Slovene Foreign Affairs in 1999
Ljubljana, 9 December - REVIEW/YEAR/FOREIGN/AFFAIRS
Slovenia continued the accession negotiations with the EU, and the European Commission issued a more favourable report on the progress Slovenia made towards EU membership than the previous year. NATO announced a continuation of the open-door policy for new members and Slovenia launched a dialogue with the alliance within the NATO Membership Action Plan. Slovenia was also active in the UN Security Council, as the country presided over the Council in November for the second time in its two-year term. Slovenia started participating in the Balkan Stability Pact and it chairs the subgroup for minorities and human rights. Moreover, the country is to co-chair the panel for democratisation and human rights in 2001. The issue of former Yugoslavia's succession was temporarily at a standstill because of the situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. No major changes occurred in the relations with the neighbouring countries; Slovenia signed an agreement on property issues and a cultural agreement with Croatia. Italy has not adopted the bill to protect the Slovene ethnic minority in Italy yet, while future relations with Austria remain unclear after Joerg Haider was elected the governor of the Austrian province of Carinthia. The most burning issues between Slovenia and Austria concerned the Lipizzaner horse breed and Austrian demands to close down the Krsko Nuclear Power Plant. In 1999, the construction of a railway track between Slovenia and Hungary started. The meeting of speakers of parliaments from Slovenia, Italy and Hungary in Ljubljana and the meeting of prime ministers in Maribor demonstrated active trilateral co-operation. The most important figures to visit Slovenia in 1999 were U.S. President Bill Clinton and Pope John Paul II, who paid his second visit to the country. Slovene senior officials paid a number of visits to foreign countries and several ambassadors were newly appointed.
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