Books on Slovenia
Update No: 119 - (30/04/07)
Premier and president in power struggle
The prime minister and president of Slovenia, Janez Jansa and Janez Drnovsek,
are locked in a bitter struggle for control of the country that neither is doing
the least to hide. The latter was prime minister himself for almost a decade and
does not seem to have reconciled himself to being a ceremonial, rather than
executive, figure. He fancies himself as the embodiment of the Slovene state and
its truest representative vis-à-vis foreign states.
Jansa most certainly does not accept this at all. Yet, if Jansa publicly directs
Drnovsek not to interfere in foreign policy, Drnovsek responds by antagonising
the government with solitary personnel decisions.
Drnovsek recently called Jansa 'the chief of evil, to whom nothing is sacred -
not the state, not morality!' Pretty strong stuff from the head of state to its
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 Mr Euro.
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 long-time 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
Drnovsek even cast suspicions on Jansa's people in connection with the theft of
a computer owned by his Movement for Justice and Development. Two drug addicts,
without political motivations, ended up confessing to the theft.
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.
Greece, Slovenia sign 3 agreements; Karamanlis meets with PM Jansa
One way for Jansa to hit back is to get on a plane and represent his country
abroad. A vital interlocutor for Slovenia is Greece, fellow EU member and the
only other advanced country in the Balkans.
Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis on April 23rd received his visiting Slovenian
counterpart for talks focusing, expectedly, on Greek-Slovenian relations, as
Athens and Ljubljana used the occasion to sign another three bilateral
agreements -- a continuation of already excellent relations between the two
"euro zone" partners.
The agreements deal with cooperation within the framework of a multinational
coordination centre for strategic maritime transports, cooperation between the
two countries' oceanography services and tourism cooperation. The Greek defence
minister and the Slovenian foreign minister, Evangelos Meimarakis and Dimitrij
Rupel, respectively, signed the first two agreements on behalf of the two
Janša's official visit to Athens follows an invitation by Karamanlis, made
during the latter's visit to Ljubljana last January for the ceremonies honouring
Slovenia's much-coveted "euro zone" accession.
In brief statements, the Slovenian PM noted that his country assumes the EU's
rotating presidency in the first half of 2008, while emphasising the need for
greater trade and investments between the two countries. Along those lines, he
said a "Slovenia Week" was underway at the time in Athens, with two
initial goals being to boost maritime transports via Piraeus and a direct
Slovenia-Greece air link.
Jansa: EU Constitution Deal Important for Slovenian Presidency
The coming Slovenian presidency of the EU will be the clincher, Jansa hopes,
in establishing his paramountcy in his own polity over his rival. He said on
March 27th that "it is in Slovenia's interests that procedures on resolving
the EU constitutional crisis are launched during Germany's EU presidency and
Slovenia will strive as best it can for a compromise solution to this issue at
the June EU summit."
Jansa, presenting in parliament the declaration on Slovenia's activities in the
EU in the January 2007-June 2008 period, added that failure to reach such a
compromise could mean that the Slovenian EU presidency in the first half of 2008
would take place in an atmosphere that would not be good.
He added that the EU could face a deepening crisis at the next EU parliamentary
elections, which would be manifested in a low turnout, a drop in the reputation
of EU institutions and rise of euroscepticism.
According to Jansa, EU presidency the biggest challenge for the country after it
won independence. It is not only the government's project but one of national
importance, he said.
Slovenia wants to make some decisive steps in enlargement towards Western
Balkans during its stint, but none of these processes could come to a close
during Slovenia's presidency. The EU needs a new constitutional foundation prior
to the enlargement, he added.
Jansa said that Slovenia would also focus on liberating the full potential of
the EU's internal market as some restrictions still apply. This is also true for
the eurozone, which primarily needs an open and competitive market, he said.
He also highlighted Slovenia's key achievements such as the adoption of the euro
and the key role the country has been playing in seeking solutions to the delay
in expanding the Schengen no-border zone.
Slovenia is also a successful economy, and the prime minister expects GDP per
capita to rise above EUR 20,000 in 2006.
Jansa, no doubt reflecting on his continuing spat with his president, also
called for an agreement with political parties on cooperation before and during
the presidency to prevent the period from being used for domestic policy
AVIATION & SPACE
Slovenia to Sign Partnership Deal with European Space Agency
The government recently endorsed the signing of a memorandum of understanding
with the European Space Agency (ESA), which is expected to make Slovenia an ESA
participating country in a matter of years, New Europe reported.
The agreement would provide the framework for systematic international
cooperation in space research.
The framework agreement will not cost anything, but the status of ESA
participating country would involve annual costs to the tune one million euros,
a visiting ESA official said recently.
Slovenia is forging closer ties with the ESA to improve its chance of being
selected to host the seat of the supervisory authority of the Galileo satellite
Slovenia is one of ten EU member states vying to host the seat; of the ten, only
Slovenia and Malta are neither ESA members nor cooperating with the agency under
a special agreement.
Constanta-Pancevo-Trieste pipeline deal signed
Officials from countries in southern Europe on April 2nd signed an agreement
they hope will lead to the construction of an oil and gas pipeline linking the
Black Sea to Western European markets. The agreement, signed by ministers from
Italy, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and Romania, envisions a 1,400-kilometre
pipeline from the port of Constanta in Romania to Trieste in Italy, transporting
up to 90 million tonnes of oil annually by 2012, New Europe reported.
EU Commissioner for Energy, Andris Piebalgs, also signed the ministerial
declaration on the construction of the Constanta-Pancevo-Trieste pipeline. The
project is worth nearly US$2.6 billion. The signing of this declaration has been
postponed several times in the past year. The pipeline will reduce tanker
transportation in the Bosporus and Dardanelles Straits and the Adriatic Sea, and
as such it is a competitor to the Bourgas-Alexandroupolis project already being
implemented by Russia, Bulgaria and Greece.
FOOD & DRINK
Perutnina Ptuj Planning to Open Factory in Bosnia-Herzegovina
Perutnina Ptuj, Slovenia's largest poultry producer, is planning to build a
factory in the town of Breza near Sarajevo this year. The products from the new
factory will be sold in Bosnia-Herzegovina and other countries in the region,
the company said, as it hosted the Slovenian Mufti Nedzad Grabus. The investment
is estimated at 17.1m,Euro with the factory expected to employ 200 people, New
Perutnina Ptuj will thus strengthen its position in both entities of the
country, Republika Srpska and the Croat-Muslim federation, the company said.
The company's chairman Roman Glazer explained that Perutnina Ptuj held the Halal
certificate, which ensured that products were made in line with Islamic laws,
allowing the company to enter Muslim markets.
Perutnina Ptuj holds a 70% stake in its Bosnian subsidiary Perutnina Ptuj - BH.
In 2006 it opened a poultry facility in Srbac near Banja Luka in what was an
investment worth EUR 1.5m.
Perutnina Ptuj already acquired the Halal certificate in the times of the former
Yugoslavia, when it exported meat to Iran, being the first Slovenian company to
In February, Droga Kolinska, Slovenia's largest food company, opened a meat pate
factory in Hadzici, west of Sarajevo. The factory was Slovenia's biggest
investment in Bosnia in 2006 and the second-largest.
Bulgaria, Slovenia sign scientific agreement
Bulgarian Education Minister, Daniel Vulchev, and his Slovenian counterpart,
Jure Zupan, signed an agreement setting up a framework for scientific
cooperation between the two countries, Sofia News Agency reported.
The agreement will allow scientists from the two countries to work closer as
part of the European Union's VII Framework Program for Research and Development
between 2007 and 2013, Vulchev said. The two countries agreed to carry out joint
projects, to offer scientific exchange, equipment, scientific and technical
documentation and to participate in joint seminars and conferences. Information
society development, medicine, bio-technologies, energy, humanitarian and social
sciences were among the priorities of the cooperation between Bulgaria and
Govt to sell 39% of Telekom Slovenije
The Slovenian government decided on March 22nd to sell 39 per cent of Telekom
Slovenije, Economy Minister, Andrej Vizjak, was quoted as saying by media
organisation Javno. The competition for gathering offers will probably be
announced in July this year, Vizjak reportedly said. The government wants to
hold a strategic share of 25 per cent plus one share from Telekom Slovenije, New
Priority will be given to those with a mutual ownership structure, or more
precisely priority will be given to those bidders who let Telekom Slovenije
enter their ownership structure. The Slovenian government's primary concern is
not top sales prices for the federal shares, but the continued growth of Telekom
Slovenije, said Vizjak. The Slovenian unit of Austria's CA IB Corporate Finance
will advise on the sale of 39 per cent of Telekom Slovenije, with its parent
company as subcontractor, the Economy Ministry said on March 21st. The sale of
most of the state's 74 per cent state stake in Telekom Slovenije is part of
government plans to speed up the privatisation of key sectors of the economy.
Telekom Slovenije floated 10 per cent of its equity capital on the Ljubljana
Stock Exchange in October as a first step in its privatisation.