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Zbogar Highlights Slovenia's Role in W Balkans

Bled, 08 June (STA) - Foreign Minister Samuel Zbogar presented the role of Slovenian business in the Western Balkans at a panel staged by the Young Executives Society in Bled on Monday evening. Business executives called for more stimulative government policies for businesses that want to enter Western Balkan markets and for free migration.

Zbogar said Slovenia's role in the Western Balkans was twofold. On the one hand, it represents the EU and on the other it helps the countries follow its lead by advising them and offering technical aid.

According to the minister, Slovenia's moves have been pretty uncoordinated so far, but with the new government guidelines adopted in March, this should change this year.

He underlined visa liberalisation for Serbia, Montenegro and Macedonia and the increased number of scholarships available for young people who want to study in Slovenia as the biggest achievements so far.

The Western Balkans is important for Slovenia economically, Zbogar said, noting that it represented 16.5% of Slovenia's exports and around 7% of its imports, most of which are deals with Croatia.

Trade and investments are increasing every year, which means that there are still many business opportunities, Zbogar believes.

Regarding the EU enlargement, Zbogar said that signals from Brussels showed that there would be a standstill after Croatia's accession. But it is important that Western Balkan countries start proceedings for accession, he stressed.

Business executives, including Enzo Smrekar of food company Droga Kolinska, Dean Mikolic of investment firm P&S and Bostjan Kozole of fruit producer Evrosad, said that any tensions among Western Balkan countries hurt the business.

They pointed out that the government should provide more stimulus to companies which want to enter Western Balkan markets, and cut red tape in migration. They also agreed that it would be very useful for them if Balkan countries joined the EU as soon as possible.

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