The Government of the Republic of Slovenia concluded its first visit to the Carinthia region with a talk with the mayors and actors of development in the region.
Minister of Economic Development and Technology, Zdravko Počivalšek emphasised that the region has a lot of untapped potential, also in terms of the development of tourist accommodation and high-quality tourist services, which should be further promoted. Moreover, he highlighted the importance of infrastructure, and expressed his satisfaction with the projects that were completed during today’s visit to the region. “We aim to establish conditions that are perfect for investing in the Carinthia areas,” said the Minister for Economic Affairs, highlighting that the government will ensure everything necessary to enable Carinthia to make a major step forward in the economy, tourism, and infrastructure.
“The agreement for the development of the Carinthia region, which we signed in 2017, is of utmost importance. The agreement covers 23 projects, two of which are still being reviewed; the total value of the projects is 26.7 million euros,” said the Minister for Economic Affairs. He also expressed his position that the key challenges facing the Carinthia region are to increase investment in research and development, and to create attractive jobs for young people.
Minister of Health, Tomaž Gantar, highlighted the situation regarding the coronavirus. Just today, Črna na Koroškem was declared a high risk area due to covid-19. According to the Minister, the declaration of Črna as a high risk area was necessary due to the deteriorating situation there. This means that the area will be able to receive aid, he explained, pointing out that the declaration does not constitute any restriction of movement. At the consultation, he emphasised that we are able to overcome the epidemic by strictly following the measures related to hand disinfection, the use of protective masks, keeping the safety distance, etc.
“In the last 14 days, the number of infections in Carinthia has increased drastically; further action is therefore necessary,” said the Minister. He also emphasised the problem of the lack of specialists in family medicine, and highlighted the need for cooperation between mayors and the experts, as there are not enough family doctors in Slovenia. Furthermore, he said that the Ministry was also looking for appropriate solutions.
Prime Minister Janez Janša also addressed the issue of the coronavirus situation. He underlined that Carinthia’s infection rate is higher than Spain’s, which is due to the specific situation, and that it will be easier to manage the situation by declaring Carinthia a high risk area. He emphasised that we must all work together in order to avoid additional stricter measures. The Prime Minister expressed confidence that European and global science will be able to find a vaccine for protection against this disease; however, he also pointed out that we will be living with COVID-19 for some time to come. An effective vaccine for everyone is not expected to be available this year. We are facing a cold season with other respiratory viruses in circulation; our immune system will be weaker, therefore the overall risk will be even higher,” said the Prime Minister. “It is in everyone’s best interest to avoid any closures, critical health care system overload, economic and other consequences, that we had in the spring, and to continue with our lives as normally as possible,” said the Prime Minister, noting that critical weeks and months are ahead of us, and that it is important that we overcome these critical times. “The government is doing everything to avert economic disaster and avoid recession, as experienced after the last financial and economic crisis, the recovery of which lasted for years, i.e. until recently,” said the Prime Minister.
In continuation, he emphasised that the priority of this government is to ensure harmonious development throughout Slovenia. “Carinthia is a highly entrepreneurial region, and we will do everything in our power to make the development of the whole of Slovenia a priority, not just Ljubljana. Decentralisation and debureaucratisation are key commitments of the coalition agreement,” underlined the Prime Minister upon pointing out that EU funds are also available for the development. “Over the next period, Slovenia will have significantly more European funds available from various European sources than ever before,” said the Prime Minister, adding that, together with the funds from the Recovery Fund, we have more than 12 billion euros at our disposal by 2027. According to the Prime Minister, we could draw down the funds, provided that the mayors draw up the programmes, and that the state administration functions properly. “We will do our job, but we need your cooperation as well,” said Prime Minister Janša to the mayors.
“After visiting municipalities in Carinthia, I can say that the region has made great progress since we were last here, but there is still a high potential for further development. We must strive to reverse the negative demographic trend, which will further be supported with the improvement of the economic environment,” said Prime Minister Janez Janša. In addition, the Prime Minister highlighted that key projects for Carinthia are focused on transport and communication infrastructure. Moreover, he added that wood is Carinthia greatest asset.
In his speech, Prime Minister Janez Janša also emphasised the importance of improving social and health institutions. In the discussion with the mayors and other stakeholders, many issues were raised regarding the infrastructure, the Internet connection and digitalisation, water protection and other environmental projects in Carinthia, the issues also related to drawing down European funds, provincial legislation, relocation of the Lek production from Prevalje, lengthy procedures regarding obtaining building permits, emigration of young people from rural areas, development of the wood industry, bicycle paths, construction of the third development axis, investment in road infrastructure, connecting Slovenia and Austria, railway infrastructure, etc. In a more than three-hour meeting, the Ministers answered all the questions and received a lot of praise on account of their work and the government’s fight against the first wave of coronavirus.