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LIFE STYLE: Autumn Tour of Slovenia’s Best Wines

The Slovenia Times, Slovenian magazine in English, volume 6, number 122, EUR 4,80

November 2009

The Big Squeeze Raising Glasses, While Pension System Teeters

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November 2009 4



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Of Church and State Canadian Governor visits Slovenia Stella Ronner-Grubacic talks development Russian ambassador M. V. Vanin says goodbye to Slovenia

ECONOMY Boško Šrot and Igor Bavčar, tycoons par excellence, arrested Pension reform: Work longer, don’t count on state’s largesse Outlook for Slovenian pensioners clouding Expo Real 2009 does good business Upmarket real estate in Ljubljana Riko will make designer houses



Logistics sector needs the state to make a move Ljubljana’s airport has high-flying ambitions Logistics expert Klaus-Juergen Uhl on Slovenia’s logistics challenges Slovenian Railways in a tight spot

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Slovenia’s wine map Award winning wines Wine terminology History of viticulture Ljubljana marathon impressions Dine with style: Bled castle restaurant


Lila Prap, children book creator

CULTURE 46 47 48

Young filmmakers met at Bilateral Fokus 90 years of Maribor Theatre Event Guide




100 years the Automobile Associations


Ski season preview Every picture tells a story November 2009




source: STA, Slovenian Press Agency

Patria Affair: Enter the Finns Several hearings by Finnish investigators looking into the Patria defence deal scandal, have been conducted in Slovenia, with the list of interrogated persons including former Primer Minister Janez Janša. The investigators questioned businessman Rudolf Leban, who arranged compensation deals related to the purchase of 135 armoured personnel carriers. Former Primer Minister Janez Janša said after the interrogation that he was shown several documents, including one in which Patria was planning its deal with Slovenia. According to him, the document clearly showed that it was drafted based on the information provided by painter Jure Cekuta, who acted as a middleman and had according to Janša certain con-

tacts, which included the then President Janez Drnovsek and former Prime Minister Anton Rop. The document allegedly also said that a problem remains of how to approach the prime minister after the 2004 general election, after which

Janša took over the post, and how to meet his demands. In a response to these tatements, Rop, who served as prime minister between 19 December 2002 and 3 December 2004, said this was “absurd” and “did not deserve a comment”. Cekuta suggested that the document in which Patria was said to have been planning its deal with Slovenia did not exist as he had not seen it. At the sidelines of the hearing, Cveta Zalokar Orazem, a deputy of the coalition Zares, was questioned investigators from the Office of the State Prosecutor General over her claim in July that police had deliberately “misplaced” Interpol documents related to the Patria case. The MP said the hearing was no coincidence, accusing the prosecution of pressuring critical journalists and politicians.




Ministerial Swap

Troublesome Ambassador

Parliament endorsed Henrik Gjerkeš as the new local government and regional development minister. He replaced Zlata Ploštajner, who resigned in October citing personal and health reasons. The coalition deputies said that Gjerkeš’s presentation before the relevant parliamentary committee was ambitious and good, and agreed with his main goals, while the opposition lawmakers said he lacked experience. Gjerkeš announced tight cooperation with local communities and dialogue with mayors, and that he would continue with efforts to introduce provinces. Gjerkeš’s nomination also split the deputy group of the party that nominated him, the Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS).

The opposition Democrats to reports that Russia had appointed the first pro-Russian Chechen leader Doku Zavgayev the new Russian ambassador to Slovenia by demanding a discussion on the matter. The party believes Zavgayev’s confirmation would be disputable from the human rights aspect. MP Eva Irgl assessed the appoinntemnt as shocking. According to her, the news demand serious explanations and a clear answer from Slovenia whether it will agree to the appointment of Zavgayev, a senior party official, became the first pro-Russian leader of Chechnya in 1994 after Russian troops were sent to this restless republic. While first serving as prime minister, he was elected president in 1995, but had to leave the office in 1996 when the capital Grozny was taken by Chechen rebells. According to the SDS, Zavgayev was a “pillar of the politics which was unable to solve the problems which led to armed conflicts”. The party added that he was “considerably involved in the Chechen war”, during which severe violations of human rights took place.

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Eight people sustained injuries, including three grave, in an unlikely incident as an unknown perpetrator detonated explosive device, believed to be a hand grenade, in front of a nightclub in the city of Kranj. The director of the Million Club, which regularly hosts ex-Yugoslav folk stars, has told that he is at a loss as to what the motive of the attack could be, not knowing nobody would be demanding anything from them. Police apprehended a 21-year-old and a 18-year-old in relation to that attack. Commercial broadcaster later reported that the bomb was detonated in a brawl between two groups of visitors, alleged reason for a conflict was a girl. Further investigation of the incident led to the June theft of arms from a military warehouse near the town of Pivka, SW. The police has seized the majority of the stolen arsenal in houses used by a suspect arrested after the incident.

Marko Stijepić

Uroš Prezelj Subsciptions/Distribution Circulation: 10,000 copies. ©DOMUS d.o.o., 2003. All rights reserved.

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UNDER THE PRESS  Deputy in Debts Opposition Democrats (SDS) deputy Branko Marinič has not been paying the expenses for a rented state apartment in the centre of Ljubljana for three years and owes the manager of the building over EUR 2,500 including interests. Marinič commented that he had not received the bills because none of the three keys he got with the apartment opens the post box. Dušan Kumer, who is in charge of deputy apartments, meanwhile said that other inhabitants of the building do not share Marinič’s problems, although they have the same manager. Deputy Marinič is known for another affair as he allegedly sent another person to answer an oral exam in his name at an university where he is studying. Ironically, Marinič is a chief of parliamentary commision, which deals with corruption. His party explains all these accusations as a part of plot by political opponents.

Health care

Private Practices on Strike About 200 practices were closed in northeastern Slovenia on 20th October for two hours as private practice doctors protested against a government measure forcing them to return part of the funds that they have been receiving for their practices. The president of the Association of private practice doctors and dentists, Dean Klančič announced further steps for the protection of private practitioners across Slovenia will be discussed. Health Minister Borut Miklavčič however said earlier that an increase of funding for primary health services in 2010 had been agreed on, but no further details have been revealed. The government decided in May to cover hospitals’ old debts from the state budget. On the next day, it issued a decree cutting the funding of private practices by the national Health Insurance Institute (ZZZS). Private practitioners were then in September informed that they would have to return part of the funds that they have received for their private practices since 1 April. Moreover, the ZZZS started paying them significantly lower tax deductions, the association said.

Former officials


Turning Off the Tap

A New Rupel Thriller

The Corruption Prevention Commission sent to procedure initiative for legislative changes that would make it harder for former MPs to receive compensation in the year after loosing office. The commission said that many formally jobless former deputies receive benefits despite substantial earnings on the side. The commission wants the law - which entitles former deputies and ministers to compensation for loss of office as well as length-of-service allowance and pension contributions for a year after their office ends - to include checks of eligibility and to consider all the income secured during this year. They pointed to the case of an ex official who continued receiving compensation despite making substantial earnings through lectures and expert work. Former officials automatically receive it if they apply for it before their term ends. The existing legislation also defines no procedures on the basis of which it would be possible to establish whether ex officials are objectively not able to find a new job or whether income from other sources does not provide them with a living standard comparable to that enjoyed as MPs or ministers.

Long-standing ex-Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, who has never tried to hide his passion for literature, has presented his new novel. Political thriller “Predsednik ali Tako, kot je bilo” (President, or The Way It Was) was launched almost 20 years since the publication of his last literary work. The novel is fiction based on historical facts, but the dividing line is blurred. The author said he wanted to share with the readers “some things” which could not be expressed in political writings, but only in a literary book. The last couple of years have been crucial, so the book is also a kind of a reaction to the problems of the Slovenian political and social arena, he said.

It is sad that such inconsistencies happen with a reputable firm, which manages state-owned apartments. That it couldn’t find out in three years they weren’t receiving payments. From 2006 until April this year I didn’t receive any bill. Deputy Branko Marinič, on his payment discipline.

“The document was made on the basis of information gathered by Mr Cekuta. It also says that when it comes to lobbying for this job, this person can cover some contacts such as former President Janez Drnovšek and the Prime Minister Anton Rop … The document says the problem remains how to get to and satisfy the prime minister after the elections – meaning me. Former Prime Minister Janez Janša after the hearing by Finnish investigators about a document, which explains why his name appeared among the persons involved in the Patria corruption affair. It probably doesn’t exist, because I haven’t seen it. Painter Jure Cekuta on the document, which Janša commented on..

What they are doing is an expression of immaturity, absence of knowledge, culture, and ability. We can call this a drain of all the ethics and morality existing there. There was nothing in the contents. Historically, it is a technique of discreditation on the basis of a meaningless matter. How do you introduce fear into a system? Not by putting on a trial somebody who performed a controversial, indoctrinating or even a criminal act - but for example by accusing someone of using the letter c five times in one sentence.

Photo: Mediaspeed

State officials

Sašo Hribar, a host of TV show commenting on a censorship of a dialog segment where he mentions public broadcaster boss Jože Možina as the best politician in the country (

After unsuccessful attacks by a part of the government on RTVS leadership, it tried to use the Hri-bar show to politically label the leadership in order to discredit it. Petar Radovič, editor of entertainment programme at TVS on reasons for his censoring.



Church and State

Freedom to Repress

By Jaka Terpinc

Slovenia dropped seven places

on the

World Press Freedom Index, calculated annually by Paris-based NGO Reporters without Borders. On the world’s 37th spot the country is now preceded even by African countries like Namibia and Ghana. The good news is we are still beating some European companions, including the homes of enlightenment and the renaissance – France and Italy. But that’s not teasing at all - actually, the whole Europe went down. Even if we can argue the objectivity of RSF, there’s little proof against our miserable score. The recent history of infamous evidence against the press freedom in Slovenia is far from boring: We have politicians who understand a lack of praise by media as a conspiracy and therefore take right to intervene to any extent they can. We have politically loyal directors with a serious lack of expertise and entertainment bosses, who are strangers to mildest forms of irony and satire. We have more politicians who are ready to insult citizens but can’t take an insult from the press. We have courts, which find it hard to understand the context and tend to interpret media text word by word and comma by coma as if they were reading a will. We also have courts, which prefer to protect powerful figures with doubtful reputation than the right of citizens to be informed… This is not something Slovenes are traditionally used to, believing that our national independency grown hand in hand with the daring and revolting press against a repressive regime. The former centre-right government, particularly its leader Janez Janša was sure that the press was too leftist and therefore lined up with the existing, so called transition-left centers of powers. That government therefore took legitimacy to discipline the press forcibly, using all legal means. First there were staffing interventions reaching as far as possible. Then the legislation got a few lines changed. Finally, the funds were regulated into the right direction through budget subsidiaries, not to mention that big advertisers all the sudden couldn’t hide their political dependencies. But the effect was far from desirable. The former government achieved itself a more respectable reporting and encouraged some new media projects, but also provoked a revolt among certain journalists, editors and the audience. Some would claim this obsessive attempt of media lobotomy contributed to the general discontent causing the former government’s failure. Janša would, on contrary claim, that the same media still managed to conspire against him and ruined his next term. But apart from the attempted political reshaping of media landscape, the whole situation contributed to an even more unpleasant side-effect. With the pillars of public journalism so obsessed with political directions, they began to forget their primary citizenry role: being a step ahead in informing, educating, and posing a healthy alternative to commercial media. Instead we can only moralize and wonder where is the lowest point of reality shows’ bizarreness, how tasteless and disorienting infotainment has become and why their ratings soar.

Of Angels and Demons When the government decided to appoint the irreverent and thoroughly leftist former MP Aleš Gulič as the head of the Religious Communities Office, the Vatican made it clear that it was not amused. By Jaka Bartolj


ven though the three biggest Christian Churches in Slovenia backed Gulič’s predecessor, Drago Čepar, for the post, Government Secretary General Milan Cvikl ended up selecting Gulič instead. Cardinal Franc Rode was quick to describe Gulič’s appointment as a “provocation that not even the Communist Party itself would have permitted itself.” The alleged tensions between the Vatican and the Slovenian government made national headlines in the wake of Gulič’s appointment when Borut Pahor’s audience with the Pope was cancelled – officially “postponed” -- during the Prime Minister’s official visit to the Holy See. To many observers, the message was clear: The Church was displeased with the Gulič appointment, as well as with other decisions of the new government, and was now making its views abundantly clear.

Waving a red flag In some ways, the Vatican’s reaction to Gulič’s appointment is not a surprise. During his time as an MP, Gulič had supported legislation that would have solidified the separation between Church and State in Slovenia. Among other things, he had opposed to state funding of social security contributions for priests. The rift was also cultural: With his beard, long hair and dark clothing, Gulič strikes a distinctly countercultural figure. He is dedicated left-winger known for his sharp rhetoric and even occasional theatrics; for example, he lit a cigarette in Parliament to protest the introduction of an anti-smoking law. He is also a nonbeliever -something that, according to him, actually helps him to be a more impartial arbiter among various

religious interests. Just days after his appointment, Slovenian media outlets dusted off old images of Gulič wearing a Satan’s Brothers T-shirt. Gulič quickly defended wearing the shirt, saying it was merely the name of a bikers’ club and had no other meaning. But few in the Catholic Church were convinced. To them, it was just further proof that Gulič is ideologically out of touch with practicing Catholics. However, it is not just Gulič who is making some within the Catholic Church nervous. Last year’s change of governments from a centre-right coalition to a centreleft of coalition represented a shift in the balance of power between those favouring a strong separation of Church and State and those more willing to blur the lines. To some observers, Gulič appointment was merely a poorly planned attempt by the government to signal that leftwards shift. The weekly Mladina editorialized that “the appointment was a declaration of redefinition of the state’s relations Photo: BOBO

Same treatment for all gods and prophets: Gulič as the head of Religuous Communities Office


Still separate It’s a debate that has reig n ited on a regular basis since Slovenia’s independence in 1991. During the Communist era, the relationship between the Church and the State was clear: The Communists were in charge and it was up to them to decide what the Church could and couldn’t do. The early post-war years saw intense persecution of the Church. Later on, the policy shifted to one of very limited tolerance. The Church was allowed to publish its own periodicals and build new churches, for instance, but intense pressure on believers and the Catholic Church remained commonplace. It was undesirable for many in power to attend church publicly, and there were plenty of more subtle restrictions: When a TV announcer wore a cross pendant on television, she vanished from the screen for good. And when several new churches were built, the belfries were ordered not to be too prominent. After independence, the situation changed dramatically. The Church became considerably more assertive, seeing itself as an equal partner, and Slovenia’s first post-communist centre-right government was happy to oblige. Subsequent political power shifts highlighted a frequent stalemate between two competing visions of Church-State relations. Drnovšek’s centre-left governments leaned towards a secularleaning model, whose most typi-

cal European parallel can be found in France. To the consternation of the Church,for example, Slovenia became a relatively rare post-communist country not to provide religious instruction as part of the national school curriculum. It quickly became evident that, say, a Croatian-style model, with the Church playing a central role in society, was out of the question in considerably more secular Slovenia. No wonder Franc Rode, Archbishop of Ljubljana, now a Cardinal, referred to his homeland as a “sole atheist island” in the area. Still, it was Drnovšek’s centregovernment that reached a landmark agreement with the Vatican, specifying rights enjoyed by the Catholic Church, amid intense criticism from secularists. This status quo has remained largely in place as political power in Slovenia changed hands. To be sure, Janša’s center-right coalition was more attentive to Church interests than the centre-left coalitions. Perhaps the most typical example of this attitude came when former Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti decided to return to the Church several structures on Bled Island that had been nationalized after World War II. The move was highly controversial and the new centre-left government has now gone to court in order to overturn it. Despite these differences, however, the relationship between the Church and the State is unlikely to change in the years again. The status quo is too entrenched and political power shifts between the political left and the political right too frequent for any groundbreaking changes to occur. Therefore, even clumsily handled appointments such as that of Aleš Gulič aren’t likely to have lasting political consequences.

Slovenia - Canada

Meeting of Minds President Danilo Türk and visiting Canadian Governor General Michaëlle Jean called for a further strengthening of the already excellent relations between the two countries. By STA and Jaka Terpinc

Photo: BOBO

with the Church,” but fundamentally a symbolic one, as the government was then surprised by the Church’s reaction.

The allies: Türk and Jean visit Ljubljana armybarracks.


overnor General of Canada Michaëlle Jean paid a three-day official visit to Slovenia. Speaking to President Türk, Jean stressed the importance of consolidating “the bridges between the two countries,” especially in light of the current economic crisis. “The more we join forces, the more solid and effective solutions we will find,” she said. The pair emphasised the good relations in the area of logistics, announcing that Transport Minister Patrick Vlačič would visit Canada in November. Türk mentioned that first steps were being taken towards cooperation between Slovenia’s sole port of Luka Koper and Canada’s port of Halifax. Jean also met Speaker of the National Assembly Pavel Gantar, with whom she debated ways for tackling the financial and economic crisis. The pair agreed that solidarity with the most vulnerable groups was necessary. “It is the task of politics to take care of those who need help but cannot help themselves, while we need to create new opportunities for others,” Gantar said. At her meeting with the Sloven ia n Prime Mi n ister, Pahor said he was glad that Jean visited Slovenia again this year after having to finish her visit to the country early, last year, when she needed to urgently return home due to a political crisis in Canada. The Governor General praised Slovenia’s progress in its 18 years of its independence and called for cooperation in science and education, and mobility. She and Pahor agreed that investing

into young generations was a priority. Slovenia and Canada took the opportunity of Jean’s visit to sign an agreement on the mobility of youth. The Governor General said that investing in youth and in knowledge was among her priorities. The agreement is part of the Canadian international youth programme designed to boost close bilateral ties with other countries through cultural exchanges that would enable young people to understand other cultures through travel, life and work experience abroad.

Brothers in arms Her visit was concluded by meeting soldiers at the Franc Rozman Stane barracks. Jean and President Danilo Türk, who accompanied her, agreed that the cooperation of Slovenia and Canada in NATO missions was a chance to boost their partnership. Discussing Afghanistan, where both countries are present as part of the ISAF mission, the pair agreed that persistence was needed, as the issues to be solved were highly complex. Türk and Jean further stressed that strengthening the legitimacy of political institutions in the country also depended on the way in which the international community helps Afghanistan. Jean said that institution building required time and lending an ear to the local population and civil society. Türk highlighted the mission in Afghanistan, saying it was “an opportunity to further enhance the partnership and friendship” between Slovenia and Canada. He also thanked Canada for its contribution to world peace.


Interview: Stella Ronner-Grubacic

Fighting Poverty Stella Ronner-Grubacic has been the Dutch Ambassador for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) since June 2008. This UN agreement, signed by 189 member states, consists of eight major goals, reducing extreme poverty being the most important one. The goals should be achieved by 2015.


s Ron ner- Gr ubacic shared her thoughts on development issues on Slovenian Development Days, organized by Sloga, a Slovenian NGO platform for development cooperation and humanitarian aid, in cooperation with the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Could you briefly tell us what the Millennium Development Goals are all about? By 2015, the following should be achieved: eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, universal primary education, promotion of gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability and establishing a global partnership for development. Slovenia, along with many other countries, has committed itself to the MDGs and is working towards achieving them by 2015. What is your role in the project?

My task is to explain and create awareness of the MDGs. I am primarily based in the Netherlands, but I also travel abroad and explain to other countries what we are doing and why is it so important and urgent to achieve those goals on time. I work towards bringing different partners closer together. I am not talking only about the governments of the countries involved, but also about the private sector, non-governmental organizations and each and every individual who can have a voice on the matter and can stand up and take action themselves. The point is: an extra effort by everyone is really needed if we want to achieve the MDGs by 2015 Can you give us a practical example of how companies and the organization you represent cooperate and maybe inspire a Slovenian company to do similar? One interesting example is called “Green Light for Africa.” It is a public-private partnership we have with Philips. They designed a solar energy lamp thatworks with a solar panel that charges during

Stella Ronner-Grubacic started her career at the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1990. She first worked in the UN Aid Department and then at the embassies in Belgrade and Paris. Later, she was appointed a spokesperson to the mission of the OSCE in Belgrade; in 2003, she became the spokesperson for the Dutch Foreign Minister. In 2005, she was appointed as head of the Western Europe department at the ministry. She became the ambassador for the Millennium Development Goals in 2008. The Slovenia Times

the day and is able to provide light in the evening and night. In poorer countries, all economic activities usually stop when it becomes dark; together with Philips, however, we have enabled people to continue working after six o’clock in the evening. The whole idea here is that Philips puts into the partnership their expertise and know-how: what they’re best at. We, on the other hand, put into the project what we are best at, which is implementing the project on the field through our network and knowledge as well as by training activities and raising awareness about the importance of this activity. The point here is that we both add value to the project and make our joint cooperation much more valuable and effective than if each of us would start a similar project independently. How can a small country such as Slovenia help such a noble cause? As we discussed during the Slovenian Development days, in order to achieve the goals by 2015, every country has to stand by their commitment made internationally when the agreement was signed in 2000. Everybody promised to invest 0.7 percent of their GNP into development cooperation. At this point, Slovenia is working on it. I really admire the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for bringing Slovenian Development Days to life and giving the opportunity to other countries and organizations to explain what they are doing. This sharing of ideas, experiences and knowledge will surely inspire Slovenians and provide them with ideas on how to create similar projects. Indeed, Slovenia has successfully been through a process of transition. Your expertise in this field has been applied in the region, to countries that are going through a similar process of transition. I think this is very smart and extremely helpful. What do you expect to come out of the Slovenian Development Days? Some direct effects are being seen already. The state secretary

had a meeting in parliament to discuss the budget and parliament decided to agree to an increase in the funds for supporting development in less fortunate countries. Of course, this is very good news. One thing I would like to highlight is the fact that Slovenia is striving to provide its own added value to contribute to this cause. Indeed, Slovenia as a member of the EU and the UN, needs to abide by this international commitment to development cooperation. As we have heard from one of the representatives of the European Commission, the latter will not hesitate to name and shame countries that do not live up to their commitments or that do not show sufficient effort towards supporting this cause. How are projects of the nature of the ones you defend affected by the financial crisis? The financial crisis, as we all know, has now affected all sectors of the economy and become an economic crisis. The amount of financial support for poorer countries has also been affected. The economic development of poorer countries has been profoundly hit and the effect will be long lasting. While most of the developed countries seem to have succeeded in supporting their economies, this is not the case with the countries we deal with. Especially in the field of the human development issues such as schooling and health care, the effects of the crisis are really being felt. These are the sectors where both public and private investments have dropped substantially. Why is it important to continue cooperation when the economy is hit by a crisis? Developed countries need to express solidarity with countries that are less fortunate; this is a moral argument. There is yet another important reason, however, which is what I like to call “enlightened self-interest.” It is in our own self-interest to support countries where the MDGs are far from being met. What we want is to export stability and not to import instability. In the end, it is also in our own favour.


Interview: Mikhail Vanin

A View from the Russia House Mikhail Valentinovich Vanin, the ambassador of the Russian Federation to Slovenia, left the country in October to assume the post of Secretary-General at the Russian Ministry for Foreign Affairs. In an interview with The Slovenia Times before his departure, Mr Vanin underlined the importance of the cultural and historical proximity between the Russian and Slovenian peoples, also emphasizing excellent economic links between the two countries. If you could choose one accomplishment from your mandate – not two or three, just one – which one would you pick? Just one, you say? Well, I’d say that the thing that really made me happy was the naming of the road that leads from Kranjska Gora to the Vršič pass in the Julian Alps (a well-known mountain road linking the Gorenjsko and Primorsko regions, climbing to altitude over 1600 meters) “Ruska cesta,” meaning “the Russian road.” Why is this so important to you? You are well aware that relations between our two nations have always been cordial, even unique. We don’t have any open historical issues that may poison our relations. Throughout history, we have shared a similar destiny, especially in the second part of the 20th century. The Russian chapel that lies on the road to Vršič is an important monument that underscores the quality of our relations. It not only commemorates the hardship and sacrifices of Russian soldiers who built the road to Vršič during World War I, but is also a symbol of humanity and friendship. You said Slovenes and Russians share a common destiny. Does this also hold for their attitudes to the past? In Slovenia, we have seen attempts to strongly condemn the country’s communist past falter as people are not sure whether life before independence was really all that bad. Clearly, the Slovenian public opinion is divided on this issue. The same goes for Russia. There are people who think that the period after the World War II wasn’t so bad, yet others are certain it was a great tragedy. When you started your mandate in 2005, Slovenian exports to Russia were not even EUR 500m. Last year, they passed the EUR 800 mark. Do you see this trend continuing?

Throughout history, we have shared a similar destiny, especially in the second part of the 20th century.

This year will certainly not be as successful as the previous one in terms of trade between our two countries. I am satisfied, however, that the volume of trade has tripled since I’ve become an ambassador here. What about investment? Slovenia invests a lot in Russia, but also vice versa. Russian companies are following the privatisation of Slovenian companies in which the state still has stakes of great interest. They would like to invest in all sectors of the economy, from banking and insurance to logistics and energy. We think that Russian companies are welcome to invest in Slovenia and don’t see any problems in that respect. As the first serious Russian investment in Slovenia, the takeover of Slovenska industrija jekla (Slovenian Steel Industry) by the Koks Group, a deal worth EUR 300 m, shows, Russian firms can be counted on to respect all the commitments they enter into.

Winter is approaching. Once again, Russian gas supplies will be critical to keep us warm. Do you expect disputes with Ukraine could cause disruptions in gas supply to Europe? I hope that everybody has learned their lessons from the past couple of years, and that we will be able to avoid these situations this winter. The fact is that 80 percent of all Russian gas destined for Europe flows through Ukrainian territory. The only answer to this is diversification. You mean along the lines of South Stream, a planned Gazprom pipeline running under the Black Sea to Bulgaria and then further west, circumventing Ukraine? Yes, South Stream would be very helpful in diversifying supply routes for Russian gas.

Russian companies are following the privatisation of Slovenian companies in which the state still has stakes of great interest. They would like to invest in all sectors of the economy, from banking and insurance to logistics and energy.

The fact is that 80 percent of all Russian gas destined for Europe flows through Ukrainian territory. The only answer to this is diversification.

How far along are the plans to build one section of South Stream on Slovenian territory? I think that the agreement on that will be signed until the end of this year. November 2009




source: STA, Slovenian Press Agency

Budgeting for the Crisis

Slow recuperation public finances deficit, in % of GDP 0


2005 2006

2007 2008 2009* 2010* 2011*


Source: SURS, Ministry of finance

In concrete figures, EUR 8.6bn in revenues are expected in the state budget in 2010, EUR 7bn of which from taxes. This is roughly EUR 600m less than last year. Revenues from EU funds are projected at EUR 1.15bn, which Finance Minister Franc Križanič labelled as optimistic. Expenditure is expected to total almost EUR 10.5bn. Tax revenues should increase to 7.4bn in 2011, while revenues from EU funds would decrease to EUR 1.03bn, the minister added.




The highest share in 2010 will go for social security and health care (EUR 2.6bn), followed by education, culture and sport (EUR 1.7bn) and national security, defence and foreign affairs (EUR 1bn).

Photo: Mediaspeed

In October, the government adopted a proposal for the 2010 and 2011 budgets, which envisages a public finance deficit of 5.5 percent of GDP for 2010. The deficit is supposed to fall to around five percent of GDP a year later. Meeting half-way, coalition parties agreed on a 50 percent harmonisation of pensions with wage growth. Also adopted was a proposal that would force a pay freeze onto the public sector.

Only days before the government made public its budget plans for the next two years, the European Commission launched disciplinary proceedings against nine EU members, including Slovenia, over their failure to keep their budget deficits below the 3 percent GDP limit set by the eurozone rules. Risks stemming from schemes aimed at stabilising the financial sector, notably the state loan guarantee scheme for banks, could have a negative effect on long-term sustainability in Slovenia if the support of the government is not reduced somewhat in the future.

Finance minister Franc Križanič faces a tough task of reining in a fast-rising budget deficit

Slovenia’s public debt remains well below the 60 percent GBP threshold determined by the Stability and Growth Pact, but is increasing. According to the Commission, it will stand at 29.3 percent this year and at 34.9 percent next year.

despite a more than 25 percent increase in its budget deficit in the past year.

Bernard Brščič of Ljubljana’s Faculty of Economics took the opportunity for a critique of the government, saying its “excessively expansionist” public finance policies were an aberration. He argued that the warning from Brussels means that the road out of the crisis cannot be paved with unsustainable deficit and rising public debt.

Moody’s Investors Service, a global rating agency, kept Slovenia’s government bond ratings at “Aa2” with stable outlook in its 2009 report. Moody’s attributes this to the government’s predictable policy framework, relatively low debt and the benefits that come with the membership in the EU and the euro zone.

Brščič added that the fact that Baltic states were doing even worse than Slovenia in terms of the GDP drop is to a large extent the result of their restrictive public finance policies. He wonders how Slovenia was able to spoil its growth so much

“Although Slovenia’s economy is contracting sharply this year, the government has exhibited a high degree of resilience in the midst of the global recession,” Jonathan Schiffer, author of the report, said.


Simobil’s Dejan Turk Manager of the Year

Mercator Biggest Slovenian Company

In Deflation Territory

Retailer Mercator tops the list of Slovenia’s biggest companies, while shipping company Splosna plovba ranks as the most successful company, according to a survey by business daily Finance. Heading the TOP 101 list of the biggest groups and companies, the Mercator group employed 20,438 people and generated EUR 2.71bn in net sales revenues in 2008, shows the survey. Trailing the retailer are telecoms operator Telekom Slovenije and power producer HSE, followed by generics maker Krka, household appliance maker Gorenje, generics maker Lek, energy company Petrol, hardware retailer Merkur, conglomerate Istrabenz and car maker Revoz.

Slovenia recorded deflation on monthly and annual levels in September, with consumer prices dropping by 0.2% compared to August, and by 0.1% year-on-year, the national Statistics Office said. In September, services were 2.3% cheaper than in August, while the prices of goods went up by 0.8%, with prices of semi-durable good gaining 5.5% and non-durable goods 0.2%. Prices of durable goods were meanwhile 0.9% down.

Dejan Turk, the boss of mobile services provider Simobil, was named Manager of the Year by the Manager Association. The winner of this year’ award began his career as a crew member in a McDonald’s store and later took over at the helm of McDonald’s Slovenija. Turk has also served as the general manager of Metropolis Media, an advertising space agent. He has been at the helm of Simobil since 2007.


Abanka, Gorenjska Banka to Merge After signing a letter of intent on a merger at the end of July, the supervisory boards of Slovenia’s third largest bank Abanka Vipa and the Kranj-based bank Gorenjska banka are beginning to examine the merger plans. The merger would create the second-largest bank in Slovenia, with total assets of about EUR 6bn and a 12% market share, Zajdela said in an interview published in the October issue of banking journal Bancni vestnik. The Slovenia Times

A steep fall inflation, y-o-y, in % 7

Source: SURS


Photo: Mercator


6 5 4 3 2 1 0 -1 Jul 2008

Sep 2009

11 Economy


Clothing Giant Declares Insolvency

Loan Growth Lowest since 2005

Central Bank: GDP Will Shrink by 6.7%

Energy Dependence Increasing

Real estate

Photo: Ganam

Prices of SecondHand Flats Fall

Prices of second-hand apartments dropped by 7% in the first half of 2009 compared to the same period last year, while prices of new apartments dropped by 13%, the Surveying and Mapping Authority said. Prices of second-hand flats dropped for the fourth quarter in a row, and prices of new flats for the third consecutive quarter. The average apartment sold in the first quarter of the year had 52 square metres and was built in 1972. The average price of the sold apartments was EUR 1,690 per square metre.


Hit CEO Optimistic Despite Crisis The situation at Slovenian gaming giant Hit seems to be slightly worse even than the worst-case scenario, since the company expects to make a loss of EUR 8m this year. The new team at the helm of the company is nevertheless confident that Hit could be salvaged, CEO Drago Podobnik said. “It is not peachy, but it is controllable,” Podobnik said about the situation at the company, after he unveiled a plan that seeks to bring the company back into profitability by 2012 with extensive cost cuts.

Almost consensual economic growth in % 6 4

Banka Slovenije

0 -2 -4 -6



-8 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009

Banka Slovenije changed its GDP forecast for 2009, saying it would shrink by 6.7% and not just 2%, as forecast in April. Demand from abroad, investments and private consumption will drop, while unemployment will rise, central bank governor Marko Kranjec said. Presenting a report on price stability in Slovenia for the next two years, Kranjec said the central bank forecast the economic growth to stand at 1.6% in 2010 and at 1.7% in 2011.

Slovenia’s energy dependence increased to the highest level in the past nine years in 2008, standing at 55%, which is more than 2% up on the 2000 figure, the Statistics Office has established. Slovenia’s energy dependence level stood at 52% in 2000, while it was at 53% in 2007. The country is completely dependent on the import of liquid and gas fuels. The country covers 77% of its needs for hard fuels through domestic production and almost all of its needs for renewable source of energy. However this two categories jointly only account for 9% of the final energy use in Slovenia.

Photo: Dreamstime

Slovenia’s biggest clothing company, Mura, and three of its subsidiaries employing 2,635 people have declared insolvency and filed a request for receivership proceedings with the court in charge. The company said that the remaining five subsidiaries with 618 employees would continue operating. The parent company employs 942 people, the men’s wear subsidiary employs 522 workers, the women’s wear has 588 employees and the sheltered workshop Muralist employs 583 people.

The Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development (IMAD), a government think-tank, said in its latest report that the rate of growth of lending activity of banks had been declining for more than a year and a half. It was at 6.2% at the end of August, the lowest since 2005. In the first eight months, Slovenian banks granted to the non-banking sector only a half of the net value of loans compared to the same period last year. The net amount of loans in this period amounted to EUR 796.5m, of which EUR 317.2m were loans to companies and EUR 308.5m to individuals, according to IMAD.

Source: SURS, UMAR, Banka Slovenije

Financial market

Photo: BOBO




Banks’ Profits Down by 45%

Telekom Lashes Out at Regulator

Slovenian banks generated EUR 194m in pretax profit in the first eight months of 2009, which is 45% less than in the same period last year. The results for half-year were meanwhile down by 58% compared to last year, according to the country’s central bank. Banka Slovenije highlights impairment and provisions as the main reasons for the falling profit. From January until August, the banks formed almost EUR 248m in impairment and provisions. At the end of July the figure was EUR 224m, which is EUR 171m more than in the same period last year. In 2008, impairment and provisions amounted to some EUR 278m.

Slovenia’s top telco Telekom Slovenije will not be able to invest into the development of the fiberoptics network next year because of EUR 10-20m lower income due to envisaged regulations of the Agency for Post and Electronic Communication (APEK), Telekom chairman Bojan Dremelj told STA on Friday. The telecommunications watchdog envisages a regulation demanding that Telekom allow other internet service providers access to its fiber-to-thehome (FTTH) network and set the price Telekom can charge for its use, thus ensuring competition, while Dremelj believes the price will be too low to allow Telekom further investment in the field.


Minister Opposes Sale of Port Energy

New Sostanj Generator to be Built The supervisory board of power producer HSE approved an EUR 1.1bn investment into the construction of the sixth generator at the Sostanj coal-fired power station. While investment costs were estimated at EUR 1.34bn in April, they now stand at EUR 1.103bn, or EUR 997m without the financing costs.

Transport Minister Patrick Vlacic has opted against the sale of strategically important Slovenian companies, such as the operator of Slovenia’s sole commercial port. Meanwhile, a gathering of locals in Koper rejected plans for the expansion of Luka Koper. Vlacic said that he would never sell companies of strategic importance for the state. Luka Koper and similar companies have infrastructure important for the state, he said.

Your Partner for South Eastern Europe


Consecutive Interpreting, Proofreading GRAH PREVODI, s.p., Užiška ulica 6, 2000 Maribor, Slovenia T: +386 (0)31 731 006, E:, November  2009


Istrabenz and Laško

Arrested development Even though Bavčar and Šrot were released the same day, they are still heavily under “the suspicion of the criminal acts of abuse of office and money laundering,” according to Drago Menegalija, a police spokesperson. A total of eight people were detained in the operation and documentation was confiscated from the searched locations. Bavčar cooperated with authorities by handing over some documents himself and claims that the raid was prepared at short notice, because the police raided houses they did not have a warrant for. This statement was based on the police reportedly having the wrong house number issued on the warrant for the search of the Maksima Holding office (a former major owner of Istrabenz). Bavčar ultimately believes that the raid was backed by political motives and that the action was initiated by Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković, former-CEO of Mercator. Janković disputes these claims. “Those who make such disreputable business must simply answer for it,” he said to STA. “I wonder why the previous government failed to carry out the investigation, considering they had all the documents in their hands.”

History of events


Igor Bavčar, ex-boss of Istrabenz, led the company into the hands of its creditors

Just a few years ago, Igor Bavčar and Bosko Šrot were two of the most feared and powerful Slovenian tycoons. Now they have been bagged, tagged, and finally released –arrested on the suspicion of corporate crimes. By: Lucija J. Millonig

In 2007, there was an outright battle between Šrot and Bavčar as to who would prevail as the most powerful tycoon. Then, the main issue revolved around the control over retailer Mercator. The Slovenia Times


oken in the wee hours of the morning of 30th, Igor Bavčar, former CEO of conglomerate Istrabenz, and Bosko Šrot, former CEO of beverage group Pivovarna Laško, were arrested on suspicion of white collar crimes. Taken to the Celje and Ljubljana police stations for questioning, a total of 19 house searches were conducted, including the headquarters of Istrabenz in Koper and Pivovarna Laško in Laško. The investigation relates specifically to the trading of 7.3 per-

cent ownership of Istrabenz from Pivovarna Laško to the company Maksima Holding, as well as the trading of retailer Mercator shares from Istrabenz to Laško under suspicious circumstances in 2007. The trading of shares and ownership between the tycoons was done through a chain of companies, with prices per share not adequately reflecting their value – a practice now discovered to be just another nail in a coffin of failed borrowing schemes and ruined reputations.

In 2007, there was an outright battle between Šrot and Bavčar as to who would prevail as the most powerful tycoon. Then, the main issue revolved around the control over retailer Mercator. Istrabenz owned shares of Mercator and Laško owned shares of Istrabenz. Some speculate that Bavčar and Šrot exchanged ownership, feeding their personal interests and goals. Šrot therefore sold Laško’s 7.3 percent ownership of Istrabenz through various avenues (all which seemed to have ended with Bavčar), while Istrabenz sold its 18 percent Mercator shares to Infond Holding (the financial heart of Laško) for EUR 262m – a deal that made EUR 30m less than it would have on the stock exchange.

Major breakdown Tracking the 7.3 percent share of Istrabenz after it was sold by Šrot has proven to be difficult. Not only did the shares cross many hands, but millions of euros have mysteriously disappeared as well, something now being investigated by the state authorities. Halfway through 2007, Pivovarna Laško first sold the shares to its subsidiary Plinfin for EUR 23m – a price less than half the market value of the shares. A few

ECONOMY 13 Istrabenz) and invested another EUR 6.5m into it, even though his annual gross salary was EUR 1.7m as CEO of Istrabenz.

You call this management? Under Bavčar’s and Šrot’s management, their business objectives were farfetched and one cannot help but wonder if they operated solely to achieve personal gain in the wake of recent developments. Both companies grew through acquiring and investing in various business ventures by taking out large amounts of loans with shares given as collateral. Istrabenz’s and Laško’s biggest creditor was the NLB bank. Istrabenz received an estimated EUR 120m, while Laško received a loan amount of EUR 130m. From Factor Bank and Probank, Istrabenz received EUR 13.4m in loans; after Unicredit bank seized shares, the debt still amounting was EUR 37m, down from over EUR 100m. Other (mostly foreign) Photo: BOBO

days later, Laško sold Plinfin to the retailer Sportina Group for EUR 7,500. Sportina then sold EUR 25m worth of their own shares to unknown company called Microtrust, whose owner was a financial consultant for Istrabenz. The same day, Microtrust sold the Istrabenz shares to the company Pomfin, a financial firm, for a whopping EUR 49.2m. To this day, investigators are still unable to trace where the EUR 25m profit made by Microtrust went – money that seemed to have disappeared in a matter of hours. Reportedly, Microtrust then lent EUR 12m to an unknown person. By the end of the year, the Istrabenz shares were then sold on to two other companies. Criminal investigators are trying to determine whether Bavčar received any money from these deals, possibly even the loan that Microtrust gave out. This is because during this same time Bavčar bought company FB Investicije for EUR 5m (a company that had majority ownership of

creditors filed claims at the District Court of Koper ranging from EUR 29m to 83m. Laško was hit hard as well, since Infond Holding gave many Laško shares as collateral; so much, in fact, that the District Court of Ljubljana granted several creditors voting rights at shareholder’s meetings.

Ownership (re)structure Before creditors came in to seize Laško shares, Infond Holding held 52.1 percent ownership of Pivovarna Laško and 24.9 percent of Mercator, making it the clear majority owner. But with creditors seizing and selling their shares off, NLB has become the current largest owner of Laško. NLB first seized 23.5 percent of shares and sold them to its subsidiary only to buy the shares back. Now Infond owns less than 2 percent of Laško and 1.35 percent of Mercator. Istrabenz has a similar story of ownership restructuring. Before insolvency, Istrabenz’s majority owner was Maksima Holding (25.8 percent). Now, creditors, specifically banks, are the majority owners. With creditors having a strong say in the running of Istrabenz, they are also considering replacing the whole management board, including the current CEO Bogdan Topič. Any course of action in the Istrabenz case will greatly impact the organizational landscape of the conglomerate.

The trading of shares and ownership between the tycoons was done through a chain of companies, with prices per share not adequately reflecting their value – a practice now discovered to be just another nail in a coffin of failed borrowing schemes and ruined reputations.

Istrabenz and Laško grew through acquiring and investing in various business ventures by taking out large amounts of loans with shares given as collateral.

Slovenian holdings

Bleeding Money In the first half of 2009, the 23 most powerful Slovenian holdings had more than EUR 120m reported losses, while just a year ago they were clearing a profit. Until now, the losses have amounted to nearly half a billion, while loan amounts were nearly at EUR 3bn. With 14 out of 23 holding groups ending their second quarter in losses, the biggest losses were reported from Istrabenz (EUR 291m), Zvon Ena Holding, Maksima Holding, Infond Holding (EUR 99m), and NFD Holding (EUR 66m). Total debt did decrease by 0.2 percent in the last year, but usually debt restructuring is based on creditors seizing shares. When it comes to loans, there are four times more short-term loans issued by creditors than long-term loans. Creditors include national banks, but now more often loans come from private companies (sometimes even subsidiary companies), which offer unsecured loans. Bank loans are less popular, since companies must fulfil strict criteria in obtaining them, usually without the option of loan extension. This high risk loan-structure is evident with Pivovarna Laško, which is going to lose up to EUR 110m because of unsecured loans, as well as other companies; Sava owes its subsidiaries EUR 11.3m, the KD Group EUR 8m. Even NFD Holding, whose CEO is Stanislav Valant, is facing problems with its NLB bank loan. NFD sold more than EUR 30m worth of Sava to retailer Merkur for a lower price than what others were offering. Does NFD have an arrangement with Merkur, and if so, is Stanislav Valant heading in the same direction as Šrot and Bavčar? Glory days: Boško Šrot, ex-boss of Laško Brewery, has overreached himself November 2009


Pension reform

All Work and No Play Judging by the traffic jams caused by increasing numbers of baby buggies in the nation’s parks, one could be forgiven for thinking that Slovenia is going through a veritable baby boom. Appearances are deceiving, however; the population is in fact ageing rapidly, forcing politicians to come up with unpopular measures to avert a looming pension crisis. By Marko Vuković

The Slovenia Times

Getting old

“I think we’ve arrived in the new millennium with the feeling that time is slowly running out for us,” says Stane Potočnik, a web designer from Ljubljana, who became a father a year ago. The children of the original baby boom generation born in the years after the World War II are now in their mid-thirties. After a turbulent decade following Slovenian independence in 1991, when the economy was shedding jobs, having children was not exactly a top priority for many young people. When things started to brighten up on the economic front at the turn of the century and especially since Slovenia entered the European Union in 2004, a wave of optimism changed the outlook of younger generations. Energetic economic growth created an abundance of jobs, and banks were generous with housing loans. “It certainly was the right time to think about settling down and having a family,” Potočnik explains.

It seems that he was not alone in that decision. In 2006, for the first time since 1996, there were more births than deaths in Slovenia, finally bringing the natural increase in population back to positive territory. The number of newborns has been increasing

ever since, with 2009 shaping to be the best year in a decade. Unfortunately, however, the good news ends here. Slovenia’s population is ageing rapidly; if in 1990 the median age (splitting the population in two equal groups, half older and half younger than it) was 34 years, it is expected to

Not even close total fertilty rate and replacement level

Slovenia France Replacement level













2005 2006


Source: Eurostat

In 2006, for the first time since 1996, there were more births than deaths in Slovenia, finally bringing the natural increase in population back to positive territory. The number of newborns has been increasing ever since, with 2009 shaping to be the best year in a decade.

A lost decade

15 * data for July 2009


was the number of all pensioners in the country

EUR 2.128

was the highest pension paid out

EUR 554

was the average pension be just shy of 42 years this year. In Ireland, in contrast, the median age is a mere 35 years.

Demographic dividend The age structure of society has only recently been accepted as an important factor of economic growth in mainstream economics. Yet the facts are unequivocal: a demographic dividend can be reaped in a relatively narrow window when life expectation increases and fertility falls, lowering the number of dependent youngsters that need to be provided for and swelling the ranks of the working-age population. This boost to the productive capacities of the economy is said to be behind the recent economic booms in Ireland and Southeast Asia. Yet as society ages, the process goes into reverse. When fertility rates fall low enough, the share of older people starts to rise inexorably. Moreover, the population itself starts to shrink. For the past decade, not one European country has attained the replacement level fertility rate required to keep the population at least stagnant, if not growing. Slovenia’s fertility rate is among the lowest in the EU, lagging far behind that of France, which is one of the few countries in Europe flirting with

the replacement threshold (see chart).

Alarm bells It is not surprising, then, that in October the European Commission said Slovenia belonged in a group of 13 EU member states that, in contrast to the remaining 14, face a high long term risk to the sustainability of their public finances. Population ageing and low fertility make for an explosive fiscal combination; a shrinking workforce is saddled with increasingly heavy burdens stemming from pension and health care provision as the share of elderly people shots up (see chart). In Slovenia, the state-run payas-you-go pension system still provides the majority of funds for retirement. With fewer and fewer workers to go around, however, either social security contributions that employees and their employers pay to finance old-age spending must rise to unsustainable levels or the budget must be tapped to make up for any shortfall. In 2008, a quarter of EUR 4.5 bn that the state-run pension fund ZPIZ spent on pensions came directly from the budget. According to the European Commission projections, however, public finances will face an enormous

The big squeeze age-related government expenditure as % of GDP

2007 2060



35,7 20


38 26


Source: European Commission

29,1 23,6


28,4 18,9


24 0








strain in the future. Today, the government spends 22.9 percent of GDP on age-related services; in 2060, it will spend a whopping 35.7 percent.

Treading too timidly? Mojmir Mrak, professor at Ljubljana’s Faculty of Economics, is therefore right to point out that Slovenia has some of the most unfavourable demographics in Europe; only in Lithiuania will the age shock to public finances be greater (see chart). To avert this slow strangulation of the economy, people must be made to work longer and learn to accept lower pension entitlements. This is pension reform in short. In 2000, a first timid step toward reforming the pension system was taken. The government decided to prolong the period used for calculation of the pension base from 10 to 18 working years, thereby lowering the average base, and to introduce tax incentives for longterm pension saving. The take up was somewhat disappointing, however, and the need for more far-reaching and unpopular measures is now all the more emphatic.

Biting the bullet With the budget deficit ballooning and public debt reaching new

heights, Prime Minister Borut Pahor has no choice: he must reform, lest the financial markets punish the country with higher costs of borrowing in a time when money is urgently needed to support the flailing economy. The government is thus thinking about raising the retirement age from 63 to 65 years, abolishing differences in retirement ages for men and women and extending the pension base calculation period to 35 years. Trade unions are not enthusiastic. “For a very large group of workers who started working relatively young, this goal is unattainable, given the working conditions,” Dušan Semolič, the leader of Slovenia’s largest trade union confederation warns, suggesting that this could lead to some industrial workers having to work for 45 years. He adds that many would end up in disability retirement or on permanent sick leave. Semolič already announced street protests against the reforms that he says may lower the future pensions by 10 percent. The protests, however, will not stop the demographic avalanche that threatens to bury the budget. The unions are barking at the wrong tree here; let’s just hope that inevitable sobering up comes sooner rather than later. November 2009


Pension system

Goodbye Tension, Hello Pension? The ratio of active residents to retired people in Slovenia is currently approximately 1.7 to 1; but according to predictions this ratio is dramatically approaching 1 to 1. This means that fewer and fewer employees will work for more and more pensioners. The government will inevitably have to swallow the bitter pill of pension reform. So far, planned reforms have found no supporters among pensioners or unions. By Barbara Štor Photo: Dreamstime


ntil 2000, Slovenia had one of the lowest retirement ages in Europe, 56 years and 6 months. With the new millennium a higher retirement age has been gradually introduced in order to extend active working status: the current retirement age is 63 for men, and 61 for women. However, due to certain special circumstances, it is possible to retire early. Circumstances for early retirement include: children, or because initial employment was before the age of 18. The average age for men retiring last year was 61 years and 11 months, while the average age for women was 57 years and 7 months. The most disconcerting fact is that a majority of retirees’ pensions depend on compulsory contributions by the employed. Now it seems that both men and women will have to work even longer, as the government has obviously decided to implement pension system reform which envisages, among other things, the raising of the full retirement age for both men and women to 65 years, while the minimum retirement age will be raised to 60 years. The reform also proposes that pensions should be calculated

As the number of old people increases, health care costs follow

based on one’s wages for the entire duration of his active status – currently only the best, consecutive 18 years count.

Aging population Slovenia identified the problems in the pension system already in the 1990s. Many workers at that time took advantage of an early retirement or retirement with a full pension qualifying period, irSource: Eurostat

Less than two million population projections and old-age dependency ratio for Slovenia Population (million)

Dependency ratio











respective of age, while redundant workers could buy parts of their pension qualifying period. The number of retired people suddenly increased, and consequently the costs of the pension system also started to rise. The Slovenian population is aging: life expectancy is predicted to increase by 2060 from the current 80 years to almost 90 years for women, and from 75 to 84 for men. With the population living longer, the period of receiving pensions is also longer. For example, in 2000 on average women received retirement benefits for 17 years, while men received them for 15 years. Last year women received pension benefits for almost 21 years, while men received benefits for more than 16 years. This represents a significant upward growth in expenditure for pensions. Also, due to population aging, the share of Slovenia’s GDP intended for pensions will have to grow from 10.91% in 2000 in to 18.62% by 2060.

The reform opponents 2010 2015 2020 2025 2030 2035 2040 2045 2050 2055 2060

The Slovenia Times

The government believes it is high time to tackle modernization

of the pension system. Although it is obvious that some changes to the current pension system are essential, the blueprint for reform has only been received positively by coalition parties. The trade unions, as well as the opposition, were strongly against the proposal. The President of the Independent Trade Unions (ZSSS) Dušan Semolič reproached the government that it had decided without the appropriate dialog. “The Government is lowering all standards of cooperation with the unions. We at least had dialogue before; now we don’t even have that,” declared Mr. Semolič. At the same time ZSSS announced demonstrations for November 28th to show their opposition regarding the raising of the retirement age.

Frozen pensions Besides the higher retirement age, the pensioners were also alarmed by the government’s announcement to freeze pensions. Some 60 percent of pensioners in Slovenia live on the edge of poverty, and one third of them receive a pension lower than € 400 per month. According to Mateja Kožuh Novak, the president of the Association of Pensioners’ Societies (ZDUS), “the government let pensioners know that those who have little would have to get used to having even less.” Also the junior coalition Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) took the opposition’s side. When the government was discussing the 2010 and 2011 budgets, the party announced that if the budget proposal had in fact included a pension freeze, DeSUS deputies would have voted against it. Fortunately, the parties involved later reached a consensus, where coalition parties agreed to a 50% harmonisation of pensions with wage growth, which the cabinet finally adopted for the 2010 and 2011 budgets.

Seminar medijskih trendov PortoroÕ09 Media trends seminar

the h t i w r a n i m se Media trends ope! r u E w e n n i tion longest tradi

26th and 27th November, Portoro, Slovenia



PROGRAM Truth, transparency and the death of privacy? Walter Naeslund, CEO/Communication Strategist, Honesty AB, Sweden Marketing strategies in the digital space Hrabren SuknaiĂŚ, Regional Manager Adriatics & Bulgaria, Google, Croatia Managing media planning and brand positioning across media platforms Per E Â sberg, Head of Production & Panels, Nepa AB, Sweden

Marketing communication in recession times Costin Mihaila, Client Service Director EMEA, MediaCom, Netherlands ItÕs time for performance based online media planning Primo iek, CEO, E-laborat; Rok Hrastnik, International Internet Director, Studio Moderna; Slovenia

Engagement ROI Adrien Vielliard, Consultant, Slovenia, Austria

Making news in digital world: an opportunity or threat? Jani Sever, Editor,, Slovenia Zvezdan Martiè, Head of Multimedia centre,, Slovenia Nina Jeranèiè, Editor,, Slovenia Milan Slana, Editor,, Slovenia

New media content and new digital concepts in magazines Oliver Voigt, Publisher and Chairman, Publishing Group News, Austria

Predictive behavioral targeting Stephan Noller, CEO and Founder, AG, Germany

Navigating the change - exploiting global communication trends in CEE Tom‡ Lauko, Digital & Business Development Manager, ZenithOptimediaCEE, Czech Republic Shop until you drop Maja Hawlina, Concept Manager and Cofounder of Studio Poper, Founder of Lowe Avanta, Slovenia Consumer habits and media consumption trends among young people in the Adriatic region Maa Muster, Qualitative Research Manager, Mediana, Slovenia LOHAS: Our survival kit? Mitja Tukej, Strategist and Partner, Formitas BBDO Pleon, Slovenia Communicational planning - the industry standard or the story farfetched in the Balkans Katarina KostiÌ, Communication Planning Director, Universal McCann, Serbia A survey of Slovenian web media Primo iek, CEO, E-laborat, Slovenia Argeta fairy tale Toma Arh, Marketing Director, Pate Business Unit, Droga Kolinska, Slovenia Digitalisation means fragmentation, higher costs and less homogenous data. Is there an elegant solution? Iain N.H. Rugheimer, Head of International Marketing, Mediaresearch, Owner of Mediastat Holdings, Czech Republic EU debate on food & alcohol advertising Laura Sboarina, Regulatory and Public Affairs OfÞcer, Egta, Belgium

Google workshop on Sempl Wednesday, November 25

Google intro and agenda Hrabren SuknaiÌ, Regional Manager Adriatics & Bulgaria, Google, Croatia Best practices for search Anja Kunèiè, Adwords Account Manager, Google, Ireland Ad tools Steffen Ehrhardt, Product Specialist & Project Manager Emerging Markets, Google, Germany Report center Anja Kunèiè, Adwords Account Manager, Google, Ireland Conversion tracking & conversion optimizer Steffen Ehrhardt, Product Specialist & Project Manager Emerging Markets, Google, Germany Analytics, website optimizer Steffen Ehrhardt, Product Specialist & Project Manager Emerging Markets, Google, Germany Trends and plans (insights for search) Steffen Ehrhardt, Product Specialist & Project Manager Emerging Markets, Google, Germany


Thursday, 26. 11., at 21.00


Making deals: Slovenia’s space at Expo Real was a hive of activity

Expo Real 2009

No retreat From 5th to 7th October, EXPO REAL 2009, the most important European real estate exposition took place in Munich. It had more than 21,000 visitors from 73 different countries, with exhibitors bringing in another 14,750 participants. Text by Carlos Silva, photos by Maja Kaplan

The crisis hits

Taking into account the economic crisis and the turmoil real estate markets have been going through in the last 12 months, the numbers are still surprisingly positive. The Slovenia Times

The event experienced a considerable decline in terms of participation from companies, visitors and countries represented. However, taking into account the economic crisis and the turmoil real estate markets have been going through in the last 12 months, the numbers are still surprisingly positive. In comparison to the Real Vienna expo, which took place in May, the atmosphere was much more relaxed; it seems the sector is back on track.

“Halls have been reduced and there are many more lounge areas to fill up the fairground space that has not been sold. Also, the visitor profile has changed; this year it was more a German fair rather than an international one,” stated Ms. Dasher, editor of the well-regarded real estate magazine. Regarding Germany, Mr. Greg Clark said that the country never really entered a deep crisis as far as real estate market is concerned, so the situation there is not as bad as in other countries, especially in Eastern Europe. “The prices in Germany will still adjust until the

middle of next year, however, potentially falling 10 percent,” he explained during his interview.

Western Europe, a sure bet Somewhat surprisingly, investors seemed most interested in real estate projects that are being developed in France, Germany and the UK. When asked what are their opinions regarding investment in Eastern Europe, a representative from one of the largest investment companies present at the exhibition replied that his su-

Comparison: Expo Real Visitors













ith 1,580 exhibitors from 34 different countries, EXPO REAL is one of the most important commercial property forums in Europe. Bringing together top real estate developers and financial providers, this powerful networking and business platform is the place to be for any person interested in doing business in the field.

REAL ESTATE 19 only looking at countries with a population of at least several million. Coming to Slovenia for one or two projects is not profitable enough for us.” Indeed, Slovenia might be stable both politically and economically, but it still remains a niche market in the eyes of large international investors.

On the roll, again?

Organizers have provided ample space to escape the bustling halls

periors had strictly forbidden any investment in those countries for the time being. “We are focusing our efforts on countries that we know well, where we know what we are purchasing. In the last couple of years, we have seen major excesses in countries, such as Latvia, where real estate property prices grew at unprecedented rates without any rational explanation,” he said. This growth attracted several investors who had little or no knowledge about the local market, he explained, adding that his firm has learned from those mistakes and will in the future focus its efforts on regions it knows very well. “Banks have put a red X over markets such as Russia. This does not mean there are not good opportunities out there; it is just harder to obtain financing to take advantage of those.”

inhabitants does Slovenia have? For us, the country’s market is too small to regard it as a potential investment opportunity. We are

Countries that are part of the euro area or that are about to enter it are seen as favourable investment destinations. The stability of the euro seems to provide investors with reassurances regarding their investments.

According to the opinion of many at EXPO REAL 2009, the situation on real estate markets is definitively getting better. If the exhibition had taken place six months earlier, experts believe the situation would have been much different and halls would have been much emptier. With this optimistic impression, the Slovenia Times left the event and is looking forward to next year’s expo, which will be hold between 4th and 6th October 2010.

The Slovenia Times talking South-Eastern Europe The Slovenia Times hosted an Investment Location Forum round table at Expo Real 2009 that saw four experts on real estate markets of Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia debate the latest developments in regional trends. Philip H. Bay, regional director for SouthEastern Europe from Colliers International pointed out that talking about a Western Balkan region is not relevant anymore, as the situations on the markets are very diverse. He sees a bright future for the ex-Yugoslav countries. Peter Vesenjak, CEO of the Hosting Group, said that Croatia is indeed a market where it is worth investing, as the country had become more stable and will soon be a member of the European Union. He emphasized that the Croatian coast

is a great investment opportunity for tourismfocused investors. Aleš Bulc, president of FIABCI Slovenia, a realestate developers association, and Miloš Vignjevic of UniCredit Bank Slovenija, stated that the economic crisis had had an impact on the Slovenian real estate market, but not to the same extent as on the real estate markets of other countries in Eastern Europe. While bank financing is no longer so easily available, funds are still on offer for developers with good projects. Vignjevic revealed that in order for his department to approve the financing of a project, the latter not only needs to be well structured financially, but also needs to have a precise marketing plan in order to the guarantee successful sale of units after completion.

The euro, a synonym of stability Countries that are part of the euro area or that are about to enter it are seen as favourable investment destinations. The stability of the euro seems to provide investors with reassurances regarding their investments. “If Portugal did not have the euro, the country would be in big trouble. Have a look at countries without the euro, they are all facing serious challenges due to the devaluation of their local currency,” commented Mr. Vidal from the consortium Sonea Sierra, one of the largest international shopping centre specialists. In this time of turbulence, investors are understandably looking not only for financial and political stability, but also transparency.

Why not Slovenia? When answering this question, Vidal was very clear, “How many

The Slovenia Times set off a lively debate on real estate markets of SEE region, moderated by the magazine’s editor-in-chief Marko Vukovic November 2009

20 REAL ESTATE Photo: Ganam

High-end apartments

Thinking Luxury?

Ganamm projects set a new standard for apartments in Slovenia.

There are several apartment complexes in Ljubljana that offer luxury right in the city centre. In order to find out whether the developers are really providing all that they promise, the Slovenia Times took a look at the hottest real estate developments that Ljubljana has to offer. By Carlos Silva


any people who been financially successful over the years, either as thriving investors or highly-paid professionals, think about increasing their quality of life by purchasing an upscale residence. Indeed, luxury real estate stands alone when it comes to taking that hardearned money and turning it into something tangible. While your first idea of a luxury residence might be a large Vila on the seaside owned by a billionaire software entrepreneur, it can also be found right on your doorstep.

Defining luxury Luxury properties might be defined by several attributes. Some believe the location is the main factor, while others see it embodied in exceptional design and quality of the building. A common denominator of all luxury properties, however, is their high prices and consequent exclusivity, as only few people are able to afford them.

The vision of Vila Urbana, designed by a well-known European architect Boris Podrecca, is now a reality. The luxury complex lies in the very heart of Slovenia’s capital. Bordered by the Luxury in Ljubljana Ljubljanica River and the At this moment, Ljubljana boasts medieval Ljubljana Castle three main luxury apartment The Slovenia Times

complexes; two, KID’s Vila Urbana and Ganamm’s New Dimensions project are already finished, while Situla is in the advanced planning phase.

Vila Urbana The vision of Vila Urbana, designed by a well-known European architect Boris Podrecca, is now a reality. The luxury complex lies in the very heart of Slovenia’s capital. Bordered by the Ljubljanica River and the medieval Ljubljana Castle, Vila Urbana is set in a tranquil location yet is only a short hop from Ljubljana’s bustling central market. Furthermore, the city’s old town, the city hall as well as government quarter are all within the walking distance. Not only is the complex perfectly located, the quality of construction is outstanding. Anyone entering the building cannot help but notice an impressive 24-meter long mosaic designed by Marko Rupnik, one of Slovenia’s most famous painters, adorning the marble entrance hall. Boasting 78 luxury apartments, Vila Urbana set a new standard, not only for Ljubljana but for the

whole of Slovenia. Contemporary architecture, superior materials, impeccable finishes, full air-conditioning, high-level security, underground parking and a 24-hour concierge service will fulfill the needs of even the most demanding buyers.

Exploring New Dimensions The project is located in the surroundings of Ljubljana, around five kilometers from the city centre. This green and peaceful location is considered one of the best living areas of Ljubljana with local schools and kindergartens within walking distance, making it perfect for young couples and families. The proximity to the highway ring makes it possible for its habitants to reach any part of the city within a few minutes’ drive. The resident ial complex is composed of eight small blocks and a total of 100 apartments built with a modern design favouring natural light and openness. Each block was constructed in such a way that even the most demanding buyers can find the residence of their dreams. As one


City within a city

The verdict If seeking a truly luxurious apartment in the very city center, you should consider Vila Urbana. Both the building exterior and interior are simply astonishing. Be aware, however, that depending on the location of an apartment within the complex, sunlight and nice views might be scarce. If sunlight, greenery and spacious views are your priority, Ganamm’s New Dimensions project might be your best choice. Its location close to the highway ring, however, might turn some buyers off. While distance from the city centre can be seen as an advantage

by some, it is also seen as a disadvantage by others. With its modern and cosmopolitan design, the Situla building will surely be considered among the city’s best architectural constructions of the 21st century. The services offered as well as the multipurpose character of the building are the project’s strongest points. The complex’s proximity to a busy traffic junction and the nearby train station, however, raises concerns regarding noise levels.

The modern style and design of the Situla building will satisfy the most demanding residents.

Photo: Vila Urbana

Do you want to feel like multimillionaire? Residing in Situla, you will enjoy a combination of luxury apartments with ample office space, not to mention various shops and an in-house wellness and fitness center. The premises contain a variety of apartments, ranging from exclusive, luxury duplexes to spacious, multi-room apartments a nd above-sta nda rd st udios. Residents will be able to enjoy wonderful views over the city and surroundings. From private terraces, green roofs, Japanese gardens, abundant daylight, high ceilings, heated floor, central ventilation, a special concierge service available 24 hours a day and a car cleaning service in the garage, the building is ready to satisfy every need a demanding customer might think of. It is also important to mention the supe-

rior quality of materials used in the construction of the building, sound proof windows to panoramic transparent walls giving each room a feeling of comfort and openness. If one is seeking a luxury apartment offering a variety of services under one roof and only footsteps away from the main transport hub of the city, the Situla project will match such expectations. This urban hybrid of innovative and unique architecture will be completed by 2012, but sales of apartments and offices are starting as early as this month.

Photo: Situla

of the most technologically advanced apartments in the country, employing the smart house concept, it provides inhabitants with features such as individual room heating, electric blinds, remotely controlled electronic appliances and even a touch screen door lock.

Do you want to feel like multimillionaire? Residing in Situla, you will enjoy a combination of luxury apartments with ample office space, not to mention various shops and an in-house wellness and fitness center. Feel the luxury as you enter the Vila Urbana reception hall with its superb 24-meter long golden mosaic

Comparison Location



Building design


Feeling of luxury

Price (EUR/m2)







4.070 - 5.990








3.500 - 3.800









Villa Urbana

November 2009



Build Me a House Riko, an engineering firm from Ribnica, has again succeeded in joining its technical prowess with world-class design solutions. As its boss Janez Škrabec explains, famous designers such as Phillipe Starck choose Riko as their partner, because the firm can provide them with best solutions on the market. By Marko Vuković

Photo: Riko

Lakes by Yoo, a prestigious wooden complex, has drawn a great deal of public attention. However, it must be admitted that the sales have slowed down in the past year because of the financial crisis that has deeply shaken the London upper class.

You have attracted a lot of attention as a partner in the Lakes by Yoo project where Riko supplied houses for a luxury development near Oxford, UK. How did this project work out? I am really delighted that Riko has had opportunities to take part in projects like the Lakes by Yoo. Together with a prominent client and design team, we are building a residential area that differs in many ways from our concepts of modern building: it is made of wood, with prefabricated houses that depart from rigidly set standards, thus being adapted to the individual wishes of residents. Riko’s system of wooden construction has proved itself to be ideal in this concept, because it offers high-quality construction. We have been tremendously satisfied with our role; Riko has been included into the project from beginning to end. So, our knowledge and experience contributed to its successful completion. A property

Riko has made a mark with its environmentally sustainable house design The Slovenia Times

developer accepted the best of our offer and later upgraded it. Apart from managing the neighbourhood and concierge services, future residents will have a wide array of activities at their disposal in the immediate surroundings. The area offers shopping at the local farmers’ market, fishing, horseback riding, hunting, numerous antique shops, and so on. Naturally, all these things provide excellent stimulation for development and growth in the area. This prestigious wooden complex has drawn a great deal of public attention. However, it must be admitted that the sales have slowed down in the past year because of the financial crisis that has deeply shaken the London upper class. However, the situation has started to improve; the project is rapidly developing again, and soon new houses will join the 40 already built. You are teaming up again with the renowned designer Philippe

Photo: Riko

Designer Phillipe Starck and Riko boss Janez Škrabec cementing their cooperation

Starck, a veritable star in the world of industrial design. What convinced Mr Starck to choose you as a partner for his latest project? I must confess that I had been convinced until now that the Lakes by Yoo project was the reason for new cooperation with Philippe Starck. However, I was surprised, and even more honored to hear him admit that he actually rediscovered when searching for a suitable partner. He scoured Europe, Russia, even America, but came back to Riko, not remembering our partnership in the abovementioned housing estate. I am sure that he has not only chosen us due to our commitment to ecoand low-energy building, our knowledge and experience, but also that his invitation was due to our pro-development orientation as well as the fact that our system of construction builds on the boldest solutions in spatial design. Starck intends his houses to be environmentally sustainable, offering maximum comfort with lowest impact on the environment. When will the houses be on the market? Green and eco perspectives are also present in Starck’s exceptional works as well as in his personal beliefs. I am really looking forward to seeing the results of our joint project. “Starck-withRiko” houses are supposed to hit the markets in the second half of next year. While cars have been mass produced for decades, the same is not true for houses. Starck wants to change that, with Riko’s help. How? I greatly appreciate Starck’s viewpoint towards the democratization of design and his endeavours to make top-class design accessible to broad masses. It is his wish to introduce standards, such as green building, to the general public. Accordingly, he strives to unite all these concepts into a house. He is attracted by the idea that also a house, like a car, can be an industry and thus mass produced. In this aspect, Riko provides him with all technical support.


Photo: SCT


The state of logistics sector in Slovenia

Untapped Potential Looking at the geostrategic position of Slovenia in Europe, it is hard not to notice that the country lies on the crossroads of two important European transport corridors, one linking Venice, Italy with Kiev, Ukraine, the other connecting Salzburg at the foot of Austrian Alps with Thessaloniki on the Aegean coast of Greece. The country’s logistics sector, however, has been struggling to make the most of this advantage, not least because the state has not been able to find a strategic vision for the industry. by Marko VukoviÄ? November 2009

24 LOGISTICS SPECIAL Source: Luka Koper

Recession bites Luka Koper throughput, in million tonnes




0 2003







* January – September

The fact that government has significant stakes in all important logistics firms in the country should make it easier for policy makers to follow the advice of many logistics experts who think that Slovenia should act as one big logistics platform. In this way, it would be able to offer state-of-the-art logistics services with high added value to companies who would view Slovenia as the gateway to European markets.


hat is not to say that Slovenia is not punching above its weight when it comes to the regional or even global reach of its logistics firms. With only two million people, it is not bigger than the average capital of an EU member state, yet it boasts the leading maritime port in the region as well as an airport with ambitions of becoming a multimodal logistics hub. The fact that government has significant stakes in all important logistics firms in the country should make it easier for policy makers to follow the advice of many logistics experts who think that Slovenia should act as one big logistics platform. In this way, it would be able to offer state-ofthe-art logistics services with high added value to companies who would view Slovenia as the gateway to European markets.

Indecisive The integration of the country’s logistics industry, however, leaves

much to be desired. The government has not yet found a strategy for the development of the logistics sector; this leaves municipalities all around the country free to dream up their own logistics centres. Instead of clearly identifying priority projects, the government acts as it is ready to support any good project with a clear market rationale behind it. At a time when funds are scarce, such behaviour is irresponsible. Economies of scale, costs savings and freeing up funds to invest in services higher up the value chain can only be realized if a relatively small number of priority projects are identified and successfully integrated into an overarching framework with a clear strategic goal.

Hold me tight Some think that the idea of a Slovenian logistics holding is just the thing. Merging Luka Koper, the operator of Slovenia’s only port in Koper, Aerodrom Ljubljana, the operator of the country’s leading airport, Slovenian Railways and Intereuropa, a logistics firm focusing on road freight transport, into one logistics behemoth would be a complex process fraught with difficulties and inevitable battles between entrenched lobbies. Yet such an integrated holding would be an attractive partner for strategic investors from abroad, which have to date not been exactly enthusiastic about entering Slovenia’s logistics sector. There are rumours that Deutsche Bahn (DB), Germany’s leading logistics services provider, has expressed interest in working with its Slovenian counterparts. As a partner to a would-be Slovenian logistics holding, DB

could bring new services, knowhow and deeper integration into global trade flows, allowing the country’s logistics sector to overcome its main difficulty: the relative lack of services with high added value.

Every man for himself As things stand at the moment, every company is fending for itself, not necessarily focusing on how to coordinate its investment cycle with the others. Take Luka Koper, for example. Plans for the expansion of the port have recently been made public; if followed through, the capacity of the port would increase by a third. Yet the port’s link with the hinterland, the Koper-Divača railroad, is overburdened as it is. Successive governments have long said that building a second track from the coast to Ljubljana is one of Slovenia’s priorities. However, nobody knows exactly how much the project will cost and when it will be finished. Observers say that the upgrade could be finished by 2015, costing up to EUR 4bn. The second track would allow the port of Koper to expand its operations without worrying about railway congestion and thus gain an advantage over competitors from Italy and Croatia.

Time’s running out The heads of Sloven ian log ist ics compa n ies wa r n t hat neighbouring countries are not passive. If Slovenia does not expedite its logistics strategy and start investing, its current advantages may start to wither in the eyes of companies that today are bringing millions of tons of cargo to Slovenia’s port, roads and railroads.

4th FDI of the Year Award Ceremony LOGISTICS SPECIAL

24th November 2009 - Ljubljana The Slovenia Times, in cooperation with JAPTI, is organizing the FDI of the Year award ceremony for the fourth time in row. This year’s event will take place on Tuesday, 24th November 2009, in Festival Hall in Ljubljana at 6 pm. The event will begin with the panel discussion on FDI in Slovenia with 5 prominent speakers, followed by the award ceremony. The Slovenia Times


Aerodrom Ljubljana

Logistics at its Best Slovenia’s strategic position in the heart of Europe makes the country an ideal location for future investment, not only in logistics services but also other sectors of the economy. One part of the plans for turning Ljubljana’s Jože Pučnik Airport into a regional leader in these fields is already well underway – it should be completed by 2021.

Photo: Mark Botte

By Polona Cimerman

Aiming to become a regional logistics hub, Ljubljana’s airport is investing heavily into expansion

Building a city Figures show that the number of passengers and amount cargo at the airport has doubled within the last decade. This places it among the most important regional distribution and logistics centres. The opportunities this trend offers were recognized by Aerodrom Ljubljana’s management, which has made plans to build a city in its own right next to Slovenia’s central airport. Aeropolis will stretch over 80 ha of land and will radically change the appearance of the airport. This substantial project aims to develop the airport’s commercial infrastructure and provide hotel accommodation, office space, commercial premises and logistics services, which the airport currently lacks but are in high demand. “Investors have already expressed a considerable interest for the projects,” says Zmago Skobir, the head of Aerodrom Ljubljana, which manages and develops the airport.

Demand-driven Ljubljana’s airport will be transformed into a bustling hub catering to the needs of travellers,

those involved in business as well as for the demands of freight traffic. The master plan includes a hotel area, business centre, business park and logistics park. The implementation of these four key projects is about to begin; it will start with the building of a new airport terminal. The construction of Aeropolis will take place in four phases: the first one, which should finish in 2012, is decisive and most important because it will dictate the further development of the entire project. Its priorities are a hotel and congress centre alongside the further enlargement of the logistics park. Other milestones in the expected development are the relocation of the existing access road and the building of the business park by 2015 and railway construction in the final stage. The continuous upgrade of the infrastructure is planned; however, the first two stages will dictate its extent. The plans for the Aeropolis Logistics Park are based on the fact that the demand for comprehensive logistics services is much bigger that what is currently available in Slovenia. There are no suitable logistics and distribution facilities from the Port of Koper to the Aus-

trian border; Aerodrom Ljubljana perceives this as a great commercial opportunity.

Going multimodal Besides Aeropolis, a significant investment will also be a multimodal logistics centre, the building of which will start sometime between 2010 and 2015. It will unite multiple modes of transport – the already existing air, road and (indirectly) shipping transport modes will be complemented by rail. Skobir emphasises that “... the railway construction is the essential factor in further progression of the airport.” It will expand the airport’s attractiveness as a logistics hub and broaden its appeal for providers of logistics and distribution services. The significant advantage Slovenia has in comparison with its neighbouring countries is its prox-

imity to the three major ports of the North Adriatic Sea. The multimodal logistics centre would be unique of its kind in a radius of 500 km, yet it must be constructed before the airports in the nearby regions take action. “The results from the master plan that also deals with the exact ‘when’ and ‘where’ questions regarding the railway will be presented in March 2010,” says Skobir. He believes that Slovenia has a great potential in the sphere of logistics due to its excellent position and the ongoing improvement of the national transport infrastructure, asserting “We can offer a higher added value to the logistics investors. But in order to achieve this, Slovene logistics need to connect with foreign strategic partners who will enable us to reach large global markets.”

November 2009


Interview: Klaus-Jürgen Uhl

Only Catching Up, So Far Railway infrastructure, education, costs, fragmentation, the government’s role and the lack of a strong transport regulator are some of the main challenges of the Slovenian logistics sector, according to the CEO of Vienna Consult, Klaus-Jürgen Uhl. By Luka Vodopivec can be considered one of the most successful logistics stories in the Mediterranean region. Italy and its ports are not sleeping, however. Still, Slovenia has a very good basis to join the top logistics hubs, from a geostrategic point of view. Which are the other factors that determine Slovenia’s success in the logistics and distribution sectors? A prerequisite to playing an important role in global trade is transport infrastructure with open access possibilities. Transport infrastructure not only consists of roads, rails and logistics terminals. Information infrastructure is also important; nowadays, it is almost as important as physical infrastructure. Slovenia has been investing in modernising road infrastructure on European corridors V and X. When it comes to rail traffic, not much has changed, neither on corridor V from Italy and its branch line from the port of Koper, nor on Corridor X. It is still the old railway system with low reliability and quality.


r Uhl, a former senior manager of one of the most important transport and logistics service providers in the world, Deutsche Bahn, and an analyst for the World Bank, nevertheless sees enormous opportunities for Slovenia’s logistics sector.


A prerequisite to playing an important role in global trade is transport infrastructure with open access possibilities. Transport infrastructure not only consists of roads, rails and logistics terminals. Information infrastructure is also important; nowadays, it is almost as important as physical infrastructure. The Slovenia Times

You come from a country that, according to various analyses, is viewed as one of Europe’s top logistics hubs. Considering Slovenia’s strategic position at the crossroads of major European transport corridors, why isn’t Slovenia ranked higher? The reason is mainly historical. As long as Slovenia belonged to Yugoslavia, transport infrastructure in the country was not considered of a top priority. As you know, the Croatian port of Rijeka was the major maritime hub. After independence, things changed. The port of Koper, for example,

What other weaknesses besides railway infrastructure do you see and how can Slovenia overcome them? Apart from the fact that the Slovenian logistics sector is small and fragmented, I know from many shippers that Slovenian logistics service providers are trying hard to catch up to the Central European and Western European logistics standards. One reason that they are still only catching up might not be underinvestment in physical infrastructure but a lack of investment in education. Although Slovenia has enough highly qualified people, they are not properly trained for the challenges of the contemporary logistics services market. Those I know who are highly qualified usually receive their training outside Slovenia. Therefore, education in logistics starting in technical college and continuing at the university level is one of the most important conditions that should be met for Slovenia to reach the top. Another problem is costs. Here we have to deal with another enor-

mous surprise. For years and even now, transport from Austria to an Adriatic port is far more expensive than from Austria to North Sea ports, in particular with rail transport. I can only explain this with the market structure in the transport sector, in particular with the monopolistic structure in the rail sector. These disadvantages or weaknesses can only be abolished by an open market policy in the transport sector. If you take the liberalisation index in the railway sector (published annually) Slovenia is among the least liberalised EU member states. Although you are slowly building up a competitive environment, there does not seem to be the legal certainty to guarantee real open access, at least in the rail market. I feel that a strong transport regulator for roads and railways is missing. Once Slovenia has introduced such institutions, foreign investors will be more inclined to consider the country a good investment opportunity. The state has significant ownership stakes in most of Slovenia’s biggest logistics companies. Is this a benefit or a burden? We all know that government participation does not foster in-

Offering more than just transport services is one of logistics sector’s main challenges


novation, commercial risk taking or efficient management. Again, it is a question to what extent the Slovenian government wishes to give the private sector a chance to develop logistics competence. The state in a liberalised market should concentrate on having a strong market regulator that guarantees fair and non-discriminatory market behaviour.

Photo: Viator Vektor

Does Slovenia need to find a large foreign strategic partner for its logistics companies? Deutsche Bahn, the German logistics giant, has been brought into play. As I said before, cooperation and joint ventures with non-Slovenian partners outside and inside the European Union would definitely be an advantage. So, my answer is not that Slovenia should

find a big foreign strategic partner but foreign strategic partners. Why do need they be big? Small and medium-sized partners with good networking are also interesting alternatives. You me nt ioned Slove n ske železnice (Slovenian Railways) and Deutsche Bahn. Both of them are state monopolies in their own countries. Both of them are too big to fail. Both of them have strong government involvement. Deutsche Bahn thinks globally and this might be an advantage, but that does not solve the major problem of a more or less monopolistic rail sector. Such monopolistic sectors might become very costly for the taxpayer! So, my question to your question is: why not open up the rail sector more and let competition get in, in order to produce the most competitive hinterland traffic from Luka Koper to your catchment areas of Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, southern Germany and northern Italy? I have my doubts that with the “biggies” you will render Slovenia more competitive as a logistics hub.

always a question of how fast the government and even the transport sector react to the challenges of global logistics. “Be close to your customer and study him;” this credo is valid not only for sales persons, but also for Slovenia’s logistics sector as a whole.

So, my question to your question is: why not open up the rail sector more and let competition get in, in order to produce the most competitive hinterland traffic from Luka Koper to your catchment areas of Serbia, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic, southern Germany and northern Italy?


Photo: Luka Koper

Would opening up of the railway services market remove transport bottlenecks faced by the port of Koper?

Do foreign and international logistics companies operating in Slovenia have enough room for their activities and development? Foreign and international logistics companies certainly have enough room for their activities as long as they have the legal certainty of not being encumbered by monopolistic or oligopolistic structures It is precisely the policy of the European Commission to abolish such institutional obstacles. All in all, I see enormous opportunities for Slovenia but it is November 2009

Photo: Slovenske železnice


Slovenian Railways

Ailing giant Being a monopoly on the market, yet simultaneously losing money does not make much sense, yet this is the case with the state-owned railway company Slovenske železnice, so far the most neglected cornerstone of the Slovenian logistics sector. The government claims that it is determined to change all that; the strategy for accomplishing a turnaround is to be revealed shortly. By Luka Vodopivec


n the recent months Slovenske železnice (Slovenian Railways) bought 12 new Siemens locomotives that can run on railways with different electrical systems and thus can travel all over Europe. The investment is worth EUR 48 m and completes the process of replacing the remaining 30 to 40-year old locomotives unsuitable for use out of the country.

Feeling the pinch


Business with Luka Koper, Slovenia’s only port, took the biggest hit; the Slovenske železnice transported 37 percent less cargo to and from the port in comparison to the previous year. The Slovenia Times

The testing period will last until the end of the year, but the question is whether the new locomotives will enter into service at all. Slovenske železnice has been incurring major losses for the past two years. Although this year has not ended yet, the company has already had a loss of around EUR 26 m, with freight volume shrinking 27 percent in the first eight months of 2009. Business with Luka Koper, Slovenia’s only port, took the biggest hit; the Slovenske železnice transported 37 percent less cargo to and from the port in comparison to the previous year. The company

explains that the main reasons for the poor business results are the fall in manufacturing as result of the recession and a decline in international trade and transport flows; the latter account for 90 percent of the company’s total freight business. Goran Brankovič, the new CEO who assumed his post in October, has already decided to replace the director of freight transport and to start an internal reorganization of freight services marketing.

Internal strife The replacements of the top managers have been a burden for company’s business. Brankovič is the eighth CEO in the last five years. Each CEO hired new advisors, who were receiving salaries that caused a public outcry when revealed. In the end, there were 23 of them; Brankovič then decided to annul their contracts. However, they will all probably stay in the company, but on different positions. The jobs at the second biggest employer in the country (over

eight thousand employees) are still safe; labour costs, however, make up a whopping 50 percent of the company’s total costs. Quite a few eyebrows were raised when the salaries paid out to the leaders of the company’s six trade unions

LOGISTICS special 29

Source: UIC

Less cargo revenue loss of national railway operators, January-July, y-o-y, in % Slovenia Turkey Spain Slovakia Portugal Germany

Photo: Slovenske železnice


Czech Republic Bulgaria -40





were made public. They believe that poor strategic decisions of the government as the owner have led to the current uneasy situation in the company and have thus announced a warning strike for the 4th of November.

customs, forwarding and warehouse management, where value added should be the highest exist mostly just on paper. The majority of income thus comes only from the easiest part of the business: transport of cargo and people.

Overhaul needed

Inviting partners?

Reorganization is inevitable, and the government is currently studying three possible models: maintaining the current structure with minor reforms, establishing a new holding and dividing the company into infrastructure and transport services divisions. Although the latter model was recommended by the consultants who made the study at government’s request, information about which organizational model will in fact be recommended has not yet been made known to the public. Irrespective of which model will be chosen, a clash with the unions seems highly probable. One of the more pressing problems for Slovenske železnice is that its logistics services, such as

Observers suggest that a link up with a strategic partner, able to provide full spectrum of logistics services and skilful in obtaining the security certificates needed for operation in other countries, would definitely be a major step forward. However, merely offloading huge company debts on a strategic partner without offering something in return (railway infrastructure comes to mind) is not exactly an incentive. The government has said time and again that it wants to own the rails. Cooperation with German logistics giant Deutsche Bahn seems the most promising, but the talks between Slovenian and German government officials are still in the early phases. Not much is ex-

Photo: Slovenske železnice

Investment in railway infrastructure has long been neglected: Will that change now that highways have been built?

pected until the reorganization in Slovenske železnice is completed.

Too old for comfort Today’s railway infrastructure in Slovenia is also a major drawback as it is simply too old to allow for fast railway transport. The main bottleneck is the link between the Koper port and Divača in the port’s hinterland. A second railway track is envisaged here, as well as a link between Italian port of Trieste and Divača. These projects, together with the modernisation of rails on all other sections of European transport corridors crossing Slovenia should cost at least EUR 9 bn. The progress on these projects, which will be co-financed by the EU, is relatively slow, however, and Austria is lobbying in Brussels to transfer the railway part of the fifth European corridor from Slovenia to Austria.

Competition concerns In Brussels, however, the officials worry more about how Slovenia is handling foreign companies’ access to the railway services market. In early October, Slovenia together with 20 other EU member states received a second warning from the European Commission for violating EU competition rules. Currently, Slovenske železnice is still a monopoly, although two Austrian companies, GKB in cooperation with Adria Transport and Rail Cargo Austria, are said to hold around seven percent of the market. Slovenian Minister for Transport Patrick Vlačič recently warned that Slovenske železnice is unprepared to compete with foreign railway services providers; consequently, in the next couple of years the market share of foreign logistics companies could rise to more than 30 percent.

What the future holds: Railways will probably be broken up in infrastructure and transport services divisions

Observers suggest that a link up with a strategic partner, able to provide full spectrum of logistics services and skilful in obtaining the security certificates needed for operation in other countries, would definitely be a major step forward.



November 2009

LIFE ST YLE: Martinmas is here!

Whether it’s reverence for nature’s bounty, or just a declaration as a nation of drunks, Slovenia’s attachment to its wine tradition is patently obvious. Since pagan times, November has been a time for celebration, to thank the gods for the harvest and to ready the stores for winter. Remnants of this period can still be found in customs around the country, each region different from the next, while Martinovanje itself, the Martinmas, was firmly established by the end of the first millennium under Frankish influence. Named after a Catholic saint of the 4th century known for his charity, the event celebrates the official transformation of must into young wine. It’s an opportunity to come together with friends, to taste the new season’s wine, and to enjoy the traditional food of the occasion, pride of place being taken by a roast goose.

Slovenia may be only 20,273 square kilometres in area with just under 2 million inhabitants, but it boasts 20 wine trails, more than 30 different varieties are grown here, and there are hundreds of certified wine labels guaranteeing quality that is recognised the world over.

The Primorska wine region The famous refošk grapes are made into an acidic, flavoursome red wine, one that goes under the name Teran when produced on the terra rossa of the Karst region. The area adjacent to the Adriatic is also known for its rumeni muškat (muscat blanc) and malvazija (malvasia), the latter a popular wine at restaurants on the coast. A wide range of grapes are cultivated in the Vipava Valley and in Goriška Brda, among them the indigenous varieties zelen, pinela and rebula, while the točaj (tocai friulano) and merlot produced there are gaining an international reputation.

The Podravje wine region Influenced by the climate of the Hungarian Plain, the range offered by this region includes sparkling wines and special variations achieved by different times and techniques of grape-picking. Podravje is dominated by white wines, blends like Vrištanjèan and, and varietals such as renski rizling (riesling), sauvignon and sivi pinot (pinot gris), also known here as rulandec. Haloze and Jeruzalem are world-famous for their outstanding sites and locations, and it’s no wonder that some of the best wines in Slovenia come from these vineyards. Other great wines of the region are made from traminec (gewürztraminer), chardonnay, rumeni muškat and laški rizling (welschriesling).

The Posavje Region It’s the brown limestone soil of Dolenjska that gives rise to an authen¬tic Slovenian wine, Cviček, a sharp beverage that some are reluctant to call wine, but others simply adore. Apart from this highly original wine, there are many others produced in the areas south of the River Sava, notably Metliška èrnina (a deep, fruity red from Metlika), the white blend Bizeljèan, and a host of wines made from modra frankinja (blaufränkisch).


Award-winning wines

The Secret of Success Slovenian wines made an exceptional impression at this year’s Decanter World Awards. By Robert Gorjak


everal year ago, Steven Spurrier and I were driving around Bordeaux. At a certain point, Steven started to explain that Decanter, where he has a role as consultant editor, would start a new wine competition. It seemed a daring move, as the world was already overcrowded with wine competitions and evaluations. This year, Decanter proudly announced that the Decanter World

The Slovenia Times

Wine Awards has become the largest wine competition in the world, beating International Wine Challenge and reaching over 10,000 samples. Why is DWWW enjoying such trust among winemakers around the globe? Steven Spurrie,r who now has a role of Chairman at the DWWA, devised three principles. First, wine is judged by region. The wines are grouped by

regions and judges know exactly where the wines are coming from. Therefore, they can say if the wine is a good example of a particular region. Australian Shiraz is very different from Northern Rhone syrah, for example. Second, wine is judged by regional experts. The panel consists of three judges who need to be well experienced in the region they judge and a regional chairman must be an authority on the subject. For example, Tom Stevenson is regional chairman for Champagne, Michael Schuster for Burgundy, James Lawther, MW (Master of Wine) for Bordeaux. A great many Masters of Wine accompanied by many other renowned tasters are to be found among the judges. Third, wine is judged by price. Judges always know what price category the wine belongs to. We cannot expect same virtues from a EUR 4.99 wine as from one costing four times as much. This is actually the way customers are buying wine. If you go in the supermarket for a EUR 7.00 Riesling, you want to get the best one available.

Traminec The king of wines from Kapela wine cellar is Traminec, which was awarded with numerous gold medals and got highest scores at annual cross-section evaluation. The quality of Kapela’s Traminec has a long history with the confirmed planting of Traminec vineyard in 1951, which is still cultivated by hardworking hands of company’s workers. In this vineyard, the grapes are harvested for the predicate wine, called Traminec izbor (Traminec selection), which has been always awarded with gold medals as well as double gold medals and this year also with the silver medal at Decanter Wine Fair in London.

LIFE STYLE 33 This is how wines are judged at Decanter. One additional reason for success is that the results are very well communicated. Decanter, a leading consumer wine magazine, certainly has all means to do that. Every September, there is a massive issue published with all the results – a small bible.

Four golds Slovenian wine makers have always responded well to DWWA, sending more and more samples. It is like a world championship, according to Primož Lavrenčič from Sutor Winery, with Marjan Simčič adding that everybody knows Decanter and its medal (something that cannot be said for some other competitions). In 2009, Slovenia got its own panel for the first time. I was honoured to assume the role and responsibility of Regional Chairman for Slovenia. Darrel Joseph comes from Vienna, Igor Šotrič is a head sommelier at China Tang restaurant at the Dorchester Hotel of London, while Erich Krutzler is an Austrian winemaker at the Marof Winery in Prekmurje. Sloven ian winemakers embraced the idea of having their own panel, submitting a record-

Robert Gorjak Robert Gorjak grew up in a wine making family near Jeruzalem in Slovenia, becoming very familiar at an early age with wine and winemaking practices. His passion for wine started at the beginning of the 1980s, having had the opportunity to watch the professional judges tasting, observing their scores and comments. His activities in the wine business include education, consulting, and wine writing. He holds a WSET Advanced Certificate and WSED Diploma issued in London, is the official wine taster of Republic of Slovenia and continues studying at the Institute of Masters of Wine. Career highlights include the founding of Belvin, the first Slovenian wine school, where he has hosted many world wine masters in Slovenia. He has also judged at many wine competitions including Concours Mondial Bruxelles, Michelangelo International Wine Awards at Stellenbosch, South Africa., Decanter World Wine Awards and Mundus Vini in Germany. He has published more than 300 articles in various publications around the world. Among others, he is a correspondent for Hugh Johnson’s Pocket Wine Book, Meninger Wine Business International, Decanter and is the author of Wine Guide Slovenia 2008-2009.

continued on page 34

Some wines take you away... Our will bring you back! Nekatera vina vam zmešajo čute... Naša vam jih zbistrijo. Hiša vina Doppler (House of wine Doppler), Dolnja Počehova 34, 2211 Pesnica pri Mariboru, +386 (0)2 654 32 02,,

continued from page 33

Kapela was first mentioned in 1300. Documents, proving this, are kept in the Maribor and Graz archives. They mention the place Kapellen and four farms, which were obliged to pay a tax, the so called ‘gornina’, on the grape harvest from their vineyards to the feudal lord. This confirms that the practice of grape producing and wine making dates back to 13th century, incorporating seven centuries of rich tradition and knowledge, in which the present company Kapela, Vinogradništvo in vinarstvo d.d., takes pride. Crucial for the quality of Kapela wines has always been the location of vineyards, which ranks among 4 % of the world’s best. Steep slopes enable grapes growing on grapevines to open towards the sun and to develop the richness of sugar. Clayey-marly and sandy soils and remnants of the sand from the Pannonian Sea, which once covered these hills, enrich the wine with fullness and minerals. The position of vineyards yields remarkable produce of wine species such as Traminec, Rhine Riesling, Chardonnay, which is used as a base wine for Kapela sparkling wine, Sauvignon, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris, Müller-Thurgau, Laški Riesling and Šipon. Kapela’s vineyards delight with the incredible harvest of red varieties such as Blue Franconian and Pinot Noir. The Kapela wines are produced from high-quality grapes that are certified by an authorized institute every year. Grapes originate exclusively from Kapela’s vineyards and are harvested manually. The Kapela cellar produces high-quality wines, which carry the fingerprint of nature and its people. The wines reflect the tradition that is innately embedded in our minds and, at the same time, they open the door to our transformed ordinary world, in which we are trapped. They are also the key that opens the door to new experience of the primal, because they are natural, vivacious and mature.

KAPELA, Vinogradništvo in vinarstvo d.d. Paričjak 22, 9252 Radenci

breaking 130 samples. The results? Four gold medals went to sweet wines. Jurij Brumec become a worthy trophy winning names such as Prus, with his award winning Rumeni muškat Ice wine 2005, PRAVinO, who regularly produces some world’s top botrytis names and Leonardo 2004, Simčič made from dried Ribolla Gialla grapes. All 22 silvers went to white wines. Among the dry ones, we should mention the Dveri-Pax winery, which sent nine wines, all of which were awarded. Rieslings 2008, Sauvignon 2008, Riesling “M” 2007 and Sauvignon “Vajgen” 2006 got silver. Pullus sent five wines; all were awarded. They received silver for Pullus Sauvignon 2008, Pullus Sauvignon “G” 2008, and gold for a sweet Laški Rizling 2008. Sutor send three wines and won silver for Burja 2007 and Chardonnay 2007. Other silvers are Rebula 2008, Erzetič; Gredič 2001, Dolfo; Zelen 2008, Guerilla; Mulit 2006, Prinčič; Chardonnay 2006, Piro; Stara Brajda 2007, Šurek; A+ white, Vinska klet Goriška Brda. There were 44 bronze medals and 22 commendations. Silver at this competition can be regarded as gold at many other competitions, claims Spurrier. Most of the awarded were available for tasting in the early September at a Salon of Decanter award winners in Hotel Mons, Ljubljana. Visitors enjoyed wines from Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Austria and three excellent workshops performed by Italian Regional

Šumenjak’s medallists Muscat Blanc 2008 (Yellow Muscat), Decanter bronze medal winner, has a straw yellow colour with gentle green nuances. The wine has a pleasant but discreet muscat aroma, which is very refined, with a typical nutmeg flavour. This wine sort is off-dry and is harmonious to its nose. The sugar covers up the acidity well, so that the taste of the wine is very soft and rounded. Pinot gris 2008, also bronze medal, has a more intense, straw yellow colour with light shades of gold. The tastes of tropical fruit, apple and vineyard peach are at the forefront. Its taste is fresh, mineral and long-lasting. Both wine sorts are fresh, light, youthful and suited to the tastes of the modern drinker. Chairman Richard Baudains, Austrian panel member Jason Turner and renowned Croatian wine writer Željko Suhadolnik. As Tom Stevenson, top authority on Champagne and sparkling wine, said: “DWWA is the ultimate terroir competition.” And Slovenia fared very well there, this year.

The Goddess Diona 06 is a sparkling wine, made according to the classical method of the secondary fermentation in bottles, as is done by the most prestigious wine makers with rich tradition in French province Champagne. Long-lasting foam with delicate texture proves its quality. Small bubbles rise to the surface, bind together and create a pleasing necklace of bubbles. The aroma and taste reveal charms of the classical method. Its elegance and nutty scent with notes of bread crust fascinate wine lovers and connoisseurs of high-quality sparkling wines. The refined taste of its powerful body and the attained perfection and harmony of wine components are the result of several years of maturing with yeast and a successful autolysis. Diona 06 is the pride of our wine cellar. Traminec SJI ‘08 is in the highest category of predicate wines, it is the result of careful nurturing of rich gifts of natural. The first encounter with its golden yellow colour with an orange shade lures into further discovering of this supreme predicate wine. A very soothing fruity aroma, hidden within overripeness, leaves a profound impression. Rich texture and concentration of fresh, pleasing acids gives the wine all that it takes to fulfil the requirements of this wine category. We take pride in producing such a jewel in our wine cellar.

Life style 35

Addicted to the happy costumers Danilo Flakus, the head of Dveri-Pax, a wine producer from the Štajerska region on his formula for success in winegrowing, the effects of Decanter awards and on the worldwide status of Slovenian wines. Our success does not have any special secret: It is my personal belief that success of every project of life depends mostly on clarity of our goals and a strategy used for attaining them. There are many ways but personally my favourite one is a combination of will, instinct, goals and most of all commitment and work. Not taking a holiday is not a rarity in our collective, however, this sacrifice is awarded with numerous prizes at international fairs and the most important thing – with our customers’ satisfaction. All these bring a damn good feeling. If I joke a bit, it is an addictive one, more powerful than wine itself. Every work definitely requires sus-

ceptibility to novelties and openness to new knowledge, of course, intertwined with tradition and dowry from our ancestors, and most of all, respect to the nature that always exhibits its power, usually when it is least desired. I indulge in learning continuously and discovering fields of new knowledge. And as I keep on finding out that my colleagues have the same philosophy, I get confident that our way is the right one. Decanter awards are an acknowledgement for my work as well as the confirmation of going the right way. Well, let me alter the statement right away – they are proofs that our team works splendidly and are a result of good cooperation and trust. Every

such acknowledgement also reflects satisfaction of connoisseurs who assess our wine at competitions, and finally the most important aspect, they bring satisfaction to end customers, whose numbers grow year by year all over the world. You see, Štajerska region wines are insufficiently recognisable abroad because in the past years we did not take enough effort to make them recognisable, or perhaps even quality enough. Another reason is definitely intense competition of producers from other European countries as well as world wide. Our company

exports most of wine to the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, Australia and Great Britain. These days, first orders from Canada have started pouring in, besides, we continuously look for new ways for conquering markets world wide. At the present, our biggest customer is the neighbouring Austria, which is a consequence of our owners being a household name there. This year we have also increased our promotion on the home market, and we also aspire to hit the markets of Poland, former Yugoslav countries, Russia, and others.

Exceptional Experience My day turns beautiful the moment I feel you by me. You are a day, a minute, a moment of the day.

Dveri-Pax, d.o.o., PoliËki vrh 1, 2221 Jarenina T: +386 2 644 00 82, F: +386 2 644 00 83,

Health Minister’s Warning: excessive consumption of alcohol harms your health.

A Gate to the world of exceptional wines.

36 Life style

Behind the Label Find out what you can expect to find in your bottle once you’ve perused the label. By Dan Ryan


s in any wine-producing country, legislation in Slovenia places strict controls on the labelling of the product, and these controls are liable to create as much confusion as they avoid. In actual fact, the Slovenian system has worked quite well to date, and is now fully in line with European Union requirements. This guide should help you pick your way through the minefield of labelling terms.

Quality The EU recognises table wines and quality wines, and in Slovenia there are two categories in each class. The table wines are labelled namizno vino (equivalent

to vin de table) or deželno vino (equivalent to vin de pays), but unlike the examples from certain other countries where remarkable bargains are to be found, here they are strictly spritzer material at best. If anyone finds any exceptions, drop me a line as I would be most interested. Next up, in the quality wine bracket, is kakovostno vino, which translates rather predictably as quality wine. Wines carrying this label have to conform to strict geographical origin rules and can only be made with approved varieties. There is a growing number of excellent wines in the kakovostno category, as more winemakers choose not to have their grapes tested by outside authorities. For example, all sparkling wines made by the tank method and most of the nouveau-style wines released in the late autumn are in this category. The highest category is vrhunsko vino, which guarantees strict production methods and grape quality. No chaptalisation or rectification is allowed, so your wine (unless it’s sparkling) will not have any added sugar (unlike those of France) or added acid (unlike those of Australia). I enjoy pointing that out.

Residual sugar Or how dry or sweet the stuff is. All bottles have to carry an indication of sugar content, which for still wines means suho (dry), polsuho (off-dry), polsladko (semisweet) or sladko (sweet). It’s common in Podravje for wines to be made polsuho or polsladko: don’t be afraid of the sugar, as you’ll find that the high levels of acidity usually leave the wine with a good balance and structure. For sparkling wines there is no polsladko, but instead varying degrees of dryness: brut nature, extra brut, brut and zelo suho (very dry) in increasing order of sweetness.

Types of wine Estate MiroVino, Jastrebci 36, 2276 Kog T/F: +386 (0)2 719 76 30 Mobile: +386 (0)41 474 935

The Slovenia Times

As elsewhere, a varietal name on the label means that the wine has to be at least 85% from the stated variety. Two varieties on the label means more than 15% each, and no other varieties in the blend.

Two Slovenian specialities recognised by the EU are teran, an iron-rich, robust, acidic red made in the Karst, and cviček, a very light, sharp, pink-coloured wine made in Dolenjska from a blend of several red and white varieties. The real stuff is labelled Teran PTP or Cviček PTP. Sparkling wine carries the label penina or peneèe vino. Watch out for biser, an altogether lower-quality fizzy product, and the dreaded gazirano vino (yes, gassed wine). Bubblies made by second fermentation in the bottle (the finest method) are labelled tradicionalna metoda. Those made by the supposedly inferior tank method or Charmat process are labelled charmat metoda or something similar, but there are some fine examples that are well worth a taste (see Ten to Try). Rapidly growing in popularity (some might call it a craze) are nouveau-style wines, released after Martinovanje and on sale until mid-January. Made by carbonic maceration, the reds have a fruity bubble-gum flavour and can make a refreshing change. The whites I’m less convinced by. Both red and white are labelled mlado vino or novo. In a nod to the German QmP system, Slovenia also recognises extra quality in the vrhunsko class, usually for white wines of

varying degrees of sweetness. The scale starts with pozna trgatev (late harvest, equivalent to spätlese in Germany), which funnily enough is made from grapes harvested later than normal, with a touch of noble rot. Next is izbor (auslese), for which individual bunches of grapes are selected during harvesting. This is followed by jagodni izbor (beerenauslese), for which individual berries are picked, and suhi jagodni izbor (trockenbeerenauslese), which involves the laborious process of individually picking berries fully infected with noble rot. And then there is ledeno vino (icewine), a delicious nectar of exquisite concentration and sweetness made from naturally frozen grapes picked in the depths of winter. All of these wines are likely to be very good, and it pays to seek them out, as they are something of a forte in Slovenia. If someone offers you the chance to try some suhi jagodni izbor or ledeno vino, do not under any circumstances refuse. Finally, a term sometimes found in Primorska is slamno vino, which like Italy’s passito is made by raisining the grapes on straw mats. Usually sweet and always concentrated, many of these are extremely good, if a little pricier than the sweet wines from the east.

Life style 37


The Older, the Better…

Slovenia places fifth in Europe regarding the consumption of wine per capita. For such a high ranking, we should first and foremost thank a millennium-long tradition of viticulture on Slovenian soil. The grape and the vine leaf are considered by many to be national symbols of Slovenia, and the intoxicating juice has been celebrated in verse by almost all Slovenian poets. By Kornelija Ajlec


hile the Egyptians are considered to be the fi rst who cult ivated wine, circa 3500 BC, it was the Romans who had spread viticulture throughout the Mediterranean. Consequently, many languages adopted the Latin word vinum; among these, Slovene, in which vinum became the word vino. In the early Roman period, wine was seldom consumed as it was believed that it could “catch a man unprepared.” Its consumption increased after immigrants from the east started to move westwards towards Rome. Within the modern Slovenian region of Štajerska, wine has been grown since preRoman times, when the Celts settled in the area. However, the Romans perfected the practice and promoted its cultivation by establishing the new plantations. The most renowned man regarding wine cultivation during this period is the emperor Probus, who ordered the propagation of only the most valuable species of grapes. Archaeological excavations in the Slovenske Gorice and Haloze regions testify to the practice of storing wine in clay pots, which were in turn stored in some kind

of wine storage facilities predating modern wine cellars. The Romans also introduced vine-growing to the Karst, Istria, Goriška Brda, the Vipava Valley and to other areas of central Slovenia. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the practice of vine-growing was only partially preserved. Wine was adopted by the Slavs who settled in these lands during the great migrations in the 6th century AD. A Slovenian pagan legend testifies to this, telling of a great flood and only four survivors. While the fate of three of them is unknown, the fourth saved himself by climbing a vine that grew on a high hill and touched the sky. The plant was dedicated to Kurent, an important Slavic deity, who took pleasure in the method of salvation and caused the waters to recede. The saved man promised Kurent that he and his descendants would cultivate and venerate grapes and buckwheat in eternal gratitude.

Monastic viticulture and wine code Vine-growing flourished most during the High Middle Ages with the expansion of monaster-

ies, which needed wine for their religious and, more importantly, economic activities. The monasteries awakened the desire for vineyard cultivation among the lower classes as well. This brought about more complicated relations between the workers and the landlords. As a consequence, special laws called “Gorske bukve” were implemented in order to regulate taxes and other duties that had arisen from such relationships. Medieval monasteries were also the places where the first real wine cellars in Slovenia appeared. One of the oldest is the cellar of Banjof Manor, close to the town of Novo Mesto, dating to the beginning of the 14th century. It was owned by the Stična Cistercian monastery. The manor was burnt during the Second World War but, according to tradition, the cellar is still buried below. In the 17th century, the great Slovenian polymath Janez Vajkard Valvasor in his work “The Glory of the Duchy of Carniola” wrote about the quality of wine and wine trade, which became an important factor in rural income. Since Slovenian lands lie at the crossroads between the north and

the south, the east and the west, influences from all the dominant viticultural lands have always been present, especially those from Germany, Italy and France. Alongside the general technological advancements in the 18th and 19th centuries, came a boost in the development of vine-growing. The establishment of the first viticulture educational institutions in Maribor and Gorica was especially important. Thus, by 1858 some 51,000 hectares of vineyards were cultivated annually.

Vine plague and recent developments In 1880, vines were hit by a plague of phylloxera, which first affected the areas around the Bizeljsko vineyards, but spread quickly in all directions; by 1890, half of the vineyards were completely and irreparably destroyed. The plague caused the ruin of many growers, one of the causes of the large-scale emigration to North and South America, while the area of cultivated vineyards fell to only about 38,000 hectares before a solution was found. With continued on page 38

The Šumenjak farm is a family estate oriented towards the ecological production

of wine (organic wine production). Our main concern when producing wine has to do with the vineyards because we want the microclimate, the ground and the work of the viticulturist to leave their mark on the wine. We don’t fertilise the vineyards and have no desire to use herbicides and synthetic means to protect our grapes. The stress on the vines is small. We pick healthy grapes when they’re appropriately ripe. We make sure that the wine is produced as naturally as possible in the cellar as well. The quality of our wine is successfully checked according to the Decanter style of grading.

Kmetija Šumenjak, Spodnje Hlapje 23, 2222 Jakobski dol T: +386 2 644 94 45, Mobile: +386 41 277 794,

38 Life style continued from page 33

the fall of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the loss of a substantial market, as well as the onset of the Great Depression, the situation did not improve. After the Second World War, viticulture experienced renewal as the review of the land register led to a systematic division of vineyards. In the 1970s, regulations protecting and classifying Slovenian wines were passed down. However, quantity was favoured over quality. It was only in the 1980s that quality started to make its way in the forefront once more, but received a new blow with the secession of Slovenia from Yugoslavia and the consequent loss of its markets. However, Slovenian wine production recovered and today produces around 46 million litres per year. Despite some troublesome times, there were eight exceptional vintages in the 20th century: 1917, 1942, 1947, 1952, 1958, 1971, 1983 and 1993. These vintages are stored in wine archives; while the older bottles are sold only in auctions on rare occasions, some bottles from 1980 onward can be found on sale in the archives and specialized wine shops.

Wine history for creationists A slightly different history of wine: Writings published (1884-85) by Slovenian writer Janez Trdina, who carefully recorded folk wisdom and habits in the Dolenjska region.


he good angels defeated their comrades who were unfaithful to God and drove them all the way to the burning hell. The horrible heat which came out of this pit seized them, made them thirsty and weak, so they could hardly move. God took mercy on his friends and created wine, so they could feel better. We cannot even imagine how

sweet this heavenly nectar was and we cannot describe it with words. One could say that this drink was fit for the gods.


dam once drank too much wine, which inflamed and encouraged him so much that he went to fight a bull. The bull was already an evil fathead, so

he planted Adam on his horns and knocked one of his ribs out. God felt sorry for the poor man. He picked the rib up and created Eve out of it, so that she could get her husband to bed when he drank too much again and protected him from doing something stupid and getting hurt.

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ecause the parents of mankind sinned, one of the angels expelled them from paradise. When Adam ran past the vine, he realised that he would have to live without it and its fruits from now on. He quickly pulled it out and ran to the door with it. The door instantly shut behind him and his wife. He lost paradise forever, but he brought some comfort out with him, a comfort which eases and drives away all the troubles and woes of our earthly life.


ine is learned. It helps people come up with things they would never even dream of when sober. When sitting with a goblet of wine, Slovene people know how to speak Croatian, German, Italian, they are able to discuss the humorous and mysterious words of the Bible and solve difficult mathematical problems. Noah’s mind also became strangely clear and sharp when he made his first wine. When thinking of a way to improve and ease his hard life, he invented letters and writing, which was completely unknown to people at the time. Because he was happy and excited, he wanted to try out his new art and write this sentence: Methinks today is a good day. He used the road instead of paper, dust instead of ink and his legs instead of a pen. He went four paces forward, then two somewhat to the side and back and then again two slightly to the right and forward and then finally four paces straight back. That’s how he drew a perfectly accurate first letter of his sentence, the capital M. His famous invention left a trace and is still remembered. Nowadays, drunks still write the capital M on the roads. This is the oldest letter of them all

and the only one for which there is no doubt who invented it and who first put it down.


hrist and St. Peter came to a poor farmer during one hot summer day and asked if he could give them something. The merciful man told them: “We cannot give you bread or any other food because we don’t have any ourselves, but I shall bring you a glass of water from the home well, so you can quench your thirst, which is worse than being hungry.” In return, Christ blessed his well and changed the water into the finest wine. The poor man made a tavern and started becoming rich. Christ and St. Peter visited him again disguised as old pilgrims and asked him for a sip of wine. But the tavern-keeper had become haughty because of the money and he gave no charity to poor people, so he yelled at the two pilgrims: “If you’re thirsty, drink from that puddle there.” Christ recanted his blessing and the wine changed into bad water, which disgusted people and animals. The hard-hearted farmer became poorer than before because he didn’t even have good water on his land. That’s when Christ uttered the sharp words that any tavern which would not be merciful towards the poor would run out of luck. There’s nothing more valuable to a feeble old man and a sick poor man than some good wine. Whoever serves this to them, can hope for God’s mercy in this world and the next.


eople built a beautiful church and said contentedly: “From now on we will worship God in this place.” The devil built a tavern besides the church and said: “And here you shall worship me.”

Vodole 34, 2229 Malečnik Tel.: + 386 2 473 21 01 Fax: + 386 2 473 21 02 Mobile: + 386 41 654 305 E-mail:

A Country Where Green Is More Than Just a Colour!

Having around 60% of wooded areas, Slovenia ranks second among the most wooded European countries. Besides, 36% of Slovenia’s surface is under the protection of Natura 2000 European directives. Further, a fifth of Slovenia’s coastline is a protected area, and the amount of river water per capita ranges Slovenia among the richest European countries. More than 22,000 animal and plant species place Slovenia among naturally wealthiest countries in Europe. Slovenia’s drinking water is one of the cleanest in Europe and even world wide. And last but not least, virgin forest is merely 60 km away from the capital city of Ljubljana. These are the facts. The facts that make the Slovenes proud. Proud to live in a country that is a green destination. Green tourism in Slovenia is not just a phrase, green tourism is Slovenia’s market advantage and chance, which many other destinations do not have. At the same time, the green and intact nature also represents great responsibility. Particularly great responsibility rests on the shoulders of those who have been entrusted to develop and market Slovenia’s tourism, like the Slovenian Tourist Board. Therefore, the Slovenian Tourist Board have committed itself to make green, ecological and sustainable features that would fill every their activity in the future. Mr Dimitrij Piciga, MA, the director of the Slovenian Tourist Board said: “We have committed ourselves to preserve forests, waters, the sea and other natural treasures at the highest possible level, in order to keep the top


ace of our tourist offer for future generations. Already in the present, with a purpose of promoting the idea of alleviating effects of tourism on the environment and with a purpose of adapting the tourist offer, we have drafted in a sustainable manner courses of Slovene touristic development.” In this year, the Slovenian Tourist Board have been planning actions and a strategy of Slovenia’s green tourism; carrying out researches and analyses of green tourism; informing on every possible location Slovene tourism providers about the sustainable development of our tourism; addressing the target public with the topic during their marketing communications activities, including the sustainable development of tourism into partnerships; putting out to tender incentives for implementation of green tourism, etc. Moreover, the board have imposed the use of as much environmental friendly materials as possible (for example, in production of catalogues and brochures); have been representing Slovenia with a Slovene tourism stand, made of natural materials and promoting the intact Slovene nature; have been preparing promotional presents, made of ecological materials; have been organising events by considering all principles of green event organisation, etc.

Mr Dimitrij Piciga, MA, said: “In this year, following an old Slovene saying ‘first sweep at your own threshold’, our organisation have realised a project ‘A Slovenia Friendly Office’. We are aware that green tourism is not just a (short-term) trend, instead, it should become a feature that would impress a guest in Slovenia and a first association of Slovenia they would have after returning from a getaway in Slovenia. Last but not least, Slovene tourism and Slovenia’s logo- I FEEL SLOVENIA within a green frame is no coincidence. It is a reflection of Slovenia’s uniqueness and our special pride: the intact green nature.

The Capital

Ljubljana Marathon

Stretch Your Legs Nearly 20,000 people registered for the various running competitions held around the 14th Ljubljana Marathon – the highest number to date.


enyan runners William Biama and Kilel Cheptonui set new records in the men’s (2:10:11) and women’s (2:25:24) competition at the Marathon. Slovenia’s best in the men’s section was legendar y long-dista nce ru n ner Roma n Kejžar in 12th place with a time of 2:19.24. The 43-year-old Kejžar announced that this was his last professional marathon. A record was set even before the start signal, as more than 1,100 competitors were registered for the marathon. The half-marathon saw 6,308 entries.

Special guests

Apart from the regular set of professionals from abroad who come to win, the Ljubljana Mara-

thon has an increasing number of guests who simply love to participate in city marathons. One such is a team of Revolve-Magazine, who believes that the tandem of promoting energy and art can provide momentum for positive change around the Mediterranean and beyond. One of the means they use to achieve tangible results is to run in marathons to raise funds for smaller energy projects, education programs, and emerging artists. Their first stop this year was to participate in the 14th Ljubljana Marathon. Stuart Reigeluth, a journalist with Revolver shares his impressions: As the skies cleared on Sunday, we prepared in anticipation with the thousands of other runners for the

race to begin. We could not find the pace-makers and nudged ourselves towards the front. Around kilometre 30, pace-maker ‘3:15’ trotted jauntily past, hitting me in the head with his purple balloons, as I tried in vain to

keep up. I was near exhaustion and have to admit that running the same lap twice is very difficult psychologically. Hopefully, next year’s circuit will include more of the beautiful countryside around the Slovenian capital. On the second lap, fatigue set in and I wondered why in the world I was doing this. I fell into a reverie of how we would take this initiative from city to city, and create enough momentum for a movement to emerge for positive change. We were urged on by the wonderful supporters along the course, who always clapped or spun those wooden noise-makers and shouted “Dajmo!” and “Bravo!” I don’t know if a new record was set by the Kenyans who ran at in incredible 2:10 clip, but I saw them warmingup and I saw one sitting nonchalantly on the edge of the field on the second lap. He had apparently finished long ago, and watched as some solid and strong older Slovenian men easily passed me, again. And I suppose that was enough to know that we all ran together in this race, and that we might see each other again next year for more records to be broken in Ljubljana.

Revolve team members

Open every day from 10:00 to 22:00

Traditional Thai Massage Reflexology Aromatherapy Warm Herbal Anti-cellulite Massage

Siam Thai Dunajska cesta 190, 1000 Ljubljana T: +386 (0)59 075 100 GSM: +386 (0)41 319 888

Bled Castle Restaurant Cesta svobode 11, Bled Tel: +386 (0)4 597 44 24 Open: Every day 8am-8pm (Nov.-Apr. until 6pm); extra time for groups Food type Slovene, International

Dine with style

Price range seven-course Reservation recommended

Menu suggestion Lamb carpaccio on lamb’s lettuce with black truffles and old Tolmin cheese ***** Mousse of smoked trout with smoked salmon and marinated mozarella ***** Smoked glazed breasts of duck with herb cream ***** Goose liver and apples in raspberry sauce ***** Venison ragout in Vol-au-vent ***** Baked scallops on champagne risotto ***** Crayfish in sparkling wine with honey ***** Breast of duck with apricots in balsamic sauce

Bled Castle Restaurant

A Delicious Adventure with a View A perfect setting above the iconic Lake Bled combined with a delicious meal: just two out of the many reasons for choosing the Bled Castle Restaurant for your next culinary adventure.


led needs no special introduction: the lake with an island and a castle on the cliff towering above it is undoubtedly one of Slovenia’s most famous sights. This time Dine with Style takes you to that special castle on the cliff, the one with the best view you could possibly get in this country. Now, if you combine this idyllic panorama with a top culinary experience, you are just a bit closer to heaven.

The appetizer The Bled Castle Restaurant is situated on the highest terrace of castle complex, which is a two minute walk from the parking lot, through the castle gates - just to get a taste of the medieval atmosphere before you get seated at the upper courtyard or in the restaurant hall. The restaurant can handle up to 70 guests. Groups of all kinds, frequently wedding guests, are regulars at the castle. State officials are also glad to show their presidential and ministerial guests all that Bled castle has to offer. The Slovenia Times

The day we visited the castle coincided with the first dramatic drop of temperature following Indian summer, so we were invited into the centuries old hall, next to a large panoramic window facing the town side of the lake; since the sudden chill contributed to a great visibility, nothing was lost by not being on the cold terrace.

Halloween meal The restaurant staff combine youthful energy with curiosity in cooking and experience in serving. Chef Peter Dovžan describes his kitchen as “unlimited,” meaning they are ready to please almost any request by guests. This is a necessity since the restaurant hosts many foreign groups, including British wedding parties who often don’t want to be confronted with certain unfamiliar local delicacies. It’s a pity: they don’t know what they’re missing. The restaurant offers a variety of dishes à la carte and a set of extra daily specialties. We just went

along the recommended offer of the day – an implementation of the chef’s creativity, based on domestic ingredients and traditional recipes – with some special, innovative twists. The chef’s recommendations are often related to a certain festivity or a date, which is represented by certain symbols. For the occasion of the upcoming Halloween, we were first offered a chicken salad with shrimp, served in a pumpkin and decorated with tasty blood red pomegranate seeds. The following dish, lamb ribs in pumpkin oil with blueberry risotto and mash chestnut also formed a somewhat eerie composition with the two pairs of bare ribs sticking upwards. And so on. We don’t want to suggest that carefully crafted composition compensates for any deficiency in taste; we should state it loud and clear the food tasted great, and the occasionally difficult transition from the traditional to the exotic goes down smoothly and pleasantly in this case. What we have in mind

Top choice Calypso Restaurant

In Issue 116

Kidričeva 7, Nova Gorica Tel : + 386 5 336 31 35 Open: Sun – Thu, noon – 3pm, 7pm – midnight Fri – Sat (also on Italian holidays), 7pm–1am

Smrekarjev Hram Restaurant Chef Peter Dovžan

Nazorjeva 2, 1000 Ljubljana centre Tel: + 386 1 308 19 07 Open: Every day, noon – 11pm A la carte restaurant in the city centre of Ljubljana

Pri Vitezu Restaurant Breg 20, Ljubljana centre Tel : +386 1 426-60-58 Open: Mon-Sat, noon – 11pm (closed on holidays)

are unfamiliar combinations, such as fruit with meat – something Slovenians could find strange. The wine list comprises an elegant choice of bottles from all Slovenian regions, including the best sparkling wines, rare predicates and the so-called Castle Reserve. For a common humble glass of wine along with the meal, sticking with the house’s open Sauvignon is not a bad idea either. While Bled enjoys the fame around the world for kremšnita, its famous cream cake, which sold its ten millionth piece this autumn, the castle recommends its own no less special dessert called Castle Pile, along with a list of other entirely attractive sweet conclusions to your meal.

After meal On weekends – or on request – you can be greeted by the castle lord or enjoy a show by medieval performers. Within the castle complex, two special characters assure another unique experi-

ence. The wine master offers a select choice of quality wines. You can even learn to bottle your own. In another workshop, guests can learn the skills of the first printers and create their own greeting card using the replica of the original Guttenberg press. Apart from the natural setting, Bled boasts a couple of other elements worth mentioning. Firstly, the castle as a venue for group events, most commonly weddings, is well supported by abundance of accommodation options and ways to enjoy the rest of the time spent there. Secondly, Bled is at the centre of higher education in tourist services, since it hosts the College for Tourism; their ambitious students gain experience at places such as Castle Restaurant Bled. Finally Bled is ideal for its location – you are very close to the national capital, no more than half hour away from the international airport, the borders of Italy and Austria, great ski slopes, exciting alpine tours… Don’t miss it!

Grad Otočec Restaurant

In Issue 121

Grajska cesta 2, Otočec Tel.: + 386 7 38 48 900 Open: Every day until 11pm

Bled Castle Restaurant Cesta svobode 11, Bled Tel : +386 4 579 44 24,, Open: Every day, 8am – 8pm (November-April till 6pm) Special experiences for special occasions.

In Issue 122

Vila Bled Restaurant Cesta svobode 26, Bled Tel: +386 4 575 37 10, Open: Every day, 12pm – 10pm Delights of the French, Mediterranean and Slovenian cuisines.

In Issue 117

Dvorec Zemono Pri Lojzetu Restaurant Dvorec Zemono, Vipava Tel : +386 5 368 70 07 Tradition with innovation and creativity.

Top Eat & Party Pantone Process Black

Tomšičeva 2, Ljubljana centre cmyk 0/0/0/100 rgb 0/0/0 Tel (reservations): +386 40 177 775; Open: Wed-Sat, 8:30am – 5am Delights of the French, Mediterranean and Slovenian cuisines.

Atrium Restaurant Pot za brdom 55, Hotel MONS (main entrance), Ljubljana ring, Brdo exit Tel : +386 1 470 27 00 Open: Every day, 12am – 10pm

Cafe & Restaurant Evropa

186 C 118 In Pantone Issue cmyk 15/100/100/10 rgb 191/31/36

In Issue 120

In Issue 119

Slovenska cesta 47, Ljubljana centre Tel : +386 1 438 24 20, +386 40 846 681 Open: Pasta Nona and Lesar a la carte: daily: 11am – 11pm, Saturdays: 5 – 11pm, Sunday closed; Café: daily: 8am onwards, Saturday, Sunday, holiday: closed November 2009

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Lila’s Little Creatures Rule the World Lilijana Praprotnik Župančič, a.k.a Lila Prap is an enormously successful and internationally acclaimed Slovenian writer and illustrator of children’s books. By Tanja Goršič sible also on the foreign markets. It is extremely challenging for a non-Slovenian to pronounce a Slovenian surname correctly. She tells a story of when she worked in Germany, where people could not pronounce her surname Praprotnik, and ended up calling her “Frau (Mrs.) Prrr.”

Style of writing


fter decades of partial contributions to many children’s books, she now has total creative control over her work: She writes, draws, and designs the layout of her books. She says she never thought she would end up creating entire books. The process is lengthy. “You spend a year for one book and in the meantime, nobody pays you, but it isn’t good for the creative process to stop and concentrate on someLilijana Praprotnik Zupančič was born in 1955 in Celje, after high school she studied and graduated with a degree in architecture. For a while she worked in a studio in Germany, but returned home and got married. Since work was hard to come by, she did many different things, like teaching school, working in urbanism, in design, etc. She began drawing humorous sketches for a newspaper already in that period. Eventually she started working for the children’s magazine Ciciban, and when she gathered enough material, she published a book. At first she wrote the stories, and other people illustrated her books. One was illustrated by her husband, Dalibor Zupančič (Zgodbe in nezgodbe), and one by Jelka Godec Schmidt (To je-). At that time she only painted with watercolours, but later tried drawing with chalk using her left hand. She wrote a few poems for a book and illustrated that. When an editor saw it, he was prepared to publish a book, and the result was Little Creatures. The Slovenia Times

thing else. Otherwise, you might lose that style and it takes a long time to get it back.” The style of the book must be chosen in the beginning and should be followed all the way. “When drawing a book, it is good to draw it in one go from start to finish, at least the major points.” Her most successful book in Slovenia is Little Creatures, whereas abroad the most popular book is Why. Different places respond differently, she says. She noticed that while rhymes are not very popular abroad, they are in Slovenia.

The name Her pen name already suggests her directness and simplicity, and as well reflects the gist of her art: concise, witty, clever, and clean. She came up with the pen name when she was asked to draw a cover of a book and her entire name would fill it up, so she decided to shorten it. Besides, she says, the pen name looks more pictorial. Conveniently, the name makes her more recognizable and acces-

Lilijana Praprotnik Zupančič was born in 1955 in Celje. After high school she studied and graduated with a degree in architecture. For a while she worked in a studio in Germany, but returned home and got married. Since work was hard to come by she did many different things, like teaching school, working in urbanism, in design, etc. She started drawing humorous sketches for a newspaper already in that period. Eventually she started working for the children’s magazine Ciciban, and when she gathered enough material, she published a book. In the beginning she wrote the stories, and other people illustrated her books. One was illustrated by her husband, Dalibor Zupančič (Zgodbe in nezgodbe), and one by Jelka Godec Schmidt (To je-). At that time she was only doing watercolours, but she later tried drawing with chalk using her left hand. She wrote a few poems for a book and illustrated that. When an editor saw it, he was prepared to publish a book and the result was Little Creatures. You know those question kids ask that either have no answer or that nobody knows? Well, in her book Why Lila gives kids – and their parents – funny answers to such mysteries. Her main goal is to entertain. “I hope these books entertain children, so that they have more of a sense of humour.” She believes kids are faced with too many serious issues, for example ‘being different,’ ‘same-sex orientation,’ and ‘divorce.’ These are important themes lately, but she is convinced they are too heavy

PEOPLE 45 for kids. Give them a break with such themes, ‘at least wait until school they are school aged,’ she is convinced. “Children do not understand these things. A five-year old does not understand death. Kids are being pressed with these old-age topics which really don’t concern them and they don’t even understand them.” That is why she sticks to topics like animals and humour. In Why she was trying for a nonsensical approach. It started off as a rhymed poem. Later she added the ‘correct’ answers, mostly to ‘satisfy parents,’ she explains. In addition, the book invites kids to make up their own answers, to be creative, and to enjoy the experience. She likes to create works that help parents joke with their children. “Keeping children amused is hard work and my books lend a helping hand.” Finding new ideas can be tricky in any creative occupation. When asked how she finds inspiration for new material, she laconically answers, “It has to come to you, and sometimes, it doesn’t come for a whole year.” But, ideas happen most often while reading books for grownups, like Borghess; his fantastic creatures trigger her imagination.

Paintings Once she tried her hand at painting large format paintings. They were acrylic representations of black humour jokes dealing with the relationship between a husband and wife. For example, the wife is trying to hang herself, and the husband says: “. . . can you polish my shoes before you do that?” “Painters invade all other areas, so I decided to occupy their territory,” she explains. The paintings were a success; they were exhibited in the Modern Gallery, P74 Center and Gallery, and Škuc Gallery. They were later sold to people like the owner of Futura DDB advertising agency and to Mediana, a media research agency.

But, she jokes, you can’t smoke when painting large canvasses that is why she prefers smaller formats.

Right or left hand Using the left hand was once deemed inappropriate, so all children were taught to use their right hand in school. The same happened to her. But luckily, she rediscovered the potential in her forgotten left hand. One day her husband suggested she should use her left hand to draw, and it proved to be a great discovery. When using the right hand, she says, one employs more rational control whereas the left hand is more spontaneous and, in her case, it unleashed additional creativity. “Sometimes the hand itself comes up with a better solution than my head does. Subconsciously you do things much better and then you are amazed at yourself!”

Across borders Her books have been translated into 34 languages, all the major ones and also a few exotic, such as Basque, and even an Indonesian language. All these translations inspired her to make Animals International Dictionary because, she says, cats meow differently here, than in Israel, for example. Her international success goes even further. Lila was discovered by the Japanese at the Bologna book fair for children’s literature. They bought the rights to all her books and have already made 52 cartoon series that were extremely popular on Japanese national TV. They were created using classical drawings, not computer animation, and were drawn by a Japanese artist, of course designed from Lila’s original art. Additionally, two of her books were translated into Japanese. Lila is big in Japan indeed, and the creatures from her books have inspired a whole array of products, such as toys, stickers, mugs, etc. Now even Slovenian national TV has bought the cartoons, and

we will be able to see how Japanese cartoons based on Slovenian books will feel on their ‘home’ territory. Lila and her art reach far and wide. She was nominated twice for the Andersen Award for children’s literature; she was also nominated for the Astrid Lindgren Award, as well as numerous other international awards. She received the Levstik and the Smrekar Awards, an international BBY honourable recognition for illustration, and an award for the most beautiful book in 2002.

Lately Her new book Dinosaurs is out now, but it was published in for-

eign languages even before it was published in Slovenian, which again is testament to her popularity abroad. As far as new projects are concerned she is slightly secretive, probably to ensure good fortune. First of all, she’s going to Japan. Then, she’ll see what project will come next. She says you can never know which book will be your last, as you cannot know whether you will get another idea or not. She has a few new layouts on the drawing board, though this time it is about dogs. We will keep our fingers crossed and wait eagerly for the next funny, clever story by Ms. Prap.

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November 2009



In Focus One of this year’s Bilateral Fokus cultural highlights was a cinema event where young filmmakers from both Slovenia and the Netherlands presented their creations. By Petra Milič


t the end of October, the showing of short films by young cinéastes from Slovenia and the Netherlands took place in Kinodvor. This was the first year in Fokus that such an event was a part of it, and as Sandra Peršak at the Dutch Embassy said, they are planning to make this a recurring event from now on. The evening was opened by H.E. Jos Douma, Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. At this event, young and prospective students were introduced,

Fokus ’09 events in November EXHIBITIONS International Design Event Until 29 Nov, National Gallery Ljubljana Frank Uwe Laysiepen-Ulay: Identity through change - photos Until 30 Nov, ŠKUC Gallery Ljubljana Anne Frank – A History or Today Until 13 Nov, Slovenske Konjice High School BUSINESS Green Light Savings: presenatnion of a brochure Nov 24 at 1pm, Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, Ljubljana Nov 25 at 1pm, Regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Celje WROKSHOPS Give a Helping Hand to the Poor Nov 5 and 6 at 10am, primary schools around Slovenia Sustaining Design Excellence: Global Innovation and Revolutionary Technologies Nov 5 and 6 at 10am, Slovenijals complex, Ljubljana The Slovenia Times

such as Stephane Kaas who was born and raised in Amsterdam. He makes documentaries, shorts, commercials and is a singer in a rock band. In 2009, he graduated as a director at the Dutch Film Academy with the documentary Forever 19, a film about a 23-yearold Belgian boy with no shortterm memory which was shown at Fokus. Barbara Zem ljič g raduated from the Faculty of Arts and is studying directing at the Academy in Ljubljana. She received the Prešeren Award for her film Hair Extensions about a teenage girl who desperately wants to have long hair because she is convinced they will help a guy whom she fancies fall in love with her. Daan Bakker’s Jacco’s Film is about a ten-year-old boy who is a scientist, inventor, musician, womanizer, spiritual leader, strategist, philosopher, developer, architect and an athlete. In Wes, a film by Peter Hoogendoorn, Wesley (11) is being sent to a football camp while his mother is dying in a hospital. There he fights against himself and tries to escape reality. Žiga Virc is going back in time to the days of Yugoslavia. He portrays how two families can go from friends to enemies in the time of war. “The reaction of the audiences was satisfactory; the filmmakers themselves were thrilled with the event,” said Ms Peršak from the Embassy, also noting that the aim of this kind of event is to make ties between filmmakers and the two film departments at the Academies, stronger. After the screening, a moderated discussion took place with the filmmakers. Guests included two directors, a cameraman and a producer. They answered all sorts of practical questions about how a film is made, the ways of education for young filmmakers in the Netherlands and Slovenia, what the budget was for making a short film, how much they spent, how they got the actors they used in their films, what was the original idea and what was it inspired by.

Hair extensions

Jacco’s Film

All these comparisons between Slovenia and Netherlands in the context of making a film were very interesting to the artists and to the audience as well.

This event is a fine example of joint bilateral collaboration between talented young Slovene and Dutch artists, which is what Bilateral Fokus is all about – bringing art and people together.

Bilateral Fokus The first Bilateral Fokus was held in 2001. The concept behind it was and still is the need to highlight, once a year, all the relations between the Netherlands and Slovenia. There is great interest, both in Slovenia and in the Netherlands, in each other’s cultural expressions. Over time, the initiative for joint events increasingly came from Slovene organizations. With many Slovene partner organizations, the embassy now has a long lasting co-operation. The Bilateral Fokus has become a tradition known by more Slovenes every year. Over the years, Fokus has developed into a vehicle that brings an ever increasing number of Slovene and Dutch people together, exchanging knowledge, experience and cultural expressions. The overall theme of this year’s Bilateral Fokus is innovation. Most of the events are, therefore in one way or the other, original. The opening event of this year’s Bilateral Fokus was the dance theatre performance Sugar Rush which was staged in Old City Power Plant. This is a project that, through the medium of movement and music, aims to invoke the unbearable sweetness of a shared community – a memory of a paradise that never really existed and yet it is forever lost. Also taking part were Love Dolls, a dramatic, radical and committed puppet show about disposal as a problem of a modern man; and exhibition of Dutch contemporary painters and an exhibition of Dutch and Slovenian contemporary jewellery by designers from the Netherlands and Slovenia in the Kresija Gallery.

Culture 47

Maribor Theatre

90 Years of the Finest Productions Slovenia’s second city offers some the most outstanding events in the country. The city boasts top theatrical performances and actors, who persistently garner steady applause and have well-established and frequent cooperation with international institutions. By Kaja Cencelj


alking along the River Drava alongside the old town, you can’t miss the Slovene National Theatre Maribor. The building is the town’s largest public cultural establishment and unites drama, opera and ballet under its roof. It has been the pride of Maribor for decades. And now it is celebrating a special anniversary : its 90th. Danilo Rošker, managing director of SNG Maribor says that their major effort is to retain and regain an audience that is loyal and at the same time critical towards their work.

From Opera to Theatre The history of SNG Maribor’s Opera Company dates back to 1919, when a small company staged operettas. Today, it presents a diverse programme featuring its own orchestra and regular appearances by visiting international guest performers. The Symphony Orchestra was established in 1949 at the initiative of composer and conductor Demetrij Žebret and since then it has worked with many respected conductors and soloists. It also cooperates with the Ballet Company to produce at least two ballet performances per year. The beginning of theatre in Maribor took place in the 18th century, when the city’s theatre hall for travelling theatre groups was built. In 1864, the theatre moved into a former casino with a rich neoclassical façade, gaining a more respectable image and the best auditorium in town. It became the centre of cultural and social life for German-speakers in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. By the end of the First World War, theatre in Maribor had become professional, and since then (except for the three years of the Nazi occupation) performances have been in the Slovenian language. Its programme still presents both classical and contemporary drama, including works by Slovene dramatics as well as international playwrights.

To be unique and first-class Rošker has been successfully managing SNG Maribor as its director since 2003. “With the good team that I have – artistic director of Drama Vili Ravnjak, artistic director of Opera and Ballet Janko Kastelic and the head of ballet Edward Clug, above all the outstanding artistic ensemble of Drama, Opera and Ballet, from actors, dancers, to orchestra and chorus, and of course with a good cooperation of technical team and professional services – managing is not that difficult,” he says. He admits that sometimes it is difficult to get additional financial resources for the realization of their ambitious goals, and there is always the need for reconciliations between different interests, “...but we still have one goal: to be unique and first-class.” It is under his directorship that Maribor won back its fame as an important cultural point between Vienna and Milan. “We endeavour that Maribor be a city where everyone wants to stop, and this we can assure that they will be

pleased by well-recognised and high-quality artistic events. Our audience is from all parts of the country and there are many Austrians who come to see our opera performances. There is always more demand for the performances than the available dates in one season,” he adds.

In October, theatres meet in Maribor Since 1966, in every second half of October, all Slovene theatres meet in Maribor at the Borštnik Meeting, hosted by SNG Maribor and accompanied by various exhibitions and performances by school theatre groups, which transform the city into the liveliest place in the region. The festival is named after Ignacij Borštnik, the founder of artistic theatre in Slovenia at the turn of the century. On his behalf, the festival hosts the best performances from Slovenian theatre, selected by the jury. Rošker confirms that the quality of this year’s performances remains high, but the new director of the festival, Alja Predan,

has suggested some changes for future. “We wish that the festival would have a wider impact and recognition, not only Slovenia, but also abroad. I’m sure that this year’s special guest appearance of the critically acclaimed German theatre and opera director, Peter Stein, will offer a unique experience for anyone who will be there.” For Rošker this is the peak of the festival. “Our dreams to create a festival with a more international character are now becoming reality. Many international producers and managing directors of theatre festivals and theatre companies have already confirmed their attendance,” he is pleased to add. As with every year, the best performance, best directing, best acting, musical and other accomplishments will be awarded during the closing ceremony. The most prestigious award, conferred outside of the competition programme, is the Golden Borštnik Ring for lifetime achievement in Slovene theatre, which will be given to an actor or actress who has left a major legacy to the Slovene stage. November 2009


The Slovenia Times Recommends

Kino Šiška, Miles Ahead

Brane Rončel, certainly Slovenia’s most famous jazz impresario, is back – in style. After his the cancellation of his long-running TV show that regularly featured the best that contemporary jazz had to offer, he found himself without a home. But not for long: Kino Šiška, Ljubljana’s hottest venue at the moment, was more than happy to open its doors and let him in.

Tony Allen

Also dispensing with the notion that jazz is a stale art form not attuned to contemporary musical trends will be Norwegian trumpet player Nils Peter Molvaer, who ushered in the era of nu jazz in the early 1990s together with his collaborator, pianist Bugge Wesseltoft. Electronic music, from drum’n’bass and breaks to techno, is drawn upon in Molvaer’s performances, breaking the borders between genres.

Marcus Miller

The result of this meeting of minds looks like something from a jazz lover’s wildest dreams. To kick things off, Marcus Miller, thought by many to be the world’s most talented bass player, will revisit Tutu, a funkbased record he wrote and produced for the legendary Miles Davis back in the 1980s. Guru’s Jazzmatazz featuring Solar will be next. Guru, one of the pioneers of hip-hop/jazz crossover is known for his witty lyrics, smoothly flowing over funky rhythms and jazz improvisation in the background.

Tony Allen’s performance will certainly be one of the highlights of the Rončel jazz series in Kino Šiška. A world-class drummer and collaborator of Nigeria’s best know musician Fela Kuti, Allen has successfully merged polyrhythmic African beats with contemporary jazz, creating a danceable fusion that rarely leaves the audience cold. Lovers of guitar-driven music will not be left out in the cold, however. Robben Ford with his band, modelled upon Jimi Hendrix’s famous trios, will see to that. And they say winter season is a dead season in Ljubljana. Not anymore.

Marcus Miller, Tutu Revisited: The music of Miles Davis feat. Christian Scott, November 9, 21h00, EUR 28/33, Guru’s Jazzmatazz feat. Solar & 7 Grand Players, November 12, 21h00, EUR 18/23 Nils Peter Molvaer, November 16, 21h00, EUR 20/25 Tony Allen, November 22, 21h00, EUR 23/27 Robben Ford, November 30, 21h00, EUR 15/18


of his artistic life and all of his different faces.

Dušan Tršar – exhibit of sculptures Dance Nov 3–Dec 15, Cankarjev dom, Srh Ljubljana, EUR 2,5–3,6 Dušan Tršar (born in 1937) started making a name for himself in the late 1960s. In the following decade, he attracted attention with interesting sculptures, which combined traditional sculpting problems with light effects from various substances. He has always been interested in new artistic tendencies and he has always been a great experimenter. The exhibit shows all the most important eras The Slovenia Times

Nov 5–7 at 8pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 12–24 This is an exciting new dance and musical performance, where the male and female worlds are split. The male world is represented by the five percussionists and a pianist, while the female world is represented by the five dancers. The music was written by classical and avant-garde composer Milko Lazar, who also plays the piano, while the choreography was done by Matjaž Farič.


Songs of the Soul, the music of Sri Chinmoy Nov 6 at 7pm, dvorana Union, Maribor, no admission This is a concert that you’ll never forget. International artists from various genres, from jazz to classical music, will be playing the music of Sri Chinmoy, a spiritual leader and one of the most prolific composers of our time. With their inter-

pretations and dynamic arrangements, the musicians will take you into a world of inner strength, peace, joy and harmony.


The Broadway Musical Nov 6–8 at 8pm, Gallus Hall, Cankarjev dom, Lj, EUR 30–45 The Broadway Musical is an outstanding dance and music event which should not be missed by any lover of good musicals. Exclusively and for the first time in Slovenia, it will be held at the Gallus Hall of Cankarjev dom. The show features the greatest hits from original American Broadway musicals such as Cats, Vampires’ Ball, Hair, Cabaret, Singing In The Rain, and Chicago. It will present names such as Andrew Lloyd Weber, Roman Polanski, Harold Prince, Frank Sinatra, and not least Bob Foss in association with the ambassador of

American Broadway theatre, 2009 world choreographer, Mojca Horvat, who has left a distinguishing mark on the show. The excellent music, compositions such as Memories, Ewigkeit, Singing in the Rain, Let the Sunshine and Aquarius, in a combination with superior singing, dance, set design and choreography will leave nobody unaffected.

Wine tasting

Ljubljana Wine Route - wine tasting and culinary event Nov 7 at 10am, Old city centre, Ljubljana, no admission Wine tasting is a very important tradition in Slovenia. People who will be able to attend the event entitled Ljubljana Wine Route (Ljubljanska vinska pot) will be able to taste various young wines and other culinary delights available at the stalls set up in front of the old city centre restaurants and bars.

EVENTS 49 Gospel

Down by the Riverside Nov 10 at 8.15pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 13–29

Today praised it as a “rousing musical tribute to New Orleans,” and Rolling Stone called it “A superweapon of roots–music uplift”.


Liffe – Ljubljana International Film Festival

The Blind Boys of Alabama (living gospel legends established in 1939, and four Grammy winners) and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band (dedicated to preserving and perpetuating New Orleans jazz, the band derives its name from the venerable music venue located in the heart of the French Quarter) are two great American institutions that have joined forces to bring attention to the rich musical heritage of New Orleans with their Down By The Riverside tour. In the beginning of 2008, the Blind Boys released Down In New Orleans, the first album they ever made in the Big Easy. The Washington Post said of the album: “Inspired and relevant, it borders on the miraculous.” USA

Nov 11–22, different venues, Ljubljana, Maribor Liffe is, as director of the festival Simon Popek describes, traditionally committed to featuring promising filmmakers, European film, rarely screened films, as well as esoteric production from the remotest parts of the world. It’s all in the mind, and if one is broad-minded, one is susceptible to embracing the unknown and unfamiliar territories, be

it the traditional Peruvian folklore, a baroque film noir from Malaysia or a Chilean family thriller. This year Liffe is introducing two events that

with a bit of luck, persistence and understanding might become traditional; it will host the Neighbouring Co-production Meeting attended by producers and other film professionals from Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, and a section dedicated to one of the most neglected strata of film lovers, children and pupils. Their right to a different children’s and youth cinema will be legitimatised with the Kinobalon section.


Simon Trpčeski Nov 11 at 7.30pm, Gallus Hall, Ljubljana, EUR 12–23 Though still in his late-twenties, the pianist has established himself as one of the most remarkable young musicians to have emerged from the former Yugoslavia in recent years. He regularly appears as a soloist on the most prestigious world stages and plays with many of the great orchestras that appreciate his superb and imaginative pianism, as well as his deeply personal approach to Romantic music. In less than ten years, he has played with all the foremost world orchestras in Europe, the US, Asia, Australia and New Zealand, throughout also

giving recitals which have received praise from critics and audiences alike. His recent sell-out recital at the Wigmore Hall prompted the Telegraph’s critic to describe Simon Trpčeski as “one of the great musicians of our day.”


23rd Frankfurt after Frankfurt - sales exhibition of books Nov 11–14 from 9am to 8pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 2–4 The 23rd annual event titled Frankfurt after Frankfurt is a sales exhibition of books. It will feature 10,000 non-Slovenian book titles which were mostly presented at two


The Slovenia Times Recommends

Random Access Memory

MFRU, the 15th International Festival of Computer Arts, comes to Maribor

From its beginnings, the festival has been a pioneer in presenting theory and artistic practices in the field of computer arts and new media in Slovenia and the broader region. Earlier festivals presented numerous local and foreign artists, among them several stars of computer art, who through their works and comprehension of this field have left an indelible impression on contemporary art. The topic of this year’s festival is the documentation of digital art. The festival unit uho;oko: will host artists who will use different techniques to create a symbiosis of sound and image, while the theoretical dimensions of cultural creation and content will be debated at the symposium “Culture as Art.” The festival will also host Kiblix - an open code festival, video lecture, a project of urban intervention in public space, as well as a rich accompanying programme including public avatar and concerts. The opening event of the festival, the MFRU Kick-off, will take place on 11th November. This anniversary is also an ideal moment to reflect upon previously executed and created work and to plan possible future concepts. It is also an ideal occasion to re-examine and revaluate the archives, which will take form in the production of hyper film and a web portal as well as publication of a book about the festival. New reflections, views and considerations nourishing this rapidly developing festival in future will undoubtedly originate from this revision.

of the largest European book fairs, in Frankfurt and London. You will be able to buy books at reasonable prices and see what has been going on in the world of literature.

The artist list features Miha Vipotnik, Fenshu and Paul Destieu & Otto-Prod/ La Vitrine, Octex, Cameron Bobro, Luka Dekleva, Dušan Zidar, Vesna Krebs, Marko Batista, Miha Presker, Karsten Gebbert (krgn), Claude Heiland-Allen (Claudiusmaximus), Jan-Kees van Kampen (adrian vacca), Marko Bricelj, Gilles Desplanques and Anne-Valérie Gasc. When the Maribor International Festival of Computer Arts (MFRU) was established in 1994, it was one of the first festivals in this part of the world and the first and only festival of its kind in Slovenia. After fifteen years, Slovenia holds two such festivals and a number of centres producing and presenting computer arts as a constant practice. Artists and projects involved in fields defined as computer art present the most noteworthy and successful achievements in Slovene contemporary art. On the other hand, Computer creations still, even now, retain a touch of oddness and are perceived as a foreign body on the margins. Furthermore, Slovenia does not possess a place for continual presentations of Slovene and foreign projects in this field. In the perspective of the year 2012 when Maribor will be the European Capital of Culture (and, of course, further), it is the festival’s ambition to connect all intermedia programme producers and contents that are active in the area. 12th-14th November, various venues;


Breathing in 2009 Nov 12 at 7.30 pm, CD Club, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 8–11 It has been ten years since the demise of Primož Ramovš, one of the first Slovenian composers, who have composed for the accordion, acknowledging it as a serious music instrument. Held in his memory, the concert will highlight Ramovš’s accordion music that has greatly enriched the concert accordion repertoire, thus paving its way to avant-garde music. One of the con-

The Slovenia Times

cert highlights will be the premiere of Ramovš’s composition A Wish Fulfilled, created as far back as in 1997. A new work has been written especially for this occasion by composer Tomaž Habe.


Isis, Dälek, Transitional November 17 at 8pm, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, EUR 16 Third time is a charm and fourth time is lucky. Kino Šiška has invited concert giants, the metal esotericists Isis who currently stand as one of the most renowned and influential underground band, which has certainly been proven by this year’s award of the American music magazine Revolver for Best Underground Metal Act. Apart from the monumental Isis, the Ipecac headquarters will provide the regular returnee, the relentless rhymester Dälek, while a complete sound experience will be ensured by the fresh doom-industrial geniuses Transitional who will be marching along. Joined for the first time in the cathedral of our new Kino Šiška centre.


Benka Pulko: Black & White Rainbow Nov 18–Dec 20, Small Gallery, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, no admission After gaining extensive professional experience, Benka Pulko has since 1996 been freelancing in journalism and culture. She has published photo-stories, photo reports, news, articles, travelogues and books, as well as research projects. Travelling extensively across the world, she has recorded sundry compelling and soul-stirring stories. Since 2003, she has held a number of one-person photo exhibitions and published several photo publications. She was listed four times in the Book of Guinness World Records 2004, in the category of Adventure and Endurance. For the current exhibition, she has prepared a selection of photographs

EVENTS 51 of a Tibetan community in exile, which testify to the interlacement of bright, dark, and a colourful life, love and fear, joy and worry. The images manifest the relationship between the exterior and the interior, ours and yours, and between what we aspire to be and what we really are.


Eros Ramazzotti Nov 19 at 8pm, Hala Tivoli, Ljubljana, EUR 69–79

time and he always delivers catchy, melodic tunes throughout the refrains of his songs that are passionate autobiographical ballads often rich in soft-rock influence. During his 25 year career he has sold over 40 million records worldwide. In 2003 he released his ninth studio album which was also entitled 9. The first single Un’Emozione Per Sempre was released on May 9 which quickly climbed all the way to the top and stayed at no. 1 position in Italy’s official single chart for nine consecutive weeks.

Alternative rock

Wovenhand Nov 19 at 9pm, Gala Hala, Metelkova, Ljubljana, EUR 15

Since 1984, Eros Ramazzotti, an Italian singer and songwriter, has released nine studio albums, one EP, two compilation albums, two live albums as well as 31 singles, all of which have charted noticeably high in many European countries as well as in South and Central America. Ramazzotti star has done duets with several prestigious artist such as Cher, Tina Turner Andrea Bocelli, Anastacia, Joe Cocker and others. His success greatly lies beneath his unique voice which could be described as somewhat nasal but yet a bit aggressive at the same

Wovenhand is a project started by David Eugene Edwards, formerly of 16 Horsepower. He is one of the most original and charismatic personalities in the field of American alternative rock. Wovenhand will present their latest masterpiece, Ten Stones. Their music could be described as dark and mystical rock with hints of folk. The lyrics are religious in nature and Edwards’ unique vocal, which is better than ever before, adds plenty of character to the music.

Nov 21 at 8pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 14–25

25th Slovenian Book Fair Nov 24–29, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, no admission

A major presence on the international club/festival circuit for over a decade, Freeland continues to hold residencies at the best dancefloors around the globe (like London’s prestigious Fabric club), and recently made his third triumphant appearance at the renowned Coachella music festival. He will be performing in Club TOP Eat&Party on 27th of November 2009. Invitations/10€

Nov 26 at 9.30 pm, Casino La Perla, Nova Gorica, EUR 10–20 Premiata Forneria Marconi is one of the most famous Italian bands ever. In the 1970s, they released a host of great experimental albums, which combined such styles as rock, choral music, classical music and jazz. In the 1980s, they started playing pop music, but always retained their romantic Mediterranean sensibilities. Lately, they’ve returned to their experimental roots, but their shows always include some sentimental pop favourites, like Suonare Suonare. This is one of the rare opportunities to see them play outside Italy.

and was first mentioned in written records in 1839. St. Nicholas traditionally brings presents to children on the eve of 6th December. The festively decorated stalls at St. Nicholas Fair will be offering various goods suitable for traditional St. Nicholas gifts.


Children prints Classical

Slovene philharmonic orchestra Dec 3–4 at 7.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 6–20

Until Nov 29 on workdays 3-7pm, Pionirski dom, Ljubljana; also Tivoli Park, no admission 300 original prints belong to a huge archive of children graphics, stored in Pioneers’ house. The graphics, created during 1960-80 are considered to have an exceptional pedagogic value. A part of this collection is also on display at Jakopič promenade, Tivoli Park. The exhibition is a part of 28th graphic biennial. C







Adam Freeland is a UK-based DJ and producer associated with breakbeat based electronic music. He was a resident of Brighton and is now based in Los Angeles. As a producer, he formed half of Tsunami One with Kevin Beber, and released a solo album as Freeland; as a DJ & Remixer he operates solo under his own full name. He is the owner / creative director of record label Marine Parade, which has released material by artists including Evil Nine, ILS, Alex Metric and Jape.

Premiata Forneria Marconi


Slovene group Orlek will celebrate 20 years of knap’n’roll and promote a new album Anduht and biggest hits, this time with guests Svea Zagorje Wind Orchestra, String Orchestra Celje, MOPZ Zarja Trbovlje and a dancer and choreographer Branko Potočan.

Adam Freeland TOP Eat&Party 27. 11. 2009 at 09.00pm, 10 eur

Progressive rock/pop

Organised by Society of Publishers and Booksellers of the Chamber of Commerce of Slovenia and Cankarjev dom The Slovenian Book Fair brings together the latest in Slovenian book publishing. The accompanying programme features an exhibition, debates on books within the Debate Café, various events within the Publishers’ Academy, the Reference Book Tracker and the School Book Tracker programmes, and the announcements of this year’s award winners.

The Slovene philharmonic orchestra will be performing the compositions of Alojz Ajdič. These two concerts will commemorate the 70th birthday of this renowned Slovene classical composer. The orchestra will be conducted by Uroš Lajovic, while the pianist for these two evenings will be Rita Kinka.


St. Nicholas Fair Dec 3–6 from 10am to 8pm, Prešernov trg square, Ljubljana, no admission The tradition of St. Nicholas (Sveti Miklavž) is an old one in Slovenia

November 2009


52 sports

Ski Season Preview

Track & Field

Kozmus Ends Career

The Slovene team’s expectations are not entirely clear and further obscured by a difficult financial situation. However, the skiers have often proved that they can deliver unexpected delights, and skiing will surely attract great media and public once again, reaching its peak during the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver in February. By Simon Demšar

Photo: BOBO

Into the Unknown Men’s team Andrej Jerman will be under the closest observation. Not just because he is one of the most respected downhill skiers in the World Cup, but also because downhill is one of the most respected sports in general. Being part of the downhill elite is therefore an achievement, an honour and a matter of prestige in itself. He might soon be joined by his fellow Tržič resident, Rok Perko, world downhill junior champion in 2005, who has shown signs of excellence, notably at last year’s event in Kvitfjell, where he was 12th. The team has been boosted by the arrival of a new downhill and super-G coach, Burkhard Schaffer. Jerman’s first response was very positive, “He has not only met but exceeded my expectations. He has brought new energy and new methods. I am looking forward to feedback on my technique; something that I have missed over the last three years.” The technical team will consist of Mitja Dragšič, Bernard Vajdič and Mitja Valenčič. They all have made it just under the podium on a couple of occasions but that’s where it has ended. Throughout their careers, they have also been very unlucky in terms of injuries. Dragšič even considered retirement for a while last year but said that it would have left him with the feeling of “unfinished business.” The whole trio is around 30 years of age, so it is literally their last chance to make it or break it in the world cup. Matic Skube, a former junior world champion, didn’t quite make his expected progress last year and will probably join the world cup team only later on in the season. Slovenia will again host two traditional World Cup events. The men will take part in giant slalom and slalom in Kranjska Gora on 30 and 31 January, while the women’s event will be held between 16 and 17 January in Maribor. The Slovenia Times

World champion in hammerthrow and the winner of the 2008 Olympics Primož Kozmus unexpectedly finished his career. He has cited a lack of motivation and the feeling that he had reached the ceiling as the main reasons to abruptly end his stellar career. The news comes as a shock not only to the Slovenian public, but also to his long-year trainer Vladimir Kevo. Kozmus is one of greatest Slovenian athletes. He won gold at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing and became world champion in hammer throw in August, while recently he was also nominated for the European Athlete of the Year Trophy. It was believed that the best times of his career were yet to come.

Top Athletes

Top Rewards High hopes for Andrej Jerman (BOBO)

Women’s team

The heaviest burden will once again rest on the shoulders of Tina Maze, who is the only skier openly admitting that she is aiming at the very top. Last year she won twice, finishing third overall in giant slalom and sixth in the overall standings. As of last season, she has put together her private team, which costs her in the region of EUR 200,000, and has proved successful. If she indeed makes a step forward, she could well become the most successful Slovene skier in history. In a bid to improve her chances in the overall standings, she has even taken slalom more seriously, which she has so far paid little attention to. She has cracked under pressure several times during her career and it will be interesting to see how she will cope with the pressure at the Olympic Games. Another of her deficiencies has been relations with the media. With her own team, depending almost exclusively on sponsors, she will probably have to adopt a more media-friendly image, like it or not. Other team members include Ana Drev, Maruša Ferk, Mateja Robnik and Ilka Štuhec. The latter, another former junior world champion, sustained an injury that will force her to miss the opening events. This is another blow for the 19-year-old Štuhec, considered to be the greatest talent of Slovene skiing, who missed

also last season because of an injury. Drev, Ferk and Robnik have all had some bright moments during their careers, but not on a consistent basis. It is difficult to predict anything but as things look now, any top 10 finish will be a great success for them.

Money talks

The topic of the year has been the finances of the national ski team. Matjaž Šarabon, the business manager of the alpine team, has admitted that the situation isn’t looking good. The global financial crisis is just part of the reason. “The ski industry is in crisis, without exceptions, and I don’t expect the companies to fulfil their financial commitments in time. However, contracts are signed until the end of the season and responsibilities are to be fulfilled,” said Šarabon. He does promise that the money will be spent wisely and not a single euro will be wasted. Last year, the Ski Association introduced a system which requires team members to contribute their own money (between five and ten percent) to the budget, which forced a couple of skiers into retirement. Petra Robnik, who hasn’t been included in the A-team due to poor results, has taken a different route. Similarly to Tina Maze, only on a smaller scale, she will try to put together a private package and go her own way.

The Slovenian government has endorsed a motion to pay out a one-time bonus to nearly two-dozen Slovenian athletes who have achieved outstanding results in the past two years. The bonus will range from EUR 1,000 to EUR 7,000 per athlete. A total of 21 athletes with top finishes in world competitions will be entitled to the bonus. The biggest bonus will be paid to Olympic and world champion hammer thrower Primož Kozmus.


Pokljuka Makes a Comeback Slovenia’s main biathlon venue has received a much-needed face-lift that officials believe will ensure biathlon remains an important winter sport in the country. The inauguration of the Pokljuka Biathlon coincided with news that the venue near Bled would once again play host to the Biathlon World Cup circuit. Apart from biathlon, the refurbished centre also boasts a roller-blading and running track, sauna and gym facilities, a stadium with a shooting range, seating facilities and expanded parking facilities. The facility has been praised by Slovenia’s biathlon team as one of the best in the world. The Pokljuka World Cup meet will take place from 17 through 20 December.


100 years of AMZS

Get your Motor Running A century in the life of an association so vitally incorporated into the very fabric of nation’s mobility deserves proper recognition, hence the recent celebration of the 100th anniversary of the Automobile Association of Slovenia (AMZS) represented a fitting occasion for reflection on past successes as well as rumination on the future. By David Aleksander


MZS is one of the oldest automobile associations in the world. Founded but four years after the British Automobile Association and in the same year when the first conference of automobile associations was held in Paris, France, AMZS began as a rather bold and daring venture of a few Carniolan big cats of the day. On 16 July 1909 a convention was held in Ljubljana at the initiative of Baron Friderik Borno–16 very influential people, proud owners of the man’s new best friend, the car, decided to found the Carniolan Automobile Club. The founding document stated that the basic principles of the new never-before-seen club should revolve around sports driving, accelerating tourism of the region and elucidating the new concept of automobilism to the people, all the while staying out of the political arena. The founding members were visionaries, bold industrials with big ideas, yet even they were not aware that they were laying the foundation for mass mobility which would several decades later become such an intrinsic fibre of Slovene society.

100 years after The association celebrated its 100th anniversary last September

at Grand Hotel Union, with the President of Slovenia Dr Danilo Türk participating as the honorary guest speaker. The celebration awarded the organisation’s past members, including past presidents, vice presidents, secretary-generals and others who contributed to the joint cause over the years. It served as a fitting occasion for reflection on past achievements and rumination on the future–safety on Slovene roads was on the minds of the present Managing Director of AMZS Dr Danijel Starman and the Slovene President Dr Danilo Türk. While the former pointed out that AMZS should not become too complacent with its achievements but should do everything in its power to increase safe driving, also expressing a wish that more young and women drivers become AMZS members, the latter delivered a speech that incorporated elements of a global vision of the world. The President called for a gradual introduction of new technologies, more “green” and environmentfriendly technologies, calling to everyone’s mind that by the time the Carniolan Automobile Club was established, Ljubljana had already had an electric streetcar, which, unlike the car, posed no harm to the environment: “The

increase in mobility will not be able to go on indefinitely. We will have to reach a compromise between economy, ecology and personal ambitions.” The President saw AMZS in the function of a mediator in finding proper balance between mobility, safety and environmental responsibility, touching also on the subject of road accidents and calling for a move that would release transit freight traffic on Slovene roads. He stressed the importance of being committed to Vision 0, which is an attempt to reduce the number of road casualties to 0; in 2008 there more than 43,000 road casualties and 1.8 million traffic injuries in the EU. In July the centenary was honoured by a three-day celebration at the Safe Driving Centre at Vransko, which presented the achievements of the past century, gave the visitors an insight into the work of the association and also into what lies ahead. More than 1,300 people could test a driving simulator, put on a special pair of “drunkennesssimulating” glasses and witness a brand new Renault Laguna being totalled at 80 km/h.

Mobility vs. sustainability 100 years ago the newly acquired mobility represented a new way of bringing people together–distanc-

es that once looked enormous and unconquerable suddenly became manageable and within reach. The world may never have fully recovered from that initial shock which suddenly made the world much smaller, and constantly on the go, and may still be firmly riding on the high of the mobility wave–hoards of metal beasts rushing along endless highways prove just that. In any regard, one hundred years of mobility is a good opportunity to take a breather and ask the most obvious elephant-inthe-room type of question: where to, dear world, thou mowest with such a hasty step? (As though in defiance, the only thing that is heard is the sound of the engine stubbornly vrooming into the cold of the night …) Taking into consideration the environment itself and the fact that mobility has become so deeply entrenched into the modern human soul, green technologies will have to both sustain that enormous human drive to move-aroundincessantly-no-questions-asked and the human drive for a future, something the Slovene President touched upon in his speech. How does that old Slovene saying go: “You can’t have mobility without a … planet?” That sounds about right.

The early on-road repair service. November 2009


Actress Minu Kjuder receives Borštnik ring from Alja Predan, director of the event. The ring is the most prestigious award for achievements in theatre. (Mediaspeed)

Fun motorcade at the event Vintage in Lendava. (Mediaspeed)

Underwear maker Lisca presents its new collection at a fashion show. (Mediaspeed) Members of AmCham Slovenia collect 72000 euros at their charitable event Night of thousand dinners. Polona Klun the winner of “Miss Buši” contest for the most attractive expecting mother and the two other pregnant runner-ups.

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