Books on Slovenia
% of GDP
Update No: 110 - (27/07/06)
The supreme Slovenia
Slovenia is an undoubted success story, easily the richest and most democratic
of the former communist states. It is also the highest, supreme in the Alps,
with magnificent natural scenery.
Khruschev had a point when he said that when a people get richer they can afford
to be more democratic. The form of 'democratic centralism,' the post-Stalin
Soviet Union practiced enabled him on one famous occasion to overturn a ruling
of the Central Presidium of the Soviet Communist Party by invoking the authority
of an even more central and select body, that of the Politburo, which he
controlled. When rebuked for this by one of the party faithful, he replied
witheringly that the presidium vote was based on 'a purely numerical majority.'
Slovene politics are now based on securing numerical majorities, much to
Slovenia has a very well educated population, literate, numerate and
multilingual. It is moving into the information technology and internet epoch
brilliantly, as the following testifies.
Slovene "e-government" takes 7th place in Europe
Slovenia has moved up from 15th to 7th place since the last measurement in 2004.
The European Commission has measured the availability of public services online
and the number of public services fully available online in all EU members plus
Norway, Iceland and Switzerland. The survey was focused on 12 services for
citizens and 8 services for businesses.
Slovenia has taken 7th place in the area of availability of public services and
8th place at providing public services fully available online.
Slovenia has moved up from 15th to 7th place since last measurement in 2004.
Malta achieved the most outstanding progress, moving from 16th to 2nd place. The
leading country in the area of e-government is Austria and the third place goes
to Estonia equal with Sweden.
Israel boosts R&D activity with Italy, Slovenia
Other countries have noted Slovenia's high and improving performance here. The
Israelis have a sharp eye for whom they can improve their high-tech skills with,
a very precondition of their survival. They only go for the best.
Chief Scientist Eli Ofer gave Israel's research and development activities a
boost in late July, signing separate partnership agreements with Slovenia and
Italy, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labour said.
In his agreement to administer joint projects between Israeli and Italian
companies, Ofer approved a budget allocation of NIS 5.5 million to Israeli
companies' participating in five projects. During the Italian leg of his trip,
Ofer also signed a R&D partnership agreement between Matimop - the Israeli
Industry Center for R&D - and the Italian province of Lazio.
Ofer subsequently signed a similar agreement for a working relationship in
R&D between Israel and Slovenia, after which he said that initiating
international cooperation was a strategy the government has embarked on for
furthering economic activity.
Israeli and Slovenian companies are expected to work together on communications
and chemicals projects.
Slovenia to build second nuclear reactor
The Slovenes are going in for new thinking in other areas too. With their
marvellous natural geography, one would expect them to be great conservationists
and, therefore, opposed to nuclear power.
They certainly cherish their ecology. But that is not stopping them from
embarking on a second nuclear plant. They are aware of the latest reflections of
the greatest UK ecologist, James Lovelock, the author of Gaia and now The
Revenge of Gaia ('Gaia' is the name of the old Roman Earth Goddess, a suitable
name for the thesis that the Earth is a living organism). He has become an
ardent advocate of nuclear power as the cleanest form of energy available on the
planet, certainly far more so than fossil fuel energy for obvious reasons.
Actually hydro-electric power, like wind power and wave power, is also
ecologically clean. It would be interesting to know why the Slovenes, with ample
opportunities for two of these three, are, nevertheless, opting for nuclear
Environmentalists in Slovenia and neighbouring Austria have repeatedly urged
Slovenia to shut down its one existing nuclear facility before its scheduled
However, the construction of another reactor at Krsko power plant in eastern
Slovenia was one of 34 future government projects on a list compiled by the
Office for Development, which was obtained by The Associated Press on July 25.
The plant was built in the 1980s and is jointly owned by Slovenia and
The new 1,000 MW capacity reactor would be added to the existing 2,000 MW
reactor as part of efforts to reduce Slovenia's dependence on imported
electricity, the document said. Works on the reactor is to begin in 2013 and the
reactor should be operating by 2017, the AP reports. The project is expected to
cost US$2.5 billion and will be financed by private investors, the document
Slovenia, the country of 2 million, has been importing about a quarter of its
electricity supplies a year.
Slovene officials have been suggesting plans to build another reactor in Krsko
for months, but the document is the first official confirmation of it. They
argue that if properly maintained, nuclear facilities do not pose environmental
or health hazards.
Yet the old-fashioned energy options are also still being considered.
Gazprom Delegation Visits Slovenia
Russian natural gas has been supplied to Slovenia since 1978. In 2005
Gazprom provided the Republic with 672.7m cu m of gas. Natural gas import and
distribution in Slovenia is overseen by Geoplin d.o.o. Ljubljana. In 2005
Gazexport signed with Geoplin d.o.o. Ljubljana a new contract for gas supply to
the Republic of Slovenia over 2007 to 2015.
Portorose (Slovenia) on June 20 hosted a working meeting of Alexey Miller,
Chairman of Gazprom's Management Committee, Janez Jansa, Prime Minister of the
Republic of Slovenia and Andrej Vizjak, Slovenian Economy Minister.
The parties addressed the prospect of boosting gas supply to Slovenia and
discussed potential joint businesses in the oil and gas processing,
petrochemicals and power generation sectors.
Slovenia, US to discuss pipeline
PremierJanez Jansa is likely to discuss the prospect of an oil pipeline with
US President George W. Bush in his visit to Washington soon.
Slovenian newspaper Delo said "it is very likely" that Bush will raise
the notion of an oil pipeline running between the Black Sea and the Adriatic Sea
during Prime Minister Jansa's Washington visit, and referred to government
sources who say that the US oil industry has already begun lobbying for the
Igor Salamun, of the Slovenian Economy Ministry's energy office, said: "We
think that the American oil industry will most likely suggest to the US
president to open this question in his talks with the Slovenian Prime Minister.
Jansa: Euro Switch Biggest Natnral Achievement Since Joining EU
Slovenia is yet again taking the initiative, this time in the monetary
sphere. The EU's nod for Slovenia's euro switch on 1 January 2007 is historical,
while entering the eurozone is the country's biggest achievement since joining
the EU in May 2004, Prime Minister Jansa said at the close of the EU summit in
Brussels on June 16.
"Today is a great day", Jansa believes, because "with all the
open issues faced by the EU, the decision to expand the eurozone to Slovenia is
proof that the bloc is still continuing with its integration process. We are
happy with the green light for euro adoption as well as with the confirmation
that the Slovenian economy is in good shape and that the country fulfils the
demanding convergence criteria."
Apart from leaders of all EU states, European Commission President Jose Manuel
Barroso also congratulated Slovenia at a press conference after the close of the
two-day summit. The euro changeover is not just important for Slovenia, it is
important for the whole of the bloc, as by including Slovenia, the EU has shown
that the eurozone is open for all newcomers, said Barroso.
Lithuania meanwhile warned that the currently valid euro changeover criteria do
not take into account the fact that some new EU members, especially the Baltic
states, have a slightly higher inflation rate, yet also record huge economic
"Such a situation was not taken into account when setting euro changeover
criteria," Jansa agreed, yet added that decisions to change such criteria
were not passed at the summit.
Jansa Says Slovenia Must Improve Innovation capacity
Yet there must be no complacency. Slovenia must significantly improve its
innovation capacity if it is to catch up with the most advanced EU members,
Prime Minister Jansa had said after meeting former Finnish Prime Minister Esko
Aho on Wednesday, 14 June, two days before the historic Brussels deal.
Jansa said that innovation capacity must be improved even though Slovenia is in
a relatively good position with respect to the other EU newcomers, the PM's
office said in a press release.
Talks with Aho, who is credited with having made a significant contribution to
Finland's success in research and development, focused on Finland's experience
in this field.
KBC Begins Withdrawal from Slovenia's Largest Bank
The Belgian banking and financial group KBC has begun procedures to reduce its
stake in Slovenia's largest bank, NLB, KBC vice-chairman Andre Bergen has told
This is in line with May's announcement by KBC, which holds 34% in NLB, that it
would reduce its role in the NLB to that of a financial investor, Slovenia News
According to Bergen, the KBC has offers from five international financial
institutions for the sale of its stake. "We will sell our stake if we get a
good offer," he added.
He denied that KBC had received offers from Italian or Austrian banks as had
been speculated in some media.
"We launched procedures several weeks ago, since this is the best thing for
NLB given our announcement that we will remain merely a financial
investor," Bergen said at a press conference for Slovenian journalists.
The KBC took the decision to reduce its role in NLB because it could not
convince the Slovenian government to allow it to raise its stake to 49%.
However, Bergen denied that its move was a negotiating tactic.
"I'm sad and not angry," Bergen said in a reference to the failed
talks between the KBC and the Slovenian government.
"We, the NLB and KBC, have all lost a big opportunity following four years
of cooperation," Bergen added. He explained that the KBC never had any
assurances that it would get a majority stake in NLB.
"I would be surprised if we were still shareholders by year's end under the
current terms," Bergen said.
"If the government comes up with a new proposal, we will study it. KBC is
not an institution that would shut the door," he added.
Moreover, he explained that the KBC had offered to become a 49% owner of NLB for
some time, but under certain conditions, including improving the efficiency of
According to him, NLB needs to raise its return on equity, which is below the
Slovenia and regional average.
Moreover, Bergen said that the KBC had previously offered to supply fresh
capital to NLB with which the bank could finance its expansion in the Balkans
but the supervisory board never took a decision on the offer.
Drnovsek Discuses Gas Pipeline Across Slovenia with Gazprom CEO
Slovenian president, Janez Drnovsek, discussed the possibility of constructing a
gas pipeline across Slovenia to Italy with the chairman of the Russian gas giant
Gazprom, Alexey Miller, who he met at the sidelines of the 10th International
Forum in St. Petersburg, Slovenia News website reported.
According to Drnovsek, the construction of the pipeline would be beneficial, as
it would eliminate the need to construct two liquefied natural gas terminals in
the Gulf of Trieste, which are being considered in Italy.
Drnovsek moreover assessed that Russian companies have shown a lot of interest
lately for investments in Slovenia, adding that this was also in Slovenia's
The pair also discussed Gazprom's possible investment in the Slovenian
petrochemical group Nafta Lendava, something that Drnovsek believes would be
good for the "economically depressed" northeastern region of Prekmurje.
He added that the talks would need to be translated into concrete business
deals, something that Miller promised to try to do at a meeting of the European
Business Congress, a forum in Slovenia's Portoroz.
Miller told Slovenian media that he would discuss gas supplies and an extension
of contracts that would also include an increase in the amount of gas. Miller
added that Gazprom is "very interested in gas transit" through
The Slovenian president also met St. Petersburg Governor Valentina Matvienko,
inviting her to visit Slovenia.
Eurozone entry approved, anger at Lithuania's rejection
European Union leaders recently approved Slovenia's membership into the
Eurozone, but there was anger among several Eastern European states over the
rejection of Lithuania, Deutsche Presse-Agentur (dpa) reported.
Slovenia will become the first EU newcomer to join the Eurozone on January 1st
2007, a move hailed by leaders as a "significant and extremely positive
step forward" in Europe's monetary integration. As expected, EU leaders
turned down Lithuania's bid to join the Euro. However, Lithuanian President,
Valdas Adamkus, won strong support from his counterparts in the Czech Republic,
Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - none of which are yet in the currency bloc - in
his last ditch effort to overturn the decision.
A separate statement issued by the five countries at an EU summit in Brussels
questioned the weighting of inflation rate data used to exclude Lithuania. The
five called for a "discussion on the interpretation of the price stability
criterion in order to better reflect the economic dynamics of the enlarged
With sizzling high rates of economic growth compared to the old member states,
the new members said Eurozone inflation targets appeared out of place and that
price stability was not the best way to define economic performance for booming
In rejecting Lithuania, the European Commission said the country's inflation
rate was higher than acceptable and especially worrying because it was set to
rise over the coming months.
Although inflation in Lithuania currently matches the 2.7 per cent Euro target,
the EU has warned it expects the rate to rise to 3.5 per cent for the full year
and 3.3 per cent in 2007. Current Eurozone members, however, insist there must
be a strict application of Eurozone entry standards.
SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY
MTG buys TV channel PRVA for 8.1m Euro
Modern Times Group MTG AB said it has acquired 100 per cent of the shares in
Prva TV d.o.o., which owns the Slovenian TV channel PRVA TV, for 8.1 million
Euro in cash, a company statement said, New Europe reported.
PRVA is the third largest private commercial free-to-air TV broadcaster in
Slovenia, and is being acquired from a group of individuals and legal entities.
The channel was re-branded and re-launched in June 2005, and reported gross
sales of approximately 0.7 million Euro for full year 2005 and an operating loss
of 1.7 million Euro. The broadcaster reaches 83 per cent of Slovenia's 640,000
households through a mix of local terrestrial broadcasting licenses and carriage
deals with third-party cable networks. It had a 3.4 per cent share of the 15-49
demographic last year, with a programming mix of drama and comedy series,
movies, sports and talk shows. PRVA's commercial share of viewing amongst its
target group of 15 to 49 year olds was 3.4 per cent in 2005. Slovenia has a
population of approximately two million people.