Slovenia and India share a long tradition of friendly relations, which have strengthened further after Slovenia’s independence 30 years ago. Our two countries share a commitment to respect international law, democracy, freedom and human rights, and are both advocates of effective multilateralism. These common values facilitate our cooperation on the bilateral and multilateral levels as well as in the framework of EU – India relations. The cooperation and exchange of ideas between like-minded countries are of even greater importance in today’s restructuring of international relations.
In May 2022, Slovenia and India will celebrate the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. Bilateral relations have grown in importance over the years, and have intensified after opening Embassies in our respective countries: Slovenia in New Delhi in 2002, and India in Ljubljana in 2007. Important visits were exchanged: Prime Minister of Slovenia was on a state visit to India in June 2011; there was an exchange of parliament visits at the highest level: Speaker of Lok Sabha visited Slovenia in May 2013, and President of National Assembly of Slovenia visited India in November 2015.
Slovenia was also extremely honoured to welcome the Indian President’s first official visit to Slovenia in September 2019.
Intensified exchange continues in the foreign affairs field. Our Foreign Ministers’ met on the sidelines of the Mediterranean Dialogue in Rome in December 2019. The dialogue continued in June 2020 via virtual meeting between at the time new Minister of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia Dr. Anže Logar and Minister of External Affairs of India Dr. S. Jaishankar. Pandemics have prevented Minister Dr. Logar’s visit to India for the Raisina Dialogue in April this year, but Minister did participate virtually at the event and hopes that he will have an opportunity to participate in person at the next year’s Raisina dialogue. He also hopes that he may be able to welcome Minister Dr. Jaishankar in Slovenia soon. His visit would be the first visit of any Indian External Affairs Minister in Slovenia. There is also an instrument of political consultations established between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Slovenia and the Ministry of External Affairs of India. Pandemics, unfortunately, prevented the planned consultations for April 2021 in Ljubljana. We will strive to welcome Secretary West in Slovenia at the earliest. Exchange of views in foreign policy and broader world affairs with a leading country like India is of great importance, even more so during the 6 months of Slovenia’s Presidency of the Council of European Union starting on 1st July 2021.
Bilateral relations between Slovenia and India are not focused solely on political and foreign affairs. Economic cooperation represents an extremely important part too. India is the second most important trading partner of Slovenia in Asia. We can observe the upward trend in trade of goods in the past years, with the highest trade volume of 361,3 million Euros in 2019: imports from India to Slovenia were 246,5 million Euros, exports from Slovenia to India amounted to 114,8 million Euros. Trade has slightly declined in 2020 due to pandemics but the decline was much less than in the comparison of Slovenia’s trade with some other countries. The volume of trade in 2020 amounted to 339,6 million Euros with 221,4 million Euros of Indian exports to Slovenia and 118,2 million Euros of Slovenian exports to India. What did Slovenia import from India and what did Slovenia export to India? Among the imported goods from India were medicaments, for retail sale, heterocyclic compounds, sulphonamide, coffee, unwrought aluminium, parts and accessories of vehicles, carboxylic acids, amine-function compounds, and bars and rods and stainless steel. Among the exported goods to India were heterocyclic compounds, antibiotics, flat-rolled prod of stainless steel, metal rolling mills, measuring instruments and machines, blood products and vaccines, bars and rods of other alloy, paper and paperboard, household appliances, flat-rolled products of alloy steel.
Much of the work of the Embassy of Slovenia is dedicated to identifying business opportunities and synergies with India and its States and Union Territories. There is a strong interest on the side of Slovenian companies to expand business with Indian counterparts in the transportation and logistics field, including the Port of Koper. Port of Koper is strategically located at the Adriatic Sea and represents the fastest gateway for Indian exports to the markets of Central and Eastern Europe. Port could also be explored by India to contribute to its efforts to increase involvement and resilience in the global supply chain. The transport and logistics delegation visited India in April 2019 and plans to visit India again as soon as conditions allow. Business opportunities also arise in cutting-edge technologies and niche products, automotive components, e-mobility, artificial intelligence, green technologies, water and waste management and medical devices. Untapped potential is also in tourism and in attracting investments. Important partners in promoting Slovenia’s economic interest in India are the four honorary consuls of Slovenia in India (Kolkata, Mumbai, Chennai and Bangalore), and two Business Councils, one on Slovenian and one on the Indian side.
Good cooperation continues also in the field of science and innovation. The current joint projects envisage cooperation in health, biomedicine and biotechnology, new materials, including polymers, information and communication technology, renewable energy, urbanization (smart cities), and artificial intelligence solutions to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. There is also a positive trend in the student exchange, where Slovenia annually offers to Indian students 24 scholarships for bachelor’s and master’s degrees and 5 scholarships for doctoral studies. Bilateral relations are also enriched by people-to-people contacts in the field of culture. Even though the Slovenian community in India is very small, we appreciate their contribution to a better understanding of Indian rich and diverse culture.
The good and close relations were also reflected in each other’s assistance during the current pandemic: in 2020 when Slovenia received from India much needed support in procuring medicine and pharmaceutical APIs, and recently in 2021 when Slovenia send humanitarian assistance to India in combating the second wave.
Slovenia sees India as one of the most important bilateral and a key EU partner in shaping balanced and stable international order, and in addressing global challenges, especially in the field of climate change and sustainable development goals. It supports India’s stronger voice on a global level and welcomes India’s increased engagement with the Central and Eastern European countries. The intensified political dialogue and increased economic interests in the past few years bode well for the future of our relations.