Thirty years since start of implementation of independence legislation

Ljubljana, 8 October - Thirty years will have passed today since a three-month moratorium on Slovenia's independence activities ended. Some believed the moratorium would put an end to the country's independence efforts but it in fact only accelerated them - as the moratorium expired, the country took control of its borders and introduced its own currency.

Slovenian flag.
Photo: Stanko Gruden/STA

Key laws designed to smooth Slovenia's transition to independence were passed in parliament on 25 June 1991 and a day later the country's independence was declared a ceremony in Republic Square in front of the Parliament House in Ljubljana.

What followed was a ten-day war as the Yugoslav federal government sought to keep the newly-independent country within Yugoslavia ending with a ceasefire on 2 July.

It was then on 7 July that the two sides adopted the Brijuni Declaration ending all hostilities and mandating the three-month moratorium.

When the 30 years of the declaration was marked in July, President Borut Pahor assessed Slovenia had not halted the independence process at the time but only stepped it up.

Yugoslav authorities realise Slovenia is a "lost cause"

Following the Brijuni Declaration, the Yugoslav military and political authorities still planned to reinforce their forces on Slovenia's borders with Hungary, Austria and Italy, but the Serbian political leadership put a stop to that.

As follows from the Slovenian government's website dedicated to the 30th anniversary of Slovenia's independence, the Serbian authorities argued that the Slovenian case was "a lost cause" or even contrary to Serbia's interests, so all the forces should be better directed at Croatia.

By 26 October 1991, the Yugoslav army hence fully pulled out of Slovenia, while Slovenia continued implementing the independence legislation and efforts to revive its shell-shocked economy and to get international recognition.

The moratorium ends

Even before the last Yugoslav soldier left Slovenian soil, Slovenia introduced its own currency, the tolar, on 8 October.

The country also took control of its borders, with the checks on the border with newly-independent Croatia the same as on the borders with Italy, Austria and Hungary.

As early as during the summer of 1991, Slovenia won international recognition by Croatia as a fellow breakaway Yugoslav country, as well as by former Soviet countries Lithuania, Georgia, Latvia and Estonia.

But it took until mid-December 1991 for recognition of the key Western power, newly-united Germany.

Then Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel remembers that the period after the Brijuni Declaration and after the end of the moratorium was a time of eager anticipation.

"Foreign policy was busy preparing the country for international action. In September and October, we had some happy moments being in contact with countries with the same interests, especially Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. We were supported throughout by the Austrians and Germans, and finally by the French," he said.

On 23 December 1991, exactly a year after the independence referendum parliament passed a new Slovenian constitution.

© STA, 2021