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Slovenian, Russian FMs Want More Investments

Brdo pri Kranju, 03 May (STA) - Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec invited Russian investors to Slovenia on Friday, as he hosted his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov at Brdo pri Kranju for talks revolving above all around business cooperation. Lavrov urged Slovenia to give the South Stream gas pipeline project national priority status.

Erjavec said at a press conference following the meeting that cooperation between the two countries was at an "exceptionally" high level. "Russia is Slovenia's strategic partner in all perspectives: political, economic, cultural and other fields."

Lavrov, who is in Slovenia on a working visit, shares Erjavec's view, and he emphasised that there was great interest to create direct links between Slovenian and Russian regions to support investment projects.

The meeting of the two foreign ministers revolved around economic ties, including the South Stream gas pipeline. Running through Slovenia, the planned pipeline is to deliver gas to several European countries.

Erjavec labelled the project, valued at around EUR 1bn, as one of the most important projects for Slovenia. He said that Slovenia renewed today its dedication to the project and "to do everything necessary to realise" it.

Lavrov said that Russia appreciated the dedication of Slovenia's government to South Stream and urged the country to give the project priority status. Lavrov's visit comes only a week after the boss of Russian energy giant Gazprom, Alexei Miller, was in Ljubljana.

Erjavec moreover told Lavrov that Slovenia was planning to privatise several of its state-owned companies and banks and invited Russian investors to participate.

Lavrov said he could not speak on behalf of business representatives. However, he believes they will be interested and is hopeful that the countries would deepen their investment cooperation.

He believes there remains much room for improvement, as currently Slovenia's investments in Russia are twofold of Russia's investments in Slovenia.

The ministers also signed an agreement on cooperation in culture, science, education and sports and an agreement on war graves, a step to commemorate Russians that lost their lives in Slovenia during WWII.

According to the Russian Embassy in Ljubljana, several thousand Russians fought on Slovenian territory against the Fascist and Nazis during WWII. Some 3,000 Russian soldiers are buried in around 50 burial grounds around Slovenia.

Today, Lavrov attended a screening of a documentary entitled "Russian Battalion" at the Ljubljana castle. Before the meeting with Erjavec, the Russian FM also held separate talks with President Borut Pahor and Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek.

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