Slovenia between Germany and Italy (1848-1968)

  • Janko Pleterski
Keywords: Slovenia, Germany, Italy, international relations, foreign policy


The article presents a concise overview of the state and trans-state positions experienced in the past by the Slovenes after they had started to comprehend themselves as a whole, and by Slovenia as a state. The article was presented at a meeting at the "Villa Vigoni" study centre in Loveno di Menaggio, Italy, in June 1996, as one of the contributions in the discussion on the relations between the Slovenes, the Germans and the Italians. The article goes back to the revolutionary year of 1848, when the Slovene national and political programme for an autonomous Slovenia, based on the ethnic (linguistic) principle, was formed, and continues with the division of its territory between different countries in the years 1866, 1920 and 1941. The author also defines the position of the Republic of Slovenia within the Yugoslav socialist federal state, and deals with the formation of its borders with Italy and the confirmation of its borders with Austria in 1947 and 1955. Slovenia played a particularly important role within Yugoslavia in establishing relations with Italy and Austria. Within the framework of Yugoslav politics, Slovenia was, already at an early date, an advocate of opening the country's borders in order to facilitate traffic between it and its neighbouring countries in the form of people crossing the borders and the exchange of goods. Very soon, Slovenia was also able to conclude contracts on important international regional forms of cooperation with neighbours, as well as with the Federal Republic of Germany. The fact that the borders of Slovenia were open so early in the after-war period was an international determinant of utmost importance - also for the free flow of culture and ideas. Thus, the more liberal conditions on the borders of Slovenia (for more than a quarter of a century there was no wall on its borders, and conditions were not even comparable to those along, for example, the Berlin Wall), also enabled an inner democratisation to take place. The long-standing and lively contacts of the country and its inhabitants with its neighbours in the area between Italy and Germany were of paramount importance for its development.