Milan Kučan

Milan Kučan (pronounced [ˈmíːlaŋ ˈkúːtʃan];[1][2] born 14 January 1941) is a Slovene politician who was the first President of Slovenia from 1991 to 2002.

Milan Kučan
1st President of Slovenia
In office
8 October 1991  22 December 2002
Prime MinisterLojze Peterle
Janez Drnovšek
Andrej Bajuk
Janez Drnovšek
Anton Rop
Preceded byPosition established
Succeeded byJanez Drnovšek
Personal details
Born (1941-01-14) 14 January 1941
Križevci, Drava Banovina, Yugoslavia
Political partyLeague of Communists of Slovenia
Social Democratic
Spouse(s)Štefka Kučan

Early life and political beginnings

Milan Kučan, one of five children, was born in a Lutheran teachers' family. He was raised in the village of Križevci, located in the largely agrarian border region of Prekmurje in the Drava Banovina of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia (present-day Slovenia). His father Koloman Kučan (1911–1944)[3] died during World War II. Kučan's family spent World War II in occupied Serbia, where over 58,000 other Slovenians were resettled from Slovenia by the Nazis.

Milan Kučan later studied law at the University of Ljubljana and soon became involved in the Communist political organizations of the time. In 1968, he became the president of the Slovenian Youth Association, then secretary of the Socialist Alliance of the Working People of Slovenia (a central organization, created to unite all civil society associations under one roof) between 1974 and 1978. He rose to speaker of the National Assembly in 1978, and in 1982 he became representative for the Slovenian Communists in the League of Communists of Yugoslavia's Central Committee in Belgrade.

In 1986, he became the leader of the League of Communists of Slovenia. At that time, liberal and democratic sentiment started to grow in Slovenia, as opposed to the political atmosphere of Belgrade and Serbia under Slobodan Milošević. Advocating in favour of human rights and European democratic values and principles, Kučan, his party and Slovenia faced increasingly severe political confrontations with Belgrade and Serbia.[4] On 23 January 1990, Kučan and the Slovenian delegation left the Party Congress. This was one of the factors that eventually led to the collapse of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia, one of the pillars of the political system of the Socialist Yugoslavia.

Political career

Slovenia was the first of the federal units of Yugoslavia to introduce multi-party democracy and the first multi-party elections were held in April 1990. Kučan was elected President of the Presidency, then a collective body, in 1990, in a ballot against the DEMOS candidate Jože Pučnik.

Kučan strongly opposed the preservation of Yugoslavia through violent means. After the concept of a loose confederation had failed to gain support by the republics of Yugoslavia, Kučan favoured a controlled process of non-violent disassociation that would enable the collaboration of the former Yugoslav nations on a new, different basis.

Slovenia declared its independence on 25 June 1991. In his speech on the occasion, Kučan ended with the words: "Today dreams are allowed, tomorrow is a new day." On June 26, Yugoslav army embarked on troop movements that later escalated into the Ten-Day War. At the peace talks began at Brioni, with the European Community as a mediator, the Army started its withdrawal from Slovenia. Kučan represented Slovenia at the peace conference on former Yugoslavia in the Hague and Brussels which concluded that the former Yugoslav nations were free to determine their future as independent states. On May 22, 1992 Kučan represented Slovenia as it became a new member of the United Nations.

After the independence and the international recognition of Slovenia, Kučan was elected as the first President of Slovenia in 1992 with the support of the citizens list. He won another five-year term in 1997-2002, running again as an independent and again winning the majority in the first round.

His presidency ended in December 2002. He was succeeded as President by Janez Drnovšek.

In March 2003 Slovenia held two referendums on joining the EU and NATO. Milan Kučan took an active part in campaigning for these memberships, in order for Slovenia to achieve the goals it had set upon its independence. In May 2004, Slovenia became a full member of both the EU and NATO.

Since November 2004, Kučan has been a member of the Club of Madrid,[5] an association of former democratic statesmen that works to strengthen democratic governance. He chairs the International Collegium together with Michel Rocard, former French Prime Minister. Since 2004 he is the chairman of Forum 21, a Slovene left-wing think-tank reflecting on issues of relevance for the future development of Slovenia and its position in a global society.

Kučan is also a Member of the European Council on Tolerance and Reconciliation, a not-for-profit organization established in 2008 to monitor tolerance in Europe and make recommendations on fighting xenophobia and intolerance on the continent.

Personal life

Kučan is married to Štefka Kučan and has two daughters.

Honours and awards


  1. "Slovenski pravopis 2001: Milan". "Slovenski pravopis 2001: Kučan".
  2. Milan in isolation: [ˈmíːlan].
  3. "Koloman Kučan". Žrtve II. sv. INZ, Zgodovina Slovenije – SIstory. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
  4. Communism O Nationalism!, TIME Magazine, October 24, 1988
  5. The Club of Madrid
  6. Slovak republic website, State honours: 1st Class in 2001 (click on "Holders of the Order of the 1st Class White Double Cross" to see the holders' table)
  7. "Modtagere af danske dekorationer". (in Danish). Retrieved 5 May 2019.
Party political offices
Preceded by
Andrej Marinc
Chairman of the League of Communists of Slovenia
Succeeded by
Position Abolished
Political offices
Preceded by
Janez Stanovnik
President of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia
President of Slovenia
Succeeded by
Janez Drnovšek

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