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2. Background: Background notes

Independence achieved on June 25, 1991 from Yugoslavia.

Updated (May 2005)

Slavs settled on the territory of present Slovenia in the 6th Century. The Slavic Duchy of Carantania, which is considered to be the first Slovene state, was established in the 7th Century, but in 745 it fell under the control of the Franks. The Slavs converted to Christianity and gradually lost their independence1. Between the 14th Century and 1918, all Slovene-populated areas became part first of the Habsburg, and later of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

In the period of reformation (16th Century) the first book was published in Slovene and the Bible was translated into Slovenian. At the beginning of the 19th Century, some half of Slovenia’s territory belonged to the French empire. In the revolutionary year of 1848, Slovene intellectuals issued a program known as “Zedinjena Slovenija” (United Slovenia), which requested that all Slovenes should be united into a kingdom within the Austrian empire. Although the program failed in its objectives, it contributed to the collapse of the Monarchy in 1918. In October 1918, Slovenes were liberated from the territory of the former Austro-Hungarian Monarchy.

After World War I, Slovenia first became part of the State of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which was proclaimed in October 1918, and later of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, which was established in December 1918 and renamed to Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 19292.

Slovenia’s territory was reduced in size twice: by Italy’s annexation of the area in the West and subsequently by the Austrian annexation of the territory in the North of Slovenia. The territory annexed by Austria today constitutes the Southern Austrian province of Carinthia. In contrast to the loss of territory in the West and the North, after World War I Slovenia was awarded a territory in the North-East, which had formerly been under the Hungarian sovereignty. This shifting of the borders after World War I created national minorities in Slovenia and in its neighboring states.

In November 1945, after World War II, Slovenia became part of the Federal People’s Republic of Yugoslavia (later renamed into the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, SFRY) as one of the six constitutive republics, alongside Croatia; Bosnia-Herzegovina; Serbia (including Vojvodina and Kosovo); Montenegro and Macedonia.

After World War II, Yugoslavia’s borders with Austria remained virtually unchanged. The Slovene population living in Carinthia constituted a national minority in the Republic of Austria. Later, this minority became subject to special rights established under the 1955 Austrian State Treaty (Article 7). The Yugoslav/Slovene border with Hungary also remained unchanged. A small Hungarian minority has lived in Slovenia (some 11,000 people according to the 1953 Census, and some 8,500 according to the 1991 Census) and a small Slovene minority has lived in Hungary.

However, the Yugoslavia/Italy border caused disputes for almost a decade after the war. This issue was settled only in 1954. Whereas the Adriatic coast was returned to Yugoslavia, Italy retained Trieste. The new border arrangements meant that a large number of Slovenes found themselves under the Italian rule, and a large Italian minority was created in Croatian Istria. A smaller proportion of Yugoslavia’s Italians were settled in Slovenia (at the 1991 national census, around 3,000 inhabitants of Slovenia declared themselves as ethnic Italians).

Slovenia remained part of communist Yugoslavia until the 1990s, when anxiety within the federation started to grow. The fear of Serb domination rose dramatically with Serbia’s constitutional reforms in the late 1980s, whereby the autonomous status of Vojvodina and Kosovo was abolished3. Slovenia passed its own amendments to the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Slovenia. These constitutional amendments paved the way for the first democratic, multi-party elections (held in April 1990), and eventually for the sovereign state. In the referendum from December 23, 1990, 88.5 percent of voters4 voted for independence from Yugoslavia and on June 25, 1991 the Republic of Slovenia declared its independence.

When compared with other states, particularly those in Central and Eastern Europe, Slovenia is often described as an ethnically homogeneous state. Approximately 90 percent of its population are Slovenes. Most of the non-Slovene population are people who ethnically belong to the former Yugoslav nations: Croats, Serbs, Moslems, Macedonians and Montenegrins5. The great majority of them (about 170,000) have obtained Slovene citizenship under the 1991 Citizenship Law when no other requirement than permanent residence in Slovenia was set down as a condition. Dual citizenship has not been prohibited what resulted in “a new category” of Slovene citizens, holding both Slovenian passport and a passport of one of the former Yugoslav republics, now independent states.

Due to their immigrant origin and the lack of any international standards, Slovenia does not consider these ethnic groups as national minorities.

Following the pre-independence tradition with regard to the protection of national minorities, the Republic of Slovenia recognizes and protects two traditional national minorities: Hungarians and Italians. The only other ethnic group, explicitly mentioned in the Constitution, is the Roma community.

source: ECMI – European Center for Minority Issues, Ethnopolitical Map of Southeastern Europe, Slovenia, http://www.ecmi.de/emap/slo.html#bg

  1. Except in the 9th Century, when Prince Kocelj established an independent state of Slovenes in Lower Pannonia (between 869 and 874).
  2. The existence of the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was confirmed by the 1919 Peace Treaty of Versailles.
  3. Serbia’s influence in federal institutions automatically increased by the number of votes previously accorded to the two autonomous provinces.
  4. the turnout was over 90 percent
  5. With the exception of a small number of Croats and Serbs, who have traditionally inhabited certain areas alongside the border with Croatia.

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