A quarter of a century of a country on the sunny side of the Alps
by H.E. Mihael Zupančič, Ambassador of the Republic of Slovenia in Bucharest and Elizabeta Kirn Kavčič, MSc, deputy Head of Mission
A quarter of a century may sound little to some, but it means a great deal to a country like Slovenia with its vivid and rich history. One of Slovenia’s most renowned citizens, the writer, thinker and above all cosmopolitan Boris Pahor, who is about to celebrate his 103rd birthday, was born in the Habsburg monarchy, that is in the Austro-Hungarian empire, when Slovenian consciousness was present in many Slovenian homes.
The World War I affected Slovenians as individuals and as a nation, failing to achieve the political autonomy and territorial integrity. In 1918, Slovenians, together with Croats and Serbs, created their first State of SHS followed by the Kingdom of SHS, which in 1929 became Kingdom of Yugoslavia. In that period, Slovenians made a significant contribution to the identity of their state. After a turbulent and difficult period of WW II, when Boris Pahor walked well into his Thirties, Slovenia became for the first time a political unit in the framework of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia.
In late 1980s, the demands for pluralism and the call for changes became increasingly loud. In 1989, the Slovenian Socialist Assembly adopted numerous constitutional amendments, thus providing a suitable groundwork for a gradual achievement of independence, a multi-party system, and finally the first democratic elections. In April 1990, a new political party known as Demos received the majority of the votes and formed a new Government. Following the adoption of the Constitutional Act on the Independence of Slovenia, a plebiscite was held on December 23, 1990 at which 88.5% of eligible voters voted for the independence of Slovenia. On June 25, 1991 the Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia adopted the Fundamental Charter on the Independence and the Sovereignty of Slovenia. Thus, the Republic of Slovenia became an independent state. On December 23, 1991 the first Constitution of the Republic of Slovenia was adopted. After a brief moratorium, Slovenia gained international recognition and began to independently join international organizations.
Slovenia lies at a crossroads of the Alps, the Pannonian Pain and the Adriatic Sea. With its two million inhabitants and 20.256 km2 it is one of the smallest EU members. The Slovenian natural and cultural landscape is a synonym for a balanced lifestyle. Slovenia is known as one of the greenest European countries, considering that one tenth of its territory is under protection. In terms of biodiversity, the European Commission ranked Slovenia’s forests 1st among the EU Member States. “Going green” become a way of life, Slovenians are known as very active people and lovers of all outdoor activities such as hiking, mountaineering, climbing, rafting, kayaking, paragliding and cycling. Slovenia holds the highest number of Olympic medals per inhabitant. One of the oldest traditional crafts of Slovenians is beekeeping. The Carnelian honeybee (lat. Apis mellifera carnica) is an autochthonous honeybee in Slovenia and the only honeybee species protected by EU law. In 2015, Slovenia started an initiative to declare a World Honeybee Day. We hope that in 2017 UN will declare 20th May as a World Honeybee Day.
With the accession to the EU, Slovenia gained access to the European common market. The country became interesting to foreign direct investors, who contributed significantly to the efficiency and growth of the economy through additional resources in the form of capital, technology, organizational, marketing and other knowledge and skills, and by providing access to new markets. Slovenia’s GDP increased in real terms by 75.2% between 1991 and 2015, and GDP per capita increased by 70%. The improved cooperation between science and the economy is, in its own, also a great achievement. Various measures in the fields of research, development and innovation encouraged the integration of science with the economy, improved the inventiveness and commercialization in solutions, strengthened the R&D divisions in companies, promoted technological investments, supported development centers, etc.
Tourism became an increasingly important part of the economy in the years following the declaration of independence. In the past 25 years, the number of overnight stays by foreign tourists tripled and the number of overnight stays by Slovenian guests increased by 35%. Slovenia strongly promotes the sustainable development of tourism – e.g. in 2015, 29 hotels become certified as hiking and biking hotels.
Bilateral ties between Slovenia and Romania are consistent and friendly, focused on shared interests in the field of European and regional affairs. Slovenia was recognized by Romania on August 28, 1992, and soon after Romania opened its diplomatic representation in the Republic of Slovenia. The Slovenian Embassy in Bucharest was opened in 2007. Romania ranks 20th among Slovenia’s economic partners, 18th among its export partners, and 13th among EU export partners reaching EUR 678 million of total exchange in 2015. A few dozen Slovenian companies operate successfully on the Romanian market and this number is growing every year. Among others Studio Moderna, Perutnina Ptuj, Krka, Gorenje, ETI, Kovintrade, Tepid Unior, Hermi Protection, Pro-Kolekt, Alveus, Fluidmaster, Montero, Viator-Vektor Lazar, Softnet EU, Alpina SIRO, SES Lightening , Eurogamma (Afrodita), AVIA/GSE (web O), Tam Durabus, Jub, Optiprint, Unichem and IPROS.
This year the Republic of Slovenia successfully opened an Honorary Consulate in Cluj-Napoca led by Honorary Consul H.E. Lucia Nora Morariu. The Slovenian Embassy in Bucharest hopes that in the years to come we will be able to extend our network with new Honorary Consulates also in other parts of Romania and in this way deepen the ties between two countries.
Slovenian citizens are dispersed all over the world. The Slovenian community in Romania is not large but still existing and trying to preserve the Slovenian spirit. We are talking about a young generation of migrants coming to Romania to work mostly for multinational corporations and for some of them Romania has become their second home.