We got up and survived
(Analysis of the turning points of independence and the war for Slovenia in 1991)
30 years of Slovenia’s independence
It was Wednesday, 26 June, when Slovenia declared its independence (the Declaration on the Independence of Slovenia and the Basic Constitutional Charter on the Independence and Autonomy of the Republic of Slovenia were adopted the day before), therefore it actually became an independent and sovereign state. That same night, the Yugoslav People’s Army (YPA) launched an armed aggression against the young country, which officially ended in ten days, with the defeat of the YPA. These days stand out the most from the time of Slovenia’s independence, which can be extended from 1987, when the famous 57th issue of the Nova revija journal was published, entitled “Contributions to the Slovenian National Program”, to 1992, when Slovenia had been recognized by most countries.
The Slovenian nation has been severely tested many times in history, but it has nevertheless survived for many centuries. Love for the homeland, nation, culture, tradition, religion and family have kept it alive in a sometimes very hostile environment. We have even survived communism, the worst and the evillest totalitarianism of all times, because we had faith and because we learned from our ancestors what it means to be Slovenian. That is because we have patriotism in our genes and we have always known that we are special: good, hardworking and peaceful, and that therefore, no threat would sway us. When the time came and we were faced with a serious threat of being thrown in the cauldron of the Balkans, and forever erased from the European memory, we took our swords and rebelled against the Yugoslav enemy and won. That was how we gained our country 30 years ago on this beautiful piece of Earth, where our grandsires settled and grew roots a long time ago.
This booklet was issued for a special purpose. In one place, it contains three basic texts that are important for understanding independence and the war for Slovenia. They were written by Janez Janša, the then Minister of Defence and the current Prime Minister, who was a key actor during that period. The first text is an analysis of the turning points of independence, which was first published in the White Book. In it, the author gives a detailed description of the time between 1990 and 1991, when Slovenia was internationally isolated in its independence aspirations, and events in the domestic political field, how the left opposition at that time hindered Demos and made pacts with the federal government of the then Yugoslavia. All those who more or less openly opposed the independent state later took power and shared the credit for the independent state, while the main independence activists were persecuted and sent to prison with false accusations and mounted trials.
The second text is an analysis of the war for Slovenia, which was first published as a foreword to the book War for Slovenia. In it, the author analyses the military conflict that ended in the defeat of the aggressor YPA due to the unity of the nation. “The unity of the nation, the courage of its armed part, the strong political will of the Demos government coalition under the leadership of Dr. Jože Pučnik and the self-initiative of a multitude of individual commanders of tactical units of the TO and the police forged a victory in the war for Slovenia. A victory elevated in its finality to the Slovenian Olympus, a victory more important than all the battles that our ancestors unfortunately often fought also on behalf of others through the vortices of the ungrateful history of past centuries,” wrote Janša.
The third text is a preface to the III. edition of the book Premiki (Movements), which sold nearly 100,000 copies. In the introductory text, Janez Janša shares his memories and analyses the events from the time he was arrested (1988) to the international recognition of the new state. The introduction and the III. edition are important because the author talks about documents and also reveals some documents which were not yet known at the time of the first edition of the book (1992), but are very important for understanding Slovenian independence. As this is a priceless document about a certain time, we keep Janša’s text in its integral form, as it was published at the time. The booklet also includes photographs and graphs, as well as a message from the Prime Minister to Slovenians on the occasion of 2020 National Day.
Our descendants need to know how we built sovereignty, how we felt love for the homeland, and how grateful we were for that moment in history. But they also need to know who opposed it. Not to condemn or persecute anyone, but simply because these are facts. Today’s romanticising of the history that Slovenia gained its sovereignty easily is a distortion of the facts and serves as an excuse for those who sabotaged everything the Demos government did at key moments. It is true that the nation was united, but the political transitional left was doing everything they could at that time so that Slovenia would not get its own army nor become independent, but rather remain in the Balkan cauldron.
And today, 30 years after we fought the aggressor and proclaimed our country, we witness with worries that the youth is not certain anymore if Slovenia is a good thing, nor that a love for one’s country is necessary for the preservice of a nation. The young believe that the feeling of national pride and of belonging to Slovenianess is reactionary. While the media and the popular culture were strengthening the national idea in those years, patriotism is no longer their style today. It seems that they are following the trend of hatred towards Slovenianess and the events of independence.
The texts of Janez Janša in the book Vstali in obstali (We got up and survived) are written in a readable and instructive way. They are based on facts and documents, so they should definitely be included in the educational process.
At the plebiscite on 23 December 1990, the Slovenian nation clearly and decisively declared itself for the independent state of the Republic of Slovenia. Nevertheless, in the following months it faced strong opposition and obstacles in the part of the domestic post-communist political elite; as well as with opposition and threats from the federation and official abroad.
NEARLY EVERYONE AGAINST US
In 1990 and 1991, Slovenia was internationally predominantly isolated in its aspirations and efforts for independence. This has somehow been forgotten, or at least obscured in the last two decades. The analysis of the causes will demonstrate the reasons why this happened.
The archives of domestic and foreign media outlets contain many recordings of statements by state and diplomatic representatives of neighbouring and other countries that directly expressed a dislike or open opposition to Slovenian independence.
The most optimistic view that could be heard in our favour was the phrase conceding that Slovenia could become independent, but only in agreement with other republics and the federation. Of course, anyone who stated this knew very well that the consent of the federal authorities, the YPA and most other republics would not be forthcoming.
Despite attempts to forget and obscure this opposition, it is more or less known and thoroughly documented, but unfortunately it has not been sufficiently analysed and elaborated on by historians and those specializing in international relations.
Launch of negative reviews abroad
Reports and conclusions made by foreign diplomatic and intelligence representatives are less known. In addition to the scepticism of their governments, especially the personal scepticism of foreign diplomats who followed the events occurring in Slovenia and its neighbouring countries at the time of independence, Slovenians who they had been communicating with, also contributed greatly to the negative reports. Intelligence and diplomatic reports and transcripts of telephone conversations between domestic and foreign services, published in the present almanac, shed light on this aspect. The first shocking finding upon reading them is the realization that nothing was actually hidden from foreigners on the grounds of confidentiality, not even the highest level of state classified information. Even the information regarding the content of the strictly confidential draft of the Constitutional Act on Independence was read to an Italian diplomat by a member of the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia, Ciril Zlobec. The same was true for the carefully guarded date of independence, of which only a few people in the country knew. Members of the then opposition, especially the LDS and today’s SD, were widely communicating their scepticism or even opposition to independence to foreign diplomats and intelligence agents. Some of them, such as LDS MP Franco Juri, then publicly manifested his feelings by boycotting the announcement of the decision on independence, while others, especially successors of the League of Communists of Slovenia (ZKS), spoke differently to the Slovenian public and foreign sources. They both had similar negative attitudes towards all the measures of Slovenian independence, especially the ones related to defence, which were deeply ridiculed. Some examples of such an approach are published in the White Book of Slovenian Independence – Oppositions, Obstacles, Betrayal, published in 2013 by the Association for the Values of Slovenian Independence.
Information as a big advantage
From the swearing-in of the Demos government in May 1990 until the final international recognition and acceptance in the UN, the competent Slovenian institutions were attempting to monitor the positions of neighbouring countries, international institutions and the most influential world parties towards Slovenia and its struggle for independence. Due to the scanty beginnings of our own diplomacy, the work was extremely difficult and the most important results were contributed by our compatriots abroad and around the world. Slovenians who served in Yugoslav diplomacy, with a few honourable exceptions, were not in favour of independence, and we received even less useful information from them than from Slovenians in high-ranking positions in the Yugoslav People’s Army.
Information on the views of external parties thus came to us mainly as:
- publicly announced positions of governments and international organizations,
- information of compatriots from abroad and the world,
- contacts of Slovenian state representatives with foreign countries, especially with diplomatic staff of other countries,
- reports from domestic intelligence services,
- reports of foreign services accessed by Slovenia through the work of its own services or through the exchange of information (especially with the Republic of Croatia).
Until the last moment, most foreign statesmen advocated the preservation of the unity of Yugoslavia (pictured: President of the ZIS SFRY Ante Markovič, Yugoslav Foreign Minister Budimir Lončar and US Secretary of State James Baker on 21 June 21 1991 in Belgrade).
In the Ministry of Defence, the intelligence service was established only at the beginning of the manoeuvring structure of national protection, and for most of this period it numbered less than ten professionally employed members. Despite the weak staff, this service, through patriotic cooperation with individual Slovenians with predominantly lower positions in the YPA, gathered strategically important information that enabled realistic planning of resistance against aggression and the tactically wise implementation of the YPA withdrawal from Slovenia. Through these sources, we also obtained information that foreign diplomatic representatives shared with the YPA summit. In the final stages of independence, especially from the events of May 1991 until the withdrawal of the YPA from Slovenia in October of the same year, the work of the military intelligence service was strengthened. Through the occupation of some YPA communication facilities and the seizure of equipment at the beginning of aggression, the Intelligence and Security Service (OVS) of the Ministry of Defence began to intercept encrypted YPA communications all the way to Belgrade.
After the reorganization at the end of 1990, the Security Information Service (VIS) of the Ministry of the Interior also penetrated some intelligence-rich foreign sources through its own resources, and provided at least a partial direct behind-the-scenes insight into the external environment by controlling communications between foreign services and representatives. From this source, we obtained important information about the extent to which the aggressor, who had excellent access to third-country resources through Yugoslav diplomacy and services abroad, was acquainted with our plans and the actual capabilities of the Slovenian defence. Unfortunately, only a part of the VIS, which numbered in the hundreds of employed, was intimately and professionally in favour of independence. The second and also larger part of VIS remained passive or even opposed. Rather than dealing with the immediate danger, they dealt with everything else possible. Thus, on 25 June 1991, when the declaration of war was issued to Slovenia, the government received an assessment from VIS on the situation in – the Romanian army. A VIS worker guarding a tank barracks in Vrhnika allegedly fell asleep and did not notice that a column of tanks was driving through the door towards Ljubljana. The reason as to how the loud noise of the tank column could not be heard was probably only known in the VIS.
Even the information on the content of the strictly confidential proposal of the Constitutional Act on Independence was freely read by a member of the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia, Ciril Zlobec, to the Italian diplomat.
Through the publication of various documents of both domestic services in periodicals and books, the Slovenian public has been able to learn of the many details from behind the scenes of the decisions made on individual aspects of aggression against Slovenia and the attitude of representatives of other countries towards it.
It is unusual, however, that previous publications of the same or similar documents, such as the White Book on Slovenian Independence – Oppositions, Obstacles, Betrayal, did not arouse any special interest from historians or other experts, especially as today in Slovenia there are at least five times more experts than at the time of independence.
Disinterest in some facts and distortion of others
However, although the opposition and obstruction of Slovenian independence from outside and inside has received little interest and even less academic research over the last two decades, much more energy has been invested in persistently belittling the importance of independence. Many events and statements have been silenced or distorted, while others have been particularly highlighted. The distortion of the truth was part of the post-independence routine. The basic guideline was: Everything that shaped the majority value system of the people in Slovenia at the time of independence and democratization at the time of the Slovenian spring, has been relativized and eventually named with the opposite meaning. Ever since the plebiscite in December 1990, independence has been constantly denounced as a general reason for all kinds of problems. The slogans were more direct and telling every year, until in 2012 when we experienced banners at the so-called popular uprisings with the inscriptions: “They’ve been stealing from us for 20 years.” or “In 20 years, companies and the state have been stolen from us.” or “20 years of a corrupt political elite is enough”- as if we had lived in heaven before the independence and as if there had been no totalitarian regime in Slovenia in which the country was completely stolen from the people; certainly much more than today, regardless of all the current issues.
Ever since the famous letter written by Kučan in the spring of 1991, there have been attempts to portray the resistance against the disarmament of the TO and the defence of the Slovenian state as an arms trade, and the establishment of state attributes to Slovenia is referred to as the Erased affair. For two decades, the manipulation was so intense that the younger generations growing up during that time could easily learn about the issue of the so-called Erased from the majority of public media; much more extensively than about the measures that enabled the creation of the Slovenian state. Ten years after its creation, the first red star flags appeared at the state celebration on National Day. At first shyly because of the awareness that they represented a symbol of the aggressor army that was defeated in the war for Slovenia, but then more and more aggressively, as if the YPA had won the war. The main point made by the speakers included a sentence that gradually became embedded, which is that without the so-called National Liberation Movement (NOB) there would be no independent Slovenia. It was as if independent Slovenia was created in 1945 and not in 1991. Thereby, the importance of the independence was erased, or at least diminished when attempts at erasing it did not succeed. When the governments of the transitional left were in power, the state celebration programs on the occasion of the two biggest Slovenian national holidays, Statehood Day, and Independence and Unity Day, were at best empty events, unrelated to the purpose of the national holidays, and at worst, full of open mockery of Slovenia and the values that united us in a successful and joint independence venture.
On the other hand, almost no week in the year went by without pompous and expensive celebrations organized by the Associations of the National Liberation Movement of Slovenia (ZZB), which were full of hate speech and threats to those who were different minded, accompanied with the exhibition of totalitarian symbols, and criminal activity in the form of tampering with official state symbols and illegally carrying and displaying military weapons. The participants in these mass events were mostly paid members of the ZZB, as around 20,000 of them still receive privileged veteran allowances every month, even though many were born after 1945. Privileges had been passed on to descendants in certain cases, as if we had been living under a feudal principality. Such bacchanalia in the style of rallies from Miloševič’s most intense campaign a quarter of a century ago were crowned by the ZZB rally on 24 December 2012 in Tisje, where the general secretary of the veteran’s organization Mitja Klavora, born a decade after World War II, threatened us with massacres again.
For several years after independence, it was necessary to return military decorations with the explanation that the President of the country was not lawfully permitted to award the Order of Freedom to people who had little to do with independence or even actively opposed it. After ten years, they began to deliberately bring in confusion regarding symbols. On the 15th anniversary of independence, a controversy began over the formation of the Slovenian Army and its age, and on the 20th anniversary, the then President of the Republic even ‚thundered‘ over the so-called independence fighters, saying that this “meriting” and transitional clutter should be done with once and for all. Luckily, the majority of voters chose not to re-elect him in the fall of 2012. The final touch of shaming the independence and especially the Slovenian Army was set shortly before the 22nd anniversary with the appointment of the last Minister of Defence.
The so-called ‚Uncles from the Background‘ appointed a person to this position who, in 1991, not only indirectly, but actively, through political action and voting, opposed any measures used in the defence of Slovenia against the YPA aggression. “I am not a member of the LDS political party, but I share the same thoughts and views with Roman Jakič,” said YPA Colonel Milan Aksentijevic at the assembly, after they obstructed defence preparations together at an utmost critical time. The second chapter of this almanac contains many actual examples of measures obstructing independence, bearing the signature of Roman Jakič and his supporters from the left-wing opposition. If only a few of their amendments to key defence legislation had been adopted, Slovenia would not have been able to successfully defend itself against the aggression of the YPA in June 1991.
At the time of independence, the opposition often vehemently opposed the efforts for Slovenian independence (pictured: LDS deputies Gregor Golobič, Zoran Thaler and Jožef Školč).
Instead of operetta, real military power
This was also the fundamental purpose of destroying all efforts of Slovenia to establish an effective defence system that would be able to withstand the expected and decisive attempt of Belgrade to prevent our independence by force. This is demonstrated in dozens of documents in the White Book of Slovenian Independence. These include the efforts of the Slovenian communist policy of the YPA to disarm the TO, which Dr. Jože Pučnik and Ivan Oman quite rightly described as a betrayal of Slovenia, through the so-called Declaration for Peace, which demanded the rapid unilateral disarmament of Slovenia, and the behind-the-scenes contact with YPA generals and Belgrade politicians, about whom the public learns new information every now and then when the Belgrade archives open or when one of the participants writes a book of memoirs from the opposite side. It was only after a few years, when left-wing politicians tried their best to provide the aggressor general Konrad Kolšek with a Slovenian passport, that it became clear why the formal declaration of war with an ultimatum sent to Slovenia by General Kolšek on the morning of 27 June 1991, which was scattered in the form of leaflets by the YPA planes, was not addressed to the Supreme Commander and President of the Presidency Milan Kučan, but to Prime Minister Lojze Peterle, who under the then constitution virtually had no powers in the field of defence. Due to previous contacts and agreements, Kolšek and other aggressors apparently considered Milan Kučan as one of those that they could count on in the period after the “independence operetta”, when the Demos government would disintegrate due to the effect of a broken leadership and end up in military courts or in front of the firing squad.
The Party of Democratic Renewal, led by Ciril Ribičič, which succeeded the League of Communists of Slovenia, had many concerns about Slovenia’s independence.
Due to the high support of independence at the plebiscite and the otherwise positive mood towards independence of the Slovenian public – including a faction of members in left-wing parties, opponents of independence generally did not openly oppose it, but rather applied indirect tactics, which was reflected in the slogans that became popular in the spring of 1991, for example “Independence yes, but in a peaceful way.”, or “Independence yes, but without an army.”, or, “The will of the people expressed at the plebiscite must be realized, but only through negotiations and agreements.”, or: “Slovenes did not vote for war in the plebiscite!”, or: “Slovenia’s declaration of independence must go hand in hand with the immediate start of negotiations with other republics on a new confederal connection.”
Furthermore, it was more than only slogans; in the spring of 1991, meetings of Slovenian left-wing parties took place, especially the successor to the ZKS and the predecessor of the then current SD, with the former communist parties in other republics of the former SFRY. One of these meetings that was held between Ciril Ribičič and his comrades with the Bosnian and Croatian communists in Otočec, was accompanied by large newspaper headlines throughout the former Yugoslavia, calling for new Yugoslav integration.
The calculation of the opponents of Slovenian independence, domestic and foreign, was based on the expectation of a broken leadership. They calculated that an independent Slovenia would be euphorically proclaimed, but not realized. (“Dreams are allowed today, tomorrow is a new day!”) They believed and tried to contribute to this as much as possible in belief that the Slovenian Defence Forces would not be able to occupy border crossings and key infrastructure points in the country and limit the YPA manoeuvre, and that after a few days it would all turn out like an operetta episode, after which it would be clear to everyone in the country that we were isolated from the West, that we did not control our own territory and that no one would help us, that no one would recognize us, and that we were hitting our heads into a concrete wall.
After such an outcome, the disintegration of the Demos coalition and the fall of the government, followed by a full takeover of power was expected. They also surely expected the end of the dream of an independent Slovenia, seeing themselves as saviours of Slovenians against dangerous Demos adventurers. Or, as the president of the then LDS said, “It is better to negotiate for an independent Slovenia for a hundred years than to fight for one day.” These expectations are literally confirmed by the memoirs of the then Prime Minister, Ante Markovič, also published in the following section of the present almanac, regarding the meeting between him and the Slovenian left-wing opposition just before the war, on 12 June 1991:
“Markovič’s conversation with the opposition gave a common assessment that the contradictions in the ruling Demos are such that only 26 June keeps it together. If nothing happens on 26 June that could strengthen the Demos circuit, there is not much hope left for the government, or specifically: if a process is launched after 26 June, running simultaneously in both directions, towards independence and reintegration, the Demos government will fall in the summer, or in September at the latest.”
After a meeting with the Slovene left-wing opposition, Markovič also convinced Croatian President Franjo Tudman of the likelihood of such a turn of events in Slovenia. Years later, Tudman spoke about the operetta war in Slovenia, covering up his support of Markovič. However, on 27 June 1991, he broke the promise made and the agreement signed on the joint resistance of the two countries in the event of YPA aggression. Operetta independence was actually carried out by Croatia in June 1991, when it declared independence but did not assume effective power. The price that Croatia paid with its lives for Tudman’s naivety was enormous.
I myself have witnessed quite a few similar open predictions and hints of Slovenian left-wing politicians, not to mention foreign diplomats. Some in the then presidency of the republic, the Deputy Prime Minister and its Finance Minister, who resigned a few months before the war, and many other “respectable” citizens held a similar belief. I met one of them, who then had a great career in independent Slovenia, just before the war at the Kongresni trg square.
He said to me in a somewhat scornful tone: “For an independent state, you don’t need a vision, but divisions.” I didn’t explain to him that we had that too, because he would not have believed me anyway.
According to the narration and multiple publicly recorded performances of the former member of the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia, Ivan Oman, who was the only one in the presidency to consistently support preparations for the defence against aggression, Dr. Jože Pučnik – in one of the many breaks during the negotiations for the plebiscite law in November 1990 – asked the High Representative of today’s SD why they had been overly complicating and basically opposing all proposals for independence. He replied to him that he should understand that they and their political option did not see a future for themselves in independence.
Since the victory of Demos in the April 1990 elections, the top left-wing Slovenian politicians have been working against the creation of real capacities for independence, regardless of the occasional public pretence. Their most important campaigns by 26 June were:
1. Disarmament of the Territorial Defence in May 1990, where they helped the YPA in all possible ways. This is discussed in the first chapter of this almanac.
2. The so-called Declaration of Peace in February 1991, which directly demanded the rapid unilateral disarmament of the already “barely armed Slovenia”.
3. Consistent voting against measures to secure independence (Defence Act, Military Duty Act, Defence Budget) in the Assembly. All of the acts listed were barely passed with a few votes of the Demos majority. This is discussed in the second chapter of this almanac.
4. Informing foreign services and diplomats about the top state secrets from the operational plans for independence (exact time, list of functions of the federation that Slovenia intended to effectively take into its own hands).
5. The petition for the resignation of the General State Prosecutor Anton Drobnič, which had been sent to the public a few days before the declaration of independent Slovenia under the leadership of Milan Kučan and Spomenka Hribar (she offered it to me to sign in his presidential office). Just before the war, they wanted to further shake up Demos with it, as the petition was signed by some prominent politicians of the SDZ and the Greens of Slovenia.
6. Police union strike announcement for 27 June 1991.
In some Slovene newspapers, various authors openly opposed Slovene independence (pictured: article in Mladina, 21 May 1991, entitled „Independent Slovenia? No, thanks!“).
On 25 June 1991, Slovenia effectively took over the majority of the former federal competencies (border, customs, monetary policy, airspace control, foreign exchange operations and control) and on 26 June, with general popular support and joy, declared independence. On the same and the following day, it successfully withstood the first wave of aggression, so some left-wing politicians had doubts about the success of their expectation of an “operetta declaration of independence”. Nevertheless, their bosses made every effort to extract selfish petty political benefits from such a situation as well.
Former multiple Minister in the Italian Left Governments (for Justice, Foreign Trade, Deputy Foreign Minister) and High Representative of the Socialist International, Piero Fassino, published a book entitled Out of Passion (Per passione, Milano, 2003), where on page 292 he writes how on 27 June 1991, he visited Milan Kučan and Ciril Ribičič in Ljubljana, and how they begged him (sollecitando) that “the Italian and European left should not give the independence of the former Yugoslav republics to the right”. In the months following this visit, it was the Italian Socialist Foreign Minister, Gianni de Michelis who, as a European politician, uttered the most criticism directed at the expense of Slovenian statehood. He agreed to Slovenia’s European recognition only at the last minute. Even when Italian President Francesco Cossiga visited our country on 17 January 1992, after the European Union had already recognized Slovenia, de Michelis sharply attacked the President for this. Nevertheless, Milan Kučan awarded him the badge of honour of freedom a little later. And he clearly knew the reason why.
Jaša Zlobec and Franco Juri (pictured with Ciril Ribičič and Lev Kreft), the most extreme opponents of the Assembly to all the necessary measures for independence, became ambassadors of the state they had opposed at its birth.
It did not turn out as expected for the opponents of Slovenian independence. Slovenia did not suffer a broken leadership. The YPA and all those who, as in the case of the JBTZ process or those rallying for the disarmament of the Slovenian TO, had counted on this projected outcome to do the dirty work for them, crashed into the wall of Slovene determination and serious defence preparations.
Revenge of those from whom the state of SFRY was stolen
The resentment was severe. Instead of honestly admitting that they were wrong, or at least remain silent, influential individuals (they were not prosecuted by anyone for their acts that were on the verge of betrayal or even worse) began launching propaganda campaigns against independence activists immediately after the war and before international recognition, and began overthrowing individual Demos members and then, the government.
On the other hand, individuals who had exposed themselves the most through anti-independence activities or had opposed measures to secure it, regardless of their otherwise professional and personal qualities, experienced rapid personal promotion. When reading the summaries of oppositions, obstructions and general misbehaviour in the Slovenian Parliament at the time of making key independence decisions, or the documents and records in the fourth chapter about forming a pact with the aggressor at the local level and in politics in general, we practically do not come across a single name that would be exposed, in one way or another, to public criticism or even condemnation for actions that history has indisputably confirmed as wrong and even harmful.
The president of the then LDS, Jožef Školč became the Minister of Culture and even the President of the National Assembly; the member of the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia Ciril Zlobec, who revealed a top state secret to foreign services, remained a member of the presidency until the end of his term and even became Vice-President of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts; Ciril Ribičič, who addressed foreign policies against Slovenia’s international recognition, became a constitutional judge and even a member of the Venice International Law Commission. A member of the leadership of Markovic’s Social Democratic Union, Rado Bohinc, became the Minister of Science and then Minister of the Interior, later Chancellor of the University of Primorska. Franco Juri and Jaša Zlobec, the most extreme opponents of the Assembly to all necessary measures for independence, became ambassadors of the country which they opposed at the time of her birth. Their ardent accomplice in obstructing independence, Roman Jakič, even became the Minister of Defence. Aurelio Juri became a member of the European Parliament, and Sergij Peljhan became the Minister of Culture. Jože Mencinger, who deserted from the government a few months before the war, saying that he did not believe in independence, became the Chancellor of the University of Ljubljana and the owner of the Bajt Institute. Marko Kranjec, who joined him in desertion, first became ambassador and later governor of the Bank of Slovenia. The list is too long to name them all. Journalists and editors, who sowed doubts or expressed open opposition at the time of independence, also advanced extremely quickly. An equally brilliant career awaited those from academic circles who actively opposed the plebiscite for an independent Slovenia and later independence itself. The sample was also transferred to the economy. In the first wave of privatization, most companies were “privatized” by individuals who had lamented the possibility of Slovenia’s economic survival two years earlier. In the second wave, however, it was these or their descendants who received privileged political loans from state-owned banks. The infamous Veno Karbone alias Neven Borak moved from the office of President Kučan to the office of Prime Minister, then became a protector of the “national interest” under the guise of the competition protector, preventing the arrival of foreign investors and competition for domestic tycoons, and later took the position of grey eminence in the Bank of Slovenia.
Despite a successful independence from Belgrade, dreams of new times were only allowed for one day, and then upside-down promotion mechanisms were established in society. The more someone opposed independence or was sceptical of it and the more someone was family, politically or emotionally attached to the former state of SFRY, the greater his chances for career and political success in independent Slovenia were. They worked tirelessly in miniature, between Triglav and Kolpa, to establish a communist pashaluq, which they had lost between Triglav and Vardar. And to some extent, they succeeded. Today, among all the countries that emerged on the territory of the former SFRY, communist and Yugoslav iconography prevails at many events only in Slovenia, and only in Slovenia do former Yugoslav communist officials still receive special pension supplements.
The campaign to discredit Slovenian independence continues to this day: from accusations of arms trafficking to the so-called Erased and statements by the president of the Association of War Veterans for Slovenia, about how it was independence that had divided the previously united Slovenian nation. The actors of discrediting became more aggressive with each passing year as the memory of the generation that experienced independence directly faded. Anyone who pointed out the manipulations was discredited and ridiculed by the media. The network of the former SDV, with more than 10,000 employees intertwined with the judiciary and police apparatus, parastatal institutions such as the corruption commission or information commissioner, and private detective agencies, has remained aggressively active. However, the media monopoly of the transitional left, which diminished the importance of independence every year and glorified the revolutionary gains of the so- called National Liberation War (NOB), has only strengthened since 1992 after a short lull when it subsided at independence.
Resistance to the distortion of history would be virtually impossible today if it were not for the preservation of documents and records from a good two decades ago, some accurate historians, and the efforts of participants who wrote their memoirs. More or less the same actors who wanted in every way to prevent the revelation of the drastic falsification of history from 1941 onwards, and who daily publicly claimed that they would not let it be distorted (read: they will not allow the truth), did, on the other hand, transfer their methods of distortion from the totalitarian regime to the post-independence era. In defending the distorted history of 1941–1990, the same work was used for the period after 1990. Daily brainwashing occurs through the mass media and the basis of this is contained in comments, symposia, school textbooks and programs, as well as documentaries or quasi-documentary broadcasts.
All of this, of course, is paid for with taxpayers’ money.
In some Slovenian newspapers, various authors openly opposed Slovenian independence. You can find many articles about this in the White Book of Slovenian Independence – Oppositions, Obstacles, Betrayal. A special selection of these articles can also be viewed at the Museum of Slovenian Independence in Ljubljana (see pictures above). Efforts to gain independence were ridiculed by all Slovenian media controlled by the left, especially Mladina and Dnevnik. The “joke” with a black dot is from Mladina on 26 January 1990, edited by Miran Lesjak. Under the black dot, they cynically wrote in small letters: “Exercise 1: Look straight into the black dot for so long that you will see an independent Slovenia. Repeat the exercise every day.” Similar activities were carried out by LDS MP Franco Juri with his caricatures in Delo and later in Dnevnik.
The foundations of independent Slovenia are the values of the Slovenian spring – the foundation of the SFRY was a crime
The Slovenian Constitution contains the text of the oath which is uttered by all top state officials after election. With the oath, they undertake to “respect the Constitution, act according to their conscience and strive with all their might for the well-being of Slovenia”. The test by which we can determine whether an act, conduct, or program of an individual, group, political party, or political option is truly in accordance with the constitutional oath is quite simple.
When an individual, group, party or political option brings to the forefront and emphasizes the values, events and achievements of Slovenian independence, which put us on the world map and around which Slovenians are by far the most united and unified in their history, then it works according to the text and the spirit of the constitutional oath.
But when an individual, group, party, or political option brings to the fore the events and times that have divided and destroyed us as a nation, it acts contrary to the text and spirit of the constitutional oath. And no time was more destructive for the Slovenian nation than the fratricidal communist revolution, with which the criminal clique took advantage of the difficult period of occupation and the genuine patriotic feelings of the Slovenians to seize power by force. Today, you can easily get to know a man through this litmus paper. No one glorifying the time of the fratricidal war in 1991 was sincerely in favour of independence. For the Slovenian state, which, in spite of the division of politics, was created at that time with the great consent of the people, was a fundamental denial of the bloody foundations of the disintegration of the SFRY.
As we have known for a long time and as can be seen in more detail from the presented documents, we were not all in favour of independence. According to the results of the plebiscite, some 200,000 people and most of the post-communist nomenclature in Slovenia, most of the rest of the former SFRY and most of world politics formally opposed Slovenian independence. Among the 200,000 domestic opponents of independence, there were some 50,000 extremists. Some of them took part in the aggression against Slovenia with weapons in their hands, others disgustedly refused Slovenian citizenship and emigrated from the country after the defeat of the YPA. Some stayed and found refuge in Slovenian left-wing parties. Many who refused Slovenian citizenship and left Slovenia together with the defeated army or even earlier, began to return after a few years, when Slovenia progressed, when other parts of the former Yugoslavia lagged behind and when the average pension in our country was ten times higher than the average pension in Serbia and BiH. At first quietly, then more and more noisily, a group of the so-called erased people began to form. The few hundred justified cases when individuals wanted to regulate the status of a foreigner or even citizenship, but did not succeed for objective reasons, were followed by thousands of speculators, who betrayed Slovenia at the time of its birth and today claim damages from Slovenian taxpayers with the help of anti-Slovenian left-wing policy.
Despite the obstacles, opposition and betrayals, Slovenian independence from Belgrade succeeded. But there was another option …
Source: Association for the Values of Slovenian Independence: „White Book of Slovenian Independence – Oppositions, Obstacles, Betrayal.“ Nova obzorja, d. o. o., Ljubljana 2013
On 27 April 2013, the entire Slovenian state leadership participated in the celebration in Ljubljana with communist scenography, which was completely reminiscent of the times when the totalitarian Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia still existed.
The White Book of Slovenian Independence – Oppositions, Obstacles, Betrayal
The documents published in the anthology „War for Slovenia”, which follow each other in time, clearly show how the YPA aggression against Slovenia took place, how we defended and saved ourselves and defeated the Yugoslav Federal Army militarily
Janez Janša was the vice-president of the Slovenian Democratic Union, a member of the first democratically elected Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia in 1990 and the Minister of Defence at the time of Slovenia’s independence in 1990–1992. Today he is the President of the Slovenian Democratic Party and for the third time the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia.
Infograf depicts the amount of armaments and military equipment confiscated in TO combat operations. In addition to the funds listed in the graph, between 26 June and 17 July 1991, the TO RS seized approximately 7 million pieces of ammunition for infantry weapons, 20,000 pieces of ammunition for various anti-armour and anti-aircraft weapons, approximately 400,000 tons of mines and small quantities of quartermaster’s, sanitary and ABKO equipment. These quantities do not include weapons and equipment confiscated by the police during hostilities.
Janez Janša as Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia upon his arrival at the main ceremony on the occasion of the Slovenian Army Day on 15 May 2021.
Thirty years after Slovenia’s independence, the Slovenian Army once again keeps in step with the times and is ready for several challenges of the present time.
Analysis of the war for Slovenia
Europe, and the European Union in particular, is today largely a place of peace and at least relative progress, but some nations living in the core of the EU without their own state are nevertheless striving to become a nation and an independent entity in the international community.
The Catalans would like to decide in a referendum whether to secede from democratic Spain, and the Scots on whether to remain part of the UK or not. Even more widely on the planet Earth today, there are many nations that are much larger than Slovenia, but do not have their own country, although with a few exceptions, as a rule, everyone wants it. Slovenians have recently won the right to their own country.
The value centre of the nation
In the history of every nation-building nation, there is a definite time that enabled the nation to become sovereign, that is, its own master. Such a time, usually tied to events that enabled independence, placement on the world map and international recognition, is worshiped by nations as something “sacred”, so national holidays are dedicated to it, cities, squares, streets or decorations are named after it and there are events organised to celebrate it. Such a time evokes a positive attitude from the majority of citizens or members of the nation. Such a time represents the centre of values of the nation. For us Slovenians, this is the time of independence. Within this time, which stretches over history from 1987 to 1992, the days of the war for Slovenia stand out. These were the weeks, days, and hours in June and July 1991, when everything was at stake. An independent and European future for Slovenians, a democratic system, our religion and constitution, prosperity and our lives. These were the days when the nation – which was disarmed in May 1990 – once again stood up for its rights, declared Slovenia independent and resisted the aggression of the Yugoslav People’s Army.
In those days, a small percent of Slovenians, who, with the mass support of the nation, took up all available weapons and together with the civil defence opposed what was technically the fifth strongest army in Europe, achieved the impossible with their courage and wrote the final act of the Slovenian nation’s transition to the independent nation. The courage of the Slovenians was admired by the whole world at that time. Representatives of the most powerful countries in the world, who claimed a few days before the war that they would never recognize us, changed their position due to our courage.
In a few days, the world press changed its attitude towards Slovenia and switched to our side. The American high-circulation magazine People published an article on the war for Slovenia titled “The Mouse That Roared”. Slovenians around the world, as one, took to the streets of the metropolis, flooded governments with letters and appeals, and supported the struggle of their homeland against Goliath. Despite the opposition to independence in part of left-wing politics, the nation was united. Unified like never before, and very brave. These were “the finest hours”, the holy hours, a high note of the Slovenian nation. We rose and survived.
The numbers also say a lot
This indisputable historical fact cannot be changed or distorted. Nor can it be forgotten or overshadowed, although this has been constantly attempted since 1991. “Did we have a war in Slovenia at all?” some asked mockingly, but of course only once the last aggressor soldier had departed Slovenia in October 1991. While the voices of opponents of Slovenian independence, claiming that there was no real war in Slovenia at all, became increasingly louder and media-supported over the years since the YPA aggression against Slovenia, paradoxically, historians in Serbia have no doubt about it. The book by two Serbian historians (Kosta Nikolič, Vladimir Petrovič: War in Slovenia / June-July 1991, Documents of the Presidency of the SFRY, Institute of Contemporary History, Belgrade 2012) has an unambiguous title: War in Slovenia.
The YPA generals and the politicians of the SFRY, who sent tanks and troops over us, claim to have defended Yugoslavia and its internationally recognized borders, but they do not deny the war. They do not even deny that they were defeated in Slovenia.
In their memoirs, YPA officers from the 5th Military District, who operationally led the aggression against Slovenia, describe in detail how they experienced those June and July days in 1991 and how “the bitterness of defeat in Slovenia fell hard on them”. Due to the defeat of the first wave of aggression, the commander of the 5th Military District, General Konrad Kolšek, was replaced by the then commander of the 3rd Military District, General Žiko Avramovič. However, two days after his arrival, Avramovič repeated Kolšek’s fate and suffered an even more severe defeat.
The numbers also have their say. On 26 June 1991, the YPA launched an aggression against Slovenia with units totalling 22,000 soldiers, officers and non-commissioned officers. Analyses published in the book War for Slovenia show that the YPA had 48 dead and 116 wounded in the war for Slovenia, the TO units captured 2,663 of its members in the fighting, while 3,090 voluntarily fled to the Slovenian side.
The locals near Komenda in Gorenjska are watching the soldiers of the aggressor YPA standing by the armored vehicles on 27 June 1991, at the beginning of the war for Slovenia.
Of the 22,000 members, the YPA lost at least 5,917, or more than a quarter, in just over 7 days of fighting, among them a disproportionately large proportion – at least 534 – of active-duty officers and non-commissioned officers.
For the first comparison: TO RS (taking into account losses due to accidents) had 9 dead and 44 wounded, and the Slovenian police 4 dead. The YPA captured only one TO officer. No one transferred from the TO to the YPA.
For a second comparison (because the derogatory and scathing words about non-war in 1991 come mainly from ZZB members): Between 6 April 1941 and 9 May 1945, Slovenian partisan units, with their own heavy losses, neutralized significantly fewer members of the occupying Italian and German forces than the TO and the police managed in the ten days of the war for Slovenia, despite the fact that during WW2 the two mentioned occupiers sent mainly second-class military formations to Slovenia with exactly the same armament.
As the reinforcements sent by Generals Kolšek and Avramovič to Slovenia were mostly stopped upon entry, the remaining YPA units in Slovenia in the period before the Brioni Agreement were strategically in a completely subordinate position in all respects. On 26 June, the YPA started the war not only technically, but also disproportionately stronger in numbers. Slovenia was not able to call to arms even as many members of the TO as the YPA had directly on our territory. The reason, of course, was the lack of armaments. Less than 10 days later, the situation completely changed in Slovenia’s favour. Not only was Slovenia able to arm 35,300 of its soldiers (excluding members of the police) as early as 5 July due to confiscated weapons and equipment, but with the help of acquired heavy weapons, especially anti-armour and anti-aircraft weapons, it was able to count on the successful resistance to any force that the YPA would be able to send against the young Slovenian state.
This fact had a decisive influence on the change of Miloševic’s strategy. His original plan, Plan A – with the help of the YPA and the SFRY administration to form a centralized Yugoslavia within its former borders and under direct Serbian domination – failed with the defeat of the YPA in Slovenia. Around 10 July 1991, the Serbian leadership finally decided to move to Plan B, to the formation of a greater Serbia.
Snapshots from the operating room of the coordination group that led the defence of the Republic of Slovenia at the beginning of July 1991.
Documents of the war for Slovenia
The documents published in the almanac War for Slovenia follow, as a rule, chronologically as they were created.
The presentation begins with an order setting up a permanent task force of the coordinating body, issued on 7 May 1991. Due to the timely establishment of a coordination group (hereinafter also the Slovenian Defence Headquarters, coordination or headquarters) on 18 March 1991 and the introduction of permanent duty in early May, we were prepared enough to cope with the first serious measurement of power against the YPA with the incident in Pekre.
The presentation ends with an analysis of the combat operations of the TO RS from 26 June to 17 July 1991, which was discussed on 18 July 1991 at a conference of the Slovenian Defence Staff or the coordination group.
A special appendix at the end of the book is a presentation of the introductory part of the YPA plan Okop (Bedem), which the aggressor used in part as a basis for the attack on Slovenia and which most clearly illustrates the mentality of the YPA military leadership and the SFRY political leadership. They were convinced that their power was practically unlimited and that they were capable of defeating even NATO, let alone poor Slovenia. Unfortunately, many influential domestic opponents of Slovenian independence were also convinced of the power of the YPA, its communist-partisan ideology and its weapons. Therefore, throughout, and especially since the disarmament of the TO RS in May 1990 and the plebiscite in December of the same year, they played on the card of “operetta independence”, which counted on the declaration of independent Slovenia (the day when dreams are allowed), which, due to the power of the YPA, could not be realized and they would, therefore, immediately offer other nations unification into a new Yugoslavia. This was the official, publicly presented doctrine of the Social Democrats (then still ZKS-SDP). Documents and testimonies on this are published in the White Book of Slovenian Independence (Nova obzorja, June 2013).
The first chapter “Final preparations for the defence of Slovenia” contains many hitherto mostly unpublished or lesser-known documents relating to the work of the coordination group, the Ministry of Defence, the TO and the police in May and June 1991. This was a period when, on the one hand, there was a growing awareness of the great D day, which would, more than any other day in our history, decide on the future of the Slovenian nation; on the other hand, this time was concentrated in frantic preparations for defence against the apparent threat of this future. During this time, the following stand out: the events in Pekre, the abduction of the commander of the 7th PŠTO and the first victim of aggression against Slovenia, supplementing plans for the successful obstruction and blockade of YPA units and efforts to at least provide emergency TO with infantry weapons.
The second chapter “The Baptism of Fire Immediately at Birth” covers the period from 25 June to 10 July 1991, the time in which the war for Slovenia was won. The period begins with the proclamation of independent Slovenia in the Assembly and the effective takeover of border crossings, customs, air traffic control, foreign exchange inspection and other federal competencies until then, and the establishment of border checkpoints on the new state border with Croatia. Due to the issuance of the correct date for the takeover of effective power by Ciril Zlobec, a member of the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia, the period begins with a partially premature intervention by units of the Rijeka YPA Corps in Primorska and Goriška and with a strategic dilemma of whether to use weapons for defence before or only after the declaration of independence. The chapter ends with documents created on 10 July 1991. This was the day when the Slovenian Defence Staff successfully neutralized the strongest attempts of the YPA to justify and turn the strongly ambiguous conclusions of the Brioni negotiations to its advantage, thus regaining all that it had lost in the struggle.
One of the central documents of this chapter is the Staff Order of 28 June 1991: the “offensive” order. Just a few sentences of this document attest to several things. First, the document is a reflection of the accurate and timely recognition of the border situation. This is, in most great battles or wars, the time when it depends on the accurate and timely understanding of the moment and consequently on the accurate decisions of the commanders as to where the scales will be tilted. 28 June 1991 was the day when, after the successful blockades of many armoured columns and the first taste of defeat, the YPA used aviation en masse to attack civilian facilities. The purpose was obvious: to demonstrate superiority in the air and to sow fear among the defenders and the population. We knew that this decision would be followed by armoured reinforcements from the Varaždin and Zagreb corps and that the emergency balance, established on 27 June, hung in the balance.
We needed heavy weapons and successful actions to raise morale. Best of both at the same time, so it was high time to attack YPA warehouses and implement pre-prepared plans codenamed “Purchasing”. On the same day, the reconnaissance platoon of the Krkovič Special Brigade seized a large warehouse of weapons, mines and military equipment near Borovnica in a flash operation without casualties. All participants deserve the highest independence decoration, a sign of freedom, for this operation. Maybe an independent Slovenia will one day have a president of the republic who, like them, had a heart for independence and will award them this decoration.
The war left behind devastation, as well as joy over the successful defence of the young country and the homeland of Slovenia.
There were many very important events in the war for Slovenia, which decisively weaved the fabric of victory. The first analysis of the RŠTO, published in the third chapter, justifiably emphasizes the stopping of armoured columns on Medvedjek and the bridge near Ormož at the beginning of the fighting. The mortar attack on the runway of the military airport in Cerklje, which drove away the JVL air squadron to Bihač, can be placed in the same category. In addition, the conquest of border crossings in Rožna dolina, Šentilj and Holmec, the blockade of YPA armoured columns in many places across the country, the downing of enemy helicopters, the capture of the remaining YPA warehouses, and so forth.
Nevertheless, after a more detailed study of all combat operations of the TO and the Slovenian police and their placement in time and the wider picture, the most important combat operation of the TO to win the war for Slovenia can easily be singled out. This was undoubtedly the occupation of the YPA warehouse near Borovnica. In this operation, a handful of members of the special brigade confiscated a larger amount of weapons, mines and military equipment than had all Slovenian partisan units in all combat operations during WWII combined (seizures during the capitulation of Italy and Germany after defeat on world battlefields are excluded). The success was also complete because the warehouse was occupied in sight of the large concentration of YPA units in the Vrhnika barracks, from where the warehouse could be destroyed with cannon and rocket weapons, if they had found out about the operation in time. But the unit that took over the warehouse convinced the radio operator, who had to report to Vrhnika every 30 minutes, about the situation in the warehouse, to continue to report to the command how everything was in order in the warehouse.
To paraphrase the famous statement of Winston Churchill after the air battle for England, it can be said that never before in the history of the Slovenian nation have so many people owed so much gratitude to a handful of their compatriots.
The third chapter, “Assessments and Findings”, presents documents from 10 to 17 July 1991. The central part of this chapter is the analysis of the combat operation of the TO RS, which was actually done on an ongoing basis or immediately after the combat activities. This close proximity in time has its pros and cons. The downside is the lack of time, which did not allow the Republican and Provincial TO Headquarters to seriously examine the assessments and additional verifications with all subordinate commands. The positive side, however, is that the written estimates, which were actually made “on the spot”, are without subsequent rationalizations and embellishments. Everything that formed a multitude of different tactical decisions at various levels within the framework of a unified defence strategy, the result of which was – with all the pros and cons – a military victory or victory in the war for Slovenia, was recorded and evaluated.
Valuable experiences of decisive days
The documents published in this collection are a reflection of the time in which they were created and the people who created them. Some reports and orders are written professionally and say everything that was needed without unnecessary words. Others are inferior and without some necessary elements. Some are even handwritten, depending on the specific circumstances of the war. The present documents, together with numerical data and general knowledge about the war in Slovenia, of course also enable an assessment of the performance of individual provincial commands, coordination subgroups and, last but not least, an assessment of the headquarters that led Slovenia’s defence. All this shows the training and motivation of individuals and entire commands, and in some places also the influence of that part of Slovenian politics that only counted on an operetta independence and, in some places, even in the midst of the war treated the YPA more favourably than the TO.
To a lesser extent, the documents refer to the role of the Slovenian police, which was strategically important for Slovenia’s defence, as they had already been collected and published in various other publications. Of course, the picture was not the same everywhere. While its units in some places (e.g. the South Primorska region) were more active than the units and commands of the TO, in others (e.g. the Dolenjska region) they practically did not fire a single shot. Later, paradoxically, especially the staff from Dolenjska experienced promotion within the police and the Ministry of the Interior.
When reading the documents, the reader will directly or indirectly come across some information and points of interest that have been forgotten in 23 years, or have never been generally known. In 1991, the author of this text was directly involved in the creation or reading of many of the present orders, directives, reports and analyses. Nevertheless, while editing the anthology and re-reading it, he came across many details that are interesting today, but at that time, in the middle of the war and the concentration of time, they were not even noticed. Also, today, due to the sufficient time span, when reading the analyses, we become even more aware of some of the mistakes we had made.
One of my mistakes from the period of preparations for the defence of Slovenia was my consent to continue the reorganization of the territorial defence, which reduced the number of provincial headquarters from 13 to 7, and merging the municipal headquarters into regional ones. From the point of view of the serious danger that threatened us, we should have stopped the reorganization, as the new structure, especially of the regional headquarters, has caused us many headaches. In addition to complicating natural ties to local communities, the reorganization brought a lot of bureaucracy and not enough elaborate ways of leading and commanding.
Another similar mistake was our underestimation of the importance of new symbols and uniforms. In other words, in a severe financial drought, the assessment of priorities was insufficient. Although we were threatened by war, the Minister of Finance, Marko Kranjec, with the strong support of the opposition and the majority of the government, allocated very meagre funds to the TO, which we had to devote almost entirely to the purchase of weapons. Due to the non-support and sometimes open resistance of the majority of members of the Supreme Command and the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia to the strengthening of defence (4 members of the Presidency signed a declaration in February 1991 stating that Slovenia did not need an army), and due to the enormous procrastination and the resistance of the opposition to the adoption of a defence budget, we received the already meagre funds for defence only in the spring, which seriously jeopardized the purchase of at least modest quantities of anti-tank weapons and infantry weapons. We were able to start training the regular army too late, which was only in May 1991, and only for two smaller units.
There was nothing left for the uniforms, and the new state symbols could not be determined by the parliament until 25 June 1991, due to the opposition. Nevertheless, we should have somehow improvised and equipped at least the most important units with new uniforms before the war. Above all, there is no excuse for not providing enough cockades for military hats until independence. Therefore, criticisms of the lack of insignia and new uniforms appearing in the combat reports of many staffs are entirely in place.
Reports and analyses show that we had difficulties in mobilizing units. Until then, it had remained hidden from the public that the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia did not declare mobilization even on 27 June 1991, when it established the aggression and issued an order for the use of weapons. The units were collected together with calls for an “experimental” mobilization, which was the responsibility of the RŠTO, as if it were a military exercise. Somehow it succeeded that way, too. There were several reasons for such an approach, but we will probably never find out about them all. If everyone acted as they should have, on 25 June 1991, PRAMOS, the famous act of the SFRY on mobilization, would no longer have been valid in Slovenia.
The response of the called-up TO members was on average high, but not everywhere. The greatest problems and unresponsiveness were found in Ljubljana and partly in Maribor, where we had to issue 30 to 50 percent more calls for individual units in order to achieve at least 90 percent completeness of the units. The first period after the aggression in Ljubljana was especially critical, as the response did not reach a satisfactory percentage until 10 hours after the mobilization. After the end of the war, the competent authorities somehow forgot to take action against those who evaded the call, which justifiably caused a bad mood among all those who immediately responded to the call to defend the homeland. Overall, the response was much better in rural and smaller cities than in national and regional centres.
In addition to the mentioned administrative and general shortcomings and errors at the state level, the published documents also provide a relatively good understanding of events at the provincial and municipal level. Many events in the combat reports are not described in sufficient detail, but it is still possible to understand where the problems and mistakes occurred. Sometimes, simply from the fact that the event that took place was known and significant is not mentioned in the reports at all. For example, some border crossings were occupied by the YPA without resistance, although they could be defended at the accesses. Many barricades were neither mined nor defended, so they did not pose major obstacles to YPA tanks. Already on the first day of the war, it was clear in many places where the commanders were capable and where they were not up to the test. Replacements were needed in some key locations, including the largest province with the most TO units. There was no time to learn and adapt. The lost day could not be recovered. The YPA unit, which too easily crossed the undefended barricade in the gorge, then had to be stopped in the open, at much greater risk. The tanks, which, despite explicit orders to stop them at the beginning, drove away from the Vrhnika barracks without resistance and sowed death in Brnik, where, deployed in a combat position, we could not simply neutralize them without heavy weapons.
Despite all the shortcomings, inconsistencies in policy and mistakes, Slovenia strategically dominated the SFRY and the YPA. The most important reasons for winning the war for Slovenia were:
1. A clear political goal, supported by the unity of the nation and the plebiscite result.
2. We did not underestimate the opponent, but they did us.
3. Our units were homogeneous and motivated, and the enemy’s mostly not.
4. We made the most of the necessary and possible preparations for the defence in a timely manner.
5. We had good information about the opponent.
6. We neutralized the superiority of the enemy in arms and numbers by limiting their manoeuvres.
7. A humane approach by avoiding casualties on both sides, non-discriminatory treatment of the wounded, and successful propaganda activity motivated the opponent’s units to surrender.
8. Numerous individual successes of the TO and police units from the first day of the war onwards strengthened the strength of the TO and raised the morale of the military and civilian population..
9. Good civil defence organization replaced the lack of heavy weapons with obstruction.
10. Despite the war, the supply of the population functioned almost uninterrupted, all branches of government, except the judiciary, functioned efficiently, and the new state functioned satisfactorily.
The unity of the nation, the courage of its armed force, the strong political will of the Demos government coalition led by Dr. Jože Pučnik and the self-initiative of a multitude of individual commanders of tactical units of the TO and the police forged a victory in the war for Slovenia. A victory elevated in its finality to the Slovenian Olympus, a victory more important than all the battles that our ancestors often fought for at the expense of others through the whirlpools of the ungrateful history of past centuries.
Every day, the war for Slovenia discovered thousands of heroes in the Slovenian nation. Boys and men overcame fear out of love for their homeland. They took up arms to defend their home, their religion and constitution, Slovenia. They did a great job. After the victory, they returned to their homes. The state has forgotten them, but the homeland will never forget them. Because these were holy hours, a high note of the Slovenian nation. We rose up and survived.
Minister of Defence Janez Janša and Minister of the Interior Igor Bavčar during the war for Slovenia at the end of June or the beginning of July 1991 together with police special forces; the two ministers jointly headed the coordination group (body) of the Republic Secretariat for People’s Defence and the Republic Secretariat for Internal Affairs, which operationally led the defence of the Republic of Slovenia against the aggression of the Federal Yugoslav Army. With youthful energy, audacity, courage and strategic forethought, they outplayed the generals in Belgrade.
The fatal schism in the nation, caused in the fratricidal war, was at least temporarily overcome at the time of independence due to the unifying policy of Demos and the great patience and state-building spirit of the people, such as Dr. Jože Pučnik; that is why Slovenians won the war for Slovenia in 1991 (Pictured: a member of the Territorial Defense of the Republic of Slovenia next to a seized tank of the Yugoslav Federal Army on which the Slovenian national flag is already flying.)
A crucial time for Slovenians
I wrote the present text on 15 May 2013 as a preface to the third, supplemented edition of the best-selling book Premiki – Nastajanje in obramba slovenske države 1988–1991 (Movements – Formation and defence of the Slovenian state 1988–1991). It contains many facts that I did not know when I was writing the first two editions of Premiki, and they significantly complement my editorials from the White Book and the War for Slovenia, which you could read on the previous pages of this booklet.
The cell or solitary confinement where I was imprisoned in the Metelkova military prison in the summer of 1988 was numbered 21. From the moment I was put in it, I lost my name. The guards and other prison staff called me by the number. When they talked about me, they used the number 21. “Bring in twenty-one,” the jailhouse warden ordered the guard. “Do not take twenty-one to the yard today,” was the order, which meant that despite the regulations on the detainees‘ right to a half-hour walk, I would be without fresh air again for one day. “Get up, twenty-one,” the guard shouted at 5 a. m. in the morning. After a month without a name, a person begins to think like a number. But all this was happening in the twentieth century, and now we are in the twenty-first.
The last decade and a half of the end of the 20th century was crucial for the Slovenian nation. It was also crucial for our surroundings and not least for millions of individuals. This fact is much clearer today than it was when the book Premiki (Movements) was written – so to speak, during the events themselves. Even today, after all this time, the events of that time are as alive in my memory as if they happened yesterday. I don’t even have to close my eyes, and the scenes of the dramatic events, meetings and decisions come before my eyes.
I can see a picture of the fully concentraing faces of colleagues in the Slovene Defense Headquarters, where a few dozen people were constantly driving and coordinating military and defense activities in those hot summer weeks of 1991. I can see Jože Pučnik explaining to the Demos management just before the last test that we are committed to the plebiscite decision and that we will have to hold out at all costs. I can hear the words of the Croatian Minister of Defense in my ears, who announced in a contrite voice that their president had commanded a kind of neutrality, and the memory of the bitter realization that we were leftalone is rising in my mouth. I can see a picture of captured YPA soldiers lined up in front of the government and a mixture of disbelief and relief and an explosion of joy when I tell them they will get civilian clothes and that they can then return home. I can hear the angry voice of the commander of the Domžale TO unit at the military exercises on Medvednjak, who throws a newspaper in front of me with the Declaration of Peace, prompting a number of Slovenian left-wing politicians and four members of the Supreme Command to demand Slovenia be without an army a few months before the war. I can see immense disappointment in the eyes of the young men of the protection platoon when they learned that our negotiators at Brioni had agreed to return all the confiscated weapons and release all the captured YPA officers. I can hear the voices of the warriors of the Litija’s Battalion at Orle, who surrounded me and demanded Slovenian uniforms, or at least Slovenian cockades for hats. I can see Igor, who pulls out a sniper rifle after the helicopter explosion, and Tone, who, with a resolute voice and an automatic rifle in his hand, makes order among the members of the various units occupying the positions. I feel great relief again when they announce that at the last moment, just before the declaration of independence, the long-awaited ship with weapons has arrived. I feel anxiety and immense concern in a hall full of the parents of the young men – there are about 6,000 of them still serving in the YPA a few weeks before the war. I can still feel the warmth of the setting summer sun on my shoulders, which accompanied us to Trg republike, where the Slovenian flag without a red star finally fluttered.
Slovenia’s independence in the context of the shifts made on the European and world map
The time between 1988 and 1992 was not only crucial for Slovenia. The wind of change drove the fog away from all over Central and Eastern Europe. From a time distance of a quarter of a century, understandably, many of the causes and consequences of the events of that time can be much better understood than they were then. It is much easier to explain both the internal and foreign policy context of individual events. Above all, the shout of a Polish dissident is understandable to everyone today, who, soon after the formal fall of communism in Poland said that as far as communism was concerned, in many respects, the worst thing is what comes after it.
That spring and summer of 1989, I watched the most fateful introductory events for Europe, which heralded the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall, from the Dob and Ig prisons. The Solidarity’s victory in Poland’s otherwise limited free elections, a tumultuous congress of people’s deputies in Moscow, Gorbachev’s historic visits and meetings in Bonn, Vatican, Beijing, Berlin and Malta (meeting with the US president), the elimination of the Iron Curtain on the Hungarian-Austrian border and protests in the cities of East Germany had a great impact on the events in the former SFRY and, of course, on events in Slovenia, which was then, as one of the Yugoslav socialist republics, in a similar position as the republics of the former USSR. The events in Europe were partly overshadowed by the massacre in the Square of Heavenly Peace and the death of the Iranian leader Khomeini, while turbulent events all over the world inflated the drama of the time we were watching from behind bars.
Josip Broz Tito, the leader of the communist government of terror and the direct organizer of the massacre of tens of thousands without trial after the end of the war and revolution in Yugoslavia (pictured: shaking hands with Milan Kučan in the 1970s), is still relatively respected and esteemed throughout SE Europe.
For us political prisoners, the expectation that the wind of change would sweep across all the Eastern and Central Europe was even greater. In the spring of 1988, when we were arrested by the communist political police and then convicted in a closed trial without the right to a lawyer before the Military Court in Ljubljana, mass protests also broke out in Slovenia. A Committee for the Protection of Human Rights was also established, which grew to 100,000 members in two months.
In the spring of 1988, when we were arrested by the communist political police (pictured: the arrest of Janez Janša on 31 May 1988) and then convicted in a closed trial without the right to a lawyer before the Military Court in Ljubljana, there were mass protests in Slovenia and the establishment of the Committee for the Protection of Human Rights, which grew to 100,000 members in two months.
The communist government feared that riots would break out, therefore we were given relatively lenient sentences at trial, ranging from one to four years in prison. Despite public protests, Slovenian communist authorities decided to carry out the sentences, relying on the hope that changes in Eastern and Central Europe would not have a fatal effect on the regime change in Yugoslavia and in the Soviet Union. They also relied on the assessment that the West fears the savage disintegration of the Soviet Union and the consequent increased dangers due to poorer control of nuclear weapons, and that it fears the outbreak of ethnic conflicts in the event of the disintegration of the SFRY.
This hope was largely mistaken. Not only was there a formal change of government and the introduction of a market economy and free elections in the USSR and SFRY, there was also the disintegration of both socialist empires. The disintegration of the Great Red Empire was relatively controlled, while the Little Red Empire disintegrated in the fire and storm of ethnic cleansing and armed conflict in BiH and partly in Croatia and most recently in Kosovo.
Nevertheless, today, from a distance of almost a quarter of a century, we can conclude that the above-mentioned hope of the leaders of the communist regime in Belgrade and Ljubljana was not completely without foundation. Therefore, it is worth taking a closer look at these foundations. A closer look today reveals that there is a difference between Ljubljana and Moscow on the one hand and the capitals of other former communist countries in Europe, on the other.
First, the hopes of the Ljubljana and Belgrade communist apparatchiks were based on a belief in their extraordinariness. The communist doctrine of the time in Ljubljana and Belgrade was dominated by the thesis that the communist revolutions were authentic in the USSR and SFRY, and that elsewhere communism was brought by the Red Army soldiers on their bayonets. Despite Gorbachev and perestroika in the Soviet Union, the Yugoslav Communists firmly clung to this thesis. It was included in the plan of the General Staff of the YPA called Okop (ditch), on the basis of which in 1991 the YPA carried out an armed intervention in Slovenia and later in Croatia. This thesis was also very openly published by one of the founders of the Yugoslav communist repressive apparatus after the death of Yugoslav dictator Josip Broz Tito, his former right-hand man and a secretary of the KPJ (Communist Party of Yugoslavia) Politburo and a secretary of the internal affairs, Stane Dolanc. As a personal friend of the leading Slovenian communist politician Milan Kučan, in 1990, when Kučan left the position of president of the ZKS Central Committee to his successor and ran in the elections for the president of Slovenia, he wrote in his pre-election propaganda brochure:
“We are lucky – and Milan Kučan knew how to use it, at least I hope so, in time – that there was an autochthonous revolution in our country, which was not brought on by Soviet bayonets. That is why this is something completely different in our country than in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania or East Germany.” (Stane Dolanc, Federal Secretary for the Interior of the SFRY, in the book Milan Kučan / Igor Savič; Ljubljana: Emonica, 1990, Portraits of Emonica collection) At the beginning of his political career, Stane Dolanc was also the founder and director of the Political School for Journalists in Ljubljana (now FDV, Faculty of Social Sciences), which still operates and educates generations of journalists without a critical distance to totalitarian communism.
Leading Slovenian communists and generals of the YPA were convinced that socialism as a one-party rule in a somewhat modernized form and under the name “democratic socialism” would survive in Yugoslavia or at least in Slovenia and Serbia and in the Soviet Union. Their belief was based on the knowledge of a thorough purge of the population after the victory of the communist revolutions in both countries. The purges that physically removed any trace of political competition in Slovenia after 1945 by means of massacres, torture, imprisonment and expulsion from the country, were at least as thorough as during the worst Stalinist terror in the USSR.
The long-term consequences of the fratricidal war of the mid-20th century
The fatal rift in the nation caused in the fratricidal war, was at least temporarily overcome at the time of independence, due to the unifying policy of the Demos and the great patience and state-building spirit of the people, such as Dr. Jože Pučnik. However, the leading communists – those who caused this split with the help of foreign occupation – were lacking a sincere readiness for a lasting and successful healing of this historical wound. The initially promising reconciliation process turned into the opposite and reached its infamous end at the end of April 2013 in Stožice, where the entire Slovenian state leadership sang the communist International in the hall, a symbol of gross crony capitalism.
After the democratic changes in Slovenia in 1990, more than 600 mass graves were discovered in an area of more than 20,000 km², inhabited by 2 million people, many of which are larger than those in Srebrenica. The last large mass grave was discovered in 2008 in the abandoned Huda jama mine, 40 km from Ljubljana. In abandoned mine shafts lie thousands of half-decomposed corpses and unburied male and female skeletons, mostly without gunshot wounds. In 1945, the Communists simply swept their victims alive into abandoned mine shafts, and they walled up and concreted the entrances. Actual or potential opponents of the communist regime who were not killed immediately after the end of the war and the communist revolution, either fled abroad or ended up in communist concentration camps and prisons.
The number of political prisoners in Slovenia has grown to thousands. Throughout the years of the communist regime, staged trials were organized in which many people who were completely innocent were sentenced to death or to long prison terms. Because the purges and massacres were carried out by local communists, usually in their own environments, they were more thorough than those carried out by Soviet soldiers or the KGB in the countries of the later Warsaw Pact. At the same time, many people on the communist side had bloody hands. Fearing the disclosure of crimes and responsibilities, they involved entire families in the purges. Not only the fear, caused by these actions, but also the physical destruction of the political opposition enabled the long reign of dictator Tito and his successors. These successors, therefore, reckoned in 1989 that any basis for strong opposition had been destroyed over the decades.
They calculated that they could retain power even in the event of formally free elections. They calculated that thousands of their members would do everything with their bloody hands to prevent a change of government, and thus a purification of the past. They launched a major propaganda offensive, claiming that all tens of thousands, including the women and children who were killed, were collaborators with Nazism and Fascism. Even before the formal changes, they began to privatize national and local media. They have retained an almost complete influence in them to this day. Anyone who publicly raised the issue of communist purges and massacres was immediately branded a sympathizer of collaboration and Nazism in these media.
I watched the most fateful introductory events for Europe that spring and summer of 1989, which heralded the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Berlin Wall, from the Dob and Ig prisons. Solidarity’s victory in Poland’s otherwise limited free elections, the tumultuous congress of people’s deputies in Moscow, Gorbachev’s historic visits and meetings with Western representatives.
The described situation in a peculiar way explains the oft-repeated thesis from the 1990s that „the Berlin Wall collapsed on both sides”. The author of this thesis is the former president of the Central Committee of the League of Communists of Slovenia and the Republic of Slovenia Milan Kučan (pictured during a conversation with Sonja Lokar at the congress of the League of Communists of Yugoslavia in Belgrade in January 1990).
All of the above issues raise a question of whether, two and a half decades after the trial against the JBTZ four in Ljubljana, after the fall of the Berlin Wall in Europe, and after the integration of most former communist countries of Eastern and Central Europe into the EU and NATO, it is finally time for an in-depth assessment of this transition, for a comparative analysis of the process in individual countries and for questioning what lessons can be learned from the past and applied to future successes and defeats.
Might we have overlooked something during the big movements? Have we studied the causes that made Srebrenica possible enough? At home and also in the wider EU, did we ask ourselves, how it is possible that Miloševič, Mladic and other former leading Yugoslav communists ordered the physical destruction of thousands without hesitation and according to exactly the same patterns as their role models did in 1945? How is it possible that the ideology of crime and the culture of death have survived to such an extent that they have again caused the deaths of tens of thousands in the middle of the European continent?
The answers are clearer to all of us who live in Slovenia. Josip Broz Tito, the holder of the communist government of terror and the direct organizer of the massacres of tens of thousands of people without trial after the end of the war and revolution in Yugoslavia, is still relatively respected and esteemed across SE Europe. Although his crimes are well known, they are still being justified. It is not possible to condemn a crime and idolize criminals at the same time, and yet this is happening before our eyes. In Moscow, they are faced with a similar problem as it is not possible to condemn the crimes committed by Stalin and Lenin, while at the same time idolize them both as great leaders, and still remain credible. The denazification of Germany laid the foundations for the beginnings of the EU. The decommunization of the East is still waiting for us, and both centers of the so-called authentic communist revolution are especially problematic. Generations living in Russia today have no real knowledge of the times before the communist revolution, as in Lenin’s and Stalin’s purges of all non-communist intelligentsia was physically destroyed or expelled, and then a large part of the educated communists were also removed by purges. The same happened in Slovenia: due to thorough communist purges in Slovenia, only a small part of the former bourgeois intelligentsia survived. For a long time after the revolution, children from non-communist families, even if they survived the purges, were not allowed to take any leading position in the nationalized economy or in institutions, despite their knowledge and apparent abilities. In order to be employed in such an important service, they membership in the Communist Party or union of communists was required.
The consequences of such a situation in Slovenia are very obvious even today. I mention some of the most important ones below.
In the spring of 2009, when the Huda jama mass grave was opened and national TV cameras showed all the horrors of the consequences of the communist crime, the president of the communist veterans‘ organization Janez Stanovnik, who was a long-time diplomat in the service of the UN during the SFRY, said that the massacres after the end of the war were carried out following the orders of Marshal Tito. As a result of this statement, a demand was made to remove all monuments and names of the former Yugoslav dictator from Slovenian towns and squares, but they are still numerous. The parties of the current left-wing government coalition have strongly opposed this demand. The youth organization of the leading government party of the Social Democrats (successor of the former Communist Party) of the then Prime Minister Borut Pahor issued a press release claiming that the time of the communist revolution, in which mass crimes took place, was a time of progress for Yugoslavia.
When asked how he would comment on the discovery of the Huda jama mass grave with thousands of unburied corpses on national TV, the then President of the Republic Danilo Turk, elected with the support of the left post-communist parties, said that this was a secondary issue and that he would not comment.
The left-wing parties in the Slovenian capital of Ljubljana, under the leadership of Mayor Zoran Jankovič (a close friend of former Slovenian Communist President and later President of the Republic of Slovenia Milan Kučan), adopted a decision in the city council with their majority that one of the entrances to Ljubljana be named after the former dictator Tito. The street with his name had existed in Ljubljana until the free elections in 1990, after which it was renamed. And after 20 years, the Slovene neo-communists achieved the dictator’s name to be used again, and only a later decision adopted by the Constitutional Court erased this shameful stain from Slovenia.
At a time when post-communists in Ljubljana were deciding to name a street after the former dictator Tito, the European Parliament adopted a resolution on European conscience and totalitarianism, condemning all totalitarian regimes, bowing to their victims and proposing that Member States mark 23 August as a day of remembrance for the victims of all totalitarian regimes in Europe. In Slovenia, the resolution met with great resistance from the ruling post-communist forces. The government said that it will not mark 23 August with anything. A small ceremony on this day of remembrance was organized on 23 August 2009 by the Center for National Reconciliation, which was established a few years ago, but the event was not attended by anyone from the government or the ruling coalition.
A similar resolution to the EP was adopted this year by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. One of the initiators for the adoption of this resolution was also a member of the Italian minority in the Slovenian Parliament, Roberto Battelli. The adoption of the resolution, which was voted for by the vast majority of members of the CoE Parliamentary Assembly, was followed by some not-so-loud protests from Moscow, which did not agree with equal treatment of all totalitarianisms, in this case Nazism and Communism. The Slovenian member of the CoE Parliamentary Assembly Battelli was subjected to harsh pressure and media attacks at home, and even demands for his resignation. In addition, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia distanced itself from his actions with an official statement.
Stane Dolanc in the early 1990s (pictured in 1986 at the ZKS Congress): „We are lucky – and Milan Kučan knew how to use it, I hope, at least in time – that there was an autochthonous revolution in our country, which was not brought on Soviet bayonets. That is why this is something completely different in our country than in Poland, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Romania or East Germany.”
When the left-wing post-communist coalition took office at the end of 2008, Finance Minister Franci Križanič from the SD party hired former communist secret police (SDV) agent Drago Isajlovič as an adviser in his cabinet. Isajlovič personally arrested David Tasič and I in 1988 and was, therefore, known as the personification of communist repression, which persecuted dissenting people by all means. Isajlovič had no proper education or experience in the field of finance, and the minister who hired him at the time said that they had been friends for many years.
Slovenia is the only post-communist EU member state in which, after the fall of the Berlin Wall and democratic changes in the early 1990s, not even the mildest form of lustration was carried out, nor are the archives of the former political police publicly available. The post-communist parties persistently prevented all such attempts; in 1997, the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia even voted unanimously against the approval of Council of Europe Resolution no. 1096 on the disintegration of former totalitarian communist regimes. Therefore, in Slovenia today, former employees and collaborators of the communist secret police, who drastically violated human rights in the previous regime, are still in high positions in the judiciary, prosecutor’s office, diplomacy, economy, administration, media editorial offices and even secret services. The last president of the Communist Party from the time before the free elections even became a constitutional judge, and his successor was for a longtime the president of the program committee of the national TV, and today he is the president of the Olympic Committee of Slovenia.
I see Jože Pučnik explaining to the Demos leadership just before the last test that we are committed to the plebiscite decision and that we will have to persevere at all costs” (in the picture: the leadership of Demos is looking forward to success at the plebiscite on the independence of the Republic of Slovenia at the Church of St. James above Medvode, 26 December 1990).
It was only in the time of crisis that Europe became really interested in what was happening in Slovenia
The described situation in a peculiar way explains the oft-repeated thesis from the 1990s that “the Berlin Wall collapsed on both sides”. The author of this thesis, the former president of ZKS (The League of Communists of Slovenia) and RS Milan Kučan, used it to justify his defence of the totalitarian regime and his opposition to any changes that could permanently dismantle the legacy of communism in Slovenia, on which the power of post-communists is based. These are the three pillars, namely ideology, propaganda and financial power. Paradoxically, today the successors and defenders of the communist regime are generally the richest strata in Slovenia. After the expiration of his third term as President of the Republic of Slovenia, Milan Kučan founded Forum 21, which, with a few exceptions, brought together individuals who have become extremely rich in the last decade and are now the owners of some of Slovenia’s largest companies. When some pointed to the discrepancy between the left-wing political orientation of Forum 21 and the extremely rich membership and asked President Kučan where the remaining workers and proletarians were, he replied cynically: “Proletarians are where they have always been. At their workplaces.”
Through the activities of left-wing governments and red monopolies, Slovenia has skilfully smuggled this situation into NATO and the EU. External observers could observe something similar only in Romania. Today, when Slovenia is criticized daily by European institutions due to the possibility of bankruptcy and endangerement of the stability of the common European currency, more and more European actors are wondering what has happened to our country. What is fundamentally wrong with us that we got lost like that?
Europe can only last permanently as a Europe of values. Institutions are important, as is overall progress. However, without strengthening the value base, the European foundation will be in much greater danger than being without a new institutional treaty. This fact must never be overlooked, and especially before the accession of the Western Balkan countries to the EU, the EU must be able to demand that the new members consistently clear up the past – both with extreme nationalisms and with an ambivalent attitude towards crime, i.e., by approving the use of the communist methods of physically destroying the enemy. The countries of the Western Balkans that have been waiting to join the EU, should, in addition to reconciliation over the Dayton conflict, also deal with the past that led to the conflict and the ideology that justifies the goal.
Seeing only extreme nationalists in Miloševič and Mladič is not enough. Something is missing, which could fully explain the incredibly brutal crimes in BiH, the Republic of Croatia and Kosovo. It is a mixture of nationalism and communist ideology that was obvious, which is the end product of the Yugoslav communist and military academies that taught that the fundamental goal of the class struggle was the physical destruction of the enemy. This combination produced National Socialism at the end of the 20th century in otherwise different circumstances, but with the same criminal consequences as in the first half of the last century, at a time when we believed that something like this was no longer possible. It may have been due to this, that the ideological basis of the misery in the Balkans remained somehow in the background of research. Also, because the mighty remnants of communism in the area of Southeast Europe were very careful that the West would not begin to research the deeper causes of Srebrenica and the Balkan tragedy in general.
At the same time, what was happening in the Western Balkans seemed less important, a drama on the side stage that would not have a decisive impact on the season in the theater. Namely, the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Cold War also marked the beginning of globalization, the rise of new information and communication technologies and religious extremism. The latter is even a step further than the destructive ideologies of the 20th century. In both fascism and National Socialism and Communism, the goal justifies the means, and crime is the legitimate means to achieve it. In addition to religious extremism, there is also fanatical willingness to directly sacrifice one’s life to achieve a goal. This perhaps makes it seem more dangerous at first glance, when in fact it is not. Namely, it does not seem probable that it would be possible to cause as many victims and such civilizational destruction in this way as for example, communism caused in the USSR or SFRY or National Socialism in part of Europe. The communist ideology used during and after the communist revolution in Yugoslavia or in Srebrenica a decade ago mobilized the perpetrators on the basis of their belief that the harm done to others would benefit them and their race directly and immediately, not only later, in another world.
History has shown that it is much easier to gain crowds for direct benefits than for direct personal sacrifice. This, however, is the deeper essence of the danger of the revival of totalitarian ideologies, among which communism in the Balkans always has at its disposal a simple interbreeding with extreme nationalism. This resulted in ethnic cleansing and Srebrenica. This results in the content of the speech of the Secretary General of the ZZB (Federation of Fighters‘ Associations) of Slovenia in Tisje, where he again threatened mass killings.
The book „Movements“ has to some extent, prevented the falsification of recent history
The book titled Premiki (Movements), published in the spring of 1992, along with similar works by other actors of Slovenian independence, at least to some extent prevented the falsification of recent history and the final realization of Kučan’s thesis on “several truths”. This, at first glance, is a rather categorical statement can be substantiated relatively easily.
Since the plebiscite in December 1990, independence has been constantly presented by the party of post-communist forces as a general reason for all possible problems (pictured: setting up the board of the new independent European state of the Republic of Slovenia at the end of June 1991).
The first edition of „Premiki“ was published in June 1992 in a record edition of 30,000 copies, 17,000 of which were already sold on pre-order. The reprints then additionally sold almost 40,000 copies in Slovenian, English, German and Croatian. After a few years, the book was completely sold out. The book caused a real media and political storm. Some attacked it even before it was published, as the manuscript was stolen from the printing house and sent to critics on duty.
On one hand, the book met with an unexpectedly high level of reader interest and mass approval. I have received hundreds of letters of praise and thanks. In the public media, however, the response was mixed. Those media that were still or again completely controlled by the transitional left, published the responses of politicians who opposed the independence, so it was logical that they also opposed its description. They even sought out defeated generals and YPA officers and asked them for their opinion on the book. Ljubljana’s Dnevnik, the newspaper that attacked the Slovenian government during the YPA aggression, was in the lead in this group. Other, more truth-loving newspapers or media (there were, let’s face it, more of them than today) published different responses.
The book „Premiki“ („Movements“), published in the spring of 1992 (the third, supplemented edition in the picture), together with similar works by other actors of Slovenian independence, at least to some extent prevented the falsification of recent history and the final realization of Kucan’s thesis on „several truths”.
The documents in the book spoke for themselves and were not so easy to reject. Here, they used the trick of alleged obscenity, stating that such documents should not be published, that it was not nice, and so on. They also invented the so-called eavesdropping affair, alleging that the then Security Information Service (VIS) wiretapped members of the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia and thus recorded a treacherous conversation in which Ciril Zlobec revealed a state secret about the exact date and concrete measures of independence. Of course, this was not true, as all of Slovenia knew that the VIS was eavesdropping on the YPA and foreign services, and if Zlobec had not called them himself, they would not have been able to catch him.
As in the old party times, the Movements was discussed at the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia, at the bodies of the successor to the KPS, the Socialist Party and the LS, the predecessor of the LDS. They issued communiques and press releases and condemned the book. The common feature of these messages, however, was that not a single sentence from the book was written in any of them. There were only flat-out accusations and the Calimero attitude expressed by those who were openly against the measures to secure Slovenian independence with real force and thus against independence itself, or those who did not know exactly what to support.
The ignorance of some of the actors mentioned in the first edition of Movements led to the publication of some additional documents with direct evidence of their conduct and a preface with explanations in the second edition, which quickly followed the first as 30,000 copies of the first edition were soon sold out.
The tumultuous political reactions to the book Movements revealed another, hitherto strictly concealed and hidden truth. Slovenian independence and especially its finale, the war for Slovenia, united Slovenians but at the same time made a big rift in the seemingly very homogeneous body of the Slovenian post-communist left. In making the decisions and measures necessary for independence, the leadership of their parties in particular hesitated and calculated, not only hiding that from their public, but also from their membership. A large part of their membership supported independence, and many took on more important roles in defence structures due to Demos‘ inclusive policy. The membership did not know the content of the secret talks with Markovic about the overthrow of the Demos government, which his spokesman wrote in his memoirs, and they did not know about the machinations against Slovenia’s international recognition, about which the then international secretary of the Italian Socialists, Piero Fassino, wrote without reservations. The betrayal of Ciril Zlobec, indirectly mentioned in Premiki, also shocked many of their supporters.
Leaders in the LDS and later the United List and the presidency of the Republic directed anger and media sulfur towards Movements and their author, primarily with an aim to convince their members and supporters that leading left-wing politicians did not hinder independence. The book Movements was published on the first anniversary of the proclamation of Slovenian statehood, immediately after Slovenia’s accession to the UN, at a time when it was clear to even the greatest Yugoslav nostalgics that Yugoslavia was gone and that Slovenia was a reality in spite of everything. And, as always in such cases, after the battle, everyone was a general and all began to claim that they had believed in this goal from the very beginning.
My colleagues and I carefully collected responses to the book, but not all of them could be read. It was only after two decades that I fully reviewed the contents of five thick registrars with originals or copies of articles and records on Movements. Despite a careful review of hundreds of records, I did not find any serious controversies with counter-arguments anywhere, not a single thesis or document from the book was refuted in them.
But the more Movements was attacked, the more the book was read. Due to its documentary value, it soon became a source for domestic and foreign historians and publicists who wrote about the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the independence of Slovenia. When the book was reprinted in foreign languages, I also presented it in a number of European capitals, and reviews were published in many European newspapers. A book by two Serbian historians entitled: The War in Slovenia (documents of the Presidency of the SFRY) was recently published in Belgrade, and even in it Movements is mentioned as one of the key sources.
Independence and the war for Slovenia put us on the world map
Movements addresses the preparation and implementation of Slovenia’s defence quite extensively, although the topic of the book is much broader. The book also publishes the entire basic plan for securing Slovenian independence, which is my work and which was approved by the competent authorities in May 1991 as official guidelines for the preparation and implementation of defence, and the Slovenian TO and the police operationalized it with a series of implementation documents. After the war, I lectured on this plan and the preparation of Slovenia’s defence at military academies, international institutes and universities in Vienna, Washington, London, Paris, Rome, Berlin, Prague, Zagreb and possibly elsewhere, but after my removal from the Ministry of Defence in March 1994, interestingly, never at Slovenian military schools or courses. There were no invitations from there. The red monopoly was too strong.
Slovenia’s remarkable feat, its completely non-classical defence and improvised armed forces – first in the form of the MSNZ (Maneuvering structure of national protection), then in the form of the TO and the police – attracted the attention of many military and defense experts and institutes who studied it. “How did you do it?” was the most common question. “How was it possible that more than 20,000 members of the TO and police armed with light weapons stopped an army that numbered a ten times larger team and had over 500 tanks and other armored vehicles in Slovenia alone, or in its immediate vicinity, several hundred fighter planes and helicopters, and all the remaining equipment of the classic, heavily armed army?” Most of the answers to these and related questions can be found in the book Movements.
When the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee decided in 2003 on the consent of the largest and leading member of the North Atlantic Alliance to Slovenia’s entry into this security alliance, the chairman of the NATO Committee pointed out that the biggest advantage of a potential new member was that it was a country that had democratized, become independent and defended itself against a much larger force, and that this experience was a valuable contribution to common security. As he also mentioned my name, the Slovenian media practically did not report on this.
Seeing only extreme nationalists in Miloševič and Mladic (in the picture together with Radovan Karadžic) is not enough. Something is missing, which could fully explain the incredibly brutal crimes in BiH, the Republic of Croatia and Kosovo. It is a blend of nationalism and communist ideology that was obvious.
Persistent belittling of the importance of independence
Such an approach has always been a rule rather than an exception. Even before the independence era, the Red Propaganda Monopoly tried to obscure the essence of the events and the double play of some actors.
Many events and statements have been silenced or distorted. Others were particularly highlighted. The distortion of the truth was part of the post-independence daily routine. The basic guideline was: Everything that shaped the majority value system of the people in Slovenia at the time of independence and democratization, at the time of the Slovenian Spring, should be relativized and finally named with its opposite.
Ever since the plebiscite in December 1990, independence has been constantly presented as the general reason for all possible problems. Each year the slogans were more direct and eloquent, until in 2012 we experienced banners at the so-called popular uprisings with the words: “They have been stealing from us for 20 years” or “In 20 years, companies and the state have been stolen from us” or “20 years of a corrupt political elite was enough”.
It was as if we had lived in heaven before independence and as if there was no totalitarian regime in Slovenia in which the state was one hundred percent stolen from the people, certainly much more than today, regardless of all the current problems.
After the democratic changes in Slovenia in 1990, over 600 mass graves were discovered in an area of more than 20,000 km² inhabited by 2 million people, many of which are larger than the one in Srebrenica (pictured: skeletons of those killed in Huda jama).
Ever since Kučan’s famous letter from the spring of 1991, they have been trying to portray the resistance against the disarmament of the TO and the defence of the Slovenian state as an arms trade, and the establishment of state attributes of Slovenia as the affair of the Erased. The manipulation was so intense for two decades that the young generations growing up during this time were able to learn about the problem of the so-called Erased from all possible public media at least ten times more than about all measures that enabled the creation of the Slovenian state. Ten years after its creation, the first red star flags appeared at the state celebration on National Day. At first shyly, with an awareness that they represent a symbol of the aggressor army, which was defeated in the war for Slovenia. Then, more and more aggressively, as if the YPA had won the war. The main points of the speakers included the obligatory sentence, saying that without the so-called National Liberation War there would be no independent Slovenia. As if Slovenia had been created in 1945 and not in 1991. Independence was erased or reduced when the former did not work out. The programs of state celebrations on the occasion of the two biggest Slovenian holidays, Statehood Day and Independence and Unity Day, were completely empty at best during the governments of the transitional left and unrelated to the purpose of the holiday, and at worst, they were even full of open mockery of Slovenia and the values that united us in a successful, joint independence venture.
On the other hand, almost no week in the year went by without pompous and expensive celebrations organized by ZZB, full of hate speech and threats to dissidents, totalitarian symbols, crimes in the form of forgery of official state symbols and illegal carrying and display of military weapons. The participants in these mass events are mostly paid members of the ZZB, as around 20,000 of them still receive privileged allowances for veterans every month, even though many were born only after 1945. Privileges are passed on to descendants as in some feudal principality. Such bacchanalia in the style of rallies from Miloševic’s most intense campaign a quarter of a century ago were crowned by the ZZB rally on 24 December 2012 in Tisje, where the general secretary of the veteran organization Mitja Klavora, born a decade after the war, threatened massacres again.
For several years after independence, it was necessary to return the decorations and explain that the President of the country is not allowed by law to award the sign of freedom to people who have nothing to do with independence or have even actively opposed it. After ten years, they began to deliberately work on creating confusion with symbols. On the fifteenth anniversary of independence, a controversy began over the formation of the Slovenian Army and its age, and on the twentieth anniversary, the then President of the Republic even thundered over the so- called independence fighters, saying that this “struggle for merits” and the transitional clutter must be dealt with once and for all. Well, the voters dealt with him in the fall of 2012, thank God. The culmination of the disgracing of independence, and especially of the Slovenian Army, was set just before the twenty-second anniversary, with the appointment of the last Minister of Defence. Uncles from the background appointed a man to this position, who in 1991, not only indirectly, but actively, through political action and voting, opposed all measures to defend Slovenia against the aggression of the YPA.
“I am not a member of the LDS, but I have the same thoughts and views as Roman Jakič,” said YPA Colonel Milan Aksentijevic in the assembly, after they had jointly obstructed the defence preparations at the most critical time.
Resistance to falsification was strong throughout, and Movements and other books of the direct participants were its strong support, but the actors of falsification became more aggressive with each passing year as the memory of the generation that had directly experienced independence, was fading. Anyone who pointed out the manipulations was discredited and ridiculed by the media. The network of the former SDV (State Security Service), with more than 10,000 employees, intertwined with the judiciary and police apparatus, parastatal institutions such as the anti-corruption commission or information commissioner, and with private detective agencies, has remained aggressively active. The media monopoly of the transitional left, which diminished the importance of independence every year and glorified the revolutionary gains of the so- called National Liberation War, has only strengthened since 1992 after a brief lull in independence.
Were it not for the preservation of documents and records from a good two decades ago, some competent historians, and the efforts of the direct participants who wrote their memoirs, the resistance to counterfeiting would be virtually impossible today. More or less the same actors, who wanted to prevent the revelation of the drastic falsification of history from 1941 onwards and thundered in the public on a daily basis not to let it be falsified (read: they will not allow the truth), on the other hand, their methods of falsification transferred from the totalitarian regime to the post-independence period. In defending the forgery of 1941–1990, they used the same method for the period after 1990: daily brainwashing through the mass media and the basis for this washing were in comments, symposia, school textbooks and programs, and documentaries or quasi-documentary broadcasts. The culmination of such work is certainly the portrait of Milan Kučan by the propagandist Mojca Pašek Šetinc, and not far from it is the documentary about JBTZ, in which Ljerka Bizilj washes the directors of our arrests in 1988. All this is, of course, paid for with taxpayers‘ money.
It will be interesting to observe the reactions of these and other authors in the coming years, when historical and journalistic activity will nevertheless reveal many facts that they tried to hide or at least obscure with the destruction of archives in 1989 and 1990 and the listed propaganda methods. The latest book by Igor Omerza about JBTZ, for example, proves unequivocally that Milan Kučan and Janez Stanovnik lied under oath when they claimed before the commission of inquiry that they did not know about Tasič’s and my arrest in May and June 1988.
„Movements“ was the first book of its kind on Slovenian independence; and additions
Movements was the first book of its kind on Slovenian independence. Others soon followed, describing various broader or narrower aspects of this historical process. The foreign policy aspect and the fight for international recognition were described by Dr. Dimitrij Rupel, the work of intelligence officers by Andrej Lovšin, and relations in the SFRY by Dr. Janez Drnovšek. After over a decade, memoirs of the actors of the opposite side, as well as interesting readings and many documents for comparison, began to appear.
When asked how he would comment on the discovery of the Huda jama mass grave with thousands of unburied corpses on national TV the then President of the Republic Danilo Türk, elected with the support of the left post-communist parties, said that this was a secondary issue and that he would not comment.
Former Serbian member of the presidency of the SFRY Borisav Jovič, for example, describes in his memoirs how he was convincing Kadijevič of the necessity of my arrest or “removal” in the spring of 1991, and his descriptions of Kučan’s playing on several cards are also interesting.
Even more interesting is the 1988 book by the President of the SFRY Presidency, Raif Dizdarevič, “From Tito’s Death to Yugoslavia’s Death”, in which he reveals, among other things, the double play of Milan Kučan, Janez Stanovnik and other Slovenian communist politicians at the time regarding the JBTZ process.
The books of the defeated YPA generals Veljko Kadijevič, Branko Mamula and Konrad Kolšek more or less deal with justifying the defeat and beautifying their role in it. Their emergence was prompted mainly by the operation of the Hague war crimes tribunal on the territory of former Yugoslavia, which also collected a number of valuable testimonies from its material available on the court’s website.
Speculations about the illegal arms trade between Slovenia and Croatia came to an end with the book “Memories of a Soldier” by Martin Špegelj, Croatian Minister of Defense during the war for Slovenia, in which the author provided a detailed description of the military aid that Slovenia ceded to Croatia free of charge during and after the war.
After the end of his third term as President of the Republic of Slovenia, Milan Kučan founded Forum 21 in 2004, which, with a few exceptions, brought together people who have become extremely rich in the last decade and now own some of Slovenia’s largest companies.
Many new documents detailing the connection between the Slovenian Udba and the leading communists to prevent democratization at the beginning of the Slovenian Spring are gathered in collections of documents and testimonies entitled “7 years later” and “8 years later” (both published by Karantanija Publishing House) and the publication “The President’s Symbolic Decoration of Crime” published by Nova obzorja Publishing House. With the publication “The high treason of Slovenia – Disarmament of the TO RS in May 1990” and the documents published in it, the same publishing house finally shed light on this shameful act, which would have almost prevented Slovenian independence, and which Dr. Jože Pučnik and Ivan Oman quite rightly described as a betrayal of Slovenia.
Various veterans‘ organizations collected documents and testimonies about defense preparations and the war for Slovenia in individual provinces and municipalities. The most extensive such feat was succeeded by the people from North Primorska with the anthology “Glory belongs to them all”, published by the Goriška Museum.
The activities of the Slovenian police, then still the people’s militia, during the MSNZ are described in the anthology “Hidden Blue Network”, and the entire period and operation of the MSNZ in the work of Albin Mikulič “Rebels with a reason”.
Realized and unfulfilled expectations
In Movements, I also tried to predict the future rather immodestly. Some predictions have come true, others have not. I did not expect Slovenia to achieve EU and NATO membership so quickly. Not to mention the adoption of the European currency in 15 years. Honestly, my expectations at the time were higher when I was thinking about the internal transformation of Slovenia into an open, free and responsible society. I believed that we would reach this goal easier and faster. Unfortunately, this did not materialize. The disintegration of the old totalitarian system was slow, and some of the monopolies which had been hurt at independence were soon re-established. I have described the deeper causes of this situation in more detail at the beginning of this Preface, and several times on various other occasions. In this Preface, the assessments and warnings I have given or written about several times are repeated or summarized in some places. Some of them will definitely have to be repeated in the future, because unfortunately they will remain relevant for at least some time.
In 1993, Slovenia became a member of the Council of Europe, and in 1996 the parliamentary assembly of this organization adopted the well-known Resolution on the Decommissioning of the Heritage of Totalitarian Communist Regimes no. 1096 and issued dramatic warnings for us:
“There are many dangers in the event of a failed transition process. At best, oligarchy will rule instead of democracy, corruption instead of the rule of law, and organized crime instead of human rights. In the worst-case scenario, the result could be a velvety restoration of the totalitarian regime, if not the overthrow of the nascent democracy.”
Today, practically all of us agree that the transition process from a totalitarian communist regime to a democratic, open and responsible society in Slovenia has not been successful. We are still in the middle of a kind of red sea, in an economic and social crisis. Under the guise of national interest, the state-owned monopoly was maintained, which first exhausted Slovenian taxpayers and devoured salaries and pensions in the country through state aid and the budget, and after joining the EU, with the help of political loans and with the assistance of the Bank of Slovenia.
With these outflows of taxpayer money, they financed bad business decisions, maintained their red monopoly in the media and the judiciary, and through all three maintained majority political power in the country regardless of the current government. This has always been kept in check through at least one coalition partner.
Substitutes for former party commissions have been established. In this way, we obtained an information commissioner, a corruption office and then a commission. In addition to the supervised staffing, the Ombudsman, the Office for the Protection of Competition, the Securities Market Agency, the Court of Audit and the Bank of Slovenia often served the same purpose. Many state or parastate institutions did the exact opposite of what was supposed to be their primary purpose.
The red monopoly in the media has become so obvious that poverty, unpaid workers and even hungry children are miraculously disappearing from the headlines from the day of the appointment of the left-wing government. A few days later, the Ljubljana newspaper cynically wrote that Slovenia has the highest number of obese children in Europe. The main TV channels devoted twenty times more programming time to the suspicion of the controversial certificate of the former SDS deputy than to the suspicion of plagiarism by the candidate for Prime Minister.
The abundant privileges of the former one-party top only took on new manifestations at the time of the failed transition. Donated and privatized houses and flats, exceptional pensions, retirements at the age of 40 for the former Udba and veterans‘ allowances have in some cases even begun to be passed on to descendants. Thus, the preservation of the gains of the National Liberation War and the revolution took on a very concrete form of interest: the preservation of privileges. Privileges that, in these times of crisis, demand more people’s blisters than ever before and cause new, skyrocketing injustices to the majority population.
Preserved and restored monopolies, the distortion of the truth about Slovenian independence, the social and economic crisis – all together are strongly connected at first glance, but in practice, this connection is inseparable. It is not surprising, therefore, that the former president has recently spoken so openly about the need to pursue a “policy of independence merit” once and for all. The actors who played a double game at the time of independence, enabled the disarmament of the TO and fought against Slovenia’s international recognition – in the post-independence period, they extended totalitarian patterns of behavior into modern times and partially smuggled them even into the European Union – are well aware that the biggest obstacle to their dominance is the value system, the value center of Slovenians formed during independence. As long as this exists, the spirits of the past will not win.
The initially promising reconciliation process turned into its opposite and reached an infamous end at the end of April 2013 in Stožice, where the entire Slovenian state leadership in the hall, a symbol of gross crony capitalism, stood singing the Communist International. Not to mention the celebration of communist revolutionaries and assassins like Che Guevara.
The transitional left, which, due to the privileges and burdens of ideological and often physical fathers with fraternal blood and stolen property, fails to step out of these pernicious frameworks, can only maintain its ideological base with a large-scale propaganda machine that requires great effort and huge financial resources. It still controls most of the Slovenian media today.
The doctrine for the future remains unchanged
The Slovenian Constitution contains a text of the oath, which is after elections taken by all the highest state officials. With the oath, they undertake to “respect the Constitution, act according to their conscience and strive with all their might for the well-being of Slovenia”. The test by which we can test whether an act, conduct, or program of an individual, group, political party, or political option is truly in accordance with the constitutional oath is simple.
When an individual, group, party or a political option brings to the forefront and emphasizes the values, events and achievements of Slovenian independence, which put us on the world map and around which Slovenians have united and unified like never before in their history, then it acts in accordance with the text and in the spirit of the constitutional oath.
However, when an individual, group, party or a political option brings to the fore the events and times that have divided and destroyed us as a nation, then it acts contrary to the text and spirit of the constitutional oath. And there has not been a more destructive time for the Slovenian nation than the fratricidal communist revolution.
This obvious fact is an indelible historical truth. The transitional left, which, due to the privileges and burdens of ideological and often physical fathers with fraternal blood and stolen property, fails to step out of these pernicious frameworks, can only maintain its ideological base with a large-scale propaganda machine that requires great effort and huge financial resources. Since this kind of ideology is not able to create the conditions for creating new value, they urgently need power, control over budgets, state-owned banks, state-owned monopolies, foreign loans and, through all these instruments, ultimately taxpayer funds.
Governance with the state contrary to the value center of the Slovenian nation and state, or the maintenance of Kučan’s, otherwise logically contradictory claim that there are several truths – which in practice means that, of course, the one that is announced through larger and more powerful speakers should prevail -, has so far cost the young Slovenian state hundreds of lost development opportunities, tens of thousands of jobs and wasted opportunities for individuals to succeed in life. It has burdened the present and a number of future generations with external debt, which at this time already nominally exceeds the entire debt of the former SFRY.
Loudspeakers, however, continue to play a disastrous tune, even though money is finally running out and even though it is high time that governance with the state again relies on the values that created it.
Whenever such an extreme time occurs in history, changes happen. Movements.
Janez Janša, Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia
Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša:
Slovenia, my homeland
In the history of every nation there is a precisely defined moment that enables a nation to become sovereign, its own master on its own land. Such a moment reflects the positive attitude of most citizens or members of the nation. Such a moment represents the centre of the nation’s values. For us, Slovenians and citizens of the Republic of Slovenia, this is the moment of independence.
This year will mark thirty years since the meeting of the Demos coalition on 9 and 10 November 1990 in Poljče, where a historic decision was made to call for a referendum for Slovenia’s independence. Demos’ decision in Poljče was correct, decisive and deciding. But this decision was not an obvious one. It took courage. It was adopted at a time when other political leaders would have hesitated and deliberated and again have wasted the historic opportunity of the Slovenian nation. Who knows when, if ever, would such an opportunity arise again. Therefore, I sincerely thank everyone who put all their doubts and fears aside that November day and decided what was right and what was most needed at the time. This decision was later upgraded with a unified political agreement to hold a plebiscite on Slovenia’s independence.
The day of the plebiscite, 23 December 1990, will forever be written in Slovenia’s history as a special day. At a 93.2% voter turnout, 95% of us voted for an independent Slovenia. The nation understood the uniqueness of that historic moment and thus proved its maturity, wisdom and readiness to become a free sovereign state. It was the only time in history when the Slovenian nation really did create its own fate.
Six months later, on 25 June 1991, after heated debates and votes on independence laws, the most important of which were adopted with only a few votes of Demos’ small majority, the Slovenian National Assembly passed the Constitutional Act Implementing the Basic Constitutional Charter on the Sovereignty and Independence of the Republic of Slovenia with the required two-thirds majority, with which Slovenia assumed the former federal jurisdiction over its territory. Slovenia became an independent and sovereign state. There was no way back, and the Yugoslav People’s Army tried to aggressively prevent the way to a new life.
We had to immediately defend the freedom of our nation by taking up arms. During those weeks, days and hours in June and July 1991, everything was at stake. An independent and European future for Slovenians, a democratic system, our religion and law, prosperity and our lives. These were the days when—disarmed in May 1990—the nation once again stood up for its rights, declared an independent Slovenia and vigorously resisted the Yugoslav People’s Army’s aggression.
In those days, a small percentage of Slovenians, who, with the mass support of the nation, took up every available weapon and, together with the civil defence, opposed the fifth strongest army in Europe, achieved the impossible with their courage and wrote the final act of the transition of the Slovenian nation to a state. The courage of Slovenians was admired by the whole world at that time. Representatives of the most powerful countries in the world, who claimed a few days before the war that they would never recognise us, changed their mind because of our courage. Despite opposition to our actual independence by a part of left-wing politics, the nation was united. United like never before and very brave.
The unity of the nation, the courage of those who were armed, the strong political will of the Demos government coalition led by Dr. Jože Pučnik and the initiative of many individual commanders of tactical units of the Territorial Defence and the police forged a victory in the war for Slovenia. A victory elevated in its finality to the Slovenian Olympus, a victory more important than all the battles that our ancestors—often unfortunately also for others— fought through the vortices of the ungrateful history of past centuries.
Every day, the war for Slovenia revealed thousands of heroes in the Slovenian nation. Boys and men who overcame fear out of love for their homeland. They took up arms to defend their home, their religion and their law. Slovenia. They did a great job.
To paraphrase the famous quote by Winston Churchill following the Battle of Britain, we can say that never in the history of the Slovenian nation so much was owed by so many to so few compatriots.
Following their victory, they returned to their homes. The state may have often forgotten about them, but their homeland never will. It was a pivotal moment, a great ode to the Slovenian nation. We rose up and, thanks to their courage, we prevailed.
But, unfortunately, there were also those who fell victim to this war. We are grateful to all those who gave the most valuable gift—their lives—in order to realise the nation’s dream. And we nurture their memory with our full appreciation.
Looking back at our journey, at everything that we as a nation have achieved in these twenty-nine years, which is really only a short amount of time for a country, we can be proud. We have achieved a great deal, but we have also missed many an opportunity. Also, because we allowed old grievances, hatred, cynical distance and divisions to regain their power. Because the good that is in each of us stayed silent when the bad once again began its march and halted creative enthusiasm.
However, the trials that life tests us with, teach us time and time again that we are, in fact, strong when we are connected and unified. That only in unity we can advance as a nation and a society, overcoming even the hardest adversities. Our last experience in the fight against the coronavirus only confirmed this. In spite of divided politics, as was the case during our path to independence, we, as a nation that understood that our health is irreplaceable, indivisible and equally invaluable to all, were able to win the first battle against the virus. I believe that together, by acting responsibly, we can overcome any further outbreaks of infection. Furthermore, I would like to express my sincere condolences and empathy to the friends and family of all those who passed away from the coronavirus.
On the occasion of the birthday of our homeland, I look back at the path we have walked and hope that we more frequently realise what a great honour and privilege it is that with our decision we were able to achieve the dream of an independent state and justify the sacrifices, efforts, work and prayers of many generations of Slovenians.
I hope that we see our independent country as a great gift and opportunity for all to make it their own, care for it and do our very best, each in our own way. Just as we care for the people that we carry in our hearts.
I hope that, since our joint decision at the plebiscite became a reality in the form of a sovereign and independent state, we will never again say that nothing can be done. That nothing can be changed. The power of a unified nation is an unstoppable force. If it is joined together for a noble cause, the whole of Creation will help us achieve it.
I hope that, as a result of the extraordinary events that took place at the end of 1990 and in the first half of 1991 and which were unparalleled in our history up to this point, we would never give up. That we would know how to preserve our connection to that time which, with its intensity that overcame all hurdles, led to the birth of our sovereign and independent country in that momentous time. This is the centre of the Slovenian nation’s values in which the creative, spiritual and material forces of the nation came together from its very beginning.
I hope that we will always channel our strength and creativity from this centre of values. That we will find shelter in it after storms and rest after going through trials. That we remain as one with it and with each other.
I hope that the Slovenian flag will proudly fly from every home in our beloved homeland in honour of this, our greatest anniversary. That in the days of summer to come we discover our country’s hidden beauty and realise just how magical it is. With the sound of bells, gifted from God. Created for us. Happy Birthday, Slovenia!
My sincere congratulations on Statehood Day.
On Palm Sunday, 8 April 1990, the first democratic elections after the Second World War took place in Slovenia. The second round of elections was held on 22 April 1990 (in the picture: Demos president Jože Pučnik at the polls).
The first democratically elected Slovenian government after the Second World War was confirmed in the Slovenian Assembly on 16 May 1990. The main goal of the Demos government was the independence of the Republic of Slovenia.
The decision for the plebiscite on the independence of the Republic of Slovenia was made under the leadership of dr. Jože Pučnik at the conference of the Demos Club of Deputies in Poljče on 9 November 1990. The date of the plebiscite was set for 23 December 1990.
On the day of the plebiscite on 23 December 1990, 1,289,369 or 88.5 percent of eligible voters circled the word YES on the ballot, which meant that they were for the independent Republic of Slovenia (pictured: President of the Demos independence government Lojze Peterle).
On 25 June 1991, at a solemn session, the Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia adopted independence documents, on the basis of which the Slovenian republican bodies began to take over the functions of the disintegrating Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
The solemn proclamation of the independence of the Republic of Slovenia took place on 25 June 1991 on the Trg republike. Slovenia has become an independent and sovereign state. There was no going back, and the path to a new life was immediately prevented by the YPA aggression.
The aggression against Slovenia was carried out by YPA units and commands on 26 and 27 June 1991 (in the picture: the penetration of YPA units towards the border crossing with Italy on June 27, 1991), but they quickly faced strong resistance from the Slovenian armed forces defending their attacked homeland – the Republic of Slovenia.
Every day, the war for Slovenia discovered thousands of heroes in the Slovenian nation, boys and men who overcame their fear of love for their homeland. They took up arms to defend their home, their faith, and their laws, Slovenia. They did an excellent job (pictured: a member of the Territorial Defence of the Republic of Slovenia on a seized YPA tank).
I wish that on the occasion of our biggest holiday, Slovenian flags flutter proudly in honor of our beloved homeland and that in the summer days ahead, we discover its hitherto hidden beauties and realize how magical it is. Born in the sound of bells, given by God. Created for us. All the best, Slovenia!
|CK ZKS||Centralni komite Zveze komunistov Slovenije||ZKS Central Committee|
|DEMOS||Demokratična opozicija Slovenije||Democratic Opposition of Slovenia|
|DZ-RS||Državni zbor||National Assembly|
|JBTZ||afera JBTZ (proces proti četverici: Janša, Borštner, Tasić, Zavrl)||en.wikipedia.org/wiki/JBTZ_trial|
|JLA = JNA||Jugoslovanska ljudska armada (slov.) = Jugoslovenska narodna armija (serb.-croat.)||Yugoslav People’s Army (YPA)|
|KPJ||Komunistična partija Jugoslavije Jugoslavije||Communist Party of Yugoslavia|
|LDS||Liberalna demokracija Slovenije||Liberal Democracy of Slovenia|
|LS||Liberalna stranka||Liberal Party [predecessor of LDS]|
|MSNZ||Manevrska struktura nacionalne zaščite||Maneuvering structure of national protection|
|NOB||Narodno oslobodilačka borba||National Liberation War|
|OVS||Obveščevalna in varnostna služba Ministrstva za obrambo||Intelligence and Security Service of the Ministry of Defence|
|RŠTO||Republiški štab za teritorialno obrambo||Republican Territorial Defence Headquarters|
|SD||Socialni demokrati||Social Democrats|
|SDV = SDB||Služba državne varnosti (slov.) = Služba državne bezbednosti (serb.-croat.)||State Security Service, communist secret police|
|SFRJ||Socialistična federativna republika Jugoslavija||Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY)|
|TO||Teritorialna obramba||Territorial defense|
|RS||Republika Slovenija||Republic of Slovenia|
|UDBA||Uprava državne varnosti (slov.) = Uprava državne bezbednosti (serb-croat.)||State Security Service, the secret police of Yugoslavia|
|VIS||Varnostno-informativna služba||Security Information Service|
|ZKS||Zveza komunistov Slovenije||League of Communists of Slovenia|
|ZKS-SDP||Zveza komunistov Slovenije – Socialdemokratska stranka|
|ZZB Slovenije||Zveza združenj borcev za vrednote NOB Slovenije||Federation of Fighters‘ Associations of Slovenia|