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In 1918 the Slovenes joined the Serbs and Croats in forming a new nation, renamed Yugoslavia in 1929. After World War II, Slovenia became a republic of the renewed Yugoslavia, which though communist, distanced itself from Moscow's rule. Dissatisfied with the exercise of power of the majority Serbs, the Slovenes succeeded in establishing their independence in 1991. Historical ties to Western Europe, a strong economy, and a stable democracy make Slovenia a leading candidate for future membership in the EU and NATO.

UPDATE January 2002

The Slovenes are moving inexorably forward to early membership of the EU and indeed of NATO. Russia has removed any objection to the latter, the subject being raised at the first meeting between Putin and Bush, which took place in June in the capital, Ljubljana.
Slovenia's membership of NATO has a new meaning in the light of events since then. But it is not a main route for terrorists or contraband from the former Soviet world, unlike other former Yugoslav states. It is easily the most advanced and Western of the transition countries in the region, with an average per capita income at over US$16,000 putting it on a par with Portugal or Greece, EU countries already.
EU membership is rapidly beckoning. On November 28th, along with the three Baltic states, it completed the closure of the 'competition chapter,' one of the core economic issues in negotiations with Brussels. It is far ahead in its negotiations concerning other chapters.
The free movement of people and capital had earlier caused problems, because the Slovenes feared an inrush of Italian mafia elements, with attendant problems. But the new tighter security regime coming into place across the continent, and notably in Italy, should help here.
The Slovenes are well-situated to forge ahead in the next decade, broadening their reforms. In the last decade respectable, if not spectacular, growth consolidated their position as the leading transition country of the region. The new regimes in Croatia and now Macedonia are all good news for Slovenia, whose role as the natural gateway to the Balkans has been enhanced.

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Italian bank publicly announces takeover bid for Slovene Koper bank

The Italian bank Sanpaolo IMI has publicly announced their bid to purchase Banka Koper shares. The bid for the purchase of more than a 50 per cent stake in Banka Koper will be valid from until the end of next January, Radio Slovenia has reported.
According to the agreement between the Italian bank and the owners of Banka Koper, the Port of Koper, Istrabenz [petrol company] and Intereuropa [shipping company], it is to pay slightly less than 102,000 tolars [US$416.531] in cash per share...

Slovene bank privatisation model to aid national investors - minister

The details about the amount and manner of recapitlisation of the Nova Ljubljanska Banka [NLB] are not yet known, Finance Minister Anton Rop told Delo web site recently. This is, amongst other things, because "talks with other potential investors are still under way. Once these discussions come to an end and once all expert foundations have been prepared, then we will propose to the government the necessary amendments to the privatisation programme."
Actually, why this change of the NLB privatisation programme with recapitalisation and greater participation of national financial institutions? The NLB recapitalisation would enable the bank to develop faster and expand on Southeastern [European] markets. The NLB has enough programmes to enable it to become the leading bank in the region.
"Recapitalisation would enable the inclusion of national institutional investors who have recently been expressing their wish to be included in the NLB privatisation process."
The minister is convinced that national institutional investors "are obviously having difficulty in the purchase of bigger packages because of financial demands - therefore their involvement would become substantially easier with the introduction of dispersed selling. Selling to portfolio investors, without a doubt, allows this kind of possibility." 
Would national companies be allowed to take part in the NLB privatisation? "Companies cannot be involved in the privatisation to a great extent - this could be actually harmful. However, if we could agree on a number of restrictions small enough to prevent companies from influencing the bank's management with their shares - where these would be exclusively portfolio investments - then this kind of possibility could be an option. In the next round of privatisation, direct sale according to the Law on Securities Market is being planned. This means that up to 50 potential investors will be included in the sale, which then means that we will be selling stakes of between 0.5 and 2 per cent of the bank's shares," Rop says...

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To export to Italy

The holding company Slovenske elektarne, an agglomeration of Slovenian power plants, signed a contract recently on the export of electricity to Italy in 2002, reports Slovenia Weekly.
The move is the fulfilment of one of the company's chief goals, and is in line with expectations of the owner, the Slovenian Government, set when the company said in a press release. Export prices are more favourable than last year's and considerably higher than those offered in the Slovenian market. Parties to the contract, confirmed by the holding company's supervisory board, are the Swiss Electrizitaets-Gesellschaft AG and Dalmine Energie S.p.A. from Italy. The holding company is the largest Slovenian company, uniting the hydro-electric plants on the Drava, Sava and Soca rivers, as well as the steam power plants in Brestanica and Sostanj and the Velenje coal mine.

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Slovenia to comply with EU environmental standards

Slovenian Environment Minister, Janez Kovac, attended an informal meeting of environmental ministers from EU candidate countries on 27th November. At the meeting, the importance of the implementation of EU environmental legislation was discussed. European officials reiterated that compliance with the environment part of the acquis would have great positive effects for candidate countries. 
According to the European Commission's latest report, Slovenia would have benefits amounting to up to €1.12 billion a year should it comply fully with EU environmental laws. Apart from discussing the implementation of EU legislation, the Brussels officials urged the candidate countries to ratify as soon as possible the Kyoto Treaty on the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. As Minister Kopac announced, the Slovenian government is to send the proposal on the ratification of the agreement to parliament at the beginning of next year. Kopac also explained that Slovenia has already enforced a plan that is in accordance with the adopted EU standards on trade with greenhouse gases. Environmental measures in the field of timber production are to be come into effect as early as this year, Kopac said. Together with 18 other countries, Slovenian Environmental Minister also signed an agreement on the protection of waters in the Danube and Black Sea region.
On the sideline of the ministerial meeting, awards were bestowed by the Commission to Central and Eastern European cities and towns that meet the European environmental standards. Among 15 recipients of the awards are two Slovenian towns, namely Maribor, and Domzale.

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FDI attains highest levels ever

According to the Trade and Investment Promotion Office (TIPO), foreign direct investment (FDI) in Slovenia amounted to some three billion Euros or some 2.1 per cent of GDP last year.
A total of 85 per cent of this was contributed by EU member-states, with some 45 per cent of all investments made in Slovenia, TASR web site has reported
On the other hand, Slovenia invested a total of €850 million itself in outward FDI in 2000, most of which (45 per cent) was channelled into Croatia, Slovenia Weekly reported.
Despite reaching the highest levels ever, according to the TIPO, foreign investment in Slovenia and Slovenian FDI still fall short of reaching their potential levels. In a bid to attract more foreign investment, the Slovenian government recently adopted a four-year programme for boosting FDI.
The programme aims at reducing red tape, improve access to industrial land and ensure a legislative basis for stimulating investment.
Conditions for investments are also more favourable as the privatisation of most Slovenian companies has been completed and these are now seeking strategic partners.
Slovenia's target is to raise the share of FDI to three per cent of GDP in the near future.

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GAP region exports US$156m in textile products 

Recording a 12.6 per cent increase in the first 10 months of this year, the Southeastern Anatolia Project (GAP) region exported textile products worth US$156.8m compared to the same last year period when the region exported US$138.448m of textile products.
Southeast Anatolian Exports Associations said that the region exported machine-made carpets worth US$65.699m, cotton synthetic and knitted textile worth US$77.554m, towelling worth US$5.151m and plastic sacks worth US$7.604m in the January-October 2001 period. Textile products were exported mostly to Kazakstan, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Belgium, Greece, Israel, Algeria, the United States, Germany, Spain, Britain Iraq and Russia.

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Steelworks to be privatised by 2003

By selling off the dependent companies within the Slovenian Steelworks group, the Government wants to boost the competitiveness of Slovenia's Steelworks, improve the business results, and use the proceeds thus acquired to reduce the public debt resulting from restructuring the Slovenian Steelworks group, it was said at a presentation of the Slovenian Steelwork's privatisation programme recently, reports Slovenia Weekly. Invitations for bids for three companies, namely Nozi Ravne, Energetika Ravne and Energetika Store, were published recently, which have already undergone due diligence examinations, while the first contracts are to be concluded by spring, according to Economics Ministry State Secretary, Janez Trcek, who added that the more demanding negotiations should be concluded by January 2003.
All 14 dependent companies are thus to be privatised in 2003 at the latest. Several more of Slovenian Steelworks' companies will be put up for sale at the beginning of next year.
The main criteria for assessing of bids will be the purchase price, the required three-year business plan, the prospects of an increase in jobs in the respective companies, as well as the extension of the companies' sales markets and the maintaining of production levels.

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