Skoči do osrednje vsebine

Slovenia's path to independence

Author: Tanja Glogovčan Belančić

Date: 17. June 2020

Time to read: 3 min

Having an independent Slovenian state was always the Slovenian people’s greatest wish. On 25 June, Slovenia celebrates Statehood Day. It is the day when Slovenia became formally independent. The Declaration on the Independence of Slovenia and the Basic Constitutional Charter on the Sovereignty and Independence of the Republic of Slovenia were adopted on that day.

The events before, during and after Slovenia gained its independence still fill the hearts of all Slovenians with pride. It all began with words, on paper, with addresses, arrests, sacrificed lives and great diplomatic efforts.

Nevertheless, we as a nation succeeded, and the Slovenian flag now flies with Triglav, not the red star.

Slovenian resistance

The path to Slovenia's independence began years earlier. The first step was the publication of the 57th edition of the Nova revija magazine, which was first published in 1982.

In its famous 57th edition, contributions to the Slovenian national programme were published.

In a sense, this edition therefore represents the basis of Slovenia’s independence. This was the answer to all of the aspirations of the former Yugoslav republics to turn the country into a Unitarian and centralistic state.

In addition, Mladina also started publishing texts that the state found problematic.

One of the more famous columnists writing for the weekly was Janez Janša.  In the early morning hours of the last day in May in 1988, he was arrested by the Slovenian State Security Service (SDV or Udba) and imprisoned.

At the same time, Ivan Borštner, a Warrant Officer in the Yugoslav People's Army, and journalist and editor of Mladina David Tasić were also arrested due to, what the authorities at the time deemed as, suspicious activities. All three of them, along with the former editor of Mladina, Franci Zavrl, were charged with the unlawful disclosure of military secrets by the Military Prosecutor's Office.

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In January 1989, the first wave of establishing political parties began. The newly established parties formed the Demos coalition in 1989.

Its president was Jože Pučnik, who is known as one of the architects of Slovenian independence.

In addition, Dimitrij Rupel, Marjan Podobnik, Ivan Oman, Hubert Požarnik, Rajko Pirnat, Katja Boh, Leo Šešerko, Silvester Plahutnik and Andrej Magajna also played important roles during that time.

The first democratic election took place on 8 April 1990. The Slovenian voters elected the Slovenian Assembly (parliament), members of the Slovenian Presidency and the President of the Presidency. Demos won the election in a landslide victory. However, it was not successful in the presidential elections where the Demos candidate, Pučnik, was overtaken in the second round by Milan Kučan, the former president of the League of Communists of Slovenia.

The first Slovenian prime minister was Lojze Peterle, the representative of Christian democrats.

The plebiscite on the independence and sovereignty of Slovenia was held on 23 December 1990. The vast majority of voters answered affirmatively to the plebiscite question on whether the Republic of Slovenia should become an independent and sovereign state.

That the plebiscite was a success was known as early as the evening of 23 December, shortly after polling stations closed.

The people were overjoyed and held celebrations in the streets despite it being the middle of winter.

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The plebiscite decision on Slovenia’s independence and sovereignty obliged the Slovenian Parliament to adopt constitutional and other acts as well as to take measures for independence within six months from the date when the results of the plebiscite were announced, i.e. by 26 June 1991.

The Slovenian Assembly adopted the constitutional act on independence on 25 June 1991. The Yugoslav signs at border crossings were replaced with Slovenian ones and new crossing points were established at the border with Croatia.

The war for Slovenia broke out in the early morning hours of 27 June and by 4 July all border crossings were in Slovenian hands.

The Yugoslav People's Army units withdrew to their barracks and to Croatia. On Sunday, 7 July, representatives of Slovenia, the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and the European Community met on the Brioni Islands. There they adopted the Brioni Declaration, which established a three-month moratorium on Slovenian independence activities. The last soldiers left Slovenia from the port of Koper during the night of 25 October.

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The first countries to recognise Slovenia as an independent state were Croatia, Lithuania, Georgia, Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Iceland, Germany, Sweden and the Vatican City.

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After its recognition by the EU Member States, Slovenia became a full member of the United Nations on 22 May 1992.

Slovenia was admitted into NATO on 29 March 2004 and became a full member of the EU on 1 May 2004.

On 1 January 2007, Slovenia joined the European Monetary System and its legal tender became euro banknotes and coins. The end of 2007 was marked by its entry into the Schengen Area, which created a direct connection with the Slovenian minorities in Italy, Austria and Hungary. In 2008, Slovenia also held the Presidency of the Council of the EU for the first time. 

Slovenia not only consolidated its position politically, but also effectively represented itself through notable figures in sports and culture.

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