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LIFESTYLE: Enter The Carnival Spirit

The Slovenia Times, Slovenian magazine in English, volume 7, number 125, EUR 4,80

February 2010

Looking Good

Business Services Lend a Helping Hand


2009

Looking for the most popular foreigners in Slovenia

Business Diplomacy Sports Culture

A campaign for building a multi-cultural and cohesive society, for establishing further successful international relations and open-minded cooperation between people of different cultural backgrounds. For the sixth year in a row, Guest Star campaign continues to hold its meetings and continues to draw attention to the people who are making a positive contribution to Slovenia and its society.

2006

Campaign timeline 15th February: Introduction of the nominees 1-31th March: Voting 7th April: Final event

2007

Nominate your candidate! Is there someone you think belongs among the nominees in one of the four categories? Send us their name, position and briefly state the reason for nomination. E-mail: ceremony@gueststar.org

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2008

Organizers

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CONTENTS 

February 2010 4

Panorama

POLITICS

6

Karel Erjavec shakes the coalition

7

Minister of Justice versus the Prosecutors Partners

ECONOMY

10

Business services providers face new challenges

12

Managing human resources in crisis

14

Banks are still reluctant to lend money

16 The future of public relations in Slovenia 17

New opportunities in management consulting sector

18

Interview: Goran Brankovič, CEO of Slovenian Railways

22

Interview: Rudolf Klötscher, BSH

LIFESTYLE

24

The Renaissance of health resorts

27

Traditional masks

30

Hit the Slopes: Maribor Pohorje

32

Dine with style: Shambala

CULTURE 34

The capital: Festivalna dvorana

35

200 years of Chopin’s birth

36

The legend of Slavko Avsenik

38

The Event Guide

43

Interview: Oskar Korunovas, theatre director

SPORTS

44

Andrej Šporn, another downhill ace

2009

HISTORY 45 46

The pioneers of Slovene aviation Every picture tells a story February 2010


PANORAMA

source: STA, Slovenian Press Agency

For Unity, Understanding

Photo: BOBO

The new Ljubljana Archbishop Anton Stres called for cooperation at investiture Mass at Ljubljana’s St Nicholas’s Cathedral, saying his prime job would be to care for “good understanding and unity”. The high-profile ceremony which was attended by top religious dignitaries, senior state officials and members of the diplomatic corps. Stres believes unity should be sought in diversity. While he agrees that unity in diversity is difficult, he believes that it is possible to attain it if there is enough love, unselfish dedication and mutual respect. Stres was inaugurated as the 35th archbishop of Ljubljana by Apostolic Nuncio Santos Abril y Castello. After reading the papal bull on Stres’s investiture, the nuncio presented Stres with a crozier, thus formally investing him as archbishop and metropolitan. Stres, who so far served as the Maribor auxiliary bishop, succeeds Alojz Uran, who asked for dismissal last year. Born in the village of Donacka gora in December 1942, Stres was ordained bishop in 2000. He took over in 2006 the newly-created Celje diocese and became Maribor auxiliary bishop in January 2009. He still serves as administrator of the Celje diocese.

Neighborhood

Charity

Friends again?

Tents to Haiti

Croatian Prime Minster Jadranka Kosor and President Stipe Mesić paid visits to Slovenia in mid January, both underlining in the meetings with their counterparts plans to follow up the signing of the border arbitration agreement with a tackling of the remaining open issues between the two countries. PM Bourt Pahor received Kosor for an informal meeting in Kranjska Gora, with the pair agreeing on the creation of a joint commission which will review and propose solutions to open issues. The two countries will also address Slovenia’s remaining reservations in Croatia’s EU talks, which are related to Croatia’s failure to to fulfil its commitments related to the jointly-owned Krsko Nuclear Power Plant and issues related to fisheries. Pahor and Kosor announced that their next meeting would take place on the Croatian coast. The need for good relations was also stressed by Türk and Mesić as the later paid his farewell visit, before his term ends in February. The pair moreover agreed that Slovenia and Croatia must cooperate in the interest of the region.

Slovenia’s Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief sent 25 tents worth some EUR 70,000 to Haiti to provide shelter for some 300 people who were left homeless in a devastating earthquake. Slovenia decided not to send experts but material aid because of the great distance between Slovenia and Haiti and because of the logistic problems the humanitarian staff is facing there. Also joining the relief efforts have been Slovenian branches of worldwide charities Caritas, Red Cross and UNICEF who opened donation bank accounts to raise money for the troubled country. In a first few days money raised topped EUR 150,000. The media also issued warnings of individuals who reportedly collected money “for Haiti” door-to-door, a practice unknown to any of the official charity organisations.

Photo: BOBO



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Žbogar in Paris Foreign Minister Samuel Žbogar met French counterpart Bernard Kouchner in Paris, highlighting after the meeting talks on strategic partnership between the two countries. A declaration is expected to be penned soon at the highest level, which could be an opportunity for the first visit of Nicolas Sarkozy to Ljubljana. The pair had talked about a number of topics, including Europe, the Balkans bilateral relations, the Middle East and Afghanistan, however they did not touch on reports that Renault was planning to discontinue the production of the second generation of its Clio supermini model in its Slovenian subsidiary, Revoz.

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UNDER THE PRESS  3,2,1... ESA! Higher Education, Science and Technology Minister Gregor Golobič signed in Noordwijk an agreement allowing Slovenia to become a participating state in the European Space Agency (ESA) allowing Slovenian companies, researchers and students to take part in ESA projects. The ESA grants the participant status only to those EU member states that have enough R&D potential to take part in its projects. Golobič stressed that the government was aware of the significance of space research and the opportunities it presented to science and economy: “Slovenia realises that it could never play a leading role in this field. But the fact is that its future lies in distinct specialisations, innovation and the ability to find new business opportunities.”

The Balkans

Nature

A Helping Hand

Wolf Attacks Increase

PM Borut Pahor promised Macedonia a support in its efforts to join the EU and NATO as he paid a working visit to Skopje. He stressed the time was right for Macedonia to resolve its dispute with Greece over the use of the name “Macedonia”. Pahor is said to have become personally involved in the discussion of the issue under the auspices of the UN in trying to help the two sides overcome their differences. During his oneday working visit, Pahor met his Macedonian counterpart Nikola Gruevski, who thanked him for the support and labelled Slovenia a strong friend of Macedonia. He also said that Slovenia had been one of the leading advocates of the measures that saw the EU lift visas for Macedonia, Serbia and Montenegro at the end of last year. Pahor, who was accompanied by Foreign Minister Samuel Žbogar, pledged that Slovenia would continue to provide development assistance to Macedonia.

The number of wolfs attacking small cattle in the southwestern region of Kras has been increasing every year since wolves were first spotted in the area in 1996 after decades of absence. In 2005, the number of attacks stood at 24, while in 2007 it climbed to 177. Last year, however, 251 attacks were recorded, in which 864 sheep, goats or donkeys were killed. Wolves returned to Kras with the spread of forest, which is home to their pray. The estimated damage arising from wolf attacks reached EUR 150,000 in 2009, according to the Slovenian Forest Service.

“The public might get an impression that in the same way relationships used to be sharpened, now they have become a bit too sweetened. I would say that both of us were honest.” PM Pahor at a press conference explaining the relationship between himself and his Croatian counterparts.

“Slovenia has a medieval labour market. Because it is difficult to lay off people, employers don’t employ as many as they could.” PM Pahor, comparing layoff conditions to feudal times.

“If we have feudalism, then we should burn down the castles!” ZSSS Union president Dušan Semolič, on a TV debate how to cope with medieval situations.

Photo: BOBO

Space

“Pope John Paul II often stated that there’s no need to be afraid of the church, the same as there’s no need to fear Jesus Christ. How could a man possibly fear his saviour along with the one who brings the message of the redemption, who makes a promise and includes you?” The new archbishop Anton Stres at his inaugural mass, in front of the president and the prime minster, communicating an attempt to warm relationships with the state.

Press

Masters of Ratings The results of the National Readership Survey show that the most widely read paper in Slovenia in 2009 was free weekly Žurnal (360,000 readers), followed by TV guides Vikend (350,000) and Pilot (334,000), both supplements to dailies. These are followed by free weekly Dobro jutro, tabloids Slovenske novice and Nedeljski dnevnik, and supplement women’s magazine Ona, which all had a circulation of over 300,000 readers. Slovenske novice was most popular among dailies, followed by free daily Žurnal24 and broadsheets Delo, Večer and Dnevnik. Although only five printed media recorded higher readership, the number of the ones that recorded a drop was lower, which shows the falling trend in readership is slowing down. The readership survey, which also includes ratings for radio and TV stations, further showed the two most popular radio stations remained national broadcaster’s Val 202 and Slovenija 1, the third place going to commercial station Radio 1. Commercial TV channels meanwhile took over as with POP TV remaining in first place and Kanal A climbing to second. The first and second channels of national broadcaster RTV Slovenija thus only rank third and fourth. The falling readership trend of the printed media is meanwhile slowing down.

“If a replacement of a single minister becomes a key problem, a topic that is more crucial than the crisis, then there are bad times ahead. I will not speak about second-class topics.” Opposition leader Janez Janša no-commenting the replacement of Karel Erjavec.


 POLITICS

The Government

Now You See Him; Now You Don’t In a surprising move, Karl Erjavec has resigned from his position as Minister of the Environment, shifting the political balance of power within the ruling coalition.

It’s good to be the head of Pensioner party.

E

Photo: Mediaspeed

By Jaka Bartolj

rjavec’s decision came on January 26 after a heated debate in parliament. Erjavec, who is also the head of DeSUS, did not have enough votes to survive a vote on his future. Crucially, he also didn’t have the support of Prime Minister Borut Pahor, who had asked Parliament to dismiss his minister.

In His Court Pahor announced his decision in the wake of a ruling by the Court of Audit that Erjavec’s ministry had failed to establish an efficient system of separate waste collection and had managed its finances poorly. In fact, the Court of Audit formally called on Erjavec to step down. The Court’s Ruling raised considerable objections from Erjavec’s

supporters. It is simply improper, they pointed out, for the judicial branch to interfere with the executive branch in such a matter – violating the principle of the separation of powers. Erjavec even announced that he would file for a constitutional review of the law governing the Court of Audit. However, constitutional scholars were quick to point out that the Prime Minister is not bound by the court’s decision. And that’s precisely what upset Erjavec the most. Janez Janša, the previous Prime Minister, ignored a similar ruling from the Court of Audit. And when current Minister for Science and Higher Education Gregor Golobič was caught in a lie about his stake in a company with government contracts, Pahor forgave him. The harsh punishment given to Erjavec was, in many ways, a break from past practice. This appearance of double standards led Erjavec to argue that the Court of Audit ruling was just an excuse and that Pahor had been trying to get rid of him from the beginning.

A Last-Minute Ministry? Even before the new government was formed in the wake of the September 2008 election, Karl Erjavec and his party were seen by many in the centre-left coalition as a liability. After all, he had served as Minister of Defense in the previous centre-right government during the still-unresolved Patria Affair, which cantered around bribes for defence contracts. The new government, several members of which had been highly critical of Erjavec’s performance as minister, was quick to veto Erjavec’s bid to remain Minister of Defence. However, the coalition needed DeSUS’s support, so Erjavec was offered a consolation post: The Ministry of the Environment. As it turned out, however, the position was somewhat of a booby prize. The ministry had been plagued with managerial prob-

lems for quite some time. For Pahor, having Erjavec take over the ministry had a double advantage: It placated Erjavec and his party, whose support Pahor needed, and it filled a position overseeing a troubled ministry. This dilemma underscored DeSUS’s unique position in the governing coalition. More than just an ordinary political party, DeSUS is also a powerful interest group representing a crucial segment of the electorate – retirees. Its unique position had initially given DeSUS – and Karl Erjavec – a disproportionate amount of leverage. This power was evident when the government initially gave in to DeSUS’s demand on pension increases for thousands of low-earning retirees.

Going Out However, if Erjavec got his ministerial post as a result of DeSUS’s influence, his political power had begun to wane in recent times. One reason was political infighting within DeSUS, which led to resignations and an overall weaker party – a party that could no longer use its leverage to keep Erjavec in power. And despite his popularity among oridinary people, Erjavec had made too many political missteps. One example of Erjavec’s loss of influence is the failure of his candidate to replace him, Matjaž Zanoškar, to obtain sufficient support in Parliament. When Pahor first threatened to replace Erjavec, the Minister threatened to take DeSUS out of the governing coalition. Despite rumblings of dissatisfaction and predictions that the party will reconsider its position, DeSUS will almost certainly remain a part of the governing coalition without Erjavec. As for Erjavec, he has already announced plans to become an MP in 2012. The Slovenian public may not have seen the last of this populist, wise-cracking politician.


Law and order

Minister versus Prosecutor The dispute between the State Prosecutor General Barbara Brezigar and Minister of Justice Aleš Zalar remains unresolved. The bone of contention? The draft of the instructions for the implementation of the State Prosecutor’s order that Minister Zalar has recently put forward but Barbara Brezigar and the prosecutors rejected. by Barbara Štor

L

ast September, Minister of Justice Aleš Zalar imposed extraordinary judicial oversight on the Ljubljana District Prosecutor’s Office, which – according to the Ministry – revealed major irregularities. The Prosecutor’s Office responded that there were merely slight deficiencies, but certainly not severe mistakes. The reason for the oversight was prosecutor’s handling of the proceedings against Finnish journalist Magnus Berglund in relation to the Patria defence scandal. At the beginning of last August, the Ministry of Justice asked the prosecution for explanations regarding the need to take action against the Finnish journalist, who had accused former Prime Minister Janez Janša of receiving a bribe in the 2006 Patria defence deal, especially since the prosecutor responsible for the case threw out Janša’s complaint against Berglund. However,

the prosecution failed to provide the requested information; as a result, the Ministry started the oversight procedure. It suspected serious irregularities and also wanted to investigate the office’s handling of other cases. When the oversight revealed major irregularities, the minister decided to introduce special instructions for the implementation of the state prosecutor’s order. At the same time, he stated that he would not require the dismissal of the State Prosecutor General, although his trust in her, he said, was severely shaken.

Facing Implementation While the position of Barbara Brezigar seems to be safe at the moment, the opposition Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) called for dismissal of Minister Zalar because of his alleged interference with the prosecution’s work. How-

ever, Prime Minister Borut Pahor asserts that the complaints were unfounded and that the minister has carried out its work in accordance with the law; he thus rejected the demand. Dissatisfied, the SDS consequently threatened to file a motion to oust the minister of justice; while the party has not yet decided to actually do so, the initial reactions of other parties suggested that such a move was doomed to fail. The Social Democrats (SD), Liberal Democrats (LDS) and the party ZARES also support the minister, while a vote against him would also probably not be endorsed by National Party (SNS). The whole situation is heavily burdened with two decades of separate if political backgrounds. While Minister Zalar belongs to the LDS, many see Brezigar as a judicial guardian angel of opposition leader Janez Janša.

Photo: BOBO

Rebutted Minister

Barbara Brezigar: Femme fatale?

To cool down the overheated atmosphere, in the middle of January Aleš Zalar called a meeting with the heads of district prosecution offices over the instructions he intended to issue. However, the prosecutors failed to heed his request. Zalar termed their decision “a boycott of the rule of law.” In return, Barbara Brezigar accused the minister of “...threaten-

ing prosecutors with yellow cards before exclusion” and continued by stating that it was important that politicians not interfere with the prosecution’s work and to accept the explanations and arguments given by prosecutors, who know their field. Furthermore, according to Brezigar, “As a representative of the executive branch, [the minister] may not summon the heads of prosecutors, bypassing the Supreme Prosecutor’s Office.” She asserted that by doing so, Zalar had encroached upon the independence of state institutions. The Ministry of Justice replied by stating that the decision of prosecutors would in no way affect the issuing of instructions ordered by the Minister. Trying to bring about reconciliation, Minister Zalar gave prosecutors a chance to prepare their own opinions regarding the instructions and set a deadline to submit their propositions. However, Prosecutor Brezigar has asked the minister for an extension and simultaneously expressed both serious doubt whether she would be able to draw up their suggestions in time as well as hope that the ministry would not implement the instructions until the prosecutor’s office contributed its opinion. The Justice Ministry granted her request. February 2010




Economy

FACTS AND FIGURES

source: STA, Slovenian Press Agency

Looking for the Way Out

Gimme five budget deficit, in % 0

2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Source: SURS

Slovenia’s exit strategy 2010-2013 focuses on measures to cut public spending, with the aim of convincing Slovenia’s creditors and rating agencies that the country is a creditworthy borrower. The strategy, which is being drawn up by a government coordinating group headed by Development

and European Affairs Minister Mitja Gaspari a consolidation of public finances, as well on steps towards stronger flexicurity and structural and institutional adjustments. Boštjan Vasle of IMAD, the boss of the government’s economic policy think tank, highlighted Slovenia’s growing debt abroad. Slovenia took out EUR 3.5bn in loans last year, while a slightly higher figure is also planned for this year. “This is problematic in terms of interest payments. These will climb to more than EUR 500m this year and reach close to EUR 700m in 2011, which is twice as much as in 2008,” he stressed. The government hopes to be able to cut public spending by an additional EUR 600m annually in the coming years, which should be possible by setting priorities and downsizing or abolishing ineffective or low priority programmes. The flexicurity section of the document envisages among other things the introduction of caps for social pension and health care contributions. According to the Finance Ministry, a cap in pension and health care contributions would annually mean EUR 235m less in contributions, which could however be offset with other tax measures. The minimum wage is to be increased to the level of minimum costs of living in three steps, starting with January 2010 and ending in 2012. The first step, in 2010 would covered for by the state with an increase of the general tax relief, while employers would take over in 2011 and 2012. Changes are also planned in the area of student work.

-1 -2 -3

Major structural changes meanwhile involve a reform of the pension system (raising of the minimum and full retirement age, which would

-4 -5

Photo: BOBO

Only a couple of months ago, you would have to look hard to find someone that insisted on cutting public spending as a recipe for dealing with the crisis. Keynesianism was rampant: with overindebted companies and insecure households unable or unwilling to spend, the government was the only bulwark against the total collapse in demand, the adage went. However, without sustainable pickup in economic growth the government could spend itself into bankruptcy, economists warn. Here’s where the exit strategy comes in.

Development Minister Gaspari insists on deep cuts n public spending

become equal for men and women), changes to the system of long-term care, and a health care reform addressing the irrational and uncontrollable costs in health care. On a more positive note, the government said that the budget deficit for 2009 as a share of GDP will be nearly 0.2 percentage points lower than initially planned, at 4.8% of GDP. The general government deficit by EU standards, which includes all public purses, on the other hand, stood at 5.9%. The European Commission had forecast a 6.3% budget deficit for Slovenia in November. The only way out for an export-dependent economy such as Slovenia’s is to increase its exports, however. With competitiveness taking a serious dive last year, this will be hard. While labour costs gradually stopped rising, the drop in productivity was much more substantial. The country found itself at the very bottom in terms of cost-competitiveness in the EU. So it’s either lower wages or less people doing the same amount of work – not a cheery prospect for the country’s battered working class.

Highways

Beverages industry

Krka Ups Revenues and Profit Last Year

DARS Capable of Servicing Debt, For Now

Laško Plans to Start Production In Serbia

Pharma group Krka generated EUR 951m in revenues in 2009, one million more than in 2008. Revenues at the level of the parent company rose by 3% to EUR 850m, while net profit increased by 6% to EUR 170m. The group’s net profit was a few million euros higher. Some EUR 90m of the net profit is the result of releasing the provisions for some patents, especially for atorvastatin for lowering blood cholesterol, Krka CEO Jože Colarič explained.

DARS boss Mateja Duhovnik said that the national motorway company’s debt currently stands at around EUR 4.5bn. While DARS has enough revenues to cover its credit liabilities, 2010 could prove a critical year, she believes. Duhovnik said that higher revenues from toll stickers than expected allowed the company to smoothly service its debt. The company collected EUR 230m, EUR 30m more than projected.

Photo: SCT

Pharmaceuticals

SMEs

Slovenian Craft With 20% Drop in 2009 Slovenian craft and small business were affected by the financial and economic crisis to the extent that the output in 2009 fell by 20% on average, president of the Chamber of Craft and Small Business (OZS) Stefan Pavlinjek said. According to him, the worst is over, since employment has already started to rise. The only area where problems are still expected in 2010 is construction, where all major projects were finished last year. The Slovenia Times

Pivovarna Laško plans to set up a production base in Serbia, the head of the beverage group Dušan Zorko announced. According to Zorko, local presence is a prerequisite for popularity. The CEO is meanwhile considering inviting Laško’s employees into the group’s ownership structure. “Everything is ready, we only need to reach a final agreement with the partners,” Zorko said. He estimates the investment at a few tens of millions of euros, “which is something that we can handle and obtain”.


 Economy

Workers’ rights

Public debt

Economy

Fitch Preserves AA credit Rating for Slovenia

Social Partners Agree on Raise of Minimum Wage

Slovenia Sells EUR 1.5bn Bond Issue

Wages Up By 6.9% in November

Slovenia successfully sold a EUR 1.5bn bond issue in January, mostly attracting banks and assets managers. German, Slovenian, British and French investors showed the most interest in the ten-year bond that has a coupon rate of 4.125%. In less then five hours, 150 investors subscribed for a total of EUR 2bn. Banks bought 45% of the issue, assets managers 26%, and insurance companies 24%, leaving 5% for the remaining investors. Slovenia sold three bonds in 2009: a three-year issue worth EUR 1bn in January, a five-year issue worth EUR 1.5bn in March and a 15-year issue worth EUR 1.5bn in September.

The average net wage in Slovenia increased by 6.9% to EUR 999.49 in November 2009 and was 1.8% higher year-on-year, yet the high increase is mostly the result of extra payments like Christmas bonuses which are usually given at the end of the year. The average gross wage stood at EUR 1,570.53, which is 8.5% more than a month before.

MLM Foundry Generates EUR 3M Loss

Poverty Foundry Mariborska livarna Maribor (MLM) generated EUR 3m loss in 2009, a consequence of the tough economic situation. The foundry’s revenues reached EUR 61m. The management expects the foundry to increase sales revenues by some 15% in 2010. MLM’s boss Branko Žerdoner said 2010 could either bring a EUR 1m loss or the group could break even. The group employs 725 people and it is not planning any layoffs, however it already reduced the number of its employees by 13% between 2008 and 2009. 

Economic diplomacy

Govt Approves over EUR 42M for JAPTI The government approved the financial and project plan of Slovenia’s Public Agency for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investments (JAPTI) for 2010 and 2011. This year the agency will get EUR 42.6m to support international presence of Slovenian companies and to attract foreign investors. Over EUR 40m will go into projects including Slovenia’s representatives abroad, while the remaining EUR 2.5m will fund the agency’s operations, Economy Minister Matej Lahovnik said.

Slovenia with Low At-Risk-of-Poverty Rate The at-risk-of-poverty rate in Slovenia stood at 12% in 2008, which puts Slovenia among the eight countries in the EU with the smallest relative number of people whose income after social transfers was below the poverty threshold, Eurostat figures released suggest. The survey, presented along with the launch of the European Year for Combating Poverty and Social Exclusion, shows that in 2008, 17% of the population in the EU were at risk of poverty.

OECD

Slovenia Could Join OECD in May Slovenia could become a member of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in May, OECD Secretary General Angel Gurria after meeting Slovenian Foreign Minister Samuel Žbogar in Paris. The negotiations are running very smoothly and all formalities could be settled in April, he explained. “I think we are approaching the finish line,” Minister Zbogar stated after a visit to the OECD headquarters in the French capital.

Source: SURS

Too expensive? average gross wage, in EUR Oct. 2004 Oct. 2005 Oct. 2006 Oct. 2007 Oct. 2008 Oct. 2009

Railways

Nov. 2009 0

Govt to Pump EUR 38m Into Railways Operator

500

1000

1500

Car industry

The government has agreed to an EUR 38.4m injection to the debtridden national railway operator, Slovenske železnice, railway operator boss Goran Brankovič said after the company was visited by PM Borut Pahor. “This will save the company from an imminent collapse, but further measures will be required to pull the company out of the red in the long run, said Brankovič. The company sent over 1,075 of its employees on state-subsidised paid leave until the end of June, while further temporary layoffs are expected in the coming months.

Car Sales Drop 21% in 2009 Photo: Revoz

Steel industry

The government and employers agreed to the trade unions’ demand that the minimum wage be raised to the level of minimum costs of living in 2010. However, the cabinet and employers insist on tying this to greater flexibility of labour legislation, whereas unionists demand that minimum wage be increased immediately. The trade unions called on the government to take a position on their demand that legislative amendments raising the minimum wage by EUR 102 to EUR 562 net be sent to the National Assembly now and not together with changes to labour legislation.

Photo: SŽ

International credit rating agency Fitch Ratings has affirmed Slovenia’s issuer default ratings at “AA” with a stable outlook, the Finance Ministry said. Fitch also confirmed for 2010 the short-term foreign currency rating at “F1+”. The rating for Slovenia continues to be based on the country’s relatively well-diversified economy and a stable, transparent political system. Achievements include eurozone membership, which is an asset for Slovenian public finance and country risk evaluation, the ministry recaps Fitch’s report.

The sale of new cars in Slovenia dropped nearly 21% in 2009 compared to the year before, while Renault, Volkswagen and Opel remained the most popular cars. The number of newly registered cars reached 60,951 between January and December 2009. Renault sold 16.94% of all cars, although its sales dropped 13.57% year-on-year to 9,428 cars. Volkswagen sold 5,848 cars, down 22.4% compared to the year before, its market share amounted to 10.5%. The third most popular car maker in Slovenia, German Opel, sold 4,567 cars (8.2%), 29.6% less than the year before.

House appliances

BSH Hišni Aparati Makes Profit Despite Recession The house appliances giant has continued working succesfully throughout the economic downturn with 5% profit increase in 2009 in comparison to 2008. The company increased its workforce in Slovenia by 9%, now employing 1,050 people. In 2009, its factory in Nazarje produced 5.7 million house appliances. BSH Hišni Aparati also managed to open offices in Serbia in addition to its offices in Croatia that opened in 2008.

The Festive Season Discounts – Real Bargains

Translation, Consecutive Interpreting, Proofreading Experts on Technical, Legal, Medical and Other Texts GRAH PREVODI, s.p., Užiška ulica 6, 2000 Maribor, Slovenia T: +386 (0)31 731 006, E: info@grahprevodi.com, www.grahprevodi.com February 2009


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Photo: Dreamstime

BUSINESS SERVICES

Supporting Growth Whether they are riding the wave of an economic boom or grappling with the fallout from a crisis, it is usually exporters, energy companies and real estate developers that get the most attention. The providers of business services that make the market economy purr along come hell or high water, however, tend to get overlooked. Having high-quality business services support operations helps companies weather the crisis and seize new opportunities in the long-awaited rebound. By Marko Vuković and Maja Dragović The Slovenia Times


Hard times: An opportunity? A skilled worked force may still be a hard-to-find asset, but these days, unfortunately, companies are thinking more of cost-cutting than investing in new employees. This may not bode well for those HRM services providers that were doing well only because the thirst of businesses for workers seemed unquenchable in boom times. Other providers, however, may see the demand for their services rise as the economy reels. Tax advisors and accountants, helping companies navigate the flotsam and jetsam of tax codes and complex accounting regulations, are in high demand, especially at a time when every euro counts. It has become a platitude to say that a crisis can also be an opportunity, but at least in the field of business services some companies could come out on top, as their customers move to cut costs and exploit every loophole available to save money.

Not that bad When the fallout from the US financial crisis hit Slovenia in early 2009, the stock market was the first to feel the pinch. With investors fleeing to safer asset classes, share values crashed and mutual funds were bleeding money. Not even a year later, however, the Ljubljana Stock Exchange (LJSE) started seeing the first increases in volume of traded shares. As central banks around the world inundated the markets with cheap money, some of it found its way to Slovenia, giving brokerages and fund managers a much needed boost. Although the reputation of financial firms is at its lowest in decades, the loss of confidence will not hurt all financial services providers to the same extent. Take

Not so explosive anymore producer price indices for selected business services, 2006=100 120

Value for money What also emerged was that clients are now making sure they get their money’s worth, with every single piece of information requested is being scrutinised for its value. “A client will – more so than before the recession – impose strict timing deadlines and fee limits, as well as carefully evaluate each individual piece of advice with respect to whether it is, indeed, helpful,” says Kobe. “Especially in the business of legal services it is now, more than ever, indispensable for a lawyer to truly understand the industry in which the client operates and to be able to produce accurate, lean and business-oriented advice.”

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credit insurers, for example. With loans increasingly harder to come by and an increasing number of companies on the verge of insolvency, it is becoming increasingly sensible (and common) to take out insurance on loans or accounts receivable.

Sorting it out However, is inevitable that some companies will go under. Perverse as it may seem, bankruptcies are not necessarily a bad thing, especially for those business services providers that specialise in insolvency and bankruptcy procedures. When it comes to untangling a web of claims on a bankrupt company’s assets, debt restructuring and selling off viable portions of the business, highly-qualified professionals are required. Judging by the latest efforts of Slovenia’s competition watchdog to make sure that a competitive situation is established on markets as diverse as retail and electricity distribution, it seems that lawyers specializing in competition law will not be sitting empty handed any time soon.

mergers, reflecting the numerous ‘distressed’ mergers of large multinationals taking place these days.”

Q3 2009

explains Vid Kobe of the Schoenherr law firm. However, at the start of the economic downturn, interest for investing in Slovenia fell significantly, but other issues surfaced and different types of legal advice were sought. “Since the recession,” adds Kobe, “the focus of our clients’ interests has somewhat shifted to corporate housekeeping, capital maintenance rules, general compliance with regulatory laws. There is also growing interest in advice with regard to corporate restructuring and the implications of the Slovenian insolvency regime. Also, we have noticed an increase of demand for advice relating to the implications of the Slovenian merger control regime with regard to foreign-to-foreign

The old ways Even though certain changes in the downturn have occurred, one would be naive to think that the change fundamental or permanent. The types of services are evolving and, with Slovenia coming out of the recession, foreign interest is returning. And with them, the old type of advice. “Lately, we are seeing more and more foreign companies returning,” notes Nina Zidar-Klemenčič, a well-known lawyer. “They are primarily interested in investment opportunities and are seeking legal advice on their local operations. With increased foreign investment, we will experience an increased demand for top performance in the business service sector in Slovenia.”

Quite a company number of firms and employed in selected business services in 2008 12000

Source: SURS

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t is not only the companies that profit from a well-developed business services market, however. Marja Torkar’s story is a case in point. A chemical engineer by profession, Torkar had been employed by a Slovenian pharmaceutical company, but then lost her job in a reorganisation. Instead of relying on government-sponsored employment agencies, she decided to throw her lot with a human resources management (HRM) firms. Three months later she got a job with the same drug maker, the only difference being that the new job was better suited to her experience and abilities. “It seems that the agency was very well aware of what my employer wanted and where my skills could fit in,” she explains.

Source: SURS

ECONOMY 11

10000

Shifting priorities On the other side, the crisis has resulted in a decrease of business transactions, such as mergers and acquisitions, hence a fall in demand for legal advice on these activities. “Before the recession, we were mostly advising on transaction structuring within the framework of the applicable Slovenian laws – such as takeovers act, capital markets rules, specific regulatory regimes like the banking, insurance, energy sectors – and accompanying merger control advice,”

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February 2010


12 ECONOMY

Human resources management

Back to Basics The recession has forced the human resource sector to return to their fundamental business model, which is to act as a middleman for employers and job seekers. By Maja Dragović

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Adecco, an international human resources management firm, reported a 35% fall in demand for its services in Slovenia in 2009 in comparison to 2008, with the first half of last year being particularly hard. Moje Delo, a Slovenian employment web portal, also saw a sharp fall in demand for its services in 2009 – an incredible 50%. They observed the biggest fall in industry terms in the metal production industry and the real estate sector. In contrast, the greatest demand for new employees in 2009 was seen in the pharmaceutical industries, as well as IT and insurance sectors. “The companies were employing primarily in the services sector and the value-added services, which - unfortunately - are not in abundance in Slovenia, thus the employment wasn’t massive,” commented Adecco.

Everything’s changed To weather the crisis, changes had to be made. In Moje Delo, they had to cut costs and reorganise certain projects. They also went further, by helping those most in need of their services - the unemployed. Throughout 2009, the company organised free seminars around Slovenia, which were designed to inform visitors on ways of finding employment. Not only did the number of demands for the services of employThe Slovenia Times

The local attitude There is an additional problem in Slovenia that prevents companies from hiring the best candidates. The fact that most small or mid-sized companies do not have a designated HR manager – most HR operations are done by secretaries, directors or managers – shows that the importance of human resource management is not fully taken into account. “Statistics show that one HRM expert is usually there to serve 80 or more people”, explains Ms Treven Bernat. “There are other extremes,” she continues, “we have a media client who decided to employ an HRM expert only after reaching 300 employees”. Industry experts warn that the role of the HRM in Slovenian labour market will have to become more strategic rather than managerial. To cap that, the providers of such services here have to find ways to raise up to challenges left by the recession itself. “The recession has made a longlasting impact on HRM services,“ Dimnik said. “It is hard to have the same level of quality and lower prices, so only those who will be innovative, fast and with the best service will survive.”

With the right attitude, unemployment need not be a curse; HRM agencies are here to help

ment agencies changed - the type of demand has changed, too. Moje Delo is finding that companies are recruiting more carefully and employers are putting more emphasis on keeping their current workforce. They want to retain good people so they want to find out how much their employees are worth in today’s market. At Simobil, for example, they have cut down on using external staff, and are relying more on the internal employees. As a result of this strategy, HRM agencies are being asked to provide advisory services such as assessment centres even for senior management personnel. There has also been a change in the type of employment, with an increase in demand for part-time and temporary employees. This type of employment had been growing rapidly in Slovenia even before the crisis, especially since the country joined the European Union in 2004. “Long-term employment is almost gone,” said Tomaž Dimnik, the business director of Moje Delo.

basic training can be done fairly quickly. But the agencies warn that highly qualified professionals will be difficult to find in the future and the choice in a country like Slovenia will be small. The headhunting agency Trescon says this is not new and that shortage of highly skilled professionals has been apparent in the past decade. Poor employer branding and poor image of some professions have added to this problem, the agency says. But lack of key personnel could only play in the hands of recruitment companies and additionally increase their role in the employment sector. “That si why so many of our searches are headhunting based,” Rising inexorably unemployment, in %

Source: Eurostat

Steep fall

explains Petra Treven Bernat, head of Trescon. “And the fact is that this applies to the search for specialist managers and not general managers.”

Photo: Dreamstime

n 2009, financial sector caught the headlines with cuts and financial losses but the human resources management firms have suffered equally in the economic downturn. Tight economic conditions have heavily shaken the labour market. This is not surpirsing since when a company decides to cut costs, the first on the list has always been streamlining human resources. Of course, Slovenia is no different - it’s unemployment rate has gone up to 6.8% in November 2009 from 4.6% in January 2009 (see chart). The impact is obvious on the government’s spending. But employment agencies have also faced some unprecedented challenges.

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Future problems The current trend with employers is that they only employ new people when there is an immediate need to fill in a position. The employment agencies agree this strategy is appropriate for staff with lower qualifications, where

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featuring

Building a lasting world

In challenging times, you need solid partners and long-term solutions to prepare for the future. Register for MIPIM and: „ Engage with the industry’s key active players,

„ Identify the right partners to finance your projects,

„ Obtain a clear vision of the state of the market,

„ Build strategies and alliances to ensure your company’s steady growth.

t Spotlight on Poland at MIPIM 2010 h MIPIM 2010 will honour Poland, a market that has remained strong despite the crisis. ig 0 l As the Country of Honour, Poland will receive special coverage on the MIPIM website, in publications t 1 0 o and in communications. A series of dedicated conferences and events will increase visibility for Polish S p 2 exhibitors and promote the country’s market potential to an international audience. For further information, please contact us: Paris (HQ) tel: +33 (0)1 41 90 45 20 London tel: +44 (0) 20 7528 0086 New York tel: +1 (212) 284 5141

www.mipim.com

16-19 March 2010 France, Cannes, Palais des Festivals


14 ECONOMY

Banks

Waiting for Better Times Credit is the life-blood of every economy. In the boom years from 2004 to 2007, debt was one of the most important drivers of Slovenia’s economic growth. It not only allowed export-oriented companies to invest into new production capacity, it also fuelled real estate and stock market bubbles. Today, however, banks are stingy with loans; a significant volume have gone bad, making banks wary about lending even though government guarantee schemes are in place. By Marko Vuković

E

conomists warn that the gover n ment has moved too slowly and that the implementation and take-up of the schemes has been half-hearted. Companies say that the government’s actions did not significantly alleviate the credit crunch. This might not be entirely the government’s fault, however. With the recession in full swing, banks have started to screen borrowers more thoroughly, while debt-laden companies have lost their appetite for new loans. Credit growth has thus fallen steeply (see chart).

Troubles in wonderland

The state to the rescue? With the economy still flailing, loans are bound to go from bad to worse. Injecting fresh capital into state-owned banks at a time when private investors are shying away from such investments seems like a good policy. In 2008, NLB and NKBM, the country’s second biggest bank, sold EUR 300 m and The Slovenia Times

NLB’s boss Božo Jašovič (left) and his counterpart at Abanka Aleš Žajdela face tough business environment

EUR 51m of new shares, respectively. The majority of funds were provided by the government as the largest shareholder in both financial institutions. State ownership of the banks has long been an issue dividing economists and policy makers alike. Critics point to the fact that NLB and NKBM extended MBO loans to politically well-connected firms, allegedly accepting less than adequate collateral. Be that as it may, both banks are being gradually privatized. Small shareholders and a couple of institutional investors bought up more than half of NKBM’s shares in 2008, while KBC is looking for a buyer for its share of NLB. It seems that the government will have to think about offering potential buyers more than half of the bank to make it worth their while. Santander, a Spanish financial group, is rumoured to have expressed interest, although it will probably not be satisfied only with the third of NLB now in KBC’s hands.

Fighting the crisis It is now clear that European economies have entered a prolonged period of suboptimal growth. During the boom, Slov-

enia imported far more than it exported, which was possible only because banks bridged the gap with their loans to households and companies. In order to do so, however, they issued bonds and took out syndicated loans on international financial markets; once the latter froze in the wake of the Lehman collapse, funds for continuing credit expansion were nowhere to be had. The government has stepped in with guarantees, but the take up of the schemes has been slow, and

the credit crunch persists. This does not mean that bankers are sitting on their hands. Abanka, Slovenia’s third biggest bank, is planning to merge with Gorenjska banka, thus creating the nation’s second biggest bank. With the European Central Bank’s refinancing rates at their lowest in a decade, money is cheap and liquidity ample. Let us just hope that bankers are not using the money to take over their competitors, instead of helping the economy on its feet.

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

Source: Banka Slovenije

At the end of December, the news broke that NLB, Slovenia’s biggest bank, postponed a EUR 250 m rights issue that would replenish its capital base. With the government being the biggest single shareholder in the bank, that would mean committing a significant amount of taxpayer money. KBC, a Belgian financial group that owns a third of NLB, is selling its stake and is thus not interested in pumping fresh capital into the state-owned behemoth. While NLB’s head, Božo Jašovič, says that the bank needs money for expansion abroad, especially into the markets of southeastern Europe, some economists have warned that the rights issue is more about making sure that NLB gets a sounder capital adequacy ratio. Under previous management, Slovenia’s leading bank was involved in financing a couple of controversial management buyouts (MBOs) that later went awry, not to mention its exposure to the souring real estate market.

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MIPIM 2010

Broadening the Horizons MIPIM, the World’s Property Market, together with MIPIM Horizons, dedicated to fastgrowing regions, will share the billing in Cannes from March 16-19. MIPIM featuring MIPIM Horizons will highlight such markets as Latin America, Turkey, and Africa. According to a recent report by Ernst & Young*, emerging countries are taking advantage of the crisis by delivering sustained growth that is attracting both domestic and international investors. Property professionals have noted this trend, as confirmed by Nadine Castagna, Director of MIPIM featuring MIPIM Horizons: “The first MIPIM Horizons in 2008 clearly demonstrated the growing interest from international property companies in these high potential regions. By incorporating MIPIM Horizons into MIPIM for the first time this year, we offer an opportunity for all our participants to meet key new players from these

Exclusive in 2010: MIPIM will feature the second annual MIPIM Horizons, the world’s property market for fast-growing regions. Discover potential opportunities in emerging markets through special projects, conferences and events.

areas who come to showcase their dynamic property products to the rest of the world.” Major real-estate developments from these areas will help expand the MIPIM exhibition hall this year. Flagship projects include the Sport Cities International Tunis project (Tunisia), a sports-focused real estate development, which will be presented by the Bukhatir Group. Nicaragua Developments (Nicaragua) will exhibit its luxury Seaside Mariana resort, located on the Pacific coast. The developer Sbt Juul (South Africa) will unveil the Monte project, located in the Rivers State (Nigeria) and directly inspired by traditional Tuscan villages. The 2010 conference sessions will be specially designed to probe deeper into the particulars of these markets, often perceived as hard to penetrate by professionals, and highlight potential investment opportunities. For example, case studies will be dedicated to countries such as Brazil, which will promote the infrastructure to be de-

MIPIM, the world’s premier real estate market for more than 20 years, brings together the most influential players in the global property sector, offering unrivalled access to the greatest number of development projects worldwide. veloped for the 2014 World Cup Finals and the 2016 Olympic Games which it is hosting. Another session will focus on the extensive redevelopment plan launched in Morocco. This national program factors in sustainable development criteria and is intended to create new urban areas and open up traditional rural communities to meet the country’s new needs. Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey will also be analysed.

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* Globalization 2.0 Report published on December 15, 2009, Ernst & Young - “Emerging markets: towards a new global architecture.”


16 ECONOMY

Public Relations

Creating Opportunities  The recession has provided the public relations industry with a unique challenge: dealing with a simultaneous increase and decrease in budgets. While some companies have poured more money into PR, reasoning that communications activity can help retain their market share during the downturn, others have severely cut the amount of money they dedicate to publicity. But the industry is coping in the way it always does: through creativity.  By Claire Read and Lucija J. Millonig

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n the years of economic boom, Slovenian business PR services thrived. Some saw it as easy money - especially in a country where people like to see their name in the paper, whether the news is good or bad. But the reality was that the industry was already facing a significant change: the rise of new media. The power of traditional means of communication was suddenly dwarfed by the collective power of the internet - first blogs, podcasts, now Facebook and Twitter. PR professionals had to find new ways to represent clients in the best possible light. 

More money, less money Just as the industry had started to grapple with that challenge came a new one: recession. Whether clients cut or increased budgets, one factor remained constant - they expected value for money more than ever before.  »Since the recession, clients have become more careful when choosing their PR representation,«

The Slovenia Times

says Barbara Tomšič of the Etre PR agency. »They are also becoming more demanding. For the money they pay, they want innovative and well researched campaigns.«  »Without a doubt the coming years are going to be demanding because clients have higher expectations,« a spokeswoman for the PR consultancy SPEM says.  But both organisations see the situation as an exciting creative challenge.  »For us, this [situation] mainly means being creative and fresh when it comes to looking for new means of communication,« SPEM say.  Ms Tomšič believes it leads to a stronger bond between agency and customer.  »The agency is actually able to delve deeper into a brand, follow the brand, and thus have better communication with the client,« she says.  Only the strongest will survive Inevitably, not all agencies will be able to develop this kind of relationship.  »What will set apart the PR winners from the losers is a deep un-

Projecting an attractive public image has become increasingly important for businesses in all sectors of the economy

derstanding of clients’ business needs, their business reality and an ability to adapt PR services [to them] with proven and measurable effects,« says Marjeta Tič Vesel, PR director at communications/ consulting firm Pristop.  Large companies are diverting their attention from traditional marketing platforms to new media where costs are significantly lower so it will be vital for PR firms to have mastered new media

Size doesn’t matter In Slovenia, many of the agencies facing these challenges are relatively small. It might seem that such organisations - already dealing with limited resources before the economic downturn - don’t stand a chance of weathering the storm. But so far that’s not proved to be the case. Again, challenges seem to result in creativity.  »I don’t think the size of the company is a measurement for success,« comments Ms Tomšič of Etre PR. »Maybe in smaller com-

panies employees are under more pressure but they are also more creative since they get straight into the project rather than having the briefing session delays one has in a bigger company.« 

Trust me And with the status of corporate managers falling greatly during these economic difficulties - a recent poll published by Finance Daily showed that only 48% of the general public in Slovenia trust corporate managers - there are plenty of opportunities for PR teams to unleash that creativity. Increasing numbers of companies are turning to public relations professionals to repair their damaged public images.  »Last year the demand for internet communication, management of social media, crisis communication, conflict management, and internal communication all increased,« explains SPEM. »Crisis communication is often the reason for hiring a PR agency.«


ECONOMY 17

Management consulting

Adaptability Is the Way Forward When Slovenia joined the European Union in 2004, there were plenty of benefits waiting to be reaped, not least for the consulting industry. Already booming, the industry saw new opportunities surface with EU membership, with domestic companies looking to expand abroad and international companies looking to establish themselves in the Slovenian market. But last year came recession, and with it a corporate culture of “do more with less”. The question for the consultancy industry: will firms still have a need for consultants as they did before 2009? The surprising answer: yes. By Claire Read

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he numbers are striking. Statistics from the European Federation of Management Consultancies Associations show that in the 1990s, the Slovenian management consulting industry had an average growth rate of 13% a year. 2005, the year following EU membership, saw an additional 9% growth, generating a EUR120 million profit for that year. 2007 saw the industry grow by a whopping 19,5%, and in 2008 the trend continued with 17% growth.

2009. Recession. And with it unforseen challenges for consultancy companies across the globe. Slovenia was no exception: the fact that in 2009 the consultancy sector is expected to have grown by 1-3% following years of double-digit growth speaks for itself. But even though it’s been modest, there has been growth. How has it been achieved?

Driving factor The answer can be summed up in one word: adaptability. With the market as a whole changing, consultancy agencies had to change with it. Mr Janko Arah, head of Arah Consultancy in Ljubljana, points out that in the recession period there were more company liquidations than startups, and more terminations of employment relations than new employment. So the challenge for consulting companies was to adjust its activities to the new market demand. Deloitte, a global consultancy firm with offices in Slovenia, noticed similar changes. They describe «a significant increase in requests for risk management, human capital, fraud protection, and strategy realigniment« during the economic downturn. «Overall we have seen a significant trend toward the public sector, an increase

Photo: BOBO

A different ball game

in competition for tenders, and a realignment of pricing“, a spokesperson added.

Self-analysis This fall and change in demand has brought about an unexpected benefit, industry insiders say: a fundamental re-think of the sector from within the sector itself. Most agree this has been crucial given that the finger of blame for the recession has often been pointed at the consultancy industry. «Recession is not a Slovenian phenomenon – it is a global problem with global and local roots«, said Mr Arach. «In my opinion, very ‘innovative’ consultants who have advised bank managers, insurance companies and other American or global players contributed to the economic downturn by promoting and supporting unrealistic business decisions.«

Strategic position There is no doubt that the recession has posed challenges for business. But by being flexible and adaptable, it’s a challenge which many companies have managed to meet – consultancy firms included. Slovenian consultancy firms believe that they are in a better position to emerge from the crisis stronger than in some other European countries, such as Portugal. They belive their strength lies in their good market position and prospective foreign markets such as southeast Europe. Mr Peter Kraljič, of McKinsey consulting group, predicts that the growth of consultancy firms is far from over. «The demand for consulting services will grow in line with overall economic and industry growth,« he says »yet probably also with increasing regional differences, reflecting growing yet different needs.«

Peter Kraljič, a McKinsey legend, thinks that consultancy business is not in a recession

Slovenian consultancy firms believe that they are in a better position to emerge from the crisis stronger than in some other European countries

February 2010


18 ECONOMY

Interview: Goran Brankovič, Slovenian Railways

Assuming an Active Role Goran Brankovič has no easy task ahead of him. At the beginning of October, he became the eighth CEO of Slovenske železnice (Slovenian Railways) in the last five years. He took over a railway monopoly that is overburdened by debts and losses. The Slovenian government (the owner of the company) promised at the beginning of this year to provide millions of euros to help the company avoid bankruptcy. Brankovič is nevertheless confident that the company can become a successful logistics player, but some conditions need to be met. Until then, he is just trying to find as much business as possible for the company. A small success in this regard is his recent meeting with the CEO of Deutsche Bahn, which is especially interested in cooperation with Slovenske železnice in the field of cargo traffic. By Luka Vodopivec

Photo: BOBO

Shortly after becoming the CEO you announced an internal reorganization and increased sales in the field of cargo traffic, which is the activity with the biggest losses for the company. When do you expect to see more concrete results of your actions? It is true that cargo traffic is our only money-losing activity, but this is significantly connected to the economic crisis, because 90 percent of the cargo is transported in international traffic. Together with my co- workers, I have been paying the utmost attention to cargo traffic. Our goal is to adapt the operations to the new conditions as quickly as possible and try to seize new opportunities. The measures that we are carrying out include enhancing the capacities of our sales team, expanding operations in the field of full logistics services, greater attentiveness for the needs of the buyers, partnership with the port Luka Koper, expansion of activities abroad and expansion to the new markets in south eastern Europe. We are also developing a modern logistics terminal in Moste, optimizing the operation processes, enlarging productivity and rationalizing material costs. All of these activities should eventually bring some positive results.

The Slovenia Times

How do you plan to approach the small number of competitors that could quickly take a bigger piece of your market share? You said recently that there is a danger of losing up to 60 percent of the market. We cannot delude ourselves; competitors have already taken away some market share. This is logical, because our biggest competitor is a company from Austria, a county that is connected to almost half of our cargo. The advantage of our competitors is undoubtedly that they are more adaptive and more cost efficient, because they have only recently


ECONOMY 19

How, in more concrete terms, do you plan to provide full logistics services? Slovenske železnice must become a technologically advanced and cost-efficient logistics provider and in this regard we must look abroad. Our multisystem locomotives enable us to transport cargo to almost every European country. We are currently waiting for permission to start using railways in Austria. We are also expanding our cooperation with companies from the Balkan countries and Germany. Our aim is to be able to provide quality service for the whole cargo route. The mentality of the staff needs a definite change: no more just picking up orders and waiting for the buyers to contact us. These are the first concrete steps; others will follow suit. We don’t anticipate immediate positive results, but we are heading in the right direction. Is it at all possible to secure the successful business operations of Slovenske železnice, if the current company structure is to remain the same? The structure of the company needs a definite adaption. Reorganization will be a result of precise analysis, so I decline to speak off the top of my head and give rough assessments. I believe that the employees need to have responsibilities and a mandate. We need to monitor their work and both take action if they are not successful and reward them for doing well. We need to motivate them. Reorganization, together with financial consolidation and greater income from cargo traffic, is definitely urgent, because the current system will not survive in the long term. Neither the Ministry of Transport nor the Slovenian government have yet announced which of the models for the reorganization of Slovenske železnice they will carry out. How much information do you have on their planned decision and, in your opinion, which model is the most suitable? The three models you are talking about are: making a uniform company or a holding or splitting

Photo: Slovenske Železnice

started their business. It is no secret that they can attract the former staff from Slovenske železnice, because they can promise them better work conditions. Nevertheless, we are confident that we can match the challenge. We will not be passively waiting for cargo; we are assuming an active role on all company levels. I am personally assuming the role of the lead sales person of the company. I constantly travel abroad and look for new business anywhere I can.

up the company and having separate infrastructure and transport operations. The decision is in the hands of the owner. Prime Minister Borut Pahor said that the study made by the company KPMG does not represent the final decision of the government. The government also believes that all the participants that will take part in the company reorganization should also give their opinion. We will discuss all of the possibilities, but the fact is that if the current work practice continues, we will not be efficient in any of the system. I do not wish to prejudice a solution; I wish to decide only after all of the facts are clear. When do you plan to confront the powerful company unions who oppose any company reorganization? The unions are an important part of Slovenske železnice. They are loud and efficient. They are doing their job very well. I neither view them as opponents or enemies. I believe that they also generally support the interests of this company. Thus we will be looking together for the solutions that will benefit the company. What is your opinion on the idea that the most important Slovenian companies in the field of logistics should integrate to provide more efficient full logistics services? Railways and road carriers are not just competitors, but also partners in the logistics chain, together with forwarding agents, ports and land terminals. Logistics is an integrated activity and providing just railway transport cannot meet the demands of the majority of buyers or be competitive on the full logistics services

market. There are several ways or means of cooperation among the logistics companies. For defining a concrete model of business integration, clear roles, expectations and strategies for individual companies should be decided. The Slovenian government emphasises that potential partnerships with foreign companies will take place after the company reorganises. The German railway company Deutsche Bahn has been appearing as potentially the most promising strategic partner for some time now. The recent Slovenia-Germany government agreement on the cooperation in the field of the railways development is also another confirmation of that. How do you view this potentially strategic partnership? The basis for any strategic partnership is firstly the stabilization of the conditions inside of Slovenske železnice. Setting aside reorganization and strategic connections, sales and marketing activities also need to start with Deutsche Bahn, who is already a good partner. We do not wish to attach ourselves to a specific company in advance, so the contract on the strategic partnership is something completely different to everyday business cooperation. In the coming years, Slovenia together with the help of the EU plans to invest as much as nine billion euro in the railways infrastructure. How does Slovenske Železnice plan to seize these big investments? Slovenske železnice, of course, welcomes the announced investments and hopes that they will be realised as soon as possible, as they will enable us a further development that is hindered by the

With less and less passengers, public transport division has been making losses

Our goal is to adapt the operations to the new conditions as quickly as possible and try to seize new opportunities. The measures that we are carrying out include enhancing the capacities of our sales team, expanding operations in the field of full logistics services, greater attentiveness for the needs of the buyers, partnership with the port Luka Koper, expansion of activities abroad and expansion to the new markets in south eastern Europe.

February 2010


20 ECONOMY

Photo: Slovenske Železnice

Modernization of the railway’s infrastructure and building new infrastructure in Slovenia has been running late for at least 15 years. In the first period after independence, this made sense, because all of the structures needed to be established, but later on this delay caused major damage for the whole Slovenian economy, not only for Slovenske železnice.

Railway infrastructure will almost certainly stay in state hands

current infrastructure. First of all, we expect the quick and efficient abolition of current bottlenecks and slow rides. All main and some secondary railways also need to allow bigger axle burdening for up to 22.5 tons. We also wish the main railways would enable speeds of up to 160 km/h. All of

26th and 27th March 2010, 9 a.m.−6 p.m.

Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre (Gospodarsko razstavišËe) Ljubljana, Slovenia www.proprio.si

The fair which gatheres all relevant information on real estate buying, selling, renting and restoring.

Organiser:

Event partner:

the main railways and some of the secondary ones should be electrified, the sections of the main railways should get a second railway, signal and security devices should be modernised. How do you view the railway infrastructure investments in regards that Austria has been lobbying at the European Commission to divert the railway part of the so called 5th corridor through Austria? Modernization of the railway’s infrastructure and building new infrastructure in Slovenia has been running late for at least 15 years. In the first period after independence, this made sense, because all of the structures needed to be established, but later on this delay caused major damage for the whole Slovenian economy, not only for Slovenske železnice. Lobbying is completely legitimate; there is a special meaning to it, if it is being done by a government for a specific economic branch. At Slovenske železnice, we wish that the responsible government authority would lobby for Slovenia’s rail interests at the European Commission. Our role as a company in preventing these attempts to divert the cargo is to offer the quality service and a proactive marketing approach, but all this is connected with the state of the infrastructure. Thus, we welcome the declarations from the prime minister and Minister of Transport Patrick Vlačič that the railways will be Slovenia’s infrastructure priority in the following years. How could Slovenia’s government quickly secure a bigger diversion of the cargo traffic from the

roads to the railways, bearing in mind that carriers’ lobby in Slovenia is strong? The government can, with various measures of its active transport policy, significantly influence the diversion of the cargo from roads to railways, because this is also one of the goals of Slovenian transport policy. In this regard, the government should include this in its attempt to achieve its environmental goals. When talking about measures, we should not consider only the compulsory ones, but mostly the ones that would stimulate railway traffic, such as combined traffic or transport of dangerous cargo. The participants of the Copenhagen conference made it clear that concrete measures that would affect the costs of using a specific means of transportation need to be taken. It is important that suitable infrastructural conditions for this kind of transport are established. We are also aware that the government needs to have a holistic economic policy to provide answers for the road carriers when the cargo is diverted from roads to railways. We should also consider how railway and road transport could become partners offering full logistics service and not just competitors. Under ideal circumstances, when do you think Slovenia could become a European or world leader in the field of railways logistics service? If we put things into realistic perspective, we can say that our goal for the following ten years is to become an important partner in central in south eastern Europe that provides full logistics services.


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22 ECONOMY

Interview: Rudolf Klötscher, BSH Hišni Aparati

Sustainability is the key to success Last year was undoubtedly one of the most difficult years companies have faced in modern times with many titans perishing. This wasn’t the case BSH Hišni Aparati, a subsidiary of the international Bosch Siemens Home Appliances Group. In fact, this company, located in Slovenia and responsible for nine countries in the Adriatic East region – including all countries of the former Yugoslavia as well as Albania and Bulgaria – managed to achieve a 6% increase in turnover in 2009. This is reason enough to talk to company CEO, Rudolf Klötscher. By Maja Dragović term strategy. Within our group, there are no dramatic changes in this field and – because of this sustainability in management and employees – BSH is also investing in the profits of the people in the future. This becomes obvious when you look at what we have done in the last ten years. Only last year we introduced an energy-saving tumble dryer that is in a class of its own (A-50). We also produce washing machines and dishwashers that use between 55%-70% less water and less energy. This wasn’t done overnight; our group has been working on it for 10 to 15 years. This is what I mean by sustainability. For these efforts, the BSH group received the Sustainability Award in 2009.

When there is an economic downturn, it is the household appliances that generate profit for the trade and the endconsumer. The Slovenia Times

What is, in your opinion, the reason behind the success of BSH Hišni Aparati? I guess one of the main reasons is our corporate strategy which is based on sustainability. Sustainability is connected to different parts – people, products and the company as a whole. If a company, for instance, has a change in management every one or two years, or a high employee turnover, it would be hard to follow a long-

With such a strong global presence, were you affected much by the recession? Recession – that bad word of 2009 that started in the fourth quarter of 2008. Of course, the BSH group was affected, because we have a strong presence in the UK and Spain: countries badly hit by the economic downturn. But luckily we didn’t feel these huge and dramatic changes more than any other sectors. You might say the business of household appliances is not a ‘’sexy’’ business – like working for Apple where you can develop some fancy gadgets – but it is a stable, continuously growing business. When there is an economic downturn, it is the household appliances that the trade and end-users look to in order to make money. Prices for mobile phones fell by 30% or 40%, but prices for washing machines, ovens, or fridges are giving the trade a sustainable profit. What would be the strongest growth area for BSH Hišni Aparati in regional terms? The most growth for us was in Croatia. But even more impor-

tant is the fact that in Slovenia, Croatia and Serbia, we also grew in 2009, compared to 2008, which in itself was an excellent year. We were again able to increase market shares in all countries, despite the fact that all the markets were shrinking dramatically. In addition, we employed 90 new people in 2009 – 20 of them in research and development – and we are planning to employ an additional 20 experts in technical fields for new projects. Many complaints are heard from foreign companies, as well as local ones, that the costs for businesses are too high in Slovenia. Do you agree? Our production site Nazarje in Slovenia has been in operation since 1970. So this year, we are celebrating 40 years of the factory. Due to successful collaboration, this factory was taken over by the BSH group in 1993 and since then it has been an important part of the BSH group, not only for production, but also for research & development. So, Slovenia for us is an important location for the rea-

BSH Hišni Aparati factory in Nazarje celebrates 40 years of production in 2010


ECONOMY 23

Almost six million small household appliances are produced in Slovenia and sold all over the world.

sons mentioned but also for sales and marketing. That said, the cost topic is making me nervous because Slovenia is no longer a lowcost country for production sites. The government has to be careful in finding solutions for the recession. If you just increase taxes, we have to pay for products. And if people are not able to pay an upgrade price for products because production costs are higher, then it is obvious what companies will do in such situation. It is understandable the government needs to find money to pay for the handling of the increase in unemployment, but raising taxes for fuel and, probably energy is not smart in my opinion because it is just a “quick fix”, not a long-term strategy. So what are the advantages of having a company in Slovenia? Obviously, there are a number of advantages; otherwise we wouldn’t be here for such a long time. We call it “the 4 Q’s”: the quality of workforce, the quality of infrastructure, the quality in the regional location and connection to the ex-Yugoslav and eastern Europe markets; and, of course, the quality of life. Finally, it is im-

portant to add the economical and political stability. Would you single out a product from BSH that you would say is the best at the moment? One of the reasons you start working in this field, like I did, is that you have to love all these products, whether it’s a major domestic appliance or a small household appliance. I, personally, am really proud of the new full automatic espresso machine, developed and produced here in Nazarje, which is a highly complex product, made up of 450 parts. This is one of the most complex appliances we have in the entire Bosch Siemens Home Appliances group. And it is important to emphasise that this amazing product is, like nearly six million small household appliances, produced right here in Nazarje and sold all over the world. The reason I emphasise this is because many people don’t know that, and they probably think the production is done somewhere in Asia.

This is not the case in Slovenia. I believe it would be very interesting and beneficial for students to get some first-hand information of practice from such multinational corporations, to add to the theory taught at the university. So, do the students from engineering courses come to BSH for work experience? They do, but they call us directly, it is not organised by universities. For example, last year, we had requests from German universities for their students to visit the factory here, but we had no requests from Slovenian universities. And we are definitely interested in working more closely with universities here – not just from the technical side but the commercial side, too.

We were again able to increase market shares in Slovenia, Serbia and Croatia, despite the fact that all the markets were shrinking dramatically.

Nazarje has a reputation for filing many new patents. Does this represent small patents to the existing products or entirely new patents? They are patents for new products. Just in the new coffee machine, we have many new patents. This also shows the highly innovative and creative atmosphere we have at BSH in Slovenia; when you have that, you will attract the best engineers and the results are excellent. How closely do you work with Slovenian universities in employing your workforce? We work with the university in Maribor on the technical side and we also support some student theses. However, there is weak communication between the university and top management. In Germany, for example, where I give lectures at a university, it is a norm to invite people from corporations to participate in courses.

The new coffee machine is a highly complex product that is made up of 450 parts February 2010


24 TOURISM

The Renaissance of Health Resorts Natural health resorts are coming to the forefront of the Slovene tourist offer. In spite of an unfavourable market situation, last year can be declared successful.

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love ne hea lt h re sor t s scored a good result in the last month of 2009, mostly through arrivals and overnight stays of foreign guests. Reading the records, there were 7% more arrivals and 2% more overnight stays than in the record month (December) of 2008. Foreign visitors’ increase is undoubtedly a good prospect for the beginning of 2010, even though before that, a domestic-and-foreign guest ratio has tilted in favour of domestic guests. Most of foreign guests in Slovenia were the Italians, 87,200, followed by Austrian visitors, Croatian ones coming third, followed by the Germans. One third increase of Serbian guests in health resorts is very pleasant news, apart from noticing again

The Slovenia Times

an increase in Dutch, Czech and mostly Russian visitors. The latter are the most sought for since their stay lasts over 10 days on average. Reasons for such good statistical results are mostly a very intensive investment period of the past few years and thus obtaining new capacity both in accommodation complexes and bathing-wellness facilities, as well as remarkable adaptability of sales services to new trends. At the same time the last year was characterised by numerous sales promotion campaigns in the domestic as well as foreign markets. The spas association sees big future potential on markets of China, India, the Middle East, where promotional activities have been focused.

According to a statement by the Slovene Spas Association, financial indicators in many spas will be, unlike statistical ones, somewhat worse nevertheless - namely, prices had to undergo appropriate corrections due to extremely intense competition. Hungary should be singled out since a 30-percent devaluation of its currency in the middle of last year, made it instantly more competitive for the same per cent. In addition, new facilities in Austria have reduced prices ( due to poor visit) to stop negative trends. The effect of the economic crisis has been partly manifested in a decrease of out-of-hotel consumption. Very intensive marketing activity, efforts of certain spas (also searching for new markets) as well

as a number of campaigns, also organised by the Slovene Spas Association, give us a legitimate expectation that also 2010, though not an easy year, will yield a positive result and therefore boost health resorts’ position as the best tourist product being responsible for a third of all stays in the country. Characterised by domest ic guests and renovations Let’s take a look at activities of major health resorts: Terme Čatež Spa have set up in the summer, on a scenic spot by the lake, an Indian village with 25 tents, providing 100 extra beds; enlarged a campsite; and erected 30 new superior apartments. Further, Hotel Žusterna in Koper has upgraded its Aquapark. In 2009, one of more important investments of Terme Krka Spa has been the opening of an extended golf course in Otočec, having been declared the best in Slovenia for the second consecutive time. The course now covers more than 75 hectares of surface. Apart from that, their coastal property has been renovated, too. Terme Podčetrtek Spa have opened the Wellness Orhidelia increasing the water surface for additional 2,000 m2, thus extending their offer to a total of 10,000 m2 of a usable area within the complex. In the raging crisis, spas in the North-Eastern Slovenia (Terme 3000, Zdravilišče Radenci, Terme Lendava, Terme Banovci and Terme Ptuj) have directed their marketing focus mostly on inviting domestic tourists, a move that has paid off. Their campaign was also helped by resources from the state’s tender and the opening of the Pomurje motorway. There has been predominantly an increase in interest from the markets of the former Yugoslav republics. An important acquisition is the opening of a refurbished hotel in Radenci, the oldest hotel for the heart and veins rehabilitation in Slovenia, a symbol of the beginning of Radenci’s spa activity.


TOURISM 25

Ten years of Thailand in Portorož

Lifeclass Hotels & Spa in Portorož are home to the unique wellness centre, Wai Thai, which has brought the exotic to Slovenia. Their rich offer of health, wellness and spa programmes is unparalleled in this area. Wai Thai, one of the most successful wellness centres, has been active for the last ten years, continually evolving and progressing. At the very beginning, the leadership at the Morje hotels became aware of the fact that people are under more and more stress and thus need something more on their days off. The solution was a wellness centre that aimed to restore peace, harmony and inner balance of their guests. No wonder it was accepted with such enthusiasm and has enjoyed great success ever since its opening in 2000. The centre offers traditional Thai massage in authentic Thai ambience, as well as a variety of other relaxation and wellness programmes and natural body and facial care. From the very beginning, the masseurs working here have all been professionally trained Thai masseurs, chosen in cooperation with the Thai Ministry of Labour. A few words on Thai Massage itself are in order. In Thai, it is called Nuad Bo Rarn, and it stemmed from a wish give pleasure to a loved one. It is based on the concept of ten most important energy lines running in the human body, along which acupressure points are dotted. These are tellingly called windows into the body, since they allow a fine-tuning of vital energy. Disruptions of the astoria_oglasdec.pdf

12/20/09

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Wai Thai Wellness Centre celebrates its tenth anniversary

energy-flow can result in a lack of vitality and encourage the development of various diseases. With proper massage, such blockages can be eliminated, and the flow of vital energy stimulated so that the balance is restored, and health and well-being improved. Traditional Thai massage should last for at least two hours because after the first 30 minutes the body’s energy canals open up, and after 120 minutes the energy is balanced and harmony restored. Thai massage has several other effects, besides relaxation of the muscles: it enhances blood flow, decreases stress, eases pain, increases awareness, strengthens inner organs, restores vitality and balances body, mind and spirit. 9:01:12 PM

Thai massage has a long tradition. It is over 2,500 years old and unites the knowledge of Indian yoga, Chinese acupressure and Japanese shiatsu. It is truly a unique tool bringing a long and healthy life. Modern varieties of traditional Thai massage are especially aimed at eliminating and reversing the effects of modern lifestyles, such as stress, fatigue and obesity. At the Wai Thai Wellness Centre, only 100% natural essences of herbs, flowers, fruit and minerals are used, in accordance with original recipes from the Far East. This is complemented by high quality natural cosmetics. In the centre, five different massage oils are used, all of which are made of purely natural cold-pressed veg-

etable oils of jojoba, almond, coconut, apricot kernels and mixtures of essential oils. They are wonderfully absorbent and do not cause allergies. The oils can be used for body care on a daily basis and can be purchased at the centre’s reception desk. To conclude the wonderful journey through the Wai Thai centre, its offer goes beyond traditional Thai massage, guests can also indulge in Wai Thai massage, Thai massage with selected essential oils or heated herbs, anti-stress back and shoulder massage, anti-stress facial and head massage, Oriental foot massage, Hawaiian massage, aromatic steam sauna, solarium, various facial and body care treatments and relaxation packages.

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Slovenj Gradec A Peace Messenger City Slovenj Gradec is an administrative, economic and cultural centre of the Mislinja Valley. Situated between the Pohorje Massif and Mount Uršlja gora, the town is noted for its numerous artists and events. The town centre, intactly preserving its image from the past, is still the centre of cultural life. Moreover, ever since Slovenj Gradec has been a birthplace and hometown of a number of acknowledged artists: the composer Hugo Wolf, the sculptor Fran Berneker, the painters Jože Tisnikar, Karel Pečko, Bogdan Borčič, Franc Berhtold, the writers Fran Ksaver Meško and Ljuba Prenner and others.

Sights Slovenj Gradec old town has preserved a characteristic medieval layout, whereas buildings’ exteriors date back to the 19th century. In the town’s core there is the Koroška Gallery of Fine Arts, the Koroška Regional Museum, Soklič’s Muzeum, the churches of St Elizabeth and Holy Spirit, the remains of the medieval town wall, a birthplace of the famous solos composer Hugo Wolf, and Rotenturn Manor. St George’s Church is situated on the Legen Plateau and presents a unique monument in the wider European area, having uniquely restored archaeological finds from the 9th century. St Pancratius’ Church, former Grad nad Starim trgom (Castle above the Old Square) has played an important role in the history of Slovenj Gradec, while nowadays acts as an outstanding

architectural monument of the early Gothic. In the surroundings of Slovenj Gradec, there are plenty of ethnological sights – typical hayracks (kozolci) of the Mislinja Valley, old farmhouses, chapels as well as a water-mill or a sawmill. Slovenj Gradec and its environs offer excellent possibilities for sports and recreation – skiing, riding, cycling, glider flying, hiking, climbing, etc. In the past few years, in the environs of Slovenj Gradec, the offer of short thematic tourist trails with ethnological, cultural-historical, and environmental themes has become particularly popular. The ski resort of Kope adorns itself with snow as early as November and remains covered with it, also due to snowmaking, until late spring. Changeable mountainous terrain provides ski-slopes for beginners as well as experienced skiers. A diversity of the land between Mount Uršlja gora and the Pohorje Massif offers a traveller cultural experience, peace and on many locations its primeval character. Moreover, in the Mislinja Valley, there are many paths and secrets worth of discovering.

Slovenj Gradec is known for a large number of events taking place in the town as well as its surroundings throughout a year. You are kindly invited to pay us a visit in the time of the following shows: 13th and 14th February: MASQUERADE and the CARNIVAL 19th March: Traditional Jožef’s Fair (Joseph’s Fair) 16th April: 18th Biennial Exhibition of Arts and Crafts as well as the exhibiton of handicrafts by the Slovene handicapped societies. 6th June: MEDIEVAL DAY IN SLOVENJ GRADEC June, July: SLOVENJ GRADEC SUMMER FESTIVAL 15th August: GRAŠKA GORA SINGS AND PLAYS 25th and 26th September: MEETING IN THE DWARFLAND 18th and 19th September: KOROŠKA’S OKTOBERFEST 17th and 24th October: PEACE FESTIVAL on the UNITED NATIONS Day 17th November: Traditional ELIZABETH’S FAIR

Tourist information: Public Agency for Tourism and Sports SPOTUR Slovenj Gradec TIC (TOURIST INFORMATION CENTRE) SLOVENJ GRADEC Javni zavod za turizem in šport Spotur Slovenj Gradec

Glavni trg 24, 2380 Slovenj Gradec Phone: 00386 2 8812 116, Fax: 00386 2 8812 117, Email: tic@slovenjgradec.si, www.slovenjgradec.si

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Numerous international events and exhibitions, some also UN-sponsored, have left a lasting imprint on Slovenj Gradec as a city of peace and international understanding with the title of the Peace Messenger City, bestowed on the town in 1989 by a then SecretaryGeneral of the United Nations.


LIFESTYLE 27 However, to be able to approach the spirits of natural growth and fertility, they had to be masked. Masking is, therefore, a very pagan tradition. It was, of course, always part of a faith that a world exists above the one we walk on and (by that) actually a part of religion, but nevertheless a religion that Christianity wanted no part of. Over hundreds of years, they tried to exterminate the ancient tradition but to no avail. Priests saw the mask as some kind of devil’s tool to steal a man’s soul, but they also saw it as an inconvenience that enabled wild behaviour that was not as easily controlled as a quiet, subdued person who usually attended church services. At last, they had to confess defeat and accept it as a part of human being, too old and too primal to be exiled.

Slovenian Traditional Carnivals

Masquerade: Fun or Faith? Wearing a mask is a tradition from the dawn of time and is as alive today as ever, but it has taken on a new meaning. By Vesna Paradiž

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ince ancient times, mankind has had the urge to wear a mask. “Masking” is one of humanity’s oldest practices and its origins are tightly connected to our relationship to the metaphysical world. First, there was ritual masking, which meant reaching beyond the conscious world into the unknown and achieving complete identification between the bearer of the mask and supernatural beings the mask itself represented,

i.e. demons, spirits of the ancestors, the dead etc. After belief in this mythological world of ritual faded, people superstitiously kept the tradition of masking, both to celebrate the power of nature yet also to subdue nature to their wishes and goals. It was important to take part in nature’s regular revival. When winter turned into spring and the world blossomed, people greeted that change hoping to encourage natural forces to their own benefit.

Pust (Shrovetide) is a descendant of festivities in ancient Rome, which were held to celebrate both the New Year (February was the 12th month of their calendar) and nature’s spring awakening. This jubilation was preserved through time until today. The Renaissance reformed that tradition as “Carnival,” a new perception of life glorifying material world instead of spiritual one, which fit perfectly into a masked celebration of nature’s rebirth. If we are particular, we can say that Pust and Carnival actually mark one and the same thing, since etymologically they both mean the same: to leave or put away meat. This explains their placement a few days before the annual 40-day long fast. Pust’s days were originally Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, Saturday was added later. Slovenia has preserved at least 150 traditional masks, although not all of them are characteristic for Pust. The most famous among them is Kurent, whose origins have several interpretations. The most common one is that he used to represent a god of boisterous joy, a Slavic version of Greek god Dionysus. Kurentovanje (which means Kurent’s carnival) is the biggest carnival in Slovenia, although its meaning has changed from bowing to nature’s magical forces to a commercial folklore event. Even though Kurent is now merely a mascot, the people in the Štajerska region still deeply respect the tradition. Young boys transform themselves into Kurents; they put on sheep fur coats and a leather belts or a chains holding cowbells. On their heads, they wear an ugly hairy cap with a snout instead of a nose and a long red tongue. They have horns on

top of their heads and sticks with hedgehog’s skin in their hands. They go around in groups jumping and bouncing up and down; it is said that in the past different groups of Kurents used to fight so hard there were casualties (forbidden nowadays). In addition to his festival of Kurentovanje, there are many other smaller carnivals in different regions of Slovenia. Cerkljanski lavfarji (Cerkno’s runners) are another very old tradition together with their wooden masks. The central figure is Pust, who is a manifestation of winter and therefore has to be killed. His clothes are made of moss and he carries a spruce in his hands. Around him are a number of other masks, the most popular being ta bršljanast (the ivy one), ta tirjest, ta star (the old one), ta kožuhast (the fur one) etc. On pustni torek (Mardi gras, as they call it in New Orleans), they hold a trial for Pust in front of the church and afterwards they execute him. Also famous are the škoromati from Brkini, the Fašanek from the Porabje and Prekmurje regions, Ravenski pustovi and others. There is a nice tradition in Prekmurje that demands that if nobody got married in the village the previous year, they would have to hold a borovo gostüvanje (pine’s feast). The oldest unmarried man in the village must marry a pine tree and they have an entire wedding with parents and wedding guests (a girl that stands in as the pine).

The Death of the Mask There are many more of those masks and different traditional events but they all end in a similar fashion. Pust is put on trial and found guilty, or they look for him and find him hiding under the table in one of local bars. Then he must meet his end; in some places, he is shot, while elsewhere he is burnt or thrown in the river or simply buried. With Pust’s burial, the feasts are officially over and fasting begins. With Pust, we can see that the masking tradition is still very much alive. People participate in festivals, eat, drink and dance until they are too tired to do so. Unfortunately, as many things change and lose value, this has also happened to this fine tradition. Celebrations of nature’s cycle of renewing have evolved into folklore events and serious and fearsome masks into ridiculous mascots without substance. Today’s festivities have little in common with what the masquerade was originally about. Perhaps that is why the ones that enjoy it most now are children. February 2010


28 LIFESTYLE

Ptuj Carnival

A Rich and Vivid Tradition Behind Kurent’s Mask The largest carnival in Slovenia enters its 50th year with a series of spectacular events.

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longside the River Drava, the town Ptuj dates back to the Stone Age; it is the oldest town in Slovenia. Located roughly 130 km north-east of Ljubljana and 30 km south-east of Maribor, Ptuj’s historical treasures provide much interest and entertainment for a great excursion. Rich stories of its history are revealed in its churches, monasteries, wine cellars, at the castle, the tower, the Orpheus monument, and many other places. The Ptuj area derives additional charm from its exceptional ethnographic heritage. Through the centuries, the oldest Slovenian town of Ptuj and its surroundings have preserved and carried on their heritage and thus contributed greatly to the nation’s au-

thenticity. One unique and important element is Kurent (or korant), a unique Shrovetide character of our past and present. His primary quest is to chase away the evil and introduce the good. In 2010, we are commemorating all those generations who have contributed to the nation’s authenticity through understanding the power and depth of its carnival heritage. At the same time, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of organised procession of masks in the streets of Ptuj.

Kuretovanje On Shrove Sunday, 27th February 1960, the first organised event, called Kurentovanje, was held in Ptuj, featuring traditional carnival

masks from Markovci lined up in a carnival parade. To the sound of music played by a local band, the ones to lead the procession were the dancing spearmen followed by ploughmen, rusa, a bear, fairies, cockerels and Kurents. The typical performance and customs of each traditional mask were explained to the gathered crowd over loudspeakers. The event was very successful and aroused general interest, which encouraged the organisers to continue. A year later, masks from Markovci were joined by ploughmen from Lancova Vas, loghaulers from Cirkovci and mourn-

ers coming from Hajdina. For the first time carnival groups presented themselves in the afternoon. In 1962, the event reached beyond local boundaries by inviting the laufarji (runners) from Cerkno and borovo gostuvanje (the marriage of pine) from Predanovci in the Prekmurje region. However, the international dimension was only acquired in the years to follow when local and Slovene traditional masks were joined by masks from Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia, Hungary, Austria, Italy, and many others. Thousands of spectators have visited this amusing and varied carnival.

Interesting facts and figures •  The Ptuj Castle museum displays a permanent collection of traditional Shrove masks and can be viewed at any time of year. •  The Ptuj Philatelic Society has prepared a special collector’s stamp and an envelope to mark the 50th anniversary of Carnival. •  Kurent’s character appears in many situations as a part of protocol and promotional gifts. It is a symbol of Ptuj’s barracks. It appears in the names of many sport, humanitarian and other societies. Culinary specialties are also named after Kurent (sausage, soup, wine and others). A group of Kurents traditionally appears at major sporting events, such as the Planica ski flying competition. Kurent is also a huge inspiration for domestic and foreign artists: painters, photographers, poets, writers, sculptors, musicians. It appears on stamps, envelopes, postcards, calendars, badges, posters, play cards and even graffiti. •  The facade of an 1878 house at Jadranska ulica has ornaments resembling Kurent’s hat.

The Slovenia Times


LIFESTYLE 29 The main event of KurentovanAttractions of Ptuj je is the procession of traditional carnival masks and groups taking place in the afternoon of Shrove Sunday. For many years, part of the event was the presentation of individual traditional carnival groups, taking place either on Saturday or Sunday morning prior to the afternoon procession. In 1999, the organisers introduced the Prince of the Carnival, who has since been chosen from among numerous active perpetuators of the masquerading tradition in the region of Ptuj. The enthroning of the Prince takes place on 11th November each year – on St. Martin’s Day – which has become an important cultural and entertaining event in itself. The idea of an organised carThe first sight to behold upon entering the town 60,000 visitors annually, Ptujska Gora is a well nival event in Ptuj started in the is the Castle Hill. The famous Ptuj Castle is one of known pilgrimage site. Though its history is 1950s, as the carnival masks sponthe most interesting ones in Europe. Estimated to unclear, written records show that it has existed taneously formed processions on have been built in the 9th or 10th centuries, it was since the middle of the 15th century. Shrove Tuesday, preceded by a a magnet for feudal lords who used it as a fortress What better way to relax after a full day of band. That was how, in 1959, Dradue to its strategic hillside position. sightseeing than playing a game of golf, taking go Hasl and supporters proposed For those interested in the mystique of a secret a relaxing swim or pampering yourself with a to the Historical Society of Ptuj religion, the five Mithras Shrines provide an well-deserved massage? Located close to Ptuj’s that they take over the organisainteresting curiosity to explore. Each of the five Old Town, the golf course is spread over 50 tion and the implementation of shrines is located in a different place and has hectares and offers a challenging 18 holes to even the carnival event; they also sugdifferent features. the experienced golfer, due to its water obstacles gested that it should be named afand soil structure. Golfers can enjoy views of Roman Catholics wishing to practice their faith ter the most well-known mask in two lakes, lush greenery, Ptuj’s Old Town centre will be awe-struck at Ptujska Gora, where the Ptuj – Kurent – so Kurentovanje and the Studenica stream, which flows through famous Church of the Virgin Mary graces the began. the course. At a constant 39°C, the six pools Haloze hilltop. Apart from enjoying a stunning Drago Hasl, indefatigable or(two indoor) of Ptuj’s thermal spa offers plenty panoramic view in all directions, visitors will be ganiser of Kurentovanje from of relaxation, hydrotherapy and various spa excited to see what has often been hailed as the its beginnings to the 1970s, was treatments. most beautiful Gothic church in Slovenia. With strongly convinced that the organised event could prevent the rapid Ptuj, Slovenija, 6. – 16. februar 2010 extinction of carnival habits in the by introducing contemporary Major events surrounding villages. Hasl also carnival masks. The conjunction made a draft proposal regarding of these guidelines and efforts Kurent’s Jump (2 February) is the moment when the Kurents put on the content and outlined the ma- employed by the organisers has their bells, which repel winter and attract spring along with fortune jor guidelines to be followed in turned Kurentovanje into a sigand good crops. order to transform Kurentovanje nificant event, confirmed by the Artistic Animal Carnival (5 February). A musical event with reinto an event of ethnographic sig- admission of the town of Ptuj into nowned artists from Slovenia and abroad, featuring pianist Konstannificance, containing the unique the European Federation of Carnitin Bogino, Feguš Quartet, Jure Ivanušič and many others. carnival figures and habits from val Cities (EFCC-FECC) in 1991. The Ethnographic Parade (6 February at 11 am) is a display of typiThis year’s Ptuj Kurentovanje the Ptuj region, which could be cal Slovenian Carnival characters. At this event, the mayor of Ptuj, joined at a later stage by other takes place between 2 and 16 FebŠtefan Čelan, hands over his mayoral duties to the Carnival Prince. traditional Slovene masks, thus ruary. The jubilee of this massive Ptuj,Shrovetide Slovenija, 6. – 16. event februar 2010 in the region is making the event grow into a festival of masks. He also planned to marked by a diverse cultural proexpand the content of the event gramme.

Ptuj, Slovenija, 6. – 16. februar 2010

Carnival of fifty Slovenian brass bands and majorettes (7 February). The final act will be a group performance at the Ptuj stadium. Primary school pupils’ parade (12 February) and a parade of fifty groups of merry masks from Slovenian and Croatian kindergartens (15 February).

Organizers

The highlight of the happening is the Sunday’s International Carnival Parade (14 February) with a flyover of the largest ever group of hot-air balloons. The carnival ends with the Shrove’s funeral (14 February). BMJ

February 2010


e h t t i H es Slopwith Jure Košir

Jure Košir, multiple world cup slalom winner, Olympic medallist and Slovenian ski legend:

“Pohorje is the only city ski slope, which contributes to its special charm. I attended many races there, with the most memorable downhill runs from the Bellevue Hotel. This place offers a fantastic skiing experience, which can last well into the spring. The specific eastern Slovenian temperament is reflected in the particularly merry atmosphere. The slope is particularly well maintained and arranged.”

16

5

27 km

1

h 325 - 1327 m

220 ha

23 km

hchildren

13 km

5 km

youth

adults

senior

16 EUR

25 EUR

28 EUR

25 EUR

h 14 EUR

22 EUR

24 EUR

22 EUR

16 EUR

19 EUR

16 EUR

full day afternoon night

25.000

12 EUR

h

ŠC Pohorje, d.o.o. Mladinska ulica 29 2000 Maribor T: +386 (0)2 220 88 21 info@sc-pohorje.si www.pohorje.org

Features artificial snow

ski rental

night skiing

sledging

ice skating

ski school

childrens park

snow kindergarten

night skiing

cross country skiing

The Slovenia Times

Maribor Pohorje

The Home of the Fox A ski slope that literally grows out of the town of Maribor and boasts with over 10 kilometres of illuminated tracks.

P

ohorje is a huge and very diverse area, where everyone can find his or her optimal place. From a children’s park to the challenging “old FIS” or the snow stadium, where competitions are being held, it offers much fun between altitudes 325 and 1, 327 metres. Maribor pohorje consists of three skiing sectors. The Areh area can be regarded as a family slope for its relatively wide, gentle sloping tracks. While advanced skiers can quickly find a lack of challenge in this area, the same cannot be said for the tracks at Bolfenk and the snow stadium area.

The Funicular The history of this slope is marked by its which was an amazing technological achievement of the time. When it was officially started in 1957, the Habakuk – Bellevue travel took 15 minutes in one of the 55 detachable cabins sliding on a steel cable at a speed of 2.8 m/s. After more than fifty years and 15 millions of passengers transported, it has recently got replaced by a brand new funicular that takes take the spirit of its legendary

predecessor into the future by making the 705 metre climb notably shorter and greatly increase the passenger capacity.

Golden Fox The snow stadium, the lower part of the slope facing the town of Maribor is a venue of the famous Golden Fox. The Golden Fox Trophy is a female world cup skiing competition with a tradition of over 40 years and is one of the most wellattended sport events in Slovenia.

Apart from skiing Skiing is, of course, not the only winter-time activity available there. Sledding and cross-country tracks can not be regarded as something you wouldn’t get elsewhere, but what are special are exotic activities such as a pležuh ride (a sort of monoski with a seat), snowshoe walks, balloon rides or a giant adrenaline swing. Furthermore, this resort is, in fact, an extension of a large town which can offer you many pleasures from concerts and cinemas to pub crawling and shopping. Pohorje offers abundance of lodging and din ing options:

From a five-star Habakuk hotel to budget apartments. From fancy restaurants to fast food. The new Bolfenk apartments are the latest among many lodging choices and the pride of the resort. Roomy and comfortable with wooden interiors and a fireplace make the experience even more complete. The complex features a wellness centre offering massages, saunas and a thermal pool. There is no way anyone, skier or non-skier would get bored at Pohorje.

Motel & Restaurant Lešnik Experience indigenous Slovenian hospitality in a place run by the fourth generation of Lešnik family. Restaurant, motel with 22 rooms, business and family special ocassions, spa services, playground, mini golf GOSTILNA IN MOTEL PRI LEŠNIKU Dupleška 49, 2000 Maribor Phone: +386 02/471-23-22 www.gostilna-motel-lesnik.si www.Vitalspa.si


Bet on Slovenia Slovenian tourist promoters are looking forward to this year’s Football World Cup in South Africa. Their goal is to extend the performance of the football team with the promotion of the Slovenia as an ideal tourist destination. Slovenia’s qualification for the Football World Cup is a truly remarkable achievement, but in the terms of the promotion of the country beyond its football team, this event provides a wide range of opportunities. Slovenia, which continues to suffer from a lack of recognition on the global arena, views the guaranteed “270 minutes of fame” as a wonder ful chance to communicate its economic and tourist potentials.

people with grown-up kids, who may already know Slovenia, remember it as maybe not being the cheapest destinations, but want to revive positive memories. They are educated and regard ecology highly. The other segment is active people; active in a sense of practicing spor ts themselves. They are younger, some with kids, who need a constant challenge in recreation. It is not a static all-inclusive type of public.”

Synergy between sport and tourism is not anything new, but only since the match in Slovakia, football has taken the lead. Dimitrij Piciga, Slovenian Tourist Board CEO says, “Our cooperation with the national football association has always been good, but the matches were more of a background element; we were, for example, involved in hosting of foreign journalists covering matches with Slovenia.”

Both these groups, whose aims and interests overlap in many aspects, are envisaged in the “Bet On the Holidays” campaign. One of the campaign’s approaches is to promote active, sporting ways of spending vacations. The other is ecological, advertising a “green” product. The intersection of both as well is their interest in football are promoted. It is not about going to Slovenia instead of South Africa. It is for those who can find the opponent’s country a holiday destination according to Piciga.

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This changed when progress in the World Cup qualifiers reached its critical point. In Moscow, STO invited a group of Russian journalists and tour operators to the Slovenian side of the stands. The decisive match in Maribor gathered the elites of Russian society, including Russian president Medvedev and the multi-billionaire Abramovich. “From the promotional aspect, the draw for the World Cup was a jackpot,” Piciga comments, “The choice of opponents Slovenia will play represents good sources of tourists: Italy, Germany, England and the USA. England particularly. At the Wembley Slovenia-England friendly match, we could see what 65,000 people in the audience means as a tourist potential.”

Minister of Economy Matej Lahovnik and STB CEO Dimitrij Piciga looking forward to promote the country at the Football World Cup in South Africa.

Speaking of past experience, Piciga admits the tourist promotion within the football World Cup is being taken to a whole new level, “In Korea, we paid attention primarily to our supporters and the good mood they bring to the environment, at the European Championship in Amsterdam, as well. Back then we didn’t focus on the opponent countries. Now we are taking advantage of the English team and its fame. They will attract much media attention and the message we want to put through is: This is a county you will challenge in football; find out about it, and come for a visit. “The immediate goal of this campaign would be more English stays in 2010. Let them be opponents for a day, but else they are welcome guests.” Speaking of the particular types of people who might respond to such campaigns, Piciga says it is definitely not about football fanat-

ics with season tickets, whose interest is only in seeing the match. On contrary, they are not necessarily those who will go to South Africa. “Our aim is to attract older couples, the so-called ‘empty nest’

Slovenia vs Slovakia The promotion campaign in Slovakia is carried out in cooperation with the Slovakian national tourist board, with the main goal of increasing recognition of both countries among potential tourists, informing foreigners on characteristics of each country and spur them to consider spending holidays in Slovenia or Slovakia. The campaign is takes place between February and April 2010 via an online quiz, the topics being characteristics of both countries in the fields of sports, culture, tourism and general characteristics. All contestants, answering all the questions (presumably 10 – 20 questions) correctly, will qualify for a draw of two main prizes – a plane ticket from whichever European airport to South Africa and a 5-day stay during the World Cup, including a football ticket for one of Slovenia’s or Slovakia’s matches. The campaign is going to be promoted on Facebook and Twitter online social networks as well as media messages and other means of communication by the Slovenian and Slovakian tourist boards.


Dinewith style Shambala Križevniška 12, Ljubljana Tel.:+386 31 843 833 info@shambala.si www.shambala.si Open: 11am-11pm, Sundays closed

Food type Asian-fusion Price range 3-course daily menu for EUR 14.90 A-la carte 5-course menu EUR 35-55 Reservation recommended

Main dishes Thai curries Vegetables stir fires Lemongrass grilled biff steak Fonda Grilled Sea Bass Soba noodles Pho beef noodle soup

Shambala

The Land of Asian Tastes One trusted restaurant critic described Shambala as one of last year’s most pleasant surprises. Let’s find out why.

O

ver the past two decades, international food has persistently been breaking the monotony of a land devoted to traditional gostilnas and the ever popular pizzerias. Despite the steady influx of relatively standardized Mexican and Chinese restaurants, real gourmets still found it hard to come across a decent place for Asian food at its best – until Shambala, that is.

A family business

Photo: Christian Volpi

Photo: Mateja Jordović Potočnik

A businessman trading with the far east, his architect wife, two children (another architect and a designer)... all cosmopolitan, all admiring Asian culture, philosophy and especially the cuisine; all living in the same old Ljubljana house, with a spacious ground floor and atrium. Their property in need of renovation suddenly became a common project, sparkling many creative intergenerational negotiations, but as a result turned into a stunning restaurant

The Slovenia Times

interior. Finally, one more person was essential to join the team: they recruited a chef, already experienced in Japanese cuisine, who also travelled Southeast Asia to take courses from the indigenous masters of the arts. As a result, Ljubljana’s culinary scene was enriched with a restaurant offering the culinary heritage of Asia. Call it “Asian food,” or “Japanese-Thai-Vietnamese,” or use the popular term “Fusion food,” after you try it, the name itself doesn’t matter. But what does matter is that it takes you to another culinary world.

Special blends

Keeping the balance is far from easy. On one hand, a guest should be offered more than the traditional “rice or noodles with chopped meat and vegetables in a wok” formula, while on the other hand being too seriously Asian could well mean overly spicy food or other things unacceptable to a common


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

In Issue 123

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

In Issue 124

Fabula Restaurant Borovška cesta 100, Kranjska Gora Tel : +386 4 589 20 88 info@hitholidays-kg.si www.hitholidays-kg.si Open: daily from noon to 11 p.m.

European taste. This challenge was dealt with extremely well and, as a result, the tastes – both familiar and mysterious – blend in a memorable harmony. No wonder t he restau ra nt quickly gathered many devoted fans. According to one of the owners, “It could happen up to three times a week someone comes just for a certain curry. Or some other for the beefsteak.” Obviously with a reason: the menu offers the essential delicacies including coconut soups, soba noodles, oysters or crabs, which are available only in late winter/early spring. Yes, the menu changes seasonally and is updated with new inventions from the chef. Another hint: there’s no happier ending than the one with chocolate soufflé with mango ice cream. All the food is essentially fresh. To meet this requirement, a special transport channel from the place of origin via Vienna needed to be established. As far the freshness is concerned, there are no exceptions: fresh ingredients - essential to Asian food - freshly prepared. The wine list is generous as well, with at least a decent representa-

tive from anywhere around the globe where a good vine grows - from Portugal to New Zealand. But still, when it comes to wine, a bit of Slovenian patriotism doesn’t spoil the Asian element. Beside the essential Slovene brands, a recommended set of open wines by renowned domestic producers make a sensible choice. Shambala offers a la carte and a special set of daily specials, where you are free to combine three courses from a few different dishes in each round. The place also makes a perfect venue for the groups of up to fifty, in which case the food which can be served buffet style. Behind a humble, discreet entrance at Križevniška street next to the Križanke theatre, Shambala is a place of harmony. The interior merges the old thick-walled Ljubljana house with a stylish modern interior design, which shows some eastern mystique. The food follows this composition in reverse: It’s essentially Asian, incorporating modern trends and a glimpse of what we are traditionally used to. In short - it’s the eastern promises fulfilled.

BARVE: PANTONE 194 U PANTONE PROCESS BLACK

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.

In Issue 122

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.

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 Photo: Mateja Jordović Potočnik

PANTONE 401 U

Grad Otočec Restaurant

Shambala, asian restaurant Križevniška 12, Ljubljana Tel.:+386 31 843 833 info@shambala.si, www.shambala.si Open: 11am-11pm, Sunday and holidays closed.

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

In Issue 120

In Issue 125

Fresh and spicy experience | Selected wines | Relaxed atmosphere February 2010

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The Capital

Creativity at its best From classical to modern – the strong soul of Festivalna Dvorana and Pionirski dom. By Petra Milič

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ionirski dom, with its legendary classic logo of boys and girls holding hands, has come a long way. In this institution lies history and a fine archive of the most interesting and attractive social and creative events in the history of Ljubljana. For the last three years, Zavod Pionirski dom has been run by a former mayor of Ljubljana, Vika Potočnik, who describes it as attractive, sparkling, playful and creative place. Its main and emphasis is on children and their ability to express themselves through language, theatre, music, dance, photography and other areas of life connected to art and culture. It is a place where anybody between the age of two and ninety can enjoy and challenge themselves.

Children and youth From the former Pionir library, Ms. Potočnik and her team created the first Art Centre for children in Slovenia, where every week 150 children attend a diverse variety of different workshops. She views it as a place where young people can evolve, encourage each other and search for their own potential. Ms. Potočnik proudly explains that many established artists in the field of fine arts or theatre got their start there, adding, “It will be wonderful to see some of these children attend academies later and become the next generation of Slovenian artists.” Creative workshops, performances, concerts, movie nights, exhibitions, science workshops and festivals are the heart of Pionirski dom, reaching out for even more. In April and May every year, four festivals take place: a video and

Vika Potočnik The Slovenia Times

film festival, a theatre festival hosted by Mladinsko gledališče, a festival of young researchers and a music festival in which children participate with their own works and express themselves in ways we can only imagine. Ms. Potočnik is happy to note that one of their exhibitions was a part of an accompanying program at the 28th Biennale of Graphic Arts. Children are the future and Ms. Potočnik is there exactly for this reason. She wants to contribute her own experience and knowledge, to help build a platform which will stimulate artistic impulses in people and help them appreciate art and cultures around us.

Dancing the night away The art centre is just one part of Pionirski dom. The second is Dance Centre Jenko, named after the legendary Adolf Jenko, a master of dance. He not only taught more than 220,000 people how to dance, he also helped educate more than 100 dance teachers. This tradition has been preserved through the oldest dance school in Slovenia – Jenko Dance School. Today, this tradition is continuing in the Dance Centre of Pionirski dom. Dancing has always been a major activity in Pionirski dom. What

actually marked it was and is Festivalna dvorana, a hall which, in the words of Vika Potočnik, is a synonym for social life. It is known and remembered for the dancing activities organized by the City of Ljubljana in the 1950s and 1960s. One of the things that make it special is that it was created by the renowned Slovenian architect Jože Plečnik. The space itself holds more dance tradition than any other place in Ljubljana as well as memories of the dancing evenings and cultural events that

took place in it. It is a place where people used to meet and many of them found their life companions there. Unfortunately in recent years, with all the new big high-tech spaces opening, Festivalna dvorana had some difficulties getting back on its feet. “But now it is time to wake up the sleeping beauty,” says Vika Potočnik. The Festivalna Hall has been partly renovated and now hosts a variety of social events, gatherings, cultural happenings and business events, as well as furthering the dance culture of the Slovenian people. The beauty of the place now lies in the mixture of classical and contemporary, where nostalgia and vision meet. It is not a place for huge crowds; it exudes a special charm, sophistication and intimacy, although happenings such as alternative concerts still do happen there. It is a diamond that has just been repolished: glossy, special, filled with good old days, open to new challenges and always fashionable and in style. To not have it would be as if a part of the Slovenian spirit were gone. Ms. Potočnik says every bigger city in Slovenia should have its own Pionirski dom. Along with Festivalna dvorana, it is a treasure worth keeping alive. Pionirski dom is a place where laughter, happiness and playfulness is always present, welcome and encouraged through activities that take place 365 days a year.


CULTURE 35

Classical Music

Chopinmania Who does not enjoy hearing the joyful waltzes, splendid mazurkas and gentle nocturnes by Chopin? And who in fact was the man with the thin silhouette, the caprice for luxury, with polished white gloves and highly elegant manners? By Ana Šinkovec

T

he year 2010 marks the 200th anniversary of Frederic Chopin’s birth in Żelazowa Wola near Warsaw, where he lived with his parents and three sisters until he was 20, when he left his beloved Poland, seeking international fame in Paris. Frederic, already recognized as a child prodigy at the age of seven, proved multitalented as he wrote and sketched his own journal named “Pichon,” an anagram of his name. Against all odds, he was a prophet in his own country, and he thrilled entire Europe with his playing during his lifetime. Nothing has changed: his music still delights entire world and opens doors to countless international cultural events. This year, multiple events, recitals, concerts, conferences and competitions are scheduled to offer audiences enchanting piano music. In this respect, we cannot overlook the

Frederic Chopin I left my heart in Warsaw: Although he was buried in Paris, Chopin’s heart was removed and buried in Poland according to his wishes. A true romantic that hated romantics: Chopin had a seductively otherworldly air, and loved intellectual company and high society. He could also be cold, petty, and arrogant. In the cultural Mecca-on-theSeine that was Paris, he rubbed elbows with Schumann, Rossini, Franz Liszt, as well with authors George Sand, Adam Mickiewicz, painter Eugène Delacroix, but deemed their art too aggressive and exaggerated. In film: Chopin has been the subject of several movies: A Song to Remember (1945), James Lapine’s independent film Impromptu (1991). A Polish version of this story is Chopin: Desire for Love (2002). In his own words: “Sometimes I can only groan, and suffer, and pour out my despair at the piano!”

elite, traditional, 16th Chopin Competition in Warsaw starting in April 2010. Since 1927, the competition has launched the careers of some of the greatest pianists of the 20th century, among them legendary Marta Argerich, Krystian Zimmerman and even the disputed non-winner Ivo Pogorelich. It was postponed only once in eight decades, due to the Nazi occupation of Warsaw during WWII.

Chopin Conference in Ljubljana Slovenia will also not stay in the backstage and will take the international lead in commemorating Chopin’s anniversary at the European Piano Teachers Association four-day conference in October in Ljubljana, with the theme “Chopin in the Contemporary World.” Concerts, round tables, open discussions and lectures given by the most prominent “Chopinists” will enable listeners from all over Europe, Canada and Asia to have special insight and understanding of Chopin’s music. The organisers hope to promote the attention to the piano, its music and its players in Slovenia, something that does not get the attention it deserves. In addition, the Polish Embassy in Slovenia plans other types of events related to the beloved composer. There will be some jazzy Chopin heard, by legendary trio Jagodzinski, films, a Chopin rock love concert in collaboration with Festival Ljubljana and an exhibition of posters related to Parisian Polish gentillhomme, a Polish art form that suddenly became very expressive in the late 1950s.

a drop of energy for anything else than pure music? And what to offer on a recital menu for public of today? Do musicians really need modern arrangements making exquisite music more commercial? Perhaps the lack of understanding and appreciation pushes public to expect “the impossible,” as in musical circles it is unacceptable and almost shocking to change anything, or play just a part of pieces to make it shorter, i.e. “not too long and boring.” Liszt himself once played Chopin’s nocturne with many additional thrillers, bass notes and other “decorations”; Chopin attended this performance and was highly insulted, so Liszt said he should play it. After hearing Chopin, Liszt approached him with tears in his eyes, apologizing

for his egocentric and ignorant behaviour. Chopin’s year will certainly prove whether classic piano melodies can equal match the expressiveness of the flute, saxophone or other instrument. Experience them yourself, whether at home for relaxation or at exiting live performances.

Disputed performances While his artistic contemporaries played for royalty, Chopin played also played for the crowds. Today, it is not the question for whom to play but how to play and interpret. Is a good interpreter also an amazing performer, with flamboyant expressions like Liszt, who is claimed to be the first great virtuoso performer in history? Or is it someone like the relatively shy, elegant and completely still figure of Frederic, who never wasted February 2010


36 PEOPLE

Slavko Avsenik

A True Legend, or One of Many? An innovative accordion master, who invented contemporary Slovenian country music, and made it appealing to the rest of the world, turns eighty. By Rok Podgrajšek

S

instant music of newer “erotic” acts like Atomik Harmonik, Turbo Angels and the likes. The music of Slavko Avsenik was real, albeit simplistic and light-hearted, but there was a great deal of craftsmanship involved in the making of this music. The music didn’t to be “sexed up” to be appealing – it spoke on its own accord and had its own merits. Whatever people may think of the music of Ansambel bratov Avsenik nowadays, one thing is certain: Slavko Avsenik and many of his successors raised the appeal of this music, which was considered to be “peasant music” and so people of all classes, from towns, cities and villages enjoyed it. They put Slovene traditional music back into the hearts of the people. Slavko Avsenik is also one of the main reasons why accordions were selling so well during the years when their fame was at its greatest.

lavko Avsenik is the most renowned accordion player and composer of popular folk music in Slovenia. Many of the younger generation don’t revere him, as he was in the past. Nowadays, many people see this type of music as somewhat kitschy, so it seems prudent to ask ourselves how important this man really was. Was he just one of the many accordion players emerging at the time or was there something special about him and the other musicians around him?

Rise to fame Slavko Avsenik was born in Begunje near Bled. In 1953, he formed Ansambel bratov Avsenik, which became famous throughout most of Europe, especially in Slovenia and most German-speaking countries. In 1960, the band signed a contract with a major European record company, after which their popularity rocketed. They played thousands of concerts in many countries, most notably Germany, Austria, USA and Canada. They have sold over 30 million records worldwide and their music is embedded in the soul of many Slovenian people and is considered part of our heritage. Not only that, Slovene emigrants from USA, Canada, Australia and other countries think very highly of their music and if they’ve heard any bit of Slovene music, it’s most likely something penned by Slavko Avsenik. It’s astounding to see how their popularity rose outside Slovenia. Slavko Avsenik and his fellow musicians were often featured on German, Austrian and Swiss television and several of their songs were translated into German as well, or at least the titles, perhaps most notably Na Golici (known as “Trompeten Echo” or “Trumpet Echo”).

The music It’s difficult to say with certainty where the appeal of this band of musicians lies, but it might have The Slovenia Times

Musical legacy

to do with their exploration of the Oberkrainer style, of which Slavko Avsenik was a pioneer. These well-crafted, yet carefree songs with simple but refined melodies and light themes have eased their way into the hearts of millions. Over the years, Slavko Avsenik became a national symbol, an ambassador of Slovene music, and he attracted some of the most renowned names in Slovene entertainment as a result. Thus he was able to get the great pop singer Alfi Nipič into their midst and he did the same with trumpet player and humorist Franc Košir. No matter what fate brought, the music always stayed the same and true to its roots, with great hooks and memorable lines. The line-up was also quite consistent with accordion, brass section, gui-

tar and vocals. Slavko Avsenik always managed to compose music that became instantly successful, spawning many eternal hits.

Crossover appeal and artistic integrity Slavko Avsenik’s music is now such a significant part of the Slovene tradition that it is no longer considered just popular folk music, a style which is often frowned upon, but it has a lot of crossover appeal to fans of jazz, rock, classical and even metal. This has to do with very solid compositions and arrangements, which have stood the test of time. Perhaps many young people don’t see his significance, but in this age of turbo folk, his music stands out more so than ever before compared to the

Sadly, Slavko Avsenik is nowadays no longer in the limelight as much as he used to be, but this is to be expected of a man who has turned 80. However, his musical legacy lives on in his son, Slavko Avsenik, Jr. , who didn’t really follow in his father’s footsteps, but studied jazz piano and has collaborated with the likes of Laibach, played in some jazz ensembles, composed soundtracks and music for the theatre among other activities. Slavko Avsenik’s legacy lives on then. We must not forget that the man is a national treasure and comes to us from a time when ethno pop wasn’t a dirty word. Not many artists have been able to contribute as much to the preservation of Slovene national heritage and culture as Slavko Avsenik and his music and –for that alone – he deserves our respect. It’s difficult to find another performer of popular folk music who is able to compose such light-hearted yet unobtrusive music. Slavko Avsenik is indeed one of a kind.


SATURDAY, 27. 02. 20:00

The Tiger Lillies

(UK)

“Live In Concert - A celebration of the Tiger Lillies 20th anniversary”. The London-based Brechtian Punk Cabaret trio again in full swing and their “Besf Of” edition. The forefathers of Brechtian Punk Cabaret, THE TIGER LILLIES, were founded in 1989 and 19 years later their sound remains one of the most unique and original things one could come across. The TIGER LILLIES stood out immediately for their distinct sound and style and worked their way up from London pubs to the Piccadilly Theatre and buskers’ benches to the Sidney Opera House. Soon the TIGER LILLIES were touring the world giving concerts and participating in various art and theatre projects. A couple of highlights in their career was the Olivier Award they won for the cult hit musical ‘Shockheaded Peter’ and the Grammy nomination for their album ‘The Gorey End’. In 19 years the TIGER LILLIES have released 21 albums, participated in numerous shows and toured most of the world, never seizing to surprise, shock and entertain their audience with their inimitably deviant musical style. Price: 20 € / 22 € (walk up)

Info blagajna 030 310 110 www.kinosiska.si


38 EVENTS

A Meeting of Great Spanish Minds Art lovers in Ljubljana are in for a double treat this winter. An exhibition of Pablo Picasso’s prints is on display in Ljubljana’s Mestni Muzej (City Museum), while Antoni Clavé’s works can be seen at the Jakopić Gallery.

Series of expositions

Fine Arts Critics’ Choice Feb 5 – 26, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, no admission This is a cycle of visual expositions, selected by Sarival Sosič, while the artist is Pšena Kovačič. The expositions were done together with the Slovenian Association of Fine Art Critics.

Jazz

Vasko Atanasovski Sextet Feb 9, 8.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 11–14

Antoni Clavé

Pablo Picasso

The opening of the “Pablo Picasso: Bullfighting. Myth. Eros” exhibition was in itself an event not be missed. President Danilo Türk opened the exhibition, while other prominent guests included the Minister of Culture Majda Sirca, Mayor of Ljubljana Zoran Janković, Minister of Defence Ljubica Jelusič and the Spanish Ambassador to Slovenia, Anunciada Fernandez de Cordova. The exhibition features more than 90 prints following the cycles of development of Picasso’s style from Classicism to Cubism and his characteristic style of the later years. All works come from the famed collections of Galerie Fetzer in Germany, which houses the work of many of the grand masters of European art. During his lifetime, Picasso (1881-1973) created over 2,000 prints in various techniques. In the first decades of his artistic life, from 1904 until 1945, he mainly focused on etchings; for the following twenty years, he mainly focused on lithography, only to return to etchings in his later years. With his growing popularity, Picasso received many offers to illustrate books, so the volume of his graphics increased considerably. However, for Picasso, the texts were often merely the inspiration of artistic inventions that he was already working on at a certain time. His first major book project, also on display at Mestni Muzej, was to illustrate the short story “The Unknown Masterpiece” by Balzac. Even here, he ignored the direct illustration of the text; he rather focused on the theme that occupied him at the time: the relationship between artist, model, and artwork. These graphics are part of the Suite Vollard series, which art critics consider to be one of the most important series of the 20th century. The exhibition also features the La Tauromaquia etchings, illustrating the art of the bullfight and the Metamorphoses of Ovid. Picasso finished all 26 plates used for La Tauromaquia etchings in one day. Another part of the exhibition is the Sueno y Mentira de Franco etchings, showing the Spanish dictator, which are a harsh criticism of dictatorship. Until 4th April (Picasso), until 28th February (Clave) The Slovenia Times

The exhibition of Antoni Clavé’s (1913-2005) works at the Jakopič Gallery consists of 44 works set in premises reminiscent of a New York loft apartment – a perfect setting for a display of collages, cinema posters, theatre scene paintings and canvases. The works on view come from private collections and were assembled especially for this show, which has been organized in collaboration with the cultural association of Spain and the Spanish embassy in Slovenia. Clavé developed his artistic education in Barcelona, his native city. His beginning as an illustrator in periodicals was outstanding, and he soon became a successful designer of movie posters. In France, Clavé discovered lithography and engravings, fields that would open the doors of the publishing world for him and that would turn him into a renowned illustrator. In the 1950s, however, he decided to devote his time entirely to painting. However, he introduced to his work an archaic-like figurative iconography of convincing plasticity: bearded kings, elusive queens and anthropomorphic shapes of powerful significance. That was also a time of discoveries and recoveries of the material plastic for Clavé, who thus became an expert on textures, pigments and their visual derivations, subject to the light, which gave his work an ethereal atmosphere, always in formal opposition to pictorial rhythms. The exhibition features examples of his numerous works from collages to cinema posters, from theatre scenes to some of the paintings from his most relevant period. Some of the works are well known, like the kings and warriors Clavé introduced in his paintings from 1954. Other works on display are less known but equally intriguing. Those include creations he produced during the first years of his training in Barcelona, before the Spanish Civil War, or other works like La Patronne, the portrait he painted of his mother in Paris, where he lived during his first years in exile.

Vasko Atanasovski is one of the most active Slovene woodwind musicians (soprano and alto saxophone, flute). He is becoming more and more respected in European jazz circles and the list of his international collaborators is constantly getting bigger. In Slovenia, he is perhaps most famous for his work alongside the legendary avant-garde composer, Bratko Bibič (Begnagrad). Last year he released a double album called Bohemia, where he presents his international Visions Ensemble, playing a concert at the Alpentoene festival in Switzerland and new studio recordings played with various line-ups.

Photography

EMZIN Photography Competition Feb 10 – Mar 9, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, no admission An annual pan-Slovenian photo project establishing photography as one of the key elements of contemporary visual communication, this competition is one of those rare opportunities for presenting the diversity of artistic directions. An expert jury will award three prizes for original photography and a photo journalism award. Alongside the awarded works, the works of finalists will also be exhibited. This project was created in association with the Creative Production Institute Emzin.


EVENTS 39 Pop

Tabu Feb 10, 8pm, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, EUR 17–20 Tabu is one of the more established names on the Slovene pop/rock scene. They became famous for the specific voice of their female singer, but a few years ago they switched to a female singer with a more straightforward approach to singing, but still retained their sense of melody. This show will allow you to hear their latest album 42 in its entirety.

Ethnic music

Klape v Tivoiju Feb 13, 8pm, Hala Tivoli sports hall, Ljubljana, EUR 35 After last year’s sold-out concert Klape v Tivoliju ‘09 we will again see the return of the best Dalmatian ethnic vocal groups (also called klapa). Nine of the best Dalmatian groups will perform folk and authorial compositions. They will also be accompanied by guitars and mandolins. The wonderful singers will make us think of the seaside and will create a Dalmatian atmosphere. Performing as special guest will be two legendary Croatian singers Meri Cetinić and Tedi Spalato.

Pop/rock

Dan D Feb 13, 8pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 16–28 In the last years, Dan D have become one of the most popular Slovene bands. Their easy and light mixture of pop and rock has won many fans, especially with concerts like the one in Križanke, where they performed with a symphonic orchestra. This concert in Cankarjev dom will be performed to accompany the reissue of the group’s first two albums Igra and Ko hodiš nad oblaki.

pesmi že napisane, where she does cover versions of some of the most famous songs, most of them Slovene. Her voice and romantic songs are ideal for this Valentine’s Day concert.

Alternative rock

Let 3 Feb 16, 9pm, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, EUR 10–12

Feb 16, 8pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 11–14

Saša Kos: Concrete Feb 15 – Mar 14, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, no admission

Flamenco

Paco de Lucia, Feb 15, 8pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 50–60

Experimental

Robert Jukič Radio

Photography

Saša Kos belongs to the youngest generation of Fotoklub Maribor members who are faithful to the classical B&W technique. Kos’ initial documentary works have developed towards increasingly more abstract, minimalist photographs, favouring a distinct graphic, fine art expression. His photo series on concrete received the Primavera accolade from the Fine Artists’ Society Maribor (DLUM). This exhibition will be done in association with the Stolp Photo Gallery, Maribor.

supporting acts will be the Slovene band Carnaval and another new wave band from Rijeka Larve.

Let 3 is one of the best bands to come out of the Rijeka new wave movement. Their entire career has been marked by scandal, with sexually-explicit lyrics and political and religious criticism. Let 3is still considered one of the most controversial bands from Croatia. They like to provoke responses by attacking religion, politicians and anything else they can think of. Nothing is sacred when these guys are concerned. For the show in Kino Šiška they promise a spectacle, both visual and musical. Whatever they do, it will surely not go unnoticed by anyone. The

Robert Jukič is a Slovene composer and bassist, who is always interested in doing new things and combining them with the old. This time he will present Sanje, his latest project, where he again combines many musical styles. His band includes: Daniel Noesig – trumpet, effects; Tonč Feinig – organ, piano, accordion; Vanja Kevrešan – guitar; Wolfi Rainer – drums, effects; Robert Jukič – bass, effects and featuring Miles Griffith on vocals

Folk

Katalena Feb 19, 10pm, Štuk, Maribor, EUR 10–13 Katalena is considered one of the best Slovene bands. Their mixture of folk and some more modern approaches in unique, as is the

Paco de Lucia is the king of flamenco and one of the greatest virtuosos of the classical guitar. He was born in 1947 as Francisco Sánchez Gómez, in the province of Cádiz, Spain. His stage name is derived from the name of his mother Lucia. He has won several awards for his playing and he has always been trying to play in his own style. He has always been interested in other musical genres besides flamenco and this culminated with the albums Castro Marin (1979), Passion Grace and Fire (1982) and Friday Night in San Francisco (1981), where he collaborated with such great jazz musicians as pianist Chick Corea and guitarists John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola. De Lucia has also composed music for films, but flamenco remains his greatest passion.

Pop

Alenka Godec Feb 14, 8pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 16–28 Alenka Godec recently released an album entitled So najlepše February 2010


40 EVENTS

The Slovenia Times Recommends

Jan Garbarek group feat. Trilok Gurtu Jan Garbarek, one of the most renowned saxophone players in Europe and the world, together with a great master of eastern and western percussion, is going to stop at Kino Šiška as part of his new European tour. Nobody plays the saxophone like Jan Garbarek. In the decades of tireless creation his sound became the “trademark” of the famous sanctuary of European jazz – ECM Records. The Norvegian saxophone player, who was born in 1947, was considered to be amongst the elite of jazz players very early in his life due to his intense collaboration with Keith Jarrett. His name appears next to the great names of American jazz and is mostly connected to the birth of an original European sound in jazz. In 1962 he won the title of best amateur jazz performer, which enabled him to have his first concerts. In the 60s he worked in Norway, often as leader of bands and four years later even with the great George Russell. In the early 70s he started recording for the ECM record company and collaborating with Keith Jarrett’s European Quartet, which brought him fame and with which he also recorded the classics My Song and Belonging. In the 80s, Garbarek’s bands also included bass player Eberhard Weber and often the guitarists Bill Frisell and David Torn. In 1993 he collaborated with the Hilliard Ensemble, a vocal quartet which sang renaissance music and recorded one of the more popular albums with them. In 1995, he returned with the album Visible World and four years later he put out Rites. In April 1999 he worked with the Hilliard Ensemble again, on the album Mnemosyne. Last year (2009), Jan Garbarek released his first concert album Dresden. It’s a double album recorded in 2007 in the German city of the same name. The music gives us ample proof of the intensity of Garbarek’s performance and his improvisational abilities. The expansive sound stretches from perfectly meditative

calmness to expressive outbursts. The music is both simple and complex at the same time. This tour sees Garbarek play with exceptional musicians: keyboard player Rainer Brüninghaus, who has been accompanying Garbarek for a number of years, Brazilian bass player Yuri Daniel and the great Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu. This excellent line-up promises an extraordinary concert experience, with the right balance between atmospheric music and tension.

5 Mar, 8pm, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, EUR 35–39

Pop

ABBA The Show Feb 20, 8pm, Hala Tivoli sports hall, Ljubljana, EUR 39–49

vocal styling of their female singer, who is certainly an acquired taste. They present folk music in a very original way and their concerts are almost always a treat.

ABBA The Show is considered to be one of the best ways to experience the greatest hits by the Swedish pop music group ABBA. The cast of performers includes some of the members of the original accompanying band for ABBA. This spectacular musical show was conceived by Camilla

Business and social activities in the Festival hall You can hold an unforgettable business meeting, social event, seminar or diplomatic reception in the most beautiful hall designed by Jože Plečnik. You can also spend a wonderful evening dancing every Friday at the Festival hall in Ljubljana.

www.pionirski-dom.si

Pionirski dom – centre for youth culture, Vilharjeva cesta 11, 1000 Ljubljana Tel.: (01) 23 48 200, fax: (01) 23 48 220, tajnistvo@pionirski-dom.si

The Slovenia Times

Hedrén and Katja Nord, both avid ABBA fans for many years and excellent music artists who have, since 1996, been performing in one of the most successful ABBA tribute bands, Waterloo, alongside the London National Symphony Orchestra under the leadership of Matthew Freeman, also known as an excellent film music arranger, and some of the members of the original accompanying band for ABBA. The show, which is currently one of the world’s most popular ways to experience ABBA’s music, was premiered in Norway in 2001.

Electronic

Frequency 7 aka Surgeon & Ben Sims Feb 20, 10pm, InBox, Ljubljana, EUR 15–18 It’s time to spice up this winter with a first class techno treat: we’re proud to anounce the first ever Slovenian performance of Frequency 7, an outstanding collaboration between London based Ben Sims and the father of Birmingham techno, Surgeon, who was the main predecessor and inspiration for the infamous Slovene techno sound of the 90s. FQ7’s performance is a journey through cutting edge and intelligent electronic music, combining elements of techno, funk, dub, house, hip hop, disco, industrial and more, whilst utilizing turntables, CD decks, FX and all the latest hardware and software technology. Now 4 years on, with headlining performances at Glade Festival, Monegros, Aquasella, Awakenings and many more, the FQ7 project is going from strength to strength, their sets are tighter than ever and they are established as the ultimate DJ duo. The guys are bracing themselves for a busy 2010 with studio productions, and a CD is already on the way.

Post rock

Mono Feb 20, 10pm, Menza pri koritu, Ljubljana, EUR 13–15 Mono are a Japanese post rock band in the tradition of Sigur Ros or Godspeed You Black Emperor. With their instrumental music they create meditative atmospheres and dramatic climaxes. They’re considered one of the best of the genre. They are currently on tour to support their last album Hymn To The Immortal Wind, where they played with a 28-piece orchestra.

Organ music

Naji Hakim Feb 22, 7.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 8–19 One of the most prodigiously talented contemporary organ


EVENTS 41 composers as well as an inspired improviser, this superb organist tinges his musical expression with the Oriental echoes of his Lebanon origins, thus reinventing the French organ tradition. Naji Subhy Paul Irénée Hakim studied at the Paris Conservatory and in this period received seven first prizes and subsequently won nine international organ and composition competitions. Hakim, who holds an honorary doctorate of the Holy Spirit University of Kaslik, Lebanon, has written a series of chamber, symphony as well as vocal and instrumental works. At this concert he will be playing some Bach, Cesar Franck and some of his own compositions and improvisations.

Rock

Chris Rea Feb 22, Hala Tivoli sports hall, Ljubljana, EUR 42

The British singer and guitarist Chris Rea rose to fame in the 1980s for his original approach to pop rock. He wrote himself into the history of popular music with his hit songs On the Beach, The Road to Hell, Auberge and Julia. Over the years, Rea further developed his distinctive style, strongly influenced by blues and distinctively characterised by prominent instrumental parts, instantly recognizable deep vocals and melancholic lyrics. After recovering from a serious illness in 2002, Rea made a comeback with an even more blues-influenced style of music. His latest release is a greatest hits collection entitled Still Got So Far to Go: The Best of Chris Rea.

Metal

Warbringer, Wartune, WarHead, Affliction and Eruption Feb 22, 8pm, Gala Hala, Ljubljana, EUR 15–18 Warbringer are modern representatives of aggressive and fast American thrash metal. At the start of their career they played as a supporting act to a more

established thrash metal band. A big record company was there out of interest for the headliners, but they signed Warbringer instead because they were taken by the raw energy of such a young band. Playing with them this time will be Wartune, War-Head, Affliction and the Slovene band Eruption.

World music

Mayra Andrade Feb 22, 7.45pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 14–24 A preeminent recently-emerging Cape Verdean musician, born in Cuba in 1985, Andrade took the world by storm with her debut album Navega, a collection of songs that are as grounded in the traditional music from her homeland as they are nourished by different musical styles and colours. In 2009 she released a new recording Stória, stória (RCA Victor/Sony Music), where Cape Verdean music is present from beginning to end (morna, coladeira, bandeira, etc.) and a strong connection to Brazilian and Cuban rhythms is also felt. Her excellent voice, spellbinding performance and first-rate accompanying musicians place Andrade into the pantheon of world music.

Gallery, Slovenia Press Photo meets the highest scientific and organisational criteria, and involves an international jury as well as compelling accompanying events.

Jazz

Jessica Lurie Ensemble Feb 23, 8.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 11–14 Jessica Lurie (The Tiptons, Living Daylights, etc.) has recorded four albums with original music. All her recordings feature a true musical vigour, spiced up by various musical influences, from jazz, klezmer, Balkan music to American traditional music. Her outstanding new album Shop of Wild Dreams has stayed true to this style. Jessica Lurie plays jazz that loops, sails, and soars without ever losing the listener. An enormously prolific and talented composer, Lurie’s works are both groundbreaking and addictive. She reveals an astounding flair for the melody, a sensible use of horns in select songs and an inexhaustible supply of energy, equally invested into singing and playing.

Classical

White Feb 25, 8pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 8–19 The fifth concert of the Chromatics subscription season will celebrate the music of Polish composers and will be a collaborative effort between the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra and the embassy of the Republic of Poland. We will commemorate the two hundredth anniversary of the birth of Frédéric Chopin with the performance of both of his piano concertos. Appearing as soloists will be two Slovenian pianists selected by an international panel as the winners of the competition, “We love Chopin!”. The central part of the program will be complemented by compositions by two other Polish composers of the 20th Century. Little Suite, composed by Witold Lutosławski on order from the Polish radio, was conceived from folk melodies from the area of Krakow. All compositions will be performed under the expert guidance of the Chief Conductor of the RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra, En Shao.

Photography

Slovenia Press Photo 2010 Feb 23 – Mar 18, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, no admission Established last year and intended for photographers who have had their works published in the national media and are permanent residents of Slovenia, the competition was an astounding success and received rave reviews. Slovenian photographers and photo journalists have up-to-date knowledge and understanding of interesting and touching events, which is why the competition presents an opportunity to acknowledge the finest achievements of the previous year. Initially hosted by the National February 2010


42 EVENTS Pop

Theatre

Plavi Orkestar Feb 26, 8pm, Hala Tivoli sports hall, Ljubljana, EUR 29 Plavi orkestar is one of the most popular bands from ex Yugoslavia. The band was founded in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1983. They have produced hits which the whole of Yugoslavia was singing at the time, like Suada, Bolje biti pijan nego star, Goodbye teens, Ako su to samo bile laži, etc. They’ve recently reunited and are again performing to ecstatic crowds.

Punk

The Tiger Lillies Feb 27, 8pm, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, EUR 20–22 Live In Concert - A celebration of the Tiger Lillies 20th anniversary. The London “Brechtian punk cabaret” trio is again playing concerts. The band has been around for twenty years, but their sound still remains one of the most unique and original things you can ever hope to hear. They went from playing in pubs to playing in large theatres mostly because of this characteristic. They have won several awards and also composed songs for a musical called Shockheaded Peter. They have released 21 albums, taken part in many performances and they still continue to surprise us.

styles and their music is most often characterised as intense, aggressive and sometimes even militant. Songs like 51st State brought them cult status amongst movements against American imperialism, but it also prevented them from performing in the USA. New Model Army will be presenting their 14th studio album, Today is A Good Day.

Piano recital

Craig Taborn Mar 2, 8.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 11–14 At the age of 39, one of the world’s most sought-after pianists and keyboardists has revealed himself an incisive composer and instrumentalists with a talent for the construction of sound and exploitation of the instrument to the greatest sonic advantage.

Rap

Something Rotten

Hamlet is coming to stage of Cankarjev dom, this time in a modern adaptation by the renowned Lithuanian director Oskar Korsunovas. This Hamlet is not a historical performance restoring the spirit of ancient epochs; its aim is to challenge our perceptions and to convey the spirit of the work to the present. The director describes his own generation as “a generation living in a kind of eroticized illusion rather than the real world. It is calculating, well-adapted and satisfied with itself.” Critics claim that Hamlet is the most uncompromising of all Korsunovas’ productions. The truths are shouted out here; it is cruel, explicit, bleeding. There is not even a dash of sentimentality, weakness or doubt. Before the Lithuanian premiere of Hamlet on November 20, 2008, in the Arts Printing House, the performance had already been presented to audiences several times. The world premiere took place on 9th September, 2008 in Stavanger, the European Capital of Culture 2008, which together with Vilnius (European Capital of Culture 2009) is a co-producer of the performance. The creative team of the performance consists of Oskaras Korsunovas’ long-term creative partners among theatre artists. 20th February at 7:30 p.m., Cankarjev Dom, Ljubljana

Opera

Madame Butterfly Mar 6, 7.30pm, Slovensko narodno gledališče, Maribor, EUR 20

50 Cent Mar 3, 8pm, Hala Tivoli sports hall, Ljubljana, EUR 39

Opera

Werther

Comedy

Feb 28, 5pm, Slovensko narodno gledališče, Maribor, EUR 20 Werther is an opera in four acts by Jules Massenet based on the novel The Sorrows of Young Werther by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. The story speaks of unrequited love and the consequent suffering. The compositions are full of touching, emotionally-charged moments and longing.

Alternative rock

New Model Army Mar 2, 9pm, Gala Hala, Ljubljana, EUR 15–18 New Model Army are currently on a European tour and thus they will also be stopping in Ljubljana. The band was formed in 1982 and has been constantly touring and recording ever since. They like to experiment with various The Slovenia Times

a geisha in Japan. They spend some time together, she adopts the western way of life and then he has to return to sea. She is pregnant, gives birth to a son and waits for her husband to return. She waits for three years and when he finally comes back, he has an American wife. At the end, the geisha takes her own life. Giacomo Puccini fused his typical style with some oriental flavours, which makes this one of his most special works.

Monty Python Mar 6 and 8, 8pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 14–18 The stardom career of 50 Cent, one of the world’s most successful rappers of recent years, is a story of a criminal past, growing up in difficult circumstances and a sudden breakthrough into the world of fame. 50 Cent, whose real name is Curtis James Jackson III, became famous after being discovered by Eminem and Dr. Dre. His most successful albums Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2003) and The Massacre (2005) have sold a total of 20 million copies. In 2009 he released his fourth album, Before I Self Destruct. One of the richest rap musicians has also become renowned for his successful appearances as a member of the famous rap collective G-Unit and, over recent years, a film actor.

Madame Butterfly is an opera in three acts (originally two acts) by Giacomo Puccini. Puccini based his opera in part on a drama by David Belasco. The opera was supposedly based on events that actually occurred in Nagasaki in the early 1890s. The story talks about an American naval officer who marries

Who hasn’t heard of the crazy antics of Monty Python’s Flying Circus? They were one of the most original, creative and funny comedy teams to ever grace the television screen. This is your chance to hear some of the songs from their movies and sketches. The piano will be played by Joži Šalej, the vocals will be handled by Nika Vipotnik, while the director of the show is Tijana Zinajić.


CULTURE 43

Interview: Oskaras Korsunovas

Through Hamlet’s Eyes The director Oskaras Korsunovas explains the idea behind the adaptation of Shakespeare’s Classic. By Jaka Terpinc Is your inspiration to tell the story of Hamlet in a modern way a matter of lasting process, or did it come suddenly as a consequence of a certain (personal) experience? Staging Hamlet is an ultimate challenge for any director. One always feels he’ll have to do it sometime, when the time is right. At the point I started rehearsing Hamlet, my own inner life was somehow parallel to Hamlet’s dramatic character. On the other hand, real theatre is a sort of an entity that originates from within itself, but it has to destroy itself to be reborn. It’s a perpetual strife with the past. And I’m not talking just modern theatre. This becomes especially obvious when we have Shakespeare in mind. There would be no point in staging plays if contemporary performances don’t address audiences about things that are relevant and significant right here right now. If a person can discover himself through Hamlet’s character, then the play is as contemporary and modern as a play can be. Your Hamlet is reflecting on the current situation of a numb society distanced from reality – that is actually your audience… Do you convey the message? What’s their reaction to it? Hamlet is boundless, it has no interpretative limits – that’s the

brilliant side of Shakespeare. And the movement towards your inner self is borderless – that’s what we experiences while staging Hamlet. Contrariwise, we are trying to reach Hamlet through our selves, through our responsibility. It’s a situation all the actors are in: they are facing themselves, their inner reflection while looking at the mirror – one of the central images in our production Convenient with the supposed tranquillity and repose of the time, society seemed to be shocked by the sudden crisis. Hamlet again became topical in every sense, in almost every phrase. Beginning with “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,” and ending with the universal question “Who are You?” The values of Elsinore are changing, they can’t stay the same. And Hamlet is breaking the set of those values apart. The same rule applies to our times: we can’t live in the world of such financial, political and social lies. Not anymore. It is extremely painful not only to me, the performers, but also our audience. Is there any difference in reception between different national audiences? The way they understand your message and the way they react to it? I have to admit, we have very strong and long lasting traditions

of the director’s theatre in Lithuania. In the later times of the Soviet occupation, our theatre was a perfect stage for resistance and eluding censorship, our directors had to master the so-called Aesopian language. You can say that our theatre was very suggestive as it tried to speak about the things that were officially banned and persecuted very metaphorically; it involved a second layer, so the audience had to educate itself and learn to read between the lines. A theatre audience always takes interest in strange or extraordinary things. They are curious to find some experiences that might not always be so pleasant – but still they are quite curious. We have been travelling quite a lot with Hamlet and our other shows, and I can say that we have discovered that the audience’s response is more or less the same. In this regard, what do you expect from the Slovenian audience? On one hand, having in mind a more or less common experience from a still rather fresh history, I expect your audience to be quite similar to the Lithuanian one: well-educated (both theatrically and socially), open-minded, anxious and curious, yet a bit wary. On the other hand, Slovenian theatre-goers have different cultural and theatrical traditions, so we may as well be surprised. Regarding the number of productions currently on stage, you can be described as hyperactive. Is it difficult to cope with such output? How do you manage?

Right now, I’m rehearsing Kurt Weill’s The Silver Lake in Stockholm, and then I’m going to the Alexandrinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg to stage Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. Unfortunately, I work outside Lithuania more than I do in my own theatre. I’ve got even more foreign projects planned in the future. But it is essential to find more time for my theatre in Lithuania, so we decided to make a kind of experiment past December. While on a tour in France for a whole month with Hamlet, we were actively rehearsing The Lower Depths by Maxim Gorky. We have already shown a primary version (or rather a sketch, a work-in-progress) of the play in Vilnius and plan to present the premiere by the end of March. When establishing the OKT/ Vilnius city theatre in 1999, we strived to function as a theatre with a rich repertoire. So far, we somehow managed to succeed – while not having a permanent stage or steady funding for more than a decade, we can proudly say that now we have 10 performances in our repertoire and continue to plan new ones. That is why we have to tour a lot to survive and at the same time we desperately strive not to desert our home audiences. Basically, I like to say that the name of my very first play from 1990 “There to be here” was somehow prophetic: while being “there” we somehow manage to stay “here”. February 2010


44 SPORTS

Alpine Skiing

We Have Another Hero At the end of January, many Slovenes made a pilgrimage to the famous Austrian ski resort of Kitzbühel for the traditional downhill event to witness another star performance by Andrej Jerman; he had won in Bormio a couple of weeks earlier, sparking “Andrejmania.” Instead, another Andrej – Andrej Šporn – stole the show when he finished second, only behind Didier Cuche. By Simon Demšar

T

Hard work pays off Until recently, Šporn had never been seen as a serious contender, even in Slovenia, and few people recognised him. For most, he was The Slovenia Times

of 30 and 35, when they can use all the experience they have gained over the years.

Times change

Photo: BOBO

ens of thousand of spectators and the TV audience couldn’t believe their eyes when Šporn, 28, crossed the finish line in first place and fellow competitors, with the exception of Cuche, were one by one dropping behind the little-known native of Kranjska Gora, whose previous best result was a 13th place in Val Gardena. According to insiders, this was a surprise only to the general public, while the competitors knew very well that Šporn’s success was only a matter of time. Šporn was ecstatic, exclaiming “Being on the podium feels fantastic! I finally made a run without a major mistake. It was not perfect and that is the difference between me and Cuche. The last part was faultless. So far, I have been able to do it in practices but not during the race.” He admitted that Kitzbühel was a special place, “It is really crazy when you are speeding along the finish straight, in front of 50,000 fans.” Together with Jerman’s two wins, a second and a third place, Šporn’s second place has taken the tally of Slovene podium finishes to five. With Šporn, Slovenia will have two weapons at the Olympic downhill race in Vancouver, taking place on 13th February. Downhill racers tend to emphasise that you can only be successful if all the little pieces fit together, so it is difficult to count on a medal. In addition, Šporn concedes that Kitzbühel was the race of the season for him, but nevertheless he set himself the goal of finishing in the top ten. At the same time, Burkhard Schaffer, the downhill team’s Austrian coach, warns against euphoria, saying, “The latest results are admirable but let’s not forget that the North American part of the World Cup was a disaster and that the season is still long.”

In the pioneering times of the late 1970s and early 1980s, it was unthinkable for Slovenia to have a successful downhill team. With the legendary Bojan Križaj scoring his best results in slalom, young kids were dreaming about poles, not speed. Even officials put it down to natural conditions and the lack of long slopes in Slovenia. There were some isolated attempts in the mid-‘80s and ‘90s, but until the arrival of Andrej Jerman, there was no significant success. Things couldn’t be more different now, with the technical team struggling and the downhill team enjoying great successes. Šporn’s second place was also a milestone for the Elan team, Šporn’s ski supplier. To date, the company has only one downhill world cup victory (Bruno Kernen, 1983). When Šporn joined the Elan family, he was given a pair of tenyear-old skis and they spent the following eight years to reach today’s level. “The equipment is definitely competitive and I would never change my ski supplier,” says Šporn. The fact that he was the fastest on the finish straight in Kitzbühel with a top speed of 140.6 kph speaks for itself.

just a skiing hopeful, similar to dozens of others. However, now it has all changed and previously unknown facts have begun to surface. Janez Šmitek, his former coach, was full of praise for his former protégé, saying, “It makes me happy that his incredible determination and hard work has finally paid off. There are very few people as hardworking as him. I still remember him making up to 27 runs in one training session, which was unthinkable for others. “In one season, he won four national junior titles and one second place. He probably lost count himself, how many national titles he won.”

Šporn began his career as a slalom racer but his dream was always downhill. With his father, a former downhill racer and member of the national team, skiing and speed are in Andrej’s blood. However, it took him longer than expected to put the pieces together. “Longing for success, he was often making unnecessary mistakes. He had a few excellent intermediate times but they were always followed by a slip,” Šmitek recalls. Despite being 28 years old, time is still on his side. Cuche, for example is seven years older and it is a known fact that downhill racers are at their best between the ages

Cross-country skiing

Football

Silver for Petra in Tour de Ski

Tina Maze Second Over 1,000 Will Cheer in South Africa in Golden Fox

Slovenian cross-country skiing star Petra Majdič won the second overall place in the ten-stage Tour de Ski series by finishing 2nd in the last race in Italy’s Val di Fiemme. Starting at the first place, Petra was overtaken by Pole Justyna Kowalczyk during a grueling climb towards the finish line. Majdic Petra is already excited and in good form before her appearance in the Winter Olympics.

More than 1,000 Slovenians will cheer the Slovenian football team at the World Cup in South Africa. Out of over 3,000 tickets for the matches with Algeria and England and over 5,000 for the match with the US that were reserved by the Slovenian Football Association, fans bought around 1,000 tickets for the matches with England and the US and around 500 for the one with Algeria.

Skiing

Kathrin Zettel of Austria took first place in the women’s World Cup slalom event in Maribor, while second place went to Slovenia’s Tina Maze, who gained seven places with a blazing second run. Zettel had produced a near flawless performance to overtake Maze, who was the surprise of the second run.


History 45

Aviation

The Wind Beneath One Hundred Wings Few months ago Slovenia celebrated 100 years of the country’s first ever flight, which saw the name of Edvard Rusjan being forever immortalised on the list of aviation pioneers. By David Aleksander

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lovenia regards Edvard Rusjan with that special awe and admiration that can only be reserved for someone of exceptional talent and courage, and whose abrupt and premature end turned his life into something of a legend. He is that central historic figure which on the all-time aviation pioneer list sits comfortably on the 12th spot of chronologically successful flight-attempts, just six years behind the world’s first ever flight carried out by the Wright brothers.

Soaring to the skies It had been just four years since Edvard Rusjan, born Trieste in July 1886, through reading professional literature fell in love with the idea that man could fly and experience freedom never before imagined that the first ever Slovene flight occurred on 25 November 1909 in Male Rojce near Gorizia, then under the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A year before the Rusjan brothers had made their first plane out of bamboo sticks and cardboard, naming their invention Trapola de carta (Paper trick), yet it soon became evident that to tackle any kind of serious aviation they would have to step up their game. Two and a half months prior to the first ever flight Edvard Rusjan attended a meeting of aviation enthusiasts near

Brescia in northern Italy where he purchased his first engine from a Frenchman Louis Bleriot, who had earlier that year crossed the English Channel, and set on a collision course to greatness. Having just purchased a 25horsepower engine Edvard Rusjan could now turn to some serious planning. The plane EDA I, which he built in collaboration with his elder brother Josip and their sister Luiga Gigia helped sow the linen for the wings, was a biplane measuring 12 meters in length and 8 meters across the wings. The first ever Slovene flight, just six years behind the world’s first flight by the Wright brothers and 12th overall, was well underway with EDA I on 25 November 1909, the date which would later become the first

330 km in seven days

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milestone in the history of Slovene aviation. And although Rusjan’s second flight just four days later was much longer and at a higher altitude, the significance of the first ever flight culminating in 60 meters in length and flying at the height of two meters will always be looked upon with that special type of veneration.

Unparallel genius What sets the Rusjan brothers so remarkably apart from the rest of the immortal crème de la cream of flying lies not in the specifications or the duration of their flight, but rather in the fact that they themselves were simultaneously the designers, the constructors and the pilots. Making their achievements even more noteworthy is the fact that they did not have the host of patent protections at their disposal as the Wright brothers had, and they also were not backed by the financial resources of the Frenchmen Louis Bleriot. It simply was the love of flying that drove the two brothers beyond every conceivable obstacle.

Icarus

13.- 21.2.2010

The life of one of Slovenia’s most daring sons came to an abrupt and premature halt on 9 April 1911 in Belgrade, Serbia. Rusjan was fatally injured in an aviation meeting after his plane had been struck by a massive gust of wind, forcing the plane to crash at the foothill of

the Kalemegdan Fortress. Rusjan died on route to hospital and was later buried in Belgrade among other great figures of the Serbian history. His funeral was attended by 14,000 people, including a representative of the Serbian royal family. The municipality of Nova Gorica decided to devote this year to remembrance of the first ever Slovene flight by organising various events and holding a special celebration event earlier this September during which a monument at the airport in Nova Gorica was erected in honour of the Rusjan brothers. Yet Rusjan’s name was not always revered in these parts. At the beginning of the 20th century Gorizia was considered an important cultural and economic part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, but the booming years were abruptly cut short by the outbreak of WWI. A 25-year period ensued in which Rusjan’s achievements were glossed over and this sentiment endured even long after the end of WWII. Today Edvard Rusjan has the Maribor airport and an asteroid discovered in 1999 named after him. February 2010


The MTV awarded “electro bubblegum trash” band Lollobrigida in Kino Šiška.

Erwan Fouare, EU ambassador in Macedonia, Foreign minister Samuel Žbogar and Agriculture minister Janez Slabe at the Cross-country skiing event for diplomats, politicians and businessmen. (Photo: Mediaspeed)

Singer Nuša Derenda and Tomaž Blatnik, owner of Blatnik bakery at the opening of his new shop at Ljubljana’s Čopova street. Holocaust memorial day in the Maribor synagogue with PM pahor speaking. (Photo: Mediaspeed)

EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY

“Perfect Wedding” Expo at Radenci Spa.

Dance group Nataraj performing at the celebration of the Republic day of Inida. (Photo: Vito Tofaj)

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