How do Slovenians feel about their Communist past?
About 14 years ago, right across Central Europe, communism was relegated to the history books and museums. Now people are beginning to look at how those books and museums present the communist era. Germany is holding an international congress on the topic and in Slovenia Dr. Bozo Repe - a professor of modern history has become an expert on how Slovenian's remember the period:
"The younger generations are mostly indifferent and are focused on the present and the future. However, the middle aged and older generations have mostly positive feelings. The reasons for these positive feelings are that life in socialism was relatively good. There was almost no unemployment, social security was high, medical treatment was also very good and education, including on the university level, was free and almost everyone in Slovenia, with the help of state fellowships or other grants was able to afford to study.
"One should also mention that there was a difference between Yugoslavia and other socialist countries then. The self-management system here was much softer and more democracy was allowed. From the beginning of the 1960s, borders were opened and everyone could get a passport and travel to the West."
After Slovenia gained independence, the right-wing parties tried hard to picture the last regime in a very negative way. Often, discussions in parliament focused more on the past than on current affairs in Slovenia. Instead of concentrating on new legislation and development, changes came to a standstill due to these discussions. Will this change or will it continue in Slovene politics?
"Well, it was not topical in the recent elections and that's probably good. However, it depends very much on how the coalition will work in the future. If there will be a relatively stable coalition, historical questions will no longer have priority. But, if there's going to be permanent fighting and an unstable situation, then historical topics could be used as a sort of weapon to fight with."