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Slovenia's EU Integration Stalled

By Alessandro Marzo Magno

Trieste, Italy; Feb 14 (RFE/RL) - Slovenia's application for associate status with the European Union (EU) is stalled, much to Ljubljana's dismay.

Italy currently holds he rotating EU Presidency, but with Rome's government in disarray, it has little time to devote to international affairs.

Germany and Austria recently once again pressed for Slovenia's association agreement to be expedited. But everthing is in the hands of Italy's Foreign Minister Susanna Agnelli.

Agnelli has pledged to pursue Slovenia's case, but she also has raised the question of the return of homes to Italian refugees, who fled the Istria region after World War II.

Last year, when Spain held the EU Presidency, Spain's Foreign Minister Javier Solana, drafted a compromise plan for Italy and Slovenia. It was one of his last actions before the Presidency passed to Italy.

Rome and Ljubljana each accepted the plan. But Solana would become NATO General Secretary, and Rome's government would fall. In short, there has been no progress on the plan.

In the meantime, our correspondent reports that the most detailed accounting of the actual number of homes involved in the dispute has been revealed. Slovenia's government had asserted the number of homes fled by Italians was about 30. Other accounts had spoken of as many as 300 homes.

But the weekly Slovenia magazine "Mladina" now says it has documents that show the number of properties involved exceeds 800. This account, for the first time, includes all properties, including homes, apartments, shops and offices.

Most of the region involved was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, and was ceded to Italy after World War One. After World War Two, most of the region was claimed by Yugoslavia, and all the territory, except the region around Trieste, was given to Yugoslavia in a 1946 treaty.