The guardians of the ‘Western Balkan’

Slovenia
Centre of International Relations
 
The general evaluation of achievements, failures or weaknesses of the French Presidency by the Slovenian government is positive. The initial French reaction connecting the Irish ‘No’ directly to a standstill of the enlargement was negatively perceived, but was later on changed as the French position had mollified.[1] The Paris-based French Presidency and its non transparent style in the beginning, called for adaptations in Slovenian organisation of the EU affairs in Brussels and Paris. The main concern of the Slovenian government was the attention paid to the Western Balkans during the French Presidency. The Slovenian Presidency in the first half of 2008 was focused on bringing the Balkans back and high on the EU agenda and was not particularly pleased with the low profile France took with respect to the region. Considering the two big challenges the French Presidency faced, the Russian-Georgian war and the financial crisis, the little attention paid to the Balkans was comprehended.
 

Belated and cautious steps

Slovenia
Centre of International Relations
 
As for the expectations towards the EU in the context of the increased economic and social interdependence on a global scale demonstrated by the financial crisis, Slovenia expects the EU to provide for a common framework from which the EU member states could choose the measures best suited for the structure and specificity of their economies. But it is to take into consideration, that those economies that did not consolidate public finance in the ‘good times’, now do not have the abundance of room for measure-taking.
 
Regarding the performance of the EU in the financial crisis so far perceived, discussed and evaluated in Slovenia, two more roles of the EU have been emphasised:
 
1.       to provide measures at the level of the EU policies (for example: the EU budget, the European Investment Bank, the common trade policy, etc.)
2.       to provide equality and the respect of rules at the community level, especially the rules of: a) country aid and b) the Stability and Growth Pact.
 
Acknowledging the measures taken so far, the EU has set-up two crisis-response frameworks:
 
1.       the framework for financial stability adopted by the European Council in October 2008, and

Renewal of strategic dialogue and EU capable to deliver

Slovenia
Centre of International Relations
 
The three top priorities as seen by the Slovenian government for the revitalisation of the EU-US relations can be summarised as: (i) mutual understanding of a need for a truly strategic partnership, (ii) continuous dialogue and strengthening of relations on political relations and global political issues and (iii) strengthening of bilateral economic relations.
 
In the course of the Bush presidency the understanding of, what are common threats and challenges faced by the EU and the US have grown apart and undermined the political relations between the EU (perceived largely by the US as individual member states) and the US. The world has also changed in between; therefore, there is no simple return to the comfortable relations of the 1990s. Amidst understanding that there are different historic reasons for the relations between the EU and the US, revitalisation of relations should be based on respect for multilateralism and rule of law.
 

No stall in the enlargement process

Slovenia
Centre of International Relations

Regarding the conclusions of the European Council of December 2008 on the fate of the Lisbon Treaty, the government of the Republic of Slovenia is satisfied with the agreement reached. The Slovenian government was faced with the Irish ‘No’, while holding the EU-presidency in the first half of 2008. Then Prime Minister Janez Janša expressed respect for the decision of the Irish people, but was quick to utter hope for the Irish ‘No’ to have no negative implications on the further enlargement process. This represents the central theme of the Slovenian governments’ (previous and current, in place since November 2008, following the general elections of September 2008) considerations on the fate of the Treaty of Lisbon. Further enlargement, especially to the countries of the Western Balkans, represents a clear Slovenian national foreign policy interest and steps in direction of Western Balkan countries’ accession represented the utmost priority of the Slovenian 2008 EU-Presidency. The Slovenian government responded to the Irish ‘No’ already as the EU presiding state by setting the timeline for a common EU reaction to the situation and guidelines to be reached by the end of the year 2008.[1]