Slovenia country brief

Located in Central-Southern Europe, Slovenia has 1,086 km of land borders with Hungary to the north, Croatia to the east and Italy and Austria to the west. Slovenia has 47 km of coastline, and is home to approximately 2.1 million people. The capital of Slovenia is Ljubljana.

Slovenia joined the European Union in 2004. In 2007, Slovenia adopted the Euro and entered the EU Schengen zone. Slovenia was the first former communist member of the European Union to hold the rotating Presidency of the European Union (January to June 2008).

Bilateral relations

Relations between Australia and Slovenia are based on strong community ties and small, but growing, trade relations. Australia recognised Slovenia as an independent state on 16 January 1992 and established diplomatic relations on 5 February 1992.

The Australian Embassy in Vienna is accredited to Slovenia and an Australian Honorary Consul is based in Ljubljana. Austrade covers Slovenia from Warsaw. Slovenia has an Embassy in Canberra, and Consulates in Sydney, Caloundra and Adelaide. The first Slovenian Ambassador to Australia was appointed in June 2011.

Community and educational links

Australia has a small but active Slovenian migrant community, many of whom migrated to Australia in the 1950s and 1960s. The 2011 Census recorded 6,099 Slovenian-born living in Australia, with 17,153 claiming Slovenian ancestry. The majority of Australians of Slovenian descent live in Melbourne and Sydney, followed by Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Canberra.

Australia has gained a distinct cultural profile in Slovenia through the artistic directorship of Festival Maribor by the Director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra (ACO), Richard Tognetti from 2008 to 2012. First held in 2008, this annual two-week cultural event in Slovenia's second largest city has showcased Australian excellence by featuring artists such as William Barton, the Tawadros brothers, and photographer Jon Frank. In 2012, Maribor was one of two European capitals of Culture and the ACO featured as Maribor's Orchestra in Residence. After a sabbatical in 2013, Richard Tognetti took up the festival’s artistic directorship again in 2014 and 2015.

Bilateral agreements

Australia and Slovenia signed a bilateral Working and Holiday Visa Arrangement on 16 June 2015.

A Reciprocal Health Care Agreement between Australia and Slovenia came into force on 1 July 2011. Under this Agreement, Slovenian visitors are able to access the public health system for 'medically necessary treatment' during their stay in Australia and Australian Slovenians who are temporarily staying in Slovenia are entitled to health services in Slovenia, if they have permanent residence in Australia.

Under the Agreement on Social Security between Australia and Slovenia, Australia and Slovenia share the responsibility for paying pensions to people who would not otherwise be entitled because they would not satisfy residency requirements.

Recent visits

  • June 2015: Minister for Slovenians Abroad, Gorazd Žmavc visited Australia.
  • September 2014: Minister for the Environment, The Hon Greg Hunt MP, visited Slovenia to attend the 65th meeting of the International Whaling Commission.
  • September 2012: then Minister for Health, The Hon Tanya Plibersek MP visited Slovenia.
  • September 2011: Special Envoy Dr Russell Trood visited Slovenia to attend the Bled Strategic Forum.
  • 2010: Bostjan Žekš, then Minister responsible for Slovenians Abroad, visited Australia.

Political overview

Slovenia is a democratic republic. It declared independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991. The President of the Republic is the Head of State, elected by popular vote every five years, for a maximum of two terms. Borut Pahor was elected President in December 2012. Pahor obtained 67.4 per cent of the votes against the incumbent, Dr Danilo Türk. The powers of the President include nominating the Prime Minister after consultation with parliamentary groups and, in rare circumstances, the power to pass laws and dissolve the parliament. The President is also the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

Legislative power is vested in the Head of Government, the Prime Minister, and a Council of Ministers (Cabinet). Following a snap election in July 2014, Prime Minister Miro Cerar was sworn-in in September 2014.

The bicameral Slovenian Parliament is made up of the 90-member National Assembly, and the 40-member National Council. At the July 2014 election, the then six-week-old Modern Centre Party (Stranka modernega centra – ‘SMC’) of Prime Minister Cerar won 34.5 per cent of the vote. The centre-right Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) of former Prime Minister Janez Jansa came second with 20.7 per cent of the vote. The SMC and its two coalition partners (the Democratic Party of Slovenian Pensioners and the Social Democrats) hold 52 out of the 90 seats in the National Assembly.

At the European parliamentary election held on 25 May 2014, Slovenia elected eight members of the European Parliament. The Slovenian Democratic Party (3 seats), New Slovenia (NSi), and the Slovenian People's Party (SLS) won five of the eight seats for the European People’s Party. The Democratic Party of Pensioners of Slovenia (DeSUS), Verjamem Political Party, and the Social Democrats (Slovenia) (SD) won one seat each.

Foreign policy

Slovenia has been a member of the United Nations (UN) since May 1992. From 1998 to 2000, Slovenia occupied a non-permanent seat on the UN Security Council. On 28 October 2015, Slovenia was elected to the UN Human Rights Council for 2016-2018, after being a member between 2007 and 2010.

Slovenia is also a member of the Council of Europe, which it joined in May 1993 and chaired for the latter half of 2009.

Slovenia has contributed troops to several UN peacekeeping missions in recent years including UNIFIL (Lebanon), UNSMIS (Syria), UNTSO (Middle East). As of June 2015, Slovenia contributed seven personnel to NATO’s Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. Slovenia also participates in the EU Mission Althea in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the NATO Force in Kosovo (KFOR).

Economic overview

Two-way merchandise trade in 2014-15 totaled $128.3 million, with Australian exports accounting for $11.7 million and Slovenian imports to Australia accounting for $116.6 million. Australia's major exports to Slovenia included: electronic integrated circuits, beef and furniture, mattresses and cushions and electrical machinery and parts. Slovenia's main exports to Australia included medicaments (including veterinary), household-type equipment, and trailers, semi-trailers and containers and electrical machinery and parts.

Slovenia's economy is highly dependent on foreign trade, and particularly on EU markets (which are its principal export destinations and import sources).

Trade opportunities

Business opportunities exist for Australian businesses in infrastructure development projects, and sectors such as pharmaceuticals, banking, and telecommunications. Further investment opportunities exist in Slovenia in flight carriers, airports (Ljubljana airport), the chemical, leisure and food processing sectors, as well as sports equipment companies.

Last Updated: 29 January 2013