Ljubljana related

29 Jan 2022, 10:31 AM

STA, 28 January 2022 - Foreign Minister Anže Logar has told the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee that Slovenia and Taipei intend to open mutual economic and cultural representative offices, the committee's chair Monika Gregorčič told the press after the session on Friday.

Gregorčič, an MP for the coalition Concretely party, said that Logar had told the MPs that a Slovenian economic and cultural representative office will be opened in Taipei and Taipei's reciprocal office in Slovenia. "It will be named Taipei," she stressed.

Opposition SocDem MP Matjaž Nemec said that the committee had reached a consensus on the two offices.

The committee also unanimously endorsed resolutions that Slovenia remains committed to the one-China policy, Gregorčič added.

"This message is undisputable, it comes from all political players and from the parliamentary committee in charge of this matter," said Nemec.

He believes that in this sense, Prime Minister Janez Janša is alone in his moves and in relation to China and Taiwan.

Today's session was held after Janša said in an interview with an Indian broadcaster that Slovenia was in talks with Taiwan on a mutual exchange of representative offices of the kind other EU countries had in Taiwan. He also criticised China's crackdown on Lithuania, prompting a harsh rebuke from China.

The committee also discussed an agreement Slovenia and Croatia have allegedly reached on the fishing regime in the Bay of Piran, as reported by Croatian media.

The committee urged the Foreign Ministry to continue implementing the border arbitration decision from 2017.

Nemec said that it remained unclear whether a potential fisheries agreement would affect the border arbitration award.

Minister Logar, on the other hand, only said when leaving the session that the "discussion was constructive".

"I didn't feel any major politicisation, which is good when dealing with important topics."

In a statement before the session, he said he could not present anything new to the committee about Slovenia's relations with Croatia or the fishing regime.

24 Jan 2022, 11:55 AM

STA, 19 January 2022 - Many Slovenian cities and towns are twinned with cities all over China, with the oldest link being between Ljubljana and Chengdu, lasting over 40 years, and the most recent one being the twinning of Kranj and Zhangjiakou, one of the host cities of the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in China.

The mayors of Kranj and the Chinese city of Zhangjiakou, which has 4.7 million inhabitants and lies 200 kilometres north-west of Beijing, signed a document twinning the two cities in December, focusing mainly on cooperation in sport and business.

Zhangjiakou will be one of the venues for the Winter Olympic Games in February 2022, with teams competing there in ski jumping, cross-country skiing, biathlon, Nordic combined, snowboarding and freestyle skiing.

Zhangjiakou boasts state-of-the-art winter sports infrastructure, while Kranj is passing on experience gained through a well-established school system for young athletes, quality work in sports clubs and its experienced coaching staff.

The twinning with a Chinese city is a historic step, as it is the first time that Kranj became twinned with a non-European city.

"Sport is the strongest link between our two cities, and we look forward to working with our Chinese friends, exchanging experience and knowledge," Kranj Mayor Matjaž Rakovec said upon the signing of the twinning document in December.

Zhangjiakou, also known as "Beijing's northern gate" due to its strategic location, has seen an accelerated focus on tourism in recent years, including winter sports tourism. This is an aspect that can provide opportunities for Slovenian partners as well.

Many Slovenian cities and municipalities have already established links with China in the past. The oldest is Ljubljana's link with Chengdu, and the list of twinned cities is quite extensive.

Ajdovščina is twinned with Jorung, Črna na Koroškem with Harbin, Koper with Jiujiang, Novo Mesto with Yixing, while Maribor is twinned with a total of eight Chinese cities: Wuxi, Yancheng, Huai'an, Nanchang, Nanjing, Ningbo, Chongqing and Hangzhou

21 Jan 2022, 11:31 AM

STA, 20 January 2022 - After calling for stable political relations following PM Janez Janša's statements on closer ties with Taiwan, the Slovenian-Chinese Business Council (Slovensko-kitajski poslovni svet - 斯洛文尼亚-中国商会斯洛文尼亚-中国商会said on Thursday that Slovenian companies in the Chinese market were already facing a response from Chinese partners, some of them terminating contracts and exiting the agreed investments.

The council told the STA that some companies had their purchase contracts cancelled, some had been notified that physical or online sale of products had been terminated, and some had seen their Chinese partner withdraw from business investments that had already been agreed.

Other companies have meanwhile followed the example of Lithuania, where the dispute with China has resulted in tightening of customs procedures with the largest economy in Asia, and are trying to divert its operations through other EU countries.

"International cooperation is mostly about the stability of the business environment, and as soon as it is shaken up, the economy feels the consequences," said the council, which is a part of Slovenia's Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS).

In its first statement on Wednesday, the council stressed the importance of stable political relations and added that economic relations should remain non-politicised.

The council also told the STA today that Slovenia was an export-oriented economy, while China was one of its largest partners outside the EU. Anything that makes economic cooperation more difficult is not in the interest of the economy, it added.

"Although our products and services are of high quality and innovative, every change in political relations changes the dynamics of business," the council said, adding that political relations should be stable in order to ensure a stable business environment.

In an interview Janša gave on Monday to the Indian public service broadcaster Doordarshan, he said that Slovenia and Taiwan were "working on exchanging representatives", adding the representatives would not be at the level of embassies.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China described his statements as "dangerous", whereas the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry expressed "gratitude" for his "staunch support".

Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek noted the importance of economic interests, saying that China was one of the largest economic partners outside the EU and personal views "must take into account the economic reality."

The statements prompted three centre-left opposition parties to request an emergency session of the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee today, as they believe these could have long-term consequences for relations with Asian countries.

Matjaž Nemec of the Social Democrats (SD) told the press the statements were "a self-initiative that could have consequences in international relations", which he believes is inconsistent with international treaties to which Slovenia was bound.

Presenting the call for a closed session, which has also been requested by the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), Nemec said Janša's statements were a "strategic shift" in relation to the world's second largest economic power.

Andrej Rajh of the SAB assessed that Janša's statements were "inadmissible and arbitrary soloing that pursues exclusively partial interests of his own party to the detriment of Slovenia", noting that China was a major economic partner to Slovenia.

Nik Prebil of the LMŠ said that the gist of the problem with the "unwise" statements by Janša was that he was aggravating relations with foreign countries, in this case with the world power China, "over partial interests of the prime minister."

He added that it was the National Assembly that shaped, changed and adopted the foreign policy of Slovenia, and noted that Janša announcing the establishment of diplomatic missions with Taiwan had circumvented the National Assembly.

19 Jan 2022, 13:10 PM

STA, 19 January 2022 - The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of China labelled on Wednesday Prime Minister Janez Janša's statements about Taiwan as "dangerous", and expressed strong opposition. The reaction comes after Janša said in Monday's interview with an Indian TV station that Slovenia and Taiwan were discussing setting up mutual representation offices.

"Taiwan is an inseparable part of China's territory. The government of the People's Republic of China is the sole legitimate government representing the whole of China, and the one-China principle is the universally recognised norm of international relations and the universal consensus of the international community," ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told the press in Beijing.

"It's also the political basis of China-Slovenia and China-Europe relations," he said as quoted by the Chinese English-language web portal CGTN.

In the interview he gave to the Indian public service broadcaster Doordarshan, Janša said that Slovenia and Taiwan are "working on exchanging representatives".

He explained the representatives would not be at the level of embassies, but at the "same level that many EU countries already have".

Janša also said Slovenia would support any sovereign decision of the Taiwanese people, including independence, should that be their free decision.

He was very critical of China over its response to the decision by Lithuania to open a diplomatic representation office in Taipei.

The Taiwanese Foreign Ministry meanwhile expressed "gratitude" for Janša's "staunch support" on Twitter on Tuesday as it retweeted Janša's interview.

The STA has contacted the Chinese Embassy in Ljubljana, which has not commented on the matter yet.

18 Jan 2022, 16:38 PM

STA, 18 January 2022 - Prime Minister Janez Janša revealed in an interview with the Indian public service broadcaster Doordarshan that Slovenia and Taiwan are "work[ing] on exchanging representatives". He was critical of China over its response to the decision by Lithuania to open a diplomatic representation office in Taipei.

Janša noted that the mentioned exchange of representatives between Slovenia and Taiwan would not take place at the level of embassies, as it would take place at the "same level that many EU countries already have."

Much of the half an hour interview aired on Monday revolved around China, with the Slovenian prime minister pointing to the country's responsibility for the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.

He said that "we have to discuss this issue" and to "make the Chinese accountable" for "not acting in good faith" when it comes to notifying the rest of the world about the threat of the novel coronavirus in a timely manner.

As for Taiwan, Janša said that Slovenia would support any sovereign decision of the Taiwanese people. "If they want to join China ... without any pressure, military intervention, blackmailing or strategic cheating as it is happening in Hong Kong currently, we will support it".

"But if the Taiwanese people want to live independently, we also have to support this position," Janša added.

He criticised China for its response to Lithuania announcing the opening of a diplomatic representation office in Taiwan and a Taiwanese diplomatic mission in Lithuania with trade restrictions.

Janša noted that "a vast majority of EU member states hold a kind of representative office with Taiwan" and that there were some slight differences in the naming of the missions, which was however not significant.

While China protested the opening of such offices by some European countries, "they never went so far as they did in this case", the prime minister said, adding that it was "terrifying" to try to isolate a country in such a way.

"The EU has formally backed Lithuania, and I think that any kind of pressure on Lithuania and some other countries in Europe will not benefit China's government. Good trade relations are in the common interest."

Commenting on the relations between Russia and the EU and NATO in relation to the crisis in Ukraine, Janša spoke about the possibility of "coordination between Beijing and Moscow" in instigating crises in order to put pressure on NATO.

"If somebody is pushed to deal with two major crises in two different parts of the world, they have to split their diplomatic, economic and military efforts. This is why those threats are somehow linked, coordinated."

As for Slovenian-Indian relations, Janša noted the visit to Slovenia by Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar at the Bled Strategic Forum last September, when the situation in the Indo-Pacific region was discussed.

The prime minister assessed that "despite all the problems with Russia and Ukraine, the key issue now is the Indo-Pacific", adding that "India is a crucial country for balancing these tensions and for this part of the globe to live in peace."

27 Oct 2021, 14:36 PM

STA, 27 October 2021 - A retrospective of Slovenian films made between 1956 and 2020 will be screened in China for the first time between 28 October and 4 November. All six feature films will have Chinese and English subtitles. The retrospective will open at the China Film Archive in Beijing, and the films will be screened in major Chinese cities afterwards.

The retrospective will open on Thursday with the digitalised and restored version of the 1956 film Valley of Peace by France Štiglic, which was presented at the Cannes international film festival in 2016 and then screened at various festivals and cinematheques around the world.

According to the Slovenian Film Centre, the event will be addressed by the head of the China Film Archive, Sun Xianghui, Slovenian Ambassador Alenka Suhadolnik, Wang Yao, a professor at the Beijing Film Academy, and the head of the Slovenian Film Centre, Nataša Bučar via video link.

On Friday, visitors will be able to watch the digital and restored version of Matjaž Klopčič's 1969 film Funeral Feast, and on Saturday Urša Menart's first film My Last Year As a Loser from 2018 will be on. The film won the Vesna Awards for the best feature film, screenplay and supporting actress at the Festival of Slovenian Film in Portorož.

On Sunday a teen romantic comedy Gaja's World by Peter Bratuša from 2018 will be screened. The 2018 box-office hit won the main prize for international feature films for children and youth at the Buzz@teen in Motovun, and was declared the best film by a children's jury at the 24th film festival in Sarajevo. It has also received three Golden Rolls for 75,000 viewers.

The retrospective will continue on 3 November with the 2019 film by Martin Turk Don't Forget to Breathe, which also won the Vesna award for best feature film at the film festival in Portorož. The sixth film to be screened will be Sanremo by Miroslav Mandić. The 2020 film about old age and dementia is Slovenia's entry for a nomination for the best international feature film award at the Oscars 2022.

The retrospective has been organised by the Slovenian Film Centre in cooperation with the Slovenian Embassy in China and the China Film Archive.

21 Jun 2021, 14:15 PM

STA, 20 June 2021 - Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša has told an Indian news channel that the EU has not done enough to limit the growing threat from China. He believes the EU has put its economic interests before its values.

In an interview the Wion news channel posted online on Saturday, Janša welcomed the conclusions on China adopted at the recent G7 summit and the recent NATO summit in Brussels, saying that "the freedom loving countries have started taking China seriously for the first time in all of its dimensions".

As for French President Emmanuel Macron's statement that China is no threat to the EU because the two do not share the border, Janša said "the world is globalised today and China is very present in Europe, it is also strongly present in our neighbourhood, in Africa, and in the Mediterranean".

China is a global power, a bigger challenge than Russia or some other countries, he said, adding that the EU, the US, India and some other countries must cooperate in their approaches to China.

Asked whether as the EU presiding country in the second half of 2021 Slovenia will make an effort for clarity in EU policy on China, Janša said he did not oppose doing business with China, but "I'm against crossing the lines", which are now being determined in the EU.

He also said that in the changing world order, India has an increasingly important role.

10 Jun 2021, 12:16 PM

STA, 10 June 2021 - Chinese company Huawei plans to set up a regional  logistics hub in Slovenia for some 19 markets of central and south-eastern Europe. Thus, the flow of its goods through the port of Koper will increase and new storage facilities will need to be built near Ljubljana airport. The multiplicative value of the decision is dozens of millions of euros.

The expansion of the storage facilities near the airport will be conducted in two steps. First, the existing warehouse will be expanded to 4,000 square metres and then to 6,000, Huawei announced on Thursday.

The company said this meant that the transport flows of its goods for 13 EU and six non-EU countries would be redirected to the port of Koper and the airport in Brnik near Ljubljana. The value of the investment decision is estimated at some EUR 9 million with potential for further growth.

According to Beata Bogadi, Huawei's customs compliance manager for Europe, the decision to set up a transit warehouse for Europe in Slovenia shows "how attractive Slovenia is in the  logistics sense".

"Huawei recognises the strategic position of the Koper port, the qualified staff and services in Slovenia. We put Slovenia on our list of strategic  logistics hubs," she said.

Huawei Slovenia director general Histro Zhang said this reaffirmed Huawei's long-term commitment to the Slovenian market and strengthened Slovenia's position on Huawei's strategic map of more than 170 markets where the company is present.

He said the Slovenian subsidiary of Huawei was particularly happy about the decision, "because this means about 40 new jobs in Slovenia", which will bring the total number of staff working for Huawei directly and indirectly at over 160.

Huawei already transports about 185,000 cubic metres of cargo from China to Hungary and to other European markets through Luka Koper. The new  logistics hub in Slovenia is to cut the delivery time of goods for customers in the EU.

25 May 2021, 10:56 AM

STA, 24 May 2021 - Representatives of the government and the Chinese-owned group Hisense Europe Electronics signed on Monday a contract under which the state will provide almost EUR 1 million in non-refundable funds for its TV production plant at the existing Gorenje operation in Velenje.

The contract representing 25% of the total value of the investment planned until the end of 2023 was signed by Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek and Chao Liu, the director of the Hisense Europe Electronics plant in Slovenia.

Production of Hisense brand TVs for the European market was launched in January, and the plant currently employs around 700 people in three shifts and on four automated production lines. The Chinese owner invested EUR 7 million in the production facility.

The plan is to increase the annual output of the facility from two million and a half TVs (between 6,000 and 7,000 a day) in the first year to almost four million in the next two years. The plant is expected to employ 1,200 people by then.

According to Hisense Europe president Hanson Han, the incentive will have a positive impact on the operations of Hisense Europe Electronics, while it is also an important message from the state that Slovenia is an environment inclined to foreign investors.

"The grant ... positively contributes to the development of the region by opening more than 700 new jobs," Minister Počivalšek told the press on the occasion, noting that the state had also supported past projects in Gorenje.

With the new TV factory, Velenje, the Šalek Valley and Slovenia are gaining new experience, technologies and know-how in this hi-tech segment, the minister said, adding that he had always believed that Hisense acquiring Gorenje was a right move.

Počivalšek is also happy that Hisense has based its development office for Europe in Slovenia. "Through the just transition fund and the resilience fund we will also support other projects by Hisense that have been presented to us."

The minister added that today's signing of the contract was the first step in restructuring the region from a coal region to a high-tech region, and that it contained guarantees for job preservation in the long run.

In line with Hisense's plan until 2025, annual turnover is to increase from EUR 2.5 billion to EUR 6.5 billion by then, and a large share of growth is planned to come from Europe, including from Slovenia, said Tomaž Korošec, the executive vice-president of production at Hisense Europe Electronics.

22 Apr 2021, 12:29 PM

STA, 22 April 2021 - The government has decided to expand the exceptions for quarantine-free entry into Slovenia to people vaccinated with the Chinese and Indian produced Covid-19 vaccines. It has also made several changes to border restrictions. The new decree will enter into force on Sunday, while some new rules will start to apply on Monday.

Under the new rules, quarantine-free entry to Slovenia will be possible with a negative PCR test not older than 48 hours issued also in the UK or US, not only the EU or Schengen Area countries.

Those who recovered from Covid-19 must present a positive result of a PCR test that must be at least 10 days old and not older than six months unless the person's doctor says otherwise. A doctor's notice that a person recovered from Covid-19 also suffices if no more than six months has passed since the start of the symptoms.

Acceptable are documents issued in the EU, Schengen Area, the UK and US.

The list of vaccines that enable quarantine-free entry to the country has been expanded from Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, and Russian Sputnik V to also include Indian Serum Institute/AstraZeneca and Chinese Sinovac Biotech and Sinopharm.

People returning from business trips abroad who have a negative PCR test that is not older than three days will no longer be required to be tested again. This will apply to members of the police force, other state bodies and accredited journalists and will take effect on Monday.

Those crossing the border to help other persons or do maintenance work on their real estate will now have three days to return to the country. This too will enter into force on Monday.

Quarantine-free entry into Slovenia with a negative test taken within the last three days is also being allowed to citizens of EU or Schengen Area countries who have been to one of those countries for up to 72 hours to provide care or assistance to family members or persons in need of care, or to do maintenance work at a private property they own, lease or use.

The red list of EU and Schengen zone countries was amended for Finland [ed. with Uusimaa, Southern Finland and Western Finland on the list], and Malta was removed from the list. Barbados is off the list of red third countries, while Malaysia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines were added to it, the Government Communication Office said on Wednesday.

If you’re travelling within the EU, check out the official “Open EU” webpage to see what’s possible

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