Books on Slovenia
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
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."
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.
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
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.
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.