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Slovenia took over the two-year mandate for presidency of the Zurich Group

Samo Omerzel, Minister of Infrastructure and Spatial Planning, took part in the yesterday's international ministerial conference International Transport Forum (ITF) in Leipzig. In the late afternoon, he symbolically took over the presidency of the Zurich Process from the German Minister of Transport Alexander Dobrindt.

On this occasion, the minister Samo Omerzel thanked to the host minister Alexander Dobrindt for his work and emphasized that, as the Slovenian minister in charge of transport, he is happy and proud to take over the Zurich Process presidency for the next two years and that he wishes to continue the outstanding work which has been carried out by the ministers and countries before him. He added that the member states of the Zurich Process strive "for even closer cooperation in this area and for technical, governing and administrative burdens to be completely removed in some perspective, as this would mean a more effective solving of the common challenges" and expressed his belief that the group will continue to realise the common vision of sustainable and safe transalpine transport of the members states of the group.
 
On this occasion, Samo Omerzel reminded that the Zurich Process was created because people realized that during fast economic development and the resulting intensive international commercial flows, special attention must be given to safe and undisturbed transport flows which have to respect the environmental requirements by strongly protecting people and animals living in this environmentally extremely vulnerable area. To this day, the Zurich Process has stayed true to this principles which will also lead the Slovenian presidency.
 
What is the Zurich Process?
 
In the light of the tragic accident in the St. Gotthard Tunnel at the end of October 2001 and disasters in other tunnels (Tauern), the transport ministers of Austria, Italy, France, Germany and Switzerland, in the presence of the European Commission and on Switzerland's initiative, signed a joint declaration, the so-called Declaration of Zurich on 30 November 2001. The purpose of the Declaration is to improve diverting of the road transport to railways and to improve road safety (especially in Alpine tunnels).
Since October 2001, the ministers have met on five conferences. Slovenia became a member of the group on 20 October 2006 in Lyon (under the French presidency).
Ministers of Transport agreed that their work will follow the three goals: improving transport safety through the Alpine region, improving mobility on the roads through the Alpine region and encouraging alternative means of transport to road transport.
All the above goals are also in line with the Alpine Convention and its protocol on transport which Slovenia also signed and ratified.
 
Two of the major successes of the group's work are certainly the adoption of the EU Directive on Safety Requirements for Tunnels in European Road Networks and an agreement to jointly commission a study regarding the “Alpine Crossing Exchange” (to study three instruments, namely ACE, AETS, TOLL+ for better management of heavy truck transport through the Alps).
 
During the presidency hand-over, Samo Omerzel pointed out that the success of the project can only be realized at its end, when it can be seen whether the measures taken were successfully put into effect and whether new incentives and ideas are created. He also said that during the Slovenian presidency, "we want to emphasize the characteristics of the common alpine identity, point out the joint projects which are still necessary in the Alps and which will be a sign of a better management of the heavy transit transport". Maintaining an intact environment and developing an acceptable long-term transport policy are very important goals of the joint cooperation in this unique alpine region.
 
The Slovenian presidency of the Zurich Group will be composed of two parts: in addition to the official part of the presidency, the unofficial part will include a wide range of activities. Special emphasis will be put on sustainable mobility, innovations and energy. Its cover message is "Energy for sustainable mobility in Slovenia".
During the next two years, several activities are planned as well as many events on local, regional and national level.
In the past, Slovenia excelled itself in a similar project, its presidency to the Alpine Convention, where the activities are still running under the coordination of our ministry. We are convinced that this project will be successful from the political as well as the economic point of view.