By: Gašper Blažič
25 June 1991 was D-Day. On this day, which had previously been secretly determined, the Slovenian Assembly adopted the basic independence documents, on the foundation of which the Slovenian republican bodies began to take over the former functions of the federation.
Why was this date secret at first? The point was that the effective takeover of power had to take place in a realistically very short time and without armed conflict, as the federal authorities (especially the YPA and the federal militia) could be expected to be prepared in advance, which meant a great risk also to the moral capital of independence before the eyes of the world public. The six-month deadline for the plebiscite expired a day later, on 26 June 1991, so the plenary session of the assembly, at which the basic documents were adopted, had to be convened in the days before that date. Thus, on that day, the Assembly adopted three basic documents: The Basic Constitutional Charter on the Independence and Autonomy of the Republic of Slovenia, the Constitutional Act for its implementation, and the Declaration of Independence, based on the already adopted amendments to the old republican constitution.
However, it should be noted at the outset that the Basic Constitutional Charter on the Independence and Autonomy of the Republic of Slovenia should not be confused with the Basic Charter of Slovenia, which the republic SZDL sent to the public in 1989 as a kind of “alternative” to the May Declaration, but with the difference that the Basic Charter of Slovenia foresaw the continued existence of a “renewed” Yugoslavia and socialism. Nor should the Declaration of Independence be confused with the Declaration of Sovereignty, which was adopted on 2 July 1990 and provided the basis for severing legal ties with the SFRY.
Basic Constitutional Charter
The mentioned document represents the basis for Slovenia’s independence, and contains five articles in addition to the preamble. In the preamble, it refers to the outcome of the plebiscite, as well as to the fact that the Republic of Slovenia was formally a state within the SFRY, but exercised only part of its sovereignty there. It also mentions the fact that the SFRY did not function as a legally regulated state, as human rights, national rights and the rights of the republics and autonomous provinces were severely violated. Moreover, the then federal system of Yugoslavia did not provide a solution to the political and economic crisis, as no agreement was reached between the Yugoslav republics that would allow the independence of the republics while transforming the Yugoslav federal state into a union of sovereign states. On the other hand, the Basic Constitutional Charter left an opening for an agreement with other Yugoslav republics, but from the premise that Slovenia is an independent and sovereign state.
The most important is, of course, the first article, which states that the Republic of Slovenia is an independent and sovereign state, for which the SFRY Constitution finally ceases to apply; it also assumes all the rights and duties that have been transferred to the bodies of the SFRY by the Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia and the Constitution of the SFRY. It is also written that the takeover of the exercise of these rights and duties is regulated by the constitutional law. It is further mentioned that all citizens are guaranteed human rights deriving from the Constitution and international treaties, as are the rights already guaranteed to members of the Hungarian and Italian national communities. The document also mentions the confirmation of the former state border with Italy, Austria, and Hungary, while the border with Croatia is confirmed on the basis of the previous administrative border within the SFRY. It was also determined that: “For the implementation of this constitutional act, a constitutional law is adopted at a joint session of all assemblies of the Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia with a two-thirds majority of delegates of all assemblies. This constitutional act shall enter into force upon promulgation at a joint session of all the assemblies of the Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia.”
On the same evening, the MPs also adopted the constitutional law on the implementation of the Basic Constitutional Charter. This text is slightly longer, as it has 22 articles, and furthermore, Article 22 has many additions. The Constitutional Act thus regulated the status of the representatives of the Republic of Slovenia in federal bodies, from a member of the SFRY presidency to delegates in the federal assembly. The Constitutional Act also regulated the status of international treaties signed by the SFRY, as well as the status of federal regulations validated by the Republic of Slovenia insofar as they did not contradict the Slovenian legal order. The previous administrative bodies of the SFRY became state bodies of the Republic of Slovenia, such as the republican customs administration. The Constitutional Act also regulated the termination of representation of diplomatic and consular missions. The Constitutional Act thus, technically breaks down the transfer of competences of the SFRY bodies in the territory of the Republic of Slovenia to the former republican bodies, as well as the status of military personnel and the YPA, where it also mentions a transitional period for the YPA withdrawal within two years, as well as property matters, which also includes a deposit guarantee.
Declaration of Independence
The third important document is the Declaration of Independence. The document explains why the decision on independence was taken; it also mentions the failed negotiations on the secession of Yugoslavia. Namely, after the plebiscite, Slovenia offered the possibility of an amicable solution, which was not accepted, so it adopted acts of independence. Among other things, the declaration reads: “The establishment of an independent state of the Republic of Slovenia on the basis of the right to self-determination is not directed against anyone in Yugoslavia or abroad. Slovenia also recognises the same right to other republics and to the nations and nationalities of the former Yugoslavia.” The declaration summarises some provisions of the Constitutional Act on the Implementation of the Basic Constitutional Charter and provides a broader analysis of the reasons why Slovenia’s independence took place and on what basis Slovenia will carry out its acts of independence. It is clear from the declaration itself that this is not a unilateral secession in the spirit of separatism and secession. The declaration, which has five points, contains obligations and commitments that the Republic of Slovenia will fulfil as an independent legal entity. All three documents together represent the basic definition of the independence of the Republic of Slovenia on the basis of the outcome of the plebiscite of 23 December 1990.