Slovenia becomes the first former communist country and new European Union member to take over the EU presidency at the start of the new year, Tuesday. From Paris, Lisa Bryant reports the future of a fellow province in the Balkan region - Kosovo - will be one of the key items on Slovenia's agenda.
During a recent press conference in Brussels, Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel outlined a series of issues his country planned to highlight during it's six-month European Union presidency, which ends June 30. Among them: pushing for the speedy ratification of the new EU treaty, fighting global warming and working for greater cohesion within the 27-member union.
That includes searching for a unified EU stance on the breakaway Serbian province of Kosovo, which like Slovenia, was once part of former Yugoslavia.
Regarding Kosovo, which wants to declare independence, Rupel says there were certain processes that could not be held back. He says the question of future Serbian membership in the European Union should be treated separately from the question of Kosovo independence. And he said Slovenia would strive to heal divisions within the block on the Kosovo question.
Kosovo's political leadership says it will declare independence in coordination with the European Union and the United States. But several EU members are opposed to such a move, fearing it will fuel separatist groups closer to home.
Slovenia is considered a success story within the former communist block - and among the 12 new members that have joined the EU since 2004. It gained independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 and joined the EU and NATO four years ago - becoming the first Balkan nation to do so.