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Slovenia History

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Slovenia is today a vibrant democracy, but the roots of this democracy go back deep in Slovene history. According to the 16th century French political philosopher, Jean Bodin, Slovenes practiced the unique custom of the Installation of the Dukes of Carinthia for almost 1,000 years, until the late 14th century. According to some scholars, Bodin's account of how Slovene farmers contractually consented to be governed by the Duke influenced Thomas Jefferson's drafting of the Declaration of Independence. From as early as the 9th century, Slovenia had fallen under foreign rulers, including partial control by Bavarian dukes and the Republic of Venice. With the exception of Napoleon's 4-year tutelage of parts of Slovenia and Croatia--the "Illyrian Provinces"--Slovenia was part of the Habsburg Empire from the 14th century until 1918. Nevertheless, Slovenia resisted Germanizing influences and retained its unique Slavic language and culture.

In 1918, Slovenia joined with other southern Slav states in forming the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes as part of the peace plan at the end of World War I. Renamed in 1929 under a Serbian monarch, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia fell to the Axis powers during World War II. Following communist partisan resistance to German, Hungarian, and Italian occupation and elimination of rival resistance groups, socialist Yugoslavia was born under the helm of Josip Broz Tito. During the communist era, Slovenia became Yugoslavia's most prosperous republic, at the forefront of Yugoslavia's unique version of communism. Within a few years of Tito's death in 1980, Belgrade initiated plans to further concentrate political and economic power in its hands. Defying the politicians in Belgrade, Slovenia underwent a flowering of democracy and an opening of its society in cultural, civic, and economic realms to a degree almost unprecedented in the communist world. In September 1989, the General Assembly of the Yugoslav Republic of Slovenia adopted an amendment to its constitution asserting Slovenia's right to secede from Yugoslavia. On December 23, 1990, 88% of Slovenia's population voted for independence in a referendum, and on June 25, 1991, the Republic of Slovenia declared its independence. A nearly bloodless 10-day war with Yugoslavia followed. Yugoslav forces withdrew after Slovenia demonstrated stiff resistance to Belgrade.

As a young independent republic, Slovenia pursued economic stabilization and further political openness, while emphasizing its Western outlook and central European heritage. Reflecting its success in these goals, Slovenia became a member both of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and the European Union (EU) in March and May, respectively, of 2004.

Today Slovenia is a stable democracy that is increasing its international engagement. Slovenia is one of the top foreign investors in the former Yugoslavia, and a charter World Trade Organization (WTO) member. Members of the Slovenian Armed Forces are participating in NATO, EU, and UN operations in Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, and elsewhere. Slovenia served as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Chairman-in-Office in 2005, was the Chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors in 2006-2007, was the first of the ten 2004 EU newcomers to hold the EU's rotating presidency in the first half of 2008, and is preparing to chair the Council of Europe (CoE) for the latter half of 2009. Though small in size, Slovenia enjoys a growing regional profile and plays a role on the world stage that is out of proportion to its size.

Information by U.S. Department of State




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