The Slovenia Times

Political Overview



US Ambassador Hartley leaving Ljubljana in July

The US Embassy in Slovenia has confirmed that Ambassador Brent Hartley will end his three-year term in July. It is not yet known whom the State Department will send to Slovenia after Hartley leaves, but the confidential procedure is already underway.

Until the appointment of the new fully-fledged ambassador, the US Embassy in Slovenia will be headed by a chargé d'affaires. Hartley, a career diplomat, has been in Slovenia since February 2015. Unofficial information was circulated last summer about a possible early end to his term with the change of the US Administration after the election of President Donald Trump.

Among the unofficial names for the new ambassador was Kelly Roberts, a California hotel owner, who was reportedly the pick of First Lady Melania Trump who was born in Slovenia. The Politico news portal reported last September that Roberts had withdrawn her name from consideration and experienced diplomat Hartley stayed in the post.


Brent Hartley, US Ambassador to Slovenia, (Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA)


Ambassador: Slovenia can afford to raise defence spending

In June, Slovenia's Ambassador to NATO, Jelko Kacin, called for an increase in defence spending which he said Slovenia needs urgently and can also afford. He expects the new government to address the issue.

"After years of recession, Slovenia now has strong economic growth which means it can afford to increase defence expenditure," Kacin said in Brussels. "It absolutely needs this increase because in the austerity years, Slovenia fell behind with investment and the armament and equipment of the military forces needs to be modernised and replaced." He believes that Slovenia needs to start fulfilling the goals it had set itself. "It's necessary to move from words to action, from commitment to securing the funds and implementing the planned investment."

Defence spending was a major topic at a NATO defence ministerial in Brussels and will also be in focus at the July summit after US President Donald Trump made it clear that he expected European allies to substantially increase their defence budgets. The allies have made it their goal to try to near the target spending of 2% of GDP for defence by 2024.

An unofficial estimate is that Slovenia will allocate 1% of GDP for defence this year, which according to current plans should be increased to about 1.1% of GDP by 2024.



Slovenia's Ambassador to NATO, Jelko Kacin, (Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA)


Slovenia again protests over LB court rulings with Croatia

In June Slovenia sent a verbal note to Croatia expressing concern over the latest in a series of court rulings against NLB bank concerning Yugoslav-era foreign currency deposits.

In a note sent to the Croatian Embassy in Ljubljana, the Foreign Ministry said continuation of such court procedures constituted a breach of the 2001 Succession Agreement among the Yugoslav successor states and the Memorandum the Slovenian and Croatian governments signed in Mokrice in 2013. The note concerns a ruling against the defunct Ljubljanska banka (LB) and Nova Ljubljanska banka (NLB) of 10 April 2018 under which both banks were ordered to settle EUR 222,426 plus interest.

The suit relates to LB foreign currency deposits by Croatian account holders who were compensated by the state. Croatia later authorised several commercial banks to recover the money on its behalf. Several court procedures are ongoing in Croatia despite the 2001 Succession Agreement stipulating that the issue is to be resolved in negotiations between successor countries. The Mokrice memorandum (which Croatia never ratified) affirms this position.

The Ministry also informed Croatia that Slovenia had asked the European Commission on 23 April this year to mediate in the dispute because Croatia has failed to respond to repeated requests to relaunch succession negotiations. Slovenia expects Croatia will accept the offer of mediation.

Croatian Embassy in Ljubljana, (Photo: Nebojša Tejić/STA)


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