Slovenia Faces the Future

By Bohte, Gorazd | Contemporary Review, May 1992 | Go to article overview

Slovenia Faces the Future


Bohte, Gorazd, Contemporary Review


|Nothing will ever be the same as it used to be.' These were the words of Milan Kucan, president of Slovenia, after the Republic proclaimed its independence on June 25, 1991. The president himself was probably at the moment not fully aware of how true hs words would turn out. The event marked an end to the first stage of the painful process of Yugoslav disintegration. For many years after Tito died the impression was that something was in the air but the trouble was that nobody really knew what was going to happen and perhaps even more importantly when and how it was going to happen.

The 1981 Kosovo riots were the first notable sign that the federation was not as tight as it looked at first sight, but was the spectacular rise of Slobodan Milosevic to political power in Serbia (1987) and the implementation of his politics that made the blind see what the name of the game was. Milosevic combined communism and Serbian nationalism to achieve almost absolute political power in Serbia. In the so-called 'yoghurt revolution' he abolished Kosovo's and Vojvodina's autonomy. Both his goals and his methods were unacceptable to other Yugoslav nations. This was hardly surprising as his final ambition was to create some sort of a Greater Serbia which would comprise all of Yugoslavia but Slovenia and a small part of Croatia.

The Slovene communist leaders at the time would settle for any kind of loose confederation but they were pressed not only by Milosevic who left little doubt of who would be in charge in the new, third Yugoslavia; they had to confront also a completely changed situation in Slovenia. The mass resistance of Slovenes against the demonstration of power by the Yugoslav army in the trial of the Four (Jansa, Zavrl, Borstner and Tasic) in 1988 and the Committee which was formed for the protection of their rights in many aspects the level of mass political consciousness.

These events quickly ended debates of how far political democratization was allowed to go. The approach of the communists at the time was that everthing can ba allowed but political parties (apart from theirs of course.) The intensity with which Slovenes backed the Four and the antagonism they expressed towards the federal army later proved to be one of the turning in the developments that look place. The opposition gained in confidence while the communist authorities lost some of it. It did not take long for new political parties to register. The majority of the newly formed parties united under the coalition of Demos (Democratic opposition of Slovenia). The coalition won the absolute majority of votes in the free elections held in spring 1990. According to prior agreement -- that the party which wins the majority of votes inside Demos would name the premier -- the president of the Christian Democrats Lojze Peterle became the head of the new Slovene government. The fact that the former communist party leader Kucan was at the same time elected for the presidency of the Republic should that the Slovenes wanted step-by-step changes as well as a respectable level of his personal popularity. Many people believe that his role in the process of transformation of Slovenia from one party dictatorship to a parliamentary democracy was significant and a positive one.

What was important at the moment was that both Demos and the opposition tended to favour independence from Yugoslavia. This programme achieved its credible affirmation in the outcome of the plebiscite in which 88.3% of the citizens voted for an independent and sovereign Slovenia. In the meantime Yugoslavia was becoming more and more Serbian and therefore loosing its identity. With its last breath the federal army in an open act of war tried to halt the tide of events. In the short June-July war Slovenia also showed herself to be a country capable of surviving militarily. The war later flared to extremes in neighbouring Croatia and revealed its most gruesome and inhumane face. …

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