Left drafts bill to exclude foreign capital from rail project

Ljubljana – The opposition Left has drafted a bill to exclude potential foreign partners from Slovenia’s construction of the rail track between Divača and the port of Koper. The party believes Slovenia should have full control of this strategic infrastructure, while Hungary’s participation would have many negative consequences.

“We know that the Janez Janša government has revived the idea buried for a few years about cooperation of some inland countries, specifically Hungary, in the construction and management of the second rail track,” MP Matej T. Vatovec said in a statement on Wednesday.

He said the Left is convinced a foreign country entering 2TDK, the fully state-owned company managing the project, would be harmful to the project, and to Slovenia’s public finances and strategic interests.

The law on the second track on the Divača-Koper rail line entered into force in 2018 and enables a foreign country to acquire a stake lower than Slovenia’s in 2TDK.

For this to be possible, the two countries would have to sign a special bilateral agreement that would also have to be ratified by the Slovenian parliament.

The Left would now like to strike out the article enabling foreign ownership of 2TDK, the company tasked with what is Slovenia’s largest ongoing infrastructure project.

Vatovec said the government had already made an initiative for an agreement with Hungary, so it was just a matter of time when such an agreement was filed to parliament.

The Left would like Slovenia to build the rail track on its own to have decisions on one of its key pieces of strategic infrastructure in its hands, said Vatovec.

The opposition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) “absolutely supports” the bill, saying it is completely unnecessary for Hungary to be involved in the project.

Deputy group leader Maša Kociper said former Infrastructure Minister and SAB leader Alenka Bratušek had made a great effort to exclude Hungary from the project.

“The financial plan was finalised and is completely sustainable without foreign participation,” Kociper said, wondering what was behind the government’s action.

The government’s initiative for the Slovenia-Hungary agreement is labelled “internal”.

The guidelines for it the STA obtained unofficially a few months ago showed that Hungary would enter 2TDK as a partner with a EUR 200 million capital injection.

In exchange, Slovenia would help its north-eastern EU neighbour obtain a piece of land in the port of Koper or in its surroundings.