Slovenia

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Overview

Slovenia is a country in Eastern Europe that occupies an area slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey. Bordered by Italy, Austria, Croatia and Hungary, Slovenia was originally settled by Celts and Illyrians. Slavic settlements sprang up in the area around 500 AD, unifying under a common language and customs. Slovenia was ruled by the Holy Roman Empire, before becoming part of the Habsburg Empire from the 14th century until 1918. At that time, Slovenia joined with other Slavic states to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes as part of the peace process following World War I. In 1929, it was renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and governed by a Serbian monarchy. During World War II, Yugoslavia was occupied by Axis troops. Following the war, Josip Tito assumed the leadership of communist Yugoslavia and ruled until his death in 1980. In 1989, Slovenia seceded from Yugoslavia, and fought a relatively bloodless but ultimately victorious 10-day war for its independence, which became official in 1991. Since then, Slovenia has pursed a path of openness with the United States and the rest of Europe, joining NATO and the European Union in 2004, and participating in World Trade Organization activities, as well as peacekeeping missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and elsewhere. Slovenia also adopted the Euro as its currency on January 1, 2007.

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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Slovenia occupies an area slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey. Its capital is Ljubljana, and the country’s terrain is mountainous in the north, with wide plateaus in the southeast and a region of limestone caves near the Adriatic Coast.

 
Population: 2.0 million
 
Religions: Catholic 58%, Muslim 2%, Orthodox Christian 2%, Evangelical 1%, other Christian 0.2%, non-religious 10%, unknown 26.8%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Slovene 83.1%, Serb 2%, Croat 1.8%, Bosniak 1.1%, other 12%.
 
Languages: Slovenian 88.4%, Hungarian 0.5%, Italian 0.2%. All three languages are official.
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History

Slovenia’s history dates to ancient times, when Celts and Illyrians inhabited present-day Slovenia. In the 1st century, the Roman Empire established its rule over this territory, after 200 years of fighting with local tribes.

 
Around 500 AD, Slavic settlement began in what is now Slovenia. It originated in the area of Moravia, and moved southward to the Alpine rivers and beyond. A second wave of Slavic settlement took place around 568, with the help of Avar overlords. A few years later fighting broke out between Bavarians and Slavs, with the Bavarians emerging victorious.
 
Between 623 and 626, Slavic tribes began to unify into Samo’s Tribal Union, which extended from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic Sea. This unification collapsed when Samo died in 658, and a Slavic principality was established under Knez Valuk, the Duchy of Carantania.
 
In 745, Carantania joined with the Frankish Empire, and eventually passed to the Holy Roman Empire in 975, as the duchies of Carinthia, Carniola and Styria.
 
The region came under the rule of the Habsburg Empire in the 14th century. During this time, the elites became mostly Germanized, while the peasants resisted this influence and retained their Slavic language, as well as their native customs. The first books in the Slovenian language were printed during the Reformation, and in the 19th century, Slovene was codified as a literary language.
 
The 16th century French political philosopher Jean Bodin wrote an account of how Slovene farmers had contractually consented to be governed by the Duke of Carinthia. This was later said to have influenced Thomas Jefferson in his drafting of the Declaration of Independence.
 
In 1918, Slovenia joined with other Slavic states to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes as part of the peace process following World War I. In 1929, the new country was renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and was governed by a Serbian monarch. But during World War II, Yugoslavia fell to the Axis Powers, and was occupied by forces from Germany, Hungary and Italy.
 
Josip Broz Tito became the leader of communist Yugoslavia after the end of WWII. Slovenia was the country’s most prosperous republic during the Cold War. When Tito died in 1980, Slovenia moved towards democracy and began to open its cultural, civic and economic realms.
 
In September 1989, Slovenia adopted an amendment to its constitution asserting its right to secede from Yugoslavia. On December 23, 1990, the vast majority of Slovenes voted for independence. A virtually bloodless 10-day war with Yugoslavia followed, but Yugoslavian forces withdrew when Slovenia demonstrated stiff resistance.
 
Since then Slovenia has pursed stabilization and a policy of political openness. It became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in March 2004 and the European Union (EU) in May 2004.
 
Today, Slovenia is one of the largest foreign investors in the former Yugoslavia, and a charter World Trade Organization (WTO) member. Slovenian armed forces are participating in NATO, EU, and UN operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, and elsewhere.
 
Slovenia served as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) chairman-in-office in 2005, the chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors in 2006-2007, and the first of ten EU newcomers from 2004 to hold the EU’s rotating presidency in the first half of 2008.
 
History of Slovenia (Wikipedia)
Slovenia (Jewish Virtual Library)
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History of U.S. Relations with Slovenia

Slovenians arrived early in the New World. In 1680, a Jesuit priest by the name of Ivan Ratkaj set foot on America’s shores, and was followed seven years later by Mark Anton Kappus, a man respected for his work as a writer, missionary, and explorer.

 
The precedent set by these multifaceted explorer-missionaries was continued by men like the scholarly bishop Frederic Baraga, who built some of the first churches and schools across the vast tracts of land in the rural Midwest during the mid 19th century. In unison with others from across Europe, the largest number of Slovenians immigrated between 1880 and the advent of World War I. Immigration records are notoriously inaccurate with respect to Slovenian immigrants, because they often listed Slovenians under the generic term “Slavic,” or listed them together with either Croatians or Austrians.
 
The 1910 census counted 183,481 Slovenians in America, although scholars estimate the actual number was closer to 250,000. Some of this inaccuracy stems from Slovenians’ own hesitancy to declare their origin, in fear of anti-Slavic prejudice at the time. The restrictive, quota-based Immigration Act of 1924 effectively curtailed immigration from Eastern Europe until the more liberal Immigration Act of 1965 came into effect. Slovenian under-representation still exists today, and the actual population probably currently numbers closer to 500,000.
 
The states claiming the largest number of Slovenes are Ohio (58,402), Pennsylvania (19,006), Illinois (15,519), Minnesota (10,420), and California (9,489).
 
The first official US presence in Slovenia dates from the early 1970s, when the United States Information Service (USIS) opened a library and American press and cultural center in Ljubljana. From that time until 1992, the American center worked to develop closer ties with the then-Slovenian Republic of Yugoslavia.
 
The United States formally recognized Slovenia as an independent nation on April 7, 1992. The US opened its first Embassy in Ljubljana in August 1992.
 
Since Slovenia achieved its independence, the two nations have developed strong, cooperative relations on a rage of issues from promoting regional security to developing bilateral trade ties. The US was also supportive of Slovenia’s entrance into NATO and other Euro-Atlantic agreements and institutions. The two countries cooperated on succession issues stemming from the breakup of Yugoslavia, and the deployment of the Implementation Force (IFOR, and subsequently SFOR) to Bosnia after the conclusion of the Dayton Accords. Slovenia has developed the International Trust Fund to help with demining, with the assistance of the US.
 
In October 1997, Slovenia joined the group of countries, now numbering 27, whose citizens enjoy the privilege of visa-free travel to the United States.
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Current U.S. Relations with Slovenia

Famous Slovenian Americans:

Amy Klobuchar-Democratic Senator from Minnesota. Her father’s grandparents were Slovene immigrants.
Melania Knauss-Trump-Slovenian model and socialite who is married to real estate mogul Donald Trump. Knauss-Trump was born in Slovenia and moved to New York in 1996 as a model.
George Voinovich-Republican Senator from Ohio who previously served as the governor of the state. His mother is Slovenian.
Peter Vidmar-Gymnast who won two gold medals at the 1984 Olympics. His parents are Slovenian.
 
The two nations have most recently worked together to enhance regional stability, demonstrated at the US-EU Summit held in Ljubljana in June 2008. Slovenia has tried to be a bridge between developed Europe and the Balkans, where security issues remain.
 
In the 2000 US census, 176,691 people identified themselves as being of Slovenian ancestry.
 
In 2006, 47,169 Americans visited Slovenia. Tourism has grown significantly nearly every year since 2002, when 30,103 Americans traveled to Slovenia.
 
In 2006, 12,762 Slovenes visited the US. The number of tourists has increased every year since 2002, when 7,300 Slovenes came to America.
 
Slovenian-American government leader interactions occurred multiple times during the Bush administration, and Slovenian Foreign Minister Jansa traveled to the US in July 2006 to speak with President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and members of Congress.
 
The Obama administration has yet to appoint a US Ambassador to Slovenia, and the position is vacant. President Obama met with Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor in Prague April 8, 2010.
 
Because of Slovenia’s relative economic success and strategic geographic location, it is seen by the US as a bridge or connection between developed European states and the more volatile Balkan nations
 
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Where Does the Money Flow

The US imported a total of $387.1 million worth of goods from Slovenia in 2009, and exported $241.2 million, translating into a trade deficit of $145.9 million for the US. This is considerably lower than the year before, when US imports totaled $466.5 million and exports $309.6 million.

 
Leading US imports from Slovenia in 2009 included iron, steel, and mill products ($18.0 million), generators, transformers, and accessories ($23.7 million) and medicinal, dental, and pharmaceutical preparations ($105.0 million).The iron, steel and mill products imports were cut by more than half from the previous year, whiel the medicinal, dental, and pharmaceutical goods increased doubled from nearly $50 million in 2008 to more than $100 million in 2009. 
 
Top American exports to Slovenia from 2009 included fuel oil ($12.4 million), generators and accessories ($60.9 million), and medicinal equipment ($15.1 million). Generator exports increased dramatically from $3.1 million in 2008, and the amount of fuel oil exported was reduced by more than half. .
 
Under the Support for Eastern European Democracy (SEED) Act, the US has provided technical assistance on enterprise competitiveness, banking and pension reform, competition policy, and debt restructuring. Slovenia was among the first nations to graduate from the SEED program.
 
The US sold $3 million of defense articles and services to Slovenia in 2007.
 
For FY 2010, Congress has requested $1.45 million in aid for Slovenia, $750,000 for foreign military financing, and $700,000 military education and training. Funding helps to facilitate integration with NATO forces, and supports the current deployment of Slovenian troops in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
 
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Controversies
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Human Rights

Case backlogs in Slovenian courts have sometimes resulted in lengthy delays in trials, according to the State Department. The judicial system was overburdened and lacked administrative support, and as a result, the judicial process frequently was protracted. In many cases during the year, criminal trials lasted from two to five years. According to the State Department, “some claimants have complained of a general lack of transparency, bias, and potential conflicts of interest on the part of adjudicators, and procedures that were inconsistent with the law.” An effort to initiate a program for the restitution of Jewish communal property has encountered a number of delays.

 
The State Department has also found an issue with women’s rights in Slovenia. SOS Helpline, an NGO that counsels victims of domestic violence, estimated that one in every seven women has been raped in her lifetime, but that only 5% went for counseling afterward. Spousal rape was most often reported to authorities.
 
Although domestic violence is not specifically prohibited by law, it can be prosecuted under statutes criminalizing assault, which provide for penalties of up to 10 years’ imprisonment in the case of aggravated and grievous bodily harm.
 
Prostitution is illegal, but the government did not actively enforce this prohibition. Antitrafficking authorities and NGOs informally estimated that as many as 80 bars and clubs across the country could be engaged in facilitating or promoting prostitution.
 
Sexual harassment remained a widespread problem. The law explicitly prohibits sexual harassment in the civil service, but not for the overall workforce.
 
There were also reports of indirect government influence on the media. The major print media were supported through private investment and advertising. But the government owned substantial stock in many companies that were shareholders in the major media houses. There were reports that indirect political and economic pressures and partial government ownership of media companies influenced journalists and the media, and that self-censorship was practiced in some media outlets.
 
Jewish community representatives reported some prejudice, ignorance, and false stereotypes of Jews propagated within society, largely through public discourse.
 
Officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices. Corruption was perceived by the public to be a widespread problem. Only the highest-level government officials (approximately 5,000 of the country’s 80,000 public servants) are subject to financial disclosure laws. The independent Commission for the Prevention of Corruption received 595 cases of suspected corruption and found 118 out of the 327 cases that were assessed during the year to be credible.
 
Child abuse was a problem. During 2008 there were 115 criminal acts of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 15 reported to authorities.
 
The law prohibits trafficking in persons. Slovenia is primarily a transit country for internationally trafficked victims.
 
The law provides special rights and protections to “autochthonous” (indigenous) Italian and Hungarian minorities, including the right to use their own national symbols and have bilingual education and the right for each to be represented as a community in parliament. Other minorities do not have comparable special rights and protections.
 
Ethnic Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Kosovar Albanians, and Roma from Kosovo and Albania were considered “new” minorities. They were not protected by the special constitutional provisions for autochthonous minorities and faced some governmental and societal discrimination with respect to employment, housing, education,and discrimination, in particular with access to health services, education, and employment.
 
In particular, Amnesty International found human rights violations in Slovenia when the Slovenian authorities erased the permanent resident status of people who had been living in the former area of Yugoslavia that later became Slovenia. Amnesty International brought this up in February 2010 to the UN Universal Periodic review. These “erased” people have faced employment, social security, and educational issues, and while the Slovenian Constitutional Court said what happened was unconstitutional, the government has failed to compensate them. While the government has tried to pass a law on “the erased,” Amnesty International feels it is restrictive and doesn’t grant full freedoms.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

Note: The United States recognized the independence of Slovenia Apr 7, 1992, and established diplomatic relations with it Aug 6, 1992. Embassy Ljubljana was opened Aug 25, 1992, with E. Allan Wendt as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.

E. Allan Wendt
Appointment: May 15, 1993
Presentation of Credentials: May 26, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 12, 1995
Note: An earlier nomination was not acted upon by the Senate.
 
Victor Jackovich
Appointment: Aug 14, 1995
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 14, 1995
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 13, 1998
 
Nancy Halliday Ely-Raphel
Appointment: Jun 29, 1998
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 2, 1998
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 27, 2001
 
Johnny Young
Appointment: Aug 7, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 24, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post Sept 17, 2004
 
Thomas Bolling Robertson
Appointment: May 12, 2004
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 29, 2004
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 20, 2007
 
Vincent Obsitnik
Note: Nomination of Jul 24, 2007 withdrawn Sep 7, 2007
 
Yousif Boutros Ghafari
Appointment: May 15, 2008
Presentation of Credentials: 2008
Termination of Mission: January 20, 2009

 
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Slovenia's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Cerar, Božo

 

Career diplomat Božo Cerar presented his credentials as Slovenia’s ambassador to the United States on September 17, 2013. Washington is the fourth ambassadorial post for Cerar.

 

Cerar was born October 16, 1949. He graduated with a degree in law from the University of Ljubljana in 1973 in what was then Yugoslavia. The following year Cerar joined the Yugoslav foreign service as a trainee and began to work his way up the ladder. His first overseas posting was in 1977 in Sydney, Australia, as vice consul. Cerar served there until 1981, when he was named secretary for the Slovenian Trade Union Committee for International Cooperation. In 1985, Cerar was posted to Athens, Greece, as first secretary in the Yugoslav embassy.

Cerar returned to Belgrade and in 1990 was named the foreign ministry’s head of department for Western Europe.

 

Yugoslavia was crumbling at that time and in 1991, Cerar declared his allegiance to the new Republic of Slovenia. During the fighting that was going on, he worked to get Slovenia’s message out to foreign officials and news agencies. Cerar then coordinated the activities of European Union peacekeeping troops with the Slovenian government. Later that year, he was named the Slovenian foreign ministry’s head of department for Europe and North America.

 

In 1992, Cerar was sent to London as chargé d’affaires, a post he held until 1996. He then returned to Slovenia as the state undersecretary and head of the office of the minister of foreign affairs. The following year, Cerar was given his first posting as ambassador, representing Slovenia in Canada.

 

Cerar stayed in Ottawa until 2001, when he came home to be the foreign ministry’s head of department for multilateral relations, and the following year, head of department for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), holding that post until 2003.

 

In 2004, Cerar was named ambassador to Poland. He served in that position only a short time before returning to Slovenia in 2005 to be state secretary, or deputy minister, in the foreign ministry. In 2007, Cerar became Slovenia’s representative to NATO. He returned to Ljubljana to serve again as state secretary in the foreign ministry in 2012.

 

Cerar took time to further his studies during his career, earning a Master’s in diplomatic studies from Westminster University in London in 1993 and a Ph.D. in international law from the University of Ljubljana in 1997.

 

Since coming to Washington, Cerar has been active in the Slovenian-American community, including a stint as a judge of a polka contest at the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Cerar speaks English, Russian, Polish, Croatian, Greek and French. He’s married and has three children.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

An Excerpt from the Diary of Ambassador Dr Božo Cera: June 1991

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Slovenia's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia

Hartley, Brent
ambassador-image

 

On July 29, 2014, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination of Brent Hartley, a career Foreign Service officer, to be the next U.S. ambassador to Slovenia. Hartley’s nomination awaits approval by the full Senate.

 

Hartley was born in Medford, Oregon, where his father, Jack, ran a hardware store. Hartley graduated from Medford High School in 1973 and went on to attend Hampshire College, earning a Bachelor of Science in U.S. history and international relations. During his senior year he interned at the State Department. He later earned an M.S. in strategic studies from the National War College.

 

He joined the Foreign Service in 1981 and his first overseas assignment came the following year in Cairo, Egypt, serving there for two years. Other early assignments were desk officer for the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission), policy analyst in the Bureau of Personnel, staff assistant in the Bureau of European Affairs and political officer in the Bureau of Egyptian Affairs.

 

In 1989, Hartley was named political and military officer at the U.S. Embassy in Rome. He followed that with assignments as Cyprus desk officer and deputy political advisor at the U.S. mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Hartley was named director for regional affairs in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism in 2003. Two years later, he took over as senior advisor for international relations at the National Counterterrorism Center.

 

In 2006, Hartley was named deputy director for European Regional Security Affairs. The following year he began a tour in Kabul, Afghanistan, as a counselor for military and political affairs at the U.S. Embassy. Hartley was brought home in 2008 to be director of the State Department’s Office of Pakistan Affairs.

 

In 2010 he was made director for European Security and Political Affairs and in 2012 Hartley was named deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs with responsibility for Nordic, Baltic and Central European countries. Some of his duties there have entailed testifying to Congress on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Hungarian anti-Semitism and anti-Romani trends.

 

Hartley and his wife, attorney Elizabeth Dickinson, have two children, Ella and Charlie.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Away From Home for the Holidays (by Paul Fattig, Medford Mail Tribune)

Official Biography

Testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs (pdf)

State Department Cables 2004-2008 (WikiLeaks)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia

Mussomeli, Joseph
ambassador-image

Joseph A. Mussomeli, a diplomat with three decades of experience, took over as U.S. ambassador to Slovenia in October 2010. He previously served as ambassador to Cambodia.

 
Born in New York City on May 26, 1952, Mussomeli hails from a Sicilian-American family. His father, Mariano Mussomeli, was an officer in the U.S. Army and served in both World War II and the Korean War.
 
He graduated from Camden Catholic High School in 1970. He enrolled at Rutgers University, where he studied for two years before taking time off to hitchhike through Europe. Upon returning to the United States, he attended Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey), earning a BA in political science, summa cum laude, in 1975. Three years later, he earned his law degree from Rutgers School of Law-Camden.
 
After law school, Mussomeli worked as a lawyer, including serving as a deputy attorney general in New Jersey, before joining the Foreign Service in September 1980. His first overseas posting was in Cairo, Egypt, as a general service officer.
 
After that, he returned to Washington, DC, where he worked at the State Department as staff assistant to the undersecretary for security assistance.
 
His next overseas assignment was in Manila, Philippines, as a consular officer from 1984-1986. Mussomeli was then North Korea desk officer (1986-1988), senior watch officer (1989-1990), economic counselor in Colombo, Sri Lanka (1990-1992), inspector for the Office of Inspector General (1992-1994), political counselor in Rabat, Morocco (1995-1998), deputy chief of mission in Manama, Bahrain (1998-2001), and a member of the Senior Seminar (2001-2002).
 
He returned in August 2002 to the Philippines to be the deputy chief of mission. During his second tour in the country, Mussomeli served as chargé d'affaires for one year while the ambassador, Frank Ricciardone, was away in Iraq. In April 2005, he upset Philippine government officials when he told Australian television that because of the rise of Islamic terrorism, “certain portions of [the island of] Mindanao are so lawless, so porous...that you run the risk of it becoming like an Afghanistan situation.” Two weeks later, President George W. Bush showed his support for Mussomeli by nominating him to be U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, a position he assumed in September.
 
While in Cambodia, Mussomeli joined an anti-corruption march and criticized “the whole culture of impunity here. Who you are, who you know, is more important than following the law. And the police are too intimidated, too deferential, to the wealthy and powerful.”
 
After three years in Cambodia, he returned to the State Department for one year to serve as director of human resources, followed by a tour in Kabul, Afghanistan as assistant chief of mission handling embassy management.
 
Mussomeli and his wife, Sharon, have three children, Isaac, Alexis and Thomas, whom they adopted in the Philippines. Sharon is a retired Foreign Service officer, and Alexis is a present-day one.
 
Official Biography (State Department)

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Overview

Slovenia is a country in Eastern Europe that occupies an area slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey. Bordered by Italy, Austria, Croatia and Hungary, Slovenia was originally settled by Celts and Illyrians. Slavic settlements sprang up in the area around 500 AD, unifying under a common language and customs. Slovenia was ruled by the Holy Roman Empire, before becoming part of the Habsburg Empire from the 14th century until 1918. At that time, Slovenia joined with other Slavic states to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes as part of the peace process following World War I. In 1929, it was renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and governed by a Serbian monarchy. During World War II, Yugoslavia was occupied by Axis troops. Following the war, Josip Tito assumed the leadership of communist Yugoslavia and ruled until his death in 1980. In 1989, Slovenia seceded from Yugoslavia, and fought a relatively bloodless but ultimately victorious 10-day war for its independence, which became official in 1991. Since then, Slovenia has pursed a path of openness with the United States and the rest of Europe, joining NATO and the European Union in 2004, and participating in World Trade Organization activities, as well as peacekeeping missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo and elsewhere. Slovenia also adopted the Euro as its currency on January 1, 2007.

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Basic Information

Lay of the Land: Slovenia occupies an area slightly smaller than the state of New Jersey. Its capital is Ljubljana, and the country’s terrain is mountainous in the north, with wide plateaus in the southeast and a region of limestone caves near the Adriatic Coast.

 
Population: 2.0 million
 
Religions: Catholic 58%, Muslim 2%, Orthodox Christian 2%, Evangelical 1%, other Christian 0.2%, non-religious 10%, unknown 26.8%.
 
Ethnic Groups: Slovene 83.1%, Serb 2%, Croat 1.8%, Bosniak 1.1%, other 12%.
 
Languages: Slovenian 88.4%, Hungarian 0.5%, Italian 0.2%. All three languages are official.
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History

Slovenia’s history dates to ancient times, when Celts and Illyrians inhabited present-day Slovenia. In the 1st century, the Roman Empire established its rule over this territory, after 200 years of fighting with local tribes.

 
Around 500 AD, Slavic settlement began in what is now Slovenia. It originated in the area of Moravia, and moved southward to the Alpine rivers and beyond. A second wave of Slavic settlement took place around 568, with the help of Avar overlords. A few years later fighting broke out between Bavarians and Slavs, with the Bavarians emerging victorious.
 
Between 623 and 626, Slavic tribes began to unify into Samo’s Tribal Union, which extended from the Baltic Sea to the Adriatic Sea. This unification collapsed when Samo died in 658, and a Slavic principality was established under Knez Valuk, the Duchy of Carantania.
 
In 745, Carantania joined with the Frankish Empire, and eventually passed to the Holy Roman Empire in 975, as the duchies of Carinthia, Carniola and Styria.
 
The region came under the rule of the Habsburg Empire in the 14th century. During this time, the elites became mostly Germanized, while the peasants resisted this influence and retained their Slavic language, as well as their native customs. The first books in the Slovenian language were printed during the Reformation, and in the 19th century, Slovene was codified as a literary language.
 
The 16th century French political philosopher Jean Bodin wrote an account of how Slovene farmers had contractually consented to be governed by the Duke of Carinthia. This was later said to have influenced Thomas Jefferson in his drafting of the Declaration of Independence.
 
In 1918, Slovenia joined with other Slavic states to form the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes as part of the peace process following World War I. In 1929, the new country was renamed the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and was governed by a Serbian monarch. But during World War II, Yugoslavia fell to the Axis Powers, and was occupied by forces from Germany, Hungary and Italy.
 
Josip Broz Tito became the leader of communist Yugoslavia after the end of WWII. Slovenia was the country’s most prosperous republic during the Cold War. When Tito died in 1980, Slovenia moved towards democracy and began to open its cultural, civic and economic realms.
 
In September 1989, Slovenia adopted an amendment to its constitution asserting its right to secede from Yugoslavia. On December 23, 1990, the vast majority of Slovenes voted for independence. A virtually bloodless 10-day war with Yugoslavia followed, but Yugoslavian forces withdrew when Slovenia demonstrated stiff resistance.
 
Since then Slovenia has pursed stabilization and a policy of political openness. It became a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in March 2004 and the European Union (EU) in May 2004.
 
Today, Slovenia is one of the largest foreign investors in the former Yugoslavia, and a charter World Trade Organization (WTO) member. Slovenian armed forces are participating in NATO, EU, and UN operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia, Kosovo, and elsewhere.
 
Slovenia served as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) chairman-in-office in 2005, the chairman of the International Atomic Energy Agency Board of Governors in 2006-2007, and the first of ten EU newcomers from 2004 to hold the EU’s rotating presidency in the first half of 2008.
 
History of Slovenia (Wikipedia)
Slovenia (Jewish Virtual Library)
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History of U.S. Relations with Slovenia

Slovenians arrived early in the New World. In 1680, a Jesuit priest by the name of Ivan Ratkaj set foot on America’s shores, and was followed seven years later by Mark Anton Kappus, a man respected for his work as a writer, missionary, and explorer.

 
The precedent set by these multifaceted explorer-missionaries was continued by men like the scholarly bishop Frederic Baraga, who built some of the first churches and schools across the vast tracts of land in the rural Midwest during the mid 19th century. In unison with others from across Europe, the largest number of Slovenians immigrated between 1880 and the advent of World War I. Immigration records are notoriously inaccurate with respect to Slovenian immigrants, because they often listed Slovenians under the generic term “Slavic,” or listed them together with either Croatians or Austrians.
 
The 1910 census counted 183,481 Slovenians in America, although scholars estimate the actual number was closer to 250,000. Some of this inaccuracy stems from Slovenians’ own hesitancy to declare their origin, in fear of anti-Slavic prejudice at the time. The restrictive, quota-based Immigration Act of 1924 effectively curtailed immigration from Eastern Europe until the more liberal Immigration Act of 1965 came into effect. Slovenian under-representation still exists today, and the actual population probably currently numbers closer to 500,000.
 
The states claiming the largest number of Slovenes are Ohio (58,402), Pennsylvania (19,006), Illinois (15,519), Minnesota (10,420), and California (9,489).
 
The first official US presence in Slovenia dates from the early 1970s, when the United States Information Service (USIS) opened a library and American press and cultural center in Ljubljana. From that time until 1992, the American center worked to develop closer ties with the then-Slovenian Republic of Yugoslavia.
 
The United States formally recognized Slovenia as an independent nation on April 7, 1992. The US opened its first Embassy in Ljubljana in August 1992.
 
Since Slovenia achieved its independence, the two nations have developed strong, cooperative relations on a rage of issues from promoting regional security to developing bilateral trade ties. The US was also supportive of Slovenia’s entrance into NATO and other Euro-Atlantic agreements and institutions. The two countries cooperated on succession issues stemming from the breakup of Yugoslavia, and the deployment of the Implementation Force (IFOR, and subsequently SFOR) to Bosnia after the conclusion of the Dayton Accords. Slovenia has developed the International Trust Fund to help with demining, with the assistance of the US.
 
In October 1997, Slovenia joined the group of countries, now numbering 27, whose citizens enjoy the privilege of visa-free travel to the United States.
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Current U.S. Relations with Slovenia

Famous Slovenian Americans:

Amy Klobuchar-Democratic Senator from Minnesota. Her father’s grandparents were Slovene immigrants.
Melania Knauss-Trump-Slovenian model and socialite who is married to real estate mogul Donald Trump. Knauss-Trump was born in Slovenia and moved to New York in 1996 as a model.
George Voinovich-Republican Senator from Ohio who previously served as the governor of the state. His mother is Slovenian.
Peter Vidmar-Gymnast who won two gold medals at the 1984 Olympics. His parents are Slovenian.
 
The two nations have most recently worked together to enhance regional stability, demonstrated at the US-EU Summit held in Ljubljana in June 2008. Slovenia has tried to be a bridge between developed Europe and the Balkans, where security issues remain.
 
In the 2000 US census, 176,691 people identified themselves as being of Slovenian ancestry.
 
In 2006, 47,169 Americans visited Slovenia. Tourism has grown significantly nearly every year since 2002, when 30,103 Americans traveled to Slovenia.
 
In 2006, 12,762 Slovenes visited the US. The number of tourists has increased every year since 2002, when 7,300 Slovenes came to America.
 
Slovenian-American government leader interactions occurred multiple times during the Bush administration, and Slovenian Foreign Minister Jansa traveled to the US in July 2006 to speak with President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and members of Congress.
 
The Obama administration has yet to appoint a US Ambassador to Slovenia, and the position is vacant. President Obama met with Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor in Prague April 8, 2010.
 
Because of Slovenia’s relative economic success and strategic geographic location, it is seen by the US as a bridge or connection between developed European states and the more volatile Balkan nations
 
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Where Does the Money Flow

The US imported a total of $387.1 million worth of goods from Slovenia in 2009, and exported $241.2 million, translating into a trade deficit of $145.9 million for the US. This is considerably lower than the year before, when US imports totaled $466.5 million and exports $309.6 million.

 
Leading US imports from Slovenia in 2009 included iron, steel, and mill products ($18.0 million), generators, transformers, and accessories ($23.7 million) and medicinal, dental, and pharmaceutical preparations ($105.0 million).The iron, steel and mill products imports were cut by more than half from the previous year, whiel the medicinal, dental, and pharmaceutical goods increased doubled from nearly $50 million in 2008 to more than $100 million in 2009. 
 
Top American exports to Slovenia from 2009 included fuel oil ($12.4 million), generators and accessories ($60.9 million), and medicinal equipment ($15.1 million). Generator exports increased dramatically from $3.1 million in 2008, and the amount of fuel oil exported was reduced by more than half. .
 
Under the Support for Eastern European Democracy (SEED) Act, the US has provided technical assistance on enterprise competitiveness, banking and pension reform, competition policy, and debt restructuring. Slovenia was among the first nations to graduate from the SEED program.
 
The US sold $3 million of defense articles and services to Slovenia in 2007.
 
For FY 2010, Congress has requested $1.45 million in aid for Slovenia, $750,000 for foreign military financing, and $700,000 military education and training. Funding helps to facilitate integration with NATO forces, and supports the current deployment of Slovenian troops in Afghanistan, Lebanon, Syria, Kosovo, and Bosnia and Herzegovina.
 
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Controversies
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Human Rights

Case backlogs in Slovenian courts have sometimes resulted in lengthy delays in trials, according to the State Department. The judicial system was overburdened and lacked administrative support, and as a result, the judicial process frequently was protracted. In many cases during the year, criminal trials lasted from two to five years. According to the State Department, “some claimants have complained of a general lack of transparency, bias, and potential conflicts of interest on the part of adjudicators, and procedures that were inconsistent with the law.” An effort to initiate a program for the restitution of Jewish communal property has encountered a number of delays.

 
The State Department has also found an issue with women’s rights in Slovenia. SOS Helpline, an NGO that counsels victims of domestic violence, estimated that one in every seven women has been raped in her lifetime, but that only 5% went for counseling afterward. Spousal rape was most often reported to authorities.
 
Although domestic violence is not specifically prohibited by law, it can be prosecuted under statutes criminalizing assault, which provide for penalties of up to 10 years’ imprisonment in the case of aggravated and grievous bodily harm.
 
Prostitution is illegal, but the government did not actively enforce this prohibition. Antitrafficking authorities and NGOs informally estimated that as many as 80 bars and clubs across the country could be engaged in facilitating or promoting prostitution.
 
Sexual harassment remained a widespread problem. The law explicitly prohibits sexual harassment in the civil service, but not for the overall workforce.
 
There were also reports of indirect government influence on the media. The major print media were supported through private investment and advertising. But the government owned substantial stock in many companies that were shareholders in the major media houses. There were reports that indirect political and economic pressures and partial government ownership of media companies influenced journalists and the media, and that self-censorship was practiced in some media outlets.
 
Jewish community representatives reported some prejudice, ignorance, and false stereotypes of Jews propagated within society, largely through public discourse.
 
Officials sometimes engaged in corrupt practices. Corruption was perceived by the public to be a widespread problem. Only the highest-level government officials (approximately 5,000 of the country’s 80,000 public servants) are subject to financial disclosure laws. The independent Commission for the Prevention of Corruption received 595 cases of suspected corruption and found 118 out of the 327 cases that were assessed during the year to be credible.
 
Child abuse was a problem. During 2008 there were 115 criminal acts of sexual abuse of a child under the age of 15 reported to authorities.
 
The law prohibits trafficking in persons. Slovenia is primarily a transit country for internationally trafficked victims.
 
The law provides special rights and protections to “autochthonous” (indigenous) Italian and Hungarian minorities, including the right to use their own national symbols and have bilingual education and the right for each to be represented as a community in parliament. Other minorities do not have comparable special rights and protections.
 
Ethnic Serbs, Croats, Bosnians, Kosovar Albanians, and Roma from Kosovo and Albania were considered “new” minorities. They were not protected by the special constitutional provisions for autochthonous minorities and faced some governmental and societal discrimination with respect to employment, housing, education,and discrimination, in particular with access to health services, education, and employment.
 
In particular, Amnesty International found human rights violations in Slovenia when the Slovenian authorities erased the permanent resident status of people who had been living in the former area of Yugoslavia that later became Slovenia. Amnesty International brought this up in February 2010 to the UN Universal Periodic review. These “erased” people have faced employment, social security, and educational issues, and while the Slovenian Constitutional Court said what happened was unconstitutional, the government has failed to compensate them. While the government has tried to pass a law on “the erased,” Amnesty International feels it is restrictive and doesn’t grant full freedoms.
 
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Debate
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Past Ambassadors

Note: The United States recognized the independence of Slovenia Apr 7, 1992, and established diplomatic relations with it Aug 6, 1992. Embassy Ljubljana was opened Aug 25, 1992, with E. Allan Wendt as Chargé d’Affaires ad interim.

E. Allan Wendt
Appointment: May 15, 1993
Presentation of Credentials: May 26, 1993
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 12, 1995
Note: An earlier nomination was not acted upon by the Senate.
 
Victor Jackovich
Appointment: Aug 14, 1995
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 14, 1995
Termination of Mission: Left post Feb 13, 1998
 
Nancy Halliday Ely-Raphel
Appointment: Jun 29, 1998
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 2, 1998
Termination of Mission: Left post Sep 27, 2001
 
Johnny Young
Appointment: Aug 7, 2001
Presentation of Credentials: Oct 24, 2001
Termination of Mission: Left post Sept 17, 2004
 
Thomas Bolling Robertson
Appointment: May 12, 2004
Presentation of Credentials: Sep 29, 2004
Termination of Mission: Left post, Aug 20, 2007
 
Vincent Obsitnik
Note: Nomination of Jul 24, 2007 withdrawn Sep 7, 2007
 
Yousif Boutros Ghafari
Appointment: May 15, 2008
Presentation of Credentials: 2008
Termination of Mission: January 20, 2009

 
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Slovenia's Ambassador to the U.S.
ambassador-image Cerar, Božo

 

Career diplomat Božo Cerar presented his credentials as Slovenia’s ambassador to the United States on September 17, 2013. Washington is the fourth ambassadorial post for Cerar.

 

Cerar was born October 16, 1949. He graduated with a degree in law from the University of Ljubljana in 1973 in what was then Yugoslavia. The following year Cerar joined the Yugoslav foreign service as a trainee and began to work his way up the ladder. His first overseas posting was in 1977 in Sydney, Australia, as vice consul. Cerar served there until 1981, when he was named secretary for the Slovenian Trade Union Committee for International Cooperation. In 1985, Cerar was posted to Athens, Greece, as first secretary in the Yugoslav embassy.

Cerar returned to Belgrade and in 1990 was named the foreign ministry’s head of department for Western Europe.

 

Yugoslavia was crumbling at that time and in 1991, Cerar declared his allegiance to the new Republic of Slovenia. During the fighting that was going on, he worked to get Slovenia’s message out to foreign officials and news agencies. Cerar then coordinated the activities of European Union peacekeeping troops with the Slovenian government. Later that year, he was named the Slovenian foreign ministry’s head of department for Europe and North America.

 

In 1992, Cerar was sent to London as chargé d’affaires, a post he held until 1996. He then returned to Slovenia as the state undersecretary and head of the office of the minister of foreign affairs. The following year, Cerar was given his first posting as ambassador, representing Slovenia in Canada.

 

Cerar stayed in Ottawa until 2001, when he came home to be the foreign ministry’s head of department for multilateral relations, and the following year, head of department for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), holding that post until 2003.

 

In 2004, Cerar was named ambassador to Poland. He served in that position only a short time before returning to Slovenia in 2005 to be state secretary, or deputy minister, in the foreign ministry. In 2007, Cerar became Slovenia’s representative to NATO. He returned to Ljubljana to serve again as state secretary in the foreign ministry in 2012.

 

Cerar took time to further his studies during his career, earning a Master’s in diplomatic studies from Westminster University in London in 1993 and a Ph.D. in international law from the University of Ljubljana in 1997.

 

Since coming to Washington, Cerar has been active in the Slovenian-American community, including a stint as a judge of a polka contest at the National Cleveland-Style Polka Hall of Fame in Cleveland. Cerar speaks English, Russian, Polish, Croatian, Greek and French. He’s married and has three children.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Official Biography

An Excerpt from the Diary of Ambassador Dr Božo Cera: June 1991

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Slovenia's Embassy Web Site in the U.S.
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U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia

Hartley, Brent
ambassador-image

 

On July 29, 2014, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved the nomination of Brent Hartley, a career Foreign Service officer, to be the next U.S. ambassador to Slovenia. Hartley’s nomination awaits approval by the full Senate.

 

Hartley was born in Medford, Oregon, where his father, Jack, ran a hardware store. Hartley graduated from Medford High School in 1973 and went on to attend Hampshire College, earning a Bachelor of Science in U.S. history and international relations. During his senior year he interned at the State Department. He later earned an M.S. in strategic studies from the National War College.

 

He joined the Foreign Service in 1981 and his first overseas assignment came the following year in Cairo, Egypt, serving there for two years. Other early assignments were desk officer for the Conference for Security and Cooperation in Europe (the Helsinki Commission), policy analyst in the Bureau of Personnel, staff assistant in the Bureau of European Affairs and political officer in the Bureau of Egyptian Affairs.

 

In 1989, Hartley was named political and military officer at the U.S. Embassy in Rome. He followed that with assignments as Cyprus desk officer and deputy political advisor at the U.S. mission to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Hartley was named director for regional affairs in the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism in 2003. Two years later, he took over as senior advisor for international relations at the National Counterterrorism Center.

 

In 2006, Hartley was named deputy director for European Regional Security Affairs. The following year he began a tour in Kabul, Afghanistan, as a counselor for military and political affairs at the U.S. Embassy. Hartley was brought home in 2008 to be director of the State Department’s Office of Pakistan Affairs.

 

In 2010 he was made director for European Security and Political Affairs and in 2012 Hartley was named deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian Affairs with responsibility for Nordic, Baltic and Central European countries. Some of his duties there have entailed testifying to Congress on the Russian invasion of Ukraine and Hungarian anti-Semitism and anti-Romani trends.

 

Hartley and his wife, attorney Elizabeth Dickinson, have two children, Ella and Charlie.

-Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Away From Home for the Holidays (by Paul Fattig, Medford Mail Tribune)

Official Biography

Testimony before the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs (pdf)

State Department Cables 2004-2008 (WikiLeaks)

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Previous U.S. Ambassador to Slovenia

Mussomeli, Joseph
ambassador-image

Joseph A. Mussomeli, a diplomat with three decades of experience, took over as U.S. ambassador to Slovenia in October 2010. He previously served as ambassador to Cambodia.

 
Born in New York City on May 26, 1952, Mussomeli hails from a Sicilian-American family. His father, Mariano Mussomeli, was an officer in the U.S. Army and served in both World War II and the Korean War.
 
He graduated from Camden Catholic High School in 1970. He enrolled at Rutgers University, where he studied for two years before taking time off to hitchhike through Europe. Upon returning to the United States, he attended Trenton State College (now The College of New Jersey), earning a BA in political science, summa cum laude, in 1975. Three years later, he earned his law degree from Rutgers School of Law-Camden.
 
After law school, Mussomeli worked as a lawyer, including serving as a deputy attorney general in New Jersey, before joining the Foreign Service in September 1980. His first overseas posting was in Cairo, Egypt, as a general service officer.
 
After that, he returned to Washington, DC, where he worked at the State Department as staff assistant to the undersecretary for security assistance.
 
His next overseas assignment was in Manila, Philippines, as a consular officer from 1984-1986. Mussomeli was then North Korea desk officer (1986-1988), senior watch officer (1989-1990), economic counselor in Colombo, Sri Lanka (1990-1992), inspector for the Office of Inspector General (1992-1994), political counselor in Rabat, Morocco (1995-1998), deputy chief of mission in Manama, Bahrain (1998-2001), and a member of the Senior Seminar (2001-2002).
 
He returned in August 2002 to the Philippines to be the deputy chief of mission. During his second tour in the country, Mussomeli served as chargé d'affaires for one year while the ambassador, Frank Ricciardone, was away in Iraq. In April 2005, he upset Philippine government officials when he told Australian television that because of the rise of Islamic terrorism, “certain portions of [the island of] Mindanao are so lawless, so porous...that you run the risk of it becoming like an Afghanistan situation.” Two weeks later, President George W. Bush showed his support for Mussomeli by nominating him to be U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, a position he assumed in September.
 
While in Cambodia, Mussomeli joined an anti-corruption march and criticized “the whole culture of impunity here. Who you are, who you know, is more important than following the law. And the police are too intimidated, too deferential, to the wealthy and powerful.”
 
After three years in Cambodia, he returned to the State Department for one year to serve as director of human resources, followed by a tour in Kabul, Afghanistan as assistant chief of mission handling embassy management.
 
Mussomeli and his wife, Sharon, have three children, Isaac, Alexis and Thomas, whom they adopted in the Philippines. Sharon is a retired Foreign Service officer, and Alexis is a present-day one.
 
Official Biography (State Department)

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