New rules on Slovenian Communist-era archive survive referendum

Controversial changes to a Slovenian law governing access to Communist-era secret services archives survived a referendum on Sunday as too few Slovenians turned up to vote.

AFP| Updated: Jun 09, 2014, 03:12 AM IST

Ljubljana : Controversial changes to a Slovenian law governing access to Communist-era secret services archives survived a referendum on Sunday as too few Slovenians turned up to vote.

The government had said the changes, approved by parliament in January but not yet in force, were meant to increase access to the archives.

But the opposition argued they would protect former Communist figures and hinder research work.

The amendments give full access to the archives but all sensitive private information such as religious affiliation, marital status and sexual activities -- especially concerning victims of the Yugoslav-era secret police and other state organisations -- would first be censored.
Such measures could take months to implement and would hinder serious research, critics said. To consult the uncensored files, a special request would have to be made.

Although opponents of the new rules won the referendum, with around 67 percent of votes according to preliminary results, turnout was just 11.7 percent -- below the 20 percent threshold needed to change laws.
Eva Irgl, one of the main lawmakers behind the vote, deplored the result, arguing that people were still afraid when it came to voting on matters related to the former secret police.

Culture Minister Uros Grilc, whose ministry drafted the changes, insisted however that voters had made their choice clear.

"Slovenia`s archives are the most open archives in Europe as of this day," he said.

The archives were opened up in 2006, 15 years after the country gained independence from the former Yugoslavia. Slovenia was later the first of the former republics to join the European Union.