W Balkan in focus of Slovenia's foreign policy
Lovrenc na Pohorju, 5 December - The Western Balkans remained the focal point of Slovenia's foreign policy activity in 2017. A series of top-level visits, from the region to Slovenia and vice versa, was coupled with intense activity at ministerial level aimed at improving the chances of the countries in the region to join the EU and NATO. The Brdo-Brijuni Process, now in its seventh year and spearheaded by Slovenian President Borut Pahor and Croatia's Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, remained the main forum for discussions on the region and the presidents of Western Balkan countries were joined at a summit in June by German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier as a special guest, to collectively remind Europe not to forget about the still restive region. The Western Balkans was also among the key topics discussed at the annual Bled Strategic Forum, which has come to be known as the Davos for SE Europe. Despite intense efforts, the EU prospects of the majority of the Balkan countries remained distant as the EU grappled with its internal crisis after the UK's decision to leave the bloc. There was headway with regards to NATO, however, and Slovenia was one of the main sponsors of Montenegro's ultimately successful NATO membership bid, having campaigned hard through the first half of the year to secure ratification among NATO members.