Opened business seminar
On Tuesday morning, His Majesty The King opened the business seminar The Slovenian-Norwegian Forum of Competence. Afterwards King Harald and Queen Sonja visited several projects that Norway has helped to implement.
In his remarks to the seminars participants, King Harald emphasised how Slovenias membership of the EU has led to greater cooperation between Norway and Slovenia and how the ties between the two countries are being further strengthened by the projects funded under the Norway Grants scheme. The King expressed the hope that the seminar would stimulate even more trade between the countries:
While the trade between Slovenia and Norway still is rather modest, it has nearly doubled since your country joined the EU in 2004. Last year saw an increase of 14 %. This is a trend I hope will continue in the years to come. I hope that the business seminar today will pave the way for even closer bilateral economic ties.
In connection with the seminar, King Harald and President Danilo Türk had the opportunity to meet business leaders from Norway as well as Slovenia.
Visited a rehabilitation centre
The well-known University Rehabilitation Institute (URI Soča) provides rehabilitation services to persons with disabilities. Today the King and Queen paid a visit to the institute and were given a presentation of the activities carried out there.
The International Trust Fund for Demining and Mine Victims Assistance (ITF) is one of the key partners of URI Soča. The ITF has provided funding for the rehabilitation of victims of war, and the Gaza Project is one outcome of this support. The project enables URI Soča to help children who have been injured in the conflict in Gaza. King Harald and Queen Sonja had an opportunity to meet some of the children from Gaza during todays visit.
Norway is one of the largest contributors to the ITF.
Radovljica, a town in northwestern Slovenia, has a history dating back to the 1300s. Along with five other towns in the area, Radovljica is part of the Lively Old Town Project, which is funded under the Norway Grants scheme and seeks to rehabilitate these historic sites.
The King and Queen were greeted by Mayor Ciril Globočnik, who accompanied them on a walking tour through the Old Town.
Radovljica Manor is one of the historic buildings that has been restored and now houses several exhibitions. These include a photography exhibition documenting the Lively Old Town Project. The King and Queen were given a guided tour of the exhibition by Nika Leben, an employee at the Institute for the Protection of Cultural Heritage of Slovenia.
The King and Queens visit to Radovljica was concluded with a small concert. The Ba-rock band is a group of musicians who express themselves through a variety of genres – from Slovenian folk songs via baroque to rock.
Luncheon at Villa Bled
King Harald and Queen Sonja were the guests of President Türk and Mrs Barbara Miklič Türk at a luncheon held at Villa Bled. The villa was the summer residence of former Yugoslavian President Tito, who hosted many official visits there. Villa Bled was opened as a hotel in 1984.
The State Visit is concluded
In the afternoon, the King and Queen met with members of the Norwegian business delegation. In the evening, Norway held an official dinner with President Türk and Mrs Miklič Türk as the guests of honour.
The Norwegian Ambassador to Slovenia Ms Guro Vikør will serve as host for the reception to be held in Ljubljana Castle. The Norwegian musicians Mari Silje (violin) and Håkon Samuelsen (cello) will perform at the event.
The State Visit will be formally concluded later this evening with a farewell ceremony at Brdo Castle.
Facts about the Republic of Slovenia
Capital city: Ljubljana
Largest cities: Ljubljana, Maribor and Koper
Total area: 20 273 km²
Population in 2011: Slightly more than 2 million
Official language: Slovenian, as well as Italian and Hungarian which are spoken in some municipalities along the borders.
Form of government: Republic
Head of State in 2011: President Danilo Türk
Slovenia and Norway established diplomatic relations in 1992, and ties between the two countries are very good. This is the first State Visit from Norway to Slovenia. Former President Milan Kučan paid a visit to Norway in 1997, when he was granted an audience with King Harald.
Source: Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Facts about the Norway Grants/ EEA Grants
The EEA Grants and Norway Grants represent the contribution of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway to reducing economic and social disparities in the European Economic Area and to strengthening bilateral relations with the 15 beneficiary states in Central and Southern Europe.
In the period 2009-2014, funding may be sought for 32 programme areas. The agreed areas of priority between the individual countries are specified in a memorandum of understanding.
Norway gives priority to projects in the areas of:
- Climate and the environment
- Working conditions
- Research and education
- Gender equality
- The legal system
Science and culture
Research, sports, beekeeping and music. Norway and Slovenia share a wide array of interests, and today the King and Queen and the Slovenian President, Borut Pahor, gained insight into several of them.
State visit from Slovenia
Today Their Majesties The King and Queen welcomed the President of the Republic of Slovenia, His Excellency Mr Borut Pahor, to Norway. This is the first State Visit to Norway of a Slovenian President and King Harald and Queen Sonja are his hosts.