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Slovenia and Macau: Size, location, connections

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One would think that there couldn’t possibly be any similarities between a country as small as Slovenia and one as large as China. But at the start of a conference by Professor Miro Hacek from the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Ljubljana, participants learnt that both countries’ flags share a similar symbol: stars. While China’s hosts five, Slovenia’s shows three above mountain peaks and a river, its characteristic landscape. 

Speaking at the book presentation for his co-authored work, the “Political System of Slovenia” at the Portuguese Bookshop yesterday, Prof. Hacek’s lecture was jointly organized by the Luso-Asian Forum and the Institute of European Studies of Macau. Sharing his insights about the political system of Slovenia, the first Eastern European country to join the Euro in 2007 after gaining independence in 1991, the professor interestingly revealed how the former-Yugoslav country has one of the smallest governments in Europe with only 12 ministers and a prime minister. 

Staying on the theme of size, this is indeed a common unifying factor between Macau and the European republic. But according to the professor, the similarity lies more in each one’s proximity to its larger and inclusive neighbor: Slovenia is a small territory on the periphery of another – the EU; and so too is Macau – in respect to China: “In terms of economic similarities, Slovenia is thought of as an expert on the former Yugoslavia, and also Macau could be thought of as an expert on China. For instance, when our economic delegations come to China to establish economic relations, they always go to Beijing, to Macau and to Hong Kong. And this has been going on for decades”. Due to its position next to the PRC, the SAR is host to one of the Slovenian official economic representation missions to the country. Correspondingly, just as Macau is seen as a gateway to China, Slovenia is often seen by the Chinese as a gateway to central Europe and the EU through its port, Koper.  

Replying to a question from the audience on how Macau and Slovenia can benefit each other, Prof Hacek provoked a round of laughter by his reply: “Slovenia can benefit more! Just like the EU, Slovenia is in an economic crisis – but Macau is not”. As a result, the country is looking for external investors, and Macau could provide investment in infrastructure. Similarly, through its experience in the gaming sector, the territory could also provide expertise to the Slovenes, as a casino in the Nova Gorica area still needs investment following an initial unsuccessful Las Vegas venture falling through. As one of the few EU countries where gaming is legal, Slovenia would like to develop the industry that Macau is currently at the vanguard of. 

In this way, thanks to Prof Hacek, we now know that a small former-Balkan republic has more in common with a small former-Portuguese colony than anyone would have ever indeed imagined or expected. 



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