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The May Declaration is a symbol of the Slovenian people’s desire for sovereignty

The May Declaration was a political statement drawn up by Slovenian opposition political parties in 1989 in which they demanded a sovereign state of the Slovenian nation. The declaration was read out by Tone Pavček at a mass protest gathering at Kongresni trg in Ljubljana on 8 May 1989.

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    The declaration was read out on 8 May 1989 in front of 10,000 people who gathered at the Kongresni trg in Ljubljana in support of the imprisoned Janez Janša (current prime minister of the Republic of Slovenia), Ivan Borštner, David Tasič and Franci Zavrl. They had been arrested the previous year and put on trial for allegedly revealing a military secret by the then undemocratic totalitarian Yugoslav authorities. Photo: National Museum of Contemporary History archives

The gathering was called The open session of the Presidency of the Republican Conference of the League of Socialist Youth of Slovenia (RK ZSMS), as state authorities had banned the gathering. The declaration was published in the daily newspaper Delo on 10 May 1989.

The name of the document, the May Declaration, was taken from the famous declaration by Dr Anton Korošec from 1917 which called for the unification of all South Slavic nations in one political state unit and announced the end of the Habsburg Empire and the creation of Yugoslavia.

The political document from 1989, however, announced the breakup of Yugoslavia and the beginning of independent Slovenia.

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The text of the declaration

The declaration consisted of three substantive points: the first expressed the people's determination to live in a sovereign state of the Slovenian nation, the second was a demand that Slovenia as a sovereign state should be able to independently decide on the connections with South Slavic and other nations within a renewed Europe, and the third point stated that, with regard to the historical efforts of the Slovenian nation to achieve political independence, the Slovenian state could only be based on the respect for human rights and freedoms, on democracy including political pluralism and on a society providing spiritual and material prosperity in accordance with the available natural resources and the human abilities of the citizens of Slovenia.

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    The round table on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the May Declaration was organised by Nova univerza in cooperation with the Slovenska matica association, the Slovenian Writers' Association and the Association for the Values of Slovenia's Independence.Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA

The signatories to the May Declaration were the opposition parties and movements of the time: the Slovenian Writers Association, the Slovenian Democratic Union, the Slovenian Christian Social Movement, the Social Democratic Union of Slovenia, the Society of Slovenian Composers and the University Conference of the Alliance of the Socialist Youth of Slovenia.

The document, which called for the independence of Slovenia, was created in April 1989 at a meeting in Dimitrij Rupel's office at the Faculty of Sociology, Political Science and Journalism. Co-authors of the programme, which was later signed by more than 100,000 people, included Janez Janša, France Bučar, Hubert Požarnik, Veno Taufer and Ivo Urbančič.

Author: Tanja Glogovčan Belančić

Date: 8. May 2020

Time to read: 1 min