Yugoslav People's Army prepares itself for action
The military forces of the Yugoslav People's Army (YPA), which was not the 5th, 4th or even the 3rd army in Europe, as a myth would have us believe, yet still an organised force worth 70 billion dollars, was mobilised on the evening of 26 June. The grounds for its intervention was the instruction for direct implementation of the Federation's authority on state borders, adopted by the Government in Belgrade on the night of 25/26 June (Federal Executive Council). A more detailed plan for carrying out the instructions had been prepared even before by the General Staff, as the YPA itself was deemed to have a "direct constitutional role" in such preparations – without any resolutions by competent political authorities. The implementation of the plan, which was still rather rudimentary, was finally entrusted to the command of the 5th Military Command District with headquarters in Zagreb. In order to carry out this assignment, the command in Zagreb foresaw the use of armoured and motorised convoys which were to occupy border crossings with the partial help of reinforced border units. This was supposed to provide military protection for border crossings, so that they could be easily occupied and managed by federal police and customs officers.
The beginning of conflict
The operation was started by units of the 13th (Rijeka) Corps that, at the command of the corps commander, occupied the southern section of the border area in the Primorska Region as early as in late afternoon of 26 June. Early in the morning of 27 June, the remaining YPA units also set off. At first, the tactic of the militia and the Territorial Defence, whose actions were coordinated, was to passively prevent any advance. On the basis of a prepared plan, numerous road blocks were set up early in the morning, mostly improvised using lorries and similar heavy vehicles, and barriers blocked traffic on main roads. The armed conflict began in the morning of 27 June 1991 when the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia defined the intervention of YPA units as an act of aggression against the Republic of Slovenia and commanded the armed prevention of the advance of the YPA. Despite barriers and fighting, YPA units occupied the majority of border crossings by the evening.
Barricades, negotiations, propaganda war
However, the Slovenian leadership did not accept this situation. On the same evening, the Presidency issued "a command on the securing of border crossings." During the night that followed, Slovenian forces carried out a counter-offensive and occupied multiple border crossings and border guardhouses the next day. YPA forces found themselves on the defensive; they were divided, immobile, faced with supply issues, and internal division also began to take its toll. Therefore, in the next few days, Slovenian forces managed to occupy the majority of border crossings, without suffering any casualties and mostly by means of negotiations. Quite a lot happened in those few days, and each barricade, each guardhouse and each militia and Territorial Defence unit led its political and propaganda war as well as traditional war. Moreover, civilians were also involved in the developments, as they helped Slovenian defence forces in their own way and gave them encouragement and support. On 28 June, the thus far uninterested and poorly informed European Community finally intervened in the developments in Slovenia. First, it demanded that the conflict come to an end, bowing to the increasing pressure of the European public to react in this manner. In the first few days of the war, nearly one thousand journalists gathered in Ljubljana. The Slovenian side carefully provided detailed information regarding events and managed to convince them of its explanation of the conflict. As a consequence, foreign reporters primarily focused on the brutal aggression against a young state.
The end of conflict
In such an atmosphere, political talks and efforts to negotiate were initiated and both sides managed to agree on the first armistice on 28 June, but it was not fully respected. Therefore, the YPA issued a clear ultimatum on 29 June, in which it demanded the de-blocking of its troops and the re-establishment of the situation prior to 25 June, but the Slovenian Assembly rejected this ultimatum during its night-time session. It agreed to negotiate, but not under the conditions offered by the YPA. On 2 July, the YPA began its second phase of attacks, which included the use of the air force. Despite this, the Presidency of the Republic of Slovenia declared a unilateral ceasefire in the evening, and the conditions were to be set forth by an international Slovenian-Yugoslav committee. The YPA did not agree to this until the next day. The committee was then able to meet in Zagreb, deciding that Slovenian forces would de-block all YPA units that will in turn retreat to military bases by 5th July at 5:00 p.m.
Jure Gašparič, Institute of Contemporary History