Doha, 10 January (STA) - Addressing the opening of a Slovenian-Qatar business forum in Doha on Sunday, President Danilo Tuerk said that the global financial and economic crisis, which had obviously hurt Slovenia, had shown that the country needs fresh ideas and new partnerships.
According to the president, Doha and Qatar are important centres of international activities in all areas, and this is why it is completely natural that people from all over the world come to Qatar to establish bilateral relations.
The world entered last year the first global recession after the Second World War, but some countries have been hit stronger then others. Qatar was among the least hit countries, which is good, Tuerk said.
The EU and Slovenia have been hit harder, and this is why the president believes that trade and international economic cooperation patterns have to be changed and that new contacts have to be established.
Slovenia does not understand the crisis as a destructive force, but as an opportunity, Tuerk said, adding that new opportunities now had to be recognised. "This is why we are interested in what Qatar thinks and plans regarding cooperation with the EU, which is important for all Arab countries."
He noted that Ljubljana will host the seat of the Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) and that the South Stream pipeline will run through Slovenia, which will make energy an important topic in the country.
According to Tuerk, establishing links with other energy routes and centres in the world, with Qatar being one of them, will be of key importance.
While saying that Slovenia had versatile economy - stressing health care services, tourism and financial services -, the president described the country as a the financial centre for the region of Western Balkans.
Slovenia is looking for new forms of ties and joint projects for investing at home and in the region, and new partnerships in the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia would provide it with financial stability, Tuerk added.
He believes his visit is only a beginning of the process of establishing ties with Qatar and would like to see a return visit by a Qatar delegation, followed by a long-term partnership with concrete results.
The present time, when the world is exiting the crisis, is an appropriate time, said the president, who is accompanied in Qatar by a delegation of 68 representatives of companies and institutions as well as finance and foreign ministers.
The introductory part of the business forum, organised by the Qatar Chamber of Trade and Commerce, was followed by bilateral meeting of Slovenian business executives with representatives of local companies.
Slovenian bankers also met representatives of the Qatar Investment Authority, a sovereign wealth fund which specialises in local and foreign investment. It manages the extra oil and natural gas surpluses received by the Qatar government.
Tuerk will meet later today Qatar Emir Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani for talks on ways to boost the economic cooperation and topical political issues in the region. The president will then travel on to Kuwait for talks with the emirate's top officials.