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20. 1. 1991: Slovenian-Croatian defence agreement

On 20 January 1991, Slovenian Defence Minister Janez Janša and Igor Bavčar, Minister of the Interior, met their Croatian counterparts, Martin Špegelj and Josip Boljkovac, in Zagreb to conclude a mutual defence assistance agreement.

Igor Bavčar and Janez Janša.

Igor Bavčar and Janez Janša in 1991. | Author Marko Feist/Wikipedija

The defence agreement determined that Croatia would help Slovenia and vice versa if either of them were to be attacked by the Yugoslav People's Army. The military threat was real as both republics, which had declared autonomy and independence, were actually attacked several months later.

Croatia lets Slovenia down

But when the Yugoslav People's Army first attacked Slovenia in June 1991, Croatia did not help and instead looked on as Yugoslav armoured vehicles advanced towards Slovenia through Croatian territory. The Croatian President, Franjo Tuđman, was against helping Slovenia. This later backfired on the Croatian authorities because the Yugoslav People's Army (soon transformed into a completely Serbian army) focused all its forces against Croatia after its failure in Slovenia.

While Janša and Bavčar were visiting Zagreb, the global focus was still on the war in the Gulf. During the night or early morning, the Iraqi forces carried out a missile attack on neighbouring Saudi Arabia. The capital, Riyadh, was among the targets.

Patriots, jihad and Brnik Airport

Fortunately, the Iraqi missiles were intercepted by the American Patriot anti-missile defence system. On Sunday, the supporters of the Iraqi leader, Saddam Hussein, flooded the streets in numerous Arab capitals, including Amman in Jordan. In his speech, Hussein called on the Iraqi people and all Arabs to engage in a holy war (jihad) and threaten allied interests around the world.

This was likely an additional reason why security at Ljubljana Airport was further tightened. Special police units had been thoroughly checking all passengers and vehicles at the airport for several days.

Fake tourists from Morocco

As reported in the Delo newspaper, supposed tourists from Morocco were arriving at Ljubljana Airport who were, in reality, economic migrants. They first flew from Tunis to Frankfurt and then via the JAT and Adria airlines to Brnik in Slovenia, from where taxis tried to transport them to their promised land, Italy. This was nothing new, because as many as 900 Moroccans had arrived at Ljubljana Airport in 1990.

European conservative youth in Ljubljana

Ljubljana was not only a destination for fake tourists from Morocco and other Arab countries, but the Slovenian capital also hosted a meeting of the international political youth organisation called the Democrat Youth Community of Europe (DEMYC), which brought together young conservatives and Christian democrats.

At the invitation of the Young Christian Democrats and Mlin – Youth Initiative of the Slovenian Democratic Union, the executive council of DEMYC met in Ljubljana and completed its work on 20 January. They adopted several resolutions, including the resolution to support the legitimate will expressed by the self-determination of the Slovenian people to establish their own country.

Avtor: Aleš Žužek