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PM Bratušek to Promote Slovenian Business in France (background)

Paris, 02 December (STA) - Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek will start a two-day visit to France on Tuesday, as part of which she will focus on promoting investment in Slovenia. The peak of the visit to Paris will take place on Wednesday, when she will meet French President Francois Hollande and take part in an investment conference.

The third Slovenian-French top-level visit this year is part of the strategic partnership signed in March 2011 by the then Slovenian PM Borut Pahor and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

The focus of the visit will be the presentation of opportunities for investors, as Bratušek continues the roadshow launched in Germany last week. France will be followed by Italy.

France is the fifth biggest investor in Slovenia, but as the country's top officials say they want to further boost French investments in Slovenia, the PM will present the Slovenian privatisation plans.

The information about the companies participating in the investment conference, organised by MEDEF, the biggest association of French employers, and Slovenia's SPIRIT tourism and investment promotion agency, has not been disclosed.

Apart from a business delegation, Bratušek will be accompanied by Finance Minister Uroš Čufer and Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec. It is unclear whether the two ministers are to hold meetings with their French counterparts.

The business breakfast organised as part of April's visit of Pahor to France as Slovenian president revolved around banks and the food industry.

The two topics were also highlighted by French Ambassador to Slovenia Pierre-Francois Mourier in a recent interview for the STA.

Focusing on the banking sector, he said that with the successful cooperation of the Societe Generale bank in Slovenia it was possible that other French banks would be interested in the privatisation of Slovenian banks, but added that it was not possible to sell the banks before stress tests and capital injections.

Along with the banking and food sectors, Mourier underlined the transport infrastructure, the energy sector, hospitality and tourism as sectors interesting for French investments.

At the meeting with Hollande, who visited Slovenia in July and expressed faith in Slovenia's ability to overcome the crisis, Bratušek will present the anti-crisis efforts, the plans for salvaging the banking sector and for structural reforms.

Moreover, Bratušek and Hollande are expected to discuss the continuation of the Brdo Process of cooperation among countries in the Western Balkans and possibilities for a joint approach to markets of the region.

They are also to touch on European topics ahead of the upcoming EU summit and the 2014 elections to the European Parliament, such as the plans to establish a banking union and the rise of euro-scepticism.

The prime minister will start the visit on Tuesday afternoon with a reception with military honours in front of the Hotel des Invalides, followed by a meeting with representatives of the Slovenian community in Paris.

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