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Slovenia independence leader dies
Janez Drnovsek (23 December 2007)
Mr Drnovsek dominated Slovene politics since independence in 1991
Slovenia's former President Janez Drnovsek, who helped lead his country to independence and EU membership, has died at the age of 57, his office says.

Mr Drnovsek was prime minister from 1992 until 2002, when he was elected president. He did not run for a second term in December due to ill health.

No cause of death was given, but he had a cancerous kidney removed in 1999. The disease later spread to his lungs.

The illness prompted him to promote a healthy lifestyle and vegetarian diet.

In recent years, Mr Drnovsek wrote three books on spirituality which became best-sellers in Slovenia and were translated into several languages.


A trained economist and former banker, Mr Drnovsek was first elected to the Slovenian parliament in 1986, and served as a chairman of the former Yugoslavia's rotating presidency between 1989 and 1990.

In 1991, he helped secure multi-party democracy and independence for Slovenia by acting as the country's main negotiator in talks with the Yugoslav army.

It is hard for me to say if the change was only caused by the illness... It is true that the illness acts as a shock - it awakens one
Janez Drnovsek

After the collapse of the Democratic Opposition of Slovenia (Demos) coalition in 1992, Mr Drnovsek helped found the centre-left Liberal Democrats and led the party to victory in that year's parliamentary election.

During the 10 years he served as prime minister, Mr Drnovsek helped build a healthy economy and stable democracy, and played a major role in preparing Slovenia to join the European Union and Nato in 2004.

In 2002, he ran for the presidency of Slovenia, and was elected in the second round.

After three years in the post, Mr Drnovsek revealed that doctors had diagnosed what he described as incurable "formations", believed to be cancer, on his lungs and liver.

The diagnosis prompted him to radically change his life. He cut his staff, quit the Liberal Democrats and launched a Movement for Justice and Development open to "all people who wish to change the world for the better".

He became a champion of the environment, animal rights and the oppressed, criticised his government and often boycotted state occasions.

"It is hard for me to say if the change was only caused by the illness," he told the Associated Press last year. "It is true that the illness acts as a shock - it awakens one."

He did not run for a second five-year term in December and was succeeded by Danilo Tuerk.

Country profile: Slovenia
21 Dec 07 |  Country profiles
Timeline: Slovenia
14 Nov 07 |  Country profiles

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