LJUBLJANA, Sept 26 Slovenia's prime minister for
the first time said she had discussed the "possibility" of
international help for its banks on Thursday, adding to signs
the country may be inching closer to an aid request later this
year or in early 2014.
Central bank and other officials have been saying for weeks
that it would be a tight call whether the small euro zone member
would be able to recapitalise its struggling lenders on its own
once it sees the results of stress tests, now expected in
With financial markets watching keenly for signs of another
euro zone rescue in the works, Prime Minister Alenka Bratusek
said nothing could be decided until the stress tests were
But she had always publicly denied previously that a bailout
was even a possibility.
"We are talking with the Bank of Slovenia also about that
possibility, about what it would mean to get help for the
banking sector ... but there is no need to speculate from that
that Slovenia would actually need help," she told a news
conference after a regular government session.
All euro zone members have the option of asking for
financial aid from the European Stability Mechanism, established
in 2012 to provide financial assistance to member states in
Slovenian banks, mostly state-owned, are struggling with
some 7.5 billion euros ($101.31 billion) of bad loans which
equals 21.5 percent of GDP and are at the heart of speculation
that the country could ask for a bailout in the coming months.
Slovenia has until Oct 1 to present its reform programme to
the European Commission, revealing steps that should reduce
budget deficit to 3 percent in 2015 from 7.9 percent seen this
On Monday Eurogroup head Jeroen Dijsselbloem will visit
Ljubljana for talks on reforms.
Slovenia was the fastest growing euro zone member in 2007
but was badly hit by the global crisis due to its dependency on
It fell into a new recession in 2012 amid lower export
demand, credit crunch and a fall of domestic spending caused by
($1 = 0.7403 euros)
(Reporting by Marja Novak; editing by Patrick Graham)