Slovenia's Prime Minister Talks About Kosovo

His Excellency Dr. Janez Drnovsek, prime minister of the republic of Slovenia, spoke at the Kennedy School's ARCO Forum yesterday about his unique perspective of the continuing crisis in Kosovo.

Slovenia, which gained independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, has remained largely unaffected by the maelstrom that has since plunged the Balkans into conflict over the past several years.

Drnovsek suggested that his country, which now has a democratic government, a solid economy and is currently applying for membership in the European Union and NATO, might be used as a foil to understand why governments in other Balkan states have failed to remain stable and peaceful.

"At the same time that we were proposing democratic elections, Milosevic was [coming to power], playing on nationalistic emotions and big historical images of Serbia," Drnovsek said.

Ignacio Estella, a first-year student at the Kennedy School who has worked with the European Union, agreed that Slovenia might be crucial to understanding the Balkans.

"The big question is how they managed to remain unscathed in earlier conflicts," he said.

As Drnovsek sees it, there are two alternatives for NATO to pursue at this point in the Kosovo crisis. The first is to bring Russia back into the negotiation process and offer Milosevic the option of accepting a peacekeeping force from the U.N. rather than from NATO.

This would be, he said, "a face-saving gesture," as occupation by the forces that have been bombing them would be unacceptable to most Serbs.

However, Drnovsek despaired later in his talk that the conflict might be too far-gone for such a solution.

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