The Erased - Information and documents

Assistance to the erased persons in regulating their legal status and awareness raising of the public on the erasure and the status of remedying the violations.


Yugoslavia fell apart because of people like me?

I was born in Serbia in 1944. I came to Slovenia immediately after Primary school in 1960, aged 15. Since then, I never lived anywhere else. My brother was already in Ljubljana and he helped me to find a job. I was employed on a regular basis with one company for 30 years. Until 1974, I had lived in residence halls for single persons. In the beginning, I registered temporary residence, but around 1970 I registered as a permanent resident. When I registered permanent residence, I also renounced my – military and civil – residence in Serbia. I worked 12 hours a day, put aside my earnings, and bought an apartment.

In 1982, I married my wife in Serbia where she was from as well. Then she renounced residency in Serbia, and registered permanent residence in Slovenia. At first, we lived in a one-bedroom apartment that I had bought in 1974. My wife got employed in 1981 in kindergarten where she still works today. Later we sold that apartment and bought a bigger one. In 1984, our son was born and in 1985 our daughter, too (today they both have university degrees, and my son is working on his PhD). I had a serious road accident in 1985 after which our situation was very difficult – besides having a full-time job, my wife took care of two little children and me. The doctors’ prognosis was that I will stay paralysed and on a wheelchair. I was in the hospital for a long time. My brother helped me a lot at that time. Then, for about a month and a half, I was in a health resort for rehabilitation, and I pulled through.  Nevertheless, I could not work anymore, and after recovering at home for a couple of years, I retired on disability in 1988. All this time, I had a valid health insurance because I was employed regularly. Therefore, I did not have any problems regarding healthcare due to erasure.

In 1991, I submitted an application for citizenship for the whole family. They accepted my wife’s and children’s application, but not mine, because some documents from my birthplace were missing. Because of the consequences of my accident and a very long recuperating time, I was unable to travel to Serbia where I could acquire the necessary papers, and I had no relatives or acquaintances there who could arrange things for me. At the Administrative unit on Mačkova Street, a clerk, who I remember very well because he was missing an arm, told me that my application is incomplete, and that I will have problems if I do not acquire all the documents. I explained to this clerk that I had a serious accident I am still recuperating from, and that I am unable to travel to Serbia where I have no one who could help me to acquire all the missing documents. The clerk said, “It is not relevant how and where” and that I will be facing problems; as if he knew, what I will be facing. This was, however, in times when the deadline for the citizenship was still open. The clerks at Mačkova were generally behaving badly to immigrants. As soon as you told them you were from Serbia, they started behaving badly.

My wife comes from a different municipality in Serbia, and it was much easier to acquire documents from there. Besides, she still had parents there so they arranged all the documents and sent it to Slovenia. I, on the other hand, had no one there who could help me. Besides, my municipality of birth was near Kosovo where the conditions were much worse.

After the clerk at Mačkova told me, I cannot submit my application for the citizenship I didn’t try anymore. I still had valid identity documents. When my ID card expired, I went to the municipality to extend its validity, but the clerk punctured the card and told me to arrange the documents for foreigners.  That was in the beginning of the 1990′s when the political situation was still tense. When I asked the clerk what I needed to gain the citizenship, she yelled at me and berated me, saying that Yugoslavia fell apart because of people like me.

Because I had time, I visited the administrative unit regularly. After a while, a lady there asked me what I was looking for. When I explained, she directed me to the Ministry of the Interior on the Bethovnova Street. Later, in 2002, someone from the Ministry of the Interior arranged for my citizenship in three months. I do not recall exactly, but I think I acquired citizenship under the Article 19 of the Amendment to the Citizenship Act because there was no need to prove anything, namely, I did not need to bring any evidence. I did not need to attend the Slovenian language course or pass a language test because I had gained Slovenian high school diploma.

In the mean time (from 1992 to 2002), I owned a passport and an identity card for foreigners. I had always taken care of my documents in time, up until I acquired citizenship. Still, this caused me a lot of problems and expenses, too, because I had to prolong visas every year. Even before, all of my documents were issued in Slovenia because ever since we moved to Slovenia, I arranged all documents here.

After I arranged permission for temporary residence in Slovenia and documents for foreigners (I got a visa for permanent residency in a Slovenian passport for foreigners), I could cross borders and arrange Serbian documents in Serbia. In 1992, I went to Austria –my old passport was still valid at that time– to the Yugoslavian embassy to get documents there; a new (red) Yugoslavian passport. With this passport, I could then arrange permission for temporary residence, and with the passport for foreigners I could go to Serbia and arrange other documents there.

I think I got a temporary residence status in Slovenia thanks to my pension; they asked me what my source of sustenance was and I showed them that I receive pension (besides, my wife and children had Slovenian citizenship and we owned an apartment). All 10 years, I had a temporary residence visa. There was no “hole” in between; I was never completely without a status.

At the municipality they asked me if I ever had errands with the police. I refused to answer although I never had any problems with the police. I was never asked for identification, and I was never in fear because I have had my status arranged all along.

I did not suffer any existential problems due to the erasure because I received pension, I had my own apartment, and my wife was employed the whole time. The attitude and the erasure itself, however, hurt me the most. I did everything right and at appointed terms, but I was erased because of my inability to travel to Serbia.

We kept in touch and travelled to Serbia every year for vacations. My wife and I spend a month there each year. I inherited a house after my father in 1980s, and we often went there in 90s as well. Every time we travelled through Hungary. Even in Serbia, I had problems arranging documents because I renounced my residence when I moved to Slovenia. However, if I wanted to get documents, I had to register there. But if I registered in Serbia, I would have to bring a form of renunciation from Slovenia. Since I was not renounced but erased, I had problems arranging a status in Serbia, too. I don’t remember anymore how I managed to register there. Obviously, someone showed mercy to me because I was born there, had a house there, and besides I was ill.

I was aware that the problem was wider and that not only I had problems; many people did. I knew that a lot of people left Slovenia – some only because they couldn’t handle the injustice. In the company where I worked, I heard that sometimes superiors told the immigrants that they don’t need to arrange any documents, but later it was too late and they all ended up without a status, lost their jobs, and mostly moved away. I knew for cases of deportation. Although I knew about it, I never affiliated in the Society of the erased because I thought that those who didn’t manage to arrange their documents have had greater problems.

Nationalism could be felt even before the independence. It was “boiling” long before that. The situation changed a lot, no one trusted anyone, and people grew apart. In the company where I worked, the difference between the Slovenes and everyone else could always be felt.