The Slovenia Times

US Ambassador Very Optimistic about Slovenia in 2013


"Things can start moving forward. The pension reform went through OK, the labour reform might be next; we see the budgets are going through without a referendum problem. Things could be very good by the end of this year," said the ambassador, who is leaving Slovenia in the summer.

Moreover, "2014 could be a really, really positive year for Slovenia's economy". He deemed the election of Borut Pahor for president as positive development. He hopes that Pahor will indeed be able to put into effect his goal to unify the polarised nation.

He believes people voted for Pahor because they were tired of the animosities between the left and the right. Moreover, Pahor being president will probably help with the bilateral LB issue of foreign currency deposits by Croatian savers in the bank.

"But this is a very difficult issue for Slovenia. In a way it's one of the few political economic issues...nobody wants...for Slovenia to simply hand over hundreds of millions of euros to Croatia because of bank deposits from 20 years ago."

It is a very delicate situation, which will demand Prime Minister Janez Janša and the president working together to help resolve it, the ambassador said. He does not expect a breakthrough soon, although he believes the PM is doing his best to find a compromise.

The US does not intend to get involved in this issue, he said. They want the countries to find a win-win solution. "They may come to a point where [the two countries] need a mediator but that would probably be a European mediator."

Touching on the protests in Slovenia, Mussomeli said that the embassy does not estimate the situation in the country to be especially dangerous or unstable. He believes they were "a healthy sign for any stable democracy".

However, he sees two problems with the protests in Slovenia: the violence and a lack of a unified message. "Frankly, I don't see much future for the protests as such."

He does not believe that the findings of the national corruption watchdog that the PM and coalition Positive Slovenia (PS) head Zoran Janković failed to report more than EUR 200,000 and EUR 2.4m of assets, respectively, will increase the number of protesters at the next rally scheduled for Friday.

"We have (yet) to hear what the prime minister and Janković have to say for themselves. We should not be too quick to pass judgement."

Touching on the report presented today, Mussomeli said the document shows "how good the institutions are - that the commission was actually able to report on this and get the data and make it public. In most countries of the world that just never would have happened."

Moreover, touching on the government's plan to privatise state companies in the future, Mussomeli Slovenia's state-owned companies would be much more interesting for investors if the state no longer insisted on holding on to the controlling stake of 25% plus one share.


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