SLOVENIA FACES HARD REALITY OF JOINING EUROPE

The tiny republic of Slovenia, recognized as an independent state for the first time in modern history, is bracing for the struggle to become part of Europe, its president said.

Although it was the richest of Yugoslavia's six republics, Slovenia faces serious economic problems, including a lack of foreign exchange reserves.

"The priority, now that the battle for recognition is over, is to begin the fight for cooperation with Europe," Milan Kucan said in an interview Wednesday in the capital, Ljubljana.

Unlike Croatia, whose declaration of independence last June sparked a protracted war with Serb irregulars and the Yugoslav Army, Slovenia's road to statehood has been relatively straightforward.

Days after it declared independence in June, its territorial defense troops smashed a bungled Army intervention in which some 60 people died. The Yugoslav military eventually agreed to withdraw from the republic.

"We will ... now see whether we Slovenes are capable of running our own country," Mr. Kucan said.

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