STA, 19 August - Lynda Blanchard, the new US ambassador to Slovenia, said she was looking forward to working with the Slovenian government to make the US and Slovenia stronger partners, as she arrived in Slovenia with her family on Monday.
Blanchard, an entrepreneur and humanitarian activist, came to Slovenia more than a year after she was nominated by US President Donald Trump, since her appointment was held up by procedural obstacles related to the election of the new US Congress.
She is succeeding Brent Hartley, a career diplomat who served in Ljubljana between February 2015 and July 2018.
Speaking to the press at Ljubljana airport today, she said she was "excited to be here on the sunny side of the Alps" and she looked forward to "engaging with everyone and our partnerships".
Noting that she met First Lady Melania Trump on Saturday, the new ambassador said the first lady, who is Slovenian, wished her well.
"I look forward to working with her and the government of Slovenia and thus make us as parters stronger," said Blanchard, who is expected to present her credentials to President Borut Pahor on 29 August.
Blanchard believes she will get by easily as ambassador, having worked on the Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, for six years, and in 15 different countries with their governments. "I'm familiar with working with governments," she replied to a reporter's question about her not being a career diplomat.
Her nomination was endorsed in mid-July in a 54:40 vote, with Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic senator of Slovenian descent from Minnesota, voting against.
In her hearing on the Senate committee on foreign relations last August, she described Slovenia as "a reliable US partner" and "a regional leader in implementing democratic reforms" in the Balkans.
She pledged to encourage privatisation, noting that 50% of the Slovenian economy was "under state ownership or control", which entailed "opportunities for increased private investment".
The nominee also argued that US-Slovenian relations needed to continue to improve "through direct outreach and engagement with Slovenian people".