en English

Be practical and ignore the ideological differences!

The leading thought at the AmCham Business breakfast has been that we need a more determined policy, consensus and trust, which is not only symbolic, but means funds and business. The example of Chancellor Schroeder, who with his political sacrifice created opportunities for the state prosperity, was exposed.

The distuinguished guests at the AmCham Business Breakfast today were the ambassadors of six European countries:

H.E. Ms. Anunciada Fernández de Córdova, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain to the Republic of Slovenia

H.E. Mr. Johannes Douma, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Republic of Slovenia

H.E. Mr. Robert Reich, Ambassador of Switzerland to the Republic of Slovenia

H.E. Mr. Werner Burkart, Ambassador of the Republic of Germany to the Republic of Slovenia (TBC)

H.E. Mr. Pekka Metso, Ambassador of the Republic of Finland to the Republic of Slovenia

H.E. Dr Clemens Koja, Ambassador of the Republic of Austria to the Republic of Slovenia

The ambasadors presented models of their countries concerning the following issues: How European countries are dealing with the crisis? Which economies are successful and which strategy they used to achieve it?

What can Slovenians learn from others and which are our advantages?

A point of view from the outside, yet with the knowledge of a conoisseur was shared with us by Mr. Eugene S. Young, Deputy U.S. Ambassador in Slovenia *foto 2358, who accepted to moderate the outstandingly interesting AmCham Business Breakfast round table and carried it out perfectly. He noted that the USA have been gaining diplomatic experiences now for already 138 years; especially with the six countries, of which representatives are the present guests. He also pointed out that AmCham Slovenia is in the field of economy the best partner of the USA in Slovenia.

To the question raised by Eugene Young about the methods the mentioned European countries are using in dealing with the crisis and what is the current economic situation in their countries like, the ambassadors responded likewise – with the exception of the Ambassador of the Republic of Finland, H.E. Mr. Pekka Metso.

The Government efficiency is of key significance for economy prosperity!

H.E. Dr Clemens Koja, the Ambassador of the Republic of Austria to the Republic of Slovenia, said that Austria passed the trials and challenges of global as well European crisis well, and put most of the credit for it to a large number of small businesses and family enterprises, to the diversification of markets, strong exports, developed tourism, good education, good information system – all of which are according to his point of view the advantages of Austria. »We are of course faced with the consequences of the crisis, however our Government is well confronting them,« H.E. Dr Clemens Koja praised the effectiveness of the Austrian Government.

Define where will Slovenia be in 15 years and try to follow it!

H.E. Mr. Pekka Metso, Ambassador of the Republic of Finland to the Republic of Slovenia, first expressed his great affection for Slovenia as well for the USA, where he had lived and worked for 7 years. He revealed the Finnish experience of dealing with the crisis and their way of thinking: «It is difficult. This is how we, in Finland, see the world – it is always difficult, therefore one should always prepare for the toughest and we are always ready. We have found ourselves in the »line of death« and the collapse of the country, but managed to disentangle from it – as a matter of fact the difficult experiences even stengthened us.« He said that the policy of Finland and its economy were faced with the most difficult and important issue of the existence and development of the economy in the country, they namely had to define what will Finland be in 10-15 years. They have been following it since then . He predominantly pointed out the social criteria to break out of the crisis, such as the need to invest into human capital, creating new job posts – and in the first place to put the importance of innovation and business development as the key motivators of the economic development. As a key factor he also exposed the raise of export which consenquently means a creation of new jobs. He also stressed the necessity of structural changes, which were dealt with in the first place in Finland, especially in the field of taxes, which affect the success of innovations and entrepreneurship.

»The main risks, that every country has, are economic, political and social and it is an imperative that we work on all of them simultaneously, as all of them are equally important,« is convinced the Ambassador of Finland.

He also noted that the increase of the level of confidence is essential – not only in a symbolic sense, as the trust means funds and the trust means business, therefore he advises that Slovenia puts it on the top of the list of its actions in order to achieve its breakthrough from the economic and political crisis. »To succeed, you need: social mobility, public investments and human capital. Be practical and ignore ideological differences. The reforms will strengthen you and prepare you for the future ,« advised Slovenia the Ambassador of Finland.

»We razed »the Spanish wall«, and danced the »striptease« of the financial sector«.

H.E. Ms. Anunciada Fernández de Córdova, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Spain to the Republic of Slovenia, described the difficult situation in Spain with the famous phrase that circled the world »Spain’s Pain Brings Gain« and the successful solution of the situation in the beginning of the year, i.e. they namely regained confidence of foreign investors and insist on their own decision about not necessarily seeking support from the European Central Bank. Spain reduced the deficit and put the economy back in balance, to which also the increase of exports and governmental labor reforms contributed.

The Ambassador of Spain pointed out three main issues to which Spain paid special attention to:

1. Fiscal consolidation and the introduction of the Fiscal Golden Rule, as well the reduction of public consumption (lowering wages in the public sector,…)

2. Financial sector reforms

3. Social sector reforms, in which the priority of the Spanish Government due to high unemployment rate (especially of young population – 26%)was to create new job posts.

»We razed »the Spanish wall«, and danced the »striptease« of the financial sector«, and now instead of a huge number of banks have only 40 successful ones. We are a great tourist destination and many Spanish companies are operating abroad,« was explicit and optimistic the Ambassador of Spain .

Political sacrifice – the concept for the welfare state.

H.E. Mr. Werner Burkart, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic Germany to the Republic of Slovenia, described the current situation as well: »It is true that it could be better, however the German economy is stable,« he positively evaluated the German economy. He explained that the early year of 2000 was painful also for Germany, therefore the previous government had to take drastic measures also in the social field and therefore with pension reforms decreased the pensions to the following generations as much as for 4-5%. It resulted as fatal for the previous government which consequently lost the last elections. Nevertheless, the measure proved as a good move for the country, as it meant great savings. Germany, in the second phase, in the years 2008 and 2009, responded to the global crisis with an appropriate solution of the increasing unemployment and introduced the so-called »part time jobs« (jobs for a limited time), which helped a lot in the critical situation. As the third phase of Germany dealing with the crisis, the Ambassador pointed out the increase in German export to the Chinese and American markets, noting that it brought an increased level of confidence into the future of Germany and its economy. »We should not forget the fact that we are not alone – we are fighting together in Brussels for many important measures that will help to all EU countries not only out of the Euro crisis, but also from the European one,« was encouraging the Ambassador of Germany.

He said as well that there were many privatizations in Germany and as essential in privatizations pointed out the importance of the true buyer or investor who has a sustainable strategy and is oriented towards a long-term business and has the Know-How.

The balance between public and private sectors

H.E. Mr. Robert Reich, the Ambassador of Switzerland to the Republic of Slovenia said: »I wish I could say that if it is going well in Germany, it is also in Switzerland, however it is not that simple at all,« was honest the Swiss Ambassador. Switzerland has outdone the financial crisis with two successful global Swiss banks. They defeated the critical situation with some governmental measures as well; such as the Golden Fiscal Rule, with which they balanced the state budget and reduced the deficit. With the bank monetary policy they reduced the interest rates which led to the structural economic growth. They are especially proud of the extremely low unemployment rate of the young of less than 26 years of age (only 4.4%). He pointed out that the largest difference as regards the other European countries is that the Swiss export-oriented economy is based on the Euro. He also stressed the importance of the balance between the public and private sectors and explained that Switzerland is currently working on the dilemma of where to gain resources for the social support.

Be guided by your feelings what is in accordance with moral rules and moral rights!

H.E. Mr. Johannes Douma, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands to the Republic of Slovenia very directly pointed out the necessity of rapid decision-making of the politicians for the sake of the growth and development of the country. He said that they have in time of the crisis learnt that they should pay attention especially to promptness, determination and consensus when making decisions. »During the time of the financial crisis, we had only our optimism as the internal reserve. We lost a lot of money during the Euro crisis and the European crisis brought us a lot of frustrations and strong lessons. »We became suspicious of European measures,« was direct the Ambassador. »The Government and industry cooperate at the measures of economy and mutual aims. Act together! You lack a spirit of team sport in Slovenia – you should be inspired by your best sports representatives on the world scale and transfer their team spirit into your fields of activities,« concluded the Ambassador of the Netherlands. In his opinion, the key elements for the breakthrough out of the crisis, are predominantly the determination and consensus. He pointed out the following interesting strategy of his country: »We remain silent about our weaknesses and stress out our qualities. And we are really good at logistics,«made an excellent promotion for his country the Ambassador of the Netherlands.

He also discussed the positive and negative sides of nepotism, which has recently been a frequent topic also in Slovenia: »Nepotism has both; a negative and a positive side. I believe as regards it, that the positive is due to the fact that Slovenia is a small country where everyone knows everyone, for which you can call your friend for whom you believe will do the job well and simultaneously also help him. Whereas the negative side is that you help too much,« the Ambassador explicitly showed the risks of nepotism. »Be aware of the traps – even if you are not certain – be guided by your feelings what is in accordance with moral rules and moral rights,« advised the Ambassador.

At the end of the excellent discussion with distinguished, top guests of the AmCham Business Breakfast,the participating economists voted on which of the featured countries could be in the present the »Role Model« for Slovenia and voted through for Austria, immediatelly followed by Switzerland. Eugene S. Young, the Deputy Ambassador of the U.S. Embassy in Slovenia, concluded the event with an outstanding resume with the message to Slovenia, that to overcome the current situation, we need determination, reforms, consensus and trust.