TOP Slovenia Interview: Marta Kos

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Former Ambassador of Slovenia to Switzerland

After graduating from the University of Ljubljana, Marta Kos started her career as a journalist before becoming a foreign correspondent for national television in Germany. She then went on to become Vice-President at the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Slovenia had not had an Ambassador in Germany for almost two years and she was asked by the then Prime Minister, Mrs Alenka Bratušek, if she would consider the role. Marta Kos took up the position in May 2013 and in December 2016 she was chosen by Diplomatisches Magazin to receive their Ambassador of the Year Award for her extraordinary contribution to the strengthening of social, economic, and cultural relations between Slovenia and Germany. She remained in Germany for a further year before succeeding Franc Mikša as the new Slovenian Ambassador to Switzerland where she resigned yesterday.

WHAT FIVE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE SLOVENIA?

Beautiful, hearty, friendly, sometimes too closed, blockchain successful.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE GIFTS AND SOUVENIRS FROM SLOVENIA TO GIVE TO PEOPLE?

Potica -walnut cake, clay pot for potica, good Slovenian sausage, laces from Idrija and wool felt slippers.

WHAT MAKES SLOVENIA A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE AND WORK?

A very high quality of life, good life-work balance, friendly people and beautiful nature.

HOW DID YOU COME TO HAVE A CAREER IN DIPLOMACY?

This is a story for life: I was asked by the Prime Minister Alenka Bratušek. Of course, I said NO at first, because I didn‘t want to leave my own company. But Berlin and Germany prevailed!

WHAT ARE YOU MOST IMPORTANT RESPONSIBILITIES AS AN AMBASSADOR?

To present the interests of Slovenia to the receiving country, to promote Slovenia.

WHAT MIGHT OUR READERS BE SURPRISED TO LEARN ABOUT THE LIFE OF AN AMBASSADOR?

That going to many receptions and events means a hard job of networking, not just eating and drinking.

SLOVENIA IS OFTEN DESCRIBED AS A SMALLER SWITZERLAND, WHAT DO THE TWO COUNTRIES HAVE IN COMMON? AND IN WHAT WAYS ARE THEY MOST DIFFERENT?

There are many values which connect people from Slovenia and Suisse like high working ethics. We do have in common punctuality, love for the nature, especially the mountains, a tendency towards perfectionism. What also connects us is a very high suicide rate. We are different in the efficiency of the state; Switzerland is more innovative and has an excellent research & development sector connected to the universities. The Suisse Universities are of high quality and attract students from all over the world.

WHAT CAN SLOVENIA LEARN FROM SWITZERLAND?

How to better connect public and private sector, how to lower the tax burden and how to decentralise the state and how to better integrate the foreigners.

IS THERE ANYTHING THAT SWITZERLAND COULD LEARN FROM SLOVENIA?

Yes! How to be more open and talkative, how to spend a quality life with friends and how to have a good and tasty cuisine.

WHAT DO YOU MISS MOST ABOUT SLOVENIA WHEN YOU ARE LIVING ABROAD?

In Berlin I missed the mountains, now in Switzerland, the openness of the people and good restaurants.

ANY ADVICE FOR YOUNG WOMEN ASPIRING TO WORK IN DIPLOMACY?

Trust yourself and go for it!

WHAT’S THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON LIFE HAS TAUGHT YOU?

We do not always have an influence on what happens to us in life, but we always have an influence on how we react.

DO YOU HAVE A PERSONAL MOTTO OR PHILOSOPHY?

Why I am enjoying myself?