I was born in Banja Luka, in Bosnia-Herzegovina, in 1956. In 1973, I moved to Slovenia to find a job. I got employed in Kranj. At that time I didn’t deregister in Banja Luka and didn’t register a residence address in Kranj since I didn’t know if I would stay in Slovenia or not. In 1975, I was called up to the army from Banja Luka. I spent 15 months in the army, after that I got married in 1977 and moved permanently to Kranj with my wife. We de-registered in Banja Luka and registered a permanent residence in Kranj. I returned to my former workplace. My wife soon found a job in Kranj, where she is still employed today. In 1979, we had a daughter and in 1983, a son.
In the beginning of the Nineties, a rumor about the independence of Slovenia was going around, as well as a rumor that we will have to apply for citizenship. We heard people saying that everybody who was going to apply for Slovene citizenship was going to lose their private property and other possessions in other republics of former Yugoslavia. We were building a house in Banja Luka and I had inherited my parents’ house. Because we were afraid that this would really happen, we didn’t know what to do. In the end we decided that my wife and the children were going to apply for citizenship. Our children were going to school in Kranj and we feared that we would have problems if they didn’t have a Slovene citizenship. All three of them received citizenship. In 1991, I decided to ask at the municipality what other options were.
While others applied for citizenship, I stated at the municipality that I didn’t want Slovene citizenship (because of the reasons stated above) and that I wanted to know what I should do. A town clerk told me that I could apply for a permit for permanent residence and that I didn’t have to apply for citizenship. He told me that in order to obtain a permit for permanent residence I would have to de-register first and that he would register me again after that. This town clerk gave me a de-registration form. I didn’t understand why I had to de-register in order to be registered again but I didn’t ask questions. I did what I was required to do and it didn’t even occur to me that something could go wrong since the town clerk immediately handed me a permit for renewed permanent residence (which I still have) and in the near future I received an identity card for foreigners.
To receive a passport (Yugoslavian) I had to ask again and again at embassies (in Trieste, Vienna and Budapest) every time. For these passports I applied almost every year since passports of former Yugoslavia were changing that often at that time. Let me add that although I had a certificate of permanent residence and a permanent work permit I had to renew and pay a work visa in my passport every year.
In 1991, my identity card and passport (both issued in Kranj) expired and I wanted to get new documents. At the municipality, I was told to go to the next room where I would receive an identity card for foreigners. I really received an identity card for foreigners and at that time I believed that that town clerk regulated my permit for permanent residence too – that he registered me anew. But he didn’t. Since 28 June 1984 I had been registered at the army in Kranj too until I received a call from the municipality on 10 December 1992 and they de-registered me.
I don’t remember when exactly – I think it was in 1994 – we bought a car. I went to the municipality to transfer ownership. I had my identity card for foreigners with me and as we wanted to transfer ownership the town clerk told me that she couldn’t find my name in the computer. That I didn’t exist. I didn’t understand what she was saying since I had been living in Slovenia all the time and hadn’t crossed the border in the last year or two. Besides, I had my identity card for foreigners issued in Kranj. The town clerk told me: “You’re not here.”
This town clerk called another one who immediately knew that something was wrong. She had a look at my identity card and went to check something. She told me to come back in a day or two and that is when I received a permit for permanent residence.
Apparently, I had been erased on 26 February 1992 and didn’t know it until 1994 when I wanted to transfer ownership of a car. Luckily, I hadn’t crossedthe border during this time since in this case I wouldn’t have been able to come back. I still had the old Yugoslavian passport. Since 1994 we have traveled to Banja Luka twice over Hungary. My wife and children had Slovene passports and I still had my old Yugoslavian. Luckily, they didn’t control our passports and we didn’t get into trouble.