Slovenian Ambassador Tells Qorvis' Focus Washington: Level of EU Integration Is Insufficient

"We have to give up some of our national sovereignty if we want a fiscal union."

Balkan nation quickly became active player in EU, NATO, UN after independence.

Jun 24, 2013, 15:54 ET from Qorvis Communications

WASHINGTON, June 24, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Slovenian Ambassador to the United States Roman Kirn told Qorvis Communications' Focus Washington ( that the current economic crisis has made it clear that EU member states will have to give up more sovereignty to achieve a fiscal union.

"The level of integration that we have achieved is not sufficient to sustain the pressure on Europe," Ambassador Kirn told interviewer Chuck Conconi. "So now in the EU there are great in-depth debates on how to secure this further progress. It's not easy because at this stage, EU member states have to decide to give away more of their national sovereignty than they would be willing and able to do."

The EU now faces the task of aligning its political ambitions with economic realities.

"The establishment of the euro was a political project," Ambassador Kirn said. "What we are facing today is that economic realities are moving faster than the political one. When we created the euro, we stopped halfway. I used to say we had baked only half of the cake. Now we have to do the other half. The problem is that we have to do it under the circumstances of the world crisis, which has challenged the euro to the extent that these political differences came to the forefront."

Slovenia is an enthusiastic participant in the EU and a strong proponent of further integration. Ambassador Kirn says that "secur[ing] a safe and prosperous Western Balkans" is a priority for his government, and expanding the European Union is a key to that security and prosperity.

"The area of security and progress is expanding," he said. "We're very happy for our neighbor in Croatia to join and we are certain that this process will continue in the future to embrace other countries of the former Yugoslavia."

Is Slovenia willing to sacrifice some sovereignty for the sake of a more unified Europe? Yes, says Ambassador Kirn.

"We have to give up some of our national sovereignty if we want a fiscal union. We have to make a further step, but this does not mean that we will give up all of our sovereignty, but a part--in the financial sector. And this something that is ripe—or close to being ripe—for a decision to be taken on the level of all 27 EU member states."

A Success Story

Slovenia has been a sovereign nation for only 22 years. In 1991, it became the first of the former Yugoslav republics to gain independence, following a four-year struggle and a Ten Day War that produced relatively little bloodshed. The European Union, the United States and other nations quickly recognized Slovenia's independence, and the country immediately sought to integrate itself with Europe and take an active role in world affairs.

The country faced formidable challenges in breaking from Yugoslavia and charting its own course, and "the way we solved these challenges defines us as a success story," says Ambassador Kirn.

"Just a few years after our independence, we were sitting in the Security Council as a non-permanent member at the UN, which was a striking achievement," he said. "And only 16 years after our independence,...we were able to be in the presidency of the European Union. That is a huge achievement, which was preceded by other events," such as membership in NATO and inclusion in the Schengen Area and the Euro Zone. Slovenia held the presidency of the European Union in 2008.

The Overlooked Europe

Ambassador Kirn is about to depart the United States after four years. He describes U.S.-Slovenian relations as excellent and says his main objective was to bring Slovenia closer to the U.S.

"As National Geographic said when it visited Slovenia, 'Slovenia is an ultimate example of overlooked Europe.' I couldn't agree more."

But since Westinghouse built a nuclear power plant in Slovenia 30 years ago, the country has seen no major U.S. investment. Ambassador Kirn sees this as a missed opportunity for both countries.

Slovenia offers a highly skilled and educated workforce, low operating costs and a diversified economy—all fully within the European Union.

"Whoever goes to Slovenia...praises Slovenia for its beauty, its diversity and its safety," says Ambassador Kirn.

Watch Chuck Conconi's entire interview with Ambassador Roman Kirn at:

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