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SLOVENIA


 

 

Key Economic Data 
 
  2003 2002 2001 Ranking(2003)
GDP
Millions of US $ 26,284 21,108 18,800 63
         
GNI per capita
 US $ 11,830 9,810 9,760 51
Ranking is given out of 208 nations - (data from the World Bank)

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Update No: 121 - (27/06/07)

The veteran FYU republic in the West 
Slovenia is coming of age as the senior former communist state in the Balkans. Bulgaria and Romania are far larger, as is Croatia. But they lack the Slovene knack for economic success and political stability, an enviable double.

Curiously it is now run by an envious double, its president and its premier, the former symbolically, the latter functionally. For ten years Slovenia was governed by its present president, Janez Drnovsek. Now it is the turn of Janez Jansa, who does not see eye to eye at all with his predecessor as premier. Drnovsek envies Jansa's power; the latter the former's popularity.

Jansa is becoming more unpopular with the public by the month. Support for his coalition government declined by 14 % in May, the Croatian Vjesnik newspaper writes, quoting research results. 39.2 % of the polled people describe the government's work as successful, which is the most stable result so far. However, a rumpus about the Slovenian information agency SOVA and the ensuing clash with President Drnovsek, who has the aura of the grand old man, have contributed to the low support. 

Slovenia Supports Efforts of SE Europe
Jansa as the incumbent has cards to play all the same. He is emerging as the Balkan statesman par excellence. 

Attending the meeting of the South-East European Cooperation Process (SEECP) is a sign of further Slovenian support for the Southeastern Europe group, especially in the light of the Slovenian EU presidency in the first half of 2008, Prime Minister Janez Jansa said on 11 May. 

On the sidelines of the meeting on Zagreb, to which Jansa was invited as a representative of a donor country, Jansa met Macedonian President Branko Crvenkovski. If Slovenia is the richest former Yugoslav republic, Macedonia is the poorest. It is looking towards the Slovenian EU presidency as a key moment to expedite its hopes of early EU entry.

So is Croatia. Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader told the participants in the two-day meeting on strengthening regional cooperation that SEECP had only one goal: lasting stability of the region within the EU and NATO. 

The participants, representatives of SEECP members, the EU and donor countries, also touched on the future of Kosovo and Serbia, which is an intractable issue. It will be for the EU and Russia to solve it, with neighbours looking on anxiously. Nobody in the region wants another Balkan war. 

PMs praise Slovenian-Slovakian relations
Bertrand Russell, the British philosopher and wit, who opposed the First World war, said that the conflict broke out because of a quarrel in Slovenia or Slovakia and he could never tell the difference between them anyway. This was displaying big power chauvinism and arrogance with a vengeance, even if in a good cause. Certainly a lot of ills came out of that war, but neither of the two republics in question can be blamed for it. Nor really can it be attributed to the 'slovs' when what happened in Sarajevo, in Bosnia.

Slovenia and Slovakia are considerably different, as it so happens, the one Alpine and Balkan, the other mostly low-lying and in the heart of Europe. But there are affinities in their common experience of communism, which they might never have had without the World War, indeed. They are trying to help each other in the transition to capitalism. 

The prime ministers of Slovenia and Slovakia, Janez Jansa and Robert Fico, praised relations between the countries as they met in Bratislava on 3rd June. Talks held by the two as part of Jansa's two-day official visit to Slovakia focused on Slovenia's experience in adopting the euro and international issues. 

Slovakia is planning to adopt the euro in 2009 and Slovenia's experience with the new currency will be useful for it as it gets ready for the switch. Moreover, talks also examined bilateral cooperation, viewed by the pair as being "very successful" on all fronts. 

The countries have similar views on a wide range of important international issues, Jansa and Fico said after their meeting. The biggest difference is over the future of Kosovo, where, according to Jansa, Slovenia supports UN Special Envoy Martti Ahtisaari's plan on the conditional independence of the province. "This is the proposal that is the most feasible in practice," Jansa said and added that it must be coupled with efforts to present Serbia with a clear European future. "It is important that the EU adopts a united stance on this issue," the Slovenian PM said. 

"There is no practical or theoretical solution that would satisfy both sides. A balanced decision of the international community is needed here," said Jansa, adding that consensus must be achieved in the UN Security Council. The Slovenian PM went on to say that Kosovo was in effect not a part of Serbia. "So if Kosovo gained independence tomorrow, nothing would change on the ground." 

Fico, who would not answer directly whether Slovakia supported Ahtisaari's proposal, pointed out Slovakia was a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council at the moment, which would give it a chance to contribute to the final resolution on Kosovo. He said that Slovakia endorsed the common EU stance, but added that if a resolution failed to be adopted, it could lead to some countries taking unilateral action that could destabilise the region. 

The PMs agreed that the countries have very similar stances on EU topics. Both countries support the European future of the Western Balkans and the timely expansion of the Schengen zone. Regarding the EU constitution, Jansa said the key was to "take a step forward as soon as possible". 

Fico said that the constitution was a trauma holding back the EU project. According to him, Slovakia supports the German presidency's proposal, although not changes that would give certain advantages to one or two countries at the expense of the bloc as a whole. 

Slovenia, also, supports the German presidency's efforts in respect to the constitution, Jansa said, adding that it was important to see what the limits of compromise were. "The desired outcome is not a compromise at all costs, but a compromise for the European constitutional treaty that would facilitate progress in Europe," he said. 

Jansa added that it was pleasing to see economic cooperation between the countries grow by a quarter last year, with trade now worth EUR 500m. 

Meanwhile, Fico said Slovakia was interested in Slovenian experiences with adopting the euro, which is why Jansa on June 4th took part in an international conference on Slovakia's efforts to adopt the single currency. Jansa said Slovakia was well positioned to adopt the euro. Slovenia was well prepared for the switch because other eurozone members were ready to share their experience. "Also because of this, Slovenia stands ready to share its experience," said Jansa. "The adoption of the European currency in Slovenia was followed by a rise in public support for it. You too should approach it without fear," he added. 

Meanwhile, Fico congratulated Slovenia on the recently obtained invitation to join the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). He added that Slovakia would support Slovenia's efforts to finalise its membership. 

Jansa also touched on the issue of US plans for a missile shield in East Europe, saying he was certain that the system was intended for defensive purposes. "Nevertheless, it would be better if this matter was tackled within the framework of NATO." 

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AUTOMOBILES

Production of new Twingo begins at Novo Mesto

The production of the new Twingo, the third vehicle in Renault's "Commitment 2009" plan, has started at the company's Novo Mesto plant in Slovenia, Auto Industry reported on May 29th.
Renault invested 400 million Euro in the Twingo project, hired 700 people and trained them in Renault standards, and managed to reduce initial outlay by 25 per cent compared to that committed to the Clio III, whose predecessor is built at Novo Mesto alongside the new Twingo, it was reported. Running on three shifts from this month on, the plant's maximum output capacity is 210,000 vehicles a year, Twingo and Clio II combined. 

Hidria, PSA Peugeot Citroen ink supply contract 

Hidria Automotive, a division of the Hidria industrial conglomerate, signed a strategic supply contract with car maker PSA Peugeot Citroen, Slovene Press Agency reported on May 16th, cited by Reporter.gr. 
Hidria said that this deal would boost the sales of its automotive division from 40 million Euro to 100 million Euro within three years. Hidria is now responsible for the development and production of diesel cold start systems, including those compliant with the Euro 5 standard.

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ENERGY

Slovenia builds solar power plant on the highway

Putting solar collectors on noise isolating fences next to highways in Europe is nothing new and now Slovenia has one such first project, it was reported on May 15th.
As Ljubljana newspaper Delo reported on May 14th, the noise isolating fence that will be built on the fast road next to the border crossing Vrtojba, 640 metres long and two and a half metres high, will have solar cells, and the power of the solar power plant, plugged into an electric network, will be 80 kw.
With synergy effects of joint planning of the noise isolation and production of electricity, the overall building costs, amounting to about a million Euro, will be reduced almost 20 per cent. The project and the financial construction are almost finished and they have yet to be approved by the government.

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TRANSPORT

Plans to boost transport cooperation with Slovenia

In Slovenia, Bulgarian Transport Minister, Peter Moutafchiev, met his Slovenian counterpart, Janez Bozic, to speak about boosting cooperation between the countries in transport. Both ministers agreed to exchange haulage permits within a fortnight, Sofia news agency reported. 
The countries will agree future quotas as part of joint commission in the near future, Bozic said after the talks. 
According to him, the ministers also agreed to form working groups within both ministries to look for options for cooperation in railway transport. This is expected to involve crafting a common proposal for the third railway package, the news agency reported. Bozic also said that both countries were keen to launch scheduled flights between both capitals as soon as possible. 
In this context, the ministers agreed to put the head of the transport ministry aviation directorate, Franc Zeljko Zupanic, in charge of establishing contacts between both sides. Bozic and Moutafchiev also discussed the 10th pan-European transport corridor, connecting Salzburg and Thessaloniki, which the pair labelled as a priority for both countries. "We expect the 10th corridor to contribute considerably to the stability of countries in the Western Balkans," the Bulgarian minister said. Bozic lobbied with Moutafchiev to support Slovenia's bid to host the seat of the supervisory authority for the Galileo satellite navigation system. Slovenia is one of 10 EU countries vying for the seat. "Moutafchiev voiced support within his powers, assuring me that mutual interests would be respected," Bozic said, explaining that Bulgaria too was a candidate to host a seat of an EU institution dealing with maritime affairs. Bozic explained that the meeting established a good basis to launch talks on some important projects, while also pledging Slovenia's assistance to Bulgaria by sharing its experience in the EU. In turn, the Bulgarian official said his country could serve Slovenia as a springboard to the Caucasus, while Slovenia was Bulgaria's link to Western Europe.

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