The Slovenian parliament ratified the European Union accession treaty this week - making it possible for the former Yugoslav republic to join the EU family. This was the last formal step before membership in May.
Slovenia's desire for integration into the European Union is as old as it's independence itself. 12 years ago, when the representatives of the then Yugoslav Republic negotiated with diplomats of European countries in Brioni about whether they would accept the independence of the new country, they were assured that this would only be acceptable within the framework of the European Union. In the last years Slovenia's politicians tried hard to fulfil the criteria of EU accession, by supplementing legislation and by changing activities of institutions. The preparations have been successful as was obvious in the unity of the parliament when ratifying the EU accession Treaty.
Borut Pahor, Speaker of Parliament proclaimed the results of the vote during a parliamentary session where many well known people from the political scene and members of the diplomatic corps were present:
"The ratification law has been accepted. 84 persons present, 80 FOR, nobody against...Cheers to Slovenia, cheers to Europe"
Prime minister Anton Rop stressed the meaning of unity of Slovene policy concerning international activities:
"Real unity came from those, who enabled high efficiency in negotiations that led to the achievement of this historical moment. Through tough years of negotiations we confirmed that Slovenia is never small, when standing together in unity. This is also a lesson for the future."
Foreign minister Dimitrij Rupel is not afraid that tiny Slovenia might lose itself in the big community:
"Together with other nations and countries Slovenia will be an important and influential factor in international politics, economy and on the cultural scene"
The Minister of European Affairs Janez PotoÄnik takes the biggest credit for successful negotiations with the EU. What should the role of the new EU member countries be?
"None of us expects only satisfaction, they expect from us serious and good work. The size and strength of our country will be decided by ourselves, with our knowledge, understanding and especially our maturity."
All parties in parliament supported the ratification with one exception. The Slovene national party believes that Slovenia has not protected its economy and employment successfully. The employment argument at least seems to be founded as a day after the ratification in parliament it became public that an international corporation will close its only tobacco factory in Slovenia and as a result 260 people will lose their job.
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