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October 14, 1991
. Vreme News Digest Agency No 3

The Slovene War Plunder

Most tanks are still in working order and only a few represent "museum exhibits". The deadline for the troops retreat from Slovenia expires on October 18 of this year, but the Slovenian Presidency at the meeting on October 6, has decided that "armour and other artillery, operated by the Army on the territory of the Republic of Slovenia, will be kept in Slovenia until the aggression on the Republic of Croatia has been called off, i.e. until the distribution plan has been drawn up". Since the possibility of the tanks retreat through Italy and Hungary has been dispelled with, the Army equipment and the operating staff have found themselves trapped, after the latest decision of the Slovenian Presidency. They are safe until October 18, and then they will be treated as "the alien armed forces". The precise explanation was given by the Slovenian Defence Minister Janez Jansa. "The soldiers will be left without water, food, telephone lines and railway transport" and if the Army attempts a breakthrough, it will be stopped by the Territorial Defence, "which is well equipped to do so". The Slovenian army already possesses a certain quantity of "maliutka", guided anti-tank missiles used for destroying tanks on long distances. In the case of attack, the Army will be met with an even fiercer response-apart from the shoulder-fired rockets aimed for destroying aircraft at departure, the Slovene TD also has rockets meant for the arriving aircraft of up to 5OOO metres altitude.

The Slovenian Presidency has evaluated that it would be impossible for the tanks to be transferred to Yugoslavia through Croatia because of the Army involvement in the existing conflict which would entail an immediate danger for Croatia from the rear, from the Slovenian territory Thus there is no alternative."If the Army were to go to Bar, it would be heading for Dubrovnik and if it were to go to Subotica through Hungary it would end up in Osijek.

Another, tragi-comic argument of Mister Jansha was offered -considering that Slovenia is now independent it can not violate the KEBS regulations concerning the "arms export to Yugoslavia". The cut off Army personnel has but one choice - to "may be even with their own weapons, but without tanks sail off from the port of Kopar. That way the Army could at least achieve something, since" in the case of attack it stands to lose everything". How come the mentioned decision was made so late? Janez Jansha has explained that in the beginning of the Army evacuation from Slovenia it did not represent a Croatian aggresor; it was at that time still considered in some parts of Croatia to be a neutral force.

That is not the case today. Apart from this, the Army had an opportunity to bail out of Slovenia in time, using the then open communication links. It now has only itself to blame for not having done so.

However, the analysis of the recent events points to the fact that the real reason for the latest decision of the Slovenian Presidency is different. A few days ago (at the time of negotiations concerning transport thtough Trieste) the media was saying that the tanks could be transported through the port of Kopar (Capodistria), until the Presidency closed that option overnight. It is strange that the Slovenian Presidency during the active Army involvment in Croatia in the past few months until a few days ago did not react to the deployment of equipment from Slovenia. Does that mean that Slovenia, although with delay, now realy wants to keep the neutral position in this war? Probably not, since the Minister of Interior Bavcar publicly admits that Slovenia is supplying Croatia with military equipment, and it is a public secret that the Slovenian customs officers were catching "small scale arm smugglers" and letting the arms containers accompanied by the territorials coming from Austria cross.

Why than such a U-turn? First, there is an unresolved issue between Jansa and general Kadijevic concerning the distribution of equipment and it should not be forgotten the the Slovenian territory is now hosting merely 10% of the old Army contingent, cut off from its rear; there are in all around 2400 soldiers and officers left in Slovenian garrisons, guarding equipment worth some few million dolars (at least 10% of the armour Army capacities and around a thousand freight cars of military material), standing still on the rails. It is an excellent target and a handsome gain for the Slovenian army, who waited for the Army to weaken and then put forth "maliutkas" and its conditions.

With the sound anti-armour equipment, the personnel superiority, with the necessary diplomatic justification in the shape of the Brioni Declaration and relatively efficient anti-craft protection, Janez Jansa is hoping to finally command his own armour brigade. Or, as Janez Drnovsek (Federal Presidency member from Slovenia) once said, all "generals" are the same - as soon as they spot a cannon, they want to have it regardless of its price.

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