony in Croatia on Sunday, accusing them of a lack of ideas to resolve issues troubling bilateral relations. He also called for dialogue to resolve the Catalan crisis.
The ceremony at Kučibreg in Istria marked the 75th anniversary of the World War Two battles in which more than 120 Croatian, Slovenian and Italian Partisan resistance members were killed in fighting the Germans together.
The ceremony, organised by organisations and local authorities from the three countries, was also attended by Slovenia's Ambassador to Croatia Vojislav Šuc, among others.
In his keynote, Kučan said that "the fight for freedom never ends" because "freedom is never secured for ever", and that the message of the Kučibreg battles was that the fight for freedom knew no national boundaries.
"The desire for freedom cannot be confined to one man, one group or one nation. This was also testified by the fighters here, on the slopes of Kučibreg, where Slovenes, Croats and Italians fought together. They fought under the common banner of freedom."
Turning to the troubled relationship between Slovenia and Croatia today, Kučan said: "Is it truly more important to deny the right to a few miles of sea and to deny the authority of international tribunal than to have the opportunity for both countries to contribute to resolving vital issues in the EU?"
Responsible politicians should know that there are no winners in such disputes, and that there are no innocents, he said. "If anything, it is a shared defeat," he said, adding that both countries lack ideas, direction and capability to make serious initiatives and take steps in resolving issues.
Kučan also raised the developments in Catalonia in his address, in what he described as a field of the fight for freedom, human rights and human dignity.
"Catalan-Spanish relations are in a serious political crisis," which could only be solved through democratic political means, openness, dialogue and responsibility on the part of the parties involved.
He said it was necessary to say out loud that it was unacceptable to have political prisoners in any country in Europe today. "We cannot keep silent, because silence would mean assuming responsibility for the fate of the recently convicted Catalan leaders, and for the fate of European values."