Foreign relations of Slovenia
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.
- Slovenia is engaged with 29 countries in bilateral military exchange--most actively with the United States--and in regional cooperative arrangements in central and southeast Europe; it participates in or intends to contribute forces for five major multinational regional peacekeeping bodies;
- With Hungary and Italy, Slovenia formed a Multinational Land Force (Trilateral Brigade) in April 1998 with regional peacekeeping ability. Further nonmilitary cooperation within the Trilateral includes the fields of transportation infrastructure, combating money laundering and organized crime, WMD non-proliferation, border controls, and environmental protection;
- Slovenia is a member of Central European Nations Cooperation on Peacekeeping (CENTCOOP)--with Austria, Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia, and Switzerland--under which a combined infantry peacekeeping unit was formed March 1998;
- Slovenia has observer status, like the U.S., in (the Turkish proposed) Multinational Peacekeeping Force Southeast European (MPFSEE)--participating are Albania, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, the Republic of Macedonia, Romania, and Turkey;
- Slovenia joined 13 other nations in forming the brigade-sized Standby High Readiness Brigade (SHIRBRIG), headquartered in Copenhagen;
- From May to July 1997, Slovenia contributed to Operation ALBA in Albania with a 25-person medical unit, which was well-received and commended by the Italian commander. Thereafter, it continued to support efforts to restore stability in Albania by participating in the WEU's Multinational Advisory Police Element (MAPE) helping to reconstitute and train Albanian police. The government has pledged to the Albanian Government its continuing support;
- Since November 1997, Slovenia has participated in its first United Nations peacekeeping operation, contributing 27 troops to an Austrian UNFICYP contingent on Cyprus. Slovenia also has peacekeepers with the UN at Naharya Ogl, Israel, on the Lebanese border.
/Partnership for Peace
- Slovenia's 10th battalion for international cooperation, established in 1996 as its primary "out-of-country" operation unit, will soon be upgraded to a NATO-interoperable rapid reaction peacekeeping force;
- In November 1998, Slovenia hosted its first major multinational exercise, "Cooperative Adventure Exchange," involving almost 6,000 troops from 19 NATO and PfP countries; otherwise it participates actively in PfP and EAPC;
- Slovenia is an active participant in Southeast European Defense Ministerial (SEDM) activities. It agreed to be lead country for several initiatives in 1999, including hosting an environmental security seminar.
Contributions to Bosnian stability
- Slovenia contributed to IFOR (logistical support) and is very engaged in the SFOR effort, providing VIP support helicopter and light transport aircraft missions and use of an airbase in southern Slovenia;
- Slovenia has provided a platoon of military police (about 22) for the Italian-led Multinational Specialized Unit (MSU) in Sarajevo since January 1999;
- Slovenia's latest initiative is its International Trust Fund for Demining and Humanitarian Assistance in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which will finance up to $56 million in mine removal and victim rehabilitation services in the region. (The U.S. has contributed over $35 million in matching funds.)
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
, and the Republic of 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 Milo 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.
Disputes - international:
significant progress has been made with Croatia toward resolving a maritime border dispute over direct access to the sea in the Adriatic Sea; Italy and Slovenia made progress in resolving bilateral issues
minor transit point for Southwest Asian heroin bound for Western Europe, and for precursor chemicals
- See also : Slovenia