The Slovenia Times

Slovenian, Czech Presidents Want to Boost Cooperation


According to Zeman, who started a two-day official visit to Slovenia today, an initiative to expand the alliance of four Central European states - the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia -, was launched recently.

The Czech president however failed to specify when exactly the expanded Višegrad Group would come into existence.

Pahor said that Slovenia is happy with the proposal, as this is a compromise which enables "the six countries to consult on future issues of common concern". He expressed hope that all of them would benefit from the initiative.

The presence of Slovenia and Austria in this circle is what Slovenians have always understood as their Central European tradition, the Slovenian president added.

The cooperation between Slovenia and the Czech Republic is free from historical burdens, while the trade in goods and services between the countries had been increasing before the current crisis, according to Pahor.

"The crisis has slowed down somewhat this favourable economic trend," he said, noting that the bilateral trade in goods and services last year stood at EUR 1.2bn. A total of 600 Slovenian companies export to the Czech Republic.

Zeman meanwhile said that the Czech Republic is interested in the ongoing privatisation process in Slovenia.

He called for boosting of exchange of capital and investments and said that his country, which carried out bank privatisation in 2000, is ready to present to Slovenia its experience, both good and bad.

Regarding the possible entry of the Czech Republic in the eurozone, he said that he personally supported this. He announced that this could happen within five years, as the country is to meet the Maastricht convergence criteria next year.

The presidents also talked about international topics, primarily the situation in Ukraine and the EU neighbourhood. The views of both countries reflect the views of the entire EU, according to Pahor.

Zeman also met Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek, who presented to the Czech president Slovenia's crisis measures. She stressed that the macroeconomic indicators improved recently, while pointing to unemployment as the biggest problem, especially among the young.

Zeman and Bratušek also talked about the banking sector and privatisation, with the Czech president presenting his country's experience with the establishment of a bad bank.

The pair agreed that strategic partners, who see the development potential in companies and not only financial investment in companies, are of key importance for successful privatisation, according to a press release from the PM's office.

Zeman was also received by parliamentary Speaker Janko Veber, who told the Czech president that all Slovenia's efforts regarding the financial and economic crisis are focused on consolidation of public finances and stabilisation of the banking sector.

Veber said he is happy that the Czech president is accompanied by a strong business delegation, as there are numerous opportunities to enhance the business cooperation between the two countries.

Zeman attended a Slovenian-Czech business conference at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS). He will be received by Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković and speak about Europe's future at the Faculty of Social Sciences in Ljubljana later today.

On Friday, the Czech president will visit the coastal town of Piran and visit the grave of Slovenia's greatest architect Jože Plečnik (1872-1957) in Žale cemetery in Ljubljana.


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