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The President of the Republic Dr Janez Drnovšek holds his first consultation on the issue of the implications of the Iraqi crisis for Slovenia

Ljubljana, 01/17/2003  |  press release

Click to enlargeToday, the President of the Republic Dr Janez Drnovšek invited prominent experts and politicians to a consultation and exchange of views about the potential security, foreign policy and economic consequences of the Iraqi crisis for Slovenia. By addressing questions about the implications of the Iraqi crisis for Slovenia's security, international policy and economy, today's consultation was intended to encourage reflections on possible strategies that could help Slovenia control and steer these consequences. The debate also opened up the issue of Slovenia's responsibilities and broader functioning in the international community.

The participants in today's consultation included Dr Bojko Bučar, Dr France Bučar, Dr Anton Grizold, Jurij Gustinčič, Marko Kosin, Dr Iztok Podbregar, Dr Anton Žabkar, Dr Boštjan Žekš and a group of international relations journalists.

Click to enlargeThe participants in the debate noted that there was a strong likelihood of the international community taking action against the Iraqi regime, and that Slovenia, even if it desired a peaceful solution to the crisis, did not have any real influence on this decision. They also agreed that military intervention might have several consequences, not only for the present system of international norms and institutions and the international safety, but also for Slovenia's international position and security and economic situation. The participants believed that a decision by the United States to launch a unilateral action would marginalize the UN and other multilateral international mechanisms. However, in their opinion the probability of the United States intervening single-handedly was relatively small, since despite being by far the most powerful country in the world, it cannot operate completely on its own, as demonstrated by serious American efforts to muster broader international support. When assessing the elements of a possible military intervention against Iraq, some participants in the debate stressed the unacceptability of methods used by the authoritarian Iraqi regime, which include the flagrant human rights violations against its population and the initiation of war against neighbouring states.

Click to enlargeSeveral contributors have underlined the importance of Slovenia's integration into international organisations such as the EU and NATO. In their opinion this strengthens Slovenia's international relations and increases its influence beyond that it would have based on objective power factors. Furthermore, integration into multilateral organisations would reinforce positive bilateral relations with third countries. Special emphasis was given to the need for Slovenia to play a responsible and active role in the international community after all Slovenia does not exist in a vacuum but is firmly grounded within these relations due, in part, to the processes of internationalisation and globalisation. In their contributions, some participants also warned of the need for Slovenian foreign policy to gain a more regional profile. A strong accent was placed on South-Eastern Europe and the speakers stated that after joining the EU, Slovenia could continue to make an important contribution to the stability of the region.

Several participants agreed that the shift in world attention to the security implications of the Iraqi crisis could diminish the international community's interest in stabilising South-Eastern Europe, evidence of which some say may already be seen for other reasons, such as dissatisfaction with the results achieved to date. Moreover, the opinion was expressed that developments in the Iraqi crisis represent an important test for the states invited to join NATO at the Prague Summit. The participants also dwelled on the issue of the effect the Iraqi crisis might have on the decision about Slovenia's membership in NATO, and believed that it could affect support for NATO membership.

Dr Drnovšek intends to continue holding consultations on strategically important issues in the future.
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