Honestly, do you know much about Slovenia? Were you ever curious enough to look it up on a map before learning that this Central European country with only two million inhabitants would be taking on the rotating European Union Presidency at the start of 2008? Rest assured: the majority of Europeans often still confuse Slovenia and Slovakia. You may not have been aware that this former Yugoslav republic, which has become a model of political stability and economic growth for its Balkan neighbours, joined the European Union in 2004, the eurozone on 1 January 2007 and the Schengen area on 21 December 2007. But you will have the first six months of 2008 to improve your knowledge and - why not - all summer to discover its exceptional natural environment and hospitable population.

On the other hand, it is right now that we need to become aware of, understand and take into account the priorities of the Slovenian Presidency of the European Union (January-June 2008). Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel outlines in the following pages what he sees as the most important points. The entire Europolitics team joined forces to add to this presentation, detailing a dozen or so issues on the EU agenda for this half-year. Some will attract more attention than others. Two in particular are also connected to Slovenia's responsibility for EU affairs: the Balkans and globalisation.

The future of the EU may be played out in the Balkans. From a geopolitical perspective, Slovenia is obviously a key country considering the forthcoming accession of Croatia, the admission of Bosnia, Macedonia and Montenegro further down the line, the conditional promise made to Serbia and reflection on Albania. A great deal will depend in 2008 on the EU's capacity to calm things down on Kosovo. In spite of strong local tensions, the province is on the verge of proclaiming its independence and could well be destined, one day, to join the European...

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