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President Drnovšek in the President of Serbia and Montenegro address joint business form

Ljubljana, 07/09/2003  |  statement

Click to enlargeAt President Drnovšek’s invitation, Slovenia is hosting the President of Serbia and Montenegro, Mr Svetozar Marović who is on his first official visit to the country together with a large business delegation. After official talks in the presidential palace the two presidents attended a business forum at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia that brought together a large number of representatives from Slovenian companies and businessmen from Serbia and Montenegro. The forum was an opportunity to study concrete opportunities to strengthentrade between the two countries. President Drnovšek addressed the assembled business community (unauthorised record):

Click to enlargePresident Marović, Presidents of the Chambers of Commerce, Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure and an honour to today play host to the President of Serbia and Montenegro, Mr Svetozar Marović and the business delegation that has accompanied him. There has recently been a considerable upturnin relations between our two countries. I retain fond memories of my visit to Belgrade last year. On that occasion I was also accompanied by a large Slovenian business delegation which added impetus to the creation of deeper and broader relations between our two countries, particularly on the economic level. Today we are once more seeing a large number of long established contacts between businesses, some of which stretch back to the time of the former Yugoslavia. Numerous other contacts have now been created or restored, and economic opportunities – old and new – are being explored.

Click to enlargeThis is the beginning of a new era of cooperation. The time when politics was an obstacle to economic cooperation is now past; today, politics is looking for new ways to remove barriers and to promote our mutual relations. I am glad to see economic relations developing, along with others, such as cultural relations; a diverse and rich vein of cooperation is expanding into all areas. Slovenia is very much in favour of seeing Serbia and Montenegro follow its own path towards European integration. Over the last decade Slovenia has been intensively involved in this project, making economic, political and judicial changes to meet European standards, and adapting its economic and legal system. We have worked very hard, and we will gladly share our experience with Serbia and Montenegro. Perhaps our experience will be more valuable than that of other countries, given our origins in a common state, in which we shared the same economic and legal systems.We can thus turn our journey and our positive and occasional negative experiences into valuable forms of assistance that will make your journey easier, and perhaps somewhat quicker as well. We share a common path, and a common objective, which is cooperation at the European level; Serbia and Montenegro can undoubtedly count on Slovenia for all forms of cooperation. This prospect gives the firmest ground for optimism in the business community, since it means comparable economic and legal systems, solid legal frameworks, safety for investment, and security for any kind of economic cooperation. You can thus pursue your plans and contacts without having to fear political and other barriers. It is true that some politicalissues have yet to be resolved, such as the status of Kosovo, but these issues will be solved through dialogue, peacefully, in cooperation with the international community.

Click to enlargeThere are no reasons for and no danger that any kind of trauma from the past would repeat itself. After all the things the nations on this territory have been through I am convinced that just one viable path remains;the path of cooperation and coexistence, of ethnical stability in all areas and in all countries of this region, and I am convinced that together we will create an important foundation for a united Europe in the future. I hope that today's meeting will result in as many concrete economic agreements as possible, and build up economic confidence. I would like to take this opportunity to call upon our businesses to pay special attention to keeping the balance of trade in equilibrium. In the long run trade is only sustainable if it is balanced; we cannot just export to Serbia and Montenegro, we must also import from Serbia and Montenegro. I am sure you will know how to find different forms of cooperation, joint ventures and market niches. You know best where the opportunities lie and how to make the best of them.

Click to enlargeI am convinced that both states will assist you in this as much as they can. We already have a legal framework for cooperation, which we will be further enhanced so that it too will contribute to the development of mutual economic relations.

Thank you.