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On his official visit to Iran, the President of the Republic opens a new chapter in friendly relations between the countries

Islamic Republic of IranLjubljana, 22. 11. 2016 | press release, statement

The President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, is on a two-day official visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran, where he is being hosted by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. On his visit, the President of the Republic is accompanied by Karl Erjavec, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Zdravko Počivalšek, Minister of Economic Development and Technology, and a large delegation of representatives of Slovenian companies. This has been the first visit by a President of the Republic of Slovenia to Iran since Slovenia’s independence.

On his official visit to Iran, the President of the Republic opens a new chapter in friendly relations between the countries
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

Following the reception with military honours, the presidents had a private meeting. During the ensuing plenary discussions, President Pahor and President Rouhani agreed that, despite restrictive measures, the countries succeeded in maintaining a reasonable level of political and especially cultural relations, while the above circumstances were severely reflected in the economic relations, which in recent years had not reached their potential. The discussion partners confirmed their mutual interest to deepen economic relations, including culture, tourism, science, technology and education. President Pahor assessed that the re-opening of the Slovenian Embassy in Tehran would contribute to improved relations. The agreements concluded during this visit, the establishment of direct financial operations and immediate contact between businesspeople in the 60-member delegation accompanying the President on the official visit and the Iranian business community will give a special boost to economic cooperation. On this occasion, President Pahor invited his Iranian counterpart to an official visit to Slovenia, which President Rouhani accepted.

The presidents spoke about the situation in the international environment, whereby President Pahor emphasised that Iran was important for Slovenia and the broader international community due to its commitment to dialogue and peaceful solving of disputes. He again highlighted the significance of solving the Iranian nuclear issue, which lifted the UN sanctions and enabled Iran to have an active role in the international community regarding the situation in the region.

In a press release, the Slovenian President together with his Iranian counterpart assessed that the first official visit by a Slovenian President to Iran marked a new chapter in good relations between the two nations and countries. He stated that high expectations prior to the visit were met and even exceeded during the discussions with the Iranian delegation. President Pahor commended the Iranian authorities for their sincere efforts to conclude an agreement on the nuclear programme with six major powers. On that note, he called upon everyone who contributed to this agreement, particularly the European Union, to comply with the agreement and to maintain it as one of the signals which prove that complex issues in the international community could be resolved peacefully and by means of diplomacy.

In his statement, President Rouhani stressed the importance of further implementing the nuclear deal and that in doing so Slovenia’s support was very valuable. “Resolving this issue and thawing the relations between the international community and Iran also help Slovenia to re-establish good political, economic and other relations between the nations and countries,” highlighted President Pahor and added that Slovenia was for this purpose re-opening its embassy in Tehran, which was commended also by the Iranian President. “Iran attaches great importance to its relations with the European Union and today’s meeting was another step towards strengthening these relations and a further step in enhancing and expanding relations with Slovenia,” said President Rouhani.

The Slovenian President also said that during their private meeting the presidents discussed multilateral cooperation and the situation in the international community. “There was no forbidden topic or sensitive issue that we would not address boldly and present our, frequently common, views and occasionally permit different positions on certain open issues,” summarised President Pahor.

On the first day of the visit in Tehran, the President of the Republic of Slovenia, Borut Pahor, met the Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Hosseini Khamenei, and the Chairman of the Expediency Council of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani. In the discussions, the President focused on bilateral relations, current affairs in the international community, developments in crisis areas around the world and the region, particularly in the EU, Western Balkans, Middle East and the broader Iranian neighbourhood.

This afternoon, President Pahor spoke to the participants at the Slovenian–Iranian business conference, which took place at the Iranian Chamber of Commerce, Industries, Mines and Agriculture. More than 60 representatives of 45 Slovenian companies arrived in Tehran, who wish to conduct business in the 80 million strong Iranian market.

During the official visit and in the presence of both presidents, several agreements were concluded today, including an agreement on economic cooperation between the countries and a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the field of information and communications technologies. Numerous opportunities for enhancing cooperation in various fields are opening up since the international sanctions against Iran have been lifted. The Slovenian side sees the best possibilities for deepening economic cooperation in telecommunications and the energy sector. New opportunities have also arisen in the food sector, metalworking industry and tourism. The purpose of this visit is also to promote and launch energy and telecommunications projects, which the Slovenian companies have been negotiating with their Iranian partners, and to expand the range of Slovenian companies entering the Iranian market.

The trade in goods between Slovenia and Iran is quite small and has never exceeded EUR 100 million in the last ten years. It reached its peak in 2011 with almost EUR 97 million. It then dropped to EUR 46 million in 2012 due to sanctions, and reached its lowest in 2014 with EUR 22 million. In 2015, it was on the rise again, reaching EUR 28 million.

The positive trend is also visible in 2016; in the first eight months, the trade in goods amounted to EUR 25 million. Slovenia records a large surplus in the trade of goods since its imports from Iran barely exceeded EUR 1 million in 2015.

On his official visit to Iran, the President of the Republic opens a new chapter in friendly relations between the countries
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA

On his official visit to Iran, the President of the Republic opens a new chapter in friendly relations between the countries
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STAOn his official visit to Iran, the President of the Republic opens a new chapter in friendly relations between the countries
Photo: Daniel Novakovič/STA