MON, 10 JUL 1995 21:16:29 GMT
AIM, Ljubljana, July 8, 1995
The activities the Slovene party should initiate concerning the division balance of the former Yugoslavia are broadly discussed in Slovenia lately. The other former republics which are now newly-established states, are not following Slovenia fully in these activities, because most of them have far more urgent matters to attend, the war certainly ranking first among them, so that the complicated issue of the division balance is put off till some better time in the future. Slovenia, however, began making, for it highly convenient, arrangements with foreign commercial banks for discharging Yugoslav debts, taking upon itself 18 per cent of all debts as its own, but detaching itself in this way from the package of other Yugoslav debtors. We discussed this issue with the head of the Slovene delegation at the negotiations on succession of the former SFRY, Miran mejak, who chaired the Chamber of the Republics and Provinces in the former Assembly of the SFRY just before it was dissolved.
- Mr Mejak, what is the current situation concerning the negotiations on division balance, that is, the succession of Yugoslavia?
Succession is at a complete standstill. Namely, there are two different approaches to succession. Badinter's Committee decided, at the very beginning of the negotiations, that all the former Yugoslav republics were equal successors of the former state. This is also the stance of all the newly-established states in the territory of the former SFRY, with the exception of the Serbo-Montenegrin state which stubbornly claims that it is the only successor, because we, the others, according to them, have all seceded from the former state. That is how we got into a stalemate and obviously a foreign arbitrator will be needed.
- According to certain information, the international community was ready to pay the FRY for recognition of B&H and Serbia not only by lifting the sanctions, but also by recognizing it as the only successor.
If that should really be recognized, then all the other republics should negotiate with them. They treat us, the Slovenes, as a seceded republic and they have certain claims on account of that, because by seceding we allegedly caused damage to them. But, you should know that the FRY cannot get the whole of the inheritance any more. They have been expelled from the GATT, the International Monetary Fuynd, if they want to join the World Trade Organization they shall have to ask for reception, and similar is the case with many international organizations. Regardless of what will happen, the best possible solution for the FRY is something in between. They cannot claim full continuity any more, because the former SFRY is treated as a dissloved country by many institutions. The fact that all other successor countries are internationally recognized contributes to this, while the FRY still is not.
- Let us assume that the FRY succeeds in its efforts? Wouldn't then its inheritance include debts too?
Yes, that is exactly what they would like. You know, it is clear that the foreign banks can get money only from Slovenia and Croatia, while the others don't have enough to discharge debts, even if they claim otherwise. That is why what would probably happen would be that Belgrade, presumably as the only successor, would invite us and, by logic of the former SFRY, divide the debts among us. In that case, Slovenia would pay much more that it will pay now, after the New York agreement with commercial banks.
- But, so far, this agreement was just initialled, and not yet signed by all the signatories?
Yes, but it was signed by the most powerful banks, so that it is highly probable it will be signed by the necessary two thirds by September or October this year.
- What questions of the division balance have remained open?
Concerning Slovenia, our main task is to protect the part of property abroad which is under succession. It includes real estate, foreign currency reserves which are blocked now, various balances and clearing accounts and similar.
- When you say real estate, you probably mean diplomatic and consular missions of the former SFRY where mostly representatives of the FRY reside now?
It is in fact the question of embassies and consulates around the world. Nowadays, the Serbs and the Montenegrins who have a joint state, are replacing the signs of the SFRY with those which say the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. They are not doing it with the consent of the countries where these missions are located.
- If that is so, why don't these countries react?
For instance, the Italians don't care. In countries friendly to Serbia this act is accepted as something which is self-understood, the others tolerate it, like for instance the already mentioned Italians, while the third, like in New Zealand, for example, they are throwing representatives of the FRY from the former embassies of the SFRY. Our diplomatic missions are trying to prevent putting mortgagaes on these buildings abroad and making any changes in land registers. We are following this closely from case to case, and our succession fund takes care of protection of our property abroad, even if the negotiations on succession should last forever.
- But, this probably costs our state a lot. Is it worthwhile investing so much energy and money into this small part that we might get?
We are doing it for principled reasons, in order to prevent precedents. If ownership of the FRY is recognized in a single instance, the analogy will be valid in a series of other things. A single state cannot be the successor of the former state. This is also very painful in case of archives. Since the Serbs and the Montenegrins believe they are the only successors of the former state, we cannot get any documentation about our history from former federal archives (from film to police archives). There are things over there which concern for example only Slovenia or Macedonia, but all those materials are inaccessible for us. After all, this is contrary to international norms. There are a lot of such and similar cases, and that is why we believe that we must persist in this matter.