Republic of Slovenia
Area: 20,273 square kilometers (7,906 sq. mi.) slightly smaller than New Jersey.
Cities: Capital--Ljubljana (1998 pop. 325,373). Other cities--Maribor (132,860), Kranj (52,043), Novo Mesto (51,404), Celje (49,935).
Terrain: Mountains rising to more than 2,500 meters (8,200 ft.) in the north, wide plateaus over 1,000 meters (3,280 ft.) high in the southeast, Karst limestone region of caves in the south-southwest, hills in the east, and approximately 50 kilometers (39 mi.) of coastline on the Adriatic Sea.
Land use: 54.2% forests, 39% agricultural land, 6.8% noncultivated land.
Climate: Temperate, with regional variations. Average temperature in the mountain region in January is below 0�C (32�F), in the interior from 0-2�C (32-36�F), and along the coast from 2-4�C (36-39�F); in July, average temperature in the interior is 20-22�C (68-72�F), along the coast 22-24�C (72-75�F). Average annual rainfall is from 800 mm (31 in.) in the east to 3,000 mm (117 in.) in the northwest.
Nationality: Noun and adjective--Slovene(s).
Population: (2000) 2 million.
Annual growth rate: +0.2%.
Ethnic groups: Slovenes 87.84%, Croats 2.76%, Serbs 2.44%, Bosnians 1.36%, Hungarians 0.43%, Montenegrins 0.22%, Macedonians 0.22%, Albanians 0.18%, Italians 0.16%.
Religions: Predominantly Roman Catholic, although there are small numbers of Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Muslims, and Jews.
Languages: The official language is Slovene. Hungarian and Italian are spoken in the border regions, and German fluency is common near the Austrian border. English is widely understood by business people and students.
Education: Higher education enrollment ratio--26.2%.
Health: Infant mortality rate--5.5/1,000 births. Life expectancy-- 70.27 years for men, 77.76 years for women.
Work force (Sept. 2000): 875,060.
Type: Parliamentary democracy.
Independence: On June 25, 1991, the Republic of Slovenia declared independence from Yugoslavia. The United States and the European Union recognized Slovenia in 1992.
Constitution: Adopted on December 23, 1991.
Branches: Executive--president, head of state, directly elected for a maximum of two consecutive 5-year terms. Legislative--bicameral legislature (Parliament is composed of the National Assembly, with 90 deputies directly elected on party basis for 4-year terms, and the National Council, with 40 members elected to represent social, economic, professional, and local interests for 5-year terms.) Prime Minister, head of government. Judicial--Constitutional Court, regular courts, and a public prosecutor.
Political parties: National Assembly seats: Liberal Democratic Party (LDS), 34 seats; Social Democratic Party of Slovenia (SDS), 14; United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD), 11; Slovene Peoples Party (SLS + SKD)-9; New Slovenia (NSi)-8; Pensioners Party of Slovenia (DeSUS); Slovene National Party (SNS); Slovene Youth Party (SMS)-4. Suffrage: Universal over 18 years of age.
Administrative divisions: 192 local administrative units.
Government budget (200): 1,590 billion SIT (approximately $8.747 million U.S.); defense, 1.54% GDP.
GDP (1999): US$20,011 million; 5.0 growth rate; (2000 est., 4.8).
GDP per capita income (1999): US$10,109.
Natural resources: Coal, mercury, timber.
Agriculture/forestry/fishing (2.3% of 1999 GDP): Products--wheat, corn, pork, poultry, milk, potatoes, orchard fruits, wine.
Industry: Types--electrical equipment, chemical products, textiles, food products, electricity, metal products, wood products, transportation equipment.
Trade: Exports (2000, total US$8.7 billion)--machinery, transportation equipment, electrical and optical equipment, basic metals and fabricated products. To U.S.--$269.7 million. Imports (2000, US$10.1 billion)--machinery, transportation equipment, electrical and optical equipment, basic metals and fabricated products. From U.S.--$299.2 million. Major trading partners--Germany, Italy, Croatia, France, Austria.
Foreign direct Investment (cumulative, end 1999): US$2,683.6 million.
Slovenia is situated at the crossroads of central Europe, the Mediterranean, and the Balkans. The Alps--including the Julian Alps, the Kamnik-Savinja Alps, the Karavanke chain, and the Pohorje Massif--dominate northern Slovenia near Austria. Slovenia's Adriatic coastline extends for approximately 50 kilometers (39 mi.) from Italy to Croatia. The term "karst"--a limestone region of underground rivers, gorges, and caves-- originated in Slovenia's Karst plateau between Ljubljana and the Italian border. On the Pannonian plain to the east and northeast, toward the Croatian and Hungarian borders, the landscape is essentially flat. However, the majority of Slovenian terrain is hilly or mountainous, with around 90% of the surface 200 meters or more above sea level.
The majority of Slovenia's population is Slovene (over 87%). Hungarians and Italians have the status of indigenous minorities under the Slovenian Constitution, which guarantees them seats in the National Assembly. Most other minority groups, particularly those from the former Yugoslavia, immigrated after World War II for economic reasons. Slovenes are predominantly Roman Catholic, though the country also has a small number of Protestants, Orthodox Christians, Muslims, and Jews. Slovene is a Slavic language, written in the Roman script.
From as early as the 9th century, Slovenia had fallen under foreign rulers, including partial control by Bavarian dukes and the Republic of Venice. With the exception of Napoleon's 4-year tutelage of parts of Slovenia and Croatia--the "Illyrian Provinces"--Slovenia was part of the Hapsburg empire from the 14th century until 1918. Nevertheless, Slovenia resisted Germanizing influences and retained its unique Slavic language and culture.
In 1918, Slovenia joined with other southern Slav states in forming the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes as part of the peace plan at the end of World War I. Renamed in 1929 under a Serbian monarch, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia fell to the Axis powers during World War II. Following communist partisan resistance to German, Hungarian, and Italian occupation and elimination of rival resistance groups, socialist Yugoslavia was born under the helm of Josip Broz Tito. During the communist era, Slovenia became Yugoslavia's most prosperous republic, at the forefront of Yugoslavia's unique version of communism. Within a few years of Tito's death in 1980, Belgrade initiated plans to further concentrate political and economic power in its hands. Defying the politicians in Belgrade, Slovenia underwent a flowering of democracy and an opening of its society in cultural, civic, and economic realms to a degree almost unprecedented in the communist world. In September 1989, the General Assembly of the Yugoslav Republic of Slovenia adopted an amendment to its constitution asserting Slovenia's right to secede from Yugoslavia. On December 23, 1990, 88% of Slovenia's population voted for independence in a referendum, and on June 25, 1990, the Republic of Slovenia declared its independence. A nearly bloodless 10-day war with Yugoslavia followed; Yugoslav forces withdrew after Slovenia demonstrated stiff resistance to Belgrade.
As a young independent republic, Slovenia pursued economic stabilization and further political openness, while emphasizing its Western outlook and central European heritage. Today, with a growing regional profile, a participant in the SFOR deployment in Bosnia and the KFOR deployment in Kosovo, and a charter WTO member, Slovenia plays a role on the world stage quite out of proportion to its small size.
Principal Government Officials
President--Milan Kucan (since April 1990)
Prime Minister--Janez Drnovsek (since May 1992)
Ambassador to the U.S.--Davorin Kracun
Agriculture and Forestry--Franc But
Economic Affairs--Tea Petrin
Education and Sport--Lucija Cok
Environment and Physical Planning--Janez Kopac
Foreign Affairs--Dimitrij Rupel
Labor, Family and Social Affairs--Vlado Dimovski
Transport and Communications--Jakob Presecnik
Minister without portfolio responsible for European Affairs--Igor Bavcar
Since Slovenia achieved its independence in 1991, the United States and Slovenia have developed strong, cooperative relations on a broad range of issues, from promoting regional security to developing closer bilateral trade and investment ties. The United States is encouraging Slovenia to enter into a vital partnership with the developed democracies of the Euro-Atlantic area in pursuit of common goals.
The first official U.S. presence in Slovenia dates from the early 1970s, when the United States Information Service (USIS) opened a library and American press and cultural center in Ljubljana. From its opening through 1992, the American Center worked to develop closer grassroots relations between the U.S. and the people of the then Slovenian Republic of Yugoslavia.
On December 23, 1990, the Slovene people voted in a plebiscite to separate from greater Yugoslavia. On June 25, 1991, the new Republic of Slovenia officially declared its independence from the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. A 10-day war commenced, during which Slovene territorial troops fought off incursions by the Yugoslav National Army. The United States formally recognized the new republic on April 7, 1992. To develop U.S. diplomatic relations with the new state, the United States opened a new embassy in Ljubljana in August 1992.
Since 1992, the U.S. and the Republic of Slovenia have developed an impressive track record of cooperation on bilateral, regional, and global issues. The United States has worked closely with the Slovenians to resolve succession issues stemming from the break-up of Yugoslavia. Slovenia provided invaluable assistance to the U.S. and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) by facilitating the deployment of an international peacekeeping force, IFOR, to Bosnia after the conclusion of the Dayton accords. Slovenia also is a participant in the follow-on to that effort, SFOR. With strong U.S. support, Slovenia has established an international trust fund for demining and assistance to mine victims in southeast Europe, including Bosnia-Herzegovina, Albania, Croatia, and Kosovo.
On the economic front, the U.S. has worked to develop bilateral trade and investment with Slovenia. U.S. trade (imports and exports) with Slovenia for 2000 stands at $547 million. Under the Support for Eastern European Democracy (SEED) Act, the U.S. provided technical assistance on enterprise competitiveness, banking and pension reform, competition policy, and debt restructuring. Reflecting the progress Slovenia has made in these areas, Slovenia was among the first transition countries to "graduate" from the SEED program.
The U.S. supports Slovenia's candidacy for membership in the North Atlantic Alliance and is working with the Slovene military to promote greater cooperation and interoperability with NATO forces. The U.S. and Slovenia hold periodic high-level security consultations to help Slovenia achieve this national objective. The U.S. European Command provides a liaison team which works with the Ministry of Defense full-time to develop greater familiarity with NATO structures and procedures. As NATO set forth in its July 1997 Madrid Summit communiqu� and reinforced in its April 1999 Washington Summit communiqu�, the U.S. supports an open door for the continuing enlargement of the Alliance. Slovenia is a prime candidate for inclusion in NATO at a future date, and the United States recognizes and welcomes Slovenia's continuing efforts and progress toward this goal.
In addition to regular diplomatic relations, numerous top-level visits on both sides have strengthened bilateral dialogue and contributed to deepening relations. Then-Secretary of Defense William Perry visited Slovenia twice while in office. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited Ljubljana in July 1997 following the NATO Summit in Madrid which named the first group of countries invited to join NATO. Prime Minister Drnov�ek met President Clinton in November 1998, and Slovenian President Milan Kucan also met with the President in October 1997. President Clinton's successful visit to Ljubljana in 1999 was a high point in bilateral relations.
In October 1997, Slovenia joined the group of countries--now numbering 26--whose citizens enjoy the privilege of visa-free travel to the United States.
Given Slovenia's relative economic success and location on the periphery of stable Europe, its history, language, business ties, and insights into the region, the United States should enlist Slovenia wherever we can as a partner in advancing our shared goal of regional political and economic stability. More than geographically, Slovenia is a bridge from developed Europe into the Balkans, the area of the continent that poses the greatest diplomatic and military challenges. As a stable democracy and transition Europe's most prosperous country, Slovenia suffers none of the shortcomings that plague Southeast Europe. Where our initiatives clearly build on Slovenia's strengths and enlist Slovenian collaboration on common concerns, we will find a willing partner.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL CONDITIONS
Slovenia enjoys excellent relations with the United States and cooperates with it actively on a number of fronts. From 1998 to 2000, Slovenia occupied a nonpermanent seat on the UN Security Council and in that capacity distinguished itself with a constructive, creative, and consensus-oriented activism. Slovenia has been a member of the United Nations since May 1992 and of the Council of Europe since May 1993. Slovenia signed an association agreement with the European Union in 1996 and is a member of the Central European Free Trade Agreement. Slovenia also is a member of all major international financial institutions (the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank Group, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development) as well as 40 other international organizations, among them the World Trade Organization, of which it is a founding member.
Since the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia has instituted a stable, multi-party, democratic political system, characterized by regular elections, a free press, and an excellent human rights record. Slovenia is a parliamentary democracy and constitutional republic. Within its government, power is shared between a directly elected president, a prime minister, and a bicameral legislature (Parliament). Parliament is composed of the 90-member National Assembly--which takes the lead on virtually all legislative issues--and the National Council, a largely advisory body composed of representatives from social, economic, professional, and local interests. The Constitutional Court has the highest power of review of legislation to ensure its consistency with Slovenia's constitution. Its nine judges are elected for 9-year terms.
In 1997, elections were held to elect both a president and representatives to Parliament's upper house, the National Council. Milan Kucan, elected President of the Yugoslav Republic of Slovenia in 1990, led his country to independence in 1991. He was elected the first President of independent Slovenia in 1992 and again in November 1997 by a comfortable margin.
Janez Drnovsek of the center-left Liberal Democratic Party (LDS) was reelected Prime Minister in the October 15, 2000 parliamentary elections. Drnovsek's coalition holds an almost two-thirds majority in Parliament.
The government, most of the Slovenian polity, shares a common view of the desirability of a close association with the West, specifically of membership in both the European Union and NATO. For all the apparent bitterness that divides left and right wings, there are few fundamental philosophical differences between them in the area of public policy. Slovene society is built on consensus, which has converged on a social-democrat model. Political differences tend to have their roots in the roles that groups and individuals played during the years of communist rule and the struggle for independence.
As the most prosperous republic of the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia emerged from its brief 10-day war of secession in 1991 as an independent nation for the first time in its history. Since that time, the country has made steady but cautious progress toward developing a market economy. Economic reforms introduced shortly after independence led to healthy economic growth. Despite the halting pace of reform and signs of slowing GDP growth today, Slovenes now enjoy the highest per capita income of all the transition economies of central Europe.
The Slovenes have pursued internal economic restructuring with caution. The first phase of privatization (socially owned property under the SFRY system) is now complete, and sales of remaining large state holdings are planned for next year. Trade has been diversified toward the West (trade with EU countries make up 66% of total trade in 2000) and the growing markets of central and eastern Europe. Manufacturing accounts for most employment, with machinery and other manufactured products comprising the major exports. Labor force surveys put unemployment at approximately 6.6% (Dec. 2000), with 106,153 registrations for unemployment assistance. Inflation has remained below double-digit levels, 6.1% (1999) and 8.9% (2000). Gross domestic product grew by about 4.8% in 2000 and is expected to post a slightly lower rate of 4.5% in 2001, as export demand lags. The currency is stable, fully convertible, and backed by substantial reserves. The economy provides citizens with a good standard of living.
Ten years after independence, Slovenia has made tremendous progress establishing democratic institutions, enshrining respect for human rights, establishing a market economy and adapting its military to Western norms and standards. In contrast to its neighbors, civil tranquility and strong economic growth have marked this period. Upon achieving independence, Slovenia offered citizenship to all residents, regardless of ethnicity or origin, avoiding a sectarian trap that has caught out many central European countries. Slovenia willingly accepted refugees from the fighting in Bosnia and has since participated in international stabilization efforts in the region.
On the international front, Slovenia has advanced rapidly toward integration into the Euro-Atlantic community of nations. Invited to begin accession negotiations with the European Union in November 1998, Slovenia is poised to achieve two primary foreign policy goals--membership in the EU and NATO. Slovenia also participates in the Southeast Europe Cooperation Initiative (SECI) and is a member of CEFTA (Central and Eastern Europe Free Trade Agreement).
Slovenia remains firmly committed to achieving NATO membership in a second round of enlargement. Slovenia has been an active participant in Partnership for Peace (PfP) and has sought to demonstrate its preparedness to take on the responsibilities and burdens of membership in the Alliance. The United States looks to Slovenia to play a productive role in continuing security efforts throughout the region. It has done much--contributing to the success of IFOR, SFOR, efforts in Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Kosovo, and elsewhere--and has continued to expand actively its constructive regional engagement.
Slovenia is one of the focus countries for the United States' southeast European policy, aimed at reinforcing regional stability and integration. The Slovenian Government is well-positioned to be an influential role model for other southeast European governments at different stages of reform and integration. To these ends, the United States urges Slovenia to maintain momentum on internal economic, political, and legal reforms, while expanding their international cooperation as resources allow. Although harmonization with EU law and standards will require great efforts, already underway, the EU accession process will serve to advance Slovenia's structural reform agenda. U.S. and Allied efforts to assist Slovenia's military restructuring and modernization efforts are ongoing.
Slovenia today enjoys both a prosperity and stability that are too often the exception in Central and Eastern Europe. Although it comprised only about one-thirteenth of Yugoslavia's total population, it was the most productive of the Yugoslav republics, accounting for one-fifth of its GDP and one-third of its exports. It thus gained independence in 1991 with an already relatively prosperous economic and strong market ties to the West. Since that time, it has pursued diversification of its trade toward the West and integration into Western and transatlantic institutions vigorously. Slovenia is a founding member of the World Trade Organization, joined CEFTA in 1996, and began accession negotiations with the EU in 1998. Slovenia also participates in SECI (Southeast European Cooperation Initiative), as well as in the Central European Initiative, the Royaumont Process, and the Black Sea Economic Council.
Today, Slovenia is the most prosperous country of transition Europe and well-poised to join the mainstream of modern industrial economies. It benefits from a well-educated and productive work force, and its political and economic institutions are vigorous and effective. Its per capita income is now 70% of the EU average. Although Slovenia has taken a cautious, deliberate approach to economic management and reform, with heavy emphasis on achieving consensus before proceeding, its overall record is one of success. The current account deficit began in 1998 (-US$147.2 million), deepened in 1999 to -$782.6 million, and improved slightly in 2000 on stronger exports to -$594.2 million. In 2000, Slovenia's economic growth reached 4.8% (2000), annual inflation, 9.2% (2000), and the debt to GDP ratio was well within Maastricht parameters. Due to its macroeconomic stability, favorable foreign debt position, and obvious interest in EU membership, Slovenia consistently receives the highest credit rating of all transition economies.
Slovenia's trade is oriented toward Western (EU) countries mainly Germany, Austria, Italy, and France. This is the result of a wholesale reorientation of trade toward the West and the growing markets of central and eastern Europe in the face of the collapse of its Yugoslav markets. Slovenia's economy is highly dependent on foreign trade. Trade equals about 120% of GDP (exports and imports combined). About two-thirds of Slovenia's trade is with EU members, a primary motivation for seeking EU membership. This high level of openness makes it extremely sensitive to economic conditions in its main trading partners and changes in its international price competitiveness. Keeping labor costs in line with productivity is thus a key challenge for Slovenia's economic well-being, and Slovenian firms have responded by specializing in mid- to high-tech manufactures. Agriculture, forestry, and fishing is a comparatively low 2% of GDP, while industry and construction comprise over one-third of GDP. As in most industrial economies, services make up an increasing share of output (60.1%), notably in financial services.
Economic management in Slovenia is relatively good. Public finances have shown recently so far modest deficits on the order of 1.2% of GDP through 1999. Reversal of this trend will depend primarily on the government reversing the explosive growth in pension expenditures. Other accounts are fairly robust: Slovenia has an increasing current account deficit, declining from a balance in 1997 to -$594.2 million in 2000. While the authorities have been successful in stabilizing the Slovenian tolar and bringing inflation down from more than 200% in 1992 to an estimated 9.2% in 2000, inflation edged up from 1999 with the introduction of a value-added tax.
Slovenia is set to experience a slow-down in its economic growth rate this year--from 2000's 4.8% to about 4.25% in 2001. The effect of the foreign sector will be critical to the realization of this forecast, as export demand in Slovenia's prime--mainly EU--markets slows. To some degree, investment will take up the slack, as analysts forecast investment to advance on sale of state assets including portions of the telecommunications, financial, and energy sectors. With increasing deficit in pension accounts, current account deficit of about 3% of GDP, increasing inflation rate, Slovenia will have to address carefully fiscal, monetary, and FDI policy.
Slovenian enterprises have a tradition of market orientation that has served them well in the transition period, as they moved energetically to reorient trade from former Yugoslav markets to those of central and eastern Europe. However, in many cases under the Slovenian brand of privatization, managers and workers in formerly "socially owned" enterprises have become the majority shareholders, perpetuating the practices of "worker management" that were the hallmark of the Yugoslav brand of communism. Difficulties associated with that model are expected to decrease under competitive pressures, as shares in these firms change hands, and as EU-oriented reforms introduce more Western-oriented governance practices.
Slovenia's entry into the European Union, expected by the year 2005, provides the impetus for further economic improvements. Economic policy will be largely geared toward EU accession over the next few years. Main areas of focus will be adopting EU rules on the internal market, structural economic reform, and reform of the judiciary and public administration. The government will be hard-pressed to meet this major challenge of harmonization with EU law. However, without further vigorous reforms, Slovenia's position--also with respect to other CEE countries--will slip. The EU has expressed some dissatisfaction with the pace of harmonization in Slovenia and has joined the U.S. and the International Monetary Fund in urging Slovenia to expedite necessary structural reforms. Following a lukewarm report card from Brussels in November 2000, the government redoubled its efforts to that end, stressing implementation of newly adopted legislation.
Slovenia's continued success will hinge mainly on the success of fiscal reform, wage restraint, and its ability to truly open its economy. A backlog of reform legislation has been building, and passage of important measures to restructure the economy has been slow. This situation is starkest in the area of foreign direct investment, where not only foreign capital but international best practices and modern technology are at stake. Slovenia's traditional anti-inflation policy relied heavily on capital inflow restrictions. Its slow privatization process favored insider purchasers and prescribed long lag time on share trading, complicated by a cultural wariness of being "bought up" by foreigners. As such, Slovenia has had a number of impediments to full foreign participation in its economy. Slovenia has garnered some notable foreign investments, including U.S. investments of $125 million by Goodyear in 1997 and by Western Wireless International planned for US$150-$200 million over 4 years beginning in 2000.
With the entry into force of Slovenia's Europe Agreement and the intensification of discussions in Brussels over EU membership, Slovenia has taken some important steps to free up its financial markets. This sector has long been one of the most protected, reflecting various combinations of concerns over Slovenia's small monetary space, a limited capacity to meet globalized competition, or native control over domestic finance. A combination of market forces and changes in bank of Slovenia regulations and national legislation are moving this sector increasingly in a more globally oriented direction. In the future, it will become easier and more transparent to make both portfolio and direct investments in Slovenia and to conduct many financial operations, including banking, securities brokering, and undertaking various credit transactions. The banking sector also is showing signs of stirring from its relative torpor, as pressures to consolidate its myriad banks build and privatization of two of Slovenia's largest banks gradually gets underway. Insurance will remain a reform backwater, while many eyes are turning, with some concern, to the implications of transitioning to the euro.
Removal of remaining "speed bumps" hindering FDI, further liberalization of the financial sector, completion of privatization, and progress on company restructuring are necessary to improve economic performance at the macro and micro levels. Without these measures, unemployment, likely will remain high. Consequently, the budget deficit could increase, and the date of accession to the EU could move further into the future.
After successful resistance to the Yugoslav National Army (JNA) following the 10-day war of independence in 1991, Slovenia faced the challenge of establishing independent armed forces. A major reorganization of the Slovenian Army is currently underway, with the goal of changing from a territorial defense force to an operational army aimed at peacekeeping. The Slovenian Army consists of about 4,200 professional soldiers, including officers and NCOs, and about 5,000 to 6,000 conscripts at a time during peacetime. Completely mobilized, it numbers around 55,000. Slovenia has mandatory military service (6-7 months of training) although young men may opt for the civil service alternative. The Slovenian Army is comprised mainly of infantry units, although it does have a small air force and naval unit. Reorganization will eventually eliminate the role of conscripts in the military structure, basing it instead on a professional corps. At the end of this process, professionals will number about 7,500 and conscripts about 33,000.
As part of the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia was never a member of the Warsaw Pact. Today, the foreign policy priority of NATO membership drives Slovenia's defense reorganization. Once many countries lifted the arms embargo on Slovenia in 1996, the country embarked on a military procurement program to bolster its status as a NATO candidate and to aid its transformation into a mobility force. Active in the SFOR deployment in Bosnia, Slovenia is a charter member of the Partnership for Peace and a regular participant in PfP exercises. The United States provides bilateral military assistance to Slovenia, including through the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program, the State Partnership Program (aligned with Colorado), and the EUCOM Joint Contact Team Program.
Since gaining independence, Slovenia avidly has sought NATO membership as part of its overall strategy of integration into the most important international economic, financial, and security organizations. With a view to becoming a full member, Slovenia has effectively deepened its institutional relationship with NATO through active participation in the EAPC and Partnership for Peace programs. Slovenia's current international commitments show Slovenia's willingness to become a co-provider of security in the region.
Slovenia is a new nation in the process of building up a modern armed force capable of providing for its territorial defense and of contributing to regional stability. After independence, Slovenia was faced with having to build up most of its forces from scratch. The international embargo against arms shipments to the former Yugoslavia postponed a buildup until it was lifted in June 1996. The Slovenian Army is currently in transition from a primarily conscript-based territorial defense organization to a professional force structure with NATO-interoperable combat units comparable to equivalent organizational units in the Alliance. Slovenia has devoted much energy and resources to this task and should realize these goals within the next few years. Current spending on its military as a percentage of GDP compares favorably to the three countries selected at Madrid for NATO inclusion.
Since the lifting in June 1996 of the international embargo on Slovenia as one of the republics of the former Yugoslavia, the government has diligently pursued its restructuring, reorganization, modernization, and procurement with the paramount goal of NATO-interoperability. Implementation of interoperability objectives as determined by the Planning and Review Process (PARP) and the Individual Partnership Program (IPP) as part of Slovenia's PfP participation proceeds. Slovenia's elite units already train with and are integrated into international units including NATO members--for example as part of SFOR and on Cyprus. Its elite mountain troops will be assigned to the Multilateral Land Force peacekeeping battalion with Italy, Hungary, and Croatia. Slovenia successfully hosted its first PfP exercise in 1998--"Cooperative Adventure Exchange"--a multinational disaster-preparedness command post exercise involving almost 6,000 troops from 19 NATO and PfP member nations.
Slovenia is committed to interoperability and compatibility with NATO and enhancing its qualifications for full-fledged membership in the North Atlantic Alliance. Slovenia has made great strides in building up and reforming its military, building active security links with its neighbors, and increasing the NATO interoperability of its forces. The U.S. has encouraged Slovenia to maintain the pace of reform, while actively seeking out avenues of greater engagement--within PfP, the EAPC, SECI, and other multilateral fora--and establishing closer links with other regional partners. Alongside NATO partners, the U.S. will continue to work with Slovenia in support of its membership aspirations.
FOREIGN RELATIONS AND REGIONAL COOPERATION
In regular public statements, Slovenia's highest politicians underscore their government's commitment to expanding cooperative arrangements with neighbors and active contributions to international efforts aimed at bringing stability to Southeast Europe. Resource limitations are a concern for the government, which does not wish to see itself spread too thin. However, the Slovenes are taking concrete steps toward a more outward looking and constructive role in regional security arrangements, as resources allow.
Meeting NATO/PfP/EAPC goals
Contributions to Bosnian stability
Slovenia pledged personnel and logistical support to an OSCE-led verification mission in Kosovo. Slovenia's record supporting the U.S. position on Kosovo--both in regular public statements by top officials and on the Security Council--has been excellent. Top government officials have called repeatedly for Milosevic's compliance with NATO demands. Slovenia granted NATO use of its airspace and offered further logistical support. It also has pledged personnel to support NATO humanitarian operations in the region. Slovenia has pledged to help Macedonia deal with the refugee crisis by providing 880 million sit (US$4.9 million) of humanitarian aid, in addition to granting a concession for imported agricultural products. The Slovene Government allocated 45 million SIT (US$250,000) to help Albania, Montenegro, and Macedonia, one-third of which went to the latter. Slovenia took in over 4,100 Kosovar refugees during the crisis.
Relations With Neighbors
Slovenia's bilateral relations with its neighbors are generally harmonious and cooperative. However, there remain a few unresolved disputes with Croatia related to the succession of the former Yugoslavia, including demarcation of their common border. In addition, unlike the other successor states of the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia did not normalize relations with the "Federal Republic of Yugoslavia" (Serbia and Montenegro) until after the passing from power of Slobodan Milosevic (although the Slovenes did open a representative office in Podgorica to work with Montenegrin President Djukanovic's government).
Succession issues, particularly concerning liabilities and assets of the former Yugoslavia, remain a key factor in Slovenia's relations in the region. On the whole, no conflicts mar relations with neighbors, which are on a sound footing. Numerous cooperative projects are either underway or envisioned, and bilateral and multilateral partnerships are deepening. Differences, many of which stem from Yugoslavia's time, have been handled responsibly and are being resolved.
Italy. Italo-Slovene bilateral relations have improved dramatically since 1993 and are in fine shape and free of significant irritants. By mid-1996, property restitution disputes derived from World War II had been set aside, allowing a dramatic improvement in relations. Italy is a firm supporter of Slovene EU accession and NATO membership, helping Slovenia technically and legislatively master its bid for membership in European and transatlantic institutions. Full and timely Slovenian integration into European and Transatlantic organizations is a priority for Italy's current government. In 2001, the Italian Senate voted final approval of legislation resolving some minor differences remaining over minority rights issues and over the compensation for property abandoned by Italian refugees fleeing communist Yugoslavia in the postwar period. Overall, relations are excellent.
Hungary. Relations are excellent with Hungary. Hungarian (as well as Italian) minorities in Slovenia are accorded special treatment under the Slovene constitution, including a permanent parliamentary seat. Within the Multilateral Cooperation Initiative between Slovenia, Italy, Hungary, and Croatia, cooperation exists in numerous fields, including military (Multinational Land Force peacekeeping brigade), transportation, combating money laundering and organized crime, non-proliferation, border crossings, and environmental issues. Hungary has pledged to assist Slovenia in its bid for NATO membership.
Austria. Austro-Slovene relations are close. Although some disagreements over support for the other country's minorities have lingered, these appear to be on their way to resolution. Questions regarding nuclear power in Slovenia and the basis for the settlement of the Austrian State Treaty also appear to have been solved. Austria firmly endorses Slovenia's path into the European Union. Economic cooperation is expanding, including a joint project for development of border regions. As a concrete manifestation of the excellent state of regional relations, Slovenia, Austria, and Italy entered a joint bid to organize the 2006 Winter Olympic games.
Croatia. Though somewhat rocky at times, Croatian-Slovene relations are improving. Outstanding issues include a few remaining border disputes, joint management of the Krsko nuclear power plant, property rights, and Croatian depositors' savings in the Ljubljanska Banka from SFRY times. In a series of high-level meetings since the latter half of 1998, Slovenia and Croatia have been engaged in settling bilateral differences, a process which accelerated after the death of Croatian President Franjo Tudjman in 1999. In order to aid the stabilization of this part of Europe, Slovenia has supported Croatia's efforts to draw closer to European institutions.