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    Copyright: The following text is for personal information only. Any professional use or publication in written or electronic form is subject to an agreement with AIM, 17 rue Rebeval, F-75019 Paris, France

    THU, 24 SEP 1998 01:08:16 GMT

    What Does Adria Want

    Irrational Partner

    AIM Ljubljana, 21 September, 1998

    This is how Janez Drnovsek, head of the Slovenian government, commented on the decision of Yugoslav Aviation Administration to ban flights of Slovenian airline, Adra Airways, to Tivat: "The ban of Adria Airways flights to Montenegro is an unreasonable move of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and part of an irrational manner of operation of Belgrade leadership which has led its state to bankruptcy and opening of many neuralgic issues. As concerning Slovenia, it has no major problems with other states and it is ready for a rational dialogue which is, with the irrational partner, unfortunately - impossible!" For the first time since 1991, this summer, Adria Airways had established air traffic between Slovenia and Montenegro.

    The story about irrational behavior of national leaders in relations between Slovenia and Yugoslavia has two sides, of course. Less than a month ago, Janez Drnovsek was the Slovenian politician who in an interview to American Herald Tribune publicly supported the demand of Kosovo Albanians for independent state as a legitimate one - which is not only from the Yugoslav, but also from the international point of view difficult to understand as a rational move of an experienced statesman. And that politics and the economy in the relations of the two states are firmly interwoven is a fact well known to entrepreneurs of the two countries.

    The latest complication between Belgrade and Ljubljana has this time attracted special attention because of the simultaneous decision about grounding of Yugoslav air-line company planes by the European Union... Additioanl doubts were raised by news that Montenegro did not agree with the decision of Belgrade authorities. Moreover, Slovenian press published the statement of Montenegrin minister of transportation Jusuf Kalomperovic that Podgorica would not obey orders from Belgrade. Words of the president of Montenegrin Constitutional Court, Blagoje Mirtic, were quoted, who said that "the illegitimate federal government has reached an illegitimate decision".

    To make things even more interesting, Adria Airways has then received an official invitation from the Montenegrin ministry of transportation and tourism to continue with the flights to Tivat despite the ban of Yugoslav authorites. Director of Adria Airways, Bojan Sodnik, however, decided there would be no fligts after all, because in such a situation, Yugoslav authorities would be entitled to ground the planes by force and even confiscate Adria's aircrafts.

    In Adria, they did not miss the opportunity to confirm that breaking of the commercial contract between Ljubljana and Podgorica by Belgrade would not cause major damage to the Slovenian company, since Adria had made just 0.1 per cent of its total turnover on this flight. They do admit, though, that 300 thousand German marks made on it, or about 2500 passengers on 60 flights, is not so bad, especially if one takes into account that Adria had planned for mid November to open a regular charter flight which would connect Ljubljana and Podgorica twice a week.

    The management of Adria Airways is optimistic and does not hide hope that the decision on the ban of flights of the only Slovenian air-carrier to destinations in Montenegro will not last long. The reason for optimism lies in the already mentioned decision of the European ministers in Strasbourg which bans once again JAT to fly to to the states of the European Union which Slovenia still has not become a full-fledged member of. In other words, Slovenia believes that need might arise, and maybe even a necessity, for establishing an air-borne connection between Montenegro and the small door to the European Union - Ljubljana. And all the other roads lead from there into the whole wide world.

    Igor Mekina

    (AIM Ljubljana)