Statement by Sandra Kalniete, Chairwoman of the REH group: On ex-Yugoslav secret communist police archives in Slovenia

Member of the European Parliament from Latvia, Ms Sandra Kalniete, is chairing an informal parliamentary group, the “Reconciliation of European Histories”. A group which consists of 38 MEPs from six political groups (EPP, SD, ALDE, Greens, ECR, and EFD) and therefore has broad political support in the EP.

This week a referendum will take place in Slovenia and voters will decide whether to allow new legislation that proposes to limit individual’s access to the Slovenian archives of the ex-Yugoslav secret communist police (SDV or UDBA). As this topic is of a great importance for the Reconciliation of European Histories group I would like to present my opinion on that matter. 

The legislation proposed by the current Slovenian government intends to limit access to the archives of the ex-Yugoslav secret communist police and was adopted with a rapid extraordinary procedure. This legislation was created as a response to the demand by researchers to have access to these archives. 

Such measures intend to permanently obscure the truth about the criminal past of the secret police of totalitarian regimes by limiting scholars and individuals access to these vital historical sources. They deny the right of citizens to have access to objective information and are therefore in total contradiction to long held European values. 

I have to stress that the 3 biggest political groups in the European Parliament, from both the right and left political spectrum, (the EPP, S&Ds, and ALDE) on April 2nd 2009 signed the EP resolution on European conscience and totalitarianism and that, at the time it was signed, all 7 MEPs from Slovenia from the left-orientated as well as the right-orientated political groups participated. 

In the sixth paragraph of the 2009 European Parliament resolution on European conscience and totalitarianism it is stated that The European Parliament “regrets that, 20 years after the collapse of the Communist dictatorships in Central and Eastern Europe, access to documents that are of personal relevance or needed for scientific research is still unduly restricted in some Member States; calls for a genuine effort in all Member States towards opening up archives, including those of the former internal security services, secret police and intelligence agencies.”

In the fifth paragraph the European Parliament underlines that, “in order to strengthen European awareness of crimes committed by totalitarian and undemocratic regimes, documentation of, and accounts testifying to, Europe’s troubled past must be supported.” 

The 2009 European Parliament resolution presents strong support for liberal and open access to such archives and it stresses that “there can be no reconciliation without truth and remembrance.” While it is important that legislation takes care to protect personal information that such archives may contain, limiting or denying access to such materials seriously impends and endangers the important work of European reconciliation and therefore the construction of a strong European Union. 

The closing of archives presents a step away from the European values which many of us have struggled to attain. Europe needs the truth about our past to be revealed. Only with awareness of our mistakes, will new generations have the chance to build a better future. 

Sandra Kalniete, MEP

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