The Slovenia Times

Czech PM Sobotka to Pay Official Visit


Sobotka will be accompanied by a business delegation as a bilateral business conference will be held as part of the visit.

The main topics of the visit will be strengthening the already good bilateral cooperation in politics, business, infrastructure and culture. The officials will also touch on cooperation as part of the EU and topical international issues, according to a press release from the Government Communication Office.

Sobotka's visit is a continuation of a series of bilateral visits at the highest level. President Borut Pahor hosted his Czech counterpart Miloš Zeman in Slovenia a year ago, FM Karl Erjavec visited the Czech Republic last November, while Speaker of the Czech Chamber of Deputies Jan Hamaček was in Slovenia in February.

Pahor also attended last December in Prague a summit of the Visegrad Group of four central European countries plus Austria and Slovenia. He labelled the meeting as one of the biggest milestones for Slovenia in foreign policy.

Slovenian politicians always emphasise during meetings with their Czech counterparts the importance of deepening cooperation with the Visegrad four (Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia), as Slovenia feels as a part of Central Europe.

Talks between Slovenian and Czech officials usually also focus on economic cooperation, especially in infrastructure, transport and energy. The Slovenian port of Koper plays a special role here, as it serves as a commercial transport link with central and eastern Europe.

Slovenia's business cooperation with the Czech Republic is very good, while there is potential for expansion. Trade in goods and services between the countries as well as investments were growing until the start of the economic crisis, but the situation is improving again.

Annual trade in recent years exceeds EUR 1 billion, which puts the Czech Republic among the top ten trade partners to Slovenia, and it is pretty much balanced. The Czech Republic has also expressed interest in participating in privatisation in Slovenia.

Sobotka will be accompanied by a delegation of business executives who want to establish ties with potential partners in Slovenia. It will feature representatives of the food industry, construction, railway equipment, financial industry and consulting.

On Monday, they will attend a business forum hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) in cooperation with the SPIRIT promotion agency. The event will be addressed by both Sobotka and Cerar.

Like Slovenia, the Czech Republic has been a member of the European Union since 2004, but has yet to introduce the euro. The country is expected to take this step in the coming years.

When it comes to the Western Balkans, Slovenia and the Czech Republic share the view that as it focuses on other crisis spots, the EU must not forget that it needs to keep playing an active role in this region.

Regarding the crisis in Ukraine, the two countries share a view that a political solution based on the respect of Ukraine's independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity is a must, and want the peace agreements from Minsk to be respected.

While Monday is reserved for political and business meetings, the Czech prime minister will have an opportunity to enjoy Slovenia in a more relaxed manner on Tuesday.

Accompanied by his spouse Olga, Sobotka will visit the world-famous Postojna Cave, have a lunch with FM Karl Erjavec at a tourist farm, and attend the opening of a Czech travelling photo exhibition at the Park of Military History in the town of Pivka (SW).


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