On March 16, current student Tibor Babic gave a lecture for the IWP Student Speaker series titled “Slovenian Political Developments and Slovenian NATO Troop Deployment to the Baltic States.”
Mr. Babic was born in Maribor, Slovenia, and upon completion of his high school studies, moved to Vienna to study political science. At IWP, his research mainly covers issues concerning EU-US relations, as well as how these relations affect the world order.
Opening his lecture, Babic briefly introduced Slovenia-namely a snapshot of Slovenian history and Slovenia’s political structure. Still in the midst of post-Soviet reforms, Slovenia strives to reform, yet struggles with corruption. However, Mr. Babic claims that market reforms have laid the foundations for substantial growth and development in the future. Turning to a more ominous topic, Mr. Babic emphasized that Russia influences Slovenian foreign policy, especially regarding NATO. Slovenia entered NATO by popular consent in 2004, but this initial optimism has darkened in recent years. While NATO labels Russia as a potential adversary, many Slovenians look upon Russians as fellow Slavic “brothers.” This sympathy continues as Moscow endeavors to protect all Russian speaking populations outside of their borders by all means necessary. In tandem with such declarations and actions, Moscow increasingly pressures Eastern European nations with its pipeline network to protect wayward Russian nationals.
Slovenia today faces a crisis: an ever-increasing Russian influence on domestic opinion and the Slovenian desire to support the Western international order based on equilibrium and restraint. Brussels and Washington have ignored this issue, and even hesitate to support Slovenia. Committed to the Western order and NATO, Slovenia dispatched troops to NATO’s vulnerable eastern borders: the Baltic states. Despite this noble gesture, Slovenia’s prime minister has suffered in the polls for contesting the aggressive Russian posture in spite of the domestic, pro-Russian sentiment in his nation.
In conclusion, Babic stressed how domestic decisions can affect the balance of power in an increasingly combustible region.
Babic and other students and faculty members will be talking on April 8th about how the European Union can take over sovereignty from European nation-states.