Kristjan Verbič: There are signs of development in regional energy cooperation

Kristjan Verbič, President of PanSlovenian Shareholders Association (VZMD), on the sidelines of Gaidar Forum which recently took place at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration, gave an interview to Invest Foresight, the event’s strategic media partner, noting significance of the Forum which “brings together people from all around the world”.

As a Board Member of the European Federation of Investors and President of PanSlovenian Shareholders Association (VZMD), Mr Verbič pointed out that “in Southeastern Europe investment climate is quite active, yet persisting anti-Russian sanctions hurt not just trade but also investment activities between Russia and the EU as such, and that influences relations between Russia and Slovenia too.” He also added that “There are signs of possible development in bilateral and regional energy cooperation.”

Commenting on the investment by Russia’s Sberbank in Slovenia’s Mercator/Agrokor, he stressed that “Hopefully, a solution will be found to accommodate interests of Sberbank as economic owner and Mercator as one of the rare and positive systems and groups within Agrokor which is very important for Slovenia too – and the interests of the other side. Misunderstandings between owners and authorities/regulators should be sorted out. We have been working to present information on what is going on and what are the substantial issues relating to this important matter in general.”

“European Federation of Investors is interested in expanding and deepening relations with Russian associations of investors, shareholders and business people. As a matter of fact, we have a member from Russia, and we will be glad to strengthen and boost our relations. We would welcome any initiatives of the institutions and agencies of Russia,” Kristjan Verbič said. “Investors from Russia and other former Soviet republics have stronger and stronger presence in Slovenia in the Balkans in general. There is also a visible presence in Slovenia of cultural institutions and there are multiple cultural events supported by the Russian Embassy and really well attended by Slovenians. We are glad to see this.”

“Many Russians have business or investments in Slovenia or just decide to come there to spend several months during summer on the Mediterranean coast, or by lake Bled, or in spa centers that are very popular among Russians. This is an upward trend and I am glad it continues year after year,” Mr Verbič noted. “The relations between the two countries are most friendly.”

“There are also strong relations among scientists – not within just the academic community but also in science connected to business and innovation. New forms of cooperation are being established among research institutions. Slovenia is trying to develop some niche technologies and niche products since for it as a rather small country it is most important to be innovative. Cooperation between Slovenia and Russia in this respect is quite significant but we would like to see more of it,” he concluded.

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