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    Copyright: The following text is for personal information only. Any professional use or publication in written or electronic form is subject to an agreement with AIM, 17 rue Rebeval, F-75019 Paris, France

    TUE, 02 JUL 1996 19:58:51 GMT

    Frame for a Picture of Slovenia


    AIM Ljubljana, June 27, 1996


    For the first five years of independent life, in foreign policy Slovenia has accomplished everything that the other republics from the former joint state can only dream of. The latest step was made about ten days ago by signing the agreement on associate membership in the European Union.

    Economically, as analyses of international economic institutions claim, Slovenia is more powerful than some of the full-fledged members, Portugal or Greece, for instance.

    Internally, however, only Slovenia can jeopardize its own position and everything accomplished, if it succumbs to pressures of leaders of some of the political parties who are busy producing internal and external enemies.


    European analysts of Slovenian relations claim that short-term trump cards of Slovenia at the beginning of the second five-year period of the young state are its economic health, democracy and export strategy. The obstacles are its extremely small internal market and appearance of nationalism. Foreign analysts wisely refuse to say whose and what kind of nationalism, but just state so. Medium term trump cards are membership in international organizations and integration in the European Union, and only one obstacle was stated: small manoeuvring space in comparison with Europe.

    Last year's gross social product amounted to almost 18 billion dollars. Slovenia has outrun Slovakia, all three Baltic states put together, although they have two to four times more inhabitants. For the sake of comparison with other republics of the former joint state, it should be said that Croatia's gross social product was between 7 and 8 billion dollars, and that of the so-called FRY 11 billion dollars. Slovenia is also in the lead with the income per capita of 9300 dollars. In Hungary people earn 3500 dollars a year, in Czech Republic even less - 2960 dollars. Even some of the countries of the European Union envy the Slovenians: the Portuegese earn 7345 dollars a year, and the Greeks 6970 dollars.

    Before gaining independence, Slovenia had been the most powerful of the six republics: with eight per cent of the total number of inhabitants, it contributed 16 per cent into the joint budget. Having gained independence when it had only 200 million dollars of foreign currency reserves, Slovenia quickly established links with international organizations: the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, OUN, Council of Europe, CEFTA which Slovenia will will chair next year. Economic indicators were poor in the beginning: inflation exceeded 200 per cent, the banking system was falling to pieces.

    Since then, things have completely changed. Economic growth amounted to 5.5 per cent in 1994, last year it was 4.8 per cent, and projection for this year is 4.5 per cent. In 1994, inflation was 19.8 per cent, last year it dropped to 13 per cent, this year it should not exceed 11 per cent, in the worse case, if any of the elements of economic policy fail, according to which industrial production growth would amount to 1.6 per cent. In the more optimistic case, with economic growth of three percent, inflation should be lowered to 10 per cent. The difference between the two scenarios is in the structure of economic growth which would, in the case of the pessimistic one, be fed from domestic consumption and not so much from export, which amounts to 68 per cent only to the market of countries members of the European Union. This would have long-term consequences on export, employment, economic growth. The latest forecasts of European institutes and international organizations for the second half of this year predict more vigorous boom in Europe, which would along with timely adoption of government measures for relieving the economy of excessive burden, reaching of a reasonable agreement on salaries with trade unions in non-economic activities and abiding by the signed social agreement, enable effectuation of the wished for scenario of economic policy. Powerful foreign currency reserves of 3.5 billion dollars ensure further stability of tolar's exchange rate, but also a high rank in all world lists referring to reliability for foreign investors and acquisition of funds from international monatery institutions. Slovenia is among few countries classified by three best known world institutes into group A of those with the lowest risk which are worth investing into and cooperating with.

    Five years is a short time for such good results, and these results were the real motive for celebration which, according to the already established custom, took place on the Republic Square downtown Ljubljana, on June 26 at 21.00 hours, where despite rain and bad weather President of the state, Milan Kucan addressed the people.

    "Tonight it is allowed to dream, tomorrow is a new day", he said five years ago and went home to prepare a speech for the founding session of the World Slovene congress, when a telephone call drew him from under the shower: "Tanks are on their way from Vrhnika towards Ljubljana".

    Tanks from Vrhnika have never reached Ljubljana.

    When he thinks about those days and developments now, Kucan considers the decision of the Presidency of Slovenia to qualify such behavior of the army as aggression to be the most difficult one in his life: "It was the decision about the war, when immediately after proclamation of independence, we were faced with armed aggreession of the JNA. It was a difficult decision because by making a decision about a war a man does not decide only about his own, but about other people's lives as well. Besides, it was a decision the consequences of which we could not have known, nor how the international community would react to it. We, all the members of the Presidency were faced with such a decision. We were all aware of the difficulty of such a decision. We were really a collective Presidency at the time. Nevertheless, the burden of the decision in the end was mine alone as the president".

    What does President Kucan think of the then and the current political situation in Slovenia and the decisions which he had to shoulder responsibility for?

    "In global contemplations and decisions I would not change anything. I think that I made the right decisions concerning independence of Slovenia, although things happened quicker than I had thought they would while I was in Belgrade back in 1986. As concerning the plebiscite, it was justified to insist on the agreement of political parties on the plebiscite as a joint political action and the law on plebiscite. The decision to intervene was also right because of comparatively slow preparations for independence in some, primarily those ministries which were not nation-constructive, in the period between the plebiscite and winning independence. My assessments on usefulness of formation of the large coalition of liberal and Christian democrats and the united list after the 1992 elections are still the same. Had this coalition persisted in the awareness of joint responsibility for completion of the project which had begun with the plebiscite and preparations for independence, and which must continue with agreement of all on the contents of life in the state and its becoming a part of the international space, according to my opinion, results would have been much more favourable for Slovenia, its citizens, and even for the three mentioned parties. I still believe that it is correct to think about Slovenia joining the central European space. Discontent with "claiming" of the state is justified. I am using this term conditionally because of claiming of certain departments by political parties or, if you wish, because of spread "partycracy" among political parties and egoism, when the parties keep forgetting that they are in the service of the state, and that the state is in the service of the citizens. Warnings about the significance of sterngthening of the state of law and the social state are also justified. Taking care only of pragmatic problems should not mislead us to diverge from the road taken when the state was created, and carry us away from the hopes and expectations people have invested into the decision about the independent state... Every man probably had at the time his own expectations and ideas which greatly coincided with expectations of the others... Unjustified expectations may quickly be followed by disappointments... In internal relations there has not been such general agreement as in external. However, agreement is with no doubt written down in the documents on independence and later in the Constitution about Slovenia being a legal and social state which will in the centre of its attention have dignity of man, his freedoms and rights, which will guarantee its citizens legal security and help them to provide social security. I think that we still owe most of this debt.

    Zoran Odic, AIM