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LIFE STYLE: Presenting top 9 Slovenian castles

The Slovenia Times, Slovenian magazine in English, volume 6, number 121 EUR 4,80

October 2009

REAL ESTATE

Survival of the fittest Here’s looking at you

pag es 2 0-21


CONTENTS 

October 2009 4

Panorama

POLITICS

6 8 9 11

Judicial prohibitions question press freedom Intellectual cross-fertilisation at Bled strategic forum Jacques Rupnik, political scientist Population swings cause shortage in kindergartens

14 18 20

ECONOMY

Partners

Slovenian banks are stable Exporters feel the pinch of global slowdown Gorenje’s workers revolt

REAL ESTATE SPECIAL 24 26 33 36 39 40 44 46 52 54 61 62

As real estate market slows, only the best survive Slovenia, Serbia, Croatia: Real estate opportunities Emonika: Hardly waiting to be back on track Architect Boštjan Vuga talks about Ljubljana’s best projects Joc Pečečnik, the man with the stadium plan Interview: Milan Gajšek, Ljubljana chief city planner Tobačna City: Expanding the capital’s city centre Market analysis by Jacqueline Stuart

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M

Y

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LIFESTYLE Castle dotted country Nine castles to explore Ljubljana marathon approaches Dine with style

CULTURE 65 66 67

Kino Šiška takes urban culture to a higher level Špic-Cvak, the performance of rock, ethno and ballet Event Guide

70 71

SPORTS Basketball team short of a medal, but still heroes Table tennis champion Bojan Tokič

PEOPLE 72 74

Primož Kozmus, champion hammer thrower Every picture tells a story October 2009

MY

CY CMY


PANORAMA

source: STA, Slovenian Press Agency

Quiet diplomacy has spoken

While the Slovenian coalition parties welcomed the agreement, the opposition was unhappy with the deal even to the extent that some are considering seeking a referendum on Croatia’s

EU entry. The biggest opposition party, the Democrats (SDS) said the deal was no “historical breakthrough” and regretted it focused on the blockade rather than the border dispute, while the leader of the People’s Party (SLS) Radovan Žerjav said that “Slovenia got absolutely nothing with today’s agreement”. The SLS announced it already started preparations for a referendum to protect Slovenia’s interests. President Danilo Tuerk suggested the government should initiate a referendum regarding border talks at an appropriate moment. The EU presidency announced that the intergovernmental conference with Croatia would take place on 2nd October and that EU-facilitated Slovenian-Croatian border talks would also resume on the same day. The parliamentary committees gave the go-ahead for Croatia’s accession talks without the support of the op-

position, which criticised the government for failing to notify either the National Assembly or parliamentary parties on the contents of the 11 September agreement between the Croatian and Slovenian prime ministers. The opposition also argued that the agreement ent ailed too many unclarities and that Slovenia made too many concessions to Croatia. Photo: BOBO

Slovenian and Croatian prime ministers, Borut Pahor and Jadranka Kosor, finalised a deal under which Slovenia will unblock Croatia’s EU accession talks and the two countries will resume talks on the border dispute with the help of the EU through arbitration. After the meeting, Kosor sent a document to the Swedish EU presidency stating that no document Croatia had sent to the EU as part of accession talks was prejudicial to the border with Slovenia as well as that no document or act from the period after 25 June 1991, when both countries went independent from Yugoslavia “has any legal effect at any arbitration court nor prejudges the outcome of any procedure”.

FM Žbogar and the map of prejudices.

Italy-Slovenia

Public sector

Peacekeeping

At the Berlusconi’s

Judges demand justice

Bring the boys back home

Slovenian judges, prosecutors and defenders had launched a major legal campaign against the state, which could cost up to EUR 70m. The judges want full compensation for a 20% pay cut that was introduced in 1997 without all the necessary procedural steps. Most of the officials want the state to cover for the difference to the full amount for the period between 2003 and 2008, since claims from before 2003 have fallen under the statute of limitations. While some want up to EUR 40,000, the average sum, which depends on the years of service by an individual judge, stands at EUR 20,000. Unofficially, the number of lawsuits filed is currently standing at almost 600 and is rising. Justice Minister Aleš Zalar appealed to all judicial officials to “think about whether filing such a lawsuit is appropriate”.

President Danilo Tuerk, who is also the supreme commander of the Slovenian Armed Forces, supported the idea for a special international conference on Afghanistan, but said that it should start working on an “exit strategy”. The president, who made the comment during a visit to a Ljubljana army barracks, thus joined the ongoing debate in Slovenia on the future of the army’s participation in peacekeeping missions abroad. Deputy Franco Juri of the junior coalition Zares has urged a “thorough reflection on our participation in missions, especially Afghanistan”. “Afghanistan belongs to Afghans,” said Türk, adding that international presence in the country should end in the foreseeable future. Slovenia currently has 81 troops in Afghanistan serving as part of the NATO International Security Assistance Force. They are deployed in Herat in eastern part of the country and Kabul in the east.

Prime Minister Borut Pahor paid a working visit to Italy, focusing in his talks with his counterpart Silvio Berlusconi on economic cooperation between the countries and the possibility of the neighbours’ companies jointly entering foreign markets. The pair also touched on the issue of the Slovenian minority in Italy, with Pahor expressing his hope that Italy would fulfil all its obligations towards the Slovenian community in the country. Pahor and Berlusconi also discussed the planned gas terminals in Aquilinia near Trieste, which Slovenia opposes for environmental reasons. Pahor told his Italian counterpart that in case Italy went ahead with the project without providing the necessary documents on the terminal’s impact on the environment, Slovenia would consider taking the matter to the European Court of Justice. Berlusconi said that Italy was drawing up the necessary documents for the project and that talks on bilateral level would continue. Photo: BOBO



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UNDER THE PRESS  Vox populi

SDS up, govt down Although a great share of voters remains undetermined, the opposition Democrats (SDS) remain firmly ahead in the latest monthly Vox populi survey, with their support at 24.4% compared to a 16.7% backing for the ruling Social Democrats (SD). According to the Dnevnik poll (N=700), the third place goes to National Party (SNS) with 6.4%, followed by the Liberal Democrats with 6.1%, Zares on 5.7%, while the remaining coalition Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) got 5.3%. One year after the general election, 38.4% of the respondents assessed the work of the government as positive, while 56.4% believe it is not doing a good job. President Danilo Tuerk continues to top the most popular politicians rankings, followed by Economy Minister Matej Lahovnik, European Commissioner Janez Potocnik and Prime Minister Borut Pahor. Opposition leader Janez Janša is 10th, up from 18th last month. 1

2

3

Some would say that it was bad for the party, taking the responsibility in the hardest times, but I say it was good luck for Slovenia. Ever-optimistic Prime Minster Borut Pahor, on the first anniversary of his government to the press.

It has been a year of broken pre-election promises, unfulfilled expectations, enormous debts and incompetent dealing with the economic crisis. Ever-critical ex-prime minister Janez Janša, on the same topic.

It seems that the strike really is spontaneous. In the background of it there were mostly women with many loans for clothes and similar stuff.

European Union

Mixed feelings for Barroso Slovenian MEPs were split in the vote for the new European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, with three out of them supporting him, one voting against his reappointment and three abstaining from the vote. Alojz Peterle (EPP) said he as well as everyone in his political grouping were very happy with Barroso winning such trust among MEPs. In his opinion the high support for Barroso, whose candidacy was endorsed by 382 out of 736 MEPs, is very important for Europe’s political stability. Zoran Thaler (S&D), who voted against reappointment, meanwhile said that Barroso had got “a clear message that many in the parliament were not satisfied with his work so far and expect more from him in the second term”. Jelko Kacin (ALDE), who abstained gave Barroso the credit for his response to the climate change, however he completely failed in his response to the economic crisis. In his opinion Barroso is too complacent. MEP Zoran Thaler S&D doesn’t want Barroso to stay.

Swine flu

A manageable outbreak Ten pupils from a primary school in Polzela have been confirmed to be infected with the H1N1 swine flu virus on 15 September. This is the first outbreak of swine flu in Slovenian schools since the start of the new school year. Epidemiologists say that this was a manageable outbreak, which means that the school does not have to be temporarily closed for now. An additional 94 pupils failed to come to the school that day.

Journalist Novica Mihajlović in Finance, quoting Gorenje board Chairman Jože Zagožen, commenting on the reasons for the industrial action in Gorenje, where workers demanded a rise in their wages. In fact, I said that women indeed represented the majority of strikers. They are especially hit hard with expenses at the beginning of the school year. Many of them have the even lower practical net income because of the loans they need to pay off. When the journalist remarked, “They get into debt a lot, don’t they?” I responded that there is a substantial pressure from advertising for credit from retailers. Jože Zagožen, chairman of the Gorenje board explaining the circumstances of his misinterpreted statement.

There’s only one thing in Stalinism I find sympathetic: Admit it – he was the only element, which really scared the hell out of the capitalists. At that point, they were really afraid. That’s what comrade Stalin really knew how to do. Philosopher Slavoj Žižek at a press conference, introducing the new reprint of Marx and Engels’ Communist Manifesto.

By labelling the Slovenian Prime Minister a bribe-taker, the TV documentary could move the attention from domestic issues to a distant country. The traditional Finnish russophobia was transformed into anti-slavism in the idea of presenting Janša as a Slav dictator who decides all the issues in his country through bribes. University of Helsinki Professor Johan Bäckman explains the motives behind the controversial Finnish report on alleged bribery in a deal between arms manufacturer Patria and the Slovenian army.




A WORD FROM THE EDITOR

POLITICS

Press freedom

Let’s twist again

By Jaka Terpinc

The everlasting, ever popular Slovene-

Croatian dispute came to its season finale. After a series of unsuccessful bilateral meetings followed by a month of silent diplomacy, the happy couple Pahor-Kosor announced they have reached a solution. Croatia would officially restrain from its prejudgment of borders, and Slovenia would open the gates to the EU. All the wise European godfathers of the agreement clapped and praised the countries’ good will and maturity. For a moment everybody was happy. But only for a moment, when it suddenly became clear that after a year-long struggle all we got was – a draw. While Croatian President Mesić tried to lift spirits by claiming that with this act Croatia has scored a goal into the Slovenian net, over here the entire opposition block characterized PM Pahor’s result as defeat and surrender. Then Pahor finally gathered his foreign policy committee to explain the details of the allegedly favourable agreement, but it didn’t convince the opposition. But it certainly convinced the Croats, who have obviously paid a bit more attention. Pahor’s interpretation of why the deal is good for Slovenia made Croats, who had been celebrating the success of their football tactics, start raging against their own team and the management. This comic twist once again summarizes the nature of the whole dispute – that it is constant fodder for the media and populist politicians, while the real significance of the outcome is more comparable to a sports match than to some vital or fatal strategic asset that impacts people’s lives or a state’s strength. The sober heads came to a conclusion that a certain level of dissatisfaction on both sides is a good sign. And some of the national antagonism finally returned to where it is better off: to the playground, as Slovenia and Croatia faced off in the Eurobasketball championship quarterfinals. As soon the Croatian episode came to its cliffhanger ending, another bilateral affair came into focus, if we can consider relations to Vatican truly bilateral. The prime minister went to Rome to chat with his counterpart Silvio Berlusconi. Meanwhile, he also paid a visit to Vatican City to introduce himself to the Pope. Only one problem – the holy boss didn’t want to break his vacation, and postponed the audience for a few months, appointing his secretary to deal with the Slovenian PM. This appeared a tad disengenuous especially after Franc Rode, a Slovene in the College of Cardinals labeled the recent appointment of a new Religious Communities office boss, Aleš Gulič, “a provocation.” The lack of Papal interest in Mr. Pahor took on a new dimension; leaving almost no doubt that Pahor was ignored for a reason. After a period of relative peace under the church-friendly right wing coalition, relations between the state and the major Slovenian religious group seem to have entered an interesting phase. If the new parliamentary majority itself was bad news, now, the church has a bogeyman in their closet: Gulič favours multi-confessionality over privileges to Catholics, declared himself an atheist, and parades around in parliament in a “Satan’s Brothers” motorcycle club t-shirt. One might wonder whether it is worth upsetting a supreme being’s watchful eye in a time of so many different kinds of threats to humanity. Finally, the first dozen school kids were confirmed H1N1 positive at a primary school in Polzela. Even though the case is far from needing any sort quarantine, besides for the infected few, another hundred kids didn’t attend classes. Armageddon is coming in the form of a swine flu . . . panic.

Gag (dis-)order Italian businessman Pierpaolo Cerani became a controversial figure as soon as he appeared on the public stage in Slovenia. But when a leading newspaper found itself in legal trouble for an unflattering description of Cerani, many critics began to question the state of press freedom in the country. By Jaka Bartolj

C

erani became a household name in Slovenia after he acquired the troubled financial firm Infond Holding, which formerly controlled the Laško Brewery group. Soon after the takeover, several Slovenian media outlets began to investigate Cerani’s past business practices. What emerged certainly raised a few eyebrows. Among other things, Cerani had been well-known to the Italian press for a series of questionable business deals in Bulgaria.

Stopping the presses But when the daily Dnevnik referred to Cerani’s “dubious past”, the businessman asked the Ljubljana District Court to intervene. Judge Katarina Novšak Kaplan issued an injunction ordering the newspaper to cease using language that portrays Cerani as untrustworthy or face a fine of EUR 50,000 or more. The precise nature of the gag order remains unclear. The editors of Dnevnik insist that the ruling prevented them from covering Cerani’s past dealings, regardless of whether the findings are true. Editor Ali Žerdin says that even discussing what Dnevnik isn’t allowed to write could land the newspaper in hot water. In fact, the newspaper’s website linked to YouTube clips showing Italian media reports that Cerani had been convicted of fraud and tax evasion in Italy. Many observers concluded that the court was

protecting Cerani by preventing his past troubles from becoming public. According to media expert Peter Lah, the only logical reason for the ban would have been if Cerani had convinced the court that his past was an important business secret and that making it public would have caused him great harm.

Not that simple However, Cerani’s attorney was quick to argue that Dnevnik misinterpreted the injunction and

Your Partner for South Eastern Europe

Translation,

Consecutive Interpreting, Proofreading GRAH PREVODI, s.p., Užiška ulica 6, 2000 Maribor, Slovenia T: +386 (0)31 731 006, E: info@grahprevodi.com, www.grahprevodi.com


POLITICS  that the entire story was overblown. According to Nina Zidar Klemenčič, the temporary injunction “only prohibits reporting on Cerani by using the wording that he is involved in a number of stories with alleged criminal backgrounds.” In other words, argues Zidar Klemenčič, there is nothing in the injunction that prevents Dnevnik from reporting on Cerani, as long as he is not described in an offensive manner. Zidar Klemenčič adds that the injunction would not have happened had Dnevnik just explained what stories Cerani was involved in. To Dnevnik’s staff, however, the situation is not that simple. “As an editor, I would gladly test to what the injunction really applies, but I don’t dare because of the high fine

cording to Ali Žerdin, the problem is in the way the laws are written – allowing for a permanent ban on reporting that is clearly in the public’s interest. Slovenian Journalists’ association head Grega Repovž added that such laws should only be applied to protect the weak, such as children, but when they are used to protect high-profile businessmen, they constitute an assault on press freedom. The ruling even angered press advocate beyond Slovenia’s borders. The international organization Journalists without Frontiers condemned the decision, calling the court’s reasoning “unbelievable and unacceptable for an EU member state.” The organization pointed out that as long as the facts presented by Dnevnik are

Photo: BOBO

Chester

the daily is facing should it violate the ban,” responds Žerdin. A number of legal experts share Dnevnik’s opinion. According to media law expert Jurij Žurej, such injunctions can be ordered “only when there is serious danger that cannot be eliminated without an injunction, but not in cases of defamation.” Peter Lah adds that general “injunctions on writing about certain topics could be ordered when this is of public interest - when it comes, for example, to national security or integrity of a court investigation or proceeding.” Lah adds that prior injunctions are the most severe form of censorship.

A full-court press Predictably, the ruling triggered a sharply critical reaction in press circles. The editors of Dnevnik say that they don’t blame the court, which in their view merely followed existing legislation. Ac-

true, the newspaper has every right to present them using whatever language it wants. Several legal experts pointed out that while lower courts often lean towards protecting individuals in such cases, both the Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights tend to side more with the press and its right to free expression. This may be good news for Dnevnik, which has decided to appeal the decision. While the use of judicial prior restraint is extremely restricted in the United States, the right to free speech is more limited in Slovenia. However, the high-profile nature of the Cerani case has led many observers to rethink the current legislation and legal practices dealing press freedom in Slovenia – and to re-examine the eternal balance between free speech and the protection of the individual.

A great day! Not only was it a bright and sunny day, it was the day that my Mom and I were going to get a dog. We got into the car and, excitedly, I prepared for the ride to the pet shop. We passed a few cars and shops until finally we got to a small shop named Petco. Already as we got out of the car we could hear the hopeful barking of dogs, the miserable meows of cats and other unidentifiable squeaks and whistles that emanated unsuppressed from beyond the door. Once we got to the door and pulled open the handle, a barrage of noises, sights and smells completely bombarded us. We noticed a sign that said “Dogs” and proceeded towards it as quickly as we could. We passed the iguana, mice and reptile section and finally arrived at the dog section. The first dog we saw was a German shepherd who was growling at anyone stupid enough to approach him. Next came an unhappy looking golden retriever which had his head in its paws and would not look up even if a bone was offered to him. In the next box, a small Scottish sheep dog was sitting in the corner and looking happily through the glass, although he was obviously sick. Even though we knew it was not a good idea (and the vet’s bills would be huge), we immediately liked him and asked if we could meet him. The assistant politely agreed and opened the glass window. The sheep dog started to wag his tail and come towards us in a lively manner. Even though he was sick, he was wagging his tail like a

windmill and jumped on us like an athlete. After a long deliberation which lasted all of five minutes, my Mom and I decided that he clearly needed us and that we would buy him and take him home with us. Once we paid the cashier, we joyfully took him to the car. Once in the car, my Mom and I decided to name him Chester. Just as we had suspected, Chester was not a healthy dog. He had a number of symptoms of kennel cough: runny nose, cough etc., but luckily the instinct that had told us he just needed some love and care was also right and he turned out to be a wonderful dog, full of personality, style and charm and one who takes his job of caring for us very seriously as he does his rounds of the house every night, checking we are all fine before he can settle down himself. - Alex Semrl


 POLITICS

Bled Strategic Forum

Intellectual cross-fertilisation What does it take to stimulate an efficient, idea-generating and policy-shaping discussion on the currently most important global issues? Surely, the right focus of debates, relevant participants and an appropriate place and time. It sounds complicated, but the Bled Strategic Forum has nevertheless succeeded in doing so. By Luka Vodopivec

I

n its fourth edition, the forum, organised by the Slovenian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Centre for European Perspective, followed the above-mention procedure. The last two days of August, when the holiday period had mostly ended, but hard work was not yet in full swing, managed to attract more than 400 participants, mostly from Europe and Asia, to Bled. The focus of this year’s debate among politicians, business people and scientists was proposing ways out of the global economic crisis, which has not only affected the economy but other areas, such as international security and energy security in particular.

Long tradition “Although the participants may not necessarily influence the policies created, they may generate ideas which can be used in policy making,” said former Armenian foreign minister Vartan Oskanian, who was visiting the forum for the third time. He pointed out that the event is already recognised among the interested parties as an important one. “The quality and level of participants means that we have a really high level of discussion, which makes it really worthwhile,” former British secretary of defence Geoffrey Hoon, explained. He emphasised the importance of meeting people from different backgrounds, “... which adds to everyone’s understanding and certainly makes it much more stimulating as a result.”

In the best and worst of times Bled’s Festival Hall was just big enough to receive all the participants at the forum’s opening. Alongside the forum’s host, Foreign Minister Samuel Žbogar, Slovenian President Danilo Türk and Prime Minister Borut Pahor gave opening speeches. The president gave a comparison on The Slovenia Times

The country’s top brass, complete with the President Danilo Tuerk and the Prime Minister Borut Pahor, attended the proceedings

how to start thinking about the current situation with the famous phrase of Charles Dickens: “We live in the best of times and in the worst of times - at the same time.” He said that the current crisis is one of the worst in human history, but warned that it could turn into an even worse one and thus stressed the importance of international cooperation and multilateralism. This was also one of the main points of the first panel that followed suit. The speakers agreed that international political and economic organisations, especially the UN, need to be reformed and strengthened. Five other panels were dedicated to more specific issues, such as the European security structure and EU-Russia relations, a threat the economic crisis might pose to security and development, especially in poorer countries. The question of energy security was contemplated in light of establishing European cooperation and providing greater diversity of energy sources. The

economic and security challenges of the western Balkans, eastern Europe and the Caspian region were also given time for special consideration. In the first evening, the debate continued after dinner, and the atmosphere at the so-called Night Owl session was quite relaxing. The overall impressions of participants about the issues discussed at forum and the organisation of the event were positive. A representative of the US Embassy in Ljubljana, Brad Freden, described the event as an intellectual cross-fertilisation and expressed hope that some of the ideas that were discussed will be developed into policies. The British editor for The Economist Intelligence Unit, Toby Iles, on the other hand, expressed some surprise that there was much agreement between the panellists. “A lot of the same vocabulary was being used; talking about multilateralism, cooperation, working together.” In his view, it would be interesting to have more disagree-

ment. “It would be good to have a couple of more Russians on the panels or a couple of Americans, because the Anglo-Saxon point of view gets disputed a lot.”

Talks on the side Although there were some participants who were visiting Slovenia for the first time, there were not many who could seize the opportunity and go sightseeing. However, the walks from the Festival Hall along the lake in the nice weather and the views of the castle from the Golf hotel were rewarding. The forum received relatively significant media attention due to the meeting between Slovenia’s Foreign Minister Samuel Žbogar and his Croatian counterpart Gordan Jandroković. Their topic of discussion was the ongoing border dispute. In contrast to previous practice, they both decided not to give out details before they worked out some kind of a solution. In other words, they gave quiet diplomacy another chance.


POLITICS 

Interview: Jacques Rupnik

Arbitration is not the European way One of the great European minds attending the Bled Strategic Forum was undoubtedly French political scientist and historian Jacques Rupnik (of Czech origin), who has in-depth knowledge of eastern Europe. The director of research at the French Centre for international studies and research (CERI), former advisor to the Czech president Vaclav Havel and current advisor to the European Commission has explained how the border dispute between Slovenia and Croatia is perceived in Europe. By Luka Vodopivec In the past twelve months, the border dispute between Slovenia and Croatia raised public attention in the EU because of Slovenia’s blockade of Croatia’s EU accession negotiations (The interview took place before the both countries came to an agreement that enabled Croatia to continue its negotiations with the EU). Which of the two countries has, in your view, better presented its arguments to the European Union and how do you perceive this border dispute? First of all, within the EU there is a great deal of ignorance and confusion about the whole issue. People who have not followed the developments of recent years did not see this coming. It was a total surprise that an important, contentious issue could arise between two countries that apparently did not have problems. People were asking themselves “Why can’t they solve this, given the importance for both of them being part of EU?” This is an answer for the European part. For the Slovenian part... you started by saying Slovenia is blocking Croatia – Slovenia is not blocking Croatia, the process is continuing, Slovenia has just simply raised the possibility that there will have to be a solution for this issue, if Croatia is to be a member. This, incidentally, is a highly common opinion within the European Union itself. This is not to say who is right in the dispute, but the fact that this dispute has to be settled before, and I stress before, is absolutely essential for all parties to understand. I am emphasising this because the bad example, the catastrophic failure, was Cyprus. The major lesson following that failure on the part of the EU is that this is not to be repeated under any circumstances again. So, you have the leverage at the time of accession and you have to use it proper-

ly. The recent Slovenian-Croatian talks make me suspect that they are moving away from what we had until now, which was posturing. Politicians posture for domestic political audiences. Do you think that Slovenia’s arguments are strong? I could not say that. I am not a legal expert, or expert on territorial waters. I would not say that there is a necessarily full support for the actual specific argument; there is support for one idea: this has to be solved by mutual agreement before accession. This, of course, has to do with the desired outcome of the process. The European approach is by mutual negotiation, bargaining, and mutual concessions. If you arrive at a deal with which nobody is fully satisfied, it means that the deal must probably be a good one.

Going to court for arbitration is not the European way, because that suggests that one will be declared right and the other one wrong. And that is a bad omen, because one of the two will lose face in this exercise. But yes, I could not stress more, that the EU has a double pillar approach. Firstly: all border disputes must be solved before you join the EU. Secondly, borders matter less within the EU, so here we have an example of the over-dramatisation of the importance of borders, where as the EU approach is the devaluation of the border. My advice in this is: first, seek a compromise solution rather than arbitration by some court; second, if you find a solution with which nobody is hundred percent satisfied, that must be a good one.

I could not stress more, that the EU has a double pillar approach. Firstly: all border disputes must be solved before you join the EU. Secondly, borders matter less within the EU

continued on page 10 October  2009


10 POLITICS ply a compilation of individual strategies? I have the impression that we are moving in that direction, actually... but, to go back... I would say it is not Slovenia that has problems with its neighbours. On the whole Slovenia’s problems with neighbours are minor, the only one worth mentioning is the Croatian border, but Croatia has border problems with all its neighbours and that I think is worth watching.

continued from page 9 Much to talk about: Slovenian foreign minister Samuel Žbogar with his Croatian counterpart Goran Jandroković

Slovenia has also other issues with neighbouring countries: the omnipresent issues with Slovene minority protection in Austria and Italy; now another problem is surfacing regarding the building of a gas terminal near Trieste. How should Slovenia react?

IEDC-Bled School of Management

Company presidents meet in Bled to share insights into the factors of sustainable success of the 21st century Prof. Hermann Simon On 16 October, company presidents, CEOs, Board and Supervisory Board members, and representatives of top management teams in government, non-profit sector and other organizations from more than 10 countries are expected in Bled, where they will gather at the Annual Presidents’ Forum, with the aim of sharing insights into the newest approaches to corporate performance management in the times of global economic crisis. The Annual Presidents’ Forum at IEDC-Bled School of Management is a unique opportunity for the business and government leaders to meet their peers from other countries and share insights into the most up-to-date leadership and management issues. This year’s forum reflects the current need to recover from the global financial crisis; it is titled “Role models of Leadership beyond the Crisis” and will be led by Prof. Hermann Simon, voted the most influential management thinker in German-speaking countries after the late Peter Drucker. Among other important topics, the respected speaker will present a number of actions management can take in order to respond fast and accurately to the drop in demand. Also, new ideas about developing services that are better attuned to current customers needs in various industries will be presented, where the exchange of experiences among the participants will be additionally supported by a roundtable with the leading European business leaders. Professor Simon published over 30 books, which were translated in 22 languages; his most recent book “Beat the Crisis – 33 Quick Solutions for Your Company” was recently translated in Slovene and will be presented for the first time at the Presidents’ Forum at IEDC in Bled. advertisement The Slovenia Times

These Slovenian concerns over the minorities in neighbouring countries are very old. I think that the big difference today is that since Slovenia is a member of EU and therefore has concerns over minorities in fellow member states; in other words, that brings the level of aggravation much lower. Secondly, the whole European context favours regional, crossborder cooperation. I am not familiar with the details of this facility that is being built, but surely immediate neighbours are concerned. All the more so, because all the questions of energy that we are discussing actually at this conference, we all see that no one country is solving them on their own. If there is one issue, where the cross-border cooperat ion should be facilitated and where the European framework should work is the energy. It seems that Italians are trying to force their project. That is true. As we are discussing at this conference, it is not easy to arrive at joint European energy policy given that there are very different situations of each country in terms of energy and different interests and different approaches between Germany, France, Italy and others. There are big differences and that translates into much more important differences over policies with regards to Russia. So, I would say that SlovenianItalian tension is a sideshow to a much bigger question and that is: can Europe have an energy policy and energy strategy that worthy of the name, if it is not sim-

If we quickly touch upon one of the focuses of this conference: in general how do you evaluate the response of the international community to the economic crisis? Over the last two years, we have had the worst financial crisis since the 1930s, but unlike then we have the most massive response by the states to rescue the financial sector with public money! The question then is: under what condition is it acceptable to rescue them without having rules that would be acceptable to the general public. In other words, we have people who were telling us for the past quarter of the century: be careful with your welfare state for the poor, because you are creating deficits. And now the same people have been rescued by the state, which creates the welfare state for the rich. So, you cannot have it both ways. Therefore, what the crisis is raising are all the fundamental issues about fairness, trustworthiness... You know, the word “trust” in English has two meanings. It means to trust somebody and it means a financial institution, a trust, where you deposit money. And the trust as a financial institution has been disconnected from trust. Slovenia is a small piece of the very global puzzle, but my own feeling is that the era of simply-get-rich-quickregardless-of-the-rules is over. The general philosophy of “It will trickle down to everybody else,” is no longer very plausible. If crisis can be an opportunity, who is seizing it? There is a serious threat that the opportunity will be missed. We see the financial sector already saying: “Oh, ok, we’ve been rescued by the state and public money – back to business as usual! The profits are high. They are getting money for free from central banks and then they are lending it at 12 percent. It is not difficult to make money in such an environment. They have learned nothing; they are back to bonuses, back to the old practices. So, the lesson number one is: If we allow the old practices to continue, there will be a much worse disaster coming.


SOCIETY 11

Education

School’s in, again In the recent years, the Slovenian school system has undergone several changes, for example the introduction of a 9-year basic education and a higher vocational education. All with the purpose to ensure that as many people as possible realise their right to education and to achieve a higher educational level. Meanwhile only in the capital Ljubljana - owing to the shortage of space - approximately 715 children were left outside nursery schools. By Barbara Štor

O

n September 1st, a new school year started for almost 247,000 Slovenian primary and secondary school students, including 17,541 first graders, who entered classrooms for the first time. On the other hand many parents of preschool children were not so lucky as they were not able to enroll their children in kindergartens. A lack of 715 spots in Ljubljana nursery schools, 167 in Škofja Loka, 214 in Domžale, 280 in Grosuplje, 200 in Kamnik and 46 in Sežana; the list goes on and on. The parents of rejected children are otherwise entitled to a subsidy, in order to finance the private care. In Sežana, for example, the parents receive EUR 100 for this purpose, however the prices for private fostering may amount up to EUR 400 and 500. There are many reasons for the lack of space across Slovenian kindergartens: migrations, building new neighbourhoods without planning additional children care facilities, a free kindergarten option for the second child and last but not least, an baby boom in the recent years: last year a new top in births was recorded. Namely for the first time since 1991, when the country gained independence, the number of newborns topped 21,000. Sooner or later, these children will be ready to cross the threshold of a nursery school.

Dismissals The increased birth rate of course means, that the proportion of the population, enrolled in school programming will increase over the time, while Slovenia’s low birthrate in the past currently results in smaller classes. In the 1999-2000 academic year, for example, 185,554 pupils and students were enrolled in basic education in Slovenia, last year some 20,000 less. Although some might consider smaller class sizes a positive for student learning, on the other hand the lack of pupils and students threatens teachers posts.

According to the Ministry of Education a hundred teachers – so far mainly in secondary schools already lost their jobs, due to the population decrease.

The education system In Slovenia, the education begins with preschool education. With 12 months maternal leave, the age of 11 months is a threshold for kindergartens. Although the attendance is optional, the share of enrolled children is increasing – a sign of dissimilation of a traditional extended family as well as feamale employement. Currently some 70% of elegible children go to nursery school. Pre-school institutions are set up by municipalities and parents pay from 10 to 80 % of costs, depending on the level of their income. As already mentioned, from September 2008 parents pay a fee only for a single child. Fees for the second and other children enrolled in kindergarten are fully subsidized by the State. When they reach the age of 6, the children enroll in obligatory nine-year elementary school and after completing elementary school, nearly all children (more

than 98 per cent) go on to secondary education. Recently most pupils want to continue to educate themselves on grammar schools (Gimnazija), technical and other professional programmes, while the interest in lower and middle vocational programmes has been decreasing. High schools in Slovenia are not mandatory, however there were several appeals in the recent years to make them so. Namely one of the goals of Slovenian education system is also for every citizen to have at least a secondary education.

Educated Slovenias At an international level Slovenia has participated in several international research projects and studies. One would be an international study TIMSS 2007 (The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study). The results show, that Slovenian eighth-graders, for example, are among the best in the world in science, but at the same time their mathematics skills are on the average side. In 2006 the Organisa-

tion for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) carried out a three-yearly PISA test in 57 countries that together account for nearly 90% of world GDP. The test focused on the scientific knowledge and abilities of 15-year-olds and ninth-graders. Mathematical and reading literacy constituted secondary components of the test. The Slovenian students ended up at 12th place. Generally the results have shown, that the country has a relatively well-educated populace. What pleases most is the fact, that the number of people with unfinished elementary school is reducing and the education level is increasing. But as Slovenian pupils show good results on the international level, a certain research has discovered very alarming findings: namely that there are considerable differences of knowledge among Slovenian regions. The fourth and the eight-graders of Nova Gorica, Novo Mesto, Kranj and Ljubljana region, for example, were above national average in their mathematical skills, while the pupils od Celje, Koper and Murska Sobota region were below. October 2009


12

Economy

FACTS AND FIGURES

source: STA, Slovenian Press Agency

Economy turning the corner? Hardly. Slovenia’s economy grew by 0.7% in the second quarter of 2009 on the quarter before, the first rise after two consecutive quarters of negative growth. Still, Slovenia’s GDP was down 9.3% at the annual level, the biggest contraction ever. This is the third consecutive contraction at the annual level. In the first half of this year the Slovenian economy shrank by 8.8% compared with the same period last year. Like in the first quarter, the contraction was the most pronounced in gross capital formation, which contracted by 36.7% year-on-year. Exports and imports slumped as well, by 21.3% and 24.8%, respectively.

Source: SURS

In transactions with abroad Slovenia recorded a surplus for the first time after 2006, mainly owing to investment; the surplus of 2.8% of GDP was the biggest after 2002. Still on the way down economic growth, y-o-y, in % 8 6 4 2 0

Final consumption expenditure decreased by 1%, mainly due to a 2.6% decrease in final consumption expenditure of households, the first decrease since the second quarter of 2000. Only final consumption expenditure of the government recorded positive growth of 4.3% compared with the second quarter of 2008. Total value added decreased by 9% in the second quarter of 2008. In manufacturing, value added was down 22%, bringing GDP volume growth down by 4.5%age points. The seasonally- and working days-adjusted GDP increased by 0.7% compared with the first quarter of 2009, which head of the Statistics Office national accounts sector Karmen Hren said indicated a break in the recession. The situation in Slovenia is similar to many other countries (Germany, France, Greece, Sweden) in that the state of economy still looks quite bad in year-on-year comparisons, while comparisons between consecutive quarters give a more optimistic picture. “Such situations are not unusual, but they are quite rare. They are typical of turning points - when the economic cycles bottom out or peak - and quarterly comparisons indicate a turn much sooner,” Hren explained.

-2 -4 -6 -8 -10

The%age of investments in GDP slumped by 10%age points in the last two quarters from around 30% last year. Investments in construction were down 20%, those in machinery and equipment by 40%, while investments in transport equipment halved.

Q1 2007

Q2 2009

It will however take another quarter or two to see

Development minister Mitja Gaspari: The problems just won’t go away, even with the eyes closed

whether the data indicate the end of the crisis, so as to get better assurances as to the developments in the economy, Hren added. Similarly, a government think-tank noted that economic activity remained low, but that a “majority of short-term indicators had already implied a gradual stabilisation, albeit at a low level”. The Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development (IMAD) said that the negative impacts of the international financial and economic crisis had again strongly affected the results at home, in particular the exports. IMAD boss Bostjan Vasle announced that a “stronger fall in exports, the continued credit crunch and the related low investment activity indicate the economic growth at the end of the year will be lower than we expected in the spring”.

Energy

Banks

Technology

Obstacles to renewables in Slovenia

Abanka sells stateguaranteed bond

Iskratel sells broadband solutions to Ukraine

Slovenia is at the very bottom in the EU in terms of use of renewable energy sources. The main challenges are placing facilities in space, expensive technology, lack of know-how and no integrated approach to the issue, experts say. Slovenia has made a commitment to reach a 25% share of renewables in the final energy consumption by 2020. A report by the European Commission on the development and consumption of renewables however shows Slovenia is lagging behind most of EU members.

WEF

Slovenia more competitive Slovenia has advanced five spots to place 37th on the rankings of the Global Competitiveness Report 2009-2010, released by the World Economic Forum (WEF). Meanwhile, Switzerland has replaced the US as the world’s most competitive economy. Slovenia benefits from “world-class health and educational systems, good infrastructure and impressive innovative capacity”, the report says. The country’s overall competitiveness outlook also advanced due to better macroeconomic stability (up from 33rd to 26th). The Slovenia Times

Abanka, Slovenia’s third-largest bank, successfully sold its first state-guaranteed bond issue in the international capital market. Nearly one billion euros’ worth orders for the EUR 500m issue in such a short time testify to good response from investors, the bank said. The yield of the three-year bond (maturity on 18 September 2012) was formed at 100 basis points above three-month Euribor. The bond will be listed on the London Stock Exchange. Acting as underwriters were Erste, RZB and UBS, with Abanka Vipa, Banca IMI, DZ Bank AG, HSH Nordbank, ING Bank and The Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ acting as co-lead managers in the bank syndicate.

Kranj-based telecommunications company Iskratel is widening Ukrainian broadband network ADSL 2+. The company signed a deal with the Ukrainian national operator Ukrtelekom end of July and the project is already running. Iskratel will thus set up the needed equipment in 25 cities all over the country.


13 Real estate

Banks

Inflation at zero in August

Number of new buildings down 8%

Jašovič becomes new NLB boss

7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0 -1

July 2008

August 2009

Slovenia recorded a zero inflation rate in August as consumer prices remained level both compared with the month before and the same month last year. Inflation was kept down by lower prices of food and medicines, while prices of package holidays, household equipment furnishing and maintenance as well as transport were dearer, according to the Statistics Office.

Nobel laureate in Ljubljana

Krugman: Road to recovery long

Logistics

FDI

Luka Koper’s halfyear profit drops

More FDI inflows than outflows in 2008 Telecoms Slovenia recorded more inward foreign direct investment (FDI) than Telekom with EUR outward FDI in 2008 for the first time 26.4M in half-year after three years, according to the Profit World Investment Report released

Port operator Luka Koper reported a net profit of EUR 3.7m for the first half of 2009, down from EUR 15.6m in the same period last year. Operating revenues meanwhile dropped by 14% to EUR 59.6m. The main reasons for the half-year net profit amounting to only a quarter of that from the year before are, besides a 20% decrease in transshipment, an increase in labour costs and expenses related to payment of interests during an intensive investment cycle.

by the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD). FDI coming into Slovenia reached US$ 1.815bn in 2008, while outward FDI totaled US$ 1.44bn. In 2007, the inward FDI amounted to US$ 1.438bn, increasing from US$ 644m in 2006 and US$ 588m in 2005. Increasingly welcominh inward FDI in Slovenia, in US$ m 2005 2006

2007 2008 0

500

1000

1500

Retailing

Mercator preparing for capital increase Paul Krugman said in his lecture in Ljubljana that the latest data on production output could be a sign of recovery. He noted however that the way to full recovery would be long. He believes that unemployment rates will keep climbing after the economy overcomes recession - even after 2011. The Princeton economics professor stressed that the global extent of the crisis was very problematic. According to him, people believed that the 1930s recession or the 1990 Japan crisis could not happen again.

The supervisors of Slovenia’s largest bank, NLB, appointed Božo Jašovič, a senior central banker, the new chairman of the statecontrolled bank. He took over on 1 October, replacing Draško Veselinovič, who resigned in April. Jašovič has been a member of Banka Slovenije’s governing board since September 2003, and was reappointed for another six years this year.

Source: UNCTAD

Back to zero monthly inflation, y-o-y, in %

The number of new constructions dropped by some 8% in Slovenia in 2008 compared with 2007. While the surfaces of all new residential buildings were up 23%, the surfaces of all new non-residential buildings on the other hand were down 33% year-on-year. The number of new housing buildings went up from 3,986 to 4,173; the number of new non-residential constructions dropped from 1,947 to 1,310. Apartment blocks accounted for some 50% of the surfaces in all newly built residential buildings, while family homes accounted for 47%. early a half of all surfaces in new nonresidential buildings were intended for industrial and retail purposes, according to the statistics.

Photo: Luka Koper

Source: SURS

Economy

The management of retailer Mercator on Monday launched preliminary preparations for the issuance of 20% in new share capital for possible strategic acquisitions in SE Europe. he injection is to secure additional financial resources that may be required in case of strategic tie-ups in retail, real estate, or other activities, the company said in a press release on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange. The shareholders’ meeting of June 2007 gave the management the green light for up to a 20% capital increase until 2012, with the money to be used for strategic acquisitions.

Car industry

The group around Slovenia’s telecoms operator Telekom Slovenije generated EUR 410.8m in operating revenues in the first half of the 2009, down 1% on the same period last year. Net profit stood at EUR 26.4m. Core company’s operating revenues were down 2% to EUR 201m, while net profit fell 22% to EUR 63.6m in the first half-year on the same period last year. The group’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization were down 15% to 139.2m. Mobitel, Telekom’s wireless subsidiary, saw its operating revenues drop by 11% to EUR 200.6m and net profit slump by 41% to EUR 19.3m.

Shipbuilding

Revoz CEO says crisis Riko eyes Croatian shipyards boosted car sales Revoz, the Slovenian subsidiary of French car maker Renault, produces more cars than it would have if there was no economic crisis, its chairman Aleš Bratož said in an interview with Mladina. He added this was largely thanks to incentives for new cars in Western Europe. Bratož could not predict the situation next year when the incentives run out, but he does expect the demand to stabilise at a somehow lower level than now.

Slovenian civil engineering group Riko has taken over tender documentation for the purchase of all three Croatian shipyards in Northern Adriatic. The Slovenian investor has previously expressed interest for the other three Croatian shipyards, located in Southern Adriatic. Riko had previously signed an agreement with the three shipyards on the construction of the first series of fishing vessels for the Russian government. October  2009


14 ECONOMY

Banks

Shaken, but standing solid The financial turmoil that has swept the world since the demise of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers in autumn 2008 left no country unscathed. Although Slovenia’s banks had not dabbled in the complex, risky derivatives that have sunk quite a few financial institutions (not only in the US but also in Europe), they have been forced to curtail lending. However, the country’s financial system seems to have withstood the stress of the crisis. By Marko Vuković

I

ronically, all those critics that regretted the relative underdevelopment of the Slovenian financial system at a time when investors in money centres from New York to London were rushing to buy innovative financial instruments based on real estate loans have been proven right. Securitisation of mortgages never took off in the country’s financial markets; banks were forced to carry the majority of loans on their books, which – naturally – restrained their lending activity. What had been a weakness proved to be an advantage once the financial bubble burst. At the height of the credit boom, banks in the country were much less leveraged than their counterparts abroad. Because they were not able to sell the loans and mortgages they extended to firms and households, they were forced to evaluate the risks more stringently and screen their clients more thoroughly.

ploded, however, these sources of funding suddenly dried up. With banks going belly-up all around the world, once generous providers of funds became very exacting and demanding, not only because they suddenly woke up to the benefits of prudent risk management, but because they had holes in their own balance sheets to plug. This flight from risk hit Slovenia, too. Unable to renew their foreign loans, the country’s banks had to start paying them back. Of course, that meant less money for firms and

Weak points However, this is not to say that the financial and the ensuing economic crisis have not put Slovenian banks in a tight spot. Taking a look at the formidable pace of credit growth from 2006 to 2008, one cannot help but wonder where the banks got all that money they channelled into the economy. Since the deposits in their vaults were not sufficient to satisfy their appetite for loans, banks tapped international financial markets, either by issuing bonds or arranging syndicated loans with foreign banks. The dependence of the Slovenian financial system on foreign funds thus rose dramatically (see chart). When the US real estate market imThe Slovenia Times

EUR 1.0 bn was raised with treasury

bills, majority of funds deposited at banks

EUR 2.5 bn was raised with two government bonds, majority of funds deposited at banks

EUR 1.2 bn worth is the guarantee scheme for corporate loans

EUR 600 m worth is the guarantee scheme for mortgages


ECONOMY 15 A major slowdown loans to non-financial sector, growth in %

Deposits-to-loans ratio

40

20

80

15

60

10

40

5

20 2007

0

2008

NLB, Slovenia’s biggest bank, has had problems with bad loans; last year’s capital injection surely helped it deal with the downturn

2007

2008

households; credit growth has been falling steeply for months now (see chart). The credit crunch quickly spread to the real economy, starving companies unable to rollover their loans of working capital and hitting the real estate and car markets.

Home-made troubles It would be wrong, however, to attribute all the troubles Slovenian banks face at this moment forces beyond their control. It is true that banks cannot do much about the fall in export orders that could make some of the loans extended to the country’s export-oriented companies go sour. The fact, however, that careless financing of domestic management buyouts (MBO) blew holes in their balance sheets, cannot be overlooked. Istrabenz, a sprawling holding with interests in sectors as diverse as food processing and energy trading, and Pivovarna Laško, an drinks, retail and media empire, are a case in point. Their bosses first set up financial firms in which they owned controlling stakes and then proceeded to buy up significant stakes in both companies – with other people’s money. In the heady times of the stock market boom, banks gladly accepted shares as collateral for MBO loans. When it became clear that share prices could not, if fact, only go up and losses started mounting in the wake of recession, the banks were stuck with a large pile of bad debt.

The state to the rescue

Photo: BOBO

0

Source: Banka Slovenije

100

In 2008, the government pumped nearly half a billion euros of fresh capital into the two banks where it still holds sizeable stakes: NLB, the country’s largest bank, and NKBM, the second biggest financial institution in Slovenia. These funds have not only come in handy as both banks have been writing down portions of their debt; they have also boosted confidence in Slovenia’s financial system. The latter is stable and solid, according to Banka Slovenije, Slovenia’s central bank. The greatest challenge at the moment is thaw-

32

24

16 Source: Banka Slovenije

Squeezed Real estate prices growth

8

0 Q1 2005

ing the credit freeze. It is not that the demand for loans is particularly strong; with real estate developers unable to sell their real estate and a battered export sector, that would be hard to expect. The economy, however, needs credit to function smoothly, so the government decided to help with hefty guarantees. The success of those guarantee schemes has been mixed, as not all available funds have been dispersed. Still, the government can take some comfort from the fact that the sale of its treasury bills and bonds went smoothly. Most of the proceeds were deposited at banks, building up their deposit base just at the right moment. When the banks will start lending these funds to economy, however, is anybody’s guess.

Q2 2009

At the height of the credit boom, banks in the country were much less leveraged than their counterparts abroad.

The fact that careless financing of domestic management buyouts (MBO) blew holes in their balance sheets, cannot be overlooked.

American Chamber of Commerce

AmCham meets the minister “How can a Minister of the Interior be of interest to business people?” many people were asking before AmCham Business Breakfast with Slovenia’s interior minister Katarina Kresal took place. In her speech, Ms Kresal dispelled the doubts. She emphasized many similarities between the work of a minister and Interior minister Katarina Kresal that of manager. Not only is team work is crucial, both the minister and the manager must inspire people, if they want to change their respective organizations and make them better. In the long run, neither the minister nor the manager can succed by bluffing, Ms Kresal said. Ministry of the Interior is very important for businesses; after all, they are the guardians of the principle of equality before the law. This principle is the cornerstone of a safe business environment.

October 2009


Public Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investments (JAPTI)

View from Slovenia: a great start Slovenia’s geographical advantage, multiple languages, cultural diversity, excellent infrastructure and costeffective support functions give it a cutting edge for big or small international companies seeking entry into the markets of East and Southeast Europe.

B

ordering Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, Slovenia’s pivotal position at the cross-roads of transport routes, major Adriatic port, well-developed ICT, technological networks and platforms, centres of excellence and clusters, make it a location of choice for many types of investors.

Quality of life

Slovenia’s natural beauties and historical sights make it a prime tourist destination but its diversity makes it unique. As the relief changes, so do the climate, flora and fauna. From the capital city Ljubljana you can reach the ski slopes of the Julian Alps or the Adriatic beaches in just one hour.

Quality of workforce

The Slovenians foster a culture of pride in work, reliability and corporate loyalty. Technology minded and highly educated people have excellent foreign language skills (English, German, Italian, Serbian, Croatian, …).

Quality link to regional markets

Slovenia being the first of the new EU member countries, who adopted Euro, has the advantage of longstanding links with companies from CEE/SEE countries. Fluency in local languages,

knowledge of corporate culture, economic and judicial system, and ever-increasing outward investment are an asset.

Quality of infrastructure

The two main pan European transportation corridors intersect exactly in Slovenia. The major and most northern port of Adriatic Sea is located on Slovenian coast. The sea transport from Asia, Middle East as well as from the Americas has the natural closest point to the CEE in Port of Koper.

Investor support

Public Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investments (JAPTI) is a gateway for investors requiring access to continuously updated FDI data and intelligence on companies, industries and markets. Activities of the division responsible for foreign direct investments (FDI) are focused in various actions in facilitating foreign investors coming to Slovenia and are focused on: •  pre-investment support (facts, analysis and individual solutions, information on business opportunities, key sectors and economy, visiting programs to suitable locations, municipalities, authorities, professional service companies, Match-making with Slovene companies

•  establishment support (Tailor-made information and practical advice on setting up a business, Legal framework, taxation, labour force issues, utilities, Information; Market data, Important network, regional partners, authorities etc. •  after-care support

Investment incentives programme

The FDI Cost-Sharing Grant Scheme is designed to lower selected start-up costs under projects promising to create new jobs, apply high-tech solutions, contribute to balanced regional development or foster alliances between foreign investors and Slovenian companies. Foreign investors can apply for financial incentives when they intend to invest in manufacturing, in strategic services (customer contact centres, shared services centres, logistics and distribution centres, regional HQs) or in R&D projects. Incentives can be granted for up to 30% (up to 40% for medium and up to 50% for small companies) of the eligible costs of the investment project. The incentive beneficiary company must be registered in Slovenia with a minimum of 10% equity share of foreign capital. More about the programme on www.InvestSlovenia.org or contact fdi@japti.si

•  A strategic location as a bridge between western Europe and the Balkan states, boasting strong levels of efficiency and productivity •  A well developed transport infrastructure both on land and through the sea port at Koper to serve some of Europe’s major transit routes •  A proficient and skilled labour force boasting a high degree of IT and technological knowledge, from electronics to financial services •  All attributes to become a location of choice of international companies for international or European headquarters, an R&D centre, or a centre for administrative/accounting functions •  The government reforms have helped Slovenia’s economy increase its competitive edge and appeal to foreign investors •  Registering a company in Slovenia has been greatly facilitated in many ways •  Financial incentive programme •  Tax allowances are in place for investment in research, technology and development

advertisement

Why invest in Slovenia?


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18 ECONOMY

Exporters

Bracing for tougher times

Photo: Gorenje

During the most recent economic boom, with the global economy and trade growing steadily, Slovenia’s exporters were riding high, with revenues and profits rising on the back of surging demand. At the end of 2008, however, major European Union economies slipped into recession; although this meant falling orders for most export-oriented companies, they are holding up reasonably well.

Gorenje’s kitchen’s are state-of-the-art, but are they too expensive?

Although Germany, by far the biggest export market for Slovenian companies, has not had to go through a housing bust, its exportled economy has suffered disproportionately in the current recession.

O

perating in a small, open economy, the majority of Slovenia’s biggest companies have no choice but to rely on global demand for their growth. Counting on local households and firms to support their businesses would be foolish; economies of scale and corresponding cost savings can only be attained if companies break the confines of the domestic market and start producing for foreign ones. Of course, venturing abroad, either as an exporter or an investor,

All eggs in two baskets? Slovenia’s exports by country, 2008

Keep that motor running

The Balkans 17,2 % Emerging markets 6,5 %

Other 7,3 %

European Union 69 %

Source: SURS

The Slovenia Times

has its downsides. These are the most pronounced when the economies of one’s trading partners go off the rails. Although Germany, by far the biggest export market for Slovenian companies, has not had to go through a housing bust, its export-led economy has suffered disproportionately in the current recession. This certainly has not reflected well in Slovenia’s economic growth figures; many of the country’s firms are tightly integrated into supply chains of German carmakers and capital goods exporters, and have thus experienced steep falls in orders.

One firm, though, is cutting through the malaise that has enveloped the global car industry. Revoz, the Slovenian subsidiary of French car producer Renault Nissan, has been hiring rather than shedding workers. In contrast to companies such as German BMW, famous for producing powerful gas-guzzlers, Renault has focused on lighter, more environmentallyfriendly and, above all, cheaper vehicles. In times when households are keeping a tight lid on their expenses, this is certainly a competitive advantage, especially if your

firm produces popular models such as the Clio and Twingo. However, there is a difference between Revoz and other firms in the Slovenian car sector. The former is a car maker in its own right, exporting almost all the vehicles it produces to France, which has been weathering the downturn rather well. German car and engine building industries, in contrast, have been hit quite hard; not only have more expensive car brands been priced out of the market, the demand for capital goods from emerging markets such as China and Brazil, of which German companies are the world’s leading exporter, has plummeted. This has hurt firms such as Prevent and Cimos, a seat cover producer and car part maker, which are among Slovenia’s major exporters. The former has had to lay off hundreds of workers in recent months. A number of smaller suppliers from the engineering and car sectors have also been forced to cut their workforce or close shop altogether.


ECONOMY 19 Taking a look at the huge numbers of houses and apartments built throughout Europe in recent years, it is not hard to understand why Gorenje, a house appliances maker and the country’s second biggest exporter, was doing such good business in the last couple of years. All those new kitchens and bathrooms had to be fitted with heaters, ovens and refrigerators; Gorenje’s shareholders could rest assured that the bonanza would continue unabated. Or so it seemed. In the last quarter of 2008, Gorenje had to face the fact that the demand for its products was faltering; the company shortened the work week to avoid lay-offs. Its strong presence on the markets of central and south-eastern Europe was a boon in good times when the region was growing strong and loans were easy to come by. As the crisis spread, however, these markets experienced falls in economic activity sharper than in the rest of Europe; fears of unemployment understandably dented demand for durable goods.

Happy pills If there is one sector that could be called recession-proof, then it is certainly pharmaceuticals. Krka and Lek, Slovenia’s two generics producers, are a case in point. After a very successful 2008, when it managed to increase its revenues by almost a quarter, Krka, Slovenia’s 3rd largest exporter is well on its way to hitting the one-billion euro revenue mark in 2009. With national health systems

Photo: Revoz

The -heat is on

Revoz has profited from EU governments’ measures to support car sales

around the world faced with strained budgets, the producers of cheaper, generic medicines might be the weapon of choice to rein in health care costs. This has already been happening, but the recession could speed up this process as policy makers seek to counter the drop in tax revenues. Margins could narrow, but the prospects for generics producers are nevertheless good.

Threat or opportunity? It has become a platitude to say that the current economic crisis can be an opportunity as well as a threat. Slovenian export-

ers might well emerge from the turmoil stronger than before. Gorenje, for example, successfully took over the Dutch home appliances producer ATAG in 2008 in a deal worth EUR 130m, while Krka went on a shopping spree in China. The Slovenian Steel Group (SIJ), the country’s fourth biggest exporter, invested EUR 30 m in new equipment for production of higher quality steels. When the global economy picks up again, these investments will allow Slovenia’s exporters not only to continue to compete successfully on the world market, but also to increase their market shares. In fact, the first signs of turnaround are already visible as emerging market demand pushes the price of raw materials higher. It’s a shame, then, that these dynamic economies do not figure among Slovenia’s more important trade partners.

In the last quarter of 2008, Gorenje had to face the fact that the demand for its products was faltering; the company shortened the work week to avoid lay-offs.

Top ten Slovenia’s biggest exporters in 2008, exports in EUR m Revoz Gorenje Krka SIJ Impol Petrol Cimos Acroni Helios HSE

Krka: Pharma industry is weathering the crisis pretty well

0

200

400

600

800

1000

Source: SURS

October 2009


20 ECONOMY

Gorenje

Much ado about … something? As the bad-rep Slovenian Finnish saga suffers yet another unprecedented twist in Gorenje’s less-than-romantic liaison with Patria, details about the former’s golden façade surface amidst worker protests.

Photo: BOBO

By David Aleksander

The end of patience of Gorenje’s workers.

F

or the past couple of years one of Slovenia’s most successful civil companies has been involved with a Finnish arms manufacturer Patria through a highly controversial arms deal that failed to yield as many answers as it time and time again opened up new questions. A manufacturer of home appliances Gorenje ventured into manufacturing AMVs for the Slovenian Army as part of the deal between Patria, Rotis (Patria’s Slovenian representative) and Gorenje. The latter saw this as a new opportunity which could in turn open up many new doors; this, however, may have sounded good in theory but has Gorenje’s reputation suffered due to its involvement in this on-going badrep saga?

Murky arms waters Virtually every arms deal to date in Slovenia has been accompanied by different allegations, and the last one with Patria is no The Slovenia Times

exception. Even though nothing has been proved, the involvement of a civil manufacturer Gorenje with an arms manufacturer Patria may have passed unappreciatively in the public’s eyes. The beginning of last September saw another twist in this highly controversial story – Patria stopped supplying production parts to Gorenje (allegedly on a hint that the latter may not be capable of meeting financial requirements) and said the Slovenian government reduced the number of AMVs from the original 135 to 80, which the later did not confirm. What is more, Gorenje knew nothing of this and said the production went on as planned. In a short recap of the story so far one of the initial concerns involving this deal centred on the number of AMVs, their equipment and, of course, their price. All of these were subject to different interpretations and allegations, even serious ones, yet nothing was ever proved. So far 13 AMVs have been

manufactured and handed over to the Slovenian Army and 13 more are in various production stages. Needless to say, this recent discord brought to mind all the fuss and nagging questions this deal has produced so far.

Lifting the veil? Some two weeks after Patria announced that the Slovenian Army reduced the number of AMVs from 135 to 80 and also said it stopped supplying production parts to Gorenje (of which the latter was evidently kept in the dark), another unpleasant surprise came as a bolt from the blue and shook the town of Velenje and the rest of Slovenia. The workers of Gorenje went on a spontaneous strike, revealing to the public a taste of the company’s worker reality. The strike was a result of payment irregularities, which were simply the tip of the iceberg of deeper problems plaguing Gorenje. Due to a decrease in orders the com-

pany had to reduce work week to 32 hours several months ago and when it raised it to 36 hours again the workers were not paid for the additional four hours. And if the Slovenian public previously associated miserable wages with Mura (textile company in Prekmurje whose agony was widely perceptible for years and which ultimately went bankrupt mid September), the strike in Gorenje changed even that; it transpired that workers’ wages in one of Slovenia’s most successful companies, which is also one of the driving forces behind Slovenian export, were only marginally higher than those of Mura. Apart from that, it certainly did not help mitigating the effects of this unpleasant realisation when Gorenje’s CEO and Gorenje’s Management Board Member were quick in trying to “appease” the public and the fury of the workers by saying that “We’re all in the same position” (perhaps meaning that my wages and your wages are in some kind of marvellous symbiosis), “Your net wages are lower because you have credits” and the cream of the crop “The women who were behind the protest simply lived beyond their capacity and were buying too many rags”. With social sensitivity of this nature one can hardly see why protests manifested in the first place.

Damage control Gorenje has some answering to do in the coming weeks. The civil company’s arms venture may ultimately prove to be very fickle affair and may take at least some toll on the company’s reputation, especially now that many Slovenians have supported the worker protests in Gorenje and several surprising details surfaced. One could, perhaps, blame everything on the convenient scapegoat the recession and say that Gorenje entered the global crisis in less than optimal condition, yet this, however, would be a different story all together. Perhaps.


14 Days 21

Grow your business ... ... just as we do by nourishing professional relationship with our business partners.

www.simobil.si Si.mobil d.d. | Šmartinska 134b | SI – 1000 Ljubljana | 080 40 40 40

October 2009


Business zones

Doing business the right way Slovenia has according to The Resolution on National Development Projects proposed the construction and implementation of nine economic growth centres. •  quality of life (vicinity of universities, hospital, shopping centres, public transport, restaurants, culture, sports, living buildings) •  existence of strategic management, development agencies, economic development plan, financial schemes, additional entrepreneurial services, A zone’s sophisticated architectural design can also make it an appealing destination for leisure activities. In the zone can be located a network of service-oriented businesses looking after the needs of the companies in the zone, their employees and the local population: banks, a post office, shops, cafeterias and restaurants, and conference-, education-, recreational and entertainment centres. The projects are decentralised and horizontal. This means they are spatially distributed across regional centres or larger towns in all Slovenian regions and each project links several of the above-mentioned themes with the objective of exploiting all opportunities for coordinated cooperation. The network of development centres provides a highly-skilled labour force, more intensive investment in research and development,

closer co-operation with public research and the education sector, efficient operation of supporting institutions and intermediaries, adequate ICT infrastructure and increased innovation. According to the Resolution the economic growth centres are next: •  South-Eastern Slovenia •  PHOENIX in the Posavje region •  Gorenjska region •  PERSPEKTIVA in the Notranjska region •  OKO in the Pomurje region •  IN PRIME in the Goriška region •  OREH in the Podravje region •  NOORDUNG in the Koroška region •  TEHNOPOLIS+ in the Savinjska region Besides proposed nine economic growth centres Slovenia developed approximately 30 business and industrial zones across Slovenia. Investors interesting in investing in Slovenia are kindly invited to visit the website www.business-zones. si, which enables searching for, and surveying of, business zones in the Republic of Slovenia by various spatial criteria. This website offers in-depth view of available business zones in 12 regions all over Slovenia.

JAPTI, Verovškova 60, SI-1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia, T: +386 (0)1 589 18 70, fdi@japti.si, www.investSlovenia.org

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T

he main project themes are oriented towards entrepreneurship development (business and industrial zones, business incubators), technological economic development (technological parks, business-related education centres), information technology development and its accessibility to people, logistics centres and tourist infrastructure. Ideally a business zone satisfies different interests of the owners, management, local authority and businesses which are operating in the zone and meets next criteria: •  strategic location featuring excellent transport links, possibility to grow, existence of regional development plan, municipal equipment, flexible design and layout, which enables innovative architectural and structural solutions in the construction of business premises •  infrastructure (roads, water supply, drainage, gas mains, power supply and telecommunications, vicinity of air and sea port, railway lines) •  human resources (quality of labour, educational centres,


presents

Special yearly issue bringing you the best in investment opportunities, economic

success

stories and top life style choices. COMING IN OCTOBER 2009 For further information please contact: Tel.: +386 59 045 003, marketing@sloveniatimes.com, www.sloveniatimes.com


24

REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

Photo: Dreamstime

REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

The state of the real estate market

Wheat from chaff As those who hoped to make some easy money flee from the real estate market in droves, seasoned investors are suddenly faced with many projects starved for funds and buyers. With speculators gone or broke, real estate developers have a much harder time persuading buyers that their projects merit investors’ attention. However, money will always be found for high-quality real estate at affordable prices. The Slovenia Times


REAL ESTATE SPECIAL 25 How low can it go? second-hand houses and apartment price index, 2005 = 100

Less money to go around housing loan growth, year-on-year, in % 40

160

35 142

30 25

124

20

88

70

Q1 03

A

s far as prices for real estate in Slovenia are concerned, they are falling across the board. If at the beginning of 2008, it was the owners of second-hand houses and apartments who experienced the first falls in prices for their property in five years, it is now developers’ turn to get nervous. In the first quarter of 2009, the value of newly built apartments fell by a tenth, a sobering wakeup call for those who thought the only way for real estate market was up (see chart). Real estate experts, however, do not see lower prices as a major threat to serious developers. True, those who invested into projects on the speculation that the market will continue to boom indefinitely will be priced out of it; the prudent ones, however, might see their profit margins squeezed, yet they can still count on finding willing buyers. The crisis, it seems, will be separating the wheat from the chaff.

The wall of money In the past few years, home ownership became a reality for an increasing number of Slovenia’s residents. Although house prices were rising steeply, people could still think about buying a house or an apartment as banks were very forthcoming with mortgage loans. After all, even if people walked away from their mortgages, their houses and apartments couldn’t. This debt-fuelled bonanza came to an abrupt end when the sources of foreign funding on which Slovenian banks relied started to dry up in the wake of international financial crisis at the beginning of 2008. Instead of extending loans to firms and households, banks had to focus on paying back their foreign creditors; loan growth slowed considerably (see chart).

Retreat

Buyers have retrenched since then; not only because mortgages have become more expensive, but also because the economy has

Q2 09

entered a recession. With fear of unemployment becoming palpable, not only supply, but also demand for loans weakened. With fewer willing buyers and sellers still not coming to terms with the new reality of lower prices, the number of real estate transactions and building permits plummeted. This is just a prelude to a more significant downward correction in prices, experts say. “Developers sit on sizable inventories of unsold apartments, while prospective buyers – nobody knows how many of them are still around – are waiting for prices to fall, further depressing the market,” Tone Walland, an independent real estate agent, explains.

High-rises The health of the commercial real estate market also depends on the health of the economy as such. Quite a few observers have pointed out that the building boom in Ljubljana might depress prices of commercial real estate when all the projects are completed, and offices as well as retail units are put on the market. In the heady days of record economic growth, a significant increase in the supply of new offices would not be much of a problem; office stock in Ljubljana is generally old and of low quality, so growing companies would have every reason to move. At the moment, however, employers are laying off rather than hiring workers, not to mention the fact that many of them own their offices. A recession is not exactly the best time to be thinking about moving to swankier premises. Judging by crowded shopping malls, one would be forgiven for thinking that developers can at least depend on consumers to keep them afloat. Yet anecdotal evidence points in the other direction; it has become increasingly hard to sell retail space to retailers, because they are not so sure about the willingness of consumers to spend as freely as before.

15 10

Source: UMAR

Source: SURS

106

5 0

July 2007

July 2008

Sobering up Rising inventories of unsold homes and offices and the unwillingness of banks to rollover their debts are squeezing companies in the construction sector, which only months ago was one of the main engines of Slovenian economic growth. At the beginning of 2004, construction’s share of GDP stood at 5.5 percent, rising to 8.5 percent in the third quarter of 2008. This may not seem excessive, especially if compared to countries that were once held up as examples Slovenia should follow. In Ireland, for example, the share of residential construction alone in the nation’s GDP stood at 15 percent in 2007. The fact that Ireland has one of the most severe housing busts in the European Union on its hands has not been lost on policy makers around the world. Sometimes having the skylines of your cities dotted with cranes can be a curse rather than a sign of a healthy economy.

July 2009

Those who invested into projects on the speculation that the market will continue to boom indefinitely will be priced out of it; the prudent ones, however, might see their profit margins squeezed, yet they can still count on finding willing buyers. The crisis, it seems, will be separating the wheat from the chaff.

October 2009


26 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

Real Estate Focus: Slovenia, Croatia, and Serbia

The allure of south and east

Real estate investors have grown increasingly cautious when thinking about investing abroad, especially in southern and eastern Europe. Devaluation of local currencies and the burst of real estate bubbles has hurt many big players. After a considerable decrease in property prices and with the economic outlook brightening, however, the countries in the region could be the gold mine investors have been looking for. By Carlos M. Silva

Ljubljana: Since the country entered into the EU, Slovenia’s capital has seen major real estate developments that will remake its image

Slovenia

REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

A small nation of two million inhabitants located in the heart of Europe, is nestled next to four countries and the Adriatic Sea. Its distinct charm and the diversity encountered within its borders attract many tourists every year, both in the summer and winter seasons.

Foreigners welcome Real estate prices grew quickly from 2003 to 2007; where growth rates reached double digits, and prices rose by 30 percent in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital. The Slovenia Times

Slovenia’s real estate market has been open to foreign buyers since the country joined the EU in 2004. Since then, only a few EU Nationals have bought properties in the country. In fact, the high prices encountered made investors think twice before committing to a purchase. Only around 500 properties

were sold to non-Slovene citizens in the first two years after the liberalization of the real estate market. Since then, foreigners have purchased only 2,026 properties. The majority of buyers come from the United Kingdom, followed by Italy, Austria, and Germany (see chart).

Perky growth Real estate prices grew quickly from 2003 to 2007; where growth rates reached double dig its, and prices rose by 30 percent in Ljubljana, Slovenia’s capital. Analysts blame rapid economic growth. In July 2008, at the peak of the market, average property prices in Ljubljana ranged from EUR 2,926 to EUR 3,737 per square meter, with rents averaging EUR 491

per month for a small (40 m2) unit, and EUR 2,175 for a large (about 150 m2) unit. The global financial crisis and the credit drought that followed brought property prices down, and the number of transactions to a record low. In the first quarter of 2009, advertised prices of houses in the country declined by 7 percent compared to the previous year. This represents the biggest annual price fall since 2003. Ljubljana saw an even sharper drop in house price, recording an 8 percent fall compared to the first quarter of 2008. The total number of real estate transactions in the capital between January and March 2009 amounted to only 141, while durcontinued on page 28


CONCIERGE If you know the benefits of having one, you’re the right person to buy a flat in

Photo: Saša Hes, Miran Kambič

www.kranjska-id.com

Vila Urbana.

Vila Urbana’s concierge caters for residents 7 days a week.

WIth a CONCIERGE sERVICE yOU CaN ENjOy thE mOst pRECIOUs lUxURy Of tOday's URbaN lIVING – tImE.

Mons d.o.o., Zaloška c. 1, 1000 Ljubljana, year built: 2008, location: Brvarska steza 6, Ljubljana Center, price: €4000–€5990/m2 For more information please contact Ms Irena Grofelnik, mobile: +386 51 600 663, E-mail: irena.grofelnik@kranjska-id.com, Kranjska investicijska družba d.o.o., Ljubljana.


28 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL try with a high quality of life, considered by Forbes Magazine to be among the best places to live in Europe.

Photo: Dreamstime

Croatia

Croatian coast: Very popular with foreign investors now that administrative obstacles have been removed

continued from page 26

ing the same period in 2008 the number reached 393 – representing a drop of 64 percent.

Cheaper rents The vast majority of foreign buyers in Croatia are from Western Europe, due to the country’s proximity as a vacation destination. As a consequence, the financial crisis has had a severe impact on the property market and caused a significant sales slowdown.

Rental values for properties continue to head down. In the second quarter, a drop in rental prices of 8.5 percent compared the first quarter of 2009, and by 19.5 percent compared to the last quarter of 2008. Rents for larger flats (five or more rooms) are those that suffered the biggest drop, not only due to the market conditions, but also due to the fact rental prices for houses are now more affordable and constitute a preferable alternative for large families. The demand for small apartments such as studios and two-room seems to be quite stable.

Good living Slovenia is the most stable country in the region, both economically and politically. Indeed, there are still good deals to be had for people who value living in a coun-

Croatia used to be just another province of the once large and politically problematic Yugoslavia. At that time, nobody would have expected that it would become one of the top tourist destinations in Europe – with beaches and quality of service that can easily be compared to better known European countries such as Italy or Greece. Over the last decade, secondhome buyers and property investors have shown a lot of interest in Croatia’s unspoiled and beautiful coast. In order to preserve its natural beauty and characteristic architecture, Croatia has put up some barriers which have kept investors’ development ambitions in check.

Still shining The vast majority of foreign buyers in Croatia are from Western Europe, due to the country’s proximity as a vacation destination. As a consequence, the financial crisis has had a severe impact on continued on page 30

Cheaper in the province prices of apartments in Slovenia, in EUR

3-room (80 sqm) 2-Room (60 sqm)

200000

1-Room (40 sqm) Studio (20 sqm)

150000

100000

50000

0

Ljubljana (Capital)

Suburbs of Ljubljana

Seaside Region

Region Bordering Austria

Region Bordering Italy

Region Bordering Hungary

Land with building permission Triglav national Park A unique opportunity to purchase one of the few remaining sites in the Triglav national park near Bovec, with building permission to construct 27 tourist apartments with infrastructure. Bovec is the adrenaline valley of Europe and is enjoying healthy growth in tourism, up 33% in the past four years. The property comprises a total of 4,799 m2 of land zoned for tourist development. A building permit for 14 duplex and 13 studio apartments, plus additional studio apartment for private use, 23 parking spaces, and

reception is included in the sale. Please contact us for a copy of the investment memorandum. The deadline for non-binding offers is Friday 20th November 2009. Offers are invited for this property in the region of 490,000 EUR

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For more details please contact: Slovenia Invest, World Trade Center, Dunajska 156, 1000 Ljubljana Slovenia Tel.:The 0590 75 Times 780, E-mail: invest@sloveniainvest.eu

w w w.sloveniainvest.eu


SITULA. A BIG CITY WITHIN A SMALL CAPITAL.

SITULA is an independent city in miniature, a modern urban building which within itself combines a first class residential experience, business prestige, exclusive services and modern art. Situla is an urban hybrid of innovative and unique architecture, luxury residences, one-of-a-kind commercial premises, classical high-culture elegance, bold design style, shopping glamour, inspiring art and cosmopolitan flavour. Living in Situla is characterised by breathtaking horizons that open out on all sides: views of the city centre and Ljubljana Castle, views of Rožnik, Šmarna Gora and the magnificent Kamnik and Julian Alps. In short, Situla is creating a new style of living for Ljubljana!

228 unique apartments Situla contains a variety of apartments that can be adjusted to individual tastes and desires, ranging from exclusive, luxury duplexes to spacious, multi-room apartments and above-standard studios. This kind of living for all seasons enables residents to live directly over the centre of Ljubljana, complete with wonderful views, private terraces, green roofs, Japanese gardens, abundant daylight, high ceilings and a special concierge service in the building.

Excellent service Situla offers its residents a 24- hour reception, that is, the exclusive service of a concierge and highly professional security and door service. In addition to this there are top health and beauty services offered in-house, including medical clinics and a wellness and fitness oasis, not to mention sophisticated cuisine, glamorous boutiques and the exceptionally bold inclusion of modern art in the architecture.

State-of-the art offices

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Situla contains numerous and varied business premises arranged to order, all entirely suited to the needs and ideas of interested

businesses, including special private parking spaces. Of course the practical value of these business premises should not be overlooked, yet it should be stressed in the same breath that their symbolic capital is far from negligible. Why? Because of the prestige location, the links to the communication and business centre of Ljubljana and the direct incorporation into Situla itself – a cosmopolitan urban residence for top managers, diplomats and leaders in the arts.

Prestige location Situla is located in the very heart of the capital, while at the same time its conceptual architectural layout means that people inside will feel like they are in an oasis of tranquility. Its residents have the lively pulse of Ljubljana city centre literally right on their doorstep, while at the same time they can rapidly withdraw from its excessive intensity and enjoy the quiet paradise of their private ‘shrines’. Situla residents will enjoy what is for Ljubljana an entirely unique ‘trainspotting’ experience, where the observation of trains from private terraces or from green roofs, enhanced by Japanese gardens, will dictate a new trend in the urban life of modern people in Ljubljana.

Who does Situla aim to attract? Anyone who likes living in the city and desires every day to feel the luxury offered by a prestige 72-metre-high residential tower building with fantastic views; business people who have close at hand every possibility for traveling in comfort by train, bus or plane (connections to the airport); anyone who needs rapid links to the fastest communication networks; anyone who likes strolling around the historical city centre; anyone investing money in real estate; anyone who values comfort and who in no way wishes to give any up, but would like instead to increase their share of it.


30 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL continued from page 28

If a Serbian citizen is able to own real estate in the prospective buyer’s country, then that individual has an equal opportunity to do so in Serbia. If this is not the case, foreigners can set up a company which can then purchase a property.

the property market and caused a significant sales slowdown. “As is the case with other countries with tourist and coastal regions, the property market in Croatia is a bit slow at the moment. There aren’t many sales and purchases being made these days. I believe it is due to the current financial crisis,” Mr. Stefan Jelić from Ante Diem Real Estate Agency explains. There are several reasons why international buyers find Croatia an interesting property market. First of all, prices are lower than in most comparable European destinations with similar natural and cultural resources, e.g. Italy, Greece, Spain, and France. “The prices here are still lower than in Western European countries. While in countries such as France or Greece the prices of similar property have little room to grow much further, while in Croatia they are expected to rise substantially in the coming years,” says Mr. Jelić. In fact, the country seems to have preserved its natural resources until recently, and its coastal region has not suffered the usual over-development that mars the Spanish coast, for example.

Pricey capitals price of a sq m of an apartment in some of Europe’s capitals, in EUR

5000

4000

3000

2000

1000

0

Slovenia

Montenegro

Croatia

Not so open Croatia might have been underpriced for two reasons: the credit crunch has shut at least some of the prospective buyers out of the market on the one hand, while foreigners have to cut through a lot of red tape to buy a property on the other. Before buying a property, investors had to show that Croatian citizens could buy real estate in their own country. Maybe that is why Croatia was ranked as a semi-transparent market in Jones Lang LaSalle, a property broker index. The bureaucracy involved, delays, and hassles of the buying process scared away many potential buyers who would otherwise be happy to purchase a property in the country. Over the last nine years, authorities have allowed only around 3,500 applicants to buy property in Croatia. Since over 8,000 applications were received in the last 24 months alone, it is clear that buying real estate in the country proved frustrating for many. Usually serious buyers found it easier to form a company under Croatian law and then buy property in its name; the amount of red tape to establish a company in Croatia, however, can be considerable.

Making it easier

REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

Recently, the country has started to see the value of foreign investment in real estate in a different light. New laws were approved in February in order to allow NonCroatian citizens to buy property under the same conditions as those offered to Croats abroad. This move by the Croatian government will definitively bring some life to the country’s property market. Although potent ially good for the economy, locals have expressed their concern regarding this new law. They fear that the price of property in coastal reThe Slovenia Times

Macedonia

Ireland

Denmark

gions will rise as a consequence of the inflow of foreign money making it harder for them to enter the market.

The pearl of the Adriatic Croatia is an interesting market for investors seeking a natural coastal region at decent prices, with high potential for growth in the medium term. However, do not be fooled by the idea that Croatia is a bargain. In fact, properties in prime areas such as the (southern???) Dalmatian Coast region have seen their prices literally double in a matter of just a couple of years, and are not by any means cheap, averaging at EUR 2,169/m2. As Croatia gets closer to entering the EU, experts believe there is still a lot of room for sustained speculation, since property prices and demand are sure to rise once the country becomes an EU member.

Serbia After the dismantling of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s, Serbia went through a chaotic decade. During this time, hyperinflation ravaged the whole economy. During this period, most properties were privatized. Public rental units were sold to the actual tenants at below-market prices, based on current average monthly wages. Between October 1993 and January 1995 prices rose by 5 quadrillion percent (5 with 15 zeroes after it!), but wages on which house sales prices were based were pegged to pre-inflation levels, so households were able to buy their houses for virtually nothing. As a consequence, the share of privately-owned housing shot from 77 percent in 1990 to 92 percent in 2002. In that year, only seven continued on page 32


Crystal Palace in BTC City Ljubljana OPENING 2011 Crystal Palace is designed as an office building which includes shopping and a wellness & spa centre. Its sophisticated modern architecture is meant to express the city of the future and contribute to the unique environment of BTC City.

BTC City – a city of international contacts, serenity and co-existence, the largest European business, shopping, entertainment-recreational and cultural centre. More than 21 million visitors come to BTC City every year. This new modern centre is easily accessible from the Ljubljana ring road and directly linked with the Slovenia’s highway network. The centre has 8,500 parking spaces and a well-conceived traffic regime. BTC City is extremely well located along Šmartinska cesta; one of the main arterials leading into Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia. It is only 3 km away from the historical centre and just 25 km from the Ljubljana international airport.

•  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  •  • 

Business centre

Total surface area of the building: 45,800 m ; 90 m high; heliport; 20 floors of business premises plus the ground floor; mezzanine level; multi-functional roofed square; glass façade with two panoramic lifts; terrace – viewing deck with a restaurant; green terrace; snack bar, coffee shops; congress centre; wellness & spa centre for relaxation and recreation; 3 underground parking levels; 640 parking spaces within the palace building itself; urbanised surrounding areas with a fountain, greenery and driveways; parking space for 8,500 vehicles within BTC City; energy efficient and natural building; natural materials and natural ventilation; passages to other parts of BTC City. 2

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BTC City is home to the Slovene headquarters of renowned global players, such as: •  UniCredit Bank; •  Microsoft; •  BMW; •  MSD; •  Nike; •  Novo Nordisk.

Sophisticated architecture

www.kristalna-palaca.com

•  22,100 m2 of business premises; •  typical floor 1,000 m2 gross; •  monumental entrance hall with a bar and reception desk; •  congress centre; •  traditional or open offices plan layout; •  opportunity to create residential apartments on business premises; •  modern high-speed communications; •  a panoramic lift.

Shopping and wellness & spa centre •  •  •  •  • 

3,500 m2 of premises; two floors — the ground floor and the first floor; shopping area earmarked for top brand names; wellness & spa centre for relaxation and recreation; 2,500 m2 green areas on the roof of the shopping and wellness & spa centre; •  natural light through light shafts; •  multi- functional covered square as a connecting point between offices, the shopping and wellness & spa centre and BTC Tower.


32 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL the prospective buyer’s country, then that individual has an equal opportunity to do so in Serbia. If this is not the case, foreigners can set up a company which can then purchase a property.

A long process… When a propert y has been chosen and the deal closed, a prelim i nar y purchase ag reement is signed. Upon signing the preliminary contract, the buyer pays a 10 percent deposit, which is non-refundable. The buyer’s solicitor can then begin examining the legal background of the property. When all is in order, a completion date is written into the original contract; the whole process takes around six weeks to complete. The final contract is signed in the presence of a public notary. The finalized and certified contract establishes the legal ownership of the property. Once ownership is confirmed, the local tax office determines the value of the property and the buyer is requested to pay a 5 percent property tax based on the estimated value of the property. Once this is done, the property can be registered at the local Property Registry. The buying process is then complete upon payment of the agreed price.

Photo: Dreamstime

Final thoughts

Belgrade was once known as Paris of the Balkans; can the city rise back to its former glory?

continued from page 30

percent of the housing stock was rental units.

Inflation issue

REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

Most of the real estate deals and large investments in Serbia are made in its capital, Belgrade, where prices have reached European levels in the last couple of years.

Hyperinflation, in the strictest sense of the word, ended in 1995 when Serbia adopted the German mark as an official currency alongside the dinar. But Serbia’s inflation rate remained high from 1995 to 2000, at an average of 40 percent annually. Most real estate transactions were settled in cash, using Deutschemarks and later Euros.

Inflation was down to only 6.8 percent in 2007, the first singledigit inflation figure registered in last two decades, but it was back to 15.9 percent in June 2008.

Red tape galore Most of the real estate deals and large investments in Serbia are made in its capital, Belgrade, where prices have reached European levels in the last couple of years. The purchases of real estate in the country are governed by the principle of reciprocity. If a Serbian citizen is able to own real estate in

Real estate agents, at the beginning of 2009, were adamant that residential property in central Belgrade would not drop in value. However, the first quarter of 2009 saw a 15 to 25 per cent drop in apartment prices; experts predict a further weakening of the prices until the end of the year. Indeed banks have increased their interest rates for residential loans, putting off potential buyers. It seems like the confidence of banks will not return quickly, nor will buyers’ confidence in real estate prices. Apartments that were easily sold for over EUR 4,000 per square meter only a couple of months ago, can now hardly find a buyer for EUR 3,000 per square meter. The financial situation of the country will certainly bring good bargains to the market; the question is whether there will be any one with enough money to take advantage of them.

invites you to discuss investment opportunities on real estate markets of south-eastern Europe with top experts on the region at Investment Location Forum: Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia taking place on 6 October at 11h00, Hall A2, EXPO REAL 2009, Munich The Slovenia Times


REAL ESTATE SPECIAL 33

Emonika

Touching the sky

In the end of 2008, the credit crunch forced you to split the Emonika project into phases, with the business tower and public-logistics part to be built first, followed by other parts of the project. Now the municipality of Ljubljana is demanding that Emonika to be completed in one sweep. How much of a financial burden is this for Emonika and when can the completion of the project be expected? Even though Emonika was involved in the preparation of a new master plan for the project that was finally adopted in June 2009, the municipality’s demand regarding the timing of phases came out of the blue. The demand to finish the whole project in one phase is not only totally unreasonable and unrealistic, it is also discriminatory. If this demand will not be reasonably modified, the entire project could suffer for years, without any of rational reason. Would you say that the municipality is dragging its feet with

regard to issuing various permits for the project? How could the cooperation be enhanced? The cooperation is rather theoretical. When it comes to practical steps, there is always a delay, and a lack of flexibility and good faith. On the other hand, we have seen other commercial projects not just supported by the municipality, but even managed by it. Strange. It is almost the end of 2009 and construction has not yet started. Is this a consequence of you having bureaucratic difficulties with the city authorities and the Slovenian railways? When can we actually expect the start of the construction? If it had only up to us, we would have already started with the construction of the Business Tower and the public-logistics part, followed by all the other parts of the project. As the documentation for the Emonika Business Tower is already prepared, we are now focusing on the public-logistics part and its design. We will present our

plans shortly, hopefully before the end of this year. As soon as the positions for the columns that will support the train station will be known and confirmed by the Slovenian Railways and the Ministry for Transport, we will be able to finalise the project documentation and then apply for the building permit. According to all the meetings we have had on this issue, everything should be solved in short time and for that reason we expect to apply for the building permit by the end of the year. The issue of the columns has been discussed for two years by now. It shows clearly the capabilities of the city bureaucracy and their understanding of “joint interest” and “partnership.” If we had support from the municipality, Slovenian Railways and the Ministry for Transport, construction would have started this year. However, it looks like the project will again be delayed, hopefully not longer than until the beginning of next year.

Let’s hope everything turns out well. What about the environment? Low energy consumption and green solutions are increasingly becoming a must for new real estate projects. Could you tell us more about the solutions that you are going to implement in Emonika? With our construction methodology and the materials we are going to use for Emonika, we are aiming to get the platinum LEED CERTIFICATE from Green Building Rating System that was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council. This system provides a set of standards for env i ron ment a l ly sust a i n able construction. The rating system addresses six areas: sustainable site development, water savings, energy efficiency, materials and resources (recycling and energy efficiency), indoor environmental qualit y (protecting health and productivity of employees) and innovation and design process. October 2009

REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

Photo: Emonika

Emonika is certainly the most ambitious and complex real estate project in Ljubljana, comprising not just an office and residential complex, but also Ljubljana’s new bus and railway station. It is being developed by TriGranit, a Hungarian-Canadian company with a heavy presence in the region. We talked about the Emonika project with its managing director Csaba Tóth.


Akropola

Real estate for the green age With energy efficiency increasingly taking centre stage in environmental debates, it is not surprising that the focus has also been on the development of environmentally-friendly solutions for real estate. Buildings are among the biggest energy consumers; make a building energy efficient, and you have not just saved money, but also made a contribution towards sustainable living.

Cutting emissions Over 40 percent of Slovenia’s carbon dioxide emissions, the main greenhouse gas causing climate change, come from the energy we use every day – at home and when we travel. With so-called passive houses, emissions can be cut substantially. Currently, Akropola is working on plans for a low-energy residential complex, called the Eco-Silver House, which complies with passive house standards. This project exceeds all predictions of the European Union’s environmental strategy and ranks highest among similar projects with its innovative and eco-oriented focus.

Franc Erjavec, Akropola CEO

It will be located in Brinje, on the outskirts of Ljubljana. The location was specifically chosen based on its special characteristics: a southern orientation, wide-open views and complete residential infrastructure. The Eco-Silver House will

have 128 bright, spacious and highly functional apartments. This will be the first energy efficient new construction project in Ljubljana and, as such, will be a perfect showcase for the company building it. The complex will boast the latest in ecological and environmental protec tion solutions, reducing CO2 emissions and setting new standards regarding low energy consumption.

Silver lining Although the r eal e s t ate mar ket ’s prospects are uncertain at the moment, Akropola’s projec t shows what will be on the market in the future, when stricter environmental standards come into force. Passive houses have already been accepted as an alternative by more environmentally-minded people; we are

Slovenia, a small alpine country on the south side of the Alps, brings some light into the dark tunnel that is the current real estate market. With the first advanced, environmentally-conscious passive construction project in the country, whose main strengths are extremely low energy consumption for heating and cooling, Akropola is setting new standards in Slovenia’s real estate sector.


Eco-Silver House quick facts •  Gross surface: 23,456 m2 •  Net residential surface: 10993 m2 •  Four basement levels with parking facilities •  Two terrace floors with duplex apartments •  17 floors overall •  128 apartments in the complex

now offering an upgrade of the concept – a passive building consisting of smaller units.

tools and other devices that make life easier will be managed through an easyto-handle graphic interface controlling:

Things like insufficient insulation, opening the windows to let the fresh air in, leaving lights switched on unnecessarily or overfilling a kettle all waste energy, resulting in needless carbon dioxide emissions.

•  air-conditioning and cooling

Cutting the latter is the main aim of Akropola’s sustainable building, where the following state-of-the-art solutions will be implemented:

•  biometric door unlocking (with secure data protection)

•  excellent thermal isolation, •  a passive standard (PHPP) capping the use of energy for heating at 12kWh/ m2 a year; the limit for the passive standard is less than 15kWh/m2a •  energy class A (energy identity card) with annual demand for energy of 2.4 kWh/m2a •  excellent sound isolation of walls, lowering the level of external noise from 67 dB to 24 dB, •  rational, time-defined air-conditioning of the building, enabling the restoration of waste heat, thus cutting the heating bill by 50 percent •  sun protec tion, including ex terior shutters, preventing overheating of the building during summer months •  intelligent control of various kinds of electrical and mechanical appliances, allowing for coordinated and automatic functioning of integrated machines and tools

•  heating •  shutters •  entrance control and video home-phone (with secure data protection)

•  alarm •  internet access •  weather station Remote control of devices through mobile phones, notebooks and palm computers will be available as an upgrade.

One-stop shop for your project Akropola is one of the largest architectural offices in Slovenia. Its portfolio is highly varied, testifying to the firm’s experience in satisfying the demands of both commercial and residential real estate developers. Akropola has been involved in designing a wide range of business buildings from banks, trade exchanges and hotels to casinos and health centres, not to mention a film studio. The firm has done a lot of work on housing facilities, designing not only private houses and apartment blocks, but also entire residential quarters. The biggest of them consists of 1,000 apartments, while other smaller ones have approximately 150 units. Akropola is well-established in Slovenia and abroad, its clients coming from all sectors of the economy. Akropola’s advantage over the competition is its seamless integration of all services needed for the complete realisation of projects, from construction of the building to its handover to the final customer.

•  use of rain water for toilets to cut the consumption of drinking water •  photovoltaic cells on the roof, harnessing the sun’s energy Eco-materials such as plaster and wood will be used in the construc tion of apartments, making healthy environment and high living c omfor t a r ealit y. Such construction allows for 14 times lower energy consumption for heating compared to currently available standard apartments.

To make the most of all opportunities for comfortable living that Eco-Silver House offers, a control system will be installed, making the house not only environmentally sustainable, but also smart. All machines,

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Living smart


36 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

Interview: Boštjan Vuga

The long hibernation is over The construction projects currently in the works in Ljubljana are worth around one billion euros; some of them crucial for the city’s future functioning. We talked about city development with Boštjan Vuga, one of Slovenia’s outstanding younger architects. architectural projects that have left a mark on the city. Again, we realised that with the exception of the Sadar-Vuga architect’s project – the new building for Gospodarska zbornica Slovenije (Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia) – nothing special had happened that would create a new image of our city, the capital of a new country. So, if we now take a look of what has happened in the last three to four years, we can say that Ljubljana has woken up from a long period of hibernation. New city authorities have started to develop particular projects. We have had had some sort of impetus which was slowed down by the recession. What is important, however, is that because of a small number of projects, only the best ones should go ahead. They should give Ljubljana a new, modern, 21st century look, a new identity that does not destroy the old one, but enriches it with a new look and vision, embodied in structures that are modern, ambitious and arouse the interest of both the domestic and foreign public.

REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

I believe that Novi Kolizej is going to be built more in tune with the city structure. It is really a hybrid urban structure that will unite public good, i.e. the concert hall, with business and apartment areas.

The Slovenia Times

In recent years, work has started on several major real estate projects in Ljubljana. Is the capital finally waking up? I would like to start with a short reflection of the past 18 years. We did research three years ago on the urban projects that have been completed in Ljubljana since Slovenia became independent in 1991. We had tried to define the ones that have left a mark or have given Ljubljana some sort of a new character. We came to a conclusion that – with the exception of BTC, which was transformed from a terminal and a warehouse into a lively shopping and entertainment district, and the completion of Ljubljana’s bypass ring – nothing has been made that could change the functioning of the city. In the research, we went even further and tried to define particular

And in this regard, how do you see these projects? I see that the ambition to have these kinds of buildings has to be shared by society at large. The ambitions of architects, investors, performers and expert public do not suffice. Are you trying to say that the foreseen projects are not bold and ambitious enough? If I give a general answer, I think that there is a chance that Ljubljana could get a new look with all these projects, one that will attract domestic and foreign audiences and show that the city is indeed dynamic. It is not enough to just move on with a project, to have a public tender and to choose a proposal, however. The chosen project should also be the best project. In other words: if we are doing something, let’s not do it only to make the city prettier, but also to achieve a kind of architectural excellence. Like in

the 1930s when Plečnik renovated the city centre. Why shouldn’t our projects have the same power? Why do we say: let us not make things that would stand out too much, if we can build something new and bold that doesn’t destroy something that has already been already built? Let me give an example: BTC is building a new skyscraper (Gemini) that could become a new icon of Ljubljana. And in this manner we should approach every project that is trying to establish a new look of Ljubljana, the city of the 21st century. Let’s speak about particular projects. Could you give a brief opinion on some of the more important city projects? How do you see Emonika and Novi Kolizej? Emonika is definitely a major project that incorporates the renovation and regeneration of a really important part of the city, one that can link together or separate northern and southern part of the city. Because it incorporates public functions, a bus and a train station, and commercial functions, such as a shopping centre, a hotel, and apartment and a business tower, it can become a new urban centre. So, in this regard, I would want Emonika to be really interesting from an architectural point of view, not just for Ljubljana but for wider geographical area, and to become a recognised European project. I am not convinced that this is going to happen. According to what we see now, this is the same sort of commercial architecture that has been used widely in Eastern Europe. I am less critical of Novi Kolizej. I believe that the chosen project is going to be built more in tune with the city structure. It is really a hybrid urban structure that will unite public good, i.e. the concert hall, with business and apartment areas. In my opinion, these kinds of bigger projects, the ones that have a critical energy, should be really good. Firstly, in a way that city residents and visitors can identify themselves with them continued on page 38


Pristava Lepena +386 (0)5 388 99 00 +386 (0)41 671 981 pristava.lepena@siol.net www.pristava-lepena.com

Pristava Lepena – experience nature at its best! While we live in a fast paced world, trying, but never quite succeeding, to catch up with the insane tempo of our lives, there are still a few places, where time slows down, where nature is still pure and untouched, where people are kind and friendly. One of these rare treasure places is Pristava Lepena.

Located in the Triglav National Park in the Soca Valley, surrounded by majestic mountains of the Julian Alps, hidden from the sight of the average tourist, Pristava Lepena is the perfect getaway for anyone wanting to unwind and relax. The resort comprises 13 Alpine-styled cottages which are nestled on a beautiful meadow on a mountain ledge. It can accommodate up to 50 people and is well equipped to host smaller high quality seminars or lectures as well as business or diplomatic gatherings on the highest level. Pristava Lepena also has a bar and a first class restaurant that offers mouth watering cuisine. Besides the renowned restaurant, the resort also offers a variety of activities – from horseback riding on one of the pure bred Lipizzaners, playing tennis in a secluded private court, archery, mountain biking, swimming, to a work out in a private fitness facility, enjoying a hot tub while surrounded with nature or relaxing in a sauna. And though the resort offers enough activities to accommodate a variety of different tastes and interests, the area also offers numerous other activities - whitewater rafting, kayaking or fly fishing in the beautiful Soca river, hiking, mountain climbing, seasonal skiing and much more. Each passing season colors Pristava Lepena in new, amazing colors, subtly changing its tone from playful spring awakening of surrounding fauna and flora, vibrant summer sights and sounds, to magically colorful autumn scenery and snow covered wintery fairytale. At times it seems the Soca Valley remains one of the World’s best kept secrets, for though it was, long ago,

portrayed by various poets, painters and writers, including the famous Ernest Hemingway and has since been discovered by prominent filmmakers, who chose to use the beautiful Soca River and its magnificent surroundings, as the background for their motion pictures, the area remains quiet, secluded and thus far without crowds of tourists. It remains a place where one can quietly reflect or contemplate, while enjoying lungful breaths of fresh, unpolluted mountain air. This is a place, where wildlife still has its own territory, unclaimed by men and is therefore still a place

where one can spend time bird watching or can, quite inadvertently, stumble upon a deer, an elk or one of the other wild animals living in this paradise on Earth. Right in the middle of this paradise, the resort Pristava Lepena has found the perfect balance between the old and the new, succeeding with the implementation of modern comfort, skillfully blended with traditional, nature inspired, environment. The prominent guests - ranging from celebrities seeking an isolated retreat from all the spotlights, to international diplomats, government officials and even presidents, enjoying a well deserved rest - can consequently use modern perks, such as wireless internet, cable TV, sauna and hot tub. However, at the same time, the wood-burning fireplace, the amazing view and various activities, just might make you forget all about those gadgets and bond you with nature once more. There are countless other details, big and small, that set Pristava Lepena apart from other resorts, but the increasingly high rate of returning guests, speaks volumes for itself. As does the fact, that they made it onto the distinguished Sunday Times Travel Magazine list of 100 Best Places to Stay. But even more than that, can be gathered from any one of the numerous reviews, posted online, by guests who, inevitably, fell in love with the resort and its surroundings. However, a million words cannot adequately describe it, for words can easily fail us. And even pictures fail to justly portray this place. This is simply the kind of place and that kind of nature, one needs to experience with all senses, by oneself.

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By Mateja Stanta


38 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL namely Mesarski most (Butcher’s Bridge) and Stadium Stožice, do you think that these two goals will be achieved? We did make a plan for the Mesarski most (Butcher’s Bridge), but we are not cooperating in the project anymore, because the public tender was awarded to a different firm. In our view this was a really good, bold project that was a paraphrase of Plečnik’s bridge that was never built. Sport Park Stožice, on the other hand, looks like it will become a new, truly urban area in Ljubljana, where one go shop, do sports and relax. What about Partnership Šmartinska? The way it has started it looks like this is the first project since 1991 that shows a really bold vision of how an area of 200 hectares can be transformed into a new urban district. In my opinion, Partnership Šmartinska is the most important of all. continued from page 36

and, secondly, that they become interesting abroad – an example of an open minded and contemporary environment. As you are cooperating in at least two of this kind of projects,

One of the big problems in Ljubljana is a lack of apartments. From an architectural point of view, how would you evaluate residential real estate projects in Ljubljana? Each architectural project, of course, has different levels, from top end market apartments, to

more affordable housing. For each level, the ambition is very similar: to create the best for the designated social group. Apartment construction, the reflection on what is a good quality of living, what is a new type of family and so on, all this influences the shape of an apartment community. The first good example of this is Savsko Naselje from the 1950s, that was very innovative for that period and thus it still lives on and functions. I would expect something like this from all current developments. How do you see architecture of Ljubljana in ten, twenty years? I think that Ljubljana will be even more recognised because of some really good individual structures. I don’t think the city will expand much, but I hope it will be more urban than today, that there will be more diversity offered to different individuals and groups of residents. On the other hand, I believe Ljubljana w i l l be a cit y of sust a i n able h ig h st r uc t u re s, new publ ic buildings such as libraries and theatres, a museum of the 21st century, the new opera house, g reen a reas on roofs a nd, of course, a highly efficient public transport system.

KBM Invest d.o.o. - Skupina Nove KBM, Ulica Vita Kraigherja 5, 2000 Maribor, Slovenia, Europe T:+ 386 2 229 24 79, kbm-invest@nkbm.si, www.kbminvest.si

Land next to Kaemškova ulica in Maribor, 39,140 m2

Business – residential complex Tara, Maribor, built in 2008 – 110 apartments from 39.55–200.90m2. Price 1,380-1,450 €/ m2 +VAT Business premises from 67.38m2 – 176.44 m2. Price 1,500 €/m2 +VAT, including parking spaces in the underground garage.

The Slovenia Times

Land 2,755 m2 with building permit for 20 apartments, next to Banovci Spa. Price 190 €/m2 + VAT

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Land by Puhova ulica in Maribor, next to the new eastern thoroughfare, 17,792 m2 with approved urban planning act. Land 19,201 m2.


REAL ESTATE special 39

Interview: Joc Pečečnik

The beauty gets a makeover Joc Pečečnik is a successful businessman who is certainly not a gambler, although he has made his name mainly in the high-flying world of gambling. Now he wants to leave a mark in the football business. Not as a player, of course, but as someone who has given back Ljubljana a venerable and architecturally unique sporting venue, Plečnik’s stadium in Bežigrad.

Tell us about your ideas for the refurbishment? Well, the refurbishment will be very demanding due to the location in the city centre and preservation of Plečnik’s heritage. The location in the city centre requires plenty of adjustment to the existing town-planning situation. Besides, our request to preserve Plečnik’s heritage will somewhat extend the day of the stadium’s opening as well as decrease the project’s profitability. However, I believe that the preservation of Plečnik’s heritage is vital. How and to what extent will the stadium’s identity be changed? How strictly will you adhere to the preservation of Plečnik’s heritage? The entire architectural monument, designed by the great architect Jože Plečnik, will be completely restored. This means a new practice in Ljubljana because an investment realization of this kind - when an investor intertwines preservation and refurbishment of an outstanding piece of architectural heritage and thus display-

ing it more prominently, making it last longer into the future for future generations - has never happened in Slovenia before.

and difficulty of design, however, make it impossible to make an accurate estimate when the planning permission will be issued.

To which purposes will the stadium serve? The stadium complex will be definitely one of Ljubljana’s jewels, with an emphasis on boutique offer and quality. Among other things, there will be hotel, commercial, sports, and business parts, parking spaces as well as other amenities, expected by a demanding customer. Yet, these are just crumbs that will eventually make a structure full of different flavours and dimensions.

How will Ljubljana benefit from the restored stadium? Let’s take a look at the present state: The stadium is falling apart both as a sports facility and cultural heritage. First of all, the purpose of the refurbishment is to preserve the cultural monument and revive the dilapidated construction with a function suitable for the 21st century. It will be a boutique stadium that Ljubljana certainly needs.

I believe that the preservation of Plečnik’s heritage is vital. The stadium refurbishment is a long-term project and that’s why we believe that in the end architectural as well as economic factor will yield a positive result.

The project is quite extensive. Is it feasible? The stadium complex will satisfy a large variety of purposes that are complementary by nature. We plan to achieve synergy effects among various purposes of the complex, so that the commercial purpose will be more appealing due to the sports one; that the stadium will put up the hotel’s value, for example. Different elements of the stadium complex will function together and help each other bring in revenue. What is the value of the whole project? At the present time, it does not make sense to talk about values of real-estate projects as the construction sector is undergoing great changes, and prices fluctuate considerably. There are rough estimates for our project, putting construction and design expenses within the sum of EUR 200 m.

REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

Mr Pečečnik, why have you decided to make an investment into refurbishment of Bežigrad stadium? Everyone has love for something and my love is football. So, after a careful thought I made a decision to help the sport. My business background has helped a lot. We started to run a football club in 2006; two years later we took part in the UEFA Cup Qualifiers. The situation in football is far from ideal. Without passionate supporters it has no real sense. And that’s why the refurbishment of the central stadium in Bežigrad is a key for everything. The refurbishment will keep Jože Plečnik’s precious heritage intact, while the system of NK Interblock will evolve into a proper professional football club.

When will the refurbishment be completed? The refurbishment of the central stadium in Bežigrad is one of the most difficult construction projects in Slovenia’s history. According to the most optimistic scenario, the project could be completed in 2013. The big scale October 2009


40 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

Interview: Miran Gajšek

A city within a city Ljubljana lies at the crossroads of Alpine, Mediterranean, Central European and Balkans regions. The City of Ljubljana, together with 14 partners in the Partnership Šmartinska project, is transforming itself into a hub of European importance. We talked to Miran Gajšek, the head of planning at the City of Ljubljana, about Šmartinska Partnership. by Polona Cimerman eastern Europe. In accordance with the basic EU concept of the free flow of capital, people, goods and services, we want them to stop in the Ljubljana metropolitan region and give them some added value. Partnership Šmartinska will ensure the infrastructure for this.

REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

The renovated area will be like a small city. The use of the area will be distinctively mixed: there will be room for shopping, culture, apartments, small enterprises and production, perhaps even for a technological park

The Slovenia Times

What kind of city redevelopment is Partnership Šmartinska? This is a type of urban regeneration and is a typical public-private partnership that exists between the City of Ljubljana, which manages the entire project, and private partners who own the land in that area. Three years ago, we decided to renovate a district where certain activities no longer existed in order to trigger necessary changes and the future evolution of Ljubljana. Why is this part of the city in greater need of redevelopment than others? The urban planners and individual landowners simultaneously realized that industry is in serious decline here and it will not exist for much longer. The renovated area will be like a small city. The use of the area will be distinctively mixed: there will be room for shopping, culture, apartments, small enterprises and production, perhaps even for a technological park – everything connected with a certain added value that will make Ljubljana a strong economic

centre not only in Slovenia, but also in this part of Europe. So the main emphasis of Partnership Šmartinska will be economic? I would say there are three main points. First is the connection between the city and private landowners. Second is our common interest in strengthening Ljubljana’s economic role and importance. And third is the decision that Ljubljana develop its potentials not only in terms of economy but also in terms of high technology. In Slovenia, we have the knowledge but very much need a strategy. What is of extreme importance here is Ljubljana’s exceptional geostrategic position. It is situated at the junction of the 5th and 10th Pan-European transport corridors and it ensures sustainable mobility, which is of great significance. Ljubljana is right in the centre of this intersection of the Mediterranean corridor, which starts in Venice and terminates in Budapest, and of the Central-European one, which goes all the way to south-

The focal point of the district will be an avenue running through the middle of it. This green boulevard will be the heart and soul of the area. The main stress will be on public transport, promenades and green patches. Part of it is the so-called central park which will be situated precisely in the centre of the district. The green boulevard will improve traffic; a lot of attention is paid to cycling routes. There will be special zones for public transport; motorway exits will also be enhanced. Our goal is to reduce car use. This district will not be mono-functional; it is planned to be a city within a city, a sort of Ljubljana Docklands – the port of Koper is only one hour away. The plans include the building of high-rises. Does this mean a new architectural chapter of Ljubljana is being opened? Yes; for example, the Crystal Palace will be the highest skyscraper in Ljubljana; the construction has already begun. But we do not want to compete with the established identities the city already has. This new one must rather coexist in a respectful relationship with them. It should represent a new added value to the image of Ljubljana. How will Ljubljana benefit from the Partnership Šmartinska project? In a way, a fresh wind will blow through it and it will start breathing again. Ljubljana has many qualities, among them the seven historical identities that we strive to preserve. We want to enrich them by adding another one and thus make it a truly metropolitan capital. Partnership Šmartinska allows for the implementation of the European free-flow concept in terms of the added value.


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The Art of Living

Exploring New Dimensions Within an easy reach of Ljubljana’s most beloved green areas, a nearby lake and recreational park, equipped with state-of-the-art security system and built with materials of the highest quality, the Koseze residential complex leaves nothing to be desired. Whether you are looking for a place to settle down with your family or to escape the hustle and bustle of professional life – look no further. The Koseze residential complex consists of eight small blocks of flats that boast 100 flats in total, varying in surface from 40 m² to 170 m². The flats, having a modern layout, are bright with open views. Each flat has allocated a neat storeroom in the basement, while at least one parking space is provided for your car in an underground garage of 200 parking spaces.

Taking No Chances Ganamm is an established company that invests exclusively into quality and up-todate building. The building of the Koseze residential complex has been a step further in their property development career. Apart from quality, they have been aware of-since the start of the project-what is important for a demanding modern buyera pleasant living space for residents of different cultures that offers at the same time privacy, peacefulness, and comfort.

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Safe in Green

Live smartly: Remote controlling of lighting and other household appliances

The residential complex is built in an urban area and has all infrastructural amenities, yet it

is located in the green part of Ljubljana with a wide network of walking paths. Moreover, the safety and satisfaction of families with children have also been taken care of in a form of two nearby, equipped children’s playground as well as a kindergarten and school that are merely 100 m away. Your worries, whether your children have safely reached the school, will become something of the past because the kindergarten and school can be accessed without crossing a busy road. For relaxed living at your home, freedom and actual safety – being more and more endangered nowadays - are paramount. That’s why the Koseze residential complex has a built-in entrance video surveillance enabling you to check who is ringing the bell. Besides, unlocking the door with a key is no longer necessary since your fingerprint can now open it.

Smart House Smart flats – advanced technologies: Touching an LCD touchscreen activates


commands that have been set to your preferences. Moreover, remote controlling is also possible. So, all these amenities will make your new flat a smart one. Just a few examples: Lighting can be set to a desired atmosphere, such as an evening one when light is more intense. Or you can adjust the light to film-watching, when lights almost go out, a TV is turned on, a DVD is set, and sensor-controlled blinds are lowered or risen by themselves,

Breathe deeply: Take a walk in the nearby woods

depending on the intensity of natural light. Moreover, temperature checking and setting is also possible as well as turning on heating or air conditioning when needed. So, by integrating and connecting all electrical appliances and new technologies into one unit, perfect efficiency and desired comfort is reached.

All You Need The residential complex is located in Koseze at the entry/exit to the Ljubljana ring road, just a stone’s throw away from Koseťki bajer (the Koseze lake), Mostec recreational centre, and a nearby RoŞnik hill trails.

In the immediate vicinity, there is a bank, kindergarten, school, health centre, post office, Ljubljana public transport bus routes, market, shops, etc. The flats characterised by modern interior architecture and functional exterior space arrangement are already finished, so you can move in right away. Moreover, all legal issues have been dealt with, including a land registration and handover permits. Nowadays, it is a great challenge of every employed person how to keep a balance between professional and private lives, to be successful and creative-in other words to be satisfied. Most of us follow the pace of life that is too fast, and therefore we need time just for ourselves and our families. This can be achieved by settling down in the new luxurious KOSEZE residential complex, a complex that will be your safe retreat and joy, a complex located in urban, yet peaceful area.

Sleep soundly: In the midst of greenery, sweet dreams come easy

Please contact: Ganamm d.o.o. Web site: www.ganamm.si Email: info@ganamm.si Phone: 00 386 1 583 00 20 Cell Phone: 00 386 31 35 67 84


44 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

Tobačna City

The strong move on Contrary to what you would expect in the middle of a flurry of news about cooling real estate markets and developers deep in debt, this summer heavy machinery started digging deep holes in the area that once hosted Slovenia’s biggest tobacco factory, Tobačna. Behind this venerable old name, a new city within the city will be built by IMOS, a respected developer, which has been handling the crisis fairly well. We talked with Mitja Majnik and Boštjan Blatnik, the CEO and Sales Director of the company, respectively. city centre and provide a prominent meeting point for business, administrative, cultural and educational activities. The project is split into two equal parts: residential and commercial. What is also very important is that Tobačna City will play an important role in rejuvenating the cultural life of the capital; either theatre halls or multi-purpose halls will be built beneath the square.

Tobačna City, with its central location, functional design, ample parking space and proximity to the centres of business and administrative activities, is surely more attractive than some other developments in Ljubljana.

REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

Tobačna City in figures Total surface area: 65,000 m 2 Commercial premises: 67,000 m 2 Apartments: approximately 560 Parking spaces: approximately 3,000 The Slovenia Times

We have been hearing a lot about the crisis hitting the real estate sector, and that prices are starting to fall. How is IMOS doing? We have been doing pretty well within our expectations set out in the beginning of the year. Of course, the situation on the market has gotten worse in the meantime. However, this does not mean that the real estate industry as a whole will simply sink. What we are observing at the moment is a sort of sifting process; buyers and developers are re-evaluating their investments and projects. If you want to succeed in such circumstances, you have to offer more for the same price. Is that what you are striving to do at the moment? Definitely. We are a specialist firm with specialist know-how with regard to project development; this is certainly our biggest advantage over competition. On the other hand, we can already see some inexperienced companies leaving the market. Tobačna City, your biggest project, is slowly but surely mov-

ing on. When can we expect construction to begin? This is hard to say. Not because we have financial or some other problems, but because the process of adopting a development plan for the area by the municipality can be a protracted affair. However, we have come far enough to start with the renovation of the communal infrastructure. Next year, we will apply for the building permits. We cannot say exactly when they will be issued; we reckon in three or four years. We are talking about one of the most ambitious projects in Ljubljana, the redevelopment of an entire area next to the city centre. That’s correct. With Tobačna City, we will expand Ljubljana’s

With quite a few projects scheduled for completion in the next couple of years, there have been some worries about a possible excess supply of office space in Ljubljana. Could that be a problem for Tobačna City? I don’t think so. Ljubljana’s office stock is generally old and of low quality, so demand should be there. That’s not all, however. Tobačna City, with its central location, functional design, ample parking space and proximity to the centres of business and administrative activities, is surely more attractive than some other developments in Ljubljana. One cannot help but notice that Tobačna City will be close to Ljubljana’s biggest green spaces. Yes, we think that this is definitely one of the reasons why businesspeople as well as fami l ies w i l l ser iously con sider moving to Tobačna City. Tivoli, Ljubljana’s central park, will be just around the corner, while Rožnik Hill will rise above the high-rises of Tobačna. Whether one wants to do business, shop, relax in the green spaces, go jogging or just take a stroll through the romantic old town – all this is only minutes away, if you live in Tobačna City.


46 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

Market analysis: Jacqueline Stuart

A mixed bag As the real estate market slows down, there is much uncertainty among investors as to when the market will hit bottom and when buyers will start moving in. To get a better glimpse of the big picture, we talked to Jacqueline Stewart of Slovenia Invest, an international commercial property broker.

Retail is holding up very well. There is no appreciable vacancy rate anywhere and it is still very hard to find good retail space. The new 8,500m2 phase of Citypark in BTC is already 100% rented out, two months before completion.

The real estate market is no different to any other; if supply exceeds demand, prices will drop – if demand exceeds supply, prices will rise.

What is your assessment of the current state of the Slovenian real estate market? Has the bottom been reached yet? The Slovenian real estate market is very fragmented; there are some areas that are relatively healthy and others in a very bad state. If we take residential for example, Ljubljana and Maribor are suffering from oversupply, and prices that are out of reach of average wage earners. There are 3,500 homes for sale in Ljubljana, a city where just over 500 apartments were sold in the past year. The average salary permits a couple to afford an apartment costing EUR 130,000, but the average asking price is EUR 160,000. There are some segments within those markets that are doing OK, for example some luxury homes in prime locations. There is still a lack of residential properties, in some areas, but these tend to be smaller towns that will only ever support minor developments. Retail is holding up very well. There is no appreciable vacancy rate anywhere and it is still very hard to find good retail space. The new 8,500m2 phase of Citypark in BTC is already 100% rented out, two months before completion. Supply and demand of logistics appears to be in balance, although we have seen the price of land for warehouses drop due to a lack of desire to build speculatively in these times. Some companies may also decide to sell warehouses built for their own expansion that

are now not required due to a failure to meet growth expectations. Quite a few office projects will come on the market in the next few years. Do you expect the prices of offices in Ljubljana to drop? The real estate market is no different to any other; if supply exceeds demand, prices will drop – if demand exceeds supply, prices will rise. There is currently around 500,000m2 of office stock in Ljubljana with a 6% vacancy rate. There is at least 100,000m2 additional space in planning or under construction. During the past year, jobs in Ljubljana have decreased marginally, although the number of workers increased by nearly 50% from 2005 to 2008. Unless the economy in Ljubljana grows exponentially, it is hard to

see how current office prices can be maintained with such an increase in supply. There are bargain-hunters out there. Is now the right time to move into the market? The one asset class where bargains galore are to be found is hospitality. Hotels are not valued per square metre, but according to the profit they make. Many hoteliers in Slovenia lack marketing and management expertise and run on very low profit margins. It is possible in many cases to buy hotels for significantly less than it would cost to build them. There are huge opportunities in the Slovene hospitality industry to markedly increase the value of property through enhanced management.

REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

Warehouse with development potential for sale - KOPER

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The site of 8,800m2 is located in an excellent location near Koper, on what is known as corridor 5, a strategically important transport route that stretches from Venice in Italy, to the Ukraine border. Koper port is only 10 kilometres away. The ground floor comprises a warehouse area of There are 3,500 logistics companies in Koper, and the approximately 1,500m2 with additional 500m2 for port has grown from 7.2 tons to over 15m tons of cargo the purpose of offices and workshops. Additional office in the past 10 years. space is available in the mezzanine. Please contact us for a copy of the investment The property can be expanded to an 8m high building memorandum. of 4,400m2. Offers are invited for this property in the region of 2.85m EUR.

For more details please contact: Slovenia Invest, World Trade Center, Dunajska 156, 1000 Ljubljana Tel.: 0590 75 780, E-mail: invest@sloveniainvest.eu

w w w.sloveniainvest.eu


MUSICA LJUBLJANA

It is located on the north-western part of the inner city centre using the last disposable plot in the centre with sufficient area and dimensions. The national airport is only 26 km away, following the ‘Celovška’ access road to the north-west of the country. The building complex is multifunctional as well as multiform. There is an office building with shops in the plinth, a residential villa with luxury apartments and a vast underground parking garage. Housing a luxury five-star hotel and a new concert and opera hall with minimum 1600 seats and with superior acoustic and stage design technology, the building will definitely be one of the most visible landmarks of the city.

BASIC DATA Location: Ljubljana, Slovenia Gross surface area: cca 91.000 m2

The whole project, based on an initial concept from 2004, has been designed by renowned Neutelings Riedijk Architects from Rotterdam and is a result of collaboration among distinguished experts on a global scale. The construction will start in 2010 and finish in 2014, with the opening scheduled for 2015. The future ‘Musica Ljubljana’ complex will be a center of culture, as well as a center of lively cultural activities, various events, attractive performances, gatherings of eminent guests, and performances by renowned artists from all over the world. We would therefore like to invite you to the opening ceremony on the 24th of June 2015!

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Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia, is rather small, but attractive and prosperous city in Central Europe. Not more than half a million people live or work in the city. However, as one of the greatest architects Mies van der Rohe once put it: ‘’Less is more’’. Therefore we could say that Ljubljana is a niche city looking for opportunities in niche projects. A project of a new concert and opera hall by Carniolian Investment Company Ltd. (Kranjska investicijska družba d.o.o.), named ‘Musica Ljubljana’ is definitely that kind of a niche project. It is unique in terms of program, unique in terms of appearance, and unique in terms of its purpose.

Building site: 10.010 m2 Max. height: 74,90 m Luxury Grand Opera Hotel: category 5*, cca 160 keys Urban Villa: 11 apartments Underground Parking garage: cca 700 PP Construction: 2010-2014

DESIGN TEAM Architectural design Neutelings Riedijk Architects, Rotterdam, the Netherlands: with experts from the field of Stage technology, Acoustics, Hotel, Gastronomy.


50 TOURISM

Health resorts

The future lies in internationalism Natural health resorts are a leading tourist destination in Slovenia. In the beautiful surroundings of Terme Olimia, The Slovenia Times organized a seminar in co-operation with Kohl & Partner to present latest trends as well as with business and revenue models in health and medical tourism, and to open a discussion with more than 50 high-level executives from various Slovenian health resorts, together with some foreign guests, in order to broaden their horizons and hear some new ideas. By Polona Cimerman

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he themes mainly revolved around the importance of transnational co-operation, the necessity of good marketing and managing strategies and the presentation of good practices. Matthias Buchholz from Kohl and Partner Tourism Consultancy Int. spoke on the liberalization of the market in the EU, “There is a growing interest in medical tourism and surveys show that an extremely high percentage of Europeans is open to travelling abroad for medical treatments.” He stated that Slovenia has great potential in this field, but that a precondition for contracts with foreign insurance company is proving their quality. Dr. Robert Gerl from the Bavarian State Ministry of the Environment and Public Health stressed that patients have the right to seek such services, and that Slovenia should resolve these problems as soon as possible. This opinion was shared seminar attendee Vojko Korošec, project manager at Terme Zreče, “The EU has created ideal circumstances for us – borders are gone. Yet despite all these efforts, we are still not connected to foreign markets. We need to build trust with foreign clients, but we can only do this if we obtain certification based on international standards. Only this will raise interest

The Slovenia Times

and open our doors to foreign patients.” The key element to the building a reputation for quality is a set of criteria that allow customers to assess offers. Olaf Seiche from TÜV Rheinland Cert GmbH presented the Best Health International standard, the first and only accredited standard in health tourism, “Most importantly, it outlines requirements for the corporate philosophy, organization, service provision and the environment.” All this gives the patients a certain guarantee of quality and that is what attracts them. Good marketing and management are also crucial for the suc-

cess of the resort. Joachim Hunger, hotel director of Regena Health Resort says that “Marketing makes people come, but it is management that makes people come back.” Service providers need to outline their aims and get to know who their customers are, he continued, “Without defining target groups and their needs, the services can never reach the highest standards.” Insa Lüdtke, an architect and journalist from Cocon Concept added that the creation of a good brand is based on knowing what one is good at. This needs to be set into an interesting story and presented

with innovative ways of communication. Vital elements in a successful media and PR-policy include networking and various events; she added, “This gives one a chance to make lots of connections.” It is essential to keep one’s eyes open and try to make a good impression. She pointed out that architecture can help in this respect; the ambiance it creates is becoming increasingly important. The tour around the newly opened Orhidelia wellness centre, which was held at the end of the seminar, proved that. This most advanced parts of Terme Olimia –bold architectural solutions, sublime indoor and outdoor pools, luxurious relaxing zones and saunas – tell their own story and cater to the most refined needs. Terme Olimia with its constantly upgrading identity was also presented as one of the best practices in Slovenia in the seminar by Zdravko Počivalšek, CEO of the health resort. One of the speakers: Zdravko Počivalšek, CEO of Terme Olimia “For a successful company, an educated, motivated and satisfied staff is of extreme importance. It can be the deciding factor in the delivery of the entire service, and we invest significantly in training and various educational programmes.”


LIFE STYLE

Castle-dotted country

Slovenia is a small country on a strategically prominent location. From the 10th century onwards, several hundred castles, manors and mansions were built for feudal lords. If we take into account all that remain, from actual buildings, to ruins, to oral tradition and written records, Slovenia was home to over 700 castles. By Tanja Goršič and Uroš Lebar


52 Life style

The home of the aristocracy

From fortified ruler’s homes to cultural property, Slovenian castles reflect a millennium of rich tradition.

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Granting the local knights the right to build castles soon resulted in their independence. The independent building of castles flourished and reached a peak in the 12th and 13th centuries. The Slovenia Times

he origin of the first castles in Slovenia can be traced back to the 10th century. In that period, the original Reichenberg above Brestanica and Divja Loka on Lubnik Hill were built. At the beginning of the11th century, the Bled and Ptuj castles were built. In those days, the nominal owner of the uncultivated land was a ruler who distributed this land among feudal overlords and the church. Large complexes of land were soon owned by the church, aristocratic families and feudal lords. At first, only the highborn gentlemen – the Emperor’s vassals – were allowed to build castles. In the first half of the 10th century, Henry I fortified the eastern border of his country with a series of castles. Granting the local knights the right to build castles soon resulted in their independence. The independent building of castles flourished and reached a peak in the 12th and 13th centuries.

The owners of castles The emergence of the first castles on Slovenian soil corresponds with the re-establishment of German rule after the victory over the Hungarians at Leško Field in the year 955. At that time, the borders of the Roman Empire had to be fortified against Croatia and Hungary. From the mid-11th century onwards, the marquis, dukes and other highborn feudal lords started changing these regions into their own dynastic territories. In the 10th and 11th centuries, Slovenia lacked prominent feudal centres and parish seats. This is why the ruling nobility reigned from castles outside the boundaries of Slovenia. The ecclesiastical and feudal lords built several smaller castles and mansions, which were administered by local lieges. At that time, huge amounts of land were in the hands of the church, the aristocratic families and powerful feudal overlords.

Development of castles

Castles were usually built on the edges of a precipice and atop steeply-sloped hills, generally in

Knights’ tournament at Castle Predjama


LIFE STYLE 53 places with only one access point, making it easy to defend. The first feudal fortifications were tower-like castles, several storeys high, with walls up to 2.5 meters thick, made of chiselled or broken stone, with loopholes or small windows, an entrance in the first floor, and access via ladders or drawbridge. Their primary function was defence rather than residential comfort. At first, they were surrounded by wooden walls, and later by stone walls and one or more trenches. In the following decades and centuries, these Romanesque tower castles were remodelled and enlarged, and much bigger castles begun to emerge. These reached a peak in the Gothic period and with Renaissance remodelling. More prominent castles featured additional buildings within the walls, such as residential quarters, defence towers, chapels, outhouses, and so on. In t h is way, la rge cast les emerged in Slovenia, including Castle Kamen near Begunje, Turjak and Žužemberk in Dolenjska, Konjice, Podsreda, Bizeljsko, and Kunšperk in Štajerska, and Socerb and Rihemberk on the coast. These can easily be compared to similar castles outside our borders, and were undoubtedly of great pride to their owners. They also made their way into the stories told by the travellers in these lands, centuries ago.

The decline and revival of castles The decline started in the 16th century, when the feudal lords started to abandon the uncomfortable fortresses on remote heights and started building mansions in the lowlands. Many medieval castles fell into ruin, destroyed by

fires and earthquakes; many were badly damaged in the disastrous 1511 earthquake. Others were abandoned by the feudal lords themselves. Over 100 castles were destroyed during the peasant uprisings; many were demolished during feudal wars, or demolished by the Turks. WW II did not spare castles, either. The partisans burned down around 30 castles where they suspected the enemy did or could settle down. The demolished castles were often used as a source for building; the already-sculpted rock was used by the locals in construction of their villages. Today, castles are frequently being renovated for a variety of purposes. Some host museums, others restaurants and hotels, but all show a pride of national history. Certain castles hold an important role in the state diplomatic functions, hosting all sorts of important political events. A castle wedding is more a rule than an exception in Slovenia. Unfortunately, some castles and manors are still in a state of decay, because unresolved cases in the denationalisation process. However, since the process has settled questions of ownership in many cases, Slovenian castles have entered the real estate market. Want to become a count? Why not – if you can afford it.

covered with brick paving stones, and only the master premises had wooden flooring. The first floor had only loopholes and small windows, only the second floor, where the knight’s hall and master premises were situated, had larger window holes. These were closed with thin animal skins, parchment, fabric or wooden boards and the only heating came from an open fireplace. Furniture comprised of benches, tables and chests. It was not until the advent of Renaissance and late Gothic period in the 15th century that there was any progress in this area. Daytime premises were separated from the sleeping quarters, kitchen and bathroom were assigned separate rooms, windows were glazed and fireplaces were replaced by clay stoves. The basic furniture was upgraded with wardrobes, chairs, etc. The rooms were smaller and heated, ceilings and floors were adorned with carpets, animal hides and tapestries. The estate was managed by lord of the castle, who spent his time hunting, competing in tournaments, aristocratic private wars or other battles.

Wine cellar keeper at Castle Bled.

The demolished castles were often used as a source for building; the already-sculpted rock was used by the locals in construction of their villages.

Life in the castles At first, life in the castles was anything but comfortable. Rooms were dark and cold; floors were October 2009


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54 Life style

Otočec castle

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The idyllic countryside of the Dolenjska region provides the backdrop for one of Slovenia’s most popular and picturesque tourist attractions. Lying in the middle of the Krka River, as it meanders its way through hilly forests and vineyards and onto the plains and fields of Krsko, is the island fortress of Otočec. The castle still hasn’t lost the charm that attracted so many noblemen throughout the centuries.

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ven though the existing castle, which is surrounded by water, has a relatively short history compared to most of Slovenia’s castles, its predecessors date back to the 12th century. The original castle belonged to the bishops of Freising, who for centuries had extensive land holdings, not only in the regions surrounding the castle but also in numerous other regions throughout Slovenia. Generally, their properties were leased as feudal estates to noblemen. As a result, the Otočec castle changed hands many times over. The first leaseholders were the Counts of Višnja gora, who were also its original inhabitants. It soon became the property of the Czech king, Otokar II, who eventually donated it back to the Freisings. Again, the castle was leased out until the bishops finally sold it in the 14th century. Over the subsequent centuries, the castle belonged to various noblemen

and dynasties, most of who dominated the Slovenian territory at one stage or another and who only held onto the property for a generation or two. Most notable among them was Baron Ivan Lenkovic, the general of the Vojna Krajina region. He rose to prominence during the Turkish invasions, and accumulated many possessions in

the south Dolenjska region during that time, including the castle. Some of the castle’s residents and their peculiarities became immortalized in folk legends, many of which have been recorded by the ethnographer and author, Janez Trdina. Ivan Tavcar also chronicled the story of Janez Sonce, who owned the castle in the first half

of the 17th century and against convention, married the daughter of an untitled and discredited quack. The castle has been remodelled many times throughout its existence. The oldest remaining part of the castle is the main residence, which is believed to have been built in the 14th century along with the castle’s walls and its rounded towers. The castle was completely rebuilt and enlarged in the 16th century and its chapel and gatekeepers quarters were added in the 18th century. The castle was burnt down by the partisans during the Second World War and left in ruins until the fifties when renovation works began. Nowadays, it is one of the few castles in Slovenia that has been successfully incorporated into contemporary life. It is now one of the most luxurious hotels in the country and regularly hosts state functions.

Brežice castle The castle boasting the most beautiful baroque frescoes in the country stands in the town of Brežice, which is situated in the lower Sava region, not far from the Croatian border. Given its strategic position and chequered past, it is surprising that the castle has not only survived but has remained practically intact.

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he castle took its name, Brežice (little bank) or originally Rhain, from its position on the left bank of the Sava River, which was later diverted. The area was settled at the beginning of the Middle Ages and had become the administrative and economic centre of the wider region by the end of the 12th century. It is believed that the castle existed in some form before 1249, when it was first mentioned. Along with the surrounding regions, it belonged to the bishops of Salzburg and was leased to various public officials and noblemen until the 15th century, when it became the property of Habsburgs. During this time it became an important stronghold and housed a court of law and a mint, which was also used as a garrison. Being so close to the border of the Hungarian empire it was under constant threat of attack and when, at The Slovenia Times

the end of the 15th century, war erupted between the Habsburgs, led by Emperor Friedrich III, and the Hungarians under King Matija Korvin (better known to Slovenians as the legendary King Matjaz), the castle together with the surrounding territory inevitably fell to the Hungarians. The castle was also laid to siege during numerous peasant revolts, which eventually led to the castle being burnt down during the peasant uprising of 1515. After being repaired and then destroyed by fire for a second time and facing the very real threat of Turkish invasion, the Habsburgs decided to completely rebuild and fortify the castle. The Italian renaissance architects, Andrej and Domenico del’Allio, who led the reconstruction, gave it three distinctive features: a strong, slightly irregular, square-shaped building, an inner

courtyard and fortified it with massive, rounded defence towers in the corners. Ownership of the castle then passed to the Gallensteins, a family of nobles, who in turn sold it to another noble family, the Frankopans. In the 17th century, the castle ended up as the property of the Counts of Attems, who renovated the buildings in the baroque style and added several new rooms; including the imposing Knights’ Hall and probably the most beautiful frescoes in the country. The Counts owned the castle until the end of the Second World War, however, from the middle of the 19th century it was leased out and

served not only as a residence but also as office space and a hospital. Throughout this period the castle was generally neglected and was further damaged by an earthquake in 1917. After the war, the castle became the property of the State and renovations were soon begun. Nowadays, it houses the Posavje Museum, which attracts visitors with its rich interior and its superb ethnological, archaeological, historical and art collections. It also hosts the Brežice Festival of Early Music and numerous weddings ceremonies in the richly painted Knights’ Hall, one of the most beautiful halls in Slovenia.


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Bled castle

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Life style 55

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The beautiful castle standing on top of a dramatic cliff overlooking Lake Bled is one of Slovenia’s most enduring images. Painters have been inspired by it throughout the centuries, as have poets and writers.

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he cliff top with its obvious appeal and strategic advantage attracted settlers even in prehistoric times. The site has yielded impressive archaeological finds from antiquity and early Middle Ages, including a stunningly beautiful brooch in the shape of a peacock. The peacock is known to adorn the Garden of Eden and is often referred to as “the bird of paradise”, a symbol of life and wealth. These are also the values that have been associated with Bled in the past, in the present and the values Bled is likely to embody in the future. It has been over a thousand years since on 10 April 1004 the German king Henry II signed a donation deed in Trento, Tyrol, ceding the ownership of the Bled estate in Carniola to Albuin, Bishop of Brixen, and the Bishopric of Brixen as a sign of gratitude for the assistance the church offered to the Emperor in his attempts to strengthen the German rule in this part of Northern Italy. The charter makes no mention of the castle. Most likely, only a Romanesque tower stood on a steep white rock at the time. In 1011 Henry II signed another deed of donation to include the castle and the land

in the size of thirty king’s farms (i.e. the area between the Sava Bohinjka and the Sava Dolinka). Upon the first subsequent mention of Bled made in 1011 in another Henry II’s donation deed, the name was explicitly used to refer to the castle on the rock – castellum Veldes. This 1011 charter is proof to the fact that at that time the castle building had already been erected. After the year 1000, the Bishops of Sabien moved the

seat of their South Tyrolean bishopric between Brenner and Bolzano to Brixen. The deed of donation referring to the Bled estate was kept in the bishopric archives in Brixen. Over all centuries, numerous changes have been made to its exterior as well. In our time the castle has become a trendy venue for various events and special occasions, in particular weddings. The castle was completely restored and em-

bellished by the architect Tone Bitenc in the 1950s. Since then it has been open to the public as an exhibition area. It also boasts a history museum, art gallery, and some reconstructed mediaeval rooms, such as a printing house and wine cellar. Occasionally it also plays host to art exhibitions, wedding ceremonies and in the summer to the classical music concerts.

Bled Castle Jože Hudeček, a renowned Slovenian publicist once wrote: When a foreigner, a traveller, comes to Slovenian land, people say to the one accompanying him: Take him where our land is most beautiful, richest and where our speech is at its most sincere, most generous with the truth. There he should make up an image of where we are and how we live. Take him to Bled. Perched atop a steep cliff rising 130 metres above the glacial Lake Bled is a symbol of Bled and Slovenia – Bled Castle. The image of the castle forming a dramatic backdrop to the romantic island and the church on it has earned the resort worldwide recognition through the centuries. Castle terraces offer spectacular views of the lake and the island, down the Dežela area with Lesce and Radovljica and over to the mountain ranges of the Karavanke and the Julian Alps. The museum provides an overview of life in these parts from the Bronze Age onwards. The castle wine cellar offers a tasting of premium wines from Primorje region. You can also create a perfect souvenier by filling your very own bottle with wine from an oak cask, corking it and sealing it with wax. In the castle printing works you can use a reconstructed wooden Guttenberg press with lead letters to make a print featuring a historical typeface and design on handZavod za kulturo Bled / Bled Culture Institute

made paper. The herbal gallery lures a visitor with its nature products made to help us restore our health, improve our moods and indulge in life. Use of natural products prepared with utmost care and knowledge will brighten your day. You can end your visit in the castle restaurant – the staff will make sure that you feel and dine like royalty. Try it out, you will enjoy the culinary delights and the heavenly view from the castle.

Cesta svobode 11, 4260 Bled, T: +386 4 57 20 770, F: +386 4 57 29 772

October 2009 www.blejski-grad.si


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Predjama castle

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Ten kilometres west of Postojna, a visitor will find a picturesque castle perched at the entrance of a cave halfway up a more than one-hundred-metre cliff. The idyllic karst landscape and the castle’s unique architecture make it one of the most fabulous and probably the most famous cave castles in the world, thus one of Slovenia’s biggest tourist attractions.

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redjama Castle’s fame is often connected with a romantic story, propagated by the well-known 17th century Slovene historiographer, Janez Vajkard Valvasor, which in time became a well-known legend. It’s a story of the castle’s most famous inhabitant, Erazem Predjamski (Erasmus of Predjama), a brave warrior and robber baron from the 15th century. Erazem was an enemy of Emperor Friedrich III, who eventually ordered his capture and laid siege to the castle. After months of being besieged and unsuccessful attempts to starve him out, he would throw fresh meat down from the wall to provoke the enemy. It seemed that there was little hope of ever capturing Erazem or forcing him to surrender until a servant finally betrayed him. Afterwards,

it became clear that he had been receiving his supplies through a hidden entrance to the cave, which was later named after him (Erazem’s cave). Archaeological findings from the Neolithic and Bronze ages have been uncovered in both Erazem’s cave and the extensive cave – Konjski Hlev (Horse Stable) – below it, indicating that prehistoric man had used the caves as a form of defence thousands of years prior to Erazem. The castle was first mentioned in 1274, when it had already become a bone of contention and the cause of conflict between the patriarch of Oglej (Aquileia) and the landlords of Gorica. It has had many owners since being the property of the Oglej church. In the second half of the 14th century it belonged to Konrad from Kraig,

of the Habsburg dynasty and then to the Lords of Lienz, later known as the Lords of Lueg. Besides the famous Erazem Predjamski, this dynasty also produced another important warrior named Nikolaj Jamski (Niclas von Luegg) who well known for his cruelty. During the 16th century the castle passed into the hands of the nobleman Adam Purgstaller and then to the Kobenzl family. They initiated most of architectural changes that can be seen today soon after they took ownership of the castle. The huge entrance tower, the three-storey residential building and many other features were built before the 17th century. The castle stayed in the Kobenzl

family until the 19th century when came into the possession of the Windischgratz family who owned it until the end of the Second World War. They also made many noticeable modifications to the castle before the turn of the 20th century. Since then the castle has been open to the public. During the nineties, the interior of the castle was carefully renovated and restored to reflect the manner in which Erazem would have lived. To highlight this, medieval performances are held in front of the castle every Sunday throughout the summer. The most important one is called Erazmov viteski turnir (the Erasmus Knights Tournament).

Snežnik castle The idyllic castle of Snežnik is hidden in the extensive forests of the Notranjska region and is surrounded by a park, all of which creates a fabulous image. The castle is exceptional in many ways. Not only because of its unusual appearance and the abundant collections in its entirely preserved interior, but also for its uncommon and even mysterious history.

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ven though the Snežnik castle was first mentioned in the 13th century, historians agree that it was not the same castle. The previous castle probably stood somewhere in the surroundings of the existing one as it is mentioned that, in the 15th century, it (the castle) stood above the so-called manor, which seems was in the same location as the present castle. This has yet to be clarified, but it at least explains why there are many mediaeval elements in the castle. Initially it belonged to patriarchs of Aquileia, who actually owned the entire valley of Loz, through which ran an important road between Friuli and the sea. Their representatives were the Lords of Snežnik who gradually lost their power until they finally sold what was left of the property in the 15th century. The manor that came into being near the old castle, and eventually replaced its function, gained its basic architectural characteristics in the 16th century when the residential The Slovenia Times

tract was enlarged and the barbican and the wooden drawbridge, which crossed the moat, were built. It then became the property of various noblemen in the centuries that followed. The most notable among them were the Lambergs, the Auerspergs and the Counts of Lichtenberg, who possessed it un-

til the middle of the 19th century. The castle even became first prize in a lottery, when the Counts of Lichtenberg were eventually forced to dispose of it due to their financial difficulties. For a decade it remained abandoned, until Jurij SchonburgWaldenburg discovered from his father’s will that his father had

bought it a few years before his death in 1853. In the decades that followed he brought new life not only to the castle, which was already falling apart, but also to the thick forests that covered most of the property. He also established the first Slovenian forestry school in the process. The castle acquired its present form in the second part of the 19th century, when it was redesigned and the main defensive components were removed. The Schonburgs also completely renovated the interior of the castle, which has survived through both World Wars and nationalization, when the socialist government used it as a hunting lodge, in surprisingly good order. It was opened to the public at the beginning of the eighties as a museum, the main exhibits being the furniture and most of the good and chattels of the Schonburgs. It is also used for wedding ceremonies and cultural events such as art exhibitions, concerts, poetry evenings, etc.


Investment opportunities in Slovenian castles Slovenia is a land of castles. There are about 500 castles, manors and ruins all over Slovenia. Few of them has been restored to house museums, art galleries, restaurants or even a five star hotel and prestigious event halls, but many of them are still waiting for investors for reconstruction and rebuilding into luxurious hotel, restaurant, congres center, wine cellars ...

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Betnava Castle, Maribor

The Betnava complex extends over 120 hectares and includes Betnava Castle, the Betnava forest and an area in between. The Betnava complex with its cultural and natural heritage will become an important cultural, tourist and business-educational centre in the Podravje region. In the Betnava forest, part of the Betnava area is already operating an adventure park, which with adrenalin installations enables independent, partner, family or group amusement.In the tourist-recreation complex Betnava a new hotel with 100–150 rooms will be built. According to the investor’s interest, it is also possible to build an elite hotel with fewer rooms of larger size.

Dornava Manor, Dornava

The Dornava manor house complex, together with the park, is situated very close to Ptuj, east of the village of Dornava and south of the River Pesnica. The building itself dominates the locality,rising up above fields and meadows. The

Ministry of Culture is looking for a strategic partner to take over the running of Dornava Manor and the accompanying park, and organise tourism and cultural activities within it – for example,a cultural centre and other suitable facilities. The strategic partner will have to ensure that building work is completed and that the building is suitably equipped for the above activities.

Pišece Castle, Brežice

Pišece Castle is an exceptionally well-preserved medieval castle with preserved primary elements of extensions from Romanesque to Baroque styles, which transformed the Romanesque refuge into a Baroque residence. Around the park there is an English-style park with a number of very exotic trees. It, however, requires renovation. The castle consists of a Romanesque tower core, built up and extended into the surrounding castle. The additional living quarters are partly connected to the Romanesque surrounding wall. The Ministry of Culture is looking for a strategic partner to take over the running of Pišece Castle and organise cultural, tourism (accommodations) and culinary activities in it. The strategic partner will have to ensure that building work is completed and that the castle is suitably equipped for the above activities.

Gradac Castle, Metlika

Gradac Castle is the most typical, preserved medieval castle in Bela Krajina. As such, and as an addition to the settlement surrounded on three sides by the River Lahinja, it is a rare example of continuous settlement from prehistory until the present day. The castle was built on a bend in the River Lahinja, on a site which

has been settled for even longer. The deep river channel which flows around the castle on three sides ensured a high degree of securityThe Ministry of Culture is looking for a strategic partnerto take over the running of Gradac Castle and organise tourism (accommodations), cultural, and culinary activities in it. The strategic partner will have to ensure thatbuilding work is completed and that the building is suitably equipped for the above activities.

Negova Castle, Gorenja Radgona

The castle stands on the broad flat projection of land on which the small village of Negova also stands. Towards the north and east, it descends steeply to the valley of the River Ščavnica. The castle dominates the landscape and is a very intact monument. The characteristic elements of the castle’s former activities, such as the gardens and fish ponds, along with its other special features are well preserved. The castle is the central cultural feature of the valley.The Ministry of Culture is looking for a strategic partner to take over the running of Negova Castle and organise tourism (accommodations), cultural and culinary activities in it. The strategic partner will have to ensure that the building work is completed and that the castle is suitably equipped for the above activities.

Castle Rihenberk, Branik

The Ministry of Culture wishes to renovate the entire castle complex and ensure that it is put to correct use, together with the strategic partner. The strategic partner will organise tourism (accommodations) and other activities within the castle.

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he Ministry of Culture, The Ministry of Economy, The Public Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investments, Slovenian Tourist Board and The Association of Municipalities and Towns of Slovenia are preparing the overview of castles, mansions and palaces on the territory of Republic Slovenia with concrete investment opportunities in this field. In near future Slovenia will be looking for a strategic partners or investors to take over the running of many manors and castles in order to revive them, and organise tourism and cultural or other appropriate activities within it – for example a cultural centre and other suitable facilities (golf course, horse breeding, medical activity, casino, hotel, spa facilities ...). It is of a great important to find the investments into castles as opportunities to create new jobs while the local and regional financial schemes can be applied to different ministries under project documentation. There is usually combination of economic and social components due to lack of knowledge in tourism when integral touristic offer is in focus. The castles can be totally in state ownership or totally in municipality ownership or in total private ownership. At this very moment a preparation of a general overview of the castles is to be done in narrow future by different institutions for the purpose of integral offer to potential investors in such investment opportunities. Some of interesting investment possibilities can be suggested as follows:


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Bogenšperk castle

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One of the youngest castles in the country stands like a white flower on a high hill, surrounded with rustling forests, about forty kilometres east of Ljubljana. It would have probably remained largely unknown, like many castles in the country, if it hadn’t been so closely connected to the name of Johann Weichard Valvasor, a famous 17th century scholar. Since his most notable interest and contribution to the nation’s history was depicting the geographical features of the country, it is no coincidence that he chose a castle with a splendid view of the wide countryside as his home.

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rchaeological finds at the beginning of the last century indicate that prehistoric man had settled in the surrounding areas. Even though the origins of the castle are shrouded in mystery, the castle’s original name, Wagensperg, reveals a connection with the Wagen family, who were nobles that came to Carniola from Bavaria in the 15th century. As the castle first appears in historical records in 1533, it is assumed that it was built after the great earthquake that damaged several castles in the region in 1511, including the Lichtenberg tower castle just down the hill from Bogenšperk, where the Wagen family had previously lived. The Wagens owned the castle until 1630, after which it changed hands many times in a short period of time. Among its many owners was Johann Weichard Valva-

sor, probably the most eminent 17th century Slovene. He was a nobleman, a commander in the Austrian army, historian, polymath, ethnographer, and the first person to fully depict the ethnographical and geographical features of the Carniola region. He compiled them in a comprehensive encyclopaedia, Slava vojvodine Kranjske (Glory of the Duchy of Carniola), which influenced geoscience for centuries and provided valuable information about the castles in Carniola. Valvasor had a study, a vast li-

brary, an engraving workshop and the first copperplate-printing press in the region installed in Bogenšperk castle. However, due to the high costs associated with the publication of his work, which he financed on his own, he was forced to sell the castle after twenty years to pay off debts. The castle belonged to various noblemen throughout the 18th and early 19th centuries, before it became the property of the WindischGratz family, who owned it until the end of the Second World War.

The castle has the shape of an irregular square, with two square and two rounded towers at its corners, and a courtyard in the middle, which gives the castle an authentic medieval feel. It was constructed in the 16th century and its interior was altered and completely refurbished in the 17th century. Even though it was severely damaged by fire in the middle of the 18th century and completely plundered after the last war its original structure remained intact. The castle was fully restored in the late sixties after having fallen into decay. Nowadays it houses a museum with various collections and exhibitions, including an exhibition of witchcraft and superstition, a collection of national costumes, geological and hunting exhibitions, Valvasor’s study, etc. It also regularly hosts wedding ceremonies and cultural events.

when partisans besieged it for almost a week in order to defeat the troops of the ‘White Guards’ (collaborators with the Germans) who held it. Thus, some of the repairs and renovations are still in progress. The castle is basically enclosed within a massive triangular battlement with three defence towers, has one internal court in the middle with residential parts and two chapels. One of them, called the

Dalmatin Chapel, is a monument with roman architecture, and tombstones with Gothic frescos of inhabitants from the age of Protestantism . The other one, damaged in the Second World War was reconstructed in nineties.It regularly holds mass on Sundays. Today the castle is occasionally used for protocol purposes, exhibitions, and so forth. Group tours with a guide can be arranged by the Turjak Tourist Association.

Turjak castle About 30 km south-east of Ljubljana, on the top of an almost inaccessible hill surrounded by ideal countryside, stands one of the most monumental and important castles of the central Slovene region (once called Carniola - Kranjska). Since the time of the Turkish attacks and the Protestant movement, Turjak castle has played a remarkable role in Slovene history.

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ccording to historians the Castle probably existed as long ago as the 10th century with the first inhabitants robber-knights. However the castle is mentioned for the first time at the beginning of the 13th century, named after the family name of the noble proprietors: Auersperg who came to this territory from Schwabia (today’s south Germany) and owned it until the Second World War. The name Turjak probably came from the translation Auersperg, which in Slovene meant the mountain of Turs, the so-called ‘wild cows’, that existed in this territory. Until the 15th century there were two castles at Turjak. The present castle is the upper one, also called the new castle. The remains of the old castle, which was abandoned before this, can still be seen on the lower slope beneath the new castle. The Slovenia Times

The great 17th Century Slovenian historian, Valvasor, claimed that the Turjak dynasty (Auersperg) produced some remarkable military leaders known for their bravery during the Turkish invasions (at the beginning of the16th century). At this time the Turjak dynasty also played an important role in giving financial support and sanctuary for some of the key protestants in Slovenia, such as Jurij Dalmatin, who translated the Bible into the Slovenian language. The castle successfully sustained attacks from theTurks twice, and a peasant rebellion, although an earthquake at approximately the same time damaged it. Soon after, the castle was reconstructed in the shape that we can see today, even though it was partially damaged again towards the end of the Second World War


Tourism – Celebrating Diversity The Tourism Directorate of the Ministry of the Economy and the Slovenian Tourist Board celebrated this year’s World Tourism Day and its central theme “Tourism – Celebrating Diversity” with a special event, dealing with this theme. Organised by the Tourism Directorate of the Ministry of the Economy and the Slovenian Tourist Board, the central event took place in Grand Hotel Primus in Ptuj. Olimia spa, Mr Drago Rovisnjak, the manager of the company Hoteli in turizem Rogaška and Mr Gorazd Šošter, the managar of Terme Šmarješke toplice spa. Among the female finalists, the majority of votes as well as the expert commission’s consensus was given to Ms Jerneja Kamnikar, thus winning “The Best Tourism Manageress 2009” title, while her male counterpart became Mr Andrej Klasinc, a winner of “The Best Tourism Manager 2009” award. “The Best Female Volunteer” and “The Best Male Volunteer” awards in tourism 2009, a contest ran by the Tourist Association of Slovenia, were presented to Ms Amalija Lija Šušteršič from the Polževo Tourist Society, and Mr Vladimir Kostevc from the Žužemberk Tourist Society.

Jerneja Kamnikar, Vivo Catering

Since tourism is directly linked to a number of other activities, representatives of these other activities - such as the sportsman Dejan Zavec, the traveller and explorer of the globe Uroš Ravbar, the photographer Tomo Jeseničnik and others - presented their views on tourism as a par t of the event. At the round-table, representatives of the tourism economy discussed the diversity of the Slovene tourism as being a key advantage of the country’s touristic offer and tried answering the question to a what degree has this advantage been used. Moreover, there was also an awards ceremony with the categories of “The Best Tourism Manageress” and “The Best Tourism Manager” as well as “The Best Male Volunteer” and “The Best Female Volunteer” in tourism 2009, the latter two in collaboration with the Tourist Association of Slovenia.

Tourism Manager” were reached by Mr Janko Humar, the LTO Sotočje manager, Mr Andrej Klasinc, the manager of Terme Ptuj spa, Mr Zdravko Počivalšek, the manager of Terme

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BLIZU DOMA,

Based on proposals by Slovene tourism economy professionals, the finals of “The Best Tourism Manageress” were reached by Ms Alenka Babič, the deputy manageress of Terme Šmarješke Toplice spa, Ms Andreja Humar Fatorič, a self-employed entrepreneur at Istriana – Tourist Service Portorož, Ms Jerneja Kamnikar, the manageress of Vivo Ltd., Lidija Koren, the owner and manageress of Kamp Koren, while the finals of “The Best

BLIZU SRCA.

Andrej Klasinc, Terme Ptuj

Slovenijo čutim. www.slovenia.info

The World Tourism Day celebration also marked the end the summer par t of the CLOSE TO HOME, CLOSE TO HEART campaign. Moreover, the main prize of Terme Ptuj was drawn, and it was a free 7-day holiday for two persons in Grand Hotel Primus for 3 years in a row. More information on World Tourism Day, prize-winners, their work and achievements in the tourism field is available online at www. slovenia.info/danturizma.


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Fužine castle

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Not far from the centre of Ljubljana, an impressive renaissance castle stands alongside the Ljubljanica River. It has been a Slovenian cultural landmark since its construction in the early 16th century. As one of the few fortified mansions in the city, it has become one of the city’s contemporary cultural centres, while still managing to retain its historical charm.

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užine is an ancient expression for ironworks. Such a facility stood alongside the rapids of the Ljubljanica river and made use of the copper ore from local mines that existed during the middle ages. The existence of the mills, forges and other industrial plants that had developed along the river was probably what impelled the influential Bavarian merchant, Vid Khisl, to begin building the castle here at the beginning of the 16th century. His son, Janz Khisl, completed the ambitious project, which, soon after his death, would serve as a stronghold during the Turkish invasions. The Khisls, who moved to the Kranjska region at the beginning of the 16th century, were a family of merchants and quickly became very powerful, both economically and politically, and had gained the status of barons before the end of the century. As strong supporters of the Protestant Reformation,

they had close ties with the leading Slovene cultural reformers, Primoz Trubar and Jurij Dalmatin. With their influence and connections they also helped Janez Mandelc to establish the first Slovenian printing office. By the end of the 16th century, however, the third generation of Khisls had sold off their estates in the region, including the richly painted castle. Throughout the next century,

the castle’s owners paid scant regard to its magnificent interior and general appearance. The famous Slovenian ethnographer, Janez Vajkard Valvasor, noted, in the middle of the 17th century, that the castle’s ceilings were collapsing. This downward spiral of decay only ended a century later when Fidelis Terpinc, one of the area’s first manufacturers and also an influential businessman,

bought the castle at auction from the state. The castle’s interior experienced another drastic transformation a few years before the beginning of World War II, when it was bought by the paper millers, Vevce. The castle was divided up into units suitable for workers’ quarters. To this end, bathrooms, kitchens and three additional stairways were installed. Following its occupation during the war by the Italian army, the castle served as an apartment block until the eighties. At the beginning of the nineties the castle started to function as a museum. It’s first permanent exhibition presented the works of Slovenian architect, Joze Plecnik. Today it houses various departments of the Architectural Museum. The exhibited works come from the fields of architecture, industrial design and visual communications. As well as exhibitions, the castle hosts a variety of cultural events throughout the year, such as workshops and concerts.

Škofja Loka castle Raised above one of Slovenia’s oldest and best preserved medieval towns, Škofja Loka boasts a spectacular castle. It has played an important role for the people of Škofja Loka and remains one of the most picturesque and distinctive images of Slovenia.

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cclesiast ical lords have mainly ruled the castle over the centuries. From its beginnings (most estimates suggest work began in the 11th century) until the 19th century, it belonged to the bishops of Freising (Brizinski skofje) together with the wider territory surrounding it. During these first medieval centuries the bishops gained, through donations and acquisitions, the largest and most unified territory in the central Slovenia region - the region of Kranjska. Owing to the privileges of the church, they also kept the territory more or less uniform and stable, until the age of the Enlightenment and the fall of feudalism. During this time, the castle of Škofja Loka represented the central point of Freising’s landed property in the Kranjska region. Owing to the fact that the castle stood at the meeting point of the two streams of the river Sora and thus in the exact place where two valleys unite, it established a dominant position for medieval The Slovenia Times

trade and the development of the cottage industry. This led to the growth of the town beyond the castle, which was at that time also the property of the bishops. A fortress above the present castle as well as an additional castle nearby were built for its defence, but were both badly damaged in the great earthquake of 1511 and soon abandoned so that only their ruins may be seen today. On the contrary, the present castle was almost completely renovated after the earthquake and thus acquired its basic shape, with three tracts and a large inner courtyard as early as the first decades of 16th century.

Two defense towers in the corners of the south tract were also made during that period. In the inner courtyard the design of the massive high four-angled tower which used to stand there can still be seen. The tower was built after the earthquake, but was pulled down at the end of the 19th century. The castle has played a major role during certain periods of Slovene history. It was the centre for peasant rebellions several times and also the location for the burning of Protestant books and the imprisonment of heretics. The castle was renowned for the cruelty of its jails which the great

Slovene writer Ivan Tavcar vividly depicted in his book Visoska kronika (Chronicle of Visoko, also translated into German). The castle was nationalized during the Napoleonic period and used for bureaucratic purposes for seventy years. Within twenty years it had changed proprietors and was sold to a female monastic order called Ursulinke. They made most of the late changes to the castle, pulling down the courtyard tower and west defense wall and connecting the castle to a nunnery. The Germans occupied the castle during the Second World War. Following this, it served as a hospital and house of correction, until the museum of Loka (Loski Muzej) was eventually founded in its grounds. With its diversity of collections, the museum exhibits archeological, historical, ethnological, and cultural images of the wider Škofja Loka territory throughout history. The museum also regularly hosts various art exhibitions and concerts.


LJUBLJANA 61

Ljubljana Marathon

A Family Affair Running is a favourite recreational activity in Slovenia, along with cycling, hiking and skiing. It is less expensive than skiing, and less time consuming than cycling. But it hasn’t always been this way. We think that the Ljubljana Marathon, taking place on 25th October this year, and the media hype around it have played a vital role in the resurgence of running of Slovenia. By Simon Demšar

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onsider this: in 1996, when the first marathon was organised, a total of 480 runners took part in the either the 42- or 21-kilometre run. Last year, the number was 5,382. Nowadays, even local events attract the numbers as big or bigger than the 1996 Ljubljana Marathon. The first marathon around Lake Bled, for example, attracted over 500 runners without much publicity; there are dozens if not hundreds of similar events in Slovenia throughout the year. The Ljubljana Marathon is just the largest of them all. Surpassing the most optimistic predictions, attendance in Ljubljana has been steadily growing at an annual rate of around 20 per cent. Knowing that even a 21k run is a major undertaking, organizers have added new categories, such as a 10k run and short runs for school and preschool children. The total number of participants topped the 13,000 mark last year. It is obvious that running events have become a family affair. In the case of Ljubljana, absolute beginners will join their kids on the Saturday before the main event, advanced runners will do the 10k distance, so-called experts will go for the 21k and the hardcore runners for the “only real marathon,” as they like to refer to the 42k distance. The half-marathon is the preferred option. Last year, it attracted 4,611 runners, compared to 771 “real marathoners”.

While the participation figures are impressive, they are also becoming a concern for organisational and logistic reasons. It might well happen in the not too distant future (as with other popular marathons around the world) that the participation will be limited. The marathon is not just a national affair. At the time of writing this article, representatives of 32 countries confirmed participation in this year’s edition, including 18 from Great Britain and eight US citizens. The deadline for registration is 20th October. The participation fee for individual runners is EUR

Starting times Full marathon and half marathon: Sunday, 25th October at 10.30 am. Recreational race (10k): Sunday, 25th October at 8.30 am. Secondary school race: Saturday, 24th October at 3.15 pm. Primary school race: Saturday, 24th October at 2.15 pm. Promotional race: Saturday, 24th October at 1.30 pm. Pre-school children race: Saturday, 24th October at 4 pm. Races start in Šubičeva ulica, in front of Parliament. 35 for the marathon and half marathon and EUR 30 for the 10k run. For more information, log onto www.ljubljanskimaraton.si. Visiting the marathon as a spec-

tator can also be an interesting way of spending a Sunday morning, potentially resulting in an active participation sometime in the future.

Siam Thai Thai Massage Salon 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 www.tajskemasaze.si October 2009 info@tajskemasaze.si


Restavracija Grad Otočec Grajska cesta 2, Otočec Tel: +386 (0)7 384 89 00 booking.otocec@terme-krka.si www.terme-krka.si, www.castle-otocec.com Open: every day till midnight Food type Slovenian, International Price range seven-course tasting menu – 55 EUR, 4-course daily menu (also vegetarian) – 35 EUR

Dine with style

Reservation recommended

Menu suggestion Danube salmon carpaccio with river greens ***** Cold celery soup with sour cream ***** Grains with mushrooms and nettles ***** Peach sorbet ***** Venison cutlet with carrot soufflé, courgettes ***** Blackberry tris ***** Cviček Cheese

Castle Otočec Restaurant

The royal treatment One of Slovenia’s most remarkable medieval heritage sites offers a memorable experience for explorers of unique delicacies.

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točec is the only castle surrounded by water in the country. Its idyllic setting, encircled by the calm currents of the Krka River, with wooden bridges and swans patrolling beneath, makes for a relaxing introduction as you enter the castle’s courtyard. Both terrace and interiors of the Grad Otočec restaurant offer a special ambience for all sorts of social occasions. It is no wonder that Otočec is a place for many state-level meetings. But apart from that, the same people who officially represent countries and corporations gladly return here for their private lunches and dinners. And by the way, if you are coming by helicopter – no problem – just set it down on the meadow at the back of the castle. Otočec’s waiters, some of them with 30 years of experience, know The Slovenia Times

the tastes of many ministers and statesmen. Among others, they have also served the entire Apollo 11 crew and many stars of stage and screen. Otočec has a perfectly calm setting and an amazing ambience for dinning and meetings, recently been renovated to the most up-to-date standards. The restaurant’s three rooms and two terraces retain all the elements of ancient days, where knights and princesses would feel as pleased as the modern guests. The setting is ideal for small groups, who can occupy interiors as well as castle courtyard terrace or even the backyard, which is a completely natural and unspoiled meadow. But the final and the most essential element here is – of course – the food.

Preferably local There’s a firm philosophy behind Chef Robert Gregorčič’s creations. His masterpieces are made entirely of traditional, local ingredients, some of them common, others less so or even almost entirely forgotten. What matters is that they are of the utmost quality and grown naturally. It also doesn’t bother him to pull out some of the wild medicinal herbs growing on the Krka’s banks, and use them as a unique garnish. With some regret, he says that he will never refuse any request from a guest even if it is far from his preferred menu , but then again, they don’t know what they are missing - and he is right: The tasting menus at Otočec are an absolute must to anyone who is ready for a culinary nirvana lasting a couple


Top choice Calypso Restaurant

In Issue 116

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

Smrekarjev Hram Restaurant Nazorjeva 2, 1000 Ljubljana centre Tel: + 386 1 308 19 07 smrekarjev.hram@gh-union.si 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 privitezu@siol.net Open: Mon-Sat, noon – 11pm (closed on holidays)

Grad Otočec Restaurant

In Issue 121

Grajska cesta 2, Otočec Tel.: + 386 7 38 48 900 booking.grad-otocec@terme-krka.si www.terme-krka.si Open: Every day until 11pm

Bled Castle Restaurant Cesta svobode 11, Bled Tel : +386 4 579 44 24 blejski.grad@zkbled.si, events@vgs-bled.si www.hotelastoria-bled.com, www.zavod-za-kulturo-bled.si Open: Every day, 8am – 8pm (November-April till 6pm) Special experiences for special occasions.

Vila Bled Restaurant Cesta svobode 26, Bled Tel: +386 4 575 37 10 info@vila-bled.si, www.vila-bled.si 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 zemono@zemono.si 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 info@klubtop.si; www.klubtop.si Open: Wed-Sat, 8:30am – 5am Delights of the French, Mediterranean and Slovenian cuisines.

Robert Gregorčič, master chef at Otočec

of hours. The food is delicious in a variety of ways, light, but nutritious, and sometimes surprisingly simple in its ingredients. The wine list features the best of Slovenian wine, with essential foreign brands at the back of the shelf – again, for those who insist. But then again – why not at least a try a glass of local Cviček, even if its name doesn’t sound as profound as some famous cellar’s Cabernet. Castles are already an inspir-

ing environment. Coupled with excellent food and served in a royal manner, it makes you want stay there – or at least come back soon. The castle also offers sixteen rooms, among them two royal suites. The fairytale location is also ideal for weddings. With December on the way, it is worth considering Castle Otočec as venue for end-of-year meetings – the winter scenes illuminated with torches are truly amazing.

Atrium Restaurant Pot za brdom 55, Hotel MONS (main entrance), Ljubljana ring, Brdo exit Tel : +386 1 470 27 00 info@hotel.mons.si 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 info@kavarnaeuropa.si Open: Pasta Nona and Lesar a la carte: daily: 11am – 11pm, Saturdays: 5 – 11pm, Sunday closed; Café: daily: 8am onwards, Saturday, Sunday, holiday: closed October 2009

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CULTURE 65

Kino Šiška

A temple of urban culture

After nearly a decade of disuse, the doors of this old cinema are opening again, this time to host a mixture of ‘urban culture.’ by Tanja Goršič

O

ne of Mayor Janković’s 22 prom ised pre-election projects is finished. Kino Šiška is envisaged as a flexible public institution which will adapt to what the culture offers, according to the Municipality of Ljubljana spokesman. The investment was considerable, and much was done; from building renovation to technical equipment in the interior. The building, constructed in 1961, is the work of architect Božidar Gvardjančič, and is characterised by its curious, yet appealing modernist image. The cinema was in use from 1964 until the end of the 1980s. A lack of visitors forced authorities to close it down, but it was sporadically opened for various events, including two rock festivals. The cinema actually reopened in 1994, but the opening of the Kolosej multiplex cinema in 2001 put the last nail in its coffin. After a nine-year silence the renovated cinema is back in business. The renovation was the work of architects Nena Gabrovec and Anja Planišček, who kept the building’s original appearance and applied functional improvements for the building’s new purpose. The essence of the oldschool image remains: mosaic pillars, Venetian flooring, the glassed entrance hall and grand stairway. Things look very similar but with a modern twist – the overall sensation is more open and breathable. The building itself combines the old with the new. We will have to see if these principles also extend to the programming scheme.

The Grand Opening The pre-premiere concert, held on 28 August, was given to Slovenian band Pankrti with frontman Pero Lovšin – a steady fixture on the Slovenian rock scene for decades. The official programme started on September 18 with Laibach, another venerable icon of Slovenian music, and who are equally popular abroad. The upcoming programme promises a mixture of various genres and some remarkable names like Juno Reactor and Mudhoney, one of the inventors of Seattle grunge.

Technicalities The new centre of urban culture has two halls. The bigger one, where the cinema used to be, is called Katedrala (Cathedral), which can accomodate up to 800 standing or 450 seated visitors. The hall can also be enlarged when necessary, a unique feature in Slovenia at the moment. This

architectural and technical innovation includes moving and enlarging the main stage, as well as functional modifications to the auditorium. The hall also has a mobile seating system, which allows a wide variety of performances, from concerts, to movies, to theatre, dance, and other, more experimental performances. In addition, the sloping floor enables the back rows a view of the stage. The hall is equipped through the roof; the ceiling includes 43 elevators that can hold 150 kilos, and is where the lighting is hung. It also boasts a first-rate sound system. Speaking in figures, the state-of-the art equipment cost 2.5 mil euros, weighs 31 tons, and is connected with over 60 kilometres of cables. The smaller hall is called ‘Komuna’ and has space for 250 people.

Doubts All optimism with getting a new venue aside, the loudest criticism that can be heard is that

Ljubljana still lacks a mediumsized venue for 1500-2000 visitors, which would make larger events possible. Another question is what this means for the other music and alternative venues in town. Mediapark Cvetličarna is closing down at the end of September, the Rog Factory will soon be re-modelled, and the popular Orto Bar has been under threat for years due to the construction of a new bus terminal. Metelkova city has had problems with authorities since day one…. That’s why some fear this is an attempt at taming the ‘alternative’ culture, by giving it a proper – a more controlled and high-class venue, candy to quiet the protesting consumers of a “different” culture in the face of all-round city cleanup. Criticisms aside, along with the more independent choices previously mentioned, Kino Šiška offers a rich and variegated concert/ clubbing venue for Ljubljana.

October 2009


66 CULTURE

Rock, ethno and ballet

Between tradition and contemporary It is always a true delight to see some of the most talented and successful artists in Slovenia join powers and energy to create a concert, performance, or any other kind of artistic happening. by Petra Milič

K

atalena, one of the most unique Slovenian bands will stage a concert where almost half of the concert will be accompanied by 13 ballet dancers of The Slovene National Theatre and the Maribor City Ballet. Their dancing will be under the leadership and choreography of the renowned Edward Clug and Valentina Turcu.

The Phenomenon The story of Katalena goes back to the summer of 2001, when six outstanding musicians brought to life archival folklore material and rejuvenated its rustic image in line with their art rock, funk, jazz, and blues pedigrees. They combined their rich backgrounds with an integral youthful vision that was as much philosophical as it was musical. The members come from different musical backgrounds; from classic rock, folk, blues, to trip hop. Katalena deals with the folk music legacy of Slovenia, reinterpreting and performing it in its’ own way. The basic presumption in the work of the group is faith in the timelessness of folk music, which is, in the band’s opinion, still a part of young people’s lives and a vital tradition. The goal of Katalena is to revive this tradition, to give it a wave of fresh energy, to pull it out of the dusty national subconscious, and present it in a way that is at-ease and unburdened. They have created a very special mixture of rhythms, temperament, of the old and the new. Their music offers inspiration for the young, pride for the elder generation, and much fun for everybody. Many people characterize Katalena as the most inspirational voice of 21st century Slovene folk music.

Ballet Master-in-Chief Contemporary Slovenian ballet artist Edward Clug was born in 1973 in Romania. In 1991 he became the Principal Dancer at the Slovene National Theatre (SNG) in Maribor, where he interpreted The Slovenia Times

roles in the classical and modern ballet repertoire. As a dancer he performed as a guest artist outside his parent theatre, and several times danced in repertoire performances for the Zagreb Ballet. In 1996, famous Slovene director Tomaž Pandur asked him to choreograph his performance of Babylon, with which “a new period of artistic creativity began,” he says. His most famous ballet with the Maribor ensemble was Tango in1998, which was an absolute hit performance. A solo from this performance (‘Blind Tango’) was presented at the international competition in Varna and was awarded the prize for the best contemporary choreography for a period of five years. It also was given a special award for best choreography at the international ballet and contemporary dance competition in Nagoya, Japan, and the award of the Society of Ballet Artists of Slovenia for best dance performance in 1999. These choreographic works were followed by many other, prominent awards as well. Clug danced a tremendous variety of roles with the Maribor City Ballet and as a solo artist throughout the world, and was lauded for his

outstanding skills and noble stage presence. Working with Katalena is not his first experience with folk music, as he performed with Goran Bregović’s Orchestra for Weddings and Funerals, where he choreographed 50 dancers.

Špic-Cvak! The meaning of the title lies in the hybridization of music and dance to be played and performed. Since the band’s inspiration comes from folk music played in Rezija (an area on the border of Slovenia and Italy with a distinct dialect and specific type of music), CvikCvak! – also the title of Katalena’s last album – is an expression used at the end of a Resian song. Špic means standing on tiptoes typical for ballet, although Clug and fellow choreographer Valentina Turcu are specifically focused on contemporary dance. The idea for cooperation is not new. Clug’s first contact with Katalena was back in 2003 when he was developing a solo for a performance in Riga for the celebration of Slovenia’s entrance to the EU. Looking for specifically Slovenian music, he found Katalena’s

first album in a store which inspired him instantly. “There was something distant in this marvelous atmosphere with a very precise composition,” he recalls. Later on, this solo performance was shown on National Television and soon after, Katalena made the next step, inviting Clug to join them at a concert in 2004. This live interaction created even more interesting feelings and was repeated in 2005, when Clug was asked to direct the Awards of the Prešeren Foundation – and amazingly also won this highest prize for achievements in culture that same year. The pieces they put together were inspirational and interesting enough for both, and Katalena and Clug continued working along with Valentina Turcu, also a ballerina and choreographer in Maribor City Ballet. What they are about to present is a rich variety of pure Slovenian tradition with contemporary elements, both included in music as well as dance. It is the kind of spectacle, almost experimental, that we aren’t able to see every day. 12 Oct at 8 pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 17–35


EVENTS 67 Festival

City of Women 9th-18th Oct; various venues, Ljubljana; www.cityofwomen.org. This years’ International Festival of Contemporary Arts – City of Women introduce female artists from all over the world, working in various artistic spheres (stage, music, visual arts, film and video production, art theory). The topic of the 15th festival includes burning questions of contemporary society under the title Global South. The field of culture and art has proved itself far from immune from the general trends of globalisation. The festival will open with a movie Women Without Men (Zanan Bedoone Mardan) directed by Iranian born artist Shirin Neshat, who received a Silver Lion for best director at this year’s Venice Film Festival. The programme will continue with an opening performance Bujrum – Help Yourself by Danijela Dugandžić Živanović, where visitors will enjoy

traditional Bosnian-Herzegovinian dishes, prepared on the basis of ingredients which were available in Sarajevo under siege during the Bosnian War. One of the concert highlights is the performance of an exceptional vocalist, pianist and composer Diamanda Galás.

Stand-up comedy

Michael Winslow 5th Oct at 8pm, Grand hotel Union, Ljubljana, EUR 29 Michael Winslow first achieved prominence on the stand-up comedy circuit in the early ‘80s. His greatest fame lay in his great ability to create over 1,000 remarkably convincing sound effects (police sirens, helicopters, machine gun fire etc.) using nothing more than his voice. This singular skill was

The Slovenia Times Recommends

Slaves to the bass

Every autumn, as the opening of the capital’s clubbing season draws closer, expectations seem to grow higher. Judging by the first performances in the 2009/10 season, the latter will live up to them; in October, the avant-garde Moritz von Oswald trio are playing the recently inaugurated Kino Šiška, while rising Berlin techno master Mike Dehnert will shake the walls of Ljubljana’s beloved K4.

Moritz von Oswald trio

Mike Dehnert

When legendary electronic music producers take to remixing classics such as Ravel’s Bolero and start to appear alongside symphonic orchestras rather than throwing rave parties, this is usually taken as a sign of their emasculation, the quenching of that hard-to-escape thirst for respectability and recognition that supposedly eluded them while they were busy churning out dance floor killers for the masses.

techno fans might be a tad disappointed, hearing von Oswald’s band delve into dense electronic/organic improvisation and taking their cues from jazz and classical music; however, it is nevertheless going to be interesting to see where electronic music greats end up once their hair turns gray.

In Moritz von Oswald’s case that could not be farther from the truth. The man that ushered in the era of dub techno, a slower, deeper variant of techno beat with elements from reggae, in the mid-1990s is used to accolades. His work with partner Mark Ernestus under aliases such as ‘Basic Channel’ and ‘Maurizio’ has been extremely influential, spawning an entirely new genre of music that spread throughout electronic music, from techno to house. In Ljubljana, Mr. von Oswald will be presenting his latest project, a trio bearing his name and composed of himself and two other electronic music pioneers, Sasu Ripatti (better known as ‘Luomo,’ in his clicks-andcuts house incarnation) and Max Loderbauer. Dub

Berlin’s own Mike Dehnert, on the other hand, will make the hair of every serious techno fan stand on end. Although his sound is more polished today than it was on his early releases, Mr Dehnert’s steely bass thump is still going visceral. A resident of Tresor, Berlin’s haven for the lovers of harder beats, Mr. Dehnert has also played swankier venues, rocking the crowd at Berghain, easily the most notorious and decadent club in Europe’s clubbing capital. This year’s season in Ljubljana is shaping up to be a good one indeed. Not only is the city richer for a stateof-the-art clubbing venue Kino Šiška, experienced connoisseurs such as K4’s Elements crew are obviously hot on the heels of the latest trends in electronic music, and hell-bent to bringing them closer to home. Let it begin.

Moritz von Oswald trio featuring Vladislav Delay aka Luomo & Max Loderbauer, Ljubljana, Kino Šiška, 8 October, 21h00, EUR 12 (presale) / EUR 15, www.kinosiska.si Elements present Tresor Nacht with Mike Dehnert (Tresor / Berlin), Ljubljana, K4, 16 October, 23h00, EUR 7 (until midnight) / EUR 11, www.klubk4.org one of the few saving graces of the many Police Academy movie raunchfests of the ’80s, in which he was cast as Sgt. Larvell Jones. As soon as this movie came out, it was an instant success and so was Michael. He then went to play a part in Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs, which helped further his reputation as a unique comedian. Michael was also heard, but not seen, when he gave the voice to Stripe, an evil little creature, in another hit movie Gremlins; he also did voiceovers for Disney and Universal Studios in such rides as Back to the Future

and Terminator; currently you can also hear him in the television hit Family Guy.

Metal

Tarja Turunen 14th Oct at 8pm, Hala Tivoli, Ljubljana, EUR 30 Tarja Soile Susanna Turunen Cabuli is a Finnish soprano, best known as the former lead vocalist of Finnish symphonic power metal quintet Nightwish, which she founded along

with Emppu Vuorinen and Tuomas Holopainen in 1996. In 2005, she was asked to leave Nightwish by the other members of Nightwish, over a dispute that involved a changed attitude and increased financial interest. Now she is devoting her time to her solo career under the stage name of Tarja. She has also appeared in various Finnish television programs. She is seen as one of Finland’s biggest singers, having been called the voice of Finland by Tarja Halonen, the Finnish president.


68 EVENTS Photo exhibition

Photonic Luminatic 14th Oct–15th Nov, Cankarjev dom (Small Gallery), Ljubljana, no admission A presentation of the latest trends in Slovenian photography and a video featuring a selection of artists from the younger and middle generations who have been involved in the wider context of visual art. The photo part of the exhibition is divided into sets of various topics that highlight certain artistic perspectives and methods (from the viewpoint of documentarism, intimism, etc.), while the video selection presents an integral overview of works denoted by a special title – City Perspectives.

Rock

ZZ TOP 16th Oct at 8pm, Hala Tivoli, Ljubljana, EUR 39/44

carping critics. In addition to having produced a fine (but sparse) canon of work, they will also stay in the record books as having the longest beards in musical history (although one member, Frank Beard ironically, is clean-shaven). Whether by design or chance, they are fated to end every music encyclopaedia.

big payday some of their old-running buddies did, their importance on the Seattle scene cannot be underestimated, and their body of work – big, loud, purposefully sloppy, a little bit menacing, and even funnier – has stood the test of time better than their well-known colleagues.

Flamenco

Classical

Anže Palka & New Flamenco Orchestra

Trio Mondrian

17th Oct at 8pm, Cankarjev dom (Gallus Hall), Ljubljana, EUR 15–32 Guitarist and composer Anže Palka and the New Flamenco Orchestra with special guests (Ditka Haberl, Iván Vargas, the Krog chamber choir, ballet dancers from SNG Opera and Ballet Ljubljana and the New Flamenco Orchestra) will open the 3rd International Flamenco Festival, the biggest flamenco event in Slovenia.

Shopping

Festival of shopping and fun Oct 17-18, BTC City Ljubljana, admission free; www.btc-city.com

Formed in Houston in 1970, ZZ Top evolved out of the city’s psychedelic scene and consists of Billy Gibbons (guitar/vocals), Dusty Hill (bass/vocals) and Frank Beard (drums). Over the years, one of ZZ Top’s greatest strengths has been their consistently high-standard of live presentation and performance on numerous record-breaking (financially) tours in the USA. One of rock’s maverick attractions, Gibbons, Hill and Beard have retained their eccentric, colourful image, dark glasses and Stetson hats, complete with an almost casual musical dexterity that has won over hardened cynics and

Wednesday: Sounds of Fusion - pop, rnb, soul, funk with dj Cromatik, dj Semo and Kustur. Thursday: Flashing Sounds - House, pop trash, electronica with resident djs Jr. Gregg, ClemenB and guests. Friday: City Beats - quality clubbing music, house and pop with resident djs Jr. Gregg, ClemenB, Luke de Luxe and guests. Surprises with live performance on sax, bongos. Saturday: Retro night - disco, funk, soul, eurodance, 60-70-80-90s with resident djs Anthony, PINKPUNK and guests. Surprises with live vocal performance.

Wed-sat 22-05 Entry fee from 23h: 6eur Reservation/VIP: +386 (0)40 333 009

The Slovenia Times

This edition of a seasonal festival marks 55 years of the BTC company. Beside special discounts in the BTC shops, visitors can expect a variegated entertainment programme at three venues within the BTC area. Organizers promise a concert surprise at the biggest stage.

21st Oct at 7.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 8–19 The renditions of this Israeli trio are propelled by the innate talent of the musicians: the absorbed playing of the pianist, the virtuosity of the violinist, and the passionate artistry of the cellist that put them firmly in the ranks of the world’s most recognised trios. The young artists create a unique musical tapestry of exquisite sounds that express their extraordinary sensitivity, mature understanding, and rich experience in music making. Trio Mondrian performs regularly in Israel and Europe, and has recently been awarded a fellowship from the Borletti-Buitoni Trust in London.

Trance

Armin van Buuren 23rd Oct at 9pm, Hala Tivoli, Ljubljana, EUR 27–50

Punk

Mudhoney 19th Oct at 8pm, Centre of Urban Culture Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, EUR 20/25

Mudhoney were the first real success story for Sub Pop Records; their indie-scene success laid the groundwork for the movement that would make Seattle the new capital of the rock & roll universe; and they took their sweat-soaked and beer-fuelled mixture of heavy metal muscle, punk attitude, and garage rock primitivism that would become known as grunge to hipster audiences for the first time, who would in turn sell it to a mass audience ready for something new. Though Mudhoney never scored the

number five in DJ Magazine’s Top 100 and hosted his own weekly show on the Dutch ID&T radio station. By the end of 2003, he found time to set the worldwide record for longest DJ set (12 and a half hour at a club in The Hague), finish his law degree, and release his first non-mix CD, 76.

Ethno

Afel Bocoum & Alkibar 26th Oct at 8.15pm, Cankarjev dom (Linhart Hall), Ljubljana, EUR 9–18 Virtuoso guitarist, composer and singer Afel Bocoum comes from the Sonrai country, where music is tinged by the desert and gets its rhythm from the great Niger River. In 1999, Afel produced his first album, Alkibar, recorded during busy Ali Farka Toure sessions. In the beginning of 2006, in the studio of his bass player, Afel recorded his second album, Niger, which takes us once again to the banks of the great river beside his birth town, Niafunke, to one of the sources of the blues. His unique, exquisite and hypnotic style echoes the ethnic diversity of Malian music and upholds Ali Farka Toure’s musical heritage. In 2002, Afel collaborated with the lead singer of Blur, Damon Albarn, on the extremely popular album, Mali Music, thus actively contributing to keeping Malian music at the forefront of the international scene. Between 2004 and 2005, Boucoum took part in the Desert Blues project with Habib Koite and Tartit, a Tuareg women’s ensemble.

Jazz A progressive trance DJ and producer from Holland whose cinematic sound is influenced by synth pioneers such as Klaus Schulze and Jean-Michel Jarre, Armin van Buuren enjoys global recognition and a frantic schedule that takes him all over the globe. A close friend introduced him to the world of dance music, and the Dutch DJ and remixer Ben Liebrand quickly became his main inspiration. He formed his own label, Armid, in 1999 and met Dave Lewis, a man responsible for jump-starting the careers of DJ Tiësto and Ferry Corsten. Collaboration with Tiësto yielded his biggest hit yet on Armid, Eternity, and marathon fivehour sets that brought him more attention. High-profile remixes of Madison Avenue’s Don’t Call Me Baby and Wamdue Project’s King of My Castle followed, and numerous mix CDs were released on United Recordings. In 2002, he placed

Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke & Lenny White 27th Oct at 8.45pm, Cankarjev dom (Gallus Hall), Ljubljana, EUR 25–55 Following last year’s revival of the legendary Return to Forever quartet (Corea, Di Meola, Clarke, White), the story continues this autumn with “the power of three.” After more than thirty years, Chick Corea, a multiple Grammy Award-winning American jazz pianist, keyboardist, drummer, and composer, is returning to Ljubljana triumphantly. He is known for his work during the ‘70s in the genre of jazz fusion. He par-


EVENTS 69 ticipated in the birth of the electric fusion movement as a member of Miles Davis’ band in the ‘60s, and in the ‘70s formed Return to Forever. He continued to pursue other collaborations and explore various musical styles throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s.

Theatre

Pupilija, Papa Pupilo and the Little Pupils – a Reconstruction 28th Oct at 8pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 11–21

Classical

show The Precious Mildew of Pupilija Ferkeverk staged by the Ljubljana Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television students, while the TV Slovenija will broadcast excerpts from the original performance as well as its reconstruction. Cankarjev dom will host the concluding event: the last gala reconstruction of Pupilija, Papa Pupilo and the Little Pupilos.

Takasaki Daiku Choir

Pop

28th Oct at 7:30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana

Perpetuum Jazzile & The Real Group

The choir sings Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 (daiku in Japanese) for world peace. Based in Takasaki City, it has performed since 1974. So far, they have only had five concerts abroad with local symphony orchestras (Heidelberg, Plzen, Nurnberg, Germany, Vilnius). Their overseas concerts are dedicated to carrying joy and happiness across borders, races, languages, religions and history. In Slovenia, they will be accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra of RTV Slovenija; Conductor: Tosihiro Yonezu; soloists: Kikuko Teshima, Mirjam Kalin, Katsumi Isihara, Jasushi Hirano. Buto dance: Tosensho Nišikava; choir leader: Joko Akabane; Joko Sashikata, piano. Featuring members of Primorje’s Vinko Vodopivec Academic Choir.

This shocking gala show will feature week-long festivities in celebration of the emergence of the Pupilija Ferkeverk theatre company. With its short but persuasive oeuvre, it left a distinctive mark on the neo-avantgarde theatre in Slovenia and the former Yugoslavia. At several locations in Ljubljana, various events will be held between 21st and 28th October: the Time for a Revolution exhibition at the City Museum, an international symposium on architecture and avant-garde theatre at the Slovenian Theatre Museum, a monograph on Pupilija Ferkeverk (Slovenian Theatre Museum and Maska Ljubljana), the Slovenian National Theatre Mala drama will premiere a reconstruction of the

1st, 2nd and 3rd Nov at 8pm, Cankarjev dom (Gallus Hall), Ljubljana, EUR 8–25

At this year’s great concert, accompanied by the release of the ensemble’s new album, Perpetuum Jazzile will be presenting several of most attractive and innovative works from its concert repertoire. Typical of this choir, the main part of the programme will consist of songs without any instrumental

background, as all elements are covered by the singers’ voices, including the virtuoso vocal percussions. Last year’s VX concert was characterised by the energetic world of Brazilian bossa nova and samba; however, this year’s show will be marked by popular jazz, funk and disco music. In addition to Slovenian chansons, adapted for the choir by Tomaž Kozlevčar, the voices of Perpetuum Jazzile will also be performing explosive and nostalgic arrangements of hits of popular music legends such as ABBA, Earth Wind & Fire, Billy Joel, George Benson and others. nother equally good reason not to miss this spectacular show of vocal music is the phenomenal Swedish vocal group The Real Group, hosted by Perpetuum Jazzile for the first time in Slovenia. This is a realisation of a dream of many years, as this ensemble from Stockholm represents one of the leading forces behind the development of the world a cappella music.

October 2009


70 sports

Basketball

Proving grounds The Slovenian national basketball team managed to do something it has never done before – reach the semifinals of the European championship and win fourth place in the tournament, missing silver and bronze by just a few unlucky points.

Photo: BOBO

By Andrej Pirnat

The heroes return: Crowds greeting the National team.

W Photo: BOBO

hen Eurobasket 2009 began, no one knew what to expect from the Slovenian side. On paper, the team looked good, but they did so in all the previous tournaments when they never quite reached their potential; they were always eliminated in the early stages. But this year, the new head coach Jure Zdovc, together with

Boštjan Nachbar striking in a fatal match against Serbia The Slovenia Times

his players, announced that this was the year of change and a year when they would finally reach what they deserve. He even went as far to say that anything short of a medal would be seen as a failure. He did not back down from this goal even when he lost some key players – Matjaž Smodiš and Beno Udrih – to injuries in the preparations period. But when the tournament started, all doubts were gone. The team played great and effective basketball, which was exciting to watch. In the early stages, they dominated most of their opponents, losing only to the strong Spanish side and finishing on top after the first and second stage of the tournament. Next in line was the very good and unpredictable Croatian team in the quarter-finals. The game was close and, when it already looked that all the effort and hard work from the early stages will go to waste, Slovenia made a great comeback to come out on top and advance to the semi-finals, where the young Serbian team was already waiting. Unfortunately, due to some additional injuries, which thinned down an already decimated Slovenian group even more, Serbia celebrated after the overtime. A simi-

lar story happened in the bronze medal game, where injuries and some bad luck in the end prevented Slovenia from taking down the Greek team.

Living and breathing basketball Due to the great performances of the Slovenian team, people were living and breathing basketball for two weeks. Wherever you went, it was all people were talking about. Even those who normally don’t follow this sport jumped on the bandwagon. Slovenia was overjoyed over basketball. When the team reached the semi-finals, many people went on a 10-hour trip to Katowice in Poland, to cheer to cheer on the home team as it played its final matches. According to the fans there, Katowice could have easily been mistaken for a Slovenian town, as there were thousands of “green jerseys” walking around. Even fans from other countries were so impressed with the Slovenian performance that they cheered for them. Those who did not go to Katowice prepared a warm welcome for the players and coaches, first at the airport and then in the cen-

tre of the capital Ljubljana, as they returned home. This achievement was like winning a gold medal, as all the guys gave 110 percent in the tournament and really played their hearts out.

“MVP, MVP, MVP...” Throughout the tournament one of the Slovenian players stood out from the rest. Not only because of his height, at 210 cm, but because of his excellent performance from one game to another. He really dominated all of his opponents and nobody was able to stop him - Erazem Lorbek. Whatever the team needed, he got the job done. He scored, he rebounded, he passed and in the end, the most important part, he won. His performances did not go unnoticed, as he was placed among the top five players when the competition ended. If Slovenia would have reached the finals, he would be named most valuable player for sure. The crowds were going crazy for him; whenever he had the ball, people scanned “MVP, MVP!” A truly great recognition for a great young player, and we are already counting the days to see him perform again next year at the World Basketball Championship in Turkey.


SPORTS 71

Table tennis

Double trouble Slovenian table tennis player Bojan Tokič won bronze in the men’s doubles at the European Championship in Germany’s Stuttgart in what is the biggest ever success for Slovenian men’s table tennis. By Andrej Pirnat

B

ojan and his doubles partner, Aleksandar Karakašević from Serbia, brillia ntly played this tournament from start to finish. They did not lose one set until the semi-finals, where they were finally stopped by the unbeatable German “wunderkinder” Tim Boll and Christian Suess. The game was close and for a long while, Tokič and Karakašević were in the lead. But then, playing in front of the home crowd, which started to encourage them more and more, Boll and Suess made a comeback and turned the game into their advantage to take a hard-earned win in the end. After receiving his medal, the 28-year old Tokič remained humble, “By all means we have to be pleased with these accolades, but also stay modest even after such achievement.”

Bojan Tokič at the Jokohama championship, defeating the current Olympic champion, South Korean Seun Min Ryu.

Bitter taste remains From the medal standpoint, this tournament was very successful,

but what stands somewhat is a subpar performance in the singles event. Tokič was eliminated

in the second round, which came even more as a surprise since he reached quarter-finals in the previous championship two years ago. After elimination he admitted that he was very tired and exhausted due to the “killer pace” of the whole competition. He had four matches in a single day, which was a bit much even for him. “This kind of pace is for gladiators, which I certainly am not,” he said with slight anger and disappointment in his words. In Germany, Tokič undoubtedly proved his worth by reaching a milestone that no one in Slovenia had ever done before him. He is now deciding to build on this success and is convinced that he will repeat or even better it at the next big event. C

Kayak/canoe

Athletics

Cycling

Kauzer Wins Gold in WC

Kozmus Can’t Be Stopped

There is Always a First Time

Kayaker Peter Kauzer won Slovenia a golden medal in the kayak single class at the White Water World Championships. Kauzer crowned an exceptional season, becoming the first Slovenian world champion in a single race and winning the country first slalom medal after 2002. However, the gold was not Slovenia’s only medal. Canoeists Luka Božič and Sašo Taljat won bronze in the double event. The last time Slovenia won a medal in this class was in 1963, when Natan and Dare Bernot won silver for Yugoslavia. Having performed well throughout the season, Božič and Taljat were hoping for a place in the finals, but not even the greatest optimists dared to expect a medal.

Slovenian hammer thrower Primož Kozmus, the reigning Olympic and world champion, improved his and Slovenian record in hammer-throw to 82.58 m, also setting a new season best. While he improved on his previous record, Kozmus is still far from his greatest ambition - setting a new world record. The mark was set at 86.74 metres by Yuriy Sedykh in 1986. In addition to setting a new national record, Primož achieved another milestone, as he once again outclassed his competition in a hammer throw event at the IAAF World Athletics Final, defending the title from last year.

Slovenia cyclist Borut Božič won the sprint finish of the 6th stage of the Tour of Spain, becoming the first Slovenian to win a stage in one of the three Grand Tours of Europe. Božič, who competes for Dutch team Vacansoleil, finished ahead of American Tyler Farrar and Italian Daniele Bennati. Other Slovenian competing in the Tour of Spain, Tadej Valjavec, finished 18th.

Volleyball

Competition Proves Too Strong Slovenia was eliminated from the European Volleyball Championships after losing its third game in the preliminary rounds. Slovenia lost against Greece 1:3. After already losing against Spain in Slovakia, Slovenia ended up in the last place in its group.

M

Y

CM

MY

Football

Slovenia Outclass Poland Slovenia cruised to a 3:0 victory over Poland on home turf to stay in contention to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. Slovenian goals were scored by Zlatko Dedič, Milivoje Novaković and Valter Birsa. In the most dominant display of qualifying, Slovenia outplayed Poland in all facets of the game to give themselves an important boost with two matches to go. Slovenia now moves into second place in group 3 with matches against Slovakia and San Marino left. October 2009

CY CMY


72 people

Primož Kozmus, athlete

The reigning Olympic and world champion On August 17th, Primož Kozmus, a hammer thrower, became the first Slovenian athlete to win a gold medal at the World Championship in Athletics. He added this title to that of Olympic Champion, which he achieved exactly one year before in Beijing, China. This was undeniably his third successful year in a row, taking into account these two medals along with his World Championship silver in Osaka two years ago.He is considered the most successful athlete in his event for the last few years. By: Marjan Žiberna, Photos: Stanko Gruden/STA, Peter Kastelic

Early season setbacks

Slovenian sport journalists dubbed Primož Kozmus ‘Primus Cosmos.’ The Slovenia Times

For Kozmus, who turned 30 on September 30th, this year’s start wasn’t very promising. He started competing pretty early in the season, on May 2nd in Warsaw, Poland despite the fact that he sustained an injury during his winter trainings. He finished in fifth place with a relatively modest result of 75.10m, far from Hungarian Krisztian Pars, who won with a throw of 80.52m.

“At the moment, my form is not at the same level as it was a year ago,” he said after the competition, “which is a result of the winter injuries. But they are finally healed now. I expect that I’ll be in top form relatively late; my coach and I expect to peak in Berlin in August. Arch-nemesis Pars has shown once again that he is in an excellent and, even more importantly, consistent form. I expect that he will be my strongest rival again.” Pars won the Olympic silver medal in Beijing, after the disqualification of two Belorussians, Vadim Devyatovskiy and Ivan Tikhon, who had the second and third longest throws after Kozmus. Both violated anti-doping rules; they tested positive for abnormal levels of testosterone after the Olympic final. After Warsaw Kozmus traveled to Brazil, where he won the meet in Rio de Janiero. He competed three times on his Brazilian tour, winning the last meet in Belem on May 24th, and posted a result just under 80 meters – 79.90m. In June and July he continued competing in Europe with varying results, but never exceeded the 80 meter mark. He missed winning in all six competitions where Pars, who dominated the hammer throw before the Berlin championship, appeared. But Kozmus, as always, kept his cool. His resolve was tested only when his back and knee injuries flared up again in July. Fortunately it wasn’t anything serious, so he was able to train and compete, though his results were less remarkable than a year ago. His expectations were fulfilled at the beginning of August in Maribor, at the Slovenian National Athletic Championship, where he surpassed the 80 meter mark for the first time all season with a throw of 80.34m. Kozmus spends much of his time in nearby Croatia, unlike

many top-level European athletes, who travel to milder climatesto places like South Africa, a very popular sport destination for the last decade. At the beginning of August he wrote on his blog on the IAAF (International Association of Athletics Federation) web pages: “Except for a few short “escapes,” I was stuck in Belolasica, the Croatian Olympic Center, for the whole month. There’s probably a nicer way to put it, but living in this small, remote place, literally in the middle of nowhere for a few months, almost leaves one with a feeling of being placed under quarantine for having a dangerous, contagious disease. Apart from the hotel, the training facilities, us athletes, and the forest surrounding everything, you can’t find much more there. Of course describing it like this is a bit of an exaggeration and I’m saying it as a joke, since after all, nobody forced me to train there, it was my own free choice. And like it or not, it is really the best way of concentrating on one goal without the temptations of “civilization,” and focusing my head and body on ‘the’ competition of the year – the Berlin World Championships. The title of World Champion is the only one missing in my collection of medals.” He didn’t avoid expressing his expectations for Berlin openly. As always, he was very clear and selfconfident about his goals. Kozmus

Primož Kozmus, ID Born: September 30th 1979 Residence: Presladol, Posavje region, Slovenia Heigth: 1.88m Weight: 105 – 115 kg Occupation: Professional Athlete Discipline: hammer throw Personal best: 82.58 m


people 73 is an athlete with healthy self-confidence. There is never any conceit in his words, nor has he ever felt the burden of public expectations, based on his statements. In Berlin he backed up his statements: at the stadium which hosted the 1936 Olympic Games, he won with his best result of the year – 80.84m, more than a meter and a half farther than Szymon Ziolkowski from Poland. Pars experienced complete disappointment – in a nervous, “unusual competition” as the steely Kozmus described it; he placed fourth with his worst result of the year, 77.45m. On this occasion Slovenian sport journalists dubbed Primož Kozmus ‘Primus Cosmos.’ After Berlin his form improved until he set a new, national record (82.58m), achieved in Celje, Slovenia at the beginning of September.

Cosmos’ story Primož Kozmus was born in the village of Presladol in the Posavje region, in 1979. But it’s not an exaggeration to say that the story, which chronicles his rise to Olympic and World Champion, started even before he was born. It’s strongly connected with two people, Polde Rovan and Marjan Ogorevc. Rovan, a retired professor of physical education, is a spiritus agens of athletics in the Posavje region, and an enthusiast whose work led to the foundation of the Brežice Athletic Club. Ogorevc, a hammer thrower in 1970’s and 1980’s himself, started a systematic approach as coach of hammer throwers in the same athletic club. One of his protégés was Vlado Kevo, the 11-time Slovene national champion, and a former Slovenian record holder in the hammer throw. He finished his career in the mid-1990’s, after years of hard training. Since he wasn’t able to achieve his goal – to qualify for the Olympic Games – he began his coaching career. A dozen years later his most successful athlete, Kozmus, won the Olympic Games. Kozmus started his athletic career at the age of 13, while still in primary school. At first he was primarily attracted to team sports – handball, football, and volleyball, but later in a Brežice secondary school, he gradually fell in love with athletics. “Even as a youngster I was very competitive,” he says, “Whenever I competed, I tried to win. I dreamed that I’d become an Olympic winner some day ….” At first he tried the high and long jumps, and also sprint events. But he couldn’t avoid the influence of his older sister Simona, a long time national record holder in

the hammer throw. So he joined a group of throwers, led by Ogorevc then, and was quickly noticed for his natural talent. But his beginnings were not that promising – his first attempts were, as he recalls, “catastrophic” which was not surprising at all – at the age of 15 he was a “tiny boy”; at a height of 1.75m he weighed just 68 kilograms. But as a result of strenuous training, he improved his technique and acquired strength rapidly. After some months under the tutelage of Ogorevc, his coach became Vlado Kevo. Over the course of the following years he gradually improved his results, achieving national junior records. At the end of economics high school, when he was 19, he decided not to continue with his studies in Ljubljana, but to stay home and dedicate himself to becoming a world-class athlete. The decision seemed a bit risky – Kozmus was a gifted, dedicated young athlete, but as a junior far from the world-class throwers. But his attitude was highly professional even at that time. “Primož is the athlete every coach only dreams of,” says Kevo. “He’s a well brought up, modest man, always honest with himself and the people around him, but above all very ambitious in athletics. He knows exactly what he wants. And for this goal he is ready to work in a highly professional way and … It’s hard to find a weak point with him.” Soon his professionalism led to success – he was fifth at the World Championships in Paris 2003, and sixth at the Athens Olympics in 2004. After that his career was seriously threatened by repeated back injuries. After a year and half, when he and his team did every-

thing to overcome the problems, he was back. The rest is history.

Future prospects After his Olympic gold last year Primož Kozmus openly declared his ambitions: to become a world record holder. His personal best 82.58m is more than four meters shy of the world record of 86.74m, set by the amazing Ukraine Yuriy Sedykh in Stuttgart in 1986. But, Primož Kozmus is now in ‘the best years’ for a thrower, his early thirties, and has continued to prove that ‘everything is possible.’ The only serious obstacle to improve on his best result would be injury problems. But his goals are clear – in 2010 he would like to win the European Championships for the first time, and in 2012, when the Olympics will be held in London, to repeat his Beijing gold. Only Sedykh has managed to win a gold medal twice in the discipline. Kozmus never forgets to credit his team: his coach Kevo, an Iraqiborn physiotherapist Khalid Nasif, his masseur and nutritionist Severin Lipovšek, and Marjan Ogorevc, biotherapist. Ogorevc, as Kozmus emphasizes, helps him with various techniques such as thai chi to stay calm, mentally concentrated, and self-confident even during the most tightly contested competitions. He also doesn’t forget to mention his teammate, promising hammer thrower Barbara Špiler, who comes from ‘Kevo’s nest’: “Barbara, my younger club colleague who turned 17 this year, won the last World Youth Championships in Bressanone, Italy,” he said. “So the future for now seems bright, and hopefully my fans will continue cheering for her once my career comes to an end.”

Achievements World Championships, Berlin, Germany 2009: 1st Olympic Games, Beijing, China, 2008, 1st World Championships, Osaka, Japan 2007, 2nd Olympic Games, Athens, Greece, 2004, 6th World Championships, Paris, France 2003, 5th

The decision seemed a bit risky – Kozmus was a gifted, dedicated young athlete, but as a junior far from the world-class throwers. But his attitude was highly professional even at that time.

October 2009


Champion in standard and LatinoAmerican dancing Katarina Venturini demonstrates salsa to the curious visitors of BTC city. (Photo: BTC)

Tanya Mirt, a promising eight year old go-kart racer with her favourite toy.

Anthropologist and publicist Jerca Legan getting married to the Government’s Secretary general Milan M. Cvikl. (Photo: Stane Jeršič)

EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY

Ksenija Benedetti, the Chief of Protocol of the Republic of Slovenia speaking at the 35th Conference of the European Management Assistants Organisation. (Photo: Andrej Križ)

Miha Ažman, the CEO of BMW Slovenia at the celebration of Mini Morris 50th anniversary. (Photo: Mediaspeed) Perpetuum Jazzile at the concert in BTC (Photo: BTC)

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