The Slovenia Times

Independent Slovenia turns 33

Standard bearers at he national Statehood Day ceremony in Ljubljana's Congress Square. Photo: Katja Kodba/STA

Slovenia is celebrating Statehood Day, marking 33 years since parliament passed key laws that created the legal stepping stones for the country's independence from Yugoslavia.

The highlight of Statehood Day celebrations was a state ceremony held in Ljubljana's Congress Square on the eve of the holiday, which saw artists born in the independent Slovenia perform cover versions of pop songs from the 1990s, which alternated with footage of key moments in that period that made history in Slovenia and worldwide.

Following a cannon salute from Ljubljana Castle, President NataĊĦa Pirc Musar delivered the keynote, underlining the need for Slovenian society to build a strong and inclusive community in order to prepare for and survive "dark clouds on the horizon".

In reference to post-WWII killings, she called for the nation to finally come to terms with its past and "properly bury all Slovenians and others who have so far not had the right to a grave".

Earlier in the day, the president hosted the annual reception for the families of those who had fallen or been injured in the 10-day war that followed Slovenia's independence declaration, while the National Assembly marked the occasion with a special session.

Pirc Musar will welcome members of the general public at the Presidential Palace today and lay a wreath at the memorial to victims of all wars in Congress Square.

Events leading up to independence

On 25 June, 1991 the Slovenian Assembly passed the Basic Constitutional Charter on Independence and the Declaration of Independence in a culmination of months of preparations to break away from the former federation.

A number of Slovenian intellectuals started to demand independence and democratic change at the end of the 1980s.

The first major step towards independence were the first Slovenian democratic multi-party elections in April 1990, which were won by a coalition of newly-emerged parties integrated in the Democratic Opposition of Slovenia (DEMOS).

The independence documents were passed on the basis of a plebiscite held in December 1990. Over 88% of all eligible voters opted for a break from the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, with the turnout at a record 93.2%.

Ceremony followed by war

Slovenia then officially declared independence on 26 June in 1991 at a ceremony in the square in front of the parliament, and was attacked by the Yugoslav People's Army just hours after the ceremony.

Even before the ceremony, Yugoslav tanks rolled out of the army barracks in Pivka and Ilirska Bistrica in the southwest of the country heading towards the border with Italy. Locals, in particular in Vrhpolje, tried to block them with barricades and their own bodies.

Armed conflicts started on 27 June in 1991 at the town of Metlika, near the border with Croatia, and lasted until 3 July 1991.

Four days later, the Brijuni Declaration was signed between Slovenia, Croatia and Yugoslavia, aiming to cease hostilities and enable further negotiations on the future of Yugoslavia. Slovenia pledged in the EU-brokered declaration to suspend its independence efforts for three months.

The war claimed the lives of 19 Slovenian soldiers and police officers, 12 foreign civilians and 44 soldiers of the Yugoslav People's Army, according to official accounts.

When the three-month moratorium expired in October 1991, Yugoslav troops left Slovenia and the country introduced its own currency and eventually obtained international recognition in the months that followed.


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