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 Habsburg
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
As a young independent republic, Slovenia pursued economic stabilization
and further political openness, while emphasizing its Western outlook and
central European heritage. Reflecting its success in these goals, Slovenia
became a member both of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the
European Union in March and May, respectively, of 2004. As an Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Troika member scheduled to
be Chairman-in-Office in 2005, a continuing participant in the SFOR deployment
in Bosnia and the KFOR deployment in Kosovo, one of the top foreign investors
in the former Yugoslavia, and a charter World Trade Organization (WTO)
member, Slovenia enjoys a growing regional profile and plays a role on
the world stage quite out of proportion to its small size.
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 by the National
Assembly for single 9-year terms.
Slovenia's first President, Milan Ku?an, concluded his second and final
term in December 2002. Prime Minister Janez Drnovek defeated opposition
candidate Barbara Brezigar in the 2002 presidential elections by a comfortable
margin, and was inaugurated as Ku?an's successor on December 22, 2002.
Finance Minister Anton Rop succeeded Drnovek as Prime Minister in December
2002. His governing coalition commands an almost two-thirds majority in
the National Assembly.
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, which Slovenia joined May 1, 2004,
and NATO. Slovenia officially became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty
Organization on March 29, 2004 after depositing its instruments of treaty
ratification in Washington, DC. 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. Slovenian 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 gross domestic
product (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 Socialist
Federal Republic of Yugoslavia , or S.F.R.Y., 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-15 countries
makes up 66% of total trade) 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 about 6.3% (December 2003), with 98,129 registrations
for unemployment assistance. Inflation has remained below double-digit
levels, at 7.5% in 2002 and 4.6% in 2003. Gross domestic product grew by
about 2.9% in 2002; although final figures are not yet available, GDP growth
is expected to post a steady rate of 2.7% for 2003. GDP is forecast to
grow by 3.6% in 2004. The currency is stable, fully convertible, and backed
by substantial reserves. The economy provides citizens with a good standard
Over a decade 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.
However, debate continues on how best to accommodate an estimated 18,000
undocumented non-Slovenes who were resident in Slovenia at the time of
independence, but whose records were "erased" when they did not take citizenship.
Slovenia willingly accepted nearly 100,000 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. With successful NATO (66%
in favor) and EU (91% in favor) referenda in March 2003, Slovenia achieved
upon accession in 2004 its two primary foreign policy goals--membership
in the EU and NATO. Slovenia also participates in the Stability Pact and
the Southeast Europe Cooperation Initiative (SECI). Slovenia is one of
the focus countries for the U.S. 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. U.S. and allied efforts to assist Slovenia's military restructuring
and modernization efforts are ongoing.