Books on Slovenia
% of GDP
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 No: 085 - (01/06/04)
The Slovenes are the favourite accession country in Brussels by a mile. They complied with the acquis communitaire well before any other EU entrant and their agriculture is small and will be no serious drain on the budget of the CAP. Their electorate, in a referendum, voted by the largest majority of all the entrant countries to join.
Taking stock of Slovenia
Now is as good a time as any to take the measure of Slovenia in the round, as it enters both NATO and the EU. It is a small alpine state of two million between Italy, Austria, Hungary and the former Yugoslavia, of which it was the northernmost, and by far the most prosperous, republic. It is easily the richest of all former communist countries as a matter of fact. Its GDP per capita now tops US$17,000, higher than that of Greece or Portugal, long-term EU members.
Its mountainous location, similar to Switzerland's, its compact size and population, its Catholic religion but Protestant work-ethic, its long tradition of industry and enterprise in the Austro-Hungarian Empire and its favoured position in Yugoslav times (Tito understood its special character and left it to its own devices to some degree), help to account for its exceptional stability and large measure of success. It has attracted surprisingly little FDI so far, just over US$2bn, but that is all likely to change now, as it becomes better known. After all it will have the presidency of the EU in due course!
Northward, that is Westward, Ho!
Slovenia's relationship to Europe has been a convoluted one. The first book, a catechism, in the Slovenian language was published in 1550 by the Protestant priest, Primoz Trubar. The Counter-Reformation in 1599 secured the Slovenes for Roman Catholicism, but the writings of the Calvinist church of Carniola, to which Trubar belonged, had already provided the basis of Slovene literature. A Calvinist work-ethic was already installed. Slovenian culture is a product of both the Reformation and the Counter-Reformation.
But it was not until the middle of the 19th century that, with the poetry of France Preseren, Slovenians entered the contemporary culture of Europe. Until then the Slovenian language had been reserved for the peasantry, the intellectuals and urban middle class using German. In fact during the 19th century the country underwent a forced 'Germanisation' within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The 20th century saw the Slovenes merged into successive Yugoslav entities so that it was not until 1991 that Slovenia became independent. Consequently, its identity is more closely allied to culture and language than for longer established nation states in Europe.
Ales Car, a novelist and editor-in-chief of the cultural magazine Balkanis, puts one aspect of Slovenian idiosyncrasy very well. "The Slovenians have always had one door open and one shut. While we were under Austro-Hungarian rule, the door to the south was hermetically sealed. As part of the 20th century Yugoslavia, the door to the south was open, but tightly closed towards Austria. And when we obtained our own state, we sealed the door to the south airtight and turned blithely towards the north."
Now Southward Ho also?
This has prevented, or at least inhibited, the Slovenes from taking advantage of their good fortune in knowing about the troubled Balkans, with which the EU is so concerned. One can be sure their opinion will weigh heavily in Brussels on Balkan affairs. After 73 years of shared life (1918-91) the Slovenes know the republics to their south pretty well.
There are signs that they realise that their best bet is to be the leading experts in the EU about the south of Europe, perhaps challenging Greece in that context. The foreign ministers from 17 member states of the Central European Initiative (CEI) and the smaller but largely coinciding Adriatic-Ionian Initiative will be holding respective annual meetings, as Slovenia currently holds the rotating presidency of both forums.
The foreign ministers of the Adriatic Ionian Initiative will review the achievements over the past year and adopt a Portoroz declaration. On this occasion, Serbia-Montenegro will officially take over the 12-month presidency from Slovenia.
Prime Minister, Djukanovic of Montenegro, paid a visit to Ljubljana recently and discussed Montenegro forging closer business ties with Slovenia with Prime Minister, Anton Rob. He can see the massive advantage Slovenia now has as the only Balkan country in the EU.
Everyone will be courting it, from the north, from the south and from the West and East too. Fittingly, the first meeting between President Bush and President Putin took place in Ljubljana in June 2001!
Solid performance for Salonit
Slovenia's cement producer Salonit Anhovo saw a successful performance last year, as net sales revenues amounted to 12.8bn tolars (€53.7m), a rise of 21% over 2002, and net profits totalled 1.2bn tolars, up 98% year-on-year, New Europe reported recently.
In a statement, cited by local media, Salonit said it increased its capital last year, saw the return on capital almost doubled, and reported mounting figures in every other area. Production of cement amounted to 736,822 tonnes, up 6.7% over the previous year. By the end of 2003, net capital investments into subsidiary companies amounted to 3.75bn tolars, while those into associated companies stood at 1.26bn tolars. The rest of investments totalled 2bn tolars, the company statement read.
FOREIGN ECONOMIC COOPERATION
Ljubljana targets stronger relations with Zagreb
Slovenia recently received a Croatian delegation to discuss Slovenia's entry in the European Union and examine ways for both countries to join forces in penetrating foreign markets. In addition to joint activities on foreign markets, the joint commission also examined ways for boosting cooperation in tourism, agriculture and small business. Slovenia is a major business partner of Croatia, ranked third among Croatian trade partners and seventh on the list of foreign direct investors in Croatia, Vladimir Vrankovic, Croatian state secretary in charge of economic affairs, said after the meeting, cited by STA local news agency.
Trade between the countries totalled US$1.5bn in 2003, with Slovenia's exports amounting to US$1bn and Croatia's exports standing at US$500m. Slovenian investment in Croatia topped US$370m in the first three quarters of 2003, according to Vrankovic. While the two countries had a bilateral free trade agreement until now, trade relations between the countries will change after Slovenia's EU entry as the provisions of the stabilisation and association agreement signed between Croatia and the EU will take over.
Macedonian, Slovene economy ministers discuss cooperation, investments
"Slovenian investors after the country's entry into the EU should use Macedonia's advantage in its involvement in agreements for free trade with the EFTA member states, i.e. Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro, Bulgaria, Albania, Turkey, Ukraine, Romania and Moldavia [Moldova]. It provides Macedonian products for export with no customs duties," Macedonian Minister of Economy, Stevco Jakimovski, stated at the business forum of Macedonian and Slovenian enterprises in Rogla recently, MIA News Agency stated.
Jakimovski pointed out that besides the high quality of its manpower, Macedonia offered a stable economic framework, which provides easy and predictable planning of foreign investors' business results over a long period.
"We do not want to reduce the cooperation but to intensify it after Slovenia joins the EU, because Macedonia is a stable country in political and security terms," Jakimovski said.
Slovenian Minister of Economics, Matej Lahovnik, welcomed the participants of the forum, saying that the previous exchange between Macedonia and Slovenia was at US$187 with a surplus for Slovenia, and that it should be corrected throughout investments.
Macedonian Ambassador to Slovenia, Ilijaz Sabriu, addressed the forum, saying that after Slovenia's entry into the EU, a Stabilization and Association Agreement between Macedonia and the EU came into force, as it produced significant changes in the status and economic trade cooperation between both countries.
Lahovnik and Jakimovski talked about possibilities to intensify the economic cooperation between Slovenia and Macedonia.
Macedonian and Slovenian Ministries of Economy organized the Forum, in which more than 70 Macedonian enterprises and 40 Slovenian enterprises took part. Era Velenje, Merkator, Kolinska, Droga, Perutnina Ptuj, Cetis, Gorenje, Bovin, Pilko, Kimiko Gardine, Evropa, Nasto, Vitaminka, Bargala, IMB, Povardarie, Brako took part at the forum. The forum presents an opportunity for Macedonian enterprises to establish direct relations with Slovenian ones, to improve the cooperation and attract Slovenian enterprises to invest in Macedonia.
Hermes Softlab at NATO GSS
Hermes Softlab, Slovenia's leading provider of IT solutions, was recently chosen as one of the partners for the formation of NATO's Alliance Ground Surveillance System, a project entrusted to the international consortium TIPS, New Europe reported.
The system is NATO's largest ever joint project, valued at US$3.5bn, Hermes said in a statement. To seal the deal, Hermes signed a letter of intent with the German corporation EADS, one of the members of the TIPS consortium. The other members of the TIPS consortium include US corporations General Dynamics and Northrop Grumann, Spain's INDRA, Italy's Galileo Avionica and THALES from France.
Slovenia to complete 5th Pan-European Corridor by 2012
Road and railway construction on the Slovene section of the 5th Pan-European Corridor is due to be finished by 2012, a Slovene Transport Ministry official said, to the participants of the international conference on the trans-European route, at the seaside resort of Portoroz, STA News Agency reported.
According to State Secretary, Boris Zivec, the motorway section between Maribor, northeastern Slovenia, and the Italian border will be constructed within four years, while the motorway between Maribor and the Hungarian border is scheduled to be built by 2012.
Zivec also announced that next year, construction works are due to begin on a second railway track between Koper and Divaca, by the Italian border. About to begin as well is the electrification of the railway connection between Pragersko, northeastern Slovenia, and Hodos on the Hungarian border.
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