- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 6, 2006

Slovenian visit

The prime minister of Slovenia meets with President Bush on Monday to discuss the progress the Balkan nation has made since declaring independence from Yugoslavia 15 years ago.

Janez Jansa is coming at an “important and symbolic time for Slovenia, its neighborhood of the Western Balkans and Europe in general,” Miriam Mozgan, the deputy chief of mission at the Slovenian Embassy, said yesterday.

“Celebrations of the 15th anniversary of independence and of a remarkable transition to effective democracy and prosperous economy have just concluded,” she said.

Miss Mozgan called Slovenia a “model for the countries” in the region.

“In the past few years, Slovenia has confirmed that it considers its membership in NATO and the European Union as a responsibility to contribute to the extension of the frontiers of democracy, stability and prosperity,” she added.

Mr. Jansa, at 47, is one of the new generation of Balkan leaders, who fought the Yugoslav authoritarian regime as a student activist in the late 1980s. His arrest in 1988 helped spark widespread pro-democracy demonstrations. Slovenia gained its independence after a 10-day war with the Yugoslav army in 1991.

This will be his first visit to Washington since becoming prime minister in November 2004. As defense minister, he first met Mr. Bush in 2001 when the president visited Slovenia for a summit meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Mr. Jansa led his country in its first year as member of both NATO and the European Union. Slovenia joined the Western alliance in March 2004 and the European Union in May of that year.

Slovenia is recognized as the most successful of the six republics that made up the Yugoslav federation. The 2006 Index of Economic Freedom, published by the Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal, ranks Slovenia 38 among 161 nations surveyed in the guide.

“Slovenia is the most advanced of the countries that joined the European Union in 2004,” the index said.

The White House, in announcing the visit last month, said, “Under Prime Minister Jansa’s leadership, Slovenia has significantly increased its efforts bilaterally and within NATO and the European Union to support democracy and secure freedom in south-central Europe, Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Slovenia sent four military trainers to Iraq and 22 troops to Afghanistan. It also sent 34 troops to Kosovo and 200 to Bosnia as part of international peacekeeping efforts.

On his Washington visit, Mr. Jansa is also due to meet with Vice President Dick Cheney; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice; House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert, Illinois Republican; Sen. Richard G. Lugar, Indiana Republican and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; and Sen. Tom Harkin, Iowa Democrat, who has Slovenian heritage.

Kazakh meets Rice

Kazakhstan’s foreign minister yesterday discussed plans for a presidential visit to Washington when he held talks with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

President Nursultan Nazarbayev is expected to meet with President Bush in the fall.

Miss Rice called the Central Asian republic, which has become a key regional ally, a “strong partner of the United States.”

Foreign Minister Kassymzhomart Tokaev told Miss Rice that Kazakhstan “is eager to promote greater regional development, as evidenced by the country’s integration initiatives, investments made throughout the region and consistent efforts to bring normalcy and economic revival back to Afghanistan,” the Kazakh Embassy said.

Kazakhstan has authorized flights through its airspace for 1,300 missions of the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan and provided its largest airport for emergency landings.

Mr. Tokaev also met with U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab to discuss Kazakhstan’s efforts to join the World Trade Organization and addressed Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297, fax 202/832-7278 or e-mail [email protected]washingtontimes.com.

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