THU, 06 APR 1995 19:45:01 GMT
The Slovenian State Throws People out of Army Flats
Time: ten o'clock in the morning, March 28. Place: Ljubljana city district Siska, a flat in a skyscraper in Celovska street. In front of the building is a truck which slightly resembles a furniture van, its function is quite similar. It transports belongings of people thrown out of flats they acquired tenancy rights for in 1991, during the so-called moratorium, after Slovenia had signed the Brioni Declaration which suspended implementation of all laws and other legal documents referring to the declared independence of the state. This furniture truck is, therefore, parked in front of the building, and soon after a police vehicle with about ten policemen arrives. They have all come to throw out the Barukcic family from their flat - father Stipe (a Croat), mother Ilinka (a Serb), their 15-year old daughter who has an ailing heart and an implanted by-pass, and their four-year old son. This day is just a re-run of the previous day, when they had also come, but retreated because of numerous journalists and news photographers. That is why they sneaked into the building the following day and, when the family refused to let them into the flat, they began to break down the entrance door. At that moment, the mother Ilinka, on the verge of a nervous breakdown, wants to end up her misery by leaping out of the window on the seventh floor. Her husband and their friends have a hard time preventing her, and soon afterwards, firemen with a safety net appear, just in case Ilinka decides to jump anyway. But, the outcome is quick: the policemen force the door, throw the family and others whom they find on the spot out by force, and very soon the family Barukcic finds itself in the street.
This is just one of the stories in a row all over Slovenia. By evicting people from army flats (which are mainly occupied by people who are by origin from other former YU-republics or people from mixed marriages), the Slovenian state has obviously decided to expel these people from Slovenia altogether. Of course, all the official agencies vigorously deny it, but one simply cannot find any other explanation for the actions of Slovenian authorities.
The flats concerned were owned by the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA) before the war, i.e. before Slovenia proclaimed independence. After June 25, 1991, when Slovenia did proclaim its independence and after the end of the ten-day struggle between the JNA and the Slovenian territorial defence units, it became clear to the Yugoslav army that it would have to leave Slovenia. It then readily got rid of the flats it owned by finally complying with the requests primarily of the people employed by the JNA for civilian jobs - from cleaning women to legal advisers, those who had no intention to leave Slovenia. But, according to the new Constitution of Slovenia which had already come into force, the entire property of the ruined federation, and therefore that of JNA too, became the property of the state of Slovenia.
Right after the attack of JNA on Slovenia, things changed for some time (precisely, until October 8), because on July 7 in Brioni, Slovenia signed a declaration which obliged it to suspend temporarily all documents referring to its independence until certain issues were resolved. By pure logic, this should have also referred to ownership of army flats. But, not for the Slovenian state, not for majority of Slovenian lawyers. Namely, they claim that the moratorium meant nothing and that all those who - apparently quite legally at the time - moved into JNA flats should have known that these flats were disputable. Even if that were true, why had nobody warned a host of people about it who were either granted these flats by the JNA or exchanged their socially-owned (civilian) flats for the army ones? Nobody in Slovenia had been able to give an answer to this question yet.
There is another interesting thing concerning the ownership of these flats. If the flats are really owned by the Slovenian Ministry of Defence which controls them in the name of the Slovenian state since June 25 1991, why did that same Ministry of Defence publicize the transfer account the tenants of these flats were to pay rent on only on November 5 1991, that is after October 18 when the JNA officially left Slovenia? There is a lot of such and similar question which have not been answered yet. After all - Slovenia can very well celebrate June 25, 1991 as its independence day, but Badinter's Committee recognizes October 8 as the day of dissolution of former Yugoslavia (SFRY), that is, the day when Brioni Declaration expired.
People who have been evicted from their flats in the past several days, mostly have not sufficient knowledge of legal matters to oppose the state. Majority of the lawyers, however, privately admit that the Slovenian state is not right, but they would never publicly state anything of the kind. Therefore, the only real address these people can refer to is the Helsinki Monitor of Slovenia, a non-governmental organization for human rights founded only last year. Several volunteers in it are trying to help many people in distress who are trying to fight, unfortunately like Don Quijote, against the bureaucratic apparatus of the Slovenian state which first prevents them to get either temporary of permanent residence, then sets obstacles on their way to citizenship, or evicts them from flats which they regularly paid all the expenses for to that very same state.
But, nothing can be of any help now - not even all the regularly paid expenses, or the properly certified contracts on taking over the flats, or proper registration of over a thousand families at the addresses of the mentioned flats, the state did not object to at the time. About 1060 cases of tenancy right holders are already at court, and decisions that they must leave these flats have already been reached for about 300 families. The vast majority of them have nowhere to got to. One should not forget either that their emptied flats after eviction as a rule remain empty! Who needs these flats then? Why does the Ministry of Defence act so brutally towards these unfortunate people when it is an established fact that it has a surplus of flats after departure of JNA? And why does the Ministry of Defence have these flats at its disposal in the first place, when Slovenia has adopted the Law pursuant to which the total socially-owned dwellings have become one, and should be controlled by the state housing fund, and not by any of the ministries?
These questions will have to be answered not only by the Government, but by the Parliament and the judiciary. The Supreme Judge of the Supreme Court of Slovenia, Dusan Ogrizek, stated that the judiciary reached the verdict in favour of the Ministry of Defence because it acted pursuant to valid Slovenian laws. But, Ogrizek also says that this still does not mean, if the Court reaches a decision in its favour, that the Ministry must necessarily respect the verdict and throw these poor innocent people out into the street! They may even forget that they had gone to Court and find some other solution. Perhaps they could do something like the Slovenian Ombudsman, the guardian of human rights, Ivo Bizjak, suggested to the Ministry of Defence - to offer lease contracts to families living in these flats (which they actually already have), in other words, to make them officially tenancy right holders in the flats belonging to the Ministry of Defence and regularly pay the rent and all other expenses. Representatives of the Ministry arrogantly lied to him that tenants in these flats had no interest in anything of the kind!
Generally speaking, their behavior towards these people in great trouble is extremely ruthless. For instance, Mrs. Jasic who is also awaiting eviction and who appealed for postponement and asked who would then take care of her three children, an employee of the Ministry answered that Slovenia certainly would not. When she explained that both she and her children have Slovenian citizenship, this bureaucrat snapped that she could return the citizenship if she wanted to! The mentioned mother of three children referred to everyone - from the Ombudsman to the President of the state - but there was no help. That is why she is now threatening that she will blow up both her and her family together with the flat, in case of eviction!
Only such threats have somewhat shaken up politicians and deputies. If all the planned evictions are not interrupted in the next few days, greater expressions of dissatisfaction may occur, even protests or even a tragedy.
JANJA KLASINC Janja Klasinc, AIM