Milan Kučan is the former first President of the Republic of Slovenia (1992-1997 and 1997-2002). He was born on 14 January 1941 in Krizevci, a village near the Slovenian-Hungarian border.
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 dialogueimmediately 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 therights 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 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. 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.