This chapter, like the next two, will follow the thematic framework familiar from Chapter 2. Thus, in Part I I review Slovenia's democratization process, its economic performance, and the security situation it found itself in after gaining independence on 25 June 1991. Part II examines Slovene foreign policy since 1991 and Ljubljana's campaign for NATO membership. Part III concentrates on matters pertaining to civil–military relations. In the last portion of the chapter the focus shifts to military reform and the state of Slovenia's armed forces.
At the outset I should like to point out a common misconception according to which contemporary Slovenia is a part of the Balkans. Slovenia “became” a Balkan state after World War I owing only to its incorporation into what was to become Yugoslavia. Once it obtained independence in 1991, Slovenia should once again be categorized as an East-Central European (or Central European) state. Apart from its unambiguous geographical position, it was ruled for nearly eight hundred years by the Austrian Habsburgs prior to 1918 and, in terms of its economic and cultural orientation, Slovenia may well be the most “Western” of East European states. At the beginning of the new millennium Slovenia is indisputably the most prosperous state with the cleanest government in postcommunist Europe, in many respects far ahead of its closest rivals, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland.