Maribor – Prime Minister Robert Golob visited Maribor, Slovenia’s second largest city, on Monday, underlining that the only right way forward for the country is polycentric development. He believes the eastern half of the country needs a capital that would equal Ljubljana, adding that Maribor has a lot to offer.
The prime minister believes that Maribor may develop better in the future and that the city will gain back “some of its former splendour”.
Pointing out an example of good practice of a decentralised state, Golob talked about the Energy Agency, which is based in Maribor.
“This is one of the few, I’m afraid even the only state institution which has been based in Maribor ever since it was established. It is independent and doing a very good job.”
The prime minister believes that Maribor has enough human resources and expertise for an institution of such a calibre.
He believes that decentralisation must be based on advantages of individual areas. One cannot expect that all regions will develop equally in all fields, he said, adding that north-eastern Slovenia had the most potential in agriculture.
Golob was accompanied on his working visit by Digital Transformation Minister Emilija Stojmenova Duh and Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Food Irena Šinko.
Among other things, they visited the Energy Agency and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, discussing government’s priorities, including green transition, food, agriculture and self-sufficiency.
Maribor University Rector Zdravko Kačič welcomed Golob’s decision to make Maribor the destination of his first visit in his role as prime minister.
“His words show support for our efforts and understanding of the situation in which Maribor and the entire Eastern Cohesion Region have found themselves” as regards unfavourable trends in people commuting daily from Slovenia’s border areas to Austria for work, said Kačič.
Golob also met Maribor Mayor Saša Arsenovič. The latter told the press they discussed a number of topics, including regional development and de-bureaucratisation, as well as elderly care, youth and work force drain.
“We also agreed that greater support will be needed for the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy … to boost the success of drawing funds from direct operations, not only for projects aimed at closing development gaps between regions,” said Arsenovič.
When asked whether Golob and Arsenovič discussed possible cooperation for the upcoming local election, the mayor said “not in the least”, while Golob said his Freedom Movement would have its own candidates contend in all urban municipalities. Slovenia has 212 municipalities, of which 12 have urban municipalities.
Golob said he would visit Maribor again soon alongside Health Minister Danijel Bešič Loredan to discuss health care. He said the Health Ministry had started working on a Covid exit strategy.