Minister sees Slovenia as geopolitical broker

Kranjska Gora – Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek offered up Slovenia as a broker in geopolitical issues as he addressed an annual ceremony dedicated to Russian prisoners of war who died building the Vršič pass.

Slovenia can play an active role in the resolution of geopolitical issues. “Our country has enough knowledge and even more economic results to get actively involved in the game of big player,” he said.

“The combination of our history and our long-term economic progress at the westernmost edge of the Slavic world gives us the courage to offer ourselves as a nexus of friendship and peace,” according to Počivalšek.

He said Slovenia had a special relationship with Russia and noted that economic cooperation was not the only thing that was important. “Culture, sports and diplomacy matters as well. On all these issues Slovenia is a force competent to play an integrating role.”

Počivalšek’s address came at the ceremony at the Russian Chapel, an event that traditionally highlights Slovenian-Russian relations and has featured senior Russian officials in previous years.

This time, the most senior political official was Konstantin Kosachev, the deputy speaker of the Federation Council, Russian parliament’s upper house.

Slovenia-Russia Friendship Day was celebrated for the first time as well after Slovenian President Borut Pahor and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin agreed over the phone this week that the day of the ceremony be declared a friendship day.

Počivalšek said the friendship day was “yet another instance of cooperation and dialogue between our nation to the benefit of peace and friendship.”

The wooden Orthodox style chapel was built near Vršič in 1916 by the surviving Russian POWs to honour those who had not made it as they had been buried in an avalanche during the construction of the Vršič Pass.