Thursday, February 28, 2008

Ex-Slovenian President Dies at 57

"Former President Janez Drnovsek, who helped lead Slovenia to independence from Yugoslavia and later enthralled many of his countrymen by adopting a New Age lifestyle, died Saturday, his office said. He was 57.

Mild-mannered but resolute, Drnovsek became a political icon in part for working to keep violence at a minimum when Slovenia gained independence in 1991. He later led the country to European Union and NATO membership.

In recent years, as he battled cancer, he made a radical transformation to a holistic lifestyle and wrote several New Age-influenced books. His office said he died overnight at his home but gave no specific cause.

Drnovsek was the Slovenian representative the Yugoslav federation's collective presidency when his region declared its independence. Yugoslav leader Slobodan Milosevic sent tanks to Slovenian borders, triggering a brief war. But Drnovsek used his position to push for negotiations, eventually orchestrating a deal for the peaceful withdrawal of the Yugoslav army and sparing Slovenia from bloodshed that later engulfed Croatia and Bosnia.

Drnovsek was Slovenia's prime minister for a decade before being elected president in 2002. He did not run for a second presidential term in elections late last year and was replaced by Danilo Turk in December."

Source: The Associated Press

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