Robert Markuš, an Ex-Legionary

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You used to be the member of the French Foreign Legion and are one of the few, if not the only Slovenian who is willing to go public and share your experience in one of the most elite military unit in the world with others. You are also the author of a book ‘Fighters with No Past’ as well as the book called ‘LEGION (anecdotes and tradition)’. Your book Fighters with No Past you very openly and without any taboos present the beginnings of your career as a legionary, your other book, LEGION, is a collection of anecdotes and photos. Your book Fighters with No Past is available also in French under the title Combattants sans passé, with and Introductory note written by a French Legion General.

Markuš francoska tujska Legija

Photo: Robert Markuš

Are the ex-legionaries breaking some of the Legion rules by doing so, or are there any other reasons for your colleagues not to speak in public about it?

No, there is no breach of rules here, as there are simply no rules regarding this, Every Legionary can say whatever he wants, as he is responsible for his words, not the Legion.

There could be several reasons, why legionaries do not want to be exposed… They do not want to appear being big shots. They do not want to show off. They do not want to be looked upon as being criminals, as the legionaries have always been considered somehow as being society outcasts – the urban legend says that legionaries are the guys who have broken the law and are hiding behind Legion’s wing. My aim was to make the truth about the Legion become known and that is why I wrote my first book.

Markuš francoska tujska Legija

Photo: Robert Markuš

French Foreign Legion is well known for the fact that it consists of members numerous countries and various cultures. How did you cope in this particular situation and has any of your co-fighters made an exceptional impression on you for being the ‘true’ one/colleague?

Once you are rolled in you do not contemplate on that issue but merely follow the training rhythm, which does not allow room for deep contemplation. You are surrounded by new faces. With your co-fighter you get to know in time and become friends with, so where do they come from becomes irrelevant. It is not important if he is a Russian, Chinese, Columbian, Algerian or from Tanzania.

There are many very special ideas and impressions, depending on personality. Each of us experiences the path in his own way and gathers rich experiences and special memories on the way.

 Markuš in Angelina

Photo: Robert Markuš

It is known that the legionaries undergo an excruciating psycho-physical testing that not everybody could pass. How did you prepare before you decided to go to France?

At the time I joined the Legion there were very few concrete and credible information about the entrance exams. So I actually did not prepare for it. The only thing that worried me was: am I good enough? I was ready to do just about anything to be accepted.

Several decades ago a book about French Foreign Legion called The Damned Die Hard was translated into Slovene. Had you read it by any chance before you decided to leave for France?

No, I have learned about the book much later, actually only when I started writing my own book.

What impact on your personality you think your involvement in the Legion has made?

A lot of positive. Definitely order and discipline.

You have spent 15 years of our life in the Legion – which is quite a long time. What kept you going and did not allow you to give up and leave the Legion sooner?

Giving up is not the right word, as Legion is not negatively oriented institution. Originally I came to serve 5 years. Every beginning is hard. During those first years I realised that kind of life suits me, so I extended my contract. So the journeys and promotions came along and 15 dynamic years just flown by.

Markuš francoska tujska Legija

Photo: Robert Markuš

You still live in France and have the French citizenship. Are you contemplating returning to Slovenia?

I wanted to return home. I have even build up a house on the home land. But when I see all the political and economic chaos and the clientelisem growing in Slovenia, it is not an option for me. When I compare Slovenia at the time I left for France (1993) and the country today, the only improvement in seen in the cars on the streets and maybe some infrastructure. Everything else has not changed or has even fallen back.

My experience is not appreciated in Slovenia. Nor my diploma from French Defence Ministry is recognized. If you happen to mention that you were in the Legion, the doors are generally closed for you. Abroad your service in the Legion makes an impression in your CV. Based on that I gained state professional security pass in France. In England I was accepted into the world’s biggest security organization.

I love my homeland but the state averts my long planned return to Slovenia.

Andrej Kovačič                                 E: andrej.kovacic@varensvet.si

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