chapter  5
42 Pages

Irreconcilable positions

The Fourteenth and last party congress of the Yugoslav communists, held in the second half of January 1990, took place a good half month after the fall of the last communist regime in Eastern Europe aside from Albania. The erstwhile Executive Secretary of the LCY Presidium, the otherwise neutral Stefan Korošec, had given expression to the pressure exerted by international developments: “As Yugoslav communists we must know that we do not constitute an isolated oasis, whether in Europe or in the world.”1 Under the management of Pančevski, the dogmatic Macedonian behind whom the Serbian bloc stood in close ranks, the only concession which the congress wanted to make to the spirit of the times was the renunciation of the leading role of the party. A Slovenian delegate remarked at the time that this had actually already been decided at the Sixth Party Congress of 1952.2

Noteworthy were the motions, mostly presented by the Slovenes, which were rejected: the transformation of the federal party into an association of independent parties of the republics, the ending of all prosecution on the basis of Article 114 of the penal code (counter-revolution) as well as all other political trials throughout Yugoslavia, a ban on torture, and an anchoring of the right of disassociation “within the framework of the constitution”. The Slovenian motion to condemn Serbia’s economic blockade was blocked to especially strong applause.3 The new Slovenian party chief, Čiril Ribičič, said that with this action congress had declined to do the bare minimum which the Slovenian communists considered necessary, given developments in Yugoslavia and in the world. Neither the principles of federalism nor the principles of human rights and democracy nor the proposals for reform and for the transformation of the League of Communists, which had been demanded by the Slovenian party congress, had received even minimal attention.4 After Ribičič’s declaration to this effect, the Slovenes walked out.