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Ambassador Sees Opportunities for Food Industry in Finland

Helsinki, 10 March (STA) - Slovenian Ambassador Tone Kajzer believes the Slovenian food industry, wine producers in particular, has the potential for doing business in Finland. The Slovenian Embassy in Helsinki is trying to help the industry to use the untapped potential.

Kajzer has been trying to persuade Alko, the monopoly chain of off licence stores, to include Slovenian wineries more extensively among its suppliers. "I must say the results have started to show," the ambassador has told the STA.

The embassy is also promoting the Slovenian food industry by including typical products in protocol gifts. Pumpkin seed oil by Gea was handed out for New Year's and bottles of finest Slovenian wine have been presented during President Danilo Tuerk's current visit.

The ambassador sees further opportunities for boosting ties in other industries, but believes that Slovenian companies could achieve much more had they had their offices in Finland.

The view was echoed by Andrej Plos, a member of the management board of the NKBM bank who is visiting Finland as part of the business delegation accompanying President Tuerk on a state visit. He said more should be done to make Slovenia better known in Finland.

Slovenia's second largest bank has decided to take part in the delegation visiting Finland and Lithuania because it would like to learn about the strategy Finland has been applying to realise its visions.

NKBM would also like to learn what its clients would like to do in Finland and how it could help them. Another objective for the bank is to offer financial services to potential Finnish clients.

Jozsef Gyoerkoes, the state secretary at the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology, is confident the latest visit will produce results. "The least it will bring is to bolster existing ties and mutual respect between the countries."

Finland is known as a leading country in investment in research and development, so the EU's new growth strategy until 2020 will be one of the items on the agenda of Gyoerkoes's talks there.

He will also discuss cooperation in European research programmes and higher education reform. He said Slovenia was currently launching public consultation on a new national programme for higher education, so he would like to learn about Finland's experience.

"The Finns have faced what Slovenia has been threatened with under the current national programme, that is a multitude of universities. They are now cutting down, concentrating the facilities they have into fewer universities," Gyoerkoes explained.

The Slovenian president and his entourage will wrap up his visit of Finland today, heading for Lithuania, which they will be visiting until Thursday afternoon. Apart from talks with President Dalia Grybauskaite, a bilateral business forum is also planned.

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