||2 million - more
than Luxembourg, Malta, Cyprus and Estonia
||20,000 sq kilometres
- nearly the same size as Wales or Israel; mountainous and
heavily forested, with a coastline of 32 kilometres along
the Adriatic Sea; the flag of Slovenia features the three-headed
Mount Triglav (2864 metres), its highest mountain, believed
by early Slavs to be the home of a three-headed deity who
ruled the sky, the earth and the underworld.
||Ljubljana - the
capital - has around 250,000 inhabitants. It was founded
by the Romans as Emona, is rich in baroque architecture,
and has a vibrant cultural life with numerous summer festivals,
and a lively university with 20,000 students. Maribor has
about 100,000 inhabitants; Koper, the country's large international
port, was the capital of Istria under the Venetian Republic
in the 15th and 16th centuries; and just down the coast,
Piran is a gem of Venetian Gothic architecture with narrow
streets and bustling nightlife.
||Slovene, a southern
Slav language that uses the Latin alphabet
||tolar - SIT; Euro
1 = 229 SIT
THE SNAPSHOT OF SLOVENIA
Slovenia is a small country with a wide exposure to the outside
world. It is known, among other things, for its recent Olympic medals
in downhill skiing, rowing, shooting, kayaking and athletics. Slovenia's
younger generation of winegrowers on the very borders with Italy
have developed a seriously lucrative export business for their high-quality,
high-tech and high-price white wines. It hosts one of Europe's leading
early music festivals. Endowed with highly skilled human capital
and strategically located between the east and west of Europe -
the cross-roads of key east-west and north-south trans-European
corridors - it is widely perceived as an important contributor to
the stabilisation and cohesion of the Balkan region. And Slovenia
was chosen by George W Bush and Vladimir Putin as the location for
their first-ever meeting - at the home of former Yugoslav President
Tito, Brdo Castle.
The only EU candidate country from the former Yugoslavia, Slovenia's
two million population - and its picture-book capital of Ljubljana
- owe their heritage to their uninterrupted links from the early
Middle Ages with the Italian- and German-speaking part of the
Holy Roman and Austro-Hungarian empires. Always the most liberal
of the republics in Yugoslavia, it has established a stable democracy
and moved easily to a market economy. It is one of the most prosperous
EU candidate countries, with a GDP per capita (in terms of
Purchasing Power parities) higher than Greece's and close
to Portugal's, and an unemployment rate lower than in Germany
or France. Its main concern about its terms of EU accession is
that its relative prosperity will mean it could pay in more than
it gets out.
SLOVENIA'S BREICE EARLY MUSIC FESTIVAL
Slovenia's annual Early Music Festival
features music ranging from medieval to Beethoven, all
performed on authentic instruments. It has consistently
attracted top international artists since it began in
1983, in the northern town of Radovljica. Artistic director
Klemen Ramov moved it to Breice, in the hills
of the Posavje region of southeastern Slovenia, in 1996.
Many of the concerts take place in the acoustically outstanding
Knight's Hall in the town's Renaissance castle. Other
venues include the 15th century Mokrice Castle with its
striking floor decorations, and the Kostanjevica monastery,
which boasts one of the largest arcaded courtyards in
THE HISTORY OF SLOVENIA
Slovenia declared its independence from Yugoslavia in June 1991,
and after defeating the Serb-dominated Yugoslav People's Army in
a ten-day war, it quickly won international recognition. It had
been the most liberal republic within the former Yugoslav federation,
and always the most prosperous region, and it has made a smooth
transition towards pluralist democracy and a market economy.
But the first independent Slovene state dates back much further:
when the Romans had been driven out by Mongolian Avars, who had
in turn been driven out by Slavs, it was in AD 623 that King Samo
established a kingdom (tribal confederation) stretching from Lake
Balaton (now in Hungary) to the Mediterranean, which had its centre
in the present Czech Republic.
The territory fell under the Frankish Empire late in the 8th
century, and in the 10th century it became the independent duchy
of Carantania under Holy Roman Emperor Otto I. From this period
onwards, until 1414, a special ceremony of the enthronement of
princes, conducted in Slovene, took place.
From 1335 until 1918, Slovenes were governed by the Habsburgs
of the Austro-Hungarian Empire - except for a brief interlude
from 1809 to 1814, during the Napoleonic Wars, when the region
was reorganized by France as part of the Illyrian Provinces.
After World War I it was absorbed in the Kingdom of the Serbs,
Croats, and Slovenes (renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in 1929).
Then in 1941, during World War II, Germany, Hungary, and Italy
divided the territory among themselves. In spite of forced transfers
of populations during the war, since 1945 most Slovenes have lived
in the Slovenian republic, which in 1947 also acquired Slovenian-speaking
districts on the Adriatic Sea (in Istria) from Italy.
Slovenia held the first multiparty elections in Yugoslavia since
World War II in April 1990. The winning coalition called for independence,
and nearly 90 percent of Slovenia's population voted for independence
in a referendum in December 1990.
CURRENT POLITICAL CONTEXT
Head of State: President Janez Drnovek (since December
Prime Minister: Anton Rop (since December 2002)
Foreign Minister: Dimitrij Rupel
Minister for European Integration: Janez Potocnik
Voters in Slovenia chose a new president late last year- the
man who has been prime minister practically since the country
won its independence, Janez Drnovek.
The continuity in Slovenian politics is striking: Drnovek
became prime minister in 1992, and won a second term in 1996;
he was in opposition for six-months in mid-2000, but again returned
to the post after his coalition won October elections. He is an
economist by profession and held senior office in the former Yugoslavia.
Drnovek is only the second President of the country. Milan
Kucan, the 62-year-old statesman who led the country to independence
in 1991, had been President since then. He was widely popular,
but under Slovenia's constitution was not eligible to seek a third
Finance minister Anton Rop took over as Prime Minister in December
2002. Both the Prime Minister and President belong to the Liberal
Democrat party that has been the dominant force in the country's
successive coalition governments.
Municipal elections were held at the same time as Presidential
elections and largely reflected the results of the parliamentary
elections held in 2002.
Other significant parties include the Social Democratic Party
of Slovenia, United List of Social Democrats, Slovenian People's
Party, New Slovenia Christian People's Party, the Pensioner's
Party, the Slovenian National Party, and the Youth Party.
The Head of State of Slovenia is the President - who is also
the commander-in-chief of the armed forces. The President is elected
for a five-year term on a popular vote. The Slovenian parliament
consists of a 90-member State Assembly (re-elected every four
years), which makes the republic's laws, and a 40-member State
Council (re-elected every five years), which can only propose
laws or request reconsideration of a vote in the assembly. The
assembly elects the prime minister for a four-year term.
The number of seats of the various parties in the parliament
is as follows:
Political parties in Slovenia
|"New Slovenia" Christian People's
|Representatives of the Italian and Hungarian
|Slovenian National Party
|SLS Slovene People's Party
|Social Democratic Party
|United List of Social Democrats
||1 Tolar (SIT) = 100 stotin (1 € = 226 SIT)
|| €16,990 (year 2002 PPS) - 70% of EU average
||3.2 % (annually in 2002)
||7.5 % (2002)
||6.4 % (2002 ILO definition)
|Current account balance:
||-/+1.8 % of GDP (2002)
||42 % of GDP (January 2003)
|Trade with EU:
||59% of all exports (€6.5 billion, 2002)
|68% of all imports (€7.9 billion, 2002)
|Deficit: €1.4 billion (2002)
The Slovene economy has achieved solid growth -- averaging 4.3
percent over the past eight years- while avoiding the major macroeconomic
imbalances that characterized most other transition economies
in the region. GDP per capita has reached the level of €16.990
(year 2002 PPS) which represents about 70% the EU average. Slovenia
is among the countries with the smallest public deficit which,
despite having increased in 2000, stands at just 25.8% of GDP,
caused for the first time by foreign rather than domestic debt.
Unemployment has been declining and stood at 6.4% in 2002 (ILO
definition). However, persistently high inflation is an issue
that remains to be tackled (7.5 % in 2002).
Slovenia adopted a rather gradual approach to reforms, and they
have been rather slow in some sectors. This is the case especially
with the baking and the insurance sectors. However, legislation
adopted in 2002 paves way for increasing competition in the insurance
sector, and privatisation measures in the banking sector are also
contributing to the same end.
Tourism is a major industry - with its attractions ranging from
spas to the stalactites and stalagmites in the 20 kilometres of
underground passages in the Postojna Caves, and from the Bled
and Bohinj lakes in the shadows of the Alps to the four-centuries
old stud farms at Lipica - where the famous Lipizzaner horses
come from. Most visitors are from Italy, Germany, and Austria.
Industry constituted 38 percent of GDP in Slovenia in 2000 -
the major industries produce electrical equipment, processed food,
textiles, paper and paper products, chemicals, and wood products.
Agriculture accounts for 3 percent of GDP, with dairy farming
and livestock dominating this sector. Major crops include cereals
such as corn and wheat, potatoes, sugar beets, and fruits (particularly
Coal is the most abundant natural resource in Slovenia; other
resources include lead, zinc, mercury, uranium, and silver, as
well as natural gas and petroleum.
A nuclear power station at Krko - on Slovenia's side of
the border, but half-owned by Croatia - produces 39% of the electricity
used in Slovenia. It benefits from advanced safety applications
developed under the Euratom framework programme, and has not been
the focus of any safety concerns.
After attracting relatively little foreign direct investment
at a level of about 1% of GDP, Slovenia has recently been winning
several large foreign investments and the overall level of FDI
has increased to over 2% of GDP in year 2002.
Slovenia enjoys strong trade and cooperation links with Germany,
Italy, France and Austria. Main exports include machinery and
transport equipment, chemicals, footwear, furniture and other
Slovenia has a high level of trade integration with the EU. About
59% Slovenia exports go to the EU and 68% of imports come from
EU - SLOVENIA RELATIONS
The EU officially recognised Slovenia as an independent state
in January 1992 and a Co-operation Agreement entered into force
in September 1993.
Since it was founded, Slovenia's politics have been focused on
EU accession. It signed an Association Agreement with the EU in
1996 covering trade issues, political dialogue and co-operation
in a number of areas. An Interim Agreement implementing the trade
provisions of the Europe Agreement entered into force in January
1997. The Europe Agreement entered into force in February 1999.
Slovenia applied for EU membership in June 1996. The Commission
Opinion was issued in 1997 and Slovenia started negotiations in
The EC has been providing Slovenia substantial assistance for
reforms and for preparing for accession to the EU. From 2000 onwards,
the Community has been providing a combined total of around €
65 million of Pre-accession assistance to Slovenia on an
annual basis from the three Community instruments.
The PHARE programme that has been providing support to
the countries of Central and Eastern Europe since 1989 allocated
to Slovenia € 191 million during the period 1992 to 1999,
€ 33.3 million in 2000, € 28.5 million in 2001 and €
41.9 million in 2002. In 2003, Slovenia will be entitled to €
41.9 million. 2000 funds were fully contracted by the end of December
2002. 2003 programming will be completed in April. The Financing
Memorandum will be presented to the Phare management Committee
in June 2003.
Slovenia received € 19.6 million from ISPA (Instrument
for structural policies for pre-accession) in 2000 and €
16 million in 2001. The 2002 allocation amounts at € 17 million.
About 60% of the support was provided to environmental projects
and about 40% to transport projects. During the first year of
its operation 100% of the ISPA allocation has been committed.
The Slovenian SAPARD programme (Special Accession Programme
for Agricultural and Rural Development) was adopted by the Commission
in October 2000. It foresees the improvement of the competitiveness
of the agricultural sector and processing industry focusing on
environmental protection and seeks to enhance the adaptation capabilities
of rural areas. The average annual support will be about €
6.6 Million. Slovenia signed the Multi-annual Financing Agreement
and the Annual Financing Agreement for 2000 in March 2001 and
the Annual Financing Agreement for 2001 in March 2002. In November
2001, the Commission adopted the decision conferring management
of the programme to Slovenia's SAPARD Agency.
In the negotiations Slovenia requested and was granted a very
limited number of transitional periods - this proves that Slovenia
is already well prepared for implementing the acquis. Negotiations
with Slovenia were concluded in December 2002 in the Copenhagen
A referendum on EU accession was held on March 23, 2003, and
90% voted in favour of accession to the EU (the turnout was 60%).
A referendum on membership in NATO was held at the same time,
and 66% voted in favour.
The Commission issued its latest Regular Report on Slovenia's
preparations for accession in October 2002. (link) In these reports,
the Commission assess the state of preparations of each of the
candidate countries and identify remaining short-comings and tasks
to be completed before accession.
In year 2003 the Commission experts will carry out a series of
assessments (called peer reviews) on Slovenia's accession preparations
in specific areas. It is also regularly monitoring the implementation
by Slovenia of the commitments undertaken in the accession negotiations.
A Comprehensive Monitoring report will be issued in November 2003.