Berserkistan Navigator Slovenia Moves
Toward European
Union Membership

By David Fox

LUXEMBOURG, June 10 (Reuters) - Slovenia was rewarded on Monday for distancing itself from the Yugoslav conflict by being given a lucrative association agreement with the European Union, and immediately applied for full EU membership. Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Drnovsek made the application moments after signing the association agreement, which promises trade and economic incentives.

"The application for membership which I'm submitting today... is an important chapter in the book of integration," Drnovsek told a news conference after the ceremony. Slovenia hopes to become a member by the year 2001.

The agreement was approved earlier only after Britain decided against using its veto as part of a blocking tactic it is employing to win an end to an EU ban on its beef sales. The ban was imposed at the end of March because of fears that mad cow disease, or bovine spongiform encephalopathy, could be passed on to humans.

Diplomats said Britain was under enormous pressure from the United States to reward Slovenia for not involving itself in the Yugoslav conflict. Slovenia fought a brief 10-day independence war against the Yugoslav federal army in June 1991 but has avoided warfare on the scale of that which racked Croatia and Bosnia.

Drnovsek said Slovenia shared many ideals with the EU including "respect for democracy, human rights and the belief in a market economy." He said the application for full EU membership was "a crucial moment" in Slovenia's history. The EU is Slovenia's largest trading partner, accounting for about 70 percent of its foreign trade.

Drnovsek said he believed Slovenia was on course to meet all the criteria for full membership. A statement issued by Slovenian officials said the country already met two of five criteria in the Maastricht Treaty for taking part in economic and monetary union and had also received "A" ratings from three major credit agencies.

Slovenia's association agreement, initialled a year ago, had been blocked by Italy in a row over property confiscated from Italians who fled after Italy's defeat in World War Two. Italy lifted its objections last month after Slovenia promised legislation to allow foreigners to own real estate within four years of an association agreement taking effect.

Slovenia is the 10th ex-communist entity to sign an association agreement after the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania and Bulgaria.

In another Yugoslavia-related move, London waived its veto on three billion European currency units ($3.6 million) in EU money designed to help monitor elections in Bosnia.

To learn more...
Berserkistan, June 7 · Slovenia to Apply for EU Membership Monday
Slovenia at a Glance
Slovenia Weekly Government Public Relations & Media Office
SloWWWenia Guide to Virtual Slovenia
Ljubljana A Guide to Slovenia’s Capital
Slovenia Office of the President
Slovenia Embassies and Consulates

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