Contacts Established in Slovenia
It was my great pleasure to accept the patronage of the first in a series of Horasis events, dedicated to one of the most important partners of Slovenia and the EU - the Russian Federation. Slovenia appreciates this opportunity also because at home, in the EU and at international forums, as well as in bilateral relations with other countries, most of the attention is paid to searching for the best way out of the current global economic crisis. At the same time we want to contribute to the discussion significant for the future of our economic relations with Russia and our joint economic partners. The Global Russia Business Meeting was an exceptional opportunity for all of these things, and it is our wish that it will represent a successful foundation for an annual forum.
We believe that integration and joint action are the keys to exiting the existing economic crisis and to forming a joint global development. It was my pleasure to accept the invitation of the Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Mr.Vladimir Putin, to participate in this year’s International Economic Forum which will take place in Sankt Petersburg. I’m convinced that the discussions at the first Global Russia Business Meeting will be interesting and provide a good basis for the talks in Sankt Petersburg.
Slovenia was not chosen randomly as the host of the Global Russia Business Meeting. Friendly relations based on a historical component and cultural similarities connect us and the Russian Federation. Political dialogue between the highest representatives of Slovenia and Russia is regular and constructive, too.We have contacts between the line ministers, experts in various fields, and academic and civil spheres. I believe that all of these things will deepen and expand even further, due also to the joint Declaration on Friendly Relations and Cooperation. In addition, Slovenia participates in shaping the EU’s policy towards the Russian Federation.The efforts of the Slovenian Presidency of the EU led to the commencement of negotiations for concluding a new partnership and cooperation agreement between the EU and the Russian Federation.
In addition to cooperation in the political field, the Slovenian-Russian cooperation is particularly successful in the field of economic and cultural relations.The trade of goods with the Russian Federation, at which Slovenia has recorded a surplus, exceeded one billion Euros annually in the years 2007 and 2008 (1.181 billion in 2007 and 1.156 billion in 2008), while last year it decreased by over a third compared to 2008 due to the impact of the economic crisis. Meeting in Slovenia offered plenty of opportunities for discussions and agreements on how to stop and reverse this negative trend.
It should be pointed out that despite the crisis the Russian Federation remains one of Slovenia’s most important economic partners, and that despite the economic crisis most Slovenian companies stayed in the Russian market, in which our investment activity has been strengthening as well.
In the field of economic relations between the two countries, I’d like to point out the signing of the South Stream pipeline agreement, signed by Slovenia and the Russian Federation at the end of the previous year. It is expected that this agreement will be the basis for concluding a number of successful joint Slovenian-Russian projects.
Allow me to point out what I consider to be of key significance in understanding the importance of Slovenia for the Russian economy. Slovenia is a country whose population has Slavic roots, geographically it is located at the heart of the Central Europe and borders the Western Balkans and, moreover, it has access to the Adriatic Sea. If an exceptionally qualified labour force is added to the aforementioned geographical location, in particular the fact that Slovenia is a full member of the European Union, the Schengen area and the Eurozone, and that it will become a full member of the OECD in a few days, the result is a market which is regulated, safe and attractive for investors due to a number of unexploited potentials. At the same time, Slovenia is also a good starting position for investments in the EU, in the Western Balkans and, last but not least, in the Mediterranean countries with which we have friendly relations.
Economic contacts often provide the basis for establishing contacts also in other fields, particularly in culture and science. Because we want to bring the rich culture of both countries closer to the citizens, the activity of the Forum of Slavic Cultures needs to be strengthened and the mechanisms enabling closer contact between their peoples established.These mechanisms are provided by the bilateral establishment of a legal basis for their more efficient cultural and scientific cooperation, as well as by the changes in the visa regulation, which would facilitate the movement of people and ideas.
Slovenia is well aware of the importance of cooperation in the political as well as economic and other fields in order to successfully cope with the challenges of the modern world, which is why it was prepared to accept the challenge and host the first global business meeting with Russia, hoping it will become an annual event.
We wish and expect that the contacts established by the participants during these days will grow into successful business relations and also include other areas of cooperation, thus successfully building relations at interpersonal and international levels.