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Častni generalni konzul Republike Slovenije Alfred Brežnik s soprogo Jeleno vsako leto priredi v Parlamentu  NSW proslavo Dneva Neodvisnosti Republike Slovenije, na katero povabi velik del konzularnega zbora in predstavnike Slovenske skupnosti v  NSW.
Tudi letos se je zbralo lepo število gostov in prijateljev, da so skupno proslavili polnoletnost mlade Republike  Slovenije. Med njimi so bili zastopniki posameznih slovenskih  društev in organizacij in tudi drugi aktivni Slovenci, ki so se s svojim delom v  skupnosti zapisali v zgodovino slovenskih priseljencev.

Najmočnejše so bile  seveda  skupine iz  še  aktivnih slovenskih organizacij,Triglav Panthers, Slovensko  Društvo Sydney in  Versko Središče  Merrylands. Klub Panthers Triglav so zastopali   Barry Walsh – Panthers Group Chairman s  soprogo, Peter Krope ,Triglav  Panthers Advisory Board Chairman Andrew Gardner – General Manager in Lojze in  Martha Magajna

Pater Valerijan Jenko s Fredijem in Jeleno Breznik

parlament 2009

Parliament of New South Wales Speech by Alfred Brežnik, 23rd June 2009

Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen!

To begin with the formal part, could I ask you to rise for the Slovenian and Australian Anthems.

Thank you. Welcome all and thank you for joining us to celebrate the 18th anniversary of the independence state of the Republic of Slovenia.

We are very much honoured by so many guests, here today, whose attendance I would like to acknowledge:

The Hon. John Aquilina, MP, Leader of the House, parliamentary secretary and the President of the Parliamentary Friends of EU, representing the Premier of NSW, The Hon. Natham Rees, MP, and Mrs Aquilina;

The Hon. Richard Torbay, MP, Speaker of Legislative Assembly;

The Hon. Virginia Judge, MP, Minister for Trading, Citizenship and Arts;

Mr Anthony Roberts, MP, representing the leader of the opposition, The Hon. Barry O’Farrell, MP;

The Hon. Grant McBride, MP, Member for The Entrance;

The Hon. Marie Ficarra, MLC;

The Hon. David Clarke, MLC;

Parliamentary friends of EU:

Ms Sonia Horney, MP, Member for Wallsend;

Ms Katherine Hodgkinson, MP, Member for Burrinjuck;

Mrs Karyn Paluzzano, MP, Member for Penrith;

Ms Marie Andrews, MP, Member for Gospord;
Mr Tomas George, MP, Member for Lismore;

Ms Pru Goward, MP, Member for Goulburn;

Mr Ninos Khoshaba, MP, Member for Smithfield;

Mrs Judy Hopwood, MP, Member for Hornsby;

The Hon. Derdrie Grusovin, former MP and Minister;

Mr Gregor Kozovinc, Charge D’Affaires of the Slovenian Embassy in Canberra;

Dr Stefan Kerkyasharien, AM, The Chairperson, Community Relations Commission;

Mr Jason Collins, CEO, Europe Australia Business Council;

Mr Adrian Wood, Department of State and Regional Development;

Ms Namundi Trung, DFAT;

Fr Valeran Jenko, OFM, OAM, Slovenian priest-emeritus, St Raphael’s Slovene Mission;

Mr Barry Walsh, OAM, Chairman of the Panthers Board and Mrs Walsh;

Mr Dusan Lajovic, former Honorary Consul General of Slovenia in NZ;

Mr Pedro Colombi, Dean of the Consular Corps and Consul General of Argentina;

Mr Paul Wenham, Honorary Secretary General of the Consular Corps & Mrs Wenham;

Colleagues of the Consular Corps, representatives of the Slovenian Organisations, distinguished guests - my dear friends.


Last year’s independence day celebration, coincided with Slovenia’s conclusion of the presidency of the EU at the end of June 2008. In my address I touched on this subject and the achievements of the Slovenia’s six month stint at the helm of this 500 million-plus union of 27 nations. It was quite a challenge for a small nation of 2 million. Slovenia took this task seriously and it was generally believed to be a ‘job well done ’.

This year, from 12th May until 18th November 2009, Slovenia is chairing another even larger group of nations, the Council of Europe - not Council of European Union (that was last year). Have I confused anyone? I hope not. The Council of Europe is based in Strasbourg and includes 47 European   states. All EU states are also Council of Europe members. Founded on 5 May 1949, the Council of Europe seeks to promote democracy, the protection of human rights and the rule of law in Europe. Slovenia was admitted to the organization on 14 May 1993, only two years after the declaration of independence.

The current trend of a united Europe is not new. If we look back in history, European nations have mostly lived in some kind of union, however not always voluntarily and certainly not as democratic as they are now. But these were different times with different systems as well as different values.

In the 6th century, Slavs already dominated the area of present day Slovenia and were united in a tribal confederation under King Samo, with its centre in the present day Czech Republic. When this confederation fell apart in 658, the Slav people of the present day Carinthia formed the independent duchy of Carantania, with it’s centre near Klagenfurt in Austria or Celovec -  in Slovenian language. From this period until 1414, a special ceremony was conducted for the enthronement of the duchy’s princes. I will not go into details of this unique ceremony with its modern democratic overtones, as most of you have heard it before.  

A number of unions were formed during those times, but the main one being the 600 year period under the Habsburgs, which lasted until 1918. There was however a short period during the Habsburg rule, from 1809 until 1813, only four years, when the Habsburgs ceded the region, from the Alps in the North and Trieste in the west, all the way down the Dalmatian coast to the Bay of Kotor, in today’s Monte Negro, to the French. Napoleon established this region and named it Illyrian Provinces (a union of diverse nationalities - Slovenes, Croats, Serbs, Germans and Italians). The capital of the Illyrian Provinces was the present-day capital of Slovenia - Ljubljana. The significance for Slovenes, of these four years of French rule, was that the Slovenian language became an official language of the inhabitants living in the present-day Slovenian part of the Illyrian Province. It also contributed to a greater national self-confidence and awareness of freedom, as well the beginning of an enhanced awareness of the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. It is no wonder that Ljubljana has a monument to Napoleon, located at the square of French revolution. This year Slovenia also celebrates the bicentenary of the establishment of the Illyrian Provinces, with cultural programs and exhibitions, throughout the year.

With the end of WWI in 1918, Habsburg rule and the Austro-Hungarian Empire disintegrated. On December 1.1918, another union was created – the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. But this union, later renamed Kingdom of Yugoslavia brought many disappointments. With power centralized in Belgrade, the Slovenian nation had no constitutional or legal autonomy.  The Second World War brought to the end the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and Slovenia was for the next four years occupied and divided between the Axis forces.

After WWII another Yugoslavia was formed, this time a federation of six republics and two autonomous regions. The new federation, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, was a one party state under the Communist rule. The time immediately after the war was one of the most oppressive and tragic periods for Slovenia. However, in the 1950’s Slovenia’s economy started to develop rapidly as it became strongly industrialized. Slovenia’s domestic product rose 2.5 times the state average, strengthening national confidence among Slovenes. After Tito’s death in 1980, the economic and political situation started to became very strained and this ultimately led, ten years later to the end of the SFRY.

The fall of the Berlin wall expedited the domino effect in other Eastern Block countries, as well as in Slovenia, in her pursuit for an independent, democratic and a free state of its own. In 1988 and 1989 the first political opposition parties emerged, culminating in the 1989 May Declaration demanding a sovereign state for the Slovenian nation. At the referendum held on 23. December 1990, out of 93% legible voters 88.5% voted for a free and independent Slovenia. On 25. June 1991 the new Slovenia was born. The next day, the Yugoslav Army attacked. After a ten-day war, a truce was called and in October 1991 the last soldier of the Yugoslav Army left Slovenia.

In her 18 years as a sovereign state Slovenia has very quickly established herself as capable manager at home and a respected member of the international community. A member of the EU since 2004 with the EURO as her currency and since December 2007 included in the Schengen border regime.   All proof that a small nation can just as well run and manage world affaires as the larger nations, sometimes even better.

Just as the world economic crises has affected the whole world, one way or the other, Slovenia is no exception. Last year I was able to quote some rather impressive data about the Slovenian economy. For instance the GDP was some 22,000 EUR per head of population and economic growth about 5%. Only one year later and Slovenia is officially in recession. The last quarter of 2008 GDP fell only slightly, but in first quarter of 2009 dived by 8.5%, thereby caching up with some of the most effected members of EU. But all is not lost, there is hope. The Slovenian economy is very much export orientated – generating 75% of income, of which the main products are automotive, electrical, white goods, pharmaceuticals and so on. As the world economy picks up, so will Slovenia.    

Der Spiegel recently published some interesting data, under the heading: “How social is Europe?” Data used to measured were: Distribution of income and social security, labour market, opportunity of schooling and education, equality of sexes and intergenerational relations. Slovenia came fifth, after Sweden, Denmark, Netherlands and Finland, out of 27 EU member states. Not a bat score, after all.

Finally, in relation to Australia I am happy to announce the very important Bilateral Health Agreement between Australia and Slovenia has finally been signed and is expected to take effect by the end of this year. Along with the Social Agreement which took effect on 1 January 2004, this completes another important agreement to benefit the aging population of our two countries. This also means to all you potential tourists to Slovenia, should you fall sick, from indulging too much good food and wine, you have nothing to worry about as you’ll be covered for your medical expenses.
Thank you.    

Now I would like to ask The Hon. John Aquilina for a few words.

Representatives of Triglav Panthers Club s Stephanie Savage (Beyond Slovenia) in Gregorjem Kozovincem-Ambasada Republike Slovenije

Okrepcilo pred Parlamentom

parlament 2009
Zizkovi in Breznikovi v Parlamentu

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Skupaj so nazdravili Rojstnemu dnevu Republike Slovenije

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Olga Lah, Andrew Gardner in Peter Krope

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Mira Smrdel in Alfred Breznik

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Grosmanovi iz Newcastla

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Stephanie Savage direktorica Beyond Slovenia in Olga Lah