Tommorrow is Statehood Day. The day when we remember our glorious history, give historic speeches and speak with a gaze fixed somewhere in the undefined future. Perhaps with a tear or two glittering in our eyes. It is also one of those rare occasions when we actually listen to our elected leaders, because they may have something important to say. But historic speeches are a bitch. You can’t really write a speech with an aim of making it historical. One can be aware of the historic moment, but still fail to give a speech fitting the occasion. Usually, high ranking politicians employs speech writers, Bill Clinton and JFK come to mind. Quite rarely, politicians are great orators and can write and give a speech, fitting the occasion by themselves. Winston Churchill and Milan Kučan come to mind.
However, there seems to be a shortcut. You can copy from a historic speech and hope noone will notice. Apparently (and I emphasise the word apparently) Slovene PM Janez Janša did that two years ago, when he gave a speech on 15 years of Slovene independence on June 24 2006. According to several Slovene media, Janša more or less copied entire passages of a speech given by no other than Tony Blair when Labour finally won general elections in the UK in 1997.
So, Tony, how about a copy of your vicotry speech? (source)
Slovene media cited these passages, Blair’s in English and Janša’s in Slovene. However, there’s also an English translation of Janša’s 2006 speech. Let’s take a look:
|We can never be the biggest. We may never again be the mightiest. But we can be the best. The best place to live. The best place to bring up the children, the best place to lead fulfilled life, the best place to grow old
|We will never be the biggest. We will never be the strongest. But we can be the best. We can create the best environment for a fulfilling life. The best environment for the safe and sound growth of our children. The best place for happiness.
|Today I want to set an ambitious course for this country. To be nothing less
than the model 21st century nation, a beacon to the world. It means drawing deep into the richness of the British character. Creative. Compassionate. Outward-looking. Old British values, but a new British confidence.
|Today, more than at any time before, we can set ourselves high aspirations for the future. We seek to become nothing less than one of the most successful countries in the world, one of the beacons of the 21st century. To achieve our aim we will make use of the best that is in our national character; even if in the past this was buried somewhere deep. Creativity. Diligence. Entrepreneurship. Dedication. Justice. Openness. Tolerance. Honesty. Solidarity. Traditional Slovenian values. New Slovenian self-confidence.
Admittedly, both speeches are a lot longer than just those two passages, but Janša’s speech was remembered for precisely those two phrases. The one about “Slovenia becoming a beacon of the 21st century” was especially resounding. And now it turns out that it is not as original as we thought.
PM Janša already denied the allegations, saying that
former Checz president Vaclav Havel the first Czech president Jan Masaryk used many of these phrases countless times. That may be, but it is still not the same as making it up on your own. And that’s what we were lead to believe.
Awkward, to say the least.