STA, 19 September 2019 - President Borut Pahor met his Swiss counterpart Ueli Maurer in Bern on Thursday with the pair calling for a deepening of what was said to be already good cooperation between the two countries. "The Swiss and Slovenians are similar and we want to cooperate," Pahor said as he and Maurer addressed the press.
Maurer, who serves as the president of the Swiss confederation and head of the Federal Department of Finance, hailed good bilateral cooperation, offering digitalisation and new technologies as two areas where they would like to enhance it.
"The two countries share ideas and views. This is a good basis to build our cooperation on," the Swiss president said, describing Slovenia as a reliable and important partner.
"Switzerland has always been an inspiration to Slovenians, and it still is in a sense," Pahor said, in a reference to a popular aspiration during independence efforts that Slovenia would be a second Switzerland.
"Tradition, identity, pride, a small country, that's what we share and I believe we've taken a big step toward further development of the relationship, which is strong economically even now," said Pahor.
Predsednik Republike Slovenije Borut Pahor se je ob robu uradnega obiska danes popoldne v Zürichu udeležil otvoritve slovensko-švicarske poslovne konference z naslovom "Slovenija - dežela nišnih poslovnih prvakov". pic.twitter.com/BnrnsnTud3— Borut Pahor (@BorutPahor) September 19, 2019
According to a press release from Pahor's office, the presidents noted the excellent and problem-free political relationship between their countries and Pahor hailed regular bilateral political dialogue.
Economic cooperation ranked prominently and Pahor was happy to note that bilateral trade in goods increased by almost 50% to EUR 1.49 billion in 2018. He also noted scientific cooperation.
Pahor also hailed Slovenia's good experience with Swiss investors. Maurer agreed on the importance of people-to-people relations for business, saying akin views was what made the cooperation between two business communities even better.
The two presidents agreed that Switzerland was a close and important partner for the EU, and noted the significance of the institutional framework agreement.
They agreed that the EU should be made stronger to be able to provide external, internal, economic and social security. They found that a no-deal Brexit would be the worst-case scenario for everyone.
At the outset of his official two-day visit on Wednesday, Pahor met Marina Carobbio Guscetti, president of the Swiss National Council, and took part in the council's session.
They talked about Brexit, the EU's enlargement to the Western Balkans, and illegal migration.
Guscetti agreed with Pahor that the two countries maintained good cooperation, including at the parliamentary level.
Pahor also addressed a Slovenian-Swiss business conference in Zurich entitled Slovenia, the Country of Niche Business Champions.
In his address Pahor spoke about the opportunities afforded by Slovenia to foreign investors, noting that it has been one of the fastest growing economies in recent years.
Despite signs of a slowdown in the EU, Slovenia is well prepared for a potential recession, much better than it had been before the last economic and financial turmoil, he said.
"We are aspiring to sustainable development and I believe we are similar to each other there," the president was quoted as saying by his office.
The conference was attended by more than 30 representatives of 19 Slovenian companies and representatives of the Switzerland Global Enterprise, an investment promotion organisation.
There is still a lot of potential for growth because Slovenia and Switzerland are not as linked as they could be, said Goran Novković, executive director of the Slovenian Business Club (SBC).
"Almost 40 out of the 202 SBC members already do business or have capital links with Swiss partners," said Novković in his address to the conference.
Pahor is being accompanied by Education Minister Jernej Pikalo, Foreign Ministry State Secretary Dobran Božič and Economy Ministry State Secretary Eva Štravs Podlogar.