Parliamentary body calls for repatriation of Slovenian diaspora

Ljubljana, 13 April - The parliamentary Commission for Slovenians Abroad discussed on Thursday ways to prevent brain drain. It unanimously urged the government to prepare a plan for repatriation of Slovenian diaspora and an office that would provide Slovenians abroad information on possibilities for cooperation with Slovenia, returning to the homeland and immigration.

Stranded Slovenians returning home amid the coronavirus epidemic.
Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA

Dejan Valentinčič from the ASEF institute for education and research presented a survey conducted by ASEF, the Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and the Slovenian Migration Institute among over 2,000 Slovenians living in other countries.

According to the survey, the main reasons for leaving Slovenia listed by the young highly-educated respondents are lack of opportunities for career development and promotion, lack of job opportunities, lack of challenges, poor working conditions and the mentality in Slovenia.

Two-thirds of the respondents said they would like to return to Slovenia. Of the 25% who do not intend to return, half want to cooperate with Slovenia and half do not, Valentinčič said.

He believes the first step should be to offer information on the repatriation process and the second to remove obstacles. It is also important to offer tax breaks to those who want to return or the companies that would hire them, he said.

Vesna Humar, state secretary at the Government Office for Slovenians Abroad, said repatriation of Slovenian diaspora was one of the priorities of the office and Minister Matej Arčon. She called for inter-ministerial cooperation.

She and Valentinčič agreed that brain drain is a problem of the entire Slovenian cultural area. "Brain drain is a problem for every country, but especially for minorities," said Valentinčič, noting that Slovenians living in all four neighbouring countries were facing this problem.

This was confirmed by representatives of Slovenians in Croatia, Hungary and Italy, who pointed out that members of the minority stay in Slovenia after coming to the country to study, partly because of the lengthy process of nostrification.

Bernard Sadovnik, the head of the Community of Carinthian Slovenians (SKS), and Martin Lisjak from the Slovenian Cultural and Economic Association (SKGZ), said the minority was happy when Slovenians moved in. "For Slovenia it is brain drain, but for the minority it is people returning," Lisjak said.

The commission's chair Suzana Lep Šimenko from the opposition party Democrats (SDS) stressed that cooperation with Slovenians abroad should be encouraged and that they should be encouraged to return. The process should also be made easier for their descendants.

Iva Dimic from the opposition party New Slovenia (NSi) said young educated people should be attracted to Slovenia through university habilitation and less complicated administrative procedures. The information point for Slovenians who would like to return to their country has been planned for more than ten years, she said.

Vera Granfol from the ruling party Freedom Movement noted that emigration increased at the peak of the economic crisis and said that the state should provide apartments for the staff it needed.

© STA, 2023