Slovenia Defense and Foreign Policy

By | January 11, 2021

Foreign policy and defense

Slovenia is a nation in Southern Europe. Its capital city is Ljubljana. After independence in 1991, the main objective of Slovenian foreign policy was to integrate the country into the Western world. Slovenia became a member of both the EU and the NATO defense alliance in 2004. Some wear and tear has occurred mainly with Croatia, but generally relations are good with neighboring countries.

The application for EU membership was submitted in 1996; the formal membership negotiations began in 1998 and ended in 2002. At the time of the Great Eastern enlargement in 2004, Slovenia was financially and administratively one of the best prepared by the ten new member states. In 2007 Slovenia became a member of the euro zone and in the Schengen cooperation. The latter meant, among other things, that passport controls at the borders were abolished. Slovenia’s southern border thus became the border for the Schengen countries’ passport union and cooperation on border guarding.

Illegal immigration to the country has increased sharply since the beginning of the 2000s, but the majority of immigrants move on to other countries in Western and Central Europe. In connection with the great refugee crisis in Europe in 2015, hundreds of thousands of people passed through Slovenia.

Relations with Italy were strained for years immediately after independence. The situation improved in the mid-1990s, when the countries resolved a number of property disputes. Since 2001, when the Italian minority in Slovenia gained strengthened rights, relations can be described as good.

Slovenes in Austria

The situation of the Slovenian minority in Austria gave rise to contradictions between the countries in the 1990s when the Slovenes in Carinthia felt crowded by the nationalist policies of the then state government. In early 2017, the government in Slovenia reacted sharply to a proposal for a new state constitution in Carinthia, according to which the Slovenian minority population would not receive special status. Since EU accession, relations between the countries have otherwise generally been good.

Contacts with Croatia were strained during most of the 1990s, but they improved after the death of Croatian President Franjo Tuđman in 1999. But a dispute over the border crossing in the Piran Gulf of the Adriatic Sea has continued to create problems. For Slovenia with its short coast, access to international water is of great importance. The disagreement was about to end Croatia’s application for membership in NATO, and delayed the country’s accession to the EU. In autumn 2009, the parties agreed to submit the matter to arbitration. However, in the summer of 2015, Croatia unilaterally withdrew from the process, after it was revealed that contacts existed between the Slovenian member of the arbitration panel and the Slovenian government. However, Croatia did not accept the arbitration and Slovenia therefore turned to the European Court of Justice to resolve the dispute. However, in January 2020, the Court ruled that it has no right to adjudicate on the matter (see Calendar).

Dispute over bank accounts

Another protracted dispute was the Slovenian bank Ljubljanska Banka’s debts to Croatian account holders since the time before independence. Around 130,000 people in Croatia (and even more in Bosnia and Herzegovina) had their assets frozen after the bank was reformed without the new Nova Ljubljanska Banka taking responsibility for the former bank’s debts. The European Court of Human Rights ruled in 2014 that the state must compensate those affected.

Problems also existed around the jointly owned nuclear power plant in Slovenian Krško, which was built before independence to provide energy for both countries (see Natural Resources, Energy and Environment).

Slovenia supported NATO bombings to induce Serbian forces to withdraw from Kosovo in 1999 and stated early support for Kosovo’s right to independence (see Kosovo-Modern History). Following the fall of Serbian leader Slobodan Milošević in the fall of 2000, diplomatic relations were established between Slovenia and what was then left by Yugoslavia, that is, Serbia-Montenegro. To better relations, after the fall of Milošević, the Belgrade government no longer regarded itself as the sole heir to the former Yugoslav assets but recognized the inheritance rights of the other ex-Yugoslav states. When Montenegro declared its independence in 2006, Slovenia quickly recognized the new state. The same thing happened when Kosovo declared independence in February 2008. Slovenia today has the ambition to act as a bridge bridge between the EU and the Balkan countries.

Slovenia has its own military forces shortly before independence. The general military duty was abolished in 2003. Slovenia has participated in a number of NATO efforts, including in the Balkans.


Army: 7 250 men (2017)

The air Force: 650 men (2015)

The fleet: 170 men (2015)

Military expenditure’s share of GDP: 1.0 percent (2017)

Military spending’s share of the state budget: 2.5 percent (2017)



Drnovšek president

Janez Drnovšek is elected President. The post of head of government is taken over by Anton Rop, who will also become a new party leader for LDS.



The government is falling

Drnovšek loses a vote of confidence in parliament and the government breaks. Christian Democrat Andrej Bajuk forms a new government with his party the Slovenian People’s Party (SLS), the LDS and the right-wing party the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS).



New victory for LDS

LDS is leading the election and forming a new government under Janez Drnovšek.



LDS wins first choice

The first elections after independence are held. Slovenian Liberal Democrats (LDS) win the parliamentary elections and form government with party leader Janez Drnovšek as prime minister. Former Communist leader Milan Kučan wins as an independent candidate the presidential election by a large margin.


UN membership

Slovenia becomes a member of the United Nations (UN).



New constitution is adopted

The Slovenian Parliament adopts a new constitution.


Formal independence

Slovenia will formally become independent on October 7 and a new national currency, tolar, will be introduced.


Slovenia proclaims independence

Slovenia proclaims full independence and ends up at war with the Yugoslav army. Up to 80 people are killed in the war that lasts for ten days.



Referendum on independence

Nearly 90 percent of voters vote for full independence.


Slovenia declares itself sovereign

The Slovenian Parliament declares Slovenia as a sovereign state and the Slovenes begin to organize their own armed forces.