STA, 23 June 220 - The ceremony planned for the eve of Statehood Day (Dan državnosti)on Wednesday has once again proved divisive. After World War II veteran organisations had been excluded from preparations and included again upon an intervention by the president, an alternative event is being planned near the site of the official ceremony by artists critical of the prime minister.
On Monday, a group of artists who have been protesting in front of the Culture Ministry against its failure to help the sector in the face of the coronavirus epidemic, called for a boycott of the official state ceremony planned for Wednesday evening in Congress Square.
The group will organise its own event two hours earlier at the nearby Prešeren Square. It said in a press release last night that "the Republic of Slovenia has abused the plebiscite decision of its people to leave Yugoslavia for restoring outdated capitalism, plundering common property, erasing part of the population and for establishing the untouchable political class and its servants".
Albeit not naming him, they criticised Janša as being "the great leader" and "Independence Man" who is interested in nothing but power, accusing him of revising history, managing the present to his own liking and predicting a catastrophic future, offending and excluding, and persecuting those who think differently.
Responding to the call for boycott, Janša told the broadcaster Nova24TV last night that "calling for an anti-ceremony on Statehood Day was indecent, perverse and beyond anything the words 'normal' and 'civilisation' mean to us. I hope its organisers change their mind by Wednesday."
When Janša was still in the opposition, he often skipped official state ceremonies to attend the ones organised associations affiliated with his Democrats (SDS), including the Association for the Values of Slovenian Independence.
The boycott call was however not the only difficulty this time. Weeks ago, the government dismissed from the organising committee the representatives of the veteran associations, replacing them with representatives of the Association for the Values of Slovenian Independence, which is chaired by Interior Minister Aleš Hojs and where Janša is one of the presidency members.
The representatives of the other veteran associations were later included in the committee, following an intervention by President Borut Pahor.
Today, MEP and opposition Social Democrats (SD) leader Tanja Fajon addressed a letter to both Janša and Pahor, calling for an inclusive ceremony.
Fajon, who said she will attend tomorrow's official ceremony, believes that the pair must allow the nation to celebrate together by "including everybody, especially all veteran organisations, and above all with sincere regret of the deep division in society and reasons therefore".
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, head of the biggest opposition party LMŠ, said he would not attend the official ceremony, arguing attendance would give the government "legitimacy".
Commenting on the ceremony planned by the artists, Šarec said it would be a celebration by the people. He said he would attend his local Statehood Day ceremony in the town of Kamnik.