THU, 30 NOV 1995 18:30:00 GMT
Peace in B&H surpises Slovenia
AIM Ljubljana, November 26, 1995
In Ljubljana, the Ministry of foreign affairs, Chamber of Commerce, various departments of the Government, especially of finance and the economy, are all practically in a state of emergency in the past few days. Signing of the peace agreement in America's Dayton, Ohio, alarmed most of the state and other agencies which are engaged in issues whose resolution was opened after signing of the Dayton agreement. Soon, mutual recognition of all former Yugoslav republics will follow. What does that mean for Slovenia? What can Slovenia do with recognition of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia which was until last week marked as "so-called" by a part of the authorities? What should be done after lifting of the sanctions and when should the FRY be recognized? Is Slovenia ready to participate in reconstruction of Bosnia & Herzegovina? Who will need visas for entering Slovenia from now on, and who will not? Will Slovenian roads which need reconstruction and construction stand the enormous pressure of freight and passenger vehicles which will now start travelling in great numbers across Slovenian territory towards the South? These are the questions Slovenia is intensively trying to deal with in the past week, although it has had four years to do it, ever since it is an independent state.
Who is the successor of the SFRY
News from Dayton left primarily financial experts thunderstruck, but almost equally the group of Slovenian negotiators at negotiations on succession of former Yugoslavia. Namely, rumours arrived from well-informed circles in the USA that allegedly "due to the willingness of Serbia to make concessions concerning certain issues", the Croats also made a concesion and let Serbia and Montenegro as the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia succeed the former SFRY. Should that be true, it is still in the dark what it might mean. What will happen after foreign currency accounts of Yugoslavia which were blocked so far become active again. Who will get the money? The FRY as a possible successor or all former republics which were equal successors pursuant the contracts valid so far? Who will discharge the debts? Will it be Slovenia which is doubtlessly best off both financially and economically? Concerning all these open questions right after signing of the agreement, Slovenian Minister of finance, Mitja Gaspari and Governor of the Bank of Slovenia, France Arhar, addressed separate letters to various ministries of finance and central banks abroad explaining Slovenian views which all have in common a demand that the financial capital of the former SFRY remains blocked until final agreement on succession is reached. Therefore, the resolution would anticipate blockade of the joint foreign currency reserves and all financial matters until final agreement. Noone knows how this issue will end. Concerning this issue, Dayton agreement states that different states will decide about money in foreign banks "pursuant to their laws". But, these laws vary from country to country. The USA, Germany and Switzerland have already certified that Yugoslav money will remain in their possession and blocked. It is still a mystery how France, Greece or Cyprus will react as countries in traditionally good relations with Serbia. Slovenian financiers were partially relieved when news arrived that Croatia demanded the same as Slovenia, although they do not trust their neighbours much.
Signing of peace in Paris and recognition of the FRY
SLovenia already has established - good - diplomatic relations with all the newly-founded states in the region of former Yugoslavia, with the exception of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. For a long time there was no communication whatsoever with Belgrade on any level. Only since recently, certain thawing is felt, and one can learn from well-informed sources that allegedly, last month in Malta, Prime Minister in Slovenian Government, Janez Drnovsek met President of the FRY Zoran Lilic. Since noone has registered this meeting in Slovenia, because of the secrecy of the meeting, it is impossible to find out what they talked about. The only thing one can learn is that hasty preparations are going on in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia for recognition of the FRY. When this will happen, though, noone can tell yet.
There is a strong probability that it will happen in Paris, on the occasion of definite signing of peace in B&H. Slovenia has not been invited to be present at the occasion yet, but it was clearly made known to it that it will soon receive an invitation. There is strong opposition in Slovenia to its participation at the Paris meeting, because according to some, it would allegedly imply a consent to having all Slovenian issues resolved within the "Yugo-group". So far no decision has been reached concerning going or not going to Paris, but as we learn from well-informed circles close to the Government, Slovenia will be sending its delegation there. It is also certain that Slovenia's delegation will be present at London Conference which will adopt documents on reconstruction of Bosnia & Herzegovina. Slovenia has already had very good relations with that state ever since B&H was internationally recognized. For quite some time, economic cooperation with B&H has also been going on. How close relations between the two states are is best illustrated by B&H Prime Minister Haris Silajdzic's visit to Ljubljana on November 26. It became known that he discussed Dayton, Paris, the division balance and succession of the SFRY, but also cooperation on reconstruction of B&H with his host Janez Drnovsek.
Entrepreneurs who will participate in reconstruction of the demolished Bosnia & Herzegovina will certainly be participants of the European business venture of the century. According to incomplete data stated by the B&H Government, that is, its Minister of regional planning, resources and the environment, Munever Imamovic, in Sarajevo Biznis Magazin which is published in Ljubljana, total amount of the damage ranges from 20 to 25 billion American dollars. Out of that amount, 15 billion dollars refer to housing facilities, public facilities take up about 4-5 billion, and infrastructure about 5-6 billion dollars... It was not explicitly stated whether these data refer only to the Muslim-Croat part of the whole of B&H, although it is difficult to believe that the B&H Government has data about the damage done to the Serb part of B&H. Slovenian enterprises are highly interested in business deals in the entire territory of B&H. Mostly because majority of complicated projects before the war were also carried out by them. Slovenian industries also have traditionally good cooperation with firms from B&H.
Entrepreneurs are even more content because of lifting of the sanctions imposed on the FRY. Vice-Chairman of the Slovenian Chamber of the Economy, Cveto Static, declared on Radio Ljubljana that the Chamber and the entire Slovenian economy welcomed lifting of the sanctions, since the FRY, but primarily Serbia, had always been a good and complementary business partner to Slovenia. Before Serbia introduced the blockade for Slovenian goods, Slovenia exported to Serbia about three billion US dollars' worth of goods, and imported from Serbia over two billion US dollars' worth of goods. Slovenia's gaining independence and the beginning of the war, as well as the sanctions imposed on the FRY have interrupted all economic flows, but it is an established fact that many enterprises have remained in good relations with their partners in Yugoslavia and traded with them via Macedonia or other countries. Entrepreneurs are now afraid that the politicians of both parties will ruin their business deals again. Namely, one should not forget that the blockade for Slovenian goods is still in force in Serbia, nor that the parliament in Slovenia will discuss draft law on urgent lifting of the sanctions imposed by this country on the FRY in several days. In this sense, Slovenian authorities are following the example of Croatia. Namely, it was possible to learn from sources close to the Government that Slovenian authorities possessed a paper in which Croat diplomat J. Vranyczany-Dobrinovic wrote to his friend, President Tudjman that Croatia should gradually open its borders with the FRY in the sense of the Benelux and Schengen agreement, and even begin preparations for some kind of an economic union!
Janja Klasinc, AIM