Thirty years after Slovenia gained independence, a bitter dispute over a street named after Marshal Josip Broz Tito since 1979 has highlighted how the former leader of the Yugoslav federation continues to divide opinion in central Europe.
A municipal decree that changes the name of Tito Road, or The way of tito, in Radenci, a town in northeastern Slovenia, a The road to independence for Slovenia, or Slovenian Way of Independence, has been debated in the highest court in the country. A referendum was even proposed as a solution to the opposition.
Despite a Constitutional Court ruling in December to overturn the decree, the city’s mayor, Roman Leljak, author and historian, has caused consternation in recent days by going ahead with his plans to remove all references to the former from the street. dictator.
At a municipal meeting where a new decree was apparently finally approved, five councilors withdrew and Leljak was accused of being an ideologue.
“Unfortunately, democracy died in the municipality of Radenci with the appearance of the mayor Roman Leljak, who arbitrarily changes the image of the municipality and makes suspicious decisions that will be paid by the citizens for a long time”, two councilors, Norma Bale and Dejan Berić, it said in a statement. “Mayor Roman Leljak managed to divide the citizens into two camps and fight each other.”
Slovenia celebrated the 30th anniversary of its independence from Yugoslavia late last month, a moment that Prime Minister Janez Janša said had allowed the country “to breathe freely.” But the recent bloody history of the countries that made up the former Yugoslavia – Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia – has lent itself to an outbreak of yoke nostalgia in some quarters in recent years.
Tito, of a Croatian father and Slovenian mother, ruled the former Yugoslavia of which Slovenia was a part for 35 years until his death in 1980, during which time he made it one of the most prosperous communist countries through a national model that broke with Joseph. Stalin’s Soviet Union.
He was ruthless in suppressing dissenting opinion and nationalist movements, and his role and conduct during the formation of the socialist federation of Yugoslavia continues to be debated. After Tito’s death, Yugoslavia plunged into a bloody civil war at a cost of more than 100,000 lives.
In 1989, Leljak published a book titled Buried Alive: Josip Broz Tito’s Worst Crime – Huda Jama, detailing the acts committed by Tito’s anti-fascist supporters after the end of the war as they sought to build a new country on the communist model.
More than 1,000 people, mainly prisoners of war, died during May and June 1945 in the Huda Jama massacre, also known for the Barbara Pit coal mine where it took place.
In advocating for the removal of Tito’s name from the street in Radenci, Leljak has claimed that Tito was one of the great criminals of the 20th century.
The constitutional court ruled in 2011 that a separate attempt to rename a street in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana, in honor of Tito was unconstitutional. “The name Tito not only symbolizes the liberation of the territory of present-day Slovenia from fascist occupation in World War II as claimed by the other party in the case, but also serious violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, especially in the decade after the war, ”the court said.
In the Radenci case, however, there was sympathy for maintaining the status quo, given its long history.
The annulment of the decree was based on a technicality. The court said less than 15 days’ notice had been given for people to make their opposition known.
Leljak said the latest effort to rename the street was fully in line with the law. He added that the change was a show of respect for Lodz Gaube, a former member of the Yugoslav People’s Army founded by Tito who was shot dead in the street while fighting for Slovenian independence in 1991.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism