It takes more than a signature to settle matters between Slovenia and Croatia. Everything has been thoroughly thought out and prepared in advance, but even though both sides are doing their best to elude the (overly) demanding supermajority, things can still get stuck in parliament. The referendum matches played between the ruling coalition and the opposition are tools often abused.
But let us assume that the agreement has been reached and that the tribunal will start working as soon as Croatia signs the treaty of accession to the European Union and reach its conclusion reasonably soon. Since practice as well as all the Slovenian public has experienced in terms of our relations to our southern neighbour has shown that direct discourse between the two countries will never yield any results, it becomes more than obvious that the only solution is a decision enforced by a third party – either an arbitrary tribunal or an international conference. Since it is a known fact at least that a muddle of opinions and interests expressed at international conferences rarely yield conclusions while the process tends to go on and on, it is reasonable to leave the decision up to a specialized tribunal. The most encouraging part is that its decision will be binding for both parties and will also be enacted.
Slovenian political as well as social and internal political scene is marked by an utter lack of any and all civic identity, a confusion of concepts and a renouncement of its own heritage and identity. Thus it is clear from the start that foreigners actually stole next to nothing from us – they merely picked up that which Slovenes have neglected or left. But still today, after many decades of cruel experience, we continue to sing praises to the wrong actions which we have undertaken.
When the emperor of Austria, a long time (primarily!) Slovenian knez Franz Joseph visited Celovec (Klagenfurt) and heard Matija Majar from Zilli speak Slovenian, he remarked: “What, Slovenian is spoken here?” and Matija sternly replied: “Yes, Slovenes from here to Vladivostok!” Of course this statement was utterly misplaced, untrue and – most of all – detrimental. There is no sovereign whose ‘national security’ hair would not stand on end after hearing such a declaration. And in any case the only proper thing for Mr Majar to say would have been: “Of course, always has been, as you have always been our elected knez.” or something along those lines. And the ever celebrated relocation of the see of the Levantine bishopric from St. Andrazh to Maribor is no different. It is true that this action resulted in the establishment of a new Slovenian ecclesiastic centre, but why was it necessary for Celovec (Klagenfurt) and Gradec (Graz) to be relinquished to Germanity? And finally, why was Slovenian leadership unable to respond to the pressure of German nationalism and Italian Irredentism in any other way but by ideologically dividing the inhabitants of Slovenian soil – going so far as to deny the right of Slovenian citizenship to those who would not chime in with the majority while abandoning their residences infested by the next door neighbour’s mould of chauvinism rather than disinfecting it?
Slovenian ecclesiastic leadership, instead of supporting the founding of a Slovenian University which was nearly realized in Trieste – at that time the biggest Slovenian city – preferred to spend the money accumulated in the emperor’s church fund for an ecclesiastical high school. Naturally – both the German and Slovenian elites were concerned that it might result in an overabundance of free-thinking Slovenian intellectuals. It was acceptable they be bred but only in a controlled environment.
In 1848 when all other young national identities were being formed, all national rebirth in Slovenian lands was conducted under strict supervision and under the auspices of the unwritten gentlemen’s agreement: religion, culture and folklore went to Slovenian Church while political power, military and diplomacy were conducted from Vienna. And so the disintegration of a thousand-year-old political entity, wherein Slovenian lands were a constitutive part and an internationally legally recognized entity, caught Slovenes by surprise and with no inkling of a national identity. For decades obscene amounts of energy have been wasted on ideological strife, for the suppression of free thinking and to persuade the people that subordination to the Balkans was the only way to survive. This was how the leading Slovenian elite thrust Slovenes from the position of a constitutive nation in a great stately system into a Balkan madness and hewed it into four minorities condemned to perish engorged by foreign countries. It would be hard to argue with the conclusion that these leading Slovenian elites carry the responsibility for all the catastrophes, massacres and losses incurred by the Slovenian people in the hundred years that followed.
It is no wonder that the Slovenian public has no inkling of even the most fundamental notions of its history and civic status. All we were able to do when it came to the legal national unity and identity of Slovenian lands (Carinthia, Primorska Region, Carniola and Styria) was to make light of it, if we were at all aware of it in the first place. So why would anybody offer it to us and not simply taking it for themselves? In the place of the slogan A single and indivisible Carinthia! resounding from the ‘Slovenian’ side it was yelled at Slovenes by the Carinthian Gerry newcomers! And this story is not limited to yesterday’s Carinthia alone but occurs continuously and everywhere where Slovenes live. There was no hero who would raise his voice in the defence of a single and indivisible Primorska region (Meranija, Küstenland, Littorale, Venezia Giulia) – a land that has always belonged to Slovenia – with national legitimacy, citizens, territory, borders and law. But how could there be – when both Primorska and ‘lands’ were taboo topics, not even to be whispered about? If anything awareness would have to be raised about the fact that the state as a remnant of a bourgeois order was ultimately dying away. Most of the people that pushed themselves into the forefront parallel with the business of emancipation were followers of Kardelj’s communist “science” and so it comes as no surprise that they preferred arms’ dealing and leaving Slovenian territories and property to the neighbouring nations to chase after their “moment” to protecting the national interest and the territorial integrity of the Primorska region. The same goes for other Slovenian lands incorporated into the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes (SHS) in 1918 and later Yugoslavia which they exited in approximately the same shape and size in 1991.
Indoctrination, lack of self-esteem and lack of self-awareness are so absolute that no voice of reason can break through. Yugoslav chauvinism eradicated what was left after a hundred years of the “national-protective” massacre: indigenousness became a curse word. It is not scientific to speak of the Veneti and Carantania. The “Turkish” raids and Slovene’s heroic fight for survival have been buried into oblivion. The Socha front (Battles of the Isonzo) and the limitless heroic feats of Slovenes have been laid to rest together with the fallen soldiers. The emptiness of experts’ heads has been filled with the straw of ‘social sciences’ which are not only ignorant of all things but also unwilling to know anything about Slovenia, the history of Slovenia as a country, Slovenian country-lands, Slovenian borders. They accept with a sigh of relief any word from a foreigner’s mouth, all just so they can avoid the danger of (by natural state of things) actually guessing– blurting out – a correct word.
All of the above as well as many other factors contributed to the anti-state-building conduct of the responsible in the crucial times of Slovenian emancipation. It is an amateur’s mistake to not notice the difference between the international and country’s internal legal level. They went about stately matters in the same manner as matters pertaining to local communities. To this day some people think that a “Republic” and “Country” are homonyms.1 They are still unable to break away from dubbing stately affairs as “those of the republic”. As a subject of international law, which is what Slovenia became on 25 June 1991 when it declared and established its independence, they continued to talk and consult and accept key obligations under the heading of the constitution sitting across from a geographic concept or private company of a certain Tudjman – for Croatia remained a part of Yugoslavia until 8 October 1991 when it finally declared and established its independence. Our country’s officials and experts still haven’t noticed this and they are of course not even trying to understand that any agreement reached on such a defective, illegal and illegitimate level is not the least bit valid nor does it exist. Even more so since none of these documents were ratified after the fact, as is proper and habitual, after the establishment of normal state – that is when a suitable subject finally did appear on the other side of the negotiating table.
Since the above stated case makes it clear that it was a matter of dilettantism and incompetency of Slovenian officials and statesmen it is right that the background be illuminated here. The question is: what are the reasons as to why Slovenia’s neighbouring Former Yugoslav republic did not establish its independence at the same time as Slovenia? In a kind of secretive and bashful way it received a poorly copied Slovenian declaration and then hid the whole thing in a drawer somewhere. Of course! The president of the Federal Executive Council was also Croatian. And Tudjman knew that if Croatia declares independence and then fulfils its previous agreement of letting the Yugoslav People’s Army cross its territory into independent Slovenia that that makes it a co-aggressor. Afterwards there would be no way for Croatia to elude this fact and the consequences it would bring. It would have to answer for it. Of course this did not suit the clever fellows above Ilica at all. They had other plans and so they waited a bit longer and made use of the aggression to steal a bit more than they were already planning to steal. However, the shrewd bandits did not count on the occurrence of the Brioni Moratorium2 which caught up with them still as a Yugoslav republic while Slovenia was already a sovereign state recognized by international law. It is a quandary of a special sort that Slovenian “statesmen” – mere merchant boys carrying bags of deutschmarks – were incapable, unwilling or disallowed to notice this.
And so it was possible for Zagreb to sail through the months of the moratorium unscathed. It is however true that this deception prevented them from later drawing attention by demanding additional verification of all which had been agreed upon up until that point. This is how the accepted documents remained invalid, nonexistent, but yet again! – Slovenes never noticed. They preferred to whine about the Gulf of Piran and construct anti-flood dams on Croatian soil at Mura paying for it by Slovenian tax-payers’ money.
A grotesque in its own right, another not really unimportant fragment from an unending line of achievements of the aforementioned komsomolian quasi elite connected to this Mura epopee also deems mentioning. When the President of Croatian government Sanader superiorly came to have a look at what these Kranjci (derogative for Slovenes) are making all the fuss about, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansha came to meet him. And just like that he sat in the car of another Country’s President who then, grinning evilly, proceeded to drive him across (up until then) Slovenian territory. Of course what is a disciple of the Kumrovec (Tito’s birthplace) school of state-building to know at least about protocol if not sovereignty or even poezd!
The intolerable and entirely unlawful state of things on the Slovenian-Croatian border is merely another wretched achievement of spring frost. It is too horrible to even contemplate the extent of the damage that will occur when outstanding warehousing and merchants’ bills come to light. After all, we have quite a few of those pending in day-to-day politics. I don’t feel the need to explain what I mean by that. And so it is less painful to discuss the tangled matters concerning the border, even though crucial stately matters and responsibilities are at stake. And of course the existing problem is an achievement of the same swindlers.
After nearly two decades a new chapter started with the support of the superpower that had much to do with the fate of Slovenes as early as World War I, at the beginning of this ‘Slovenian tale’. The active Slovenian-Croatian arbitration agreement is the beginning of a non-reversible process the result of which will be binding and which both sides will be forced by international pressure to absorb into their individual stately reality.
Today when the general public is as yet unaware of all the details, most of all records of the talks between President Woodrow Wilson and Slovenian representatives – especially prince bishop Jeglich and the Paris delegation which also included Dr Lambert Ehrlich, it is hard to believe that our view of those occurrences can be clear and objective. It is absolutely evident that not even the greatest willingness of such a superpower as the USA (at the time) and its President to recognize Slovenian State as a sovereign nation could have no effect. Slovenian politics of the time was simply not prepared for such an occurrence. The Czech Republic was a different story. There Masaryk spent the entire war intensively building both at home and abroad to prepare the conditions which led the Czechs to an independent country, and more than that – they got to integrate Slovaks, so similar to Slovenes, as a bonus. While this was taking place Slovenian politicians yelled at the top of their lungs about the triple ‘single tribe’ and “Yugoslavia, the only solution’. Naturally the evil spirits on the Captol and the Hill and above the confluence of Sava and Danube were grinning viciously. The rich (from their point of view) and civilized Slovenian herd was entering their barn peacefully and of its own accord. Some even found this unneccessary. But the obsession of the so-called protectors of national interest knew no boundaries. Luckily the president of the National Council in Ljubljana, knight Jozhef Pogachnik informed the central government in Vienna of the National Council’s decision to take over all the power and administration in Slovenian lands – which he then extensively enumerated: Primorska with Istria, Carniola, the Slovenian part of Carinthia, and so at least we now know the important truth. In keeping with the official position of the – up until then – sovereign and central government on the topic of the dissolution of the Austrian Empire, with the acceptance of this message by the government in Vienna, the National Council became the sovereign power in these Slovenian lands or their parts. The question that arises is: If the Ljubljana based government was able to mention the entire Primorska region (including Istria and the Kvarner Islands), why then was it necessary to keep going on about the “Slovenian parts” of Carinthia and Styria? Any normal government would take it for granted that in principle all Slovenian lands in their entirety would fall under the jurisdiction of the Ljubljana based National Council. If this would not suit everyone there would still be enough time later to clarify matters and start legal procedures accordingly. But no, the high politicians that took responsibility for the fate of Slovenes and their lands preferred to dismember their own lands; their threat of handing the whole thing over to the dark Balkanian monarch stirred up strong opposition even with native Slovenes which later proved a fatal blow to the plebiscite in Carinthia.3 It did not take Slovenian leaders long to abandon the larger part of Styria even though there was no shortage of interest in the “Slovenian affair” in Gradec (Graz). Defeatism, capitulation, collaborationism and other rubbish averse to the building of the country was what determined the fate of the paltry remnants of Slovenes who then went on to suffer the catastrophes of World War II, capitulation, exile and the genocidal slaughter. The victorious Yugoslavia did in fact succeed in acquiring the entire land of Primorska but Slovenian administration had no idea what to do with it and so it simply and quietly handed it over to Croatian officials. It is therefore no coincidence that at the time of the tumult of emancipation the Croatian administration found itself in the middle of the Gulf of Piran and not only on the left but now also on the right bank of the Mura river in the villages under the Gorjanci range of Bela Krajina and under the Snezhnik hill. Even the topmost experts of the legal profession made official statements about Slovenia not being a maritime country – that it does not connect to international waters and that it is in short a territorially deprived country. The fact that these so called experts are intellectually and patriotically deprived was of course never mentioned.
This is the situation that now found its way to the documents of the prepared arbitration agreement, with a strong godfather standing in the background just in case things start getting too entangled again.
The agreement determines the object and the method of the arbiters’ decision process. The objects of decision are the sea border and the land border (Point 3/1/a). Sounds simple. Therefore the tribunal has the power to decide the entire border however it sees fit as long as it makes its decision on the basis of international law (Point 4/1/a). At the same time the tribunal must decide on the matter of the contact of Slovenian territory with the international waters and on the regime in the aquatorium (3/1/b/c) while taking into account the principle of equity/proportionality and good relations between neighbours (Point 3/1/b). That’s all it says. What this means is that Slovenia must present all facts and arguments that correspond to the demanded criteria of international law.
I am sure that republic borders,4 municipal borders, administrative precincts, statistical data, self-government agreements, police surveillance precincts, merchant custom and procedures do not correspond to these criteria nor do they have any bearing on its view. Filled with this data is the very expensive and thick but also worthless (actually harmful) Bela knjiga (White Book) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2006. Also meaningless and without effect are agreements reached unilaterally (above, point 5 – no unilateral act after 25 June 1991); this goes for all agreements reached or unilaterally accepted by the DEMOS government pertaining to the neighbouring Yugoslav Republic of Croatia.
Since Croatia was not subject to international law at the time these acts are meaningless anyway.
At first glance Badinteri’s arbitrary decision to use the border between the former Yugoslav republics may seem to have some merit. This decision however possesses at least two cosmetic faults:
1) The Helsinki Accord states that international borders in Europe are unalterable. It defines procedures needed for eventual changes. None of the above was taken into account in the Slovenian-Croatian case.
2) To speak of a “border between republics” within a single united state when a republic is a geographic term5 is one thing, but to speak of a border between two stately subjects is another. Within a united single country administrative boundaries are variable and their effect is only administrative. But when this administrative boundary is to become an international border all other components come in to play, such as territorial integrity, historical facts, the will of the people etc.
It is therefore evident that Badinteri’s decision does not automatically translate into an international demarcation following the line that divided two local administrative units within Yugoslavia. This is all the clearer if there exists and is obvious to all a thousand-year-old international boundary on the line running from Reka to Kotoriba, respected even by the occupying forces who did not allow its Nazi Ustashe ally – NDH (Indepedent State of Croatia – quisling state) to extend its power over this border. However the incursions of its armed bands over this border and the killing of Slovenian inhabitants already during the war were all the more vicious (for instance the mass murder of all males at Planina on Gorjanci), not to mention the killings in Croatian concentration camps and the slaughters in Istria and between the rivers Drava and Mura after the war. The fact that Slovenes in the mentioned places sealed the Slovene character of these lands with their blood mus certainly be mentioned here. Therefore Badinteri’s arbitrary decision fails to meet the requirements from Point 4/1/a, even where it actually touches on the actual matter of international border between Slovenia and Croatia.
Similarly to Badinteri’s document the so-called Fundamental Constitutional Charter also repeats the “republic” blunder and is also unilateral and hence entirely invalid. It concerns a partner “on the other side of the negotiation table” that does not exist! There is no subject to international law on the other side. Croatia was not a sovereign country at the time and it was impossible to reach any internationally binding agreements with it and even more so – any type of unilateral obligation (to self), not even a constitutional one. Therefore, everything we’ve examined thus far does not meet the requirements of Point 4/1/a.
The only argument that possesses all the elements of international character is the international border between the Slovenian lands that entered SHS on 1 December 1918 and the province of Croatia – until that point within the Kingdom of Hungary. For over a thousand years this border was a legally internationally undisputed fact with all the adjacent attributes – precisely defined and marked in the field. In 1918 when Slovenian lands joined SHS /Yugoslavia (after Trianon Prekmurje up to Drava was added which was prior to that a part of the Republic of Hungary) this border remained untouched, but had no functional use. During the occupation at the time of World War II it was again automatically used as the border between the NDH and the occupied Slovenian lands: Prekmurje (including Medmurje!), Styria, Carniola and the Primorska region reaching as far as Reka (the city itself was again included in the Primorska – Venezia Giulia).
Even after World War II no act of international law altered this border and so it awaited – untouched – the dissolution of the state that came to be through a union of Slovenian lands and other regions. It is a catastrophe completely in keeping with the demonstrated customs and procedures exhibited by Slovenian so-called politicians and statesmen that all empowered government, parliamentary or party officials failed to notice this evident but utterly important fact.
Today we are facing the Arbitrary Agreement that is finally, after a hundred years, presenting Slovenian state-building arguments. Even though late, the agreement is presenting Slovenia with the opportunity to catch up and repair the damage. It is not possible to awaken the multitude of the fallen and murdered, to repair the immeasurable damage and replace the lost existences, but it is possible to present the tribunal with a simple but final and only truth which it must take into account. Only this truth, for nothing that it may receive from the Croatian side meets the demands of international law as defined in Point 4/1/a.
Perhaps Point 4/1/b apart from international law takes into account the principle of equity/proportionality and good relations between neighbours mostly so that the good neighbours, conceitedly believing that all they wish to gorge on automatically falls to them, do not suffer a stroke when the tribunal announces its final and binding decision.
It is possible to hope that this time the superpower that failed to exert enough pressure on the limp national-protectionist dilettantes, and to lend enough help to the unusual nation under the Alps valuable even to itself (ex. Jefferson), will try to mend this historical blunder.
(Ljubljana, 5 November, 2009)
1 The term republic was used in former Yugoslavia for individual units within the federation. (translator’s note)
2 Part of the Brioni Agreement which framed the way the hostilities between Yugoslavia and Slovenia were stopped. (translator’s note)
3 The 1920 Carinthian Plebiscite determined the final border between Austria and Slovenia, leaving half of the Carinthian Slovenians in Austria – to a degree by their own choosing. (translator's note)
4 Former Yugoslav republics (translator's note)
5 Yugoslav republic only had a degree of autonomy – courts, army, official language – the high court was in Belgrade, there was also a common economy, and most importantly all the republics were lead by a common governmental body – the central committee. (translator's note)
Translated from Slovenian by Jaka Jarc