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sreda, 1 decembra, 2021

[30 YEARS OF INDEPENDENT SLOVENIA] NEGOTIATIONS AND ADOPTION OF THE BRIONI DECLARATION

By: Tomaž Kladnik

The foreign ministers of the European Community adopted a declaration on Yugoslavia in The Hague, calling for an end to hostilities and a freeze on all acts of independence from 25 June onwards. 

he final days of the war for the defence of Slovenian sovereignty clearly showed that the units of the Yugoslav People’s Army (YPA) and the federal militia had finally been defeated; while the latter dispersed and some of their members fled across the borders to neighbouring countries, YPA units were in the final stages of withdrawal to their home barracks. At the same time, the Slovenian defence forces maintained their high levels of battle readiness. 

On Sunday, July 7, 1991, a meeting of the Slovenian leadership with the European Troika and representa- tives of the SFRY took place in Brioni. Hard negotiations led to the adoption of the Brioni Declaration. 

Adoption of the Brioni Declaration 

Meanwhile, a meeting of the Slovene leadership with the European Troika and representatives of the SFRY took place in Brioni on Sunday, 7 July, 1991, following the intensive diplomatic activity of the Slovenian diplomacy. After the YPA attack on Slovenia, two meetings took place in Zagreb (on June 28 and July 1), at which, representatives of the European Community attempted to dissuade Slovenian representatives from gaining independence. A meeting also took place between Slovenian representatives (Milan Kučan and Dimitrij Rupel) and Hans Dietrich Genscher, the German foreign minister who chaired the CSCE at the time. Finally, on July 7, practically in the middle of the war, a Slovenian delegation consisting of Milan Kučan, France Bučar, Lojze Peterle and Dimitrij Rupel went to Brioni, where Janez Drnovšek joined them. Meetings took place in Brioni at several levels: between Slovenia and the European Community, with the main issue being the control of the border crossings, and meetings between Slovenia and Yugoslavia, represented by members of the presidency and Ante Markovic, at which »a general quarrel prevailed«. 

Contents of the Brioni Declaration 

The Brioni Declaration was drafted, stating the following conclusions under the title »Further modalities in preparation of negotiations«: 

  1. Border regime

Control of border crossings will be in the hands of Slovenian police. 

They will act in conformity with federal regulations. 

  1. Customs 

The agreement signed by the representatives of the federal government of the Republic of Slovenia on June 20, 1991 is reconfirmed and shall be implemented. Custom duties shall remain a federal revenue and be collected by Slovenian custom officials. They shall be paid into a joint account to be controlled by the federal and republican ministers of finance plus one or two external controllers. 

  1. Air traffic control 

There is a single air traffic control for the whole of Yugoslavia. All domestic and international air traffic over Yugoslavia is controlled and guaranteed by the competent federal authority. 

Concerned Slovenian delegation (from left to right: Dimitrij Rupel, France Bučar, Lojze Peterle, Milan Kučan and Janez Drnovšek) in Brioni, where they – looking at it retrospectively – achieved favourable outcomes for Slovenia.

  1. Border security 

The situation prevailing before 25 June, 1991 shall be re-established. Within the suspension period (of three months), negotiations shall be completed in order to ensure an orderly transfer of the competencies of the YPA in this field. A border regime based on European standards remains a firm objective. 

  1. Further modalities for the implementation of the ceasefire –

lifting of the blockade of the YPA units and facilities – unconditional return of the YPA units to their barracks – all roads to be cleared – return of all facilities and equipment to the YPA – deactivation of territorial defence units and return to quotas. All these measures shall be effective as soon as possible, but no later than July 8 at 00.00 hours. 

  1. Prisoners 

All prisoners detained in connection with hostilities since 25 June  1991 shall be released at the earliest possibility, but no later than July 8 at 00.00 hours. The International Red Cross should be associated with the implementation of this decision. 

The Brioni Declaration and its orders were, after a heated debate on July 10, approved by the Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia. A day later, it was signed in Zagreb as a joint declaration of the Republic of Slovenia, the Republic of Croatia, the SFRY and the European Community. 

Solemn oath of Slovenian  soldiers at the Ig Training Centre.

Training centres of the Slovenian Army during the war for Slovenia 

The first training centres of the Slovenian Army in Ig and Pekre also played an important role in the formation of the Slovenian Armed Forces. 

From an idea to the realization 

One of the key disagreements between the federation/Yugoslav People’s Army and the Republic of Slovenia was the issue of military service performance areas for Slovenian conscripts. The Yugoslav People’s Army was continuously rejecting Slovenia’s demands that most conscripts should perform military services in areas closer to their place of residence or their republic, thus they had already considered other solutions at the beginning of the increased pressure. While the Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia was preparing a request for the Presidency of the SFRY to introduce military service for conscripts from Slovenia solely in the 5th military area, the Republic Secretariat for People’s Defence began searching for other options, namely a military service to be organised and carried out by the republican bodies and institutions. A working group was appointed to draft and implement the project, and in January 1991, a commission was appointed to select the most suitable uniforms for the Slovenian Army. Accommodation conditions in the selected training centres were quite poor, hence it was necessary to renovate the facilities in Ig and Pekre. The next important step was to secure appropriate staff, officers and non-commissioned officers to lead the training. Bojan Šuligoj was appointed head of the training centre in Ig, and Andrej Kocbek in Pekre. The training program was divided into two parts. In the first part, the military recruits acquired all the necessary knowledge and skills that every soldier must master, and in the second part, they acquired the combat operations skills of units ranging from division to company. After both phases of training, soldiers mastered all the skills necessary for combat and protection. 

The Ljubljana Ig Training Centre  

Soldiers of training centres at lunch during training in Kočevska Reka

On June 27, 1991, YPA military helicopters flew over the Ig area. One of them was destroyed by a member of the air defence of the Ljubljana province of the TO RS, while the other one got away. Due to the possibility of retaliatory measures, the Territorial Defence Republic Headquarters (RŠTO) ordered the relocation of the centre to a war location. Therefore, soldiers and officers marched through the forest to Križišče, from where they were transported by truck to Kočevska Reka. On June 28, soldiers began arranging a new camp with members of the 710th training centre, who were already in the area. In difficult conditions, they continued training and carried out the first combat shooting. On July 4, the centre was divided into two parts and preparations began for a move with the task of guarding the southern border. Cerknica was designated as the collection point, from where they proceeded to Gorenjska accompanied by the police. On July 6, they arrived at the reserve location in Dražgoše, where they were accommodated in a primary school. There they continued their training and on July 9, the soldiers moved to Kropa, where they had better living and training conditions. On July 12, they returned to Ig. After the war, the training centre moved from Ig to the Ljubljana-Moste military post. 

The Pekre Training Centre near Maribor 

Slovenian conscript during training at the Pekre Training Centre.

Just before the war, on 25 June 1991, the Pekre training centre received an order from the RŠTO with a task codenamed »VAL«, instructing them to move the training centre to a military location as soon as possible. The first column was ready to move in half an hour; the equipment was loaded onto trucks and the soldiers were taken by buses. In addition to trucks and buses, there were also off-road vehicles in the convoy; militiamen from various militia stations took care of securing the communications about the columns’ move. The first column stopped on a side road near Ribnica in the Dolenjska region, where it split into two parts. One continued its way towards Kočevska Reka to Borovec, and the other part went into the interior of the Kočevje forests towards Medvednjak. There, tents and all the facilities necessary for a multi-day stay were set up in the vicinity of foresters’ lodges. Some members of the 510th training centre Ig near Ljubljana were already housed nearby, while the rest arrived there later. The next day, members of the Pekre training centre arranged a camp and ensured adequate security. The soldiers were training in anti-tank, anti-aircraft and anti-aircraft operations. They wanted to prepare the soldiers for independent action in combat in the event of an attack, and also to protect the equipment and the camp. On July 2, an order was issued to the 710th training centre to move all its members from the initial location deeper into the woods, where they were to set up temporary bivouacs as the discovery of the location of the camp would have enabled an air attack. They later learned that the planes had attacked a transformer station in Kočevska Reka and dropped cluster bombs on a swampy meadow along the Kočevska Reka – Štalcarji road. On July 3, the YPA attacked the conscript camp with cannons. Around 11 a.m., a few silent cannon grenade bursts were heard from the valley at short intervals, and shortly afterwards the sound of cannon grenades was heard above the camp. The YPA was shooting from the military post in Ribnica as a retaliation for the TO attack on that barrack the day before. On July 4, 1991, an order came from the RŠTO that the command of the 710th training centre should establish several units consisting of the training centre members that would be comparable in strength to infantry platoons, and send them to the border crossings to the east of the Republic of Slovenia.

In both training centres training was dynamic.

They assembled four infantry platoons and set off in a column of trucks and buses in the direction of Borovec – Kočevska Reka – Novo mesto – Mokronog – Sevnica – Planina – Celje. In Celje, one platoon was directed towards the border crossing Dobovec near Rogatec and remained there until July 8. The remaining three platoons continued towards Ptuj and Ljutomer, but the column was redirected back to the area of Beli Vod above Šoštanj in Ljutomer. Training centre members were housed there in a primary school, where they carried out a customised training program, and returned to Pekre on July 12, where they continued to implement the planned program, the first part of which they completed on July 30. The conscripts finished the second part of the program and ended their military service on November 16, 1991. The 710th training centre operated in Pekre near Maribor until March 31, 1992, and on April 1, 1992 it was moved to the renovated barracks of the former Yugoslav People’s Army in Slovenska Bistrica. 

Source: Dimitrij Rupel, E-enciklopedija slovenske osamosvojitve, državnosti in ustavnosti, 2020 

Rosvita Pesek, Osamosvojitev Slovenije, 2007 

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