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President Milan Kucan’s second five-year presidential term of office ends on 23 December 2002. He was elected President of the Republic of Slovenia for his second term in November 1997 as an independent candidate on the civil list and was elected in the first round against seven opponents, winning 55.57% of the votes.

Milan Kucan embarked on his professional political career immediately after obtaining his degree in law. His reformist attitudes and commitment to democratic political principles had a great impact in Slovenia in the mid-eighties after his return from Belgrade where he faced great opposition and gained valuable political experience in the former Yugoslavian federal bodies.

As leader of the League of Communists of Slovenia he declared his commitment to open political dialogue immediately upon assuming that position in 1986. He assured the citizens of Slovenia that he would do everything to expand the sphere of political freedoms and respect for human dignity. He supported the separation of the party from the state as well as political pluralism. Two years into his presidency, the Slovene political springtime came into full bloom in the shape of plurality and legitimacy of different political orientations, and foreign reporters wrote about Slovenia as an island of political freedom in the former political East.

Milan Kucan voiced his objection to national inequality and lack of democracy in the former Yugoslavia, as well as to those currents that were leading to states of emergency and bloody war. He did the same when the rights of the Albanian ethnic minority and the autonomy of Kosovo were being defended. When the former Yugoslavia started turning into a danger zone threatening peace and security in Europe, he was seeking ways towards an agreement on the peaceful dismantling of Yugoslavia through the assertion of the right of nations to self-determination. He was convinced that the greatest risk for the constituent nations laid in preserving the integrity of the former Yugoslavia at all costs. He is a committed advocate of non-violent solutions. He proved this during the time when Slovenia itself fell prey to the aggression of the Yugoslav army, and managed to obtain political consensus for the Brioni Declaration, which was decisive for peace in Slovenia. Milan Kucan was leading Slovenia when the country made true its dream of independence and became a member of the United Nations.

Ever since 1989 when political pluralism blossomed with the founding of new political associations and parties in Slovenia, Milan Kucan has remained the most popular personality in Slovenia, which is evident from the results of public opinion polls conducted by Slovene research institutes, as well as from the regular monthly opinion polls in Slovene dailies, which declared him to be Slovenia’s political figure of the decade in 2001. Also interesting are political opinion polls conducted in Slovenia in December 2001, showing that if Milan Kucan were to found or lead a political party it would win 40%, according to some media even as many 54% of the votes at parliamentary elections. As in past years Milan Kucan himself remains the most credible political figure according to these polls.

In 1990 he was elected President of the Presidency of Slovenia - then still a former Yugoslav republic - and opted for suprapartite political action. He strove for the greatest possible consensus among political forces, as well as for national reconciliation. In 1992, in the first direct elections in the independent Republic of Slovenia, when he also stood as an independent candidate on the civil list, he was elected in the first round against seven opponents, winning 64 per cent of the votes.

Youth Association of the former Yugoslav Republic of Slovenia 1964-1967, President 1968-1969; Secretariat of the CC of the League of Communists of the Slovenia, member 1969-1973; Socialist Alliance of Slovenia, secretary 1973-1978, Assembly of Slovenia, President 1978-1982; Presidency of the CC of the League of Communists of former Yugoslavia, representative of Slovenia 1982-1986; CC of the League of Communists of Slovenia, President 1986-1989; President of the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia 1990-1992, President of the Republic of Slovenia 1992-1997, 1997-2002.

Milan Kucan was born on 14 January 1941 in Krizevci, a village in the eastern region of Prekmurje near the Slovenian-Hungarian border. He grew up in a family of teachers within a Protestant environment. His father, an officer in the resistance movement, was killed by the Nazis. He attended primary and secondary school in Murska Sobota and obtained a law degree from the University of Ljubljana in 1964. He is married to Stefka Kucan and has two daughters, Ana and Spela, and grandson Fedja.

Knight with the medal of the Order of Pope Pius conferred by Pope John Paul II in 1993; Collar of the Order "Pro Merito Melitensi" by the Grand Master of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta Fra Andrew W.N. Bertie in 1995; The Grand Cross of Honour of the Republic of Hungary by President Arpad Göncz and The Grand Medal of the Republic of Estonia by President Lennart Meri in 1997; The Grand Croix de I'Ordre du Repenteur of the Hellenic Republic by President Constantinos Stephanopoulos in 1999; The White Double Cross Order of the Republic of Slovakia by President Rudolf Schuster, The Order of the Elephant of Her Majesty Queen Margarethe II; The Grand Order of King Tomislav of Croatia by President Stijepan Mesic; The Order of the Grand Cross of St. Michael and St. George of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 2001; Collar of the Order of Isabella Catholic of the Spanish King Juan Carlos I., Star of Romania, Republic of Romania in 2002.
The Crans Montana Prix de la Fundation for his contribution to peace, stability and cooperation in Europe in 1999; Honorary Doctorate from Cleveland State Universaty in 2001.

International Board of Directors of the Shimon Peres Institute for Peace.