Janez Jansa is Prime Minister of Slovenia – the tiny Alpine nation of two million people where he has led the centre-right government since November 2004.
Yugoslavia’s bloody split-up started with Slovenia declaring independence exactly 15 year ago.
Next January Slovenia will become the 13th country using the euro.
It will also be the first of the 10 new European Union members, to take over the EU presidency in 2008, when it will play an important role in modifying the constitutional treaty.
Sergio Cantone, EuroNews:
Prime Minister welcome to EuroNews. First of all, Slovenia will take over the presidency of the European Union between two important presidencies Germany and France.
This is an important task because you are going to participate in the debate over the modification of the constitution. How is Slovenia preparing for this task?
Janez Jansa, Slovenian Prime Minister:
First we should react to fulfill our commitment to ratify the constitutional treaty completely. It’s not enough that only two big members, France and Germany, decide something and then all the other countries organise around their decision. This is a different situation, there’s a new geometry with the enlarged European Union. So we think that all the major steps in the future won5;t be very easy to achieve. So we don5;t have big expectations about big moves during our presidency.
Yes, but as you know the presidency is a sort of referee in the European Union. How do you think you can create consensus among the member states over the constitution during the six months of your presidency?
Well, we’re not neutral, Slovenia has already ratified this treaty and we would also like others to do that. We remember the situation when Ireland for instance failed to ratify the treaty of Nice at the first attempt; at that time nobody said: ‘Well,we now have to look for other options.’ They all said: ‘Well they will do it.’ So we have to have the same approach with the member states.
Fifteen years after gaining its independence Slovenia is about to adopt the euro, but there are always problems with that being used to push up prices. Why do you think there are these problems?
We need to be able to directly control prices, especially prices for small everyday items, which are a problem. We have tried to learn from the procedures adopted in those states where they had trouble with prices rising after the introduction of the euro. We don5;t want that to be repeated. So we’ve started with education and controls and we don’t expect major changes in prices.
We know that the enlargement to the Western Balkans is another important goal of the European Union. Is Slovenia going to play a major role in these talks with the former Yugoslav republics?
Slovenia is close to this region. It’s the border of this region. So it’s even more in our interests to have a stabilised region which is able to make significant economic growth to a level where people are able to take care of themselves. As I’ve said there’s only one alternative and this is the European perspective, but we are aware that before the European Union is able to take this step to enlarge in the future, we have to swallow the last enlargement. I think we need five to 10 years to do that.
Yes, but is this a major interest for Slovenia?
They (these countries) are important, but (at the same time) they are not. For instance, if we look at our trade relations, we see that trade with that part of Europe is 15%-20% of all our economic operations. The main market is the European market, but 20% is also a very important share.