The creation and breakup of Yugoslavia were two great events for people living there. In the times of WWII, Yugoslavia became the consolidation point for nations living in the Balkans. On the other hand, after its collapse, those nations were divided into relatively rich and poor ones.
Slovenia became the richest and the most successful among all the post-Yugoslav states. Moreover, it is even the wealthiest one among all the rest Slavic countries as well. This is the result of a combination of reasons.
Yugoslavia was the biggest country in the Balkans. It was created as a Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes, but after World War II those nations founded a socialist country of a new type. Therefore, they switched from a monarchy into a federation.
Moreover, the country was created by former partisans, who had been protecting their lands from the Nazi threat. Serbians, Croatians, Slovenes, Bosnians and Herzegovinians, Macedonians, and Montenegrins consolidated their energy and decided to stay as one union state. At first, they decided to take communistic ideology, but after the Tito-Stalin split in 1948, the country changed it into a socialistic one with a semi-opened market.
The country existed until the 1990s, when Macedonia, Slovenia, and Croatia decided to leave the federation because of some personal reasons.
Reasons for Slovenia’s Success
Good Relation with Western Neighbors
Even during the times of Yugoslavia, Slovenia still cooperated with Austria and Italy. People were able to leave the country and work and travel in neighboring countries. Moreover, the ideology of the country allowed this, in contrast to the situation in the Soviet Union, where this was almost impossible.
Furthermore, historically, most of the territory of Slovenia was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Therefore, a lot of Slovenians knew German as their second language, even had families there. The situation with Italy was similar. After the Second World War, Italy got some of the Slovene ethnic territories. In general, 327,000 Slovenes started to live in Italy at that time.
Thus, after Slovenia became an independent country, the Western neighbors accepted it immediately. First of all, the European Union helped to regulate the Ten-Day War that happened after Slovenia’s independence proclamation. Under the political sponsorship of the EU, Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia signed the Brioni Agreement or Brioni Declaration, that was the end of this war.
After this, Slovenia started to take active steps in the direction of the EU and NATO. The neighbors favored this and helped Slovenia in its development. The country became a member of those organizations and adopted Euro in 2004, as well as a part of the Schengen area.
Relatively High Level of Private Property
As we mentioned above, Yugoslavia provided more freedom to its republics in developing their economy in contrast to the countries of the Warsaw Treaty Organization. Yugoslavia provided the idea of a socialistic market economy, a mix of socialism and capitalism.
This featured economy and ownerships ruled not by politicians or businessmen. This factor excluded the planned economy and allowed for employees of those ownerships to share it collectively. Thus, even workers somehow had a part of entrepreneurship. The socialistic market economy even allowed small businesses such as restaurants, crafts shops, cafes, etc.
This was not successful around all of Yugoslavia, but the Slovenian economy accepted it entirely. Moreover, the Slovenian government did not choose to continue with communal agriculture. Therefore, farmers still were working on themselves. Hence, Slovenian village, agriculture, and small production were saved in terms of capitalistic ideology as well.
These factors allowed the country to be ready for the transition into a regular market economy after its gaining of independence.
Slovenia is the most ethnically same country among other post-Yugoslav states. This played a big role in its separation from Yugoslavia. Now, the part of Slovenians is 83%. However, before it entered the European Union, the population was entirely Slovenian (now, only 6% of the total population is not from the EU area). This factor played a role in the Yugoslav wars. Because Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina had a decent minority of Serbian people, who created separatism movements and ignited civil wars inside those countries.
This reason is related to the language as well. Of course, Slovenian language is Southern Slavic language as Serbian, Croatian, Macedonian, or Bulgarian. However, Serbian, Croatian, Bosnian, and Montenegrin are variations of the same language. It is a similar situation to British and American English. Thus, speakers of all those languages can easily understand and communicate without any problem. On the other side, Slovene is a separate language. The difference between Slovene and Serbian can be compared with Norwegian and Swedish, or English and Dutch. They can still understand some words and even communicate, but it is not so easy.
Hence, Slovenians always were unanimous and lived on “the edge” of Yugoslavia. A similar situation happened with Macedonia. This nation also spoke a language more distant from the Serbian one. Thus, Macedonia was the only nation that left Yugoslavia without any war. However, they had other disputes with Greece, Albania, and Bulgaria, which did not allow them to succeed like Slovenia.
Small Duration of the Independence War
As we mentioned above, all post-Yugoslav states except Macedonia experienced war during their exit from the federation. This doesn’t relate to Montenegro as well, because it split from Serbia only in 2006. In Slovenia, this war was the shortest with the smallest amount of casualties.
Yugoslav People’s Army entered Slovenia and Croatia on 26 June, right after the event of independence proclamation. The fight was between the Slovenian Territorial Defence (Teritorialna obramba Republike Slovenije) and the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA).
The conflict lasted only 10 days, from 27 June 1991 until 7 July 1991. On that day, the Brioni Accords were signed. Also, it is considered the beginning of the Yugoslav Wars and the breakup of Yugoslavia. Technically, this was a win for Slovenia.
The conflict was short and not intense, therefore casualties were not high. The Slovenian Army lost 19 persons and got 182 wounded. On the other side, the YPA suffered 44 fatalities and 146 wounded. Plus, 12 foreign nationals were killed, principally journalists and Bulgarian truck drivers.
Today, Slovenia is a member of the European Union, NATO, Schengen Zone, and use the Euro as their main currency. They reached this point in 2004, but before, they had been working 15 years on developing democracy, economy, human rights, the well-being of their citizens, and many other spheres.
Now, Slovenia is the richest and most developed among other post-Yugoslav states. Moreover, it is the wealthiest of all the Slavic states as well. In order to prove this, let’s just compare the average net wages in those countries.
First of all, the average monthly net wage in Slovenia is 1175 euros. This is the highest number not even among Slavic states, but also bigger than in Portugal, Greece, and Malta. Among post-Yugoslav states, the second place is taken by Croatia, with almost 900 euros per month. This is the normal average salary for all the Slavic countries that are members of the European Union, except Bulgaria. Both Slovenia and Croatia were the wealthiest republics in Yugoslavia, and now they are members of the EU.
The next post-Yugoslav state is Montenegro, with a monthly average of 527 euros. It is a good result, especially taking into consideration the fact that Bulgaria, a member of the EU, has only 10 euros higher. The next ones are Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Macedonia with 510, 488, and 436 euros respectively. Those rates are better than in Belarus, Ukraine, and Moldova.
Slovenia: a Long Way of Hard Work
Of course, nowadays the situation in Slovenia has a bit of luck. Slovenians have a long history connecting them with their neighbors. Therefore, Austria and Italy were helping them in development, conflict regulation, and shared experience.
On the other hand, there is a great job done behind today’s Slovenian’s prosperity. They were the first ones who understood the value of national identity. Then they created the coalition in the parliament, DEMOS, that get the majority in the parliament and voted for holding the referendum about exit from Yugoslavia.
And this was only the way from the federation. After that, they spent years creating a social-friendly and stable environment to live in the country. Now, Slovenians are living peacefully and wealthy enough to enjoy life. The nature and climate of the country, the access to the sea, the mountains give a lot of possibilities to grow the tourism sphere and look for external investments.
On the other hand, they don’t forget their roots and national identity. Slovenia is the country with the best folk festivals in Europe. Here, people care about traditions, and most of the national holidays are connected to them.
Also, they don’t forget about their brothers from the former Yugoslavia. They share experience, take workers from those states, and help them to improve their countries. Because all the Slavic nations are brothers, they have similar languages, similar mentality, and a long history of hard work in order to be where we are.