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Manifesto of Slovenian independence released 30 years ago

Ljubljana, 24 February - A series of articles calling for the right to self-determination and statehood came out 30 years ago in a landmark volume of the Nova revija literary journal in what would become a manifesto of Slovenia's independence.

Ljubljana
The landmark 57th volume of the Nova revija journal.
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

The 57th volume of Nova Revija was released on 16 February, 1987, under the title Contributions for Slovenian National Programme, with the articles contributed by 16 authors.

"The 57th volume was the national and political platform of the opposition, which overtook the Slovenian Communist Party (ZKS) and the Socialist Association of the Working People (SZDLS).

"The two organisations did not have a clear vision what position to take on the fast changing political situation," writes historian Aleš Gabrič in the book Recent Slovenian History 1848-1992.

At the same time, the journal and the bold ideas expressed in it spurred dialogue between the ruling outfits ZKS and SZDLS on the one hand and the opposition on the other.

The ruling groups' monologue started giving way to public debates facing off opposing political conceptions with the opposition's critique of the political system becoming ever sharper, says Gabrič.

The idea for Nova revija was floated in June 1980, a month after the death of Yugoslav leader Tito, when 60 Slovenian authors and university professors proposed launching a new journal.

The authorities were not enthusiastic about the proposal, written by Niko Grafenauer, Tine Hribar, Andrej Inkret, Svetlana Makarovič, Boris A. Novak and Dimitrij Rupel, and it was not until two years later that first issue came out.

The name Nova revija (New Journal) was the obvious choice. It was launched in May 1982, with Hirbar as the first editor, followed in 1984 by Grafenauer as editor-in-chief and Rupel as responsible editor.

Although designated as a "monthly for culture", Nova revija attracted attention with its political analysis, shocking the public by giving a voice to politicians who had been banished in purges.

Contributors to the journal put in their plea for the rehabilitation of the victims of show trials, sought to break down taboos and called for the freedom of the press and speech.

The journal was a symbolic harbinger of the "Slovenian Spring", but what prompted the formation of the national programme was constitutional amendments put forward in 1986 by the Yugoslav presidency.

The ruling politicians' response to the proposed constitutional reform was initially lukewarm, while the nascent opposition warned of the danger of Yugoslavia's centralisation should the amendments be adopted.

Nova revija responded with a special volume that offered "an initiative for a different view on Slovenians, a new concept of Slovenianhood to be constituted in the institutions of a potentially sovereign nation and through everyday life".

The contributing authors reflected on the Slovenian nation as the vessel of national sovereignty (Tine Hribar, Ivan Urbančič, Rupel), national reconciliation (Spomenka Hribar), the Slovenian language and army (Veljko Namorš), civil society (Alenka Goljevšček, Jože Pučnik, Gregor Tomc), legal aspects (France Bučar), right to self-determination (Peter Jambrek) and some other topics.

"Members of Nova revija initially discussed the idea of a Slovenian state among ourselves, and then the right moment came when the realisation that there's no point in Yugoslavia became all but a generally-accepted belief," Rupel remembers.

"If I remember right we were concerned that if we hesitate, someone else would speak out," the former long-serving Slovenian foreign minister told the latest edition of the Demokracija weekly.

Rupel, who was the editor between 1984 and 1987, said that the contributing authors demanded two things: democracy and an independent state.

According to Gabrič, they called for consistent respect for the right to self-determination and to a nationhood based on the wishes of the Slovenian nation, equality in military affairs and their depoliticising and abolishing the ruling party's control of civil society.

"We were threatened in many ways, but the biggest cause for concern was the one-man-one-voice principle, which would establish an absolute Serb or at least Serb-Croat rule in Yugoslavia," said Rupel.

On its publication, the 57th volume immediately became the top political topic in the country. Slovenian ruling politicians publicly rejected Nova revija's demands, but consented to dialogue with the authors.

Despite verbal attacks against it, the journal was not banned, but Grafenauer and Rupel were replaced as editors, although Gabrič says this did not affect the journal's editorial concept.

Due to "free advertising" and the low number of copies published, the demand for the 57th volume was huge, so it soon got the reputation as the most photocopied Slovenian publication.

ep/eho
© STA, 2017