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Optimism Key to Attracting FDI, Panel Hears

Ljubljana, 21 September (STA) - There is too much pessimism and too little cooperation in Slovenia, the participants of the FDI Summit 2012 panel dedicated to finding answers to global challenges emphasised on Friday. They pointed to stability, consistency and cooperation as key conditions for Slovenia's success in attracting foreign direct investment.

"We all know what needs to be done. But instead of looking for solutions to the problems Slovenia is facing, many in Slovenia rather invest their energies in finding reasons why something is not possible and why some ideas are wrong," parliament Speaker Gregor Virant told the panel.

He believes Slovenia's first priority should be to recover its image of being a reliable state. "To do that, we need political stability," he said, urging lawmakers to avoid re-opening ideological issues and question of the past. He urged prudence in what messages are sent to Slovenia's international partners.

He also pointed to Slovenia's efforts on fiscal consolidation. He believes that a constitutional-level fiscal rule may not be required as long as the state is devoted to financial discipline.

That pessimism can be the biggest problem was also underlined by Donald Plusquellic, mayor of City of Akron in Ohio, US. "We went thought a similar type of problem. We thought of ourselves of invincible in some way but suddenly the word changed and we had to reinvent ourselves," he said.

"Changing the attitude is one of the most important things," he stressed, adding that crucial decision must be spearheaded by smaller groups of people. "You can't wait for everyone," he stressed.

Turning to the interest of investors, Plusquellic said that the first thing the business community needs to see is consistency. "When they invest, they must know that just like other businesses...that they get the same result as everybody else does," he stressed. He also urged Slovenia to invest into the young generations.

Direct marketing company Studio Moderna CEO Sandi Češko stressed Slovenia's main advantages are the enthusiastic and competitive people and entrepreneurs in numbers of which Slovenia "for sure is in the top per capita".

But he warned that too many of Slovenians are socialised and educated into believing that "we are a small nation". This is something you rarely hear that from people in other countries, he pointed out, adding there is no reason for pessimism.

Challenged with an opportunity to become a prime minister for one day, Češko said he would invite representatives of successful Slovenian companies and simply listen. He added however that "what the companies can produce, the political parties can destroy even faster".

Jeremy Glenn, futurist and director of the Millennium Project, a US think-tank, meanwhile pointed to massive changes in the last 25 years, stressing that the changes are accelerating exponentially.

"We're moving into an era when intelligence is the moving force," he said, urging Slovenia to become the first country to implement a collective intelligence system as a national priority. He also presented other solutions offered by the Millennium Project.

Asked what his advice for Slovenia would be, Glenn told the panel to imagine a country which is a synthesis of the style of Italy and the management of Austria and Germany. "That would make a nice synthesis," he stressed, urging the country to also seek new synergies.

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