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International recognition of Slovenia (1991-1992): Three Perspectives; The View from inside: the Slovenes, the Federation and

Yugoslavia's other republics1

After the disintegration of Yugoslavia and the attainment of independence of Slovenia, diverse internal and external factor intertwined and influenced each other. The disintegration itself was mainly caused by internal relationships: the economic crisis, the crisis of self-managed socialism and the crisis of the relations between the nations. However, without the external factors, namely the end of the bipolar division of the world and the specific role of Yugoslavia within it, and the reaction of some states (particularly of the European Union and Germany within it) during the period of disintegration, some former republics which strived for independence would have hardly been able if at all to attain it. The internal relations in Yugoslavia were legally determined by the 1974 Constitution, which granted individual republics (but not so the minorities) the right to selfdetermination, including the right to secession. The problem was that the Constitution did not determine the proceedings according to which such process was to be carried out. On the constitutional-legal basis, the conflict for changes within Yugoslavia (whose internal organisation seemed to suit no-one) was carried out between 1987 when the discussion on amendments to the Constitution (which were mostly about regulation of economic sphere and were adopted in 1988) started and 1989, when Serbia introduced Constitutional amendments with which it abolished the autonomy of the provinces Kosovo and Vojvodina and thus disrupted Yugoslav legal order, since the position of autonomous provinces was regulated by the federal Constitution. The fragile Yugoslav legal order, which was hardly taken very seriously by anyone, was thus ultimately destroyed. Slovenia was the first of the republics to protect itself against the Serb centralistic pressure by adopting amendments to Slovenian Constitution in 1989. Being convinced, that the next phase of the centralisation of Yugoslavia will be to reduce the rights of the republics, it prior to that attempted to prevent the elimination of autonomous status by supporting the Albanians in Kosovo. The resolution of the presidency of SFRJ (Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia), according to which Yugoslavia was to be transformed into a modern federation, which was adopted shortly afterwards (November 1989) had no influence on Yugoslav legal order any more. With the disintegration of the Union of Communists of Yugoslavia at the beginning of 1990 and the parallel emergence of national parties (first in Slovenia), Yugoslavia had no federal party with a Yugoslav programme, which could have a major influence on the entire territory of the federation. The attempt of the federal Prime Minister Ante Markovi to influence Yugoslav public opinion through Yugoslav television and by founding of his own party failed. So was the case with the attempt of the army to prolong the existence of the Union of Communists through a party (Movement for Yugoslavia) under its control. The parties, which won the republic elections, all had national programmes. A change of the Constitution would have been required to carry out multi-party federal elections; however, the leaders of the individual republics were not able to reach a consensus about that, so they were not carried out. Slovenia and Croatia opposed the suggested changes since their motto was: one person, one vote that in Yugoslav circumstances would have led to Serb majority.

Repe, Boo. The view from inside: the Slovenes, the Federation and Yugoslavia's other republics: referat na 34th National Convention of the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, 22. 11. 2002. Pittsburgh, 2002.

The attitude of individual republics, federal bodies and the Yugoslav Army towards the future of Yugoslavia was formed at the end of 1990 and at the beginning of 1991. In the summer of 1990, Slovenia and Croatia brought in a bill on establishing a confederation. On December 23, 1990, Slovenia decided to become an independent state. Though attacked at home and abroad, the decision was neutral: it did not explicitly suggest secession; it also permitted transformation of Yugoslavia into confederation. After the plebiscite, the Slovenian leadership started to carry out negotiations about the Slovenian-Croatian model of confederation with the leaderships of other republics. They were unsuccessfully finished in February of 1991, and it was only then that the Slovenian leadership eventually decided that due to the circumstances the plebiscite decision in the sense of attaining independence from Yugoslavia was to be carried out.
However, another dilemma had to be solved: a separation based on agreement or a cessation? Slovenia started to make systematic preparations for the latter in all areas. Croatia verbally shared Slovenian viewpoints, yet it made no preparations for the separation. In view of its strong Serb minority, which started to offer resistance to Tudjman, a confederation seemed a dream solution for Croatia. With slight differences in their attitudes, the other republic, as well as the federal bodies insisted on federal status. Apart from being formally committed to federation, Serbia systematically prepared for the implementation of the concept of Great Serbia. Encouraged by Serbia, referendums on autonomy status, setting up of independent Serb authorities and rebellions had been going on since the summer of 1990, first in Croatia and then in Bosnia. The situation in Yugoslavia can best be seen from the following table:


Bih A common state as a union of sovereign republics with federal organs based on parity Both nations and republics have a sovereign status

MONTENEGRO Unified federal state of nations with an equal status with international subjectivity Only the nations, yet not so the republics have a sovereign status

CROATIA Confederation as a union of sovereign states



Future order in Yugoslavia

Union of sovereign Slovenia as an republics with federal independent state organs based on parity within a union with other republics Nations and republics have a sovereign status; Macedonia is a sovereign state of Macedonian nation ant its citizens The borders between the republics are of administrative nature Both the republics and the nations have a sovereign status

FEDERAL EXECUTIVE COUNCIL Unified federal state A common minimum of equal nations with for functioning of the an international federation as long a subjectivity there is a mutual agreement The nations, not the republic enjoy a status of sovereignty Both the republics and the nations have a sovereign status


YUGOSLAV NATIONAL ARMY Yugoslavia as a federal, effective and democratic state Freedom and equality of citizens, sovereignty of nations and their respective republics Protection of external borders

Position of nations and republics

Republics states have a sovereign status

Borders between the republics

The borders The borders between the between the republics are of republics are not administrative nature just of administrative nature and should be recognised Common foreign policy Common foreign policy

Both the internal and the external borders are unchangeable

The existing borders are to be respected

Borders between the republics are not state borders; they are of administrative nature and can be changed Common foreign policy

The eternal as well as the internal borders within Yugoslavia are to be respected Implementation of the agreed obligations within foreign policy

Foreign policy

Members of the union have to cooperate and harmonise their foreign policy, yet they strive towards international subjectivity

Regarding foreign policy, Macedonia will pay special attention to its minority in neighbouring states.

Own foreign policy which can be harmonised with other members of the union

Common foreign policy


Common army, depoliticised army with a national balanced structure Common economic policy according to market principles

Common army

Own armed forces Unclear viewpoints as and joint contingents to the organisation of the army Common market, Common economic free transition of policy based on goods, capital and principles of the market people, customs and monetary union

Own armed forces and joint contingents Common market, free transition of goods, capital and people, a possibility of customs and monetary union Common currency

Common army

Implementation of the agreed obligations in the field of defence policy Unified yet open market, monetary policy and the role of the National Bank of Yugoslavia which allows the liquidity of the country towards other states Convertibility of the national currency the dinar

Economic policy

Common economic functions based on principles of the market

Unified economic functions based on the principles of the market

Unified armed forces for safeguarding of Yugoslavia and socialism Unified Yugoslav market, there is no return to capitalism


Common currency

Common currency

depending on agreement, own or common currency

Common currency

Common currency

Common Yugoslav currency

In March and April, after the failed negotiations between the republics, the federal organs tried to take a leading role in solving the crisis again. However, the negotiations between the presidents of individual republics with the president of the federation and the ministry of defense within the federal presidency in March and in April of 1991 were not successful. In the end, Bosnia and Macedonia (Izetbegovi and Gligorov) offered a kind of median concept between federation and confederation, yet, it found no support. Riots between the nations and national conflicts in Croatia increased. At the beginning of May, Miloevi ultimately gave up the Yugoslav option, since the Yugoslav National Army did not carry out any of the negotiated plans according to which it should have introduced a state of emergency and seized power. Veljko Kadijevi, the minister of defense and the leadership of Yugoslav National Army stepped over to the Serb side and agreed to the implementation of the Great Serb concept. The weapons and the military units were silently moved to the borders of Great Serbia. Through threats and pressures, international policy attempted to prevent the declaration of independence of Slovenia and Croatia. Until the end it insisted on preservation of Yugoslavia. If possible, this was to be achieved by negotiations, but also a limited intervention of Markovi and the army in order to discipline the two secessionist republics, which they perceived as more dangerous than Miloevi seemed acceptable. Even until the end of May of 1991 European Union was willing to give Yugoslavia as much help as it asked for, it was further willing to write off a half of its debts and accept it - after the internal agreement and reform - as a full member of the Union. The intervention of the Yugoslav National Army in Slovenia after the declaration of independence of Slovenia and Croatia and the internationalisation of the Yugoslav crisis in June of 1991 destroyed any possibility for an internal agreement. Internal relations only bore significance on one more occasion, namely during the negotiations in Brioni on July 7 and 8, 1991 where the representatives of the federation were present too. With his concept of returning to the positions before June 25 (the day on which Slovenia declared its independence), Markovi succeeded only partly. The Brioni declaration was adopted, yet it allowed different interpretations as to what the return to the previous status actually meant. The toughest one meant the annulment of the declaration of independence of Slovenia and Croatia. Yet, the events that followed in summer and autumn of 1991 on the territory of Yugoslavia made such interpretation impossible. After the failed attempt of disciplining Slovenia, Serbia estimated that keeping Slovenia within Yugoslavia would only present an obstacle for the implementation of its option about Great Serbia, therefore a silent Slovene- Serb agreement in Brioni about the withdrawal of the federal army from Slovenia could be reached. The presidency of SFRJ, which was restored for the period of a three-month long moratorium, approved it formally on July 18, 1991. The war in Croatia buried all hopes for the implementation of the tough interpretation of the Brioni declaration according to the wishes of federal bodies and the majority of the European Union. A tiny last chance for an agreement between the Yugoslav representatives assisted by the international community was seen in the Hague conference, which started in September of 1991. On the conference, Bosnia and Herzegovina advocated for a confederation, the Macedonians had no clear picture about what they wanted, Croatia, already involved in war, allowed a possibility of a union of sovereign states, whereas Slovenia was only willing to negotiate international recognition and succession. Miloevi insisted on preservation of Yugoslavia; Markovi however was in favour of a reformed federation with certain competences for the federal government. On November 5, 1991 Miloevi refused Lord Carringtons compromise-proposal according to which the republics were to get international subjectivity, yet remain within the economic and customs union. Any further possibility for was thus gone. In December of 4

1991 Markovi resigned. The federal presidency, revived on the grounds of the Brioni declaration was incomplete since the Slovenian representative and shortly afterwards the Croatian too, did not take part in it any longer after the three month moratorium set up by the declaration was over. The Serb block tried to continue its activities within the presidency, however, international bodies denied its legitimacy. At the beginning of December 1991, the Badinter commission formed its final opinion according to which Yugoslavia fell apart and the republics, which so wished and met the required criteria, were to be recognised. After fierce battles behind the scene, European Union decided for recognition of the newly established states. Negotiations between the former republics became a subject of international relations and international legislation. In the context of subsequent wars (after Croatia there were wars in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo and Macedonia) the thesis was defended according to which the separation of Slovenia and Croatia along with (too early) international recognition of the former Yugoslav republics were to be blamed for the disintegration of Yugoslavia. As regards Slovenia, this thesis neglects the fact that the war in Yugoslavia had been systematically prepared for a long time and that during the process of separation of Slovenia national conflicts had already been going on in Croatia. Slovenia couldnt have prevented them, even if it had stayed within Yugoslavia. Another fact is that Slovenia did everything within its power to reform Yugoslavia and enter European Union as its integral part, before it finally made use of its constitutional right to gain independence. In the then circumstances, forcing Slovenia to remain within Yugoslavia meant nothing less than a demand that the existence and the future of one nation be sacrificed for the illusion that this would prevent fights between other nations. Among others, international recognition stands for the admission of the failure of such policy.