October 10, 2018
European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) think tank produced a report a few months ago, written by Susi Dennison, Ulrike Esther Franke, and Paweł Zerka, based on research carried out in April and May 2018 in all 28 EU member states, with the aim of better understanding perceived security threats. This used a survey method including interviews with policymakers and members of the analytical community, plus research into policy documents, academic discourse, and media analysis.
The full results can be found here, or in PDF form here, in a publication called “The Nightmare of the Dark - The Security Fears that Keep Europeans Awake at Night”. Overall, EU member states share some common concerns, such as cybersecurity, uncontrolled migration, and collapse of the international institutional order, but there are also some differences among them. The most important of these is the attitude towards Russia, and whether it is a friend or foe.
The whole report makes interesting reading, and contains some useful infographics, but we’ve extracted the section on Slovenia, as presented below:
What does Slovenia fear?
Slovenia expects uncontrolled migration to remain its greatest national security concern for at least the next decade. After Hungary closed its border with Serbia and Croatia in 2015, Slovenia became the main entry point for migrants travelling to the Schengen Area from the Western Balkans. In October 2015, around 12,500 migrants entered Slovenia – a country with 6,000 police officers – per day. Since then, the Western Balkans route has closed (with Slovenia installing a razor wire fence on its southern border) and the European Union has reached an agreement with Turkey designed to control migration. Nonetheless, uncontrolled immigration into Slovenia is still creating domestic political tension. Ljubljana also fears instability in the Western Balkans, due partly to political instability in Kosovo and Macedonia, and partly to interference in the region by non-Western powers, especially Russia. Yet, confident in the EU and NATO, Slovenian elites perceive there to be few major direct threats to their country that require an immediate response.
Who does Slovenia fear?
Slovenia does not appear to view any one actor as most threatening to its national security. Ljubljana is concerned about jihadists, but largely due to the transnational reach of some terrorist organisations and Slovenia’s proximity to Western Balkans smuggling routes rather than the risk of attacks on Slovenian territory. Slovenia also sees international criminal organisations as posing a moderate threat. It fears Russia far less than most EU countries do. Slovenia has supported the EU’s and NATO’s handling of relations with Moscow since Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine. However, Slovenian leaders try to maintain friendly political relations and strong economic links with Moscow.
Essential security partners
Slovenia’s most important European security partners are other NATO members – particularly France and Germany, with which it has strategic partnership agreements. The Slovenian Ministry of Defence sees Italy as a key partner in NATO operations, and the United Kingdom as an important partner due to its military capability and leading role within the alliance and at the UN. As a NATO member, Slovenia also sees the United States as an essential security partner – mostly because of the US nuclear guarantee, but also because of Washington’s technological, military, and intelligence cooperation initiatives.
The EU as a security actor
Like their counterparts in most other EU countries, Slovenian elites largely perceive the EU as a transatlantic geopolitical project that has NATO as its backbone – although they believe that the EU could become a security community. For now, the country sees NATO as its key security guarantor and PESCO as primarily a mechanism for strengthening European military capabilities and perhaps developing shared European threat perceptions. Slovenia participates in the two PESCO projects it considers to be strategically important, partly with the intention of increasing its participation in EU operations.
As noted above, the full report, covering all 28 members states and with considerable analysis of the results, can be found here.