Milan Kučan, the first president of Slovenia after the country’s independence, spoke about the political situation in Catalonia and was very critical of the European Union’s position, which he accused of responding half-heartedly to the violent crackdown by Spain’s authorities on October 1.

Slovenian newspaper Delo reports that Kučan spoke at an event held in Puconci, in the north of the country, and he said that: “The UE has remained tight-lipped before and after [the police crackdown]. And yet Brussels has been able to offer a different kind of response [in the past]. For instance, during Greece’s financial crisis. That was a European matter, indeed. So should we conclude that a violation of financial discipline (that is, money) is a European matter, but violence against human rights and dignity is not?

Kučan believes that the situation of Catalonia within Spain cannot be compared to Slovenia’s in the former Yugoslavia, but he thinks that his country has a moral duty to stand up for the right to self-determination of any people who demands it through peaceful, democratic means. “This is a universal right that must be defended when it is being threatened”, Kučan added. And he went on to say that “it is always our duty to condemn violence”.

Milan Kučan also criticised the government of Slovenia because, in his view, the country needs leaders who can stay loyal to their principles, even if that might upset someone. “When you stand by your principles, you might upset someone. But when you barter and compromise your principles, you lose the respect of others and have no friends, either”, he concluded.

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