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26. 2. 1991: A hopeless search for the Yugoslav modus vivendi

On this day, various attempts to peacefully resolve the Yugoslav conflict and maintain a loose Yugoslav federation were made. Some Slovenian politicians warned of international isolation upon separation from Yugoslavia and hampered the remedy of some past injustices. The Slovenian national minority in Austria aimed for Slovenia's international recognition.

Janez Drnovšek

Janez Drnovšek | Author Nace Bizilj, hrani: Muzej novejše zgodovine Slovenije

Increasingly complex recipes for maintaining the Yugoslav federation

The Constitutional Commission of the Federal Assembly of the SFRY prepared a draft declaration with a proposal that the Federal Chamber of the Federal Assembly of the SFRY and the national assemblies of all republics draw up an act to regulate relationships in the Yugoslav community anew. All proposals and resolutions sent by the constitutionally empowered bodies would be equally included in the process of drawing up the final document, and the final text would be approved by the Federal Chamber of the Federal Assembly of the SFRY, elected in multi-party elections, not later than two months after its constitution. By referring to the "Federal Chamber", the authors of the document had already foreshadowed the federation, which Slovenia and Croatia had renounced at that time, thus such solutions were no longer acceptable to Slovenia. In addition, the "Declaration on the beginning of a new regulation of relationships in the Yugoslav community" abandoned both autonomous provinces and was condemned to be rejected by the Kosovar Albanians. The declaration was thus another unsuccessful attempt to preserve the federation, whose dissolution, it was becoming increasingly clear, could only be prevented by force. Some proposals for military and police laws at the time, which would, inter alia, limit the control of the republics' civilian authorities over the armed forces and establish federal police control over the state border, showed that that was the only language understood and spoken by Yugoslav political and military leaders.

At the same time, the competent services of the SFRY Presidency also began to draw up a draft document, which was supposed to be the basis for the future Yugoslav community, while defining the constitutional legislative procedure for amicable and constitutional withdrawal from the federation. The documents were expected to be ready by Friday's session of the SFRY Presidency in Belgrade (1 March). Before Friday's Yugoslav summit, Dr Janez Drnovšek pointed out another possibility for resolving the Yugoslav crisis, according to which the rest of the federation would be preserved following Croatia's and Slovenia's independence. Drnovšek also defended this solution at the summit in Sarajevo, among other things mentioning the possibility of establishing a confederation or some other political union between the independent republics and the rest of the Yugoslav federation. According to Drnovšek, that would enable Slovenia to maintain economic ties with the Yugoslav market. He emphasised that Slovenia must carry out secession procedures not only at the inter-republican level, but above all in federal bodies; in the event of unilateral dissolution, Slovenia could find itself in international isolation, as Yugoslavia was still an international legal entity.  

Austrian legalists

The National Council of Carinthian Slovenians addressed a request to the Austrian federal government to recognise the Republic of Slovenia politically. As the Council wrote in its letter, Austrian support for Slovenia would also contribute to the development of the Slovenian national community in Carinthia and Styria, and to the cooperation of both states with Slovenia. Austrian police officers in Carinthia at the time imposed fines on Slovenian drivers who affixed the SL decal instead of the YU decal to their cars. Those who did not accept the police explanation that the SL decal was illegal were taken to the police station.    

Protest against denationalisation

At the initiative of the trade union, the workers of the Agro Lenart combine gathered at a protest rally, announcing that they were not responsible for the post-war events and therefore they would not give away their land for denationalisation and become "anyone's servants". The denationalisation process, which was supposed to remedy past injustices, was strongly opposed by some Slovenian politicians, who tried to inhibit it and create the impression among the people of the return of feudal estates and of the Church getting wealthy. 

Author: Jurij Pavel Emeršič