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[Yugoslavia Memory of a disaster] 1991, the scattered recognition of the former countries of Yugoslavia

Not recognizing is keeping the pressure on
For three months, Slovenia and Croatia proclaimed themselves independent states. And for three months, European states have refused this independence. But the fervor of the “no” from the beginning does not
is more. We gradually moved from “refusal”, then from a vague notion of “negotiated independence”, to today's reality: “independence, okay. But not right now". As the
notes a British official, “it is quite obvious that the federation is ruined. (But) not immediately recognizing Slovenia and Croatia is a way for us to maintain
pressure, to force each of the parties to find an amicable solution upon leaving the federation”
. As a result of this pressure, the Slovenes and Croats are trying to force
assert their sovereignty by all means.

What is a State?
In the classical sense, in fact, a State is constituted when a government effectively exercises its power over a given territory and people. The difficulty is then to determine
"L'effectiveness” of this government. For Jean Combacau, professor at the Institute of Advanced International Studies of Paris II, ”this government must have real control
of this authority. In Croatia for example, we cannot, if we stick to legal rigor, consider that there is a Croatian State as long as the former central government succeeds in maintaining a
important piece of his authority.”
For Slovenia, it seems simpler. Because “by withdrawing its armies, and leaving Slovenia to govern itself, Belgrade has, all in all, recognized
tacit but clear way, Slovenian independence
”. It remains to establish the traces of this sovereignty. On the one hand, Slovenia, like Croatia, has been issuing their own
passports, recognized today by several European states, an important first step towards diplomatic recognition. On the other hand, even if the internal border in Yugoslavia does not exist
again in a tangible way, the “external” border posts are now guarded by Slovenian agents. The only fly in the ointment: money. Admittedly, Slovenia has adopted a national currency,
but Tolar is not yet accepted in everyday use. In addition, the government in Ljubljana continues – surreptitiously – to print… Yugoslavian dinars!

Those who recognized it, those who did not
If almost all the States of Europe, even those which are not part of it, such as Switzerland or the Nordic countries, say they align with the position of the European Community, each qualifies its
alignment. All Europeans want a consensus but without knowing what content to give it. Some have thus recognized the validity of Croatian and Slovenian passports. Others say they are ready
to recognize the new States… but only when another has taken the first step. Clearly, everyone is waiting for the first act of recognition. Germany and Italy look good
placed in this leadership race…
Group 1: recognition of independence = Estonia…
Group 2: passport recognition = Austria, Italy, Czechoslovakia, Hungary…
Group 3: wait for the first move = Nordic countries…
Group 4: the Community = Denmark, Spain (“you can't force people who don't want to live together”), France

(article published in La Truffe, November 13, 1991 © NGV with JSI infography)

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).