II. Country Assessment--Slovenia
Overview of U.S. Government Assistance
In FY 2006, the USG provided an estimated $7.17 million in assistance to Slovenia, including:
The last year for new SEED bilateral funding to Slovenia was FY 1997, although some additional SEED funds for public diplomacy and Democracy Commission grants were provided through FY 2003. Other forms of U.S. Government assistance to Slovenia continued through FY 2006.
FY 2006 Assistance Overview
U.S. STRATEGIC INTERESTS & FOREIGN POLICY PRIORITIES
A Europe that is whole, free, and at peace remains a central national security interest for the U.S. Slovenia is economically strong, politically stable, and active in Southern and Eastern Europe. Slovenia's accession to the European Union (EU) and North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in 2004 reflects the level of political and economic development the country has achieved during its 15 years of independence, and the regional role it can play in furthering the U.S. priorities of promoting stability, market liberalization, and law enforcement cooperation. Slovenia's strategic location, productive workforce, and solid, growing infrastructure with free access to the world's second wealthiest market make it an attractive venue for U.S. investments. As the new gateway to fledgling South and East European markets, Slovenia, with its sound economic infrastructure, will continue to build bridges to the region through trade, investment, and direct assistance. Slovenia is the region's largest investor and plays a leading role in Balkan de-mining efforts, humanitarian assistance, and peacekeeping operations. The U.S. Government (USG) will continue to encourage Slovenia's involvement in the region, and to promote it as a regional model of political stability and economic development.
While no terrorist organizations are known to be active in Slovenia, its central location and short Adriatic coastline make it an attractive potential transit country for trafficking in drugs, persons, and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by criminal and terrorist organizations. It is in the U.S. interest to provide training assistance and equipment, and to engage the Slovenian law enforcement community in efforts to detect, interdict, prosecute, and convict those involved in transnational criminal and terrorist activities. Slovenia is currently promoting regional law enforcement cooperation, combating criminal activities, and providing technical assistance on economic, political, and judicial reforms.
FOREIGN ASSISTANCE PRIORITIES
USG assistance to Slovenia is focused on the security sector. The goal for all of Slovenia's security assistance-funded activities is achieving full interoperability with NATO allies, primarily through attainment of their NATO force goals and their defense transformation efforts. With the Government of Slovenia (GOS), and in particular the Prosecutor General, continuing to make a commitment to go after financial or "white collar" crime, the USG continues to help with prosecutor training. Building on a legacy of small grants, the USG continues to support the strengthening of civil society and the development of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in Slovenia.
There were no major changes in the operating environment in Slovenia in FY 2006. Slovenia is in the final stages of completing its transition to a fully functioning democracy with a market economy. Fifteen years, however, is a short time in which to make a complete and successful transition, and there remain several areas where USG support and partnership remain relevant. With small but strategic assistance efforts, the USG continues to see positive movement from Slovenia to help it develop into a stronger partner and a forceful advocate for the Southeast European region.
FY 2006 Country Program Performance
Governing Justly and Democratically
According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), Slovenia continues to register one of the lowest levels of citizen participation in civil society among developed countries. Although the GOS has made some efforts to increase cooperation with NGOs, civil society remains underdeveloped. Nonetheless, the number of NGOs continues to increase. Approximately 20,500 organizations are officially registered under one of several categories that define NGO activity in Slovene law; sources indicate that about half are active. The income of the NGO sector represents roughly 2% of GDP. Most NGOs have weak organizational structures, small memberships, suffer from chronic resource shortages, and require continued external support (particularly financial support from government sources). There is a growing recognition, however, of the importance of NGOs to society in promoting democracy and economic development.
The GOS and the NGO community have a permanent intra-governmental working group, composed of representatives from over a dozen ministries and public institutes, to further cooperation between public institutions and the NGO sector and address topics including the writing and implementation of legislation regarding the NGO community. Currently, the group's two main priorities are expanding the role of the NGO sector in the Slovenian Presidency of the European Union (during the first six months of 2008), and preparations for the NGO sector's role in the use of EU structural funds for Slovenia's National Development Plan. The GOS has provided funding to support dialogue between NGOs and the Government and for service activities for the entire NGO sector in Slovenia.
U.S. ASSISTANCE PRIORITIES
Whilewidespread USG development assistance to the sector has been phased out due to Slovenia's successful democratic transition, in FY 2006 the USG continued to provide small grants in support of democratic reform. The main priorities for these grants were to: strengthen the NGO sector; have a broad regional impact and/or are done in partnership with international NGOs; address less developed areas inside Slovenia; promote entrepreneurship; promote inter-ethnic dialogue and address minority issues; support regional stability and promote a European perspective for the countries of Southeastern Europe; and address international security issues.
DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAMS, OUTPUTS, AND IMPACT
In FY 2006, the USG awarded over 25 grants to Slovenian NGOs in the fields of NGO development, human rights, migrant and minority integration, debate and democracy projects focused on youth, job education, law, domestic violence, and public health.
A top priority in 2006 was stimulating cooperation between the NGOs from former Yugoslav republics and the rest of the Southeastern Europe to complete projects with a broad, regional impact. USG funds supported Slovenian cooperation in a regional project that fostered regional civil society cooperation in Western Balkan countries. The project included a round table event hosted in Slovenia, and three Slovenes attended the final conference on emphasizing the role of the NGO sector in the development of civil society and the importance of establishing regional cooperation and networking. USG funds also financed a trafficking in persons (TIP) project that helped train officials from TIP-related NGOs located in Bosnia and Herzegovina. In addition, funds supported Slovenian participation in Southeastern European conferences focusing on volunteerism among young and on human security and children in armed conflicts.
A second priority area was strengthening organizations assisting minorities, migrants, and members of vulnerable communities. Examples of activities supported by USG assistance included promotion of integration and equality for Roma, improvement of childhood education for Roma, and the establishment of a refugee law clinic to assist migrants with services and to help integrate them into their host society. Strengthening of the NGO sector in general continues to be a priority.
Additionally, USG funds supported three NGO projects related to international relations and international security issues.
Peace and Security
Slovenia achieved one of its longstanding foreign policy objectives in March 2004 by joining NATO, a milestone in its transformation from a territorial defense model to one of collective defense and Euro-Atlantic integration. The active-duty Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) became fully professional in October 2003, and the last conscripted reservists are expected to be phased out by 2010. Slovenia increased its contributions to international peacekeeping missions during FY 2006. It has 54 troops in Afghanistan, 15 troops with the United Nations mission in Lebanon, five police trainers based in Jordan in support of international efforts in Iraq, and four trainers at the NATO Training Mission in Iraq. In Europe, significant deployments to the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) and European Forces (EUFOR) in Bosnia round out Slovenia's international efforts by promoting regional stability in Southeastern Europe. Currently, the GOS has approximately 375 troops (or 5% of its total force) deployed abroad with plans to have 800 troops (11% of its total force) deployed in 2007. GOS officials have made public statements pledging to increase defense spending to 2% of GDP by 2010. The GOS is focusing both domestic defense spending and international assistance funds on achieving its NATO Force Goals. In terms of combating terrorism, Slovenia ratified the Convention on the Suppression of Terrorism Financing in July 2004, thereby making it a party to all 12 international anti-terrorism conventions. The GOS is planning a Proliferation Security Initiative exercise and a Marshall Center program on terrorism and security studies for 2007.
U.S. ASSISTANCE PRIORITIES
USG security assistance to Slovenia works to integrate the Slovenian Armed Forces into NATO and achieve full interoperability with NATO Allies, primarily through attainment of their NATO force goals and their defense transformation efforts.
DESCRIPTION OF PROGRAMS AND ACTIVITIES
USG military education assistance trained military and civilian defense personnel, with the bulk of the training focused on deployable combat forces. USG-funded activities are designed to: improve the capacity for command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence; upgrade training and simulations; and provide equipment. A USG-funded counter-terrorism fellowship program assisted Slovenia and other international partners in the Global War on Terror by providing training and education in counter-terrorism activities. The USG funded the participation of Slovenian counter-terrorism personnel in a civil-military response to terrorism course. In 2006, longstanding plans for the installation of USG-funded radiation detection systems (portals) at the Port of Koper and Slovenian's largest land border crossing at Obrezje came to fruition. These portals enable Slovenian government customs authorities to prevent illicit trafficking in nuclear and other radioactive material. The USG also continued a program connecting Slovenia's Prosecutor General with U.S. experts in financial crime, with a focus on the detection and prosecution of economic crimes.
USG funds helped train 71 military and civilian defense personnel. Three personnel expanded their knowledge of how governments can respond effectively to terrorism within their own political, budgetary, and societal circumstances through participation in the civil-military terrorism course.
The USG also continued work on training programs for Slovenian prosecutors and the GOS Prosecutor General's Office. The collaboration, originally begun in 2005, focused on the detection and prosecution of economic crimes through a series of videoconferences and meetings.
The USG continued to assist Slovenia in attaining its defense transformation objectives and NATO Force Goals, most notably the tactical and operational capabilities of their deployable units. Slovenia will provide NATO a deployable Battalion Battle Group consisting of core combat forces (10th, 20th, and 30th Motorized Battalions) and organic combat support elements. The top priority of USG assistance was helping prepare these Battalions for NATO certification, a goal that is on track as illustrated by the November 2006 certification of the 10th Motorized Battalion.
In FY 2006, USG military education assistance provided the officers and noncommissioned officers (NCO) with necessary skills via their participation in the basic career, captain career, infantry unit leader, and infantry squad leader courses. The intermediate and senior professional military education courses exposed many of the future leaders of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) to the American military mindset. Nearly all key leaders in their deployable combat units have attended these courses and are a key force behind the GOS's defense transformation.
Slovenia continued to look outward and seek additional ways to contribute to international peace and stability, as demonstrated by the 2006 decision to join coalition operations in Iraq by training Iraqi security forces through NATO Training Mission Iraq. The SAF continued its support of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan with 54 troops deployed (52 supporting the Italian-led Provincial Reconstruction Team in Herat and two at NATO Headquarters in Kabul). The GOS further increased its KFOR contributions in Kosovo to over 200 in 2006 and will increase this to roughly 600 in February 2007. The GOS continues to support EUFOR's Operation Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina with 83 troops. In 2006, the GOS also decided to send 15 troops to support the United Nations mission in Lebanon. Much of the foundational work required for these deployments was supported by ongoing USG training programs, and much of the critical pre-deployment training and NATO interoperability exercises were supported by USG-funded simulations center.