Books on Slovenia
Update No: 120 - (30/05/07)
Jansa and Rupel Express Condolences to Croatia
In the old days of the USSR Kremlinologists had little in the way of public
information to go on. They had to interpret the minutiae of public behaviour by
the apparatchiks for deeper meanings.
Slovenia lives in a better world and in the full glare of world publicity these
days. Nevertheless, a bit of Kremlinology may not be amiss now and then.
Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Jansa and Foreign Affairs Minister Dimitrij Rupel
expressed their condolences on April 29th anent the death of former Croatian
Prime Minister Ivica Racan.
The significant thing is that they did so at the same time, whereas earlier,
Slovenian President Janez Drnovsek had forwarded his condolences separately. The
Slovenian premier and president see eye to eye in nothing. They both want to be
in charge of foreign policy. The premier wants to do so with Rupel, his
subordinate, not Drnovsek, his titular superior.
The death of Ivica Racan incidentally was covered by the Slovenian and Croatian
media in great detail themselves: thus the leading Delo daily states that he
"acted calmly, rationally and pragmatically as a politician, and the
Croatian political scene will not be the same without him." It added the
Slovenian public will remember him most for following Slovenian communists and
leaving the final SKJ (League of Communists of Yugoslavia) congress, but also
for the unsuccessful agreement "Drnovsek-Racan".
Bitter power struggle continues
There is no doubt that the two leading politicians in Slovenia cordially detest
each other. The prime minister and president of European Union member Slovenia,
Janez Jansa and President Janez Drnovsek, have only their Christian names in
They are locked in a bitter struggle for control of the country that neither is
doing the least to hide. If Jansa publicly directs Drnovsek not to interfere in
foreign policy, Drnovsek responds by antagonising the government with solitary
Drnovsek recently called Jansa 'the chief of evil, to whom nothing is sacred -
not the state, not morality!' He is not alone in this. One respondent to a query
about the premier replied: "Yes, Jansa is very disappointing to us all. I
didn't vote for him, but he has proven to be a very arrogant and out of touch
politician. He has definitely lost his edge, voters will no doubt show this in
2008! To the polls!"
Central banker casualty of the duel
The latest victim in their bizarre tug of war was central bank governor
Mitja Gaspari, held in high esteem at home and abroad. Head of the Banka
Slovenije for the past six years, Gaspari oversaw Slovenia's adoption of the
common European currency at the start of this year and is universally known as
Forgoing the usual consultations with parliament and the government, Drnovsek
nominated Gaspari for another term. Lawmakers amazingly rejected him.
Before the parliamentary vote, an internal central bank report to the European
Central Bank was made public. The document painted a possible nightmare scenario
for Slovenia's budgetary policy in 2010. Although Gaspari said that it was
merely a normal worst-case projection, Slovenian nationalists, among others,
cried 'treason,' sealing the fate of the once highly praised banker.
Drnovsek was unfazed. Now 56, he had a bout with cancer two years ago that left
him ill-disposed to traditional medicine and drawn to Buddhism, veganism and all
manner of theoretical models explaining the meaning of life. He nominated Andrej
Rant, Gaspari's deputy and confidant, to head the central bank.
But lawmakers rejected Rant too. After this debacle, no one can say when
Slovenia's top financial institution will have a leader again.
The opposing camps then poured more oil on the fire. Jansa, whose intense
rivalry with former longtime prime minister Drnovsek began when he was
opposition leader in 1994, had parliament look into the president's allegedly
dubious bank dealings.
Drnovsek responded in kind, accusing Jansa of aiming to control the
privatisation of Slovenian banks with the help of a complaisant central bank
The president might stand again
The president, who remains popular in spite of everything, has another arrow
in his quiver for Jansa, whose party has lost voter support: Drnovsek let it be
known that he might reconsider his decision not to seek re-election in
presidential polls this autumn.
CCIS Says Economy Can't Remain Competitive Without Reform
meanwhile, business goes on. The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of
Slovenia (CCIS) has reiterated its view that Slovenia cannot remain competitive
in the long term without structural changes, foremost liberalisation of the
business environment. Interim CCIS president Samo Hribar Milic told a press
conference on 19 April that Slovenia's economy might be well-positioned at the
moment, but the outlook for the future was less rosy without changes. Data shows
that Slovenia lags behind other countries in terms of high technology products,
the creation of companies and the retention of jobs, which does not bode well
for its competitiveness, Hribar Milic said.
In his opinion, Slovenia must implement structural reforms if it wishes to
realise its goal of catching up with the most developed countries in the world.
The measures should include deregulation of the economy, cutting of red tape and
the promotion of knowledge from research institutions to business, said Hribar
Milic, who also specifically pointed to the need for more flexible labour laws.
According to him, the current labour laws bring no flexibility, while talks on
the changes have not made headway because of what he claims to be the
stubbornness of the trade unions.
The CCIS also presented its economic forecasts, which predict that economic
growth will stand at 4.6% this year and 4.3% the next.
While growth stood at 5.2% in 2006, it did so on account of extensive growth in
fixed capital formations. Expansion in this field is expected to slow down
somewhat this year, which will result in slightly less intense economic growth.
Head of the CCIS economic trends department Irena Rostan explained that this
year's growth was expected to beat initial estimates because of the favourable
trends in the beginning of the year, including that brought on by the adoption
of the euro and the warm winter.
Meanwhile, chief CCIS social talks negotiator Joze Smole said Slovenia still
needed to cut red tape, as the process of establishing a company took about
twice as long (around 60 days) as elsewhere in the region. Moreover, Smole said
the rigidity of labour legislation was another burning problem, as manifested by
Slovenia's ranking of 146th of 175 on the World Bank's indicator of labour
Renault starts building new Twingo mini in Novo Mesto
Production of the new Twingo mini has started alongside Clio II assembly at
Renault's Novo Mesto plant in Slovenia, following investment of 400 million
Euro, Auto Industry recently reported.
To manufacture the new model alongside Clio II, 700 people were hired, taking
the workforce to nearly 3,000. All the assembly operators were trained for an
average of 70 hours on how to assemble the new vehicle. Running on three shifts
from May, the plant's maximum output capacity is 210,000 vehicles a year, Twingo
and Clio II combined. Renault was cited as saying that profitability targets for
the Twingo project have been met notably through the use of carry-over; part of
the running gear of the Clio II was used for the new Twingo, cutting outlay on
the new car by about 25 per cent compared to the Clio III. The new Twingo goes
to market on June 15th in France, Italy and Slovenia and in September for the
rest of Europe, including, unlike the first Twingo, the UK in right-hand drive.
FOOD & DRINK
Delta owner acquires 2.55% of Kras meat processing company
Owner of Serbia's largest Delta Holding Company, Miroslav Miskovic, has acquired
2.55 per cent of shares in Slovenia's Kras meat processing company through an
intermediary for 1.3 million Euro, Serbia & Montenegro Today reported.
Miskovic had tried to buy a sizeable parcel of Kras shares, but the management
of Vinakras Company, which owns the meat processing company, prevented small
shareholders from selling to Miskovic. So far, Miskovic has tried and failed to
buy a plot of land in Ljubljana to build a store and to buy into Mercator trade
chain, it was reported.
Pivovarna Lasko acquires outstanding shares in Delo
Beverage group Pivovarna Lasko announced it has acquired around 50 per cent of
the outstanding shares of publisher Delo, increasing its stake to 94.09 per
cent, Slovene Press Agency reported.
Lasko launched its bid for Delo on April 2nd. Lasko and its controlled companies
Radenska and Talis acquired 333,306 shares (49.94 per cent) of Delo during the
takeover bid, paying 135.50 Euro per share. The group previously owned 294,738
shares of Delo, the company publishing Slovenia's leading broadsheet. In line
with an agreement between the three companies, brewer Pivovarna Lasko was given
ownership over all the newly acquired shares, it was reported. Pivovarna Lasko
now owns 500,096 shares of Delo (74.92 per cent); Radenska has 127,928 shares
(19.17 per cent), while Talis has 20 shares, 0.003 per cent of Delo. The
companies labelled the bid a success in their press release. However, the group
does not have any long-term interest in Delo. Editors-in-chief of two of the
leading Slovenian dailies also had comments: Dnevnik's Miran Lesjak believes it
is good that the state-run funds withdraw from the media, however the question
remaining is what Pivovarna Lasko plans to do with its stake in Delo; Economist
Matej Tomazin, on the other hand, said that the development was good news as it
would enable Pivovarna Lasko to exclude small shareholders, get Delo off the
stock exchange and take decisions that had been opposed by previous
shareholders, it was reported.
Clothes Retailer C&A Plans to Enter Slovenia in Autumn
The German retail clothes chain C&A plans to open branches in four Slovenian
cities. The first store is scheduled to open in the NE city of Maribor on 30th
August, New Europe reported.
According to the company, the second store will open on 1 September in the
eastern city of Celje, followed by one in the northern town of Kranj in
November, while the first branch in Ljubljana is to open in spring next year.
Ljubljana will also be the headquarters of the company's Slovenian subsidiary.
C&A also plans to open a store in the western town of Nova Gorica and
another in Ljubljana in the spring of 2008.
The company wants to open stores in all major Slovenian towns in the next three
years. C&A expects to employ 60 people by the end of this year.
According to the company's website, C&A manages 1,111 stores in 15 European
countries. It has recently expanded to Slovakia and China.
Telekom Slovenije acquires Gibtelecom stake for 36.8 mln Euro
Slovenia's Telekom Slovenije has acquired a 50 per cent stake in its Gibraltar
counterpart Gibtelecom for 36.8 million Euro, Slovene Press Agency reported on
April 24th, cited by Reporter.gr.
Telekom Slovenije bought the stake from the US telecommunications company
Verizon International following the successful completion of years-long
negotiations, it was reported. The contract on the acquisition of the 50 per
cent stake was signed with the consent of the government of Gibraltar, which
owns the other half of Gibtelcom.