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    Copyright: The following text is for personal information only. Any professional use or publication in written or electronic form is subject to an agreement with AIM, 17 rue Rebeval, F-75019 Paris, France

    FRI, 25 FEB 1994 22:14:49 GMT

    AIM, Ljubljana, 9. February, 1994

    NATIONALISM IN SLOVENIA

    All those, who are not few, who claim that there is no nationalism in Slovenia, are either blind or pretending to be blind. At the time when the wave of nationalism, in the bad meaning of the word, because chauvinism would be more appropriate, has swept through a large part of Europe and considerably contributed to the course of bloodshedding events in the Balkans, it would not really be possible to prevent this wave from reaching Slovenia as well. Of course, the question is where it would stop.

    When we tried to obtain information from Slovenian police on the number of criminal offenses committed on the grounds of "nationalism", we learnt that the police does not even keep records of offenses and other crimes "under such a code". They say, namely, that if disorderly conduct, fights, murders and other similar acts are motivated by nationalism, it would, in their opinion, be pointless to keep records or criminal offenses under such a description. They said that last year, i.e. in 1993, no such cases were recorded! Which is rather surprising, considering that nationalism, i.e. chauvinism, is rising, rather than declining.

    The most relevant data to support the above stated are found in the results of the acknowledged Slovenian public opinion poll carried out each year by the Center for Public Opinion and Mass Communication, of the Faculty for Social Sciences. The authors of the poll caution that nationalist trends are now more pronounced than before, even though growing nationalism was already noticeable in the past several years. The persons polled were asked about their attitude to immigrants considering that Slovenia, being the most developed former Yugoslav republic, is very attractive for people from those former Yugoslav regions that are now afflicted by war or where free-thinking individuals can no longer have a quiet and safe life. It is certainly easier to move to a familiar region, where the immigrant maybe has friends or even relatives, than to move to a foreign environment. In the first period or the war in Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, dozens of thousands of persons, or maybe even over a hundred thousand according to some estimates, moved to Slovenia as a result, from Bosnia and Croatia, but also from Serbia and Montenegro. After that, the state of Slovenia adopted a series or measures whereby such immigration has been almost completely stopped.

    Almost a third of the people who took part in the mentioned poll (28.3 per cent) were of the opinion that immigration should be completely stopped, and only a dozen believed that Slovenia could allow family members or Slovenian citizens who are not Slovenians by nationality, but have permanent residence in Slovenia, to come as settlers. This view is still held by a minority, whereas 44 per cent of the people polled advocated restrictive immigration policy. However, the reasons stem not only from nationalism but also from the fact that Slovenia has faced an economic crisis and that unemployment was dramatically increased during the past year, increasing the number of the unemployed to 150,000, which is a large number for a small country with the population of not more than two million. New intakes or immigrants would certainly augment unemployment.

    The egotistic attitude to refugees is therefore more difficult to understand. While only a year before last, over 28 per cent or the people polled assessed that their communities were sympathetic and kind to refugees, this year only 15.3 per cent gave such an assessment. Likewise, two years ago, one fifth of the Slovenians were willing to accommodate refugees in their homes, but according to the present poll, only 2.3 per cent would still be willing to do so.

    Let us see a statement on refugees given to AIM by Mr. Zmago Jelinchich, one of the leading Slovenian nationalists, the president and deputy or the Slovenian National Party. "The refugees are eroding the Slovenian national integrity and tearing down the Slovenian economic potential. The number or refugees in Slovenia, whose population is only two million, is too big. The Slovenian border is open and the number of refugees is growing by the day. That is why crime in our country, like elsewhere in Europe, is on the rise. Namely, there are many non-Slovenian gangs engaged in threats, fighting and stealing. There should be no fear that houses or foreigners will be set to fire in Slovenia. On the contrary, we have to worry whether foreigners will set Slovenian homes on fire, which is already happening".

    But, Jelinchich can be considered a less extreme nationalist. More extreme are members or the National-Social Union or Slovenia, whose leader, Matijaz Gerlanc, extended invitation to Vladimir Volfovich Zhirynovsky to visit Slovenia. Not only they, but also a large number of non-organized individuals, would expel from Slovenia all people who are not of Slovenian ethnic origin. Thus, the Slovenian political scene has staged lively debates on whether another referendum should be held to check if all those who were granted Slovenian citizenship in 1991 actually deserve it, or whether dual citizenships should be prevented, etc. Such initiatives do mostly come from extreme right wing nationalist parties, but it is a sad fact that their motions are voted for in the Parliament even by the so called democratic parties such as the Christian Democratic Party, but also the Social Democratic Party of Slovenia, which does not have much in common with social democracy. Nationalism has thus spilled over to the political scene, and further on, to state institutions. The state can not yet be blamed for supporting nationalism, but it is true that nationalism is not being disclosed. When police or customs officers mistreat passengers holding Bosnian or Yugoslav passports, or when the state denies entry visas to the Belgrade chorus "Branko Krsmanovich" who is to sing at the grand celebration or the Serbian Orthodox holiday St. Sava in the Ljubljana's "Cankarjev Dom", it is hushed up. Had not the press carried lengthy reports on how Serbian singer and songwriter Momchilo Bajagich-Bajaga was denied entry into Slovenia, the event would have been hushed up. Namely, according to Slovenian regulations, entry visas for Slovenia are issued only to those citizens of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) who have close relatives in Slovenia, that is, parents, children, husband, wife, brother or sister. Others are denied entry, except with a special permit issued by the state. Considering that, with the alleged number of 50,000, Serbs are the second largest population in Slovenia (after Croats), such denials are painful for their relatives and friends.

    Anyhow, nationalism has already found its way to Slovenia. Fortunately, it has not yet become militant, but should the state and the civilian society fail to take appropriate steps, it might spread even further. Against this background, much more joy comes with the news that students, meeting in one or their clubs in Ljubljana every week, organize the so called "Balkans Party", playing only music from Bosnia, Serbia, Montenegro, Croatia and Macedonia. Making mock of restrictions.

    PETRA VOVK