0238 GMT March 23, 2019
No gap opened up in relations between Slovenia and Iran even during the time Western sanctions on Iran had intensified as the cooperation between the two states has always been based on friendship and mutual understanding, said the Slovenian ambassador to Tehran.
Speaking to Iran Daily, Kristina Radej added Slovenia and Iran have longstanding cooperation.
The two countries had close cooperation even during the time when Slovenia was part of Yugoslavia, the ambassador said.
She noted that after gaining its independence from Yugoslavia in June 1991, Slovenia opened an embassy in Tehran, and in 2011, Iran decided to open its embassy in Ljubljana.
Radej said the two countries’ relations have become extremely intensive, especially following Slovenia’s independence.
She added there are various areas in which the two sides’ cooperation is strong including holding regular political consultations and meetings between the two countries’ ministers on different topics and a bilateral basis during multilateral events.
“Our economic cooperation has always been traditionally good,” she said, adding Slovenian products are sent to the Iranian market.
Radej said Iran is one of the most important business partners of Slovenia in the Middle East.
She noted that the partnership Slovenian companies have with their Iranian counterparts has a long tradition.
“Once the trust is gained, it is forever there. That is why the cooperation between Slovenian and Iranian companies has a tradition.”
Radej said Slovenian and Iranian companies have dispatched a large number of their representatives to Tehran and Ljubljana on a yearly basis to find opportunities for fostering trade and economic collaborations following the signing of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) between Iran and P5+1 in July 2015 and the removal of the sanctions.
She added Slovenian companies have seen the opportunities offered by the Iranian market and have already signed contracts with their Iranian counterparts and are in cooperation with them.
Slovenia has opened a channel in the banking system between the two countries to be able to connect and cooperate with dedicated Iranian banks and remove obstacles to money transfer process between the two states, the ambassador noted.
“Slovenian banks have a correspondence relationship with Iran’s Bank Mellat and Bank Pasargad.”
She said more contracts are being signed between Slovenian and Iranian companies as Iran and its market is opening and the opportunities for boosting mutual trade is constantly getting bigger.
Radej added Slovenian and Iranian companies are interested in each other’s products.
The two sides’ mutual trade exchanges are increasing on a monthly basis, she said, adding prior to the intensification of the sanctions on Iran in 2011, they stood at €96.6 million.
Radej said trade between the two states reached its lowest amount in 2014 when it stood at €22 million.
The ambassador added in 2017, however, the two sides’ mutual trade increased to €55.5 million.
Slovenian exports to Iran constitute the major part of the mutual trade.
She noted that inability to transfer money was the reason for the the decline in trade between the two states during the sanctions era.
Commenting on the future of the JCPOA, she said Slovenia is doing its best to preserve the nuclear deal and keep it as it is.
Of course, imposing sanctions on Iran is being considered once again by some states, but Slovenia is attempting to prevent the placing of new sanctions on Iran, Radej added.
A country with a population of two million, she said, Slovenia is an export-oriented state.
The ambassador noted that the Central European state produces high added-value products.
She added that her country’s companies provide high-tech solutions to Iranian firms, share expertise and experience in the field of biotechnology with their Iranian counterparts and export pharmaceuticals to the Middle Eastern state.
Radej said Slovenian companies are deeply involved in tenders pending at the moment in Iran’s ITC sector including those for upgrading software systems.
She added her country’s firms also seek to participate in the implementation of a metro project in the northeastern Iranian city of Mashhad and another one pertaining to the development of Tehran’s water and wastewater management system.
The Iranian Embassy in Ljubljana is very active, the ambassador said.
“The two embassies are doing their best to present the people of the two countries with Slovenian and Iranian cultures and traditions.”
She said currently, a large number of tourists from Slovenia travel to Iran, adding the same thing holds true about Iranian visitors to Slovenia.