Date and Place of Birth:
Križevci, Slovenia, 1941, January 14.
Faculty of Law of the University of Ljubljana, graduated in 1964.
Married to Štefka Kučan, two daughters, Ana and Špela
President of the Presidency 1990-1992
President of the Republic of Slovenia 1992-1997 and 1997-2002
Milan Kučan was born in 1941 near the Slovenian-Hungarian border, in the village of Križevci in Prekmurje, where after World War II a high barbed-wire fence of the Warsaw Pact grew all along the border of the former Socialist Yugoslavia. He grew up in a Protestant environment in a teacher’s family of seven. He attended primary school and grammar school in Prekmurje. He graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University of Ljubljana in 1964.
He was politically active already during his university years, especially in the Youth Association of Slovenia. In 1968, he became its president; later his political activity brought him to the League of Communists of Slovenia and to the Socialist Alliance of Working People, the umbrella organisation of political and civil groups and associations of the time. In 1973, he became secretary of the Socialist Alliance and in 1978, president of the Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia.
Between 1982-1986 he was Slovenia's representative in the leadership of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia in Belgrade, the capital of the former Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia. In this period, he dealt in greater depth with the issues of the political system and the constitutional aspects of interethnic relations, especially Serbia and its autonomous provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina.
In 1986 he returned to Slovenia to become and remain one of Slovenia’s central political personalities. He was the most credible political personality and one of the most popular Slovenes by all public opinion surveys in the first ten years of political pluralism; he continues to enjoy a high esteem and respect among the Slovenes also after December 2002, when his second term as the president of Slovenia expired.
In 1986, when Kučan became the president of the League of Communists of Slovenia, he stood for an open political dialogue, political freedoms and the respect of human dignity. Two year later, Slovenia witnessed the beginning of political spring and the emergence of numerous political organisations; foreign press described Slovenia as an island of freedom of the former political East. The vision of the party led by Milan Kučan is summarised by the motto for its 1989 convention "Europe now!".
Milan Kučan continuously spoke up against the trends that were pushing Yugoslavia into states of emergency and bloody war. He rose up against the lack of democracy, against ethnic inequality and against the trampling of human and minority rights. He advocated the separation of the then single party from the state, its descent from power and the verification of its legitimacy through free elections.
As the situation in the former Yugoslavia could no longer be resolved and the country became a crisis area dangerous for peace and safety of its nations and Europe, Kučan, a fervent advocate of non-violence sought ways to ensure peaceful disassociation of the peoples of the former Yugoslavia on the grounds of the right of nations to self-determination, the basis of the relations in Yugoslavia ever since the liberation struggle in World War II. In the belief that the most important values are human lives, dignity and rights, Kučan opposed a violent preservation of Yugoslavia and favoured a controlled process of peaceful, non-violent break-up of Yugoslavia and a coexistence of Yugoslav nations on a different basis.
At the first democratic and direct multiparty elections held in April 1990, Kučan was elected president of the presidency of the Republic of Slovenia, a collective authority of the then republic of the Socialist Yugoslavia. He strove for a nationally recognisable citizen state, for consensus among political forces and for national reconciliation. In December 1990, when Slovene voted for independence and the disassociation from Yugoslavia, they were firm in their unanimity. 88,2% of voters opted for independent Slovenia at the turnout of 93,2%.
“Tonight, dreams are allowed. Tomorrow is a new day,« addressed Milan Kučan the Slovenes when celebrating the dream of their own country come true while the tanks of the Yugoslav Army were already on the roads.
Milan Kučan led Slovenia to successfully defend itself from the Yugoslav army's aggression, and to successfully strike a peace agreement in July of that same year. He represented Slovenia at the peace conference for the former Yugoslavia in autumn 1991, which declared the rights of Yugoslav nations to self-determination assessing that the state of Yugoslavia had disintegrated. Kučan represented Slovenia when it became full member of the United Nations in 1992. He remained in the leadership of Slovenia also after the adoption of its new Constitution. In 1992 he was elected president of the republic with 64% votes in the first ballot, and re-elected in 1997 with 55,54% votes in the first ballot, both times running on a list of citizens.
In the period of Kučan's two presidential terms, Slovenia successfully completed the process of transition from one political system to another and adjusted to modern processes and standards of Euro-Atlantic integrations. It entered the group of countries with a high level of human development, ranking 29th among 173 countries of the UN Development Programme in 2000. In the spring of 2003 Slovenia held two successful referenda on the accession to the EU and NATO, having thus achieved the goals set upon the independence. By economic criteria Slovenia ranked high among the EU candidate countries and is still considered the most successful new member of the European Union.
Milan Kučan is known for his analytical abilities, rational political positions, high sensitivity for the rights of individuals and minorities and limitless perseverance in seeking allies for peaceful resolutions of social problems by consent. He took determined steps for a peaceful, stable and successful disassociation of Slovenia from Yugoslavia and strove for a stabilisation in the area of former Yugoslavia. As Slovenia was accelerating its developmental pace in the 1990’s, other parts of the former Yugoslav federation were afflicted by war. In this period, Milan Kučan fostered relations with political forces in the former Yugoslavia that advocated peace and coexistence of the nations. Kučan believes that, in the name of the future of the human civilisation, Europe can no longer afford the divisions of the past and is therefore bound to create strong bonds within itself, i.e. also to its the South-East.
Persuaded that the globalisation calls for a new, thorough consideration of the political reality as well as a firm ethical orientation, should humanity wish to establish balance on the planet, Milan Kučan co-founded in 2002 the International Ethical Collegium and became its co-president together with Michel Rocard, former prime minister of France. In 2004, Milan Kučan became chairman of Forum 21, a non-profit association in Slovenia intending to contribute to a competent development choice. In 2004, Kučan joined the Club of Madrid, an organization of former heads of state and prime ministers actively promoting democracy that delivers. He is member also of the Balkan Political Club led by Zhelyu Zhelev, former president of Bulgaria; member of the international management board of the Simon Peres Peace Institute; and member of the Russell Tribunal for Palestine.
Five years after the end of his term of office, Milan Kučan had the right to the Office of the former President of the Republic of Slovenia. His office closed on 22 December 2007, upon the expiration of the term of office of the president of the republic Dr Janez Drnovšek.
Milan Kučan received numerous decorations and awards of the highest order. He was, inter alia, awarded the “Golden Order of Freedom of the Republic of Slovenia” by the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr Janez Drnovšek, and "The Pope Pius Order of Knighthood" by Pope John Paul II. He is proud of the awards of minority groups, such as “Golden Wheel” of Roma from Berlin and the “Honour of Slovenian Cultural and Economic Union”, a Slovenian minority organisation in Italy. On 9 May 2007, the Day of Europe Milan Kučan was declared the citizen of honour of the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana. In the same year, in September 2007, International League of Humanists declared Milan Kučan a “Statesman—Humanist of 21st Century”.