Friends tell me I am usually too naive and romantic, but sometimes I just can't help myself being an optimist. Even though Slovenia is one of the most taxed nations in the world, I still envision Slovenia as an emerging country with one of the highest potentials around. Breakthroughs are possible, f.i. Ireland became one of the most successful countries in the EU (second highest GDP in EU!) even though their economic model was hit really hard by the recession. I'm sure Slovenia will do even better when her time comes, so be ready.
Perhaps the greatest competitive advantage of Slovenia is insight, intuition and understanding others. It started with Yugoslavia, probably the only country in the world fully embracing three major religions (Catholic, Orthodox, Muslim). Sadly, that story ended in bloodshed, but some positive heritage remains. With great geographic location, bordering Austria, Croatia, Hungary and Italy, all the major cultures of Europe are influencing Slovenians. By being a post socialistic country with not too exploited capitalism adoption, Slovenia was the perfect playground for new era negotiations between Bush and Putin. Neutral ground between north and south, east and west, understanding motives and interests of many players, small enough not to be a threat.
Cultural diversity and high information flow made some Slovenians outstanding, and the Adriatic see being the window to Europe probably helped too. Quite a few companies were able to produce global success stories, specializing in high-tech products and services, such as IT, technology, aeronautics and alternative energies (more on cool Slovenian brands some other post). Not bad for a country the size of a large city, taxed to the maximum.
Taxes. They work really contra productive, but they're caused by our greatest flaw - our size. 2 million citizens. Everybody knows everybody and projects become political way too soon. Another thing that happens is that the government becomes the only buyer big enough to afford things. Our startup Neolab is developing innovative IT solutions and trying to make it abroad, with some success. Because I understand that building the Slovenia brand plays a really important part in achieving this, I'm blogging about it and doing everything in my power to promote Slovenia (and Neolab, I admit...). Hopefully others will follow and "Made in Slovenia" will have higher value soon. I think it deserves it and most of us probably need it.
Exporting high value-added specialized products and services is what we do best and what we will hopefully be able to continue on a larger scale. This is the strategy Slovenia has to keep and support. Our scientists are amongst the best in the world and can make innovative, creative, useful and modern goods of the highest quality for a fair price. Besides, people here are cool, most of them are faithful, fair, loyal and unconflicting. Come see for yourself, nice people, tasty wine, good beer and beautiful nature will do you well.
The world of the globalized tomorrow will be moderated by the neutral and objective. This is Slovenia's hidden expertise that still has to be recognized, even though we've already been doing it for ages. And because we are too naive, we won't even take advantage of it. We will rather work hard and wait for the indirect, long term benefits. It may sound irrational, but I fully support that approach.
My inspiration for this post is an online civil initiative about development and future of our country that's actual right now by taking full advantage of Web 2.0 (Facebook, Twitter, Noovo, LinkedIn). Thumbs up for that, but we will probably need more than just good ideas. This time my contribution goes for motivation and realization that we have the potential to make it big if we work together and cooperate. Made in Slovenia.