Cafe International Held on March 28th, 2014   (Article and photos by Mark Koghee)

How to change the Slovene attitude from FIGHTING AGAINST to FIGHTING FOR?”

‘This is not Disneyland’ Venezuelan top diplomat Néstor Lopez steals the show at first 2013 SDBP-café, “Slovenia is late for the party and can only do the dishes now.” It was with punchy remarks like this that Chargé d’Affaires Néstor Lopez of the Venezuelan embassy in Slovenia stole the show at the first café of the Slovenian Dutch Business Platform on Thursday 28 March.

At the SDBP-café in Kava Čaj Slamič in Ljubljana it was all about the economic crisis and how Slovenian businesses should get out of it. But what crisis? When discussion leader Tičo Zupančič started the evening with the question who believes there is a crisis in Slovenia, the hands of little more than half of the thirty participants went up. Crisis? Not everybody believes in it, apparently.

Owner Devid Palčič of company Robotina, one of the panel members at the café, is one of those non-believers. “Where do you see the crisis? I don’t see crisis”, he said. “This is the actual state we’re in. Seeing that this is not a crisis and to accept that, is the first step to get out.”

Jeremy Hibbins, the headmaster of the British School says he never saw so many people that are doing well. “It looks like it has never been better.” He said there is a confidentiality crisis. “It’s a breach of trust.”

Violeta Bulc, the founder of the company Vibacom, said from the audience that ‘life was never horrible here’. “There is no crisis. I believe we’re on the verge of a new civilization. There are incredible challenges. The old world is challenged by the new world. And we don’t know what the new one is.”

But according to Néstor Lopez there is no denying that there is a crisis. “Who says there is not a crisis, is blind. But what is wrong, and that is even a bigger problem than the crisis, is that people seem paralyzed. People say they’re in a transit zone. Transit to where? You are late for the party! You can only do the dishes.”

And Lopez, who emphasized that his statements were his personal opinion and not those of his country, continued with bold remarks. “You know how East-Germany became capitalistic? West-Germany bought the East. But here is no West-Slovenia that can buy the rest.” Lopez, who is known for his ‘out of the box’ thinking went on saying that Slovenians ‘have to understand that this is not Disneyland’. “Santa Claus is not your father.”  Other top quotes of the Venezuelan Chargé d’Affaires: “Slovenia can be the Silicon Valley of the world. Think big.” “Maribor is for some people the Benghazi of Slovenia.” “State and market should be under the command of the people. I believe in the socialism of the 21st century.”When I saw that the Central Bank here shares the building with commercial companies then I knew this country has a problem.”

Various attendees came with advice to beat the crisis: “Be happy. This is a beautiful country”, said Danfoss supply manager Bart Stegeman. “Get out of the comfort zone”, advised director Sergio Foti Hotelinspiration. “Aim high”, said Jeremy Hibbins. Devid Palčič believes people should work ‘smarter’. SDBP-president and owner of the Heroes Group Cees Nieboer advised ‘not to envy’ and Giedre Sadeikaite of the International Center for Promotion of Enterprises said ‘to stop being afraid of foreigners’.

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