Prime Minister Janez Janša has given an interview for the India’s newspaper The Economic Times. In the interview, conducted by journalist Dipanjan Roy Chaudhury, topics such as cooperation between Slovenia – India and bilateral relations were discussed.
What are the plans for expanding defence industrial partnership/collaboration between India and Slovenia?
In a fiercely competitive international tender in 2015, the Slovenian company Pipistrel was awarded a contract to produce 194 highly capable trainer aircraft for the Indian Air Force (IAF), the Indian Navy (IN) and the National Cadet Corps (NCC) for various purposes. This was the world’s largest single contract for the delivery of light aircraft to date. With its successful implementation, Slovenia and India secured a firm foundation for future bilateral cooperation in the field of defence. I see the possible concretization of the visions of the plans to strengthen defence industry partnerships as a consequence of the strengthening of dialogue and cooperation between India and the European Union, as the Indo-Pacific region is becoming an increasingly important security topic.
How does Slovenia plan to position itself as India’s gateway to Southern and Central Europe including the Balkans?
Slovenia is a Central European and a Mediterranean country. Our Port of Koper is the most northern Adriatic port, which positions us at the heart of Europe and only a brief spin away from major cities in the EU, Western Balkan countries, and other European nations, which together represent the biggest market for Indian goods, services and investments. Because we have good infrastructure, experience in logistics, and safe and stable economic environment, we can become a crucial strategic partner for India, also an entry point for Indian exports to the European markets.
Will Slovenia plan to involve India in Koper Port? What in Slovenia’s views should be India’s role in Europe?
In recent times many global shipping lines recognized the advantages of the Adriatic transport route, in particular the shorter sea transit time compared to North European ports and therefore also the importance of Port of Koper. That goes also for India – Port of Koper has currently indirect shipping services with various Indian ports, such as Nhava Sheva, Mundra, Chennai and Kolkata. We see further significant potential in perishable goods, such as fruits and vegetables, automotive, industrial cargo and raw materials, both in import and export directions. Therefore, we would like to see more involvement from Indian transport companies. To further strengthen its presence in Indian market, Port of Koper is also engaged in many marketing activities in India and is considering to set up a permanent representative office in India.
We see India as an important global, indeed strategic partner of Slovenia and EU as a whole. Let me remind you on the informal EU-India summit in Porto on the 8th of May 2021, where the leaders of the world’s two largest democracies met via video-conference. The meeting reinforced the EU-India strategic partnership, which is underpinned by the shared values of democracy, freedom, rule of law and respect for human rights. We agreed to resume free trade negotiations and start negotiations on two additional trade agreements and launched a new connectivity partnership. We are aware that the EU is one of India’s largest trading partners and foreign investors and we know that in new digital era we need close cooperation on global digital standards and also in relation to and beyond 5G. We need to keep the global trading system open and further develop trade and investment relations to unleash their full potential, particularly in the context of post-COVID19 economic recovery.
During Yugoslav days, Slovenia had the maximum share in Belgrade’s exports to India. What are the areas that Slovenia is expected to invest in India and what could be areas of joint collaboration?
India is Slovenia’s second most important foreign trading partner in Asia. In 2020, we recorded EUR 339.62 million in trade in services and goods; therefore, our partnership with India is very important to us.
One of the most promising areas of cooperation between the two countries is information and communication technology, especially in electronics, software and other areas such as smart cities and societies, digital transformation and automation, e-health, telemedicine and national registers. As Slovenian companies excel in environmental technologies, they can offer the Indian economy solutions and equipment for drinking water and process water treatment, wastewater and soil treatment, optimization of water and sewage networks, telemetry and remote water meter monitoring.
Slovenia also has valuable experience in hydroelectric power plant engineering, while also developing solutions and equipment for the generation of solar energy. We see further opportunities in the export of transformers, fixed capacitors, electricity meters and smart communication technology. Slovenian companies can provide India with agricultural equipment, engineering services and equipment for production facilities as well as warehouses and logistical solutions. I have listed only a few areas and I see many other opportunities for cooperation and joint projects between our countries, and I am convinced that as cooperation between India and Slovenia deepens, more and more projects of this kind will emerge.