Ivo Skoric on Thu, 2 May 2002 22:24:02 +0200 (CEST)

[Date Prev] [Date Next] [Thread Prev] [Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

[Nettime-bold] News about Slovenia

Of all the emerging countries from former Yugoslavia, Slovenia is 
the least heard off. Although, it is the economically strongest post-
communist country, with GDP per capita far outpacing that of 
Hungary or Czech Republic, the two other contenders. It is also the 
place where Bush and Putin met.

Slovenia is a small, mountainous country with a dozen of well 
connected small cities, with impatient, young culture, tending to 
get ahead of its times. So, in 1985 when everybody else in 
Yugoslavia signed praises to the 'brotherhood and unity' of 
Yugoslav peoples, they wanted out. And when everybody else went 
to war, Slovenia was first to welcome integration of post-Yugoslav 
societies. She wanted to become a part of Europe, when Milosevic 
was sardonically calling her the stablemen of Austrians. And now 
when the NATO wants Slovenia, and when the prime minister is 
invited to White House - the streets in Ljubljana say NO TO NATO!


WASHINGTON, April 30 (Reuters) - The White House announced on Tuesday that 
U.S. President George W. Bush would meet on May 17 with Slovenian Prime 
Minister Janez Drnovsek.
"Slovenia has supported efforts to combat terrorism and has contributed 
significantly to bringing peace and stability to southeast Europe," White 
House spokesman Ari Fleischer said.
"The meeting will be an opportunity to discuss Slovenia's ongoing free 
market, democratic transformation, and aspirations to join Euro-Atlantic 
institutions," he added.
Slovenia is a front-runner for joining the European Union by 2004. Under 
Drnovsek, it has accelerated economic deregulation and made NATO membership a 
priority. Drnovsek has been head of government almost without interruption 
since Slovenia broke away from Yugoslavia in 1991.
04/30/02 16:06 ET

'Freedom in, NATO out': Slovene view of alliance sours ------------------
--------------------------------------------------- --- 
LJUBLJANA (AP) -- It's been a Slovene political mantra for more 
than a decade: the ultimate goal is to join NATO.  
Now, just when membership seems like a sure thing, Slovenes are 
no longer certain they want to tie their future to the alliance.  
"Freedom in, NATO out!" says fresh graffiti in the capital Ljubljana. 
Slovene news media have begun openly questioning the benefits of 
NATO membership and anti-NATO activists are regularly being 
given a say in public debates and television shows. For the first 
time, support for NATO membership has dropped below 50 per 
cent, said a government-financed survey last month. It's all 
happening just six months before the former Yugoslav republic may 
finally be invited to join the alliance at a November summit on 
NATO  expansion in Prague. Up to 10 Baltic and East European 
countries are expected to join the alliance, which took in Hungary, 
Poland and the Czech Republic in 1999. Slovene Foreign Minister 
Dimitrij Rupel calls the sudden shift a "striking paradox." "We are 
one of the top candidates for entry, yet we seem to have the least 
public support for this goal," he said recently. Ever since gaining 
independence in 1991, Slovenia's pro-western leadership has 
worked hard to make the country of two million people, bordered by 
Italy, Hungary and Croatia, a part of the European Union and  
NATO. For Balkan and southern European countries, the EU and 
NATO long have been seen as a ticket to wealth, success -- and 
the West. Slovenia's first victory came with associate membership 
in the EU in 1996; the first blow with NATO rejection a year later. 
Since then, Slovenia has initiated a flurry of measures and 
diplomatic efforts in hopes of making sure an invitation to join is a 
sure thing in November. The last thing the government needed -- or 
expected -- was to see public support erode. Rupel acknowledged 
anti-NATO activists have created a "noise that's heard far away." 
"NATO's member states and its leadership are now asking us 
whether we really want to become a member," he said. Opponents 
of NATO membership are not well-organized. There are some 
students and professors and several prominent journalists and 
sociologists. They haven't staged a single demonstration -- but 
they're speaking up and the mainstream media have given them a 
stage. But opponents of membership insist it's too expensive 
because the government will have to spend money on weaponry 
and military reorganization and they contend tiny Slovenia will 
never be heard among the big NATO players. Others wonder: 
what's the point? Slovenia enjoys peaceful relations with its 
neighbours, they argue and not even NATO could thwart the Sept.  
11 terrorist attacks. 
Miso Alkalaj an anti-NATO activist, said the attacks on the United 
States, a mighty NATO force, showed "there was no real defence 
against terrorism, the No. 1 threat of today's world." In many ways, 
Slovenia already belongs to the West. It has a vigorous economy 
and a stable government. Support for the EU, which unlike NATO 
promises concrete economic benefits, remains high. Even so, the 
government has realized it must fight to ensure NATO membership 
doesn't slip from its grasp. Rupel has publicly urged President 
Milan Kucan to engage opponents. Government officials are 
preaching the benefits of membership at every opportunity. The 
NATO question dominates TV talk shows and a special phone line 
has been set up to give Slovenes more information about the 
alliance. "We haven't used all our ammunition yet," Rupel said.  

Copyright 2002 Reuters Limited. 

Nettime-bold mailing list