The Beginning of the End of Federal Yugoslavia: The Slovenian Amendment Crisis of 1989

Robert Hayden


War broke out in Yugoslavia in the summer of 1991. Like the American war of 1861-65, this war could be interpreted as either a civil war or a war between states. And like the American Civil War , the Yugoslav war of 1991 was the ultimate manifestation of a constitutional crisis, a collapse of constitutional mechanisms for resolving political disputes that produced a showdown over the continued existence of the federal state. In another parallel to the American Civil War, the structure of the conflict was determined by a constitution some of the parties rejected, for the constitutional order that existed until the outbreak of the war had been a loose union of states (in Yugoslav terminology, republics), each of which possessed a fully organized government. Thus, despite the breakdown of the constitutional order of relationships between these republics, their constitutional status as separate polities afforded secessionists the opportunity to manipulate fully developed state structures in their quests for independence from the federation that had hitherto defined those states (Bestor 1964:328-29).

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