Ljubljana, November 24, 2015/Independent Balkan News Agency
Slovenian prime minister Miro Cerar attends the 16+1 summit of cooperation between central and eastern European countries and China, which takes place in Suzhou on November 24-25, in the sidelines of which he will meet with Chinese prime minister Li Kequang.
This is the fourth summit of this kind to date and the first hosted by China. Leaders of all 16 European countries will be in attendance to discuss efforts to boost cooperation and development with the host, reports the official Chinese news agency Xinhua.
The central and eastern European countries included in the initiative are Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, FYROM, Montenegro, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia and Serbia.
The 16+1 format was launched at the initiative of China as a means of bolstering economic cooperation, especially in infrastructure and energy, science, culture, education and tourism, with the region stretching from the Baltics to the Balkans.
As a means of promoting ties with these countries, the Asian powerhouse is currently preparing a EUR 500m investment fund that will finance projects in the priority areas.
As part of his attendance of the summit, Cerar is scheduled to meet Slovenian expatriates in Suzhou and Beijing, while also visiting the Beijing University of Foreign Studies, where he is due to deliver a lecture.
The university plans to introduce Slovenian language studies as a standard course in the 2017/18 academic year, building on cooperation established with the University of Ljubljana back in 2009.
This will be the second high-level visit by a Slovenian official to China, after Deputy Prime Minister and Agriculture Minister Dejan Židan visited China earlier in the month to conclude an all-important agreement which allows Slovenia to export dairy products to China.
The countries have in recent times also looked at the possibility of establishing a direct air link between Ljubljana and China.
Trade between the countries exceeded EUR 760m in 2014, up around 15% over the year before. Chinese imports accounted for 80% of the total.