Slovenian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Pocivalsek stressed that the visit of His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani to Slovenia represents a new start for relations between the two countries and their advancement towards broader horizons in the interest of the two friendly peoples, especially in shadow of the challenges facing the world. In an interview with Qatar News Agency (QNA), Pocivalsek described the Amir's visit as important, especially as it came after a short period of the visit of President Borut Pahor to Doha last March.
He added that His Highness' visit is an honour for Slovenia and is very welcome, and we are happy that it coincides with the two countries' celebration of the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between them. He explained that the visit is an opportunity to strengthen bilateral political relations and co-operation in all areas of common interest, especially in the economic affairs, in addition to exchanging views on the situation on the international scene.
Pocivalsek added that the relations of the two countries have always been very good and friendly, and recently these relations have been deepened through the visits of mutual official delegations, and there is no doubt that the Amir's visit at the beginning of his European tour is a beautiful message that proves the ideal of the good relations between the two countries. And before that, the visit of President Pahor to Doha lays the full foundation for expanding trade, economic and investment exchange until it reaches the level of the political relations between the two countries, as the trade exchange is still in the range of 30mn euros. He expected this value to rise in light of the two parties' desire to develop inter-relations.
In his interview with QNA, the deputy PM indicated that the European Union intends to open a co-ordination office in Qatar aimed at enabling economic and trade relations between the two parties, pointing at the same time to his country's desire to establish good relations with all countries in the Middle East. On the most important areas for co-operation between Qatar and Slovenia, he affirmed his country's complete desire for economic and commercial co-operation with Qatar to reach a satisfactory level, pointing to the capabilities and resources of both countries that contribute to achieving the desired cooperation.
Explaining that Slovenia has important areas for co-operation such as artificial intelligence, environmental protection, food, medicine, health, tourism and electronic transformation "digitisation", as well as a good and rich educational system and advanced scientific research, the deputy PM expressed his country's readiness to enter the Qatari market and invest in all sectors.He also welcomed Qatari companies to invest in Slovenia in various sectors and pointed out that his country possesses internationally known companies and has the ability to compete, especially in the field of solving environmental problems and treating water and waste.
Pocivalsek continued by saying that Slovenia is the first green point in Europe and the third largest country in forest growth in the European Union, where forests cover two-thirds of the country's area, and Slovenian law provides for the protection of drinking water, environmental protection and combating phenomena that lead to global warming, pointing out that his country gives priority to projects that preserve the rights of future generations and focuses on long-term green projects with responsible companies that observe environmental conservation standards.
Slovenia is one of the advanced countries in innovation in the environmental field and encourage talent and it is always working to develop local companies to compete in the global market, and made progress in the field of patenting new inventions, in Central Europe, and Slovenia support scientific research projects at a very high level. He pointed out that the Slovenian economy is a smart economy that possesses internationally recognized technologies and solutions, with a constant readiness to compete in several sectors.
He added that Slovenia had made strides in the auto parts industry and reached fifth place in Europe in the field of smart products.
Regarding the preparations of Qatar to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup, he said that what he saw in Qatar confirms that it will host a distinguished version of the World Cup, which is the most prominent sporting event in the world. Regarding the Islamic Cultural Center that Qatar helped to build, the deputy PM said that the existence of this centre indicates that Slovenia is socially and culturally open to the world, and that its society welcomes all religions, and respects all other peoples and cultures.
His Excellency explained that his country is also interested in the field of clean, renewable and environmentally friendly energy.
His Excellency said this is an important part of the projects that we want Qatar to participate in to build a green, creative and smart economy, and these are three elements that constitute a slogan for the economy in Slovenia.
His Excellency stressed that his country supports all foreign investors, which allows for a major investment leap in the case of Qatari-Slovenian cooperation, especially in light of the presence of more than 110 Slovenian government companies with a capital of more than 11bn euros and specializing in four main areas represented in infrastructure, energy, and industry and tourism.
His Excellency added that these companies can be offered for investment, which leads to activating their production and research role, stressing the openness of the Ministry of Economic Development and Technology to Qatari companies that have capital that can compete in the Slovenian market.
Regarding the rates of foreign investment in his country, His Excellency said that the proportion of foreign investments has increased by up to 8% annually in the last ten years, in addition to the tax reduction for investors by 40%, and the tax reduction rate in scientific research and development is up to 100%.
His Excellency pointed out that his country's economy was considered the most developed in the European Union in recent years, especially since it ended last year with a growth of 8.1 % despite the measures imposed by the Coronavirus pandemic on the world during the past two years.
His Excellency touched on his country's potential in vital sectors such as energy and tourism, pointing out that his country's dependence on clean energy in large proportions led to its protection from the repercussions of the Russian war in Ukraine, while it is currently trying to revitalise the tourism sector through the full exploitation of its resources and tourism components, especially in the medical tourism sector, given its picturesque nature as well as urban tourism.
His Excellency considered that the tourism sector is one of the most promising sectors for cooperation with Qatar, as Slovenia welcomes Qatari tourists, especially since the past years have witnessed the establishment of camps for many Qatari sports teams in Slovenian tourist places.
In another field of cooperation, His Excellency expressed his hope for a direct air line between Doha and Ljubljana, as well as a sea link between the Slovenian port of Koper and Hamad Port.
His Excellency explained that Koper Port has an excellent infrastructure and can reach all world markets, especially in Central and Eastern Europe, and through it goods reach Hungary, Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic.
On the other hand, in his interview with (QNA), His Excellency expressed his country's appreciation for the role of Qatar and its contributions to achieving stability in the world through negotiation, praising its recent role in Afghanistan by mediating between the Taliban movement and the United States of America, and then its sponsorship of the transfer of foreign nationals from Kabul for the sake of their safety, and its tremendous diplomatic efforts in this regard.
He thanked Qatar for its support for refugees from Ukraine as a result of the Russian military escalation by providing $5mn, stressing the importance of permanent co-operation between countries on the basis of mutual dialogue to develop the entire region.