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Thursday, 28 June, 2001, 20:26 GMT 21:26 UK
Slovenians mark independence
Yugoslav tanks fire shells on the streets of Slovenia in 1991
Yugoslav tanks failed to crush Slovenia's independence bid
The Slovenian media has been remembering this week the anniversary of their declaration of independence 10 years ago and the tense 10 days of war which followed when it hung in the balance.

TV news bulletins have been dominated by coverage of the many commemorative events.

On 25 June 1991 the parliaments of Slovenia and Croatia voted to declare independence from Yugoslavia, the first republics of the federation to do so.
A border sign
Slovenians asserted their newly-found sovereignty in 1991

In response to Slovenia's proclamation the Yugoslav Army sent in the tanks. This prompted a 10-day war in which Slovenians defied the might of the army.

Slovenian TV showed archive footage of tanks rolling over the border and young men on rooftops firing machine guns at Yugoslav army jets.

It showed pictures of jubilant celebrations around parliament after the declaration and a lasting image of a Yugoslav army tank with a pink rose placed inside the barrel.
Slovenia faced off Yugoslav weapons in 1991
A flower placed in the barrel of Yugoslav gun

Proud of progress

Slovene President Milan Kucan - who made the declaration at the time- used the occasion to praise his country's progress over the last ten years.

"We have perceived the swift changes in the world, making our own set of rules to judge the world as well as to estimate our position and possibilities.

"This gave us the self-confidence, which sparked the courage necessary for a country to be born," he told a large crowd in the main square in the capital Ljubljana.


We announced our decision on this very square and solemnly communicated it to the world... We are proud to have done it successfully, with dignity and with honour

President Kucan

Painful memories

The Slovene daily Dnevnik has published a survey saying that 94% of respondents think it was right for the country to declare independence in 1991.

Music, dancing and other cultural displays added to the popular appeal of the central celebrations in the capital, Ljubljana.

But many also associate the 1991 events with painful memories. Sixty-four people are reported to have died in the 10-day war.

The Slovene-Austrian border crossing of Holmec, which was burnt and where many lost their lives, suffered in particular.

Unravelling

Slovenia was the only one of the former republics whose bid for independence ended peacefully.

Elsewhere, in Croatia and Bosnia, the quest for independence from Belgrade led to bloody inter-ethnic warfare and what came to be known to the world as ethnic cleansing.

Slovene Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek has been quick to challenge allegations that Slovenia threw the first stone in the break-up of Yugoslavia.

He has referred, instead, to the role played by ousted Yugoslav President Slobodan Milosevic.

Celebrations on the border
Celebrations on the border with Austria which became the front line
It was only after the air strikes against Yugoslavia that it "finally became clear" that it was Milosevic's politics that caused the fragmentation of Yugoslavia, Mr Drnovsek told the Slovene newspaper Vecer.

"However, there are still some people who believe - in spite of everything - that Slovenia and Croatia moved towards independence too quickly," he added.

And President Kucan has said that the process of dissolution in the territory of former Yugoslavia has not yet been completed.

The Macedonian crisis confirms that the Yugoslav crisis seems to be the "site of a fire" where the flames cannot be put out until a decision has been taken on "what to do with hot coals", he said.

BBC Monitoring, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

See also:

28 Jan 98 | Bosnia
Bosnia- the road to war
15 Jan 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Slovenia
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