LIFESTYLE: A perfect country for weddings
The Slovenia Times, Slovenian magazine in English, volume 7, number 126, EUR 4,80
REAL ESTATE Weighing up the options
The City Belongs To You
see pages 38-39
March 2010 4
6 7 9
Fatal dog mauling as a political scandal The army aiming for changes Interview: Janez Pergar
12 13 14 15 16 20 21
ECONOMY Mercator’s shares up for sale again Exit strategy: government’s way out of recession Intrix offers affordable IT solutions Lowest paid get a wage increase Interview: Sir Andrew Cahn
FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT Efforts to increase trade with BRIC countries Pomurje region gets cash boost
REAL ESTATE SPECIAL 22 28 28 30 34 36 38 40
Construction companies in trouble The history of urban panning in Ljubljana Interview: Professor Janez Koželj Real Estate: Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro Interview: Nadine Castagna, director of MIPIM Emonika project to move forward in 2010 S1 Tower Ljubljana Popularity in eco developments grows
Najmanjša dovoljena velikost logotipa je 25 mm.
T I P O G R A F I J A & I LU ST R A C I J A
Avtorja: Domen Fras Maja B. Jančič
Naročnik: Skai Center d.o.o., Šmartinska 154, Ljubljana
Projekt: Celostna grafična podoba Kristalna palača
Faza: Projekt za izvedbo
SLOVENSKA CESTA 5, SI–1000 LJUBLJANA T/F: +386 1 426 80 57 /8 E: email@example.com
43 50 51 52 53
LIFESTYLE Weddings in Slovenia Hit the slopes: Vogel Cross-country across the plateaus Dine with style: Jamski dvorec Ljubljana, the world book capital
The Event Guide
62 64 66
GUEST STAR candidates
Every picture tells a story
The Winter olympic medalists Planica prepares for world championship People: Janez Gorišek, constructor of ski-jumps
Datum: Oktober 2008
Vsebina: Barvni Logotip angleška različica
source: STA, Slovenian Press Agency
Feeling Corrupt Slovenians are convinced that corruption is increasingly present and that it has become a major problem, a survey on corruption in 2009 has found. As many as 70% believe corruption to be a big or a very big problem in Slovenia as well that it has grown compared to 1990. The share of corruption-concerned citizens has been increasing in recent years; from 62% in 2007, through 67% in 2008, and finally to 70% last year. Only few people have had personal experience with corruption, though, which, according to anti-draft commission’s head Drago Kos, shows that people believe corruption is going on mostly in political circles. The survey, carried out by the the University’s Public Opinion and Mass Communication Research Centre (n=966,
December 2009), found lawyers, notaries, doctors and health workers to be considered as the most corrupt professions. However, most respondents with a personal experience of corruption said they had it while dealing with doctors and police officers. The survey found that people’s notion about the spread of corruption, especially among public office holders, is mostly influenced by media reports. Among the main reasons for corruption the respondents listed inefficient persecution, flawed legislation and soft penalties. This year’s survey found Slovenians to be more ready to report corruption. Some 55% would report it. Those who wouldn’t (29%) fear negative consequences of the tip-off or doubt its effects.
Zee Anti-Corruption Gold Medal
The Name is Roko Žarnič
Where Have the Ratings Gone?
The head of the anti-graft commission Drago Kos received Austria’s gold medal of merit for his efforts in the fight against corruption. Kos told official recognitions for individuals fighting corruption are a very rare occurrence, which is why Austria’s gesture means a lot to him. Linking the honouring of Kos to the Patria defence deal bribery investigation, which has been assisted by Kos and in which SDS head Janez Janša is among the suspects, the opposition Democrats responded by suggesting a conspiracy theory related to the friendship between “socialist” Austrian President Heinz Fischer and former Slovenian President Milan Kučan.
The National Assembly endorsed Roko Žarnič of the coalition Pensioners’ Party as minister of environment and spatial planning. He was sworn in immediately after the vote. “I expect your well-intentioned criticism, which should help me look for answers to difficult questions and find solutions to the problems ahead,” the 59-year professor of construction materials told the MPs. The coalition backed Žarnič, while several opposition deputies abstained from voting. The opposition National Party (SNS) was the only to oppose the appointment for his dual (also Croatian) citizenship.
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The government suffered a fall in its voter approval rating in February. Nearly 61% of those questioned assessed its job as unsuccessful, up 2% from January. Asked to compare the incumbent and the previous government, 23.8% of those questioned said the Borut Pahor government was doing a better job than the Janez Janša government. Still most of respondends maintained the two governments were on a par. Despite The opposition Democrats (SDS) lead the field in party ratings with 20%, followed by the senior coalition Social Democrats’s 18.4%, all parliamentary parties suffered a decline in their ratings. The percentage of undecided and voting abstinents has also risen. On the ranking of politicians, Economy Minister Matej Lahovnik replaced European Commissioner Janez Potocnik on top of the list. (Ninamedia N=700)
Corruption or not? The anti-graft commission suggested it had found elements of corruption in Finance Minister Franc Krizanič’s call to the dean of the Faculty of Economics in which he allegedly attempted to influence the composition of a commission examining the PhD thesis of a Finance Ministry employee. PM Pahor said he did not intend to dismiss Križanic over the phone call to the dean of the faculty. Križanič rejected the commission’s opinion, saying he had not called the dean as a public official but as a colleague, and that his intention was “not to influence autonomous decisions of the faculty bodies in charge”.
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UNDER THE PRESS EU
Dangerous waters Somali pirates hijacked a ship owned by Slovenian maritime transport company Splosna plovba in the Gulf of Aden for a few hours. International military units liberated the ship along with its 24 crew members, none of whom were hurt. The ship, which was headed from the Black Sea to Indonesia, was transporting 30,000 tonnes of intermediate steel products. Another ship of the same company was unsuccessfully attacked by Somali pirates in June last year as well.
The parliamentary committees for foreign policy and EU affairs endorsed the draft declaration on the guidelines and priorities for Slovenia’s work in EU institutions until June 2011, believing that the Union’s main challenges are the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty, exit from the economic crisis, climate change, EU enlargement, strengthening its role in the world and a thorough budget reform. Slovenia’s priorities as well include enlargement to the Western Balkans and Turkey.
The question is whether the Olympic Games still need the Olympic idea and whether the idea can survive without the games. The Olympic idea educates young people towards tolerance and a better world. But this idea will come to life only then when the Olympic Games will no longer exist. As long the Olympic Games represent a complete opposite to its ideal, we had better admit what they in reality are and leave them to the market, like football.
The Ljubljana faction of the Democrats (SDS) named former Interior Minister Dragutin Mate its president, announcing a challenge to the rule of Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković ahead of the autumn local elections. The biggest opposition party at the national level has had little say as an opposition player in the Ljubljana City Council, which has been dominated by the list of Janković since the 2006 elections. Mate announced a prompt adoption of a platform and the selection of the SDS candidate for the autumn elections. Even Janković can be beaten, he believes.
A Fatal Month A six-year-old boy who was found unconscious in a swimming pool in Maribor, died in a hostpital a week later. The accident happened during a swimming course for 27 first-graders, despite the alleged presence of four lifeguards. The parents are charging unknown perpetrators with public endangerment, and will demand full criminal and material liability from the responsible persons. Meanwhile, a snowboarder who left a groomed skiing slope near the town of Tržič was killed by an avalanche. Another man who also got buried under the avalanche managed to climb out by himself. This was the second avalanche death in February: early that month a 17-year vanished in an avalanche triggered beneath Vogel and was found death after a massive search operation. In this case as too an accompanying skier managed to avoid the accident. All these skiers ignored warnings and seek adventure in the danger areas.
Philosopher Milan Hosta on the current state of the commercialized Olympic games versus its elusive ideal (Objektiv, Dnevnik’s Saturday supplement).
A person can be prosecuted only while alive. Even if abuse was actually happening, it was happening inside the walls and that’s why it ended with someone’s death and the execution of the dogs. I’m really surprised that everyone finds this so interesting. He is gone and cannot be prosecuted. The man is dead. Lawyer Miro Senica on the curiosity over the death of his friend and client, Sašo Baričević (Finance).
The so-called left-wing transition triplet, a synonym for the actual ruling coalition, is a firm ideological conglomerate, which has smuggled the worshiping of dictators, totalitarian symbols and the repression of the communist regime into a democratic Europe. Janez Janša on the glorious Slovenian tradition of smuggling, on his party’s website (www.sds.si).
It is revenge from SDS for their defeat in the elections. At the same time, they want to divert attention from the mistakes it made in the previous mandate. The allegedly left-wing party Zares leader Gregor Golobič on the motives of the SDS accusing him of abusing political power for the benefit of his company.
Culture I don’t feel ashamed to say that I am a politician, because I have invested many years of learning, including from my own mistakes, into becoming one. If someone thinks he can land on the Earth like a Martian and save Slovenia, he has the right to do so. However, it is not the best way out of the crisis.
Top Prizes for Dancer and Painter
MEP Jelko Kacin (LDS-ALDE) at a party press conference on the unpopularity of politicians. Photo: Mediaspeed
The highest recognition for cultural achievements in Slovenia, the Prešeren Prize, was conferred on dancer Mateja Rebolj and painter, illustrator, graphic designer and photographer Kostja Gatnik. According to the judging panel, Rebolj has managed to include such an artistic excellence in her wide spectrum of different dance techniques and modern contemporary stage aesthetics like no other artist in Slovenia’s contemporary dance history before. Gatnik was described as an artist whose work expands the definition of the visual communication of the last quarter of the 20th century. His caricatures, cartoons, posters, album sleeves, illustrations and book covers have always been present in the public.
Unbeliveable! At first it was the shocking news that
three rogue bullmastiffs mauled and killed a man. Then we discovered it was not just any man, but a respected doctor by the name of Baričević, a doctor who treated the country’s elite. We also found out the dogs were actually his own. To top it all, we learnt that these were not just any dogs but the same ones which had already attacked and nearly killed a man four years ago. At the time the dogs were evaluated as too dangerous to be kept alive, but spared after series of judicial and expert interventions. After the unfortunate event, we were given the opportunity to find out many interesting things from many different experts. Psychologists spoke about human souls who need the company of dangerous dogs. Zoologists detailed the behaviour of dogs in various conditions. Dog owners began to notice people getting afraid and suspicious of any dogs. Facebook members joined a group called “There are no dangerous dogs, only dangerous people”. And finally, the anti-draft commission stated the incident showed no signs of corruption, but added something that appears clear to us all: “if this was a matter of some anonymous person, things would have happened differently.” The press gratefully grabbed the story. They did not hesitate to expose many scandalous twists to the already incredible tale, reporting on Baričević’s family and the fact he was actually born a woman. Stories also included details of autopsy reports which suggested that the dogs had been sodomised. Even if we take into consideration the endless imagination and sensational appetite of the media, and try to get rid of all the moralistic ballast, the entire affair still comes with a simple message: the good doctor should have had his dogs killed years ago, but as a person of wealth and a friend to many influential people, he managed to lead them past executioners and back to their kennels. After he persistently complained to the court, yet another special expert commission finally concluded that the dogs could be kept alive, although under certain, carefully prescribed conditions. They were conditions which he didn’t follow – resulting in his death. It was his fault, but as for the rest, it all seems to have been carried out completely legally. At that point we were all bitten: not by a dog, but by an impression that we live in a society where a corrupt elite behaves arrogant and shamelessly. This elite was reflected in a person who put his obsession with his dogs before the life of an innocent citizen. The survivor of the previous dog attack denies he received any apology or other gesture of good will from the dog’s owner. It is a time of crisis, when the country’s leadership turns to the people asking them for unity and patience. But ever-deepening social differences make it clear that not everyone needs to work hard and patiently hope for the better times. That is why it would feel really good if we believed that at least in front of the law we still share some equality. Meanwhile, on the other side of the world, a Slovenian athlete won an Olympic bronze in impossible conditions. She seemed like the action movie hero who with four bullet holes in her chest still manages to defeat the bad guys. Only in her case it wasn’t the gunshot wounds she had to battle but four broken ribs sustained in a strange accident a few days before. Petra Majdič, the woman who apparently put her life at risk by returning to the cross-country track despite this heavy injury, has already become a legend and an example for all hardworking Slovenes who experience difficulties making ends meet in what are currently unfavorable circumstances. These Slovenes don’t shake hands with the influential people who can keep you rich, comfortable and safe from the state itself. In this movie, it those people who are clearly the bad guys.
A fatal dog mauling in Ljubljana has turned into a major political scandal – and raised question about the state of Slovenian society. By Jaka Bartolj
n a cold Thursday afternoon on February 2, police were called to a quiet residential neighbourhood in Ljubljana. They encountered a gruesome scene in a backyard: three enraged dogs next to man’s body. They shot one dog and managed to capture the other two. But it was too late for the man, who had been fatally mauled by the bullmastiffs. The dead man was the dogs’ owner.
Just a Small Favour? The man, Sašo Baričevič, had been at the centre of a controversial political decision. In 2006, two of his dogs attacked a passerby, leaving him severely injured. The dogs were taken to an animal shelter, where they attacked one of the handlers. There was every indication – even a recommenda-
tion from a veterinary body - that the dogs would be euthanized. But they weren’t. In the end, the authorities returned them to Baričevič. To the chagrin of the current government, it was the Agriculture Ministry that had instructed that the dogs be returned to Baričevič. The opposition wasted no time in demanding the resignation of Agriculture Minister Milan Pogačnik. According to them, Pogačnik had every possibility to prevent the dogs from being returned, but returned them anyway because Baričevič was connected to members of the country’s political elite – including people close to the governing coalition. Baričevič was a doctor and his patients included a number of high-profile personalities from major political parties. According to a growing chorus of critical Photo: BOBO
By Jaka Terpinc
The Mauling of Slovenia
Interior minister Katarina Kresal and her partner, lawyer Miro Senica: the people who can pull any strings?
There are no dangerous dogs, just dangerous people...
voices, it was precisely this set of connections that enabled Baričevič to get his dogs back – something that would not have happened had Baričevič been less politically connected. Appearing at a press conference shortly after Baričevič’s death, Pogačnik refused to accept responsibility for the mauling. He laid the blame squarely on Baričevič. “It’s the individual who is responsible for the events happening inside his or her home,” he told the press. Besides, explained Pogačnik, the ministry’s decision to return the dogs was based on clear criteria established by experts and dependent on several conditions.
A Fateful Decision However, after the first attack, the country’s Veterinary Administration had initially ordered that the dogs be euthanized, but Baričevič filed an appeal. The decision was reversed after a third panel of experts and the Agricultural Ministry approved the dogs’ return. Even then, it was a highly controversial decision; the attorney general’s office had filed a complaint, alleging that the decision was putting people’s lives at risk. A number of journalists had also raised questions about political pressure at the time, but the Agriculture Ministry had downplayed the concerns and, according to the daily Dnevnik, even attempted to silence on one of its journalists working on the story.
That’s one reason why a number of Slovenia’s media outlets – including the leading dailies – were quick to call for Pogačnik to resign in the wake of Baričevič’s death. Referring to the return of the dogs a “terrible misjudgement”, Delo’s editorial added that, “it makes little difference whether the responsibility is personal or not.” The calls for Pogačnik’s resignation transcended party lines. The Liberal Academy, a think tank linked to the ruling LDS party, called for the minister to step down, pointing out that the minister was not obligated to return the dogs by any court decision: “However, it is known that two commissions of experts opposed the return.” Things got even more difficult for Pogačnik when it was revealed that that Agriculture Ministry State Secretary Sonja Bukovec was a long-time friend of the Baričevič family and was seen at Baričevič’s home immediately after the mauling. Pogačnik now faces a parliamentary no-confidence motion that could lead to his ouster. Still, Prime Minister Borut Pahor is standing by his minister, arguing that Pogačnik did not act inappropriately. A number of observers, including the daily Delo, have warned that the crisis could even result in the downfall of the current government.
Meet the Elite The media firestorm erupted further when the Veterinary Ad-
ministration revealed evidence suggesting that the dogs had been sexually abused and prosecutors took over the investigation of Baričevič’s death. An already high-profile scandal became an even bigger story; the news was seen by critics as evidence that the political elites could get away with anything. Since the partner of Interior Minister Katarina Kresal is one of the country’s most influental lawyers Miro Senica, the opposition alleged that Kresal had abused her political powers because of her connection; opposition parties have announced a no-confidence motion against in part for this reason. Soon, the scandal became a symbol for much of what is wrong with Slovenian politics and society. It drew attention to the gulf between the well-connected – the same group of people whose insider status ensured that it had profited the most from questionable privatization schemes since independence -- and the rest of the population. The gulf between the favoured and the rest, along with the resulting resentments had existed for years; the dog mauling now brought it to a boiling point. This was about more than the action (or inaction) of a minister. To critics, the scandal provided a perfect example that those with
the right connections were effectively exempt from the rules. In this case, it was about the return of dogs. In other cases, the privileged could get – and have gone – away with much more. The scandal thereby became a symbol of the country’s crony-based politics, where political parties often put their clients before the citizens. The anger intensified after the daily Delo revealed that a private medical centre co-owned by Baričevič and frequented by the country’s political elite had employed a number of doctors illegally. The resentment over the apparent failure of the rule of law – in favour of select members of society -- was palpable. Polling conducted after the scandal showed a marked drop in support for the coalition parties. Whatever popular anger was directed at the ruling coalition, however, the end result may be an increase in the people’s distrust of politicians in general – as well as disillusionment with the rule of law and equality in Slovenia. The Baričevič scandal finally receded from the headlines as the Winter Olympics took over the public’s imagination. However, the consequences of the scandal may haunt Slovenian politics for a long time to come. March 2010
Aiming for Changes While a group of intellectuals calls for abandoning the forces as we know them, the army itself faces communication problems with parliament, major staff reshufflings, dubious armament purchases and the Afghan battlefields. By Jaka Terpinc and STA
he irregularities and alleged bribe scandals accompanying the Patria APC purchase, which doomed the largest Slovenian army investment to date, has also been the most interesting story related to armed forces for over a year now. In the shadow of this high-octane political clash, the Minister of Defence Ljubica Jelušič made some decisions, which have led to conflicts between the ministry and parliament.
Denials, denials… Ministry of Defence state secretary Uroš Krek, along with two other senior officials, announced their resignations from the post, but Krek soon changed his mind. Krek, who withdrew the resignation after speaking with the Prime Minister, indicated that he had decided to resign for personal reasons and that there was “no big story behind it.” He also specifically denied media reports that the reason for his short-lived resignation were disagreements with the senior staff. However, the deputies of parliamentary defence committee remained sceptical. Even the coalition partners Liberal Democrats (LDS) and Zares voiced doubts that everything was running smoothly at the ministry, underlining the obvious communication problem between parliament and the ministry. In January, the ministry issued a denial to media insinuations that Slovenia plans to send four helicopters to Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the Commander of the Slovenian Army Force Command, Brigadier Alan Geder publicly announced that Slovenian army helicopters needed armour upgrades, which would make them ready for the Afghan frontlines. The 2009
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trained to become social workers and part are turned into disaster protection and relief forces. While the Minister of Defence attacked the petition, President Türk responded saying that he had already expressed a desire for a smaller, highly-trained and flexible defence force, but added that possible changes should in no way imperil the defence capacity of the country. PM Pahor also termed the petition legitimate, but said it interfered with the basic precepts of the system of national security as set down in the Constitution. The idea was also commented on by the Defence Ministry, which said that the country “... cannot behave as if it is living outside of space and time, as if it does not need to secure its safety and contribute to international security and peace”.
Idealism aside Commander-in-chief, president Danilo Türk and Defence Minister Ljubica Jelušič overseeing the national arsenal.
statement outraged the committee members to whom the statement served as evidence that the army is indeed making decisive moves of great national importance on its own. Jelušič responded that no political decision has been made on the issue yet, and that when the time comes to make one, it would be made in cooperation with the National Assembly. She also reminded the deputies that the equipping of the four Slovenian helicopters for combat action by 2012 was a political decision approved in 2008.
Awaiting the first body bag As the Slovenian troops, which have so far performed as Afghan army instructors outside the battlefields, seem to be facing their baptism by fire, doubts about Slovenia’s Afghan presence have also begun to arise. While coalition MPs Anderlič and Juri were suggesting Slovenia should consider withdrawing from the “mission impossible,” ministry representatives opposed
this, arguing that the recent London conference at which the international community backed plans for the stabilisation of the country was proof that the mission could end in success. The unilateral withdrawal from Afghanistan would also send the wrong message to its allies; Slovenia’s presence in the country is already smaller than that of most NATO countries.
Abolish the Army! In addition to scepticism regarding Afghan mission, a group of respected Slovenian public figures formed a statement in which they call for a radical transformation of the armed forces. The “Abolish the Army!” initiative was presented by the weekly Mladina. The petition does not suggest a full demilitarisation of the country, but proposes that specially trained guard and police units would take care of security and defence. The statement, signed by additional six thousand citizens in the first two weeks, also says that the army should be transformed so that part of the troops are re-
Prime Minister Borut Pahor suggested that the civilian and military segments of the defence department would undergo farreaching restructuring, which would be a part of the long-term programme for the equipping of the Slovenian Armed Forces. Preparations are under way for amendments to the Defence Act, which requires a two-thirds majority in parliament. The main issue that the reform would tackle is the number of employees in the civilian and military parts of the ministry. In the Armed Forces, one of the biggest problems has been lack of equipment, but the government has been faced with calls to renegotiate the EUR 278m supply of armoured personnel carriers from Finnish contractor Patria in the face of the economic crisis. Another decision would also have to be made on the Russian patrol boat that Slovenia will get as compensation from Russia for Soviet-era debt. The EUR 35m Svetlyak-class patrol boat would be partly-covered from the clearing of debt and partially from the regular defence budget, despite the government’s attempts to negotiate full compensation.
Janez Pergar, Honorary Consul of South Africa Photo: BOBO
Two Lands of Opportunities Slovene investments in South Africa are estimated at EUR 5 to 6 mio. Slovene companies, including Iskra Avtoelektrika and Pipistrel, are very active there. There are not many Slovenians living in South Africa, but the number of Slovenians visitors is on increase. By Jaka Terpinc and Maja Dragović
here are still no South African companies in Slovenia. In the light of the Slovenian presence at the upcoming football championship, we spoke to Janez Pergar, Honorary Consul of South Africa in Slovenia on the potentials for the development of the two countries’ ties. An average Slovenian knows little about bilateral relations between Slovenia and South Africa. Can you tell us what the strongest points of cooperation are at the moment? We Slovenians know the geography relatively well, but are not always interested in learning much about the essential contents and characteristics of the particular countries. Sometimes we are too easily satisfied with surface information and too accepting of stereotypes. This is true with South Africa. We lack awareness of the very strong South African economy (31st largest GDP in the world), a member of the G20 etc. We know little about the excellent achievements of South African people and the extremely important political role South Africa is playing on the African continent and other international stages. The knowledge of an average South African about Slovenia is even weaker. In such a situation, it is difficult to speak strong points of cooperation. However, both sides are continually exploring the possibilities of extending cooperation and – I’m glad to say – that, at this moment, many activities are finally going in the right direction. The legacy of the non-aligned era is a good basis for Slovenian cooperation with many African countries. What kinds of ties, if any, were established in Yugoslav times? Yugoslavia, as one of the founders and leaders of the non-aligned movement was a known, very popular and also respected coun-
try throughout the African continent. Unfortunately, I cannot say Slovenia is gaining anything from that. Generally, in my opinion, Slovenia is not active enough on the African continent. How did Slovenian independence and the change of political system influence the conditions for the bilateral cooperation? Slovenia was already on the map as an independent country, when South Africa in 1994 ended apartheid. Since then, we can view the relations between two countries as very good, but unfortunately not always sufficiently productive. That is in spite of the activities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce & Industry, the South African Embassy in Vienna and the South African Consulate in Ljubljana. What we were missing were the right people, who would be prepared and able to focus their knowledge and energy on the selected and specific projects. The trading balance between the two countries is still very modest and is more or less stagnating around EUR 40-50 million per year. What is the general knowledge of Slovenia in South Africa? Do people recognize Slovenia, and how do they imagine it? There is very little knowledge of Slovenia in South Africa. Slovenia was never really promoted as an interesting destination for South African tourists. South Africans visiting Slovenia are mostly businessmen, medical doctors and professors as speakers on the international conferences and some tourists touring through Europe on international coach tours. Since Slovenia opened a consulate in Cape Town, Honorary Consul Prieur du Plessis has started many initiatives in order to improve the recognition of Slovenia in South Africa; this will certainly create more interest, not only for
tourists but also for business people, investors and others. There are also some interesting initiatives on the level of cooperation between South African (Cape Town, Stellenbosch, Johanesburg) and Slovenian (Ljubljana, Bled) universities and management schools. When looking for business opportunities, what similarities and differences between the two countries should be considered? Slovenia and South Africa have excellent possibilities for all kinds of cooperation. South Africa is a very large and interesting market with a population of almost 50 million people. On the other side, Slovenian consumers’ buying power is very high. In addition, Slovenia has an excellent position as a gateway for South African companies towards central and eastern Europe. The Port of Koper could easily become a South African hub for Europe. Slovenians, many of whom speak English at a high level, could offer South African Companies excellent support in professional services, logistic, banking, legal services, accounting etc. South Africa, like Slovenia, is an export-oriented economy and both countries could join efforts in challenging third markets, especially with high-valueadded products. Where do you think most of the unexploited potential in bilateral cooperation lies? High technology, research, exchange of knowledge, health, energy and ecology. Our activities will increasingly be going to supporting and developing these kind of opportunities and projects. What about the investment opportunities in South Africa for Slovenian companies and vice versa? The best investment opportunities for investments in South Africa
are in high-level services, high-tech products, market niche products and high value-added materials for the automobile and pharmaceutical industries. In September 2009 and February 2010, some very important South African investors visited Slovenia. They expressed interest in investments in the Port of Koper, LNG Terminals, the Slovenian hotel industry, casinos, ecological projects and some other infrastructural projects. Some of these projects are already in the preparatory phases. What would you suggest to both governments in order to boost cooperation? The governments should quickly finalise all basic agreements in order to facilitate the cooperation between two countries in the fields of medical services, exchange of knowledge, trading, joint ventures and so on. The initiatives among the governmental agencies including JAPTI, the Directorate for the Economic Diplomacy, the Slovenian Tourism Organization etc. are very positive, but if we really wish to achieve good results, these initiatives would have been backed with more financial means. We also hope that the two governments will find a way to finally abolish visas. The visa procedure is very complicated at the moment. In what way can the World Cup in football contribute in getting the countries closer together? The 14th World Cup in Football 2010 will contribute enormously to the image of both countries and is already producing many fresh initiatives for closer and faster-growing cooperation between the two countries. If Slovenia and South Africa will also play well, this will certainly create an excellent atmosphere for the future common projects. March 2010
FACTS AND FIGURES
source: STA, Slovenian Press Agency
Large losses for Slovenia’s biggest bank The figures, released by NLB in February, are even worse than preliminary results issued following a supervisory board session earlier in the month when the organisation said the loss amounted to EUR 82m for the group and EUR 21.4m for the bank. NLB Chairman Bozo Jasovič said the poor figures could mainly be explained by the current economic turmoil, interest margin pressures, and writedowns at Frankfurt-based subsidiary LHB. These writedowns accounted for 70 percent of the group’s losses.
Of particular concern was NLB’s capital adequacy ratio. Although the results showed it currently stands at 10.6 percent – well above the 8 percent rate required by law – planned changes in banking regulations will see a rise in the required rate. The changes will also affect the way in which hybrid instruments are factored into the ratio. When prime capital alone is considered, the bank’s capital adequacy ratio stands at around 7 percent. This left Jasovič telling a parliamentary Finance Oversight Commission that the bank will need fresh capital in order to maintain a sufficient ratio long term. The cash will be used to replace the EUR 800m in hybrid instruments that are due to mature by 2015. Without it, Jasovič says NLB will have to consider offloading investments.
Slovenia’s biggest bank has released unaudited operating results which put its net loss for 2009 at EUR 85.9m at the group level and EUR 23.6m for the parent bank.
Božo Lasovič blames economic turmoil for NLB’s losses
Car sales increase in January
Average earnings up 3.4% in 2009
Lasko in red due to writedowns
Average gross earnings in Slovenia grew by 3.4 percent last year new figures have shown. Slovenian workers earned an average of EUR 1,438.96 gross in 2008, or EUR 930 a month. In real terms, this represents an increase in monthly and net wages of 2.5% over the previous year.
Slovenia’s largest drinks maker has announced a net loss of EUR 39.6m for 2009. Pivovarna Laško also reported an eight percent drop in sales last year, to EUR 99.7m. It did not attribute its overall loss to this fall, however, but to the negative effect of its investments. The company lost nearly EUR 50m in writedowns and impairments last year – without this, it would have made a net profit of EUR 9.8m. The company’s supervisors confirmed a management plan to sell off noncore investments.
Sava’s tourism arm optimistic about 2010
Wages are on its way up
in EUR 1600
The sale of cars and vans in Slovenia raced ahead in January, the Chamber of Commerce has announced. A total of 5,484 new vehicles were sold in Slovenia in January, an increase of 9.72 percent compared to the same period in 2009. Renault remained the most popular make, accounting for 20.51% of all vehicles sold, followed by Volkswagen (13%), and Opel (6.77%).
Average gross wages 1400
800 Jan 08 Jan 09
Average net wages
Slovenian insurers collect 2.8% more premiums in 2009 The Slovenian insurance industry collected 2.8% more premiums in 2009 than in 2008 new data has shown. The Slovenian Insurance Association said premiums increased to EUR 2.1bn in 2009. Twothirds of the overall sum was generated by property insurance policies. Life insurance policies, meanwhile, brought in EUR 630.1m.
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Representatives of Sava TMC have announced optimistic plans for 2010. The tourism division of the Sama Group, established in September 2009, is aiming to increase revenues by 10 percent in 2010. It said this would require a 10 percent increase in overnight stays in Sava’s hotels and bungalows as well as a 4.5 percent growth at campsites. In the coming year the company also plans to increase its focus on the Italian, Mediterranean, Balkan and East European markets.
Industrial output plunges 17.4% in 2009 Slovenia’s industrial output rose in December 2009 but the overall result for the year shows a significant fall according to new figures. While December showed a 2.7 percent year-on-year increase, industrial output fell by 17.4 percent in 2009. Mining and quarrying contracted by 3.4%, manufacturing by as much as 18.5% and electricity, gas and steam supply by 7.1%. December showed a 3.6 percent rise in manufacturing output, but continuing decreases in energy supplies and mining and quarrying.
11 Aviation industry
Unemployment rate reaches 10.3% in December
Slovenian Railways strikes deal with DB Schenker Rail
Road and air Plane maker transport down Pipistrel going strong despite crisis in 2009
Slovenia’s registered rate of unemployment reached 10.3 percent in December, a rise of 0.2 percent from November and 3.3 percent from the previous year. December saw the number of employed fall in all sectors except culture, entertainment and sport. The greatest drops were recorded in construction, where there were 1,900 fewer people employed in December than there were in November, and in manufacturing, which showed a loss of 1,500 jobs. In all, 96,672 Slovenian citizens were registered with the Employment Service.
Airport to close for runway renovation
Transshipment in Luka Koper down almost 20% in 2009
Photo: Luka Koper
Slovenian port operator Luka Koper transshipped almost 20 percent fewer goods in 2009 than it did in the previous year. The company reports that it transshipped only 13,146,62 tonnes in 2009. Transshipment of cars almost halved, transshipment of coal and iron ore dropped by 33%, bulk cargo by about 20% and petroleum products by 12%. Figures for January 2010 have shown an improvement on the same month in the previous year, however. An increase was recorded for general cargo, bulk cargo, timber, containers, cars and bauxite. Only energy products showed a decrease.
Ultra-light plane maker Pipistrel is weathering the financial crisis, its director and owner has said. Ivo Boscarol told the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) that the company’s turnover increased by 60 percent in 2009 compared to the previous year. This allowed the company to record a profit of more than EUR 1m. Pipistrel now plans to expand. A new factory, the location of which has not yet been decided, should allow a doubling of the current yearly production capacity of 100 planes.
Slovenia’s volume of road and air transport fell by 4.4 percent in 2009. There was, however, a 26 percent increase in maritime transport, although only in the transport of goods and passenger traffic in ports. In spite of the fall in road transport, the number of cars in Slovenia keeps growing. There were 6.5 percent more motor vehicles registered in December 2009 than in the same month the year before.
Slovenia’s national rail operator has signed a business cooperation agreement with Europe’s largest rail freight company. The agreement will see Slovenian Railways cooperate closely with DB Schenker Rail on commercial projects on the fifth and tenth pan-European routes as well as on improving cargo transport. The companies will also work together on a logistics centre in Slovenia. Slovenia Railways expects the new agreement, which will see the companies share their production potential, to boost its competitiveness on cargo transport on the Germany-Slovenia-Turkey axis.
Touching new heights registered unemployment, in %
Simobil’s operating profit up 22% in last quarter of 2009
Slovenia’s major airport is to close for renovation work. Ljubljana airport will be closed to all traffic for 15 days from 7 April to enable the completion of the third, main stage of planned runway renovation. The first two stages of the project were completed last summer, with the airport operating with a shortened 2,100 metre section of runway. During the closure, most air traffic – including that of Adria Airways, whose customers account for around 75 percent of all passenger traffic at the airport – will use Maribor airport instead. Jat Airways, however, plan to use Portorož while CSA and easyJet have announced flight cancellations.
Krka settles out of court over Donepezil
Simobil has reported an operating profit of EUR 7.2m in the fourth quarter of 2009 – a 22 percent increase over the same period in the previous year. The company, the second biggest wireless operator in the Slovenian market, achieved the result despite a fall in revenues – to EUR 43.7m, a drop of 9.9 percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2008. Parent company Telekom Austria attributed the fall to lower subscription and traffic revenues.
Slovenian pharmaceutical company Krka has reached an out of court settlement with Eisai Co Ltd and Pfizer AS over an alleged patent infringement. The two companies had sued Krka – one of Europe’s top generic pharmaceutical companies – for what they claimed was an infringement of the Norwegian manufacturing patent for donepezil, a drug used to treat Alzheimer’s disease. Under the settlement, Krka will receive EUR 1.55m. It will also be allowed to continue marketing its version of donepezil in Norway. A temporary injunction issued by the Oslo Executive Court in November 2008 had prevented the company from selling the drug in the country. But in March 2009 the injunction was lifted and the companies started negotiations over a settlement.
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Let’s Get Political More than a fifth of the total shares in Mercator, Slovenia’s leading retailer, are up for sale. It’s a move which may prove to be of significance not just in the world of business but also in the sphere of politics. By Lucija J. Millonig
hen, i n 2005, In fold Holding and Istrabenz Holding initiated management buyouts of brewery Pivovarna Lasko and Istrabenz, they put up an interesting piece of collateral – their shares in Slovenia’s leading retailer. Together the two organisations owned some 21 percent of Mercator, which operates hypermarkets, supermarkets and small grocery stores across Slovenia and the Balkan countries. When the buyout failed, creditors stepped in and seized the shares. Now they are looking to sell them off to the highest bidder. But the sale isn’t just an enticing business prospect. The buyer is also likely to find the shares come complete with significant political influence.
Decisions, decisions When the sale was announced, around fifty potential investors quickly expressed interest. Ultimately, eight decided to enter a non-binding offer. While the amount offered is unknown, it has been made clear that nothing less than EUR 160 per share will be accepted. It has also been made clear that the eight offers are being closely scrutinised. Žiga Debeljak, chief executive of Mercator, has said he wants purchasers who can afford the shares without taking out a loan, who will allow the company to run independently, and who will not prove a financial drain on the company. “We want owners who will be able to give, not just take,” Debeljak told the Slovenian Press Agency (STA).
Political angle Finance minister Matej Lahovnik has also stressed the importance of careful assessment of potential buyers. In his opinion, investors should have a n ent r y a nd exit 2009
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Eight offers were made to buy Mercator’s shares but the sale is unlikely to go through
strategy and be willing to further invest in the company so as to allow for continued expansion. That a national politician should express his opinion on this business matter is of little surprise when one considers the enormous influence of Mercator. The company employs more than 27,000 – 12,000 in Slovenia alone – and does business with hundreds of smaller Slovenian companies. That represents a massive network of voters – a politician’s dream or potential demise. Add to that the fact that state banks own a majority stake in the company, that it operates in many other countries, and that it has ongoing expansion plans and it quickly becomes clear that this sale is of national interest.
The candidates As for who the potential buyers are? Rumours abound. The biggest potential partner is Croatian retailer Agrokor. The company, owned by Croatia’s most powerful tycoon Ivica Todorić, has tried in the past to buy shares in Mercator but has always been unsuccessful. If it works this time, together the two companies will
represent one of the biggest retail chains in the region. They each have a majority market share in the countries in which they operate and by joining forces would employ more than 50,000 people and a yearly revenue expected to exceed EUR 7bn. If Agrokor is getting involved, they’re keeping quiet about it. But some potential investors have been willing to publicly declare their interest. Slovenia’s state-run Pension Fund Management (KAD) has declared they are interested in buying 10 percent of the shares – but only with another investor. They are currently in legal negotiations with a number of potential partners and expect to submit an offer once these are concluded. It would not be the first time KAD has taken a stake in Mercator. Slovenia’s pension provider actually owned 15.34 percent of the company some time ago, but sold its share to Istrabenz.
Marching on While debate over potential investors rages on, Mercator continues to expand. In Montenegro – where it is already the fourth largest retailer with a four percent
market share – the company is in negotiations to acquire the Panto Group. Run by Panto Vučurović, Montenegro’s leading businessman, the group is made up of 19 companies but has been hit hard by the recession. In Croatia, meanwhile, the Mercator has just got the green light from the Croatian Competition Agency to buy 16 Getro retail stores. Mercator is already a strong presence in the country, but the merger with Getro will create the second largest retail chain in Croatia with 4,500 employees, 110,000 square metres of shopping space and an estimated nine percent market share. Such ongoing expansion only serve to further increase Mercator’s value and influence – and so the attractiveness of the shares being sold.
Fourth time lucky? But some question whether the sale will even happen. This is the fourth time Mercator has tried to sell a stake in its business. Will it happen this time? Who will the investors be? And how much will they have paid for the privilege? We’ll know in June.
Light at the End of the Tunnel? At the beginning of February, after 60 days of what Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor colourfully described as “heavy work”, a plan aimed at helping the country come out of recession was adopted. The three year socalled “exit strategy” is a set of measures and reforms aimed at increasing the country’s economic growth and competitiveness. But will it work? By Barbara Štor
Tough love Prime Minister Borut Pahor has told the public that changes are vital if Slovenia is to be lifted out of the economic slump in which it – and the rest of the world – finds itself. “2010 is a year which bestows upon us the possibility and the duty to strengthen all elements of competitiveness, since that is the only way to ensure further development,” he said. “The recession has slowed down, now national economies will start competing.
conomic policy measures, structural changes, institutional adjustments. According to the government, this is the winning combination – the initiatives which will help revive economic activity in Slovenia, so ensuring economic growth and improvements in quality of life. They are all detailed in the recently-passed “Exit Strategy” (Izhodna Stategija), which government representatives are convinced will be the first step to seeing the light at the end of the economic tunnel. The detailed strategy, drawn up by a government group headed by Development and European Affairs Minister Mitja Gaspari, features a dizzying array of proposals. Included are pledges to reduce public debt to below 40 percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), to reduce the public sector by one percent (1,600 employees) per year, and to sell shares in some state-owned enterprises with a view to raising around a billion Euros. Health sector rationalisation is also planned, with a greater use of generic drugs, reduced sick leave allowances and changes to the system of long-term care. And Slovenians will not only have less sick leave under the plan, they will also have to work longer – the minimum and full retirement age will be raised, making it equal for men and women.
Mitja Gaspari believes government needs to put its economical interests first
If Slovenia wants to win, it has to be competitive.” The architect of the strategy is also talking tough. When asked whether privatising or selling state assets was in the national interest, Mitja Gaspari responded that: “In this case, we do not talk about national interests, but about the economic interests of this country, which are the only founded ones.” The government has pledged, though, that a list of strategic assets that should remain state owned will be created with NLB, Port of Koper and Triglav Insurance already on that list. The Prime Minster has said he will make it easy for members of the public to follow whether the plan does indeed help the country. He plans to introduce a “scoreboard” of reforms, similar to the public counting mechanism in the United States, to allow Slovenian citizens to “clearly and prominently” monitor the implementation of the strategy and its outcomes.
Unions’ and businesses’ red lights Opponents are already predicting that the scoreboard will show
failure. Union leaders have declared themselves unhappy with a strategy they believe will result in an additional burden for workers and limits on workers’ rights. Dušan Semolič, head of the country’s largest confederation of unions, has already declared that he’s ready for a battle: “If the politicians go too far, we will stop them,” he said. “With a referendum, if necessary.” Ironically, business representatives aren’t happy either. The Chamber of Commerce (GZS), Chamber of Craft and Small Businesses (OZS) and the Employers’ Association all expressed regret that they weren’t involved more closely in drawing up the exit strategy. They also once again voiced opposition to the rise in the minimum wage, arguing it is not sustainable in the current environment.
Political opposition Debate in the National Assembly saw opposition parties welcoming the government strategy in principle. But it also saw all objecting to one or other of the specifics. The biggest opposition party, the Slovenian Democratic Party
(SDP), declared itself concerned by the lack of an implementation timetable for the strategy and a lack of clarity over which measures are short term and which medium. It also expressed concern that the measures are uncoordinated, with some contradicting one another – it believes, for example, that raising the minimum wage is incompatible with a stated aim to increase the flexibility of the labour market. SDP president and former Prime Minister Janez Janša said that such issues mean the party is unable to support the strategy as a whole. But he also said the party would be reluctant to reject it completely due to the presence of some measures they regard as valuable. The People’s Party (SLS) and National Party (SNS) were less diplomatic. SLS leader Radovan Žerjav said the exit strategy was in fact a strategy of exiting the crisis on the backs of the most vulnerable, while the SNS believes there will be “no practical use” to what it said were “academic deliberations.”
A promise that can’t be kept? Many financial analysts agree that at least one aspect of the plan is academic: a commitment not to raise taxes. Gaspari has declared that Slovenia cannot afford to raise taxes. But according to some calculations, it may not be able to afford not to. It is predicted the Slovenian GDP will have to grow by at least seven percent in both 2012 and 2013 to avoid the need for an increase in VAT. But it is widely believed such GDP growth won’t happen – and that a one percent VAT increase can therefore be expected come January 1 2011, and an additional one percent for every year after that. Pahor may have described getting the exit strategy agreed as “heavy work”. But it seems likely the heaviest work is yet to come. March 2010
Flexible Solutions In a global recession which has seen falling demand, rising costs, and a distinct reluctance on the part of banks to loan money, companies have been left looking for new ways in which to work more efficiently. An award-winning Slovenian company is helping increasing number of businesses find just those solutions. By Maja Dragović and Claire Read
ntera, an information technology company based in Ptuj, was founded in 2002 – long before the financial crisis which has taken hold of the world. It didn’t take long for the company’s innovative approach and products to gain attention and awards. Somewhat ironically, though, the financial crisis has seen its success grow yet further. “Even before the crisis we were increasingly developing solutions that help business customers reduce costs and generate additional revenue,” explains Peter Ladič, director of the company. Peter Ladič, managing director of Intera
One of the main outcomes was Intrix, a highly flexible, web-based project management and customer relations system. “The major advantage of our solutions is that they can be optimally adapted to the specific wishes and needs of users,” explains Ladič. And because all solutions are delivered online – Intera’s gifted young team believe the majority of business applications will in future be internet-based – such adaptations can be made quickly and without significant expense.
More than meets the eye The company’s client list underlines the sheer flexibility of the In-
trix system. Employment services company Manpower, developer and producer of surge protection devices Iskra Zaščite, and Petrol, Slovenia’s leading energy company, might have very different lines of business but they are united in their use of Intrix. “Due to the specific needs of businesses, a client’s final version of Intrix often goes beyond the constraints of customer relations and project management,” Ladič explains. “Instead, it also covers virtually all areas of the ‘soft’ part of the business – sales, marketing, projects, services, human resources, performance and so on. “In light of the financial crisis companies are increasingly aware of the importance of regulated data and optimisation of processes in these areas. We believe ICT can be a good support in these turbulent economic times.”
Innovative product, innovative pricing Intera’s innovation isn’t confined to the software it develops, though. It also has a unique business model, founded on the principle that clients should be able to rent IT solutions. Ladič says this “on demand” or “Software as a Service (SaaS)” concept makes Intrix affordable for each and every company.
Intrix covers all areas of ‘soft’ side of the business such as sales, marketing and project management The Slovenia Times
“Clients can rent a specific tool and the only cost is the actual application,” he explains. “This reduces the risk for the subscriber because we take full responsibility for the operation of both hardware and software. A subscriber can therefore devote their time to the business and have total control over all costs.”
And the award goes to... More and more companies are deciding that the Intrix business model is one they want to be a part of. In 2009 the number of user licences increased by almost 100 percent, and a further eighty percent increase is predicted this year. But the system is not just catching the eyes of clients. It’s also gained the attention of an array of judging panels for a variety of prestigious awards. In the past few months alone, Intera has gained international recognition with a 2009 Red Herring 100 win – past victors include Google, Skype and YouTube – and local praise at the Slovenian Best Business Idea awards where it was one of three overall winners.
Onwards With such accolades it comes as no surprise that the company is looking at opportunities for expansion. Ladič says the major goal for this year is to find at least three partners in other European countries and at least one in Canada. Such efforts will be supported by a growth in the team – there are plans to add three more employees to the current 15-strong group. According to Ladič, all the company’s success can be traced back to that team of energetic and visionary individuals. “I think the success of every business depends mainly on people working together. At Intera we strive to develop new solutions, we believe in our knowledge and in the solutions we offer, and we very much invest in the development of our employees. “When you do all that, operating results come sooner or later.”
Slovenia Increases the Minimum Wage It has been under negotiation for months but employers, the government and the trade unions have finally agreed to raise Slovenia’s minimum wage by 22.9%. By Maja Dragović
The impact That the move will find its critics is of little surprise. With Slovenia’s unemployment increasing significantly over the past year to 10.1% or 95,446 unemployed in November, there are fears that the change will serve to increase the number further still. Boštjan Vasle, the director of the Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development (IMAD) believes the rise will result in an immediate loss of 5,000 jobs. He further predicts that this figure could go up to 20,000 over the next few years. With companies looking to cut costs across the board to ride out the crisis, the timing of the rise is certainly not perfect. “In a tough business environment, when companies are look-
“If somebody currently has a wage of 600EUR net per month, I believe it is normal behavior that this person will ask for or expect a payrise. And if they don’t get the payrise, they might become demotivated,” predicts Abdullah. “If we give an increase to the employees on the minimum wage, we might have to give a wage increase to other employees, too. As a business, this is what we are worried about.”
For the first time the minimum wage will equal the basic cost of living per month
ing to cut costs in order to be able to compete efficiently around the world, rising the minimum wage at this time will be of crucial significance”, says Mr Bahaa Abdulllah, the financial director of energy measurement and management company Iscraemeco. However, Abdullah pointed out the raise will not have much of an impact on Iscraemeco since the company has a small number of employees – 12 per cent of total workforce – who are currently paid minimum wage.
An excuse? But others argue that the impact will be minimal, nevertheless, and companies might use the wage increase as an excuse for their troubles. “Some increase in unemployment is expected but it should not be exaggerated as some companies are heading for troubles regardless of the minimum wages paid”,
says Dr Davorin Kračun, professor of economics and the Faculty of Economics in Maribor. The rise will definitely have a greater impact on companies that have a high volume of low-paid labour. In Slovenia, however, the number of such companies is in decline in any case. “Slovenia is not at all and has never been the place of cheap labour”, argues Dr Kračun. “The labour cost in Slovenia is still lower than in the Western Europe but labour productivity and infrastructure is not as backward.”
Domino effect But businesses will have the worry of having to deal with the domino-effect of such a policy. There will be at least five wagebands that equal the new minimum wage, and some believe the result could be less motivated and dissatisfied workers.
So why would the government opt for such move at this time? Well, the aim for the future is to reduce the number of labour-intensive jobs and create those with higher added value. The raise in the minimum wage is a move towards realising that policy and a first step towards achieving a labour shift in the market – a shift which is very likely to result in job losses. How this shift can best be achieved remains to be seen. The government would certainly prefer a gradual approach but some employers might use this wage rise as a chance to go for more radical moves and mass-dismissals. The problem with such a scenario would be whether it would cause social unrest and how the government would deal with it. Suggestions are not in abundance but one would be to invest in education of those the government wants to promote as higher-added value workers. Source: EUROSTAT
fter evaluating the minimum needed to live a decent life per month, it was decided that this would equal 562EUR net per month. It is the first time that the minimum wage will equal the price of living expenses for one person per household per month. The increase won’t, however, happen overnight. The minimum wage will rise once a year, taking into account inflation, wages, economic growth and employment. This means that the net wage will go up to 510EUR net in 2010; 530EUR net in 2011; and 562EUR net in 2012.
Slovenia’s minimum wage compares well to some, but laggs behind other EU states Minimum wage in EU in EUR 2008 statistics 1350
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Interview: Sir Andrew Cahn
A golden Opportunity Britain has had a lot to deal with lately: the world economic downturn has coincided with a national scandal over the expenses of members of Parliament. But according to Sir Andrew Cahn, Chief Executive of UK Trade and Investment, there is plenty to be happy about – strong economic fundamentals, a reputation which remains undiminished, and a certain sports event coming to the country’s capital in 2012. By Maja Dragovic Britain is currently facing tough economic conditions. At a time like this, how easy is it to represent the country and its businesses? It has never been more important. Britain, like Slovenia, is a trading nation. Throughout our history we have traded. We don’t have much in the way of natural
resources, we are an island off a continent, we are quite small in terms of population and in terms of geographical size. And yet we are the sixth largest economy in the world. How do we do that? We do it by trading. Of course times are difficult, but they are difficult for the whole of Europe. I actually think Britain’s
economic fundamentals remain good, they were good when we went in to recession, we are still a strong trading nation. The EU Commission was forecasting better growth for Britain in 2010 than Germany or France. My own personal prediction is the same. Britain has been slow at coming out of the recession but I think that we will
come out of 2010 better than most of our continental competitors. The challenge we have is that Asia is growing rapidly. Europe as a whole has got to get its act together and get growth back into our economy. And it is going to happen in part via exports. The British reputation has been damaged during this crisis. Do you think this will have a long-lasting impact? I am not so sure about that. I was at a meeting with the top 25 British ambassadors overseas and the large majority of them said that Britain’s reputation hasn’t been damaged. Even scandals such as the MPs’ expenses hadn’t damaged Britain’s reputation; it was the other way round. Our ambassador in Tokyo said that there were two comments about the scandal amongst the Japanese: one “wish we would clean up our act the way that British cleaned up their act” and two “how come the amount is so small?” I think in a few countries the reputation has suffered, such as the Gulf countries, and we have to work hard at regaining our reputation in those nations. What about the City of London as the financial centre? Has that been damaged? I know lots of people would like to have the idea that the City of London is heavily damaged but this is not true. Actually, the City of London has, in some ways, been strengthened by this crisis because in a real crisis you have flight to quality – you go to the biggest banks, you go to the biggest companies, you go to the safest castle, and you go to the biggest financial centre, and that is London. What has happened is that the aspirant financial centers, such as Dubai, have suffered. The pound is more competitive than it has been in years – how can the British economy benefit from this? We have a competitive pound and it is a real advantage to us, certainly in the short term it will help our exporters. I think in the long
The Slovenia Times
Curse or a blessing: some cities have done really well with the Olympics while others got it all wrong
run, you do not want to have too weak a currency. But most commentators believe that the pound is now at a reasonably valued level and that it was perhaps somewhat overvalued for a number of years. You don’t want to have an undervalued currency, I know it can help you temporarily but it is not a good thing. You are putting a lot of emphasis on exports to help Britain come out of the crisis. Where do you see the new opportunities, what kind of sectors do you think can benefit from exporting? There are a number of areas in which we are a global leader. London remains a global financial services capital and this does not only include banks but also accountancy, auditing, international law firms, and insurance. People don’t often recognize it but Britain is also globally leading in creative industries such as advertising, fashion, music, archi-
tecture, and design. London is the place where every young creative person wants to go to. In addition, we are the biggest life sciences country in Europe. Five of the 20 leading medicines in the world were invented in Britain. Then there is the defence and security sector – three years ago we were the largest exporter of defense equipment in the world. We are usually number two. Britain is a real centre of excellence. Just to give you one example. In the last World Cup, the players seemed to play much better than ever before. And one reason for their better performance was that they had a different football to use. For the first time ever, it was a completely spherical, round football. That football was designed at Loughborough University in Britain. A year ago, it looked as if Slovenia was surviving the reces-
sion rather better than most, and many people were saying that it was a great thing that Slovenia is in the Euro. A year on, however, everybody is very uncertain about the Euro after the experience of Greece and, therefore, people are not saying the argument has strengthened for Britain to join the Euro. On the contrary, people are seeing advantages for Britain of having more freedom of manuver of having their own currency. What is your view as to British opinion towards Euro membership? The issue of membership of the Euro is not a live issue in Britain. I see little likelihood it becoming a live political issue whatever the result of the next general election. I think many people in Britain feel vindicated in not being part of the Euro. I have to say, however, that the Euro has probably protected
The City of London has, in some ways, been strengthened by this crisis because in a real crisis you have flight to quality – you go to the biggest banks, you go to the biggest companies, you go to the safest castle, and you go to the biggest financial centre, and that is London.
continued on page 18
18 ECONOMY It is a blessing. But if you look over history, some cities have done very well with their Olympics – Sydney, Beijing and Barcelona would be good examples. Other cities got it all wrong, such as Montreal, Atlanta and Los Angeles. So it can be a curse and it can be a blessing. For us it is going to be a blessing because we are actually planning this toughly. You are right the budget has increased, but a lot of that is bringing in costs which were always going to be there and were not properly estimated at the beginning. It is still an entirely manageable budget. We have been very tough minded in ensuring that there will be legacy benefits from all of the buildings. We have a huge amount of business linked to the Olympics, have a huge focus on the business. But lots of other countries will benefit from the Games, too. Companies from countries from all around the world can log on to our website, www.CompeteFor.com. We made an effort to attract Slovenian companies on the website and from about four Slovenian companies being registered to start with, it is now over 80.
Rather than a being damaged, the City of London may have been strengthened by the financial crisis
The question for Slovenia is should you go for the difficult high-growth markets like China, or do you go for the easier, lower growth markets like Slovenia’s neighbours.
The Slovenia Times
continued from page 17
Slovenia from deeper crisis. If you are a smaller, a more exposed economy, the Euro has been helpful. Everybody recognizes that Ireland was protected by being in the Euro. The Olympic Games in 2012 in London are, no doubt, a great business opportunity. But with the costs tripling since London won the bid, are the games a curse or a blessing at a time of economic downturn?
Some companies in Slovenia are sceptical about being given an opportunity to win business at the Olympic Games in London, fearing that because of the recession, most business will be awarded to British companies. That is a mistake, we do not run like that. The tenders will be absolutely open and fair and they will not be biased towards British companies. If a company from Slovenia bids and is the best suited on the basis of quality and price, they will win. The political relationship between Slovenia and the United Kingdom is very close. But comparatively speaking, trade is really low. Well, a lot of British tourists come here – over 100,000 per year. In absolute terms trade is low given the size of the British economy
– it stands at 500 million Euros a year – but it has grown steadily. There is quite a lot of activity going on behind the scenes, quite a lot of companies are interested in the potential that Slovenia has as a gateway into further Balkans business, given the experience the country has historically, linguistically, and culturally. That is one of Slovenia’s selling points. Additionally, with the Slovenian government’s plans to sell off some of its companies, it will open up further opportunities for British companies where they can help with their expertise. It can be said that it is good timing for your visit because recently Slovenia has set up an economic diplomacy department which is part of the foreign ministry. Their role is to help Slovenian businesses expand abroad, and part of your visit here is to promote investment into Britain. I spoke to Mr Vladimir Gasparič and he seems to be struggling with the same issues that we are struggling with, such as which markets to focus on. The question for Slovenia is should you go for the difficult high-growth markets like China, or do you go for the easier, lower growth markets like Slovenia’s neighbours. Slovenian companies find it easy to trade with Bosnia, Austria or Germany. So the question is whether you put your effort into that or do you put your effort into the difficult markets. We have exactly the same issue. The question is how do you get your diplomatic service to give enough attention to economic matters? What is the right percentage of time that an ambassador should spend on diplomatic issues, political issues, consular issues, on visa issues, on getting to know the country, or on commercial and economic issues? I don’t think there is a right answer – clearly the Slovenian government has decided that they want a bit more of their diplomatic time spent on economic issues.
FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT 19
NEWS IN BRIEF
source: STA, Slovenian Press Agency
Carrefour announces Lifting subsidiary Slovenia plans requirement
Slovenia’s exports Seven firms won shrink by 19% in 2009 GZS awards
Europe’s biggest retailer has announced plans to enter the Slovenian market as part of an expansion drive in South Eastern Europe. Carrefour, in a joint venture with the Greek Marinopoulos Group, will open shopping centres in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia as well as Slovenia. Although 60 percent of the venture will be owned by Marinopolous Group and only 40 percent by Carrefour Marinopoulos, the shopping centres will carry the Carrefour name.
Slovenia exported EUR 16.04bn worth of goods in 2009, down 19% on 2008, the Statistics Office has reported. Imports also fell – by 26.4 percent to EUR 16.96bn. The results put the trade gap at EUR 918.6m and the import to export ratio at 94.6%.
New aid programme for Pomurje region
EU companies wanting to provide services in Slovenia will no longer need to establish a subsidiary to do so, following an amendment to a government act. Labour, Family and Social Affairs Minister Ivan Svetlik said the February amendment to the Prevention of Illegal Work and Employment Act was necessary to bring the country in line with the EU Internal Market Services directive. It was previously illegal for foreign companies to trade in Slovenia without first establishing a subsidiary in the country. “We had to abolish this to avoid lawsuits”, Svetlik explained. He announced that even more far-reaching changes to the act will be made in the second half of 2010.
Renault confirms production of new roadster in Slovenia
New law cuts taxes for lowest earners More generous tax breaks, and an increase in the minimum wage, have been introduced in the hope of helping Slovenia’s lowest earners. The special tax break for those earning up to EUR 10,200 annually has been raised from EUR 2.095 to EUR 3,020. For those making up to EUR 11,800, the tax break is EUR 1,047. The special breaks come on top of the general tax relief for all taxpayers, which for 2010 is set at EUR 3,100. The breaks mean that the minimum wage will be almost entirely exempt from income tax.
The government has adopted a programme which aims to boost the competitiveness of the Pomurje region. EUR 33m has been earmarked for the programme, which aims to create new jobs while preserving existing ones, establish a development infrastructure and mitigate the impact of the economic and financial crisis on the northeastern region. More than 60 percent of the funds will be used to boost investments and create new jobs.
Renault has announced that its new two-seater car will be produced in Slovenia. The “Wind”, which was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show, will be made by Revoz, the Slovenian assembly plant of the French car maker. The roadster, formerly codenamed X33, will be produced in Novo Mesto with the help of a EUR 14m government subsidy granted to Revoz last year. It will largely be assembled on production lines currently used for the Clio supermini and Twingo city car. An extra 50 workers have already been hired to help with production, which is due to start in a few months. Revoz will not disclose the planned production figures but said its current capacities allow for a maximum output of 20,000 Winds. Last year the plant produced a record 212,680 cars.
Two IT companies, a maker of farm equipment and two energy companies were among the winners of
Slovenia looks for ways to export light aircraft to US Efforts to export Slovenian-built light aircraft to the United States have been boosted by a ministerial visit. During a trip to the US, Slovenian Transport Minister Patrick Vlačič discussed the situation with Randolph Babbit, administrator of the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It is hoped that in the long term including Slovenian aircraft in the EU/US cooperation agreement on civil aviation safety will leave Slovenian firms free to export light aircraft in the States. But the two took the opportunity to review possible interim solutions. They said such a solution would have to involve mutual recognition of certificates, cooperation between national certification bodies and possible certification of Slovenian aviation products in the US in line with the country’s standards.
Government adopts decree on GM corn Slovenian farmers will be allowed to grow genetically modified corn following changes in regulations. Farmers will be allowed to grow MON810 corn – which has been approved by the EU – but will have to establish a buffer zone around it. As part of efforts to enable the sustainable production of GM corn, farmers will have to pay a fee – equivalent to 15 percent of the current subsidies for arable land – into a special fund. The fund will reimburse farmers whose crops are unintentionally contaminated by genetically modified organisms.
the 2009 Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) awards for top business achievements. The award in the big companies category went to two energy firms – the gas division of conglomerate Istrabenz, Istrabenz Plini, and the energy utility arm of oil trader Petrol, Petrol Energetika. Among medium-sized companies the GZS recognised Farmtech, a maker of tractor trailers which exports 80 percent of what it produces, and engineering company Savaprojekt, which the GZS said has excellent long-term growth prospects. IT firms LPKF Laser & Elektronika and Spica International scooped the awards in the small company category for their innovative products and fast growth, alongside Oblak Commerce, a family company specialising in environmentally-friendly concrete products. Sava chief executive Janez Bohorič, who chaired the judging panel, said the seven winners could be called “crisis breakers”. GZS director general Samo Hribar Milic added that the winners showed Slovenian firms can become more competitive.
Government raises tax on energy supplies Slovenians will be paying up to two euro-cents more per unit of fuel following a change in tax contributions. In February the government adopted a regulation which raises tax contributions on all fuels. It is believed the change will raise around EUR 20m a year. March 2010
20 FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT
Building with BRIC When the Directorate for Economic Diplomacy was created late last year, one big goal was quickly identified – improving bilateral trade with the so-called BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India and China). This month two important visits have significantly advanced progress towards this goal. By Claire Read
009 was not a good year for Slovenia exports: a fall of 19% led to a trade gap of EUR 918.6m and a striking import-toexport ratio of 94.6%. Enter the Directorate for Economic Diplomacy. Created in September last year, the sole aim of the department is to help Slovenian companies expand their businesses abroad and, in so doing, reverse the negative trend when it comes to exports. At a two-day Ministry of Foreign Affairs conference held in January, it was quickly established that one of the key priorities for the directorate should be improving trade with Brazil, Russia, India and China.
»A historic moment« Alessandro Teixeira believes Port of Koper might be a good alternative for Brazilian exporters
Next port of call: Luka Koper One option for improving trade is Luka Koper, Slovenia’s only commercial port. Currently, most Brazilian goods arrive via Northern European ports. But using Luka Koper would shave 500 land kilometres off the journey goods have to take to reach their destination, allowing Brazilian companies to
Trade with Brazil Value in 000 EUR
Imports from Brazil Exports to Brazil
deliver their wares to all Eastern European capitals less than 24 hours after they arrive in port. »We think the Port of Koper may be a good alternative for Brazilian exporters,« reflects Teixeira. »There are possibilities of using the potential of its logistics in the region as a corridor for the transportation of a large diversity of products Brazil has to export to European countries.«
Importance for India too Increasing use of Koper is not only of interest to Brazilian representatives. It could also be key to increasing Indian trade with Trade with india in million Euros
»Slovenia has a fast-growing market and its demands for international products are rising but unfortunately we have not yet explored all the potential trade between Slovenia and Brazil,« he argues.
And so just a month after that conference Ljubljana played host to another one, this time specifically on strengthening SloveniaBrazil business relations. This event saw what Alessando Teixeira, President of the Brazilian Trade and Investment Agency (Apex-Brasil), described as »a historic moment« – the signing of a memorandum of cooperation between Apex-Brasil and Slovenia’s Agency for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investment (JAPTI). According to Teixeira, who headed a delegation of Brazilian companies during his two-day trip to Slovenia, »the Memorandum of Understanding is an important instrument to strengthen business relationships between Brazilian and Slovenian companies.«
Slovenia. It was a point raised this month when Slovenian President Danilo Türk met Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during a trip to the country. The two discussed bilateral trade and the President is positive about the possibilities. He says »there are obvious areas of future trade cooperation« between the two countries »including in areas such as pharmaceuticals and trading services – including shipping.« He also sees big potential in the sale of hydroelectric equipment, an area in which Slovenian companies have significant expertise. Plans are now afoot for a visit to Brazil by a Slovenian political and business delegation. It is hoped such a visit will take place in October or November this year and that it could, in the words of the President, »contribute to the enhancement of political and economic cooperation between the two countries.« It is a viewpoint shared by VS Sheshadri, the Indian ambassador to Slovenia. »We have to build greater familiarity between businesses on the two sides,« he argues. »Businesses have to become better aware of the opportunities and acquire a level of confidence in doing business with one another.« It is a sentiment which could equally apply to increasing trade with Brazil. One thing is for sure: both of these important February visits have helped make progress towards establishing that trust.
*Statistics refer to the first seven months
60000 40000 40000 20000 20000
The Slovenia Times
FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT 21
The New Act Promising To Attract More Investors In the past, Pomurje region has had some success in attracting both local and foreign investors. But with the government’s Act on Development Support for the region, the business environment looks likely to become even more competitive. We talked to Feri Gönc, the marketing adviser for the region’s development agency, about the possibilities the new act will bring. By Maja Dragović What are the advantages of investing in a project in the Pomurje region? Pomurje has proved in the past that it can offer a very good business environment for investors. The evidence is the successful past investments of foreign investors and facts like the availability of industrial land, the motivated workforce and one of the most favourable locations in terms of operative costs for various types of activities. The newest developments have given Pomurje an even a better business environment as the result of the Government Act on Development Support for the Pomurje region. How will the government stimulate project developments in the Pomurje region? The government of the Republic of Slovenia has recognised the need to make a special intervention in the development of the Pomurje region, which is because its traditional industries left it the least developed region in Slovenia. In 2009 the crisis has struck some companies in Pomur je, leaving behind a 20% unemployment rate. The new Act is giving special treatment for companies registered in Pomurje in the form of tax incentives for employment and investments and special public tenders for subsidising investments as well as for infrastructure development. The aim of the Act is mainly the development of new employment and higher added value for the regional economy. What type of projects are planned for the region? The Pomurje region is mostly interested for investments in new production facilities, innovative products, renewable energies but also for real estate investments in tourism. There are initiatives in the fields mentioned but new ideas combined with actual investors are more than welcome. What are the priority projects?
Pomurje has proved in the past that it can offer a very good business environment for investors.
The new Act is giving special treatment for companies registered in Pomurje in the form of tax incentives for employment and investments and special public tenders for subsidising investments as well as for infrastructure development.
The priority areas for the development of Pomurje are higher added value production, development of tourism, agriculture development combi ned with food production, and renewable energies. Do you think foreigners will have an interest in those projects? We already see the interest from foreign investors in most of these fields. Actually, the Mura Regional Development Agency (RRA Mura) – the implementing body of foreign direct investment (FDI) attraction activities – is already working closely with solar panel producers, investors in tourism real estate as well as with investors in the food processing industry. Present activities are
giving us confidence that we can attract investors and achieve the objectives. How do you plan to communicate/advertise tenders for those projects? The Mura Regional Development Agency has been active in the field of FDI attraction already from 2004 and has secured tangible results in the form of implemented investments. We are going to continue with our activities and will communicate investment opportunities in Pomurje through specialised fairs and events, advertising in specialised magazines and mostly in direct contacts with identified potential investors, where we can present tailor-made packages for investors.
The Pomurje region is mostly interested for investments in new production facilities, innovative products, renewable energies but also for real estate investments in tourism. March 2010
REAL ESTATE SPECIAL
REAL ESTATE SPECIAL
Challenging times When a host of European construction companies declared bankruptcy last year, many predicted that such a state of affairs would soon follow in Slovenia. Itâ€™s a prediction which seems to have been proved right. Many developers are struggling to stay afloat. But solutions to the crisis are being actively sought, and there is hope that the second half of the year will see the situation improve. By Carlos Da Silva The Slovenia Times
Trouble It’s a situation which has left many Slovenian developers in real trouble. Arguably the most prominent example is Vegrad. After over fifty years of trading, the Velenjebased company – one of the country’s leading construction businesses – has faced the very real possibility of bankruptcy. It has only survived this long thanks to the intervention of poli-
4th quarter 2008
Size in m2
1st quarter 2009
2nd quarter 2009
3rd quarter 2009
4th quarter 2009
ticians. An agreement on the part of Mayor Zoran Jankovič saw the municipality of Ljubljana buy 119 apartments from Vegrad’s Siska project. The resulting influx of EUR 19m kept the company afloat. But in 2009 the cracks could no longer be plastered over. With sales figures down, and an unwillingness to lower prices, Vegrad ended the year with a reported net profit of just EUR 50,000. The company has approached the government for help but it seems that this time aid from politicians won’t be forthcoming. Economy Minister Mr. Matej Lahovnik offered a feisty response to anyone hoping the government might help the industry. “If construction companies expect that the state will step in, this is an illusion,” he said. “If we were to introduce subsidies, it would mean that we would be adding more air to a real estate bubble that has been around for a while now.”
the market should begin to pick up.” Young is cautiously optimistic about the prospect of this happening. “Based on available information and our experiences with an increased level of interest, it seems like it will be a more liquid market this year. I anticipate a higher level of interest from the foreign investor. “That said, foreign investors, just like many local buyers, are well educated about the market and its condition. Over priced property in Slovenia – of which there is plenty – will remain unsold.” It seems banks and construction companies need to come to a compromise quickly.
In the absence of government support, many experts believe that salvation for the construction industry will have to come from those to whom they owe money – the bankers. The argument is that if banks were willing to negotiate in terms of debt repayments – and possibly agree to lose money – construction companies would be able to lower property prices to more realistic levels, enabling sales.
As a part of the second construction phase modern infrastructure is being built at an increased pace in the Komenda Business Zone. The building of production, storage, service and other business premises covering 60 hectares of land starts already this year. As one of the biggest and greenest business zones in Slovenia it will develop in the next two years into an attractive, distinguished and leading business centre recognizable also in the Central European area.
Bank job In the absence of government support, many experts believe that salvation for the industry will have to come from those to whom they owe money – the bankers. The argument is that if banks were willing to negotiate in terms of debt repayments – and possibly agree to lose money – construction companies would be able to lower property prices to more realistic levels, enabling sales. It’s a compromise which would see both parties get at least some money back. But how banks are willing to negotiate will likely depend on the perceived quality of a construction company’s building projects.
Better days ahead? For now, the property market in Slovenia remains stagnant. Justin Young evocatively describes the situation over the last four months as “like the film ‘Flatliners’ – stagnant and moving very little”. He says movement is required at the bottom of end the market first. “Once [this happens] the rest of
PC Komenda, d.o.o. Glavarjeva cesta 61/a 1218 Komenda Phone: +386 (0)1 83 43 328 Email: email@example.com www.pc-komenda.si March 2010
REAL ESTATE SPECIAL
They say all good things must come to an end. So it has proved with Slovenia’s real estate boom. For a while, property prices were rising at a rate of more than twenty percent a year. Buyers were frenetically snapping up more or less everything on the market. Understandably, every real estate company wanted to get in on the act. Many started building private apartments without guarantees of sales – so confident were they in the strength of the market. It was a con fidence which turned out to be misplaced. And it means that developers are now facing a situation where they are unable to sell the properties they have built. The problem is compounded by the inflated land prices which were characteristic of the boom. The breakeven point for properties constructed during the golden years is now significantly higher than their worth in today’s market. Justin Young of Slovenian Estates says the result is that sellers are having to drop their prices to have any hope of a sale. “We’re seeing lots of sellers lowering their asking price,” he says. “I do think though that many sellers overvalued their property in the first place and are in the unfortunate position of playing ‘market catch up’ and in some cases still a little too far behind.”
Number and size of buildings which acquired building permits from December 2008 to December 2009
onstruction companies’ borrowing limits was a hot topic in the foreign press last year – an unsurprising topic of interest given the dire financial straits in which many companies found themselves. Take Spain. A whopping 32 percent of the 3,000 bankruptcies filed for there in the first half of 2009 were from the construction business. It was a similar situation in Portugal. Unlike their colleagues in these countries, Slovenian bankers had been relatively kind to clients looking to borrow money while counting high risks amongst their portfolio. No more. Defaulters are finding their bank accounts frozen and machinery and unsold properties seized as the real estate bubble bursts.
REAL ESTATE SPECIAL 23
24 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL
source: STA and The Slovenia Times
REGIONAL PROPERTY Tourism
Istrabenz Selling Postojnska Jama Operator
EUR 210m for the lease of Luštica
Property tax coming soon
Success at Budma fair
A consortium of companies and Northstar Equest Capital has offered the government of Montenegro EUR 210 million for the lease of 520,000 square metres of land on the Luštica near Herceg Novi. The consortium, which operates within an investment fund in London, announced that it hopes to lease the land for 60 years and provide employment to 1,000 people. It has also committed to build at least two four and five star hotels and 50 to 60 high class villas over the next five years. The tender documentation states that the complex, if successfully completed, will be managed by specialist hotel management company Rezidor.
Finance Minister Franc Križanič has announced that a new property tax is to be collected by municipalities and that its rate will vary depending on the area. He guaranteed that buildings occupied by their owners will be excluded from the additional taxation. Owners who are renting out their properties, though, will pay higher taxes.
Despite the economic downturn, the 19th edition of the Budma fair proved to be a very popular event in building market of central-east Europe. The fair attracted 1,350 exhibitors from 32 countries, attracting 60.000 visitors. At the end of the fair Qbiss by Trimo was awarded with Top Builder Award, given by the Builder Magazine for being one of the most innovative products on the Polish market.
Istrabenz Turizem, the tourism division of the troubled conglomerate Istrabenz, has published a call for bids for Turizem Kras, the company operating Postojnska Jama (cave) and Predjamski Castle. The first phase of the call, in which the company is collecting non-binding bids, will close on 15 March. Istrabenz Turizem will spend 15 days considering the bidders and then will invite those it finds appropriate to participate in the second phase. Upon receiving more detailed information on Turizem Kras, they will be invited to present binding bids. lso in February, the company published a call for bids for Istrabenz Hoteli Portoroz, the company owning the Kempinski Palace hotel in Portoroz, and the Grand Hotel Adriatic in Croatia’s Opatija.
REAL ESTATE SPECIAL
news in brief
Fall in request for bulding permits in Serbia In December 2009 the goverment issued 471 construction permits, 47.6 percent less than in the same month in the previous year. Information from the Bureau of Statistics shows the entire number of permits for 2009 was 24.9 percent lower than in 2008. The value of planned works increased by 84.8 percent compared to December 2008, but such a significant increase is mostly due to the value of the permit for the reconstruction of hydroelectric power station Iron Gate. The Slovenia Times
Tenders for the long lease of land on the Luštica peninsula were invited on 2 December 2009. Bids had to include a minimum investment value of EUR100m and guarantee a minimum annual rent of 70 cents per square metre.
Real estate prices fall across Croatia Prices of properties registered on the real estate website CentarNekretnina.net fell in December 2009 compared to the same period in the previous year. Prices in Zagreb fell by 4.9 percent while a 4.6 percent fall was recorded for properties on the Adriatic coast. The average price of a flat in December 2009 was EUR 1,893 per square metre in Zagreb and EUR 1,964 per square metre on the Adriatic coast.
Belgrade has cheapest rentals
Another gem on the Montenegrin coast The government of Montenegro recently approved Colliers International’s plans for a luxury resort in Skocidjevojka. A EUR 250m investment will be made in the resort, which is to be located approximately 50 kilometers south of Budva. “In theory it’s very easy to get approvals for projects, but in practice it’s very difficult due to the limited resources and lack of infrastructure of the local authorities” commented Mr. Andreas Marambos, Colliers International managing director. He added that the resort is in a strong financial position and is not dependent on the sale of residential units to proceed.
Russians interested in Novi Sad
Increase in sale of second-hand flats
Novi Sad, Serbia’s second largest city, has seen increased interest from Russian investors. Local property agencies commented that, although high interest has been shown, no deals have been made yet. They said the hill of Mt. Fruška Gora and the villages of Sremska Kamenica and Sremski Karlovci are catching the attention of Russian buyers seeking large properties at a reasonable distance from the city centre.
According to the Surveying and Mapping Authority, all major Slovenian cities saw an increase in the sales of second-hand flats in the final quarter of 2009. In Ljubljana and Maribor, the country’s biggest cities, sales increased for the second quarter in a row suggesting the Slovenian real-estate market is slowly coming back to life after nearly a year of constant decline.
A recent study shows that, aside from Budapest, Belgrade has the lowest prices for renting apartments and offices in the region. According to Colliers International, the average monthly cost to rent an A-class office or apartment in Belgrade is currently at EUR 13.9 per square meter.
Modest rise in the price of new apartments Prices of new apartments rose 0.2% in the fourth quarter of 2009, the first rise of the last five quarters. The number of transactions in the market also increased to 395, the highest level since the first quarter of 2008.
Rise in the completion of new flats In Croatia, during the first three quarters of 2009, 5,555 new flats were completed and ready for sale, 16 percent more than in the same period last year. The number of flats under construction was only 8,515, however, which represents a massive drop of 35.4 per cent compared with the numbers of 2008.
EXPO VENICE, ITALY APRIL 15-18
TOURISM REAL ESTATE
THE FIRST INTERNATIONAL SHOW DEDICATED TO TOURISM REAL ESTATE It is more than just another exhibition, it is four days of meetings and business networking dedicated to Hospitality and Real Estate development of the most prestigious international tourist and leisure destinations. The fair is structured in two main areas: a B2B - Hotel and Resort dedicated area, for investing, designing and constructing in the most sought after tourist locations and hotels, and an area reserved for the B2C - Exclusive Villas and Residences sector, where you can admire, sell and purchase the most exclusive villas in the world.
Territories T it iess
Hotels Resorts el and Reso e es
COME AND MEET
Counselling and SService Providers u se e Pr
Construction Companies Cons struction Co
Real Estate ate Agencies
With tha Patronage of
In association with
www.tre-expo.com | firstname.lastname@example.org | Ph-Fax: +39 041 5334851
HOTEL - APARTMENTS & RESORT
V I L A S AV U D R I JA
Vila Savudrija d.o.o., A.Vivode 22, 52470 Umag, Croatia
The Istrian people’s hospitality - their sincere smiles and open hearts make a firm foundation for further development of this charming tourist destination.
Key features of the location
A BID INVITATION
• The “Vila Savudrija tourist complex” project is sited in the northernmost part of the Mediterranean, reaching deeply into Central Europe. The location is easily accessible and reachable by road, rail and air or by sea.
for a partner / co-investor for the “Vila Savudrija Tourist Complex” project in the Savudrija area, Croatia. Tender Vila Savudrija d.o.o., A.Vivode 22, 52470 Umag, Croatia puts out to tender for a partner/ co-investor for the “Vila Savudrija Tourist Complex” project, Alberi, Savudrija, Umag, Croatia.
Purpose of the tender The basic purpose of the tender is to get a partner / co-investor for the project of building “Vila Savudrija Tourist Complex”. The project comprises the construction of the tourist complex (a hotel complex, villas, accompanying facilities, a swimming-pool complex) with approximately 1,000 beds. The surface of the site measures 61,000 m2. There is also availability of some plots off the site measuring approximately 23,000 m2.
Location presentation In the very northern part of the Adriatic Sea, on the scenic coast of the Croatian Istria region, are the towns of Umag and Savudrija - famous, desirable tourist destinations, noted for their mild Mediterranean climate and surrounded by oak woods, evergreen Mediterranean vegetation, vineyards and olive groves. Umag is an attractive place in Istria. Its rich tourism tradition comes from its numerous surrounding cultural sights and the town has been looked after by ambitious locals doing their best to preserve the nature and its beauty and old customs, as well as developing the town’s cultural life.
• The Vila Savudrija tourist complex has views of Piran, Trst and Venice as well as their gulfs. In the background the magnificent Alps fill the horizon. • There are ideal climatic conditions throughout the year. • Istria is a multi-cultural region offering an abundance of natural sights, cultural heritage as well as relaxation and entertainment possibilities. It could be called the Istrian Tuscany. • Sports enthusiasts can choose from a variety of extensive golf courses, and practise tennis, bike riding, jogging, and water sports in the area’s pristinely preserved nature.
Contacts Mr Boštjan Blatnik, Sales Service Manager, Imos d.d. Ljubljana; T: 00 386 (0)1 47 33 353; M: 00 386 (0)41 754 382 Email: email@example.com Mr Jože Novak, Company Director of Vila Savudrija d.o.o.; T: 00 386 (0)1 47 33 308; M: 00 386 (0)51 606 860 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Interested parties should register their interests at the following addresses: By post at: Vila Savudrija d.o.o., A.Vivode 22, 52470 Umag, Croatia, or Via email at: email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org Location viewing is possible by appointment.
For further information please visit our website www.imos.si
Vila Savudrija d.o.o. A. Vivode 22, 52470 Umag, Hrvatska telefon +386 1 47 33 308 faks +386 1 47 33 309
HOTEL - APARTMENTS & RESORT V I L A S AV U D R I JA
In the embrace of Istrian greenery. Alberi – Savudrija, a wonderful hilly landscape will provide shelter and hospitality to our new tourist project. In the middle of this green landscape we have planned the "Hotel & Resort Savudrija" complex with great respect for the preservation of the natural landscape with its stone built villages and vineyards whilst still balancing the demands of the modern tourist.
LOCAL IDENTITY AND ARCHITECTURE OF ISTRIA - THE CROATIAN TUSCANY PIRAN
Why Vila Savudrija • high standard resort • located in the most northern part of Mediterranean • in contact with bay of Trieste, Venice and the bay of Piran • attractive destination all year round • offers relaxation and sports in the sea and in the surrounding areas (golf , cycling, trekking, hiking, agrotourism, wine routes)
28 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL
Ljubljana is Getting a Makeover Ljubljana went from province to a capital city in a century, with its population increasing from 36,000 inhabitants at the end of 19th century, to almost 300,000 inhabitants in the 21 century. How did the urban planning of the city follow the increase of its inhabitants? By Maja Dragović
n 1511, a major earthquake destroyed much of Ljubljana, prompting a major rebuild. The city was rebuilt in a Baroque style following the model of a Renaissance town. But the first important event in the modern urban planning of Ljubljana happened in 1895, after another earthquake that severely damaged the provincial remains of the city. The event may have damaged the city but ultimately it helped to speed up plans for its reconstruction.
Fabulous Fabiani Maks Fabiani, one of the most respected urban planners of the Austro Hungarian Empire at the time, was chosen as the main planner of the city. Under the personal sponsorship Ivan Hribar,
the liberal nationalist mayor of Ljubljana, Fabiani designed several important buildings in the Carniolan capital, including the Mladika palace – now the seat of the Slovenian Foreign Ministry. Other major projects included the complete renovation of Prešern Square and the area around the Tromostovje (Triple Bridge) as well as the Kresija Palace and the Philip Mansion. The construction of Dragon Bridge was another major project – and another of these landmarks now considered as central symbols of Ljubljana. Hribar’s aim was to transform Ljubljana into a representative centre of all Slovene lands and thus create a cultural and economic capital for the Slovenian people. He also carried out a radical modernisation of the city’s
infrastructure, including electrification and the introduction of trams.
The Slovenian touch In 1929, it was a Slovenian architect who added a twist to Ljubljana’s look. Jože Plečnik had a vision of Ljubljana as a place concentrated within a circular road – he drew the border of the then city which included Šiška, Vič, Bežigrad and Tnovo, parts which, at the time, were developing fast. Plečnik’s greatest legacy is the work he did on the church of St Francis but he also left his mark in with civic improvements including new bridges, waterfront, banks, and sluices along the Ljubljanica river. His designs and vision are seen in the new market buildings, kiosks monuments, plazas, and parks as
The new plans will expand pedestrian zones
well as the monumental University Library. Plečnik’s plans were not as drastic as Fabian’s but both of their ideas continue to influence the regulation of urban planning in Ljubljana.
Interview: Professor Janez Koželj
Look After the Future Now If you were to take a look at Ljubljana’s old town, you could be forgiven for thinking that there is a concerted effort to kick cars out of the city centre. You’d be right. Ljubljana’s vice-mayor Janez Koželj says many efforts are now underway to reduce the use of personal vehicle in the city, and encourage more use of public transport.
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By Maja Dragovic There are many projects that the municipality of Ljubljana is undertaking in the city. Which project will the municipality present at the MIPIM property show in Cannes this year? The municipality of Ljubljana has opted to present the beginning of a new policy of regulating traffic into the city. The city does not currently have such a policy due to various interests – there are different professional and political viewpoints as to the function of traffic in the modern workplace and a modern city. That is why one of the basic strategic aims of The Slovenia Times
this presentation is to show the beginnings of this policy, one that Ljubljana will develop gradually. Why do you think there is a need to emphasise investment in sustainable mobility? We fear that the city, as well as the country as a whole, does not yet apply the principles of sustainable development. It is true that this is an objective, but big steps are not yet being taken to achieve it. In the meantime, traffic problems are increasing. This is particularly the case in Ljubljana, where the traffic is causing func-
tional problems in the city – mobility is slowing down because of too much traffic, and the environment is being damaged because of increasing harmful emissions. So we need to see a shift in the use of public transport, whereby there will be more walking and cycling to work. But rather than encouraging the use of public transport, cycling and walking, we are going in a different direction where the use of cars is on the increase. We need to set up operational activities and different strategies to try to change this,
and then divide them into measures with timelines. This is what Ljubljana lacks at the moment. So there aren’t any concrete plans to reduce the use of personal vehicles in the city? No, but our presentation at MIPIM is the first step. We will present two projects. The first one showcases projects that Ljubljana has already done and has been doing in the last three years. Those are the projects that are working to expand areas for pedestrians and cyclists – reacquiring public space at the expense of road surfaces.
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Modern times The first completely modern, post World War II, urban plan of Ljubljana was adopted in 1966. The plan focused mainly on the centre. Interestingly, the plan predicted an east-west motor-
way passing through middle of the centre, north of the railway station. The current plan was drawn up in the eighties as a long-term plan for the period 1986-2000. It puts a lot of emphasis on the green areas around the city, with provisions for a city tram, and with restrictions for private transport. Work is now underway to prepare the plan for the twenty first century. But the city council is having to deal with some setbacks. The plan has been drawn up and put forward for public debates twice already in the last three years, but it keeps coming back with additional changes from various councils in the city. The municipality officials blame the current law, saying that it allows for public debates to take place endlessly. Even so, the plan looks to give Ljubljana a drastic makeover in more ways than one. Firstly, a number or projects with modern glass skyscrapers are in the pipeline. Secondly, pedestrians and cyclists appear to be winning the battle against motorists, with plans to expand pedestrian and cycling zones beyond the current borders. So there are many innovations planned for the city. But planners are far from turning their back on centuries of history – the need to preserve the historical nature of Slovenia’s capital is foremost in the minds of those planning for the twenty first century.
Šmartinska Partnership The Šmartinska Partnership is very reminiscent of the work to revitalise the Docklands area of London – a project which saw a large part of the city redeveloped principally for commercial and residential use. In the Šmartinska Partnership, the area in question is the eastern warehouse and production district of Ljubljana, once a crucial transport hub of the western Balkans. Since the cessation of storage activities in the area, and the move of industrial facilities to the outskirts of Ljubljana, the area has decayed fast. But in 2008 the decision was made to revitalise the entire area. The city of Ljubljana, together with the seven biggest local landowners, organised an international tender for its redevelopment. The requirement was for a holistic approach, meaning that the area would be dealt with as an interlinked whole. The plan also had to cover over 200 hectares of prime real-estate. The contract was awarded to Hosoya-Schaefer architects. Their plan included an established link with the city centre and the suburbs, a big park in the middle of the area in the fashion of Central Park in New York City, and a cluster of skyscrapers on the edge of that park, with one of them being 150m tall. They also suggested a multimodal boulevard that would link all the areas together. The press has dubbed the project “mini Manhattan” and the Šmartinska Partnership is likely to become the focal point of urban development in the near future, promising to drastically change the look and feel of Ljubljana.
Šmartinska is to be redeveloped primarily for commercial and residential use
What type of projects are they? They are the type of projects which aim is to reduce the areas of traffic use and to increase pedestrian and cycling areas. All of these small projects currently happening in Ljubljana are investments for the future since their aim is to improve mobility
around the city in the long term. They are conducted at the same time as the works on the communal infrastructure – as we renew utilities and technical infrastructure, at the same time we block traffic for personal vehicles and replace it with other means of transport. Those projects are currently concentrated around the
By excluding traffic and introducing more green areas, your focus seems to be very much on the environment? That is the essence of our plan. The centre needs to be opened up for those who live there, as well as for tourists – it needs to be freed from domination by cars. And, alongside the infrastructure, this will speed up the renovation of the city as a whole. This also includes the refurbishment of the façades which is already under way, but, in addition we need to renovate the social aspect of the city, and the economical activity in the city centre. That is what I mean by investing for the future. What is the other project you are planning to present? The second project is EU funded. It is the Civitas Elan project, which in Slovenian means “to mobilise citizens for a better quality of life”. It is being conducted in five Euro-
pean cities: Ghent, Zagreb, Brno, Oporto, and in Ljubljana. It is intended to improve the individual segments of public and non-motorised traffic in the cities and to exchange knowledge and experiences among participating cities. What does the project entail? The project itself aims to reduce space for private cars by aiming to encourage greater use of public transport and cycling. It covers many areas but includes separate traffic lanes for public transport which will be quick and reliable in peak hours as well as at other times; a reliable timetable which will provide an opportunity to plan trips accordingly; and new traffic signals at intersections and arrangements to give priority to public transport and cyclists. In addition, hybrid buses will be introduced on high-speed public transport routes to reduce fuel consumption and emissions. The middle part of the main street – Slovenska cesta – will be rearranged for the sole use of public transport, cyclists and pedestrians. March 2010
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Photo: Stane Jeršič
city centre since this is the part which is mostly endangered by cars. But this is just one piece in a big jigsaw.
30 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL
In Focus: Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro
Thinking about investing in South-East Europe? The worldwide financial turmoil of the last two years has left investors extremely sceptical about opportunities in the real estate market. But they haven’t given up looking for a bargain, remembering examples such as Latvia and Estonia where prices went from roof to floor. South-East European countries can’t be said to be in that sort of a position. But the market is changing and good opportunities are around. By Carlos Silva
Opportunities abound in Slovenia
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Slovenia is a small country of two million inhabitants. Its geographical position – in the centre of Europe, sharing borders with four countries – make it a point of passage for most travellers and businesses wanting to reach South East Europe. The country was the first to officially leave the Former Republic of Yugoslavia. It declared independence on 25 June 1991.
Buying real estate in Slovenia
Prices in Slovenia grew at an incredible double digit rate yearly between 2003 and 2007. Some places, such as Ljubljana and the country’s coastal area, saw yearly rises of up to 30 percent. The Slovenia Times
Slovenia’s real estate market has been open to foreign investors since 2004. Many western European investors thought that the country’s declaration of independence from Yugoslavia would see a wealth of property bargains. They were surprised, however, by high prices. Ultimately, less than 500 properties were sold to non-Slovene citizens in the first two years following independence. By the end of 2009, the number of properties owned by foreign
investors had grown to 3,000. The vast majority of buyers are from the United Kingdom (nearly 40 percent), with the Prekmurje region their favourite area for investment. Italians, meanwhile, have fallen in love with the Slovenian coast and so constitute nearly 30 percent of foreign buyers in the country. Austrians and Germans together represent 14% of the buyers and generally prefer the north of the country due to its hills and landscapes which are equally fantastic in both summer and winter.
Price analysis Prices in Slovenia grew at an incredible double digit rate yearly between 2003 and 2007. Some places, such as Ljubljana and the country’s coastal area, saw yearly rises of up to 30 percent. The market peaked in July 2008 when prices of properties in Ljubljana reached between EUR 2,926 to EUR 3,737 per square metre. Rents were an average of EUR 491 per month for a small (40 square metre) unit and EUR
2,175 for a large unit (150 square metres). Over the past two years, though, the frenetic growth has stopped. The number of transactions in the market reached a record low and stocks of empty apartments are starting to pile up. The first quarter of 2009 saw a sharp drop in the number of transactions – just 141 compared to 393 in the same period in 2008. With a 64 percent drop based on a year on year comparison, prices in Slovenia fell to their lowest levels since early January 2007. 2009 may have started badly but it ended more positively, reaching 395 transactions in its final quarter. Prices for apartments rose modestly although continue to be well below the 2008 values. The highest average price per square metre for apartments in the country in 2009 was EUR 2,471 in Ljubljana and EUR 2,285 in the coastal town of Koper. The cheapest flats in Slovenia continue to be in the city of Murska Sobota – an average per square metre price of barely above EUR 1,100.
REAL ESTATE SPECIAL 31 Final thoughts Slovenia is surely the most stable country in the region both economically and politically. As such, it constitutes a secure investment. Although transactions in the market are increasing and prices are stabilising, there are rumours some large development groups are facing bankruptcy. In fact expectations in the sector for the upcoming three months are mostly negative. Large development groups such as Vegrad are facing serious financial liquidity problems and Slovenian banks have finally decided to act upon them. Given that these groups own several unsold apartment complexes, bargains could soon be in sight.
Croatia Real Estate Croatia is made up of four million inhabitants. Its seaside is the envy of all surrounding countries due to its natural beauty and well preserved coast. A large share of the country’s income is generated by tourism – it is a popular holiday destination for Slovenes, Austrians and Germans. Over the past 10 years, second home buyers and investors have shown high interest in properties on Croatia’s unspoiled and beautiful coast. The barriers established to limit the number of foreign investors are slowly being removed as the country realises its economy’s need for investment from abroad.
An attractive opportunity The majority of foreign buyers in Croatia are from Western Europe. As a consequence, the financial crisis affected severely the Croatian property market and caused a significant sales slowdown. When the Slovenia Times interviewed Stefan Jelic from Ante Diem Real Estate Agency last year, he revealed that the country was facing a serious
New laws were approved in 2009 in order to allow nonCroatian citizens to buy properties under the same conditions as the ones offered to Croatian citizens. As many as 40 percent of Croatia’s real estate agencies may have closed due to the drop in business over the past year and a half, the Croatia Times reports.
Prices on Croatia’s seaside are still lower than in other top European coastal destinations
issue. Sales were stagnating and property owners were unwilling to lower their prices. But Croatia is established as an attractive destination for investment because of its prices relative to other top coastal regions such as the south of Italy, the south of Spain, Montenegro or the luxurious Greek coast.
Buying a property in Croatia Some may consider Croatia a good investment opportunity – after spending any amount of time soaking up its beauty, who wouldn’t. Recent rule changes mean that it is now possible for an EU citizen to purchase an apartment under the same conditions as any Croat national. In practice, though, buying a property in Croatia means dealing with complex bureaucracy and long waiting times. While in Western Europe buying a property does necessarily require using an estate agency, in Croatia it is strongly recommended.
son with the end of 2008. As far as prices in capital city Zagreb are concerned, the average price per square metre has fallen by 4.9 percent on a year-on-year analysis. The average price of a flat there is now EUR 1,893 per square metre. Prices have also fallen on the Adriatic coast (a decrease of 4.6 percent) with the average price per square metre for a flat now 1,964 Euros. Experts believe prices will keep falling at moderate levels in 2010 until the employment figures recover. continued on page 32
26th and 27th March 2010 9 a.m.−6 p.m.
Croatian real estate prices have fallen by 4.8 percent in compari-
Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre (Gospodarsko razstavišËe) Slovenia
Property price index in Croatia 125
While in Western Europe buying a property does necessarily require using an estate agency, in Croatia it is strongly recommended.
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The fair which gatheres all relevant information on real estate buying, selling, renting and restoring.
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32 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL continued from page 31
In spite of efforts to make it easier for foreigners to buy property in Croatia, the 2009 International Property Rights Index shows that protection of property rights remains an issue in the country. The index – which incorporates 10 variables divided into three main categories, namely legal and political environment, physical property rights and intellectual property rights – classified Croatia at the 60th place out of 115. There is still a long way to go before the bureaucracy associated with buying property in the country is banished.
Final thoughts Croatia makes a perfect investment for buyers seeking properties in a natural coastal region at a decent price. Bargain prices seem to be gone, though – the worldwide financial crisis might have weakened Croatia’s economy but few properties have significantly fallen in price. Investors tip: The islands of KRK, Pag and specially Hvar are among Europe’s best kept secrets and could easily become top holiday locations for Europeans once the word is out. Prices are still affordable but some believe they will skyrocket very soon.
Property Market in Serbia Serbia was once the main nation of the Yugoslavian republic. It is situated in the heart of the Balkan region and has a population of more than seven million. Most foreign real estate deals and large investments are made in the capital city of Belgrade but recently the city of Novi Sad has caught the attention of Russian buyers.
After the dismantling of the Yugoslav Republic in the early 1990s, Serbia experienced political instability. Throughout the decade, hyperinflation ravaged the economy. Most properties in the coun-
Investing in Serbia Non-Serbian individuals have limited rights to purchase real estate in the country. Rights are based on the principle of reciprocity – in other words, if a Serbian citizen is able to own real estate in a country, then any inhabitant of that country is allowed to own property in Serbia. Those wanting to invest in Serbia who do not meet the reciprocity requirement can get round it but the solution is complex. It requires establishing a legal entity – a business, in other words – in the country. This gives the owner of the entity the same property rights as a Serbian citizen. It is worth noting that registering a property in Serbia is a long and costly process. It requires six procedures and takes a minimum of 186 days to complete.
The consequences of the crisis Between 2003 and 2008, sales prices have been characterised by a steady growth across the country. Belgrade prices increased steeply, outstripping growth in regional capitals. However, a drop in prices started to be noticed at the beginning of 2009. The major consequences of the crisis were similar to those faced by the EU countries: a decrease in residential demand, a slow-down in the construction business and a decreasing number of new or announced projects. Since the final quarter of 2008, prospective buyers have shown caution for two main reasons: the
Serbia is classed as a high-risk investment country but can offer good returns
weakening of the local currency and speculation that property prices will drop yet further. The decline in demand and consequent drop of transactions in the market has in fact led to a slight decrease in the prices of new residential apartments. The highest asking prices at the beginning of 2009 were recorded in the municipalities of Vracar, Stari Grad and New Belgrade, exceeding EUR 4,000 per metre squared. Those prices represent between 8-13% lower values than at mid 2008.
Main projects in Belgrade and surroundings
on the Serbian residential property market. Less demand and lower asking prices by 10 to 25 percent were recorded, depending on the municipality. In 2010, even weaker demand is expected as well as lower prices. Investors tip: The present indicators of the Serbian economy point toward a further drop in the price of real estate. Those willing to take the risk of investing in a country which has experienced significant economic instability can expect good opportunities to arise.
Montenegro’s property decline?
The largest residential project in Belgrade by far is Belville with a massive 1,858 apartments for sale. After a six-month sale period, 1,000 apartments were sold and another 450 reserved. The Savograd project, meanwhile, consists of only 55 exclusive apartments starting at the price of EUR 4,100 per square metre. Other projects of interest are Ocean Atlantic, Exclusive/Ratko Mitrovic and Prestige/Ratko Mitrovic.
Montenegro separated from Serbia in 2006 and has since operated as an independent nation. Its stunning Adriatic coastline with crystal clear waters stretches from the western part of the country to its most southern point bordering with Albania – a distance of some 293 kilometres. The coastline is the country’s most important tourist destination, generating nearly 95 percent of total tourist stays.
Four years after independence from Serbia, Montenegro has seen a massive real estate boom.
In 2009, chaos on the financial market has slowed down activity
Exclusive Developments in Belgrade Project
Belville/Block 67 Associates
Maxima Center/Imperial gradnja
Galerija Apartments/Ocean Atlantic
Exclusive /Ratko Mitrovic
Prestige/ Ratko Mitrovic
The Slovenia Times
No of Units
Asking Gross Sales Price (EUR/m2)
Source: Colliers International
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try were privatised with public rental units sold to existing tenants at below-market prices based on the average monthly wages at the time. Property prices in the country rose by a mind-boggling five quadrillion percent (five with 15 zeros after it) between October 1993 and January 1995 but wages on which privatized house sales prices were based were pegged to pre-inflation levels. This meant that citizens were able to buy their houses for next to nothing.
Buying in Montenegro There are no restrictions on foreigners buying property in Montenegro. There are, however restrictions on the purchase of land – non-natives can only buy it if it has urban planning, otherwise, they can purchase the land through a company.
Driven mainly by Russian, British and Israeli investors, real estate agents report price increases of more than 20 percent annually from 2006 to 2008. Foreign investors seem to be drawn to the country’s beautiful areas, particularly the areas around Sveti Stefan and Budva. Some agents reported that prices doubled and tripled for certain coastal properties within a period of one to two years.
Despite the still visible global economic downturn, experts believe prices in Montenegro have now stabilised. Interestingly, prices in the country rose during the early years of the financial crisis and when the situation became worse, property values did not decline as much as they did in other countries. Compared to Croatia, the coastal region of Montenegro is considerably more expensive. The average price for a coastal house is EUR 2,870 per square metre, well above the EUR 1,964 Euros recorded a few hundred kilometers north in Croatia. The reason for such a large gap might be associated with the distinct target buyer of each region and property purchasing laws. While Russians are the main buyers in Montenegro, Europeans seem to prefer Croatia.
Montenegro - Coastal Houses Size
Price per Sqm.
Source: Global Property Guide – September 2009
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Final thoughts With its Mediterranean culture, ancient towns and mountain views, Montenegro offers a tempting combination: the lifestyle of Italy combined with an atmosphere reminiscent of that in the south of France. With its tourist appeal, growing appearances in the media and movies – James Bond film Casino Royale was set in the country – the question is whether the country can preserve its natural beauty and maintain its distinct character. Investment tip: Keep an eye on the Tivat marina, designated to be one of the world’s largest for super yachts. It attracts thousands of wealthy visitors and hungry investors.
Prices in the country rose during the early years of the financial crisis and when the situation became worse, property values did not decline as much as they did in other countries.
34 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL
New Markets, New Opportunities
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Even though it seems like the economic crisis is coming to an end, many are predicting that this year’s MIPIM property show will see even less visitors and exhibitors than it did in 2009. But its director, Nadine Castagna, begs to differ. Last year the number of attendees dropped by 10,000 from the previous year. After the exhibition there were suggestions in some of the media that 2010 might be even worse. What are your expectations based on the number of bookings you have received thus far? The key decision makers of the real estate industry will attend MIPIM 2010 and, like last year, we expect MIPIM to be extremely business-oriented. The attendance should be very similar to 2009 with some 18,000 delegates. Around 3,500 investors are expected, including major companies such as Allianz Real Estate GMBH (Germany), BNP Paribas (France), JP Morgan (United Kingdom), Credit Suisse (Switzerland) and Pramerica Real Estate Investors (USA), all of which are already registered. To date, and just like last year, the most represented countries at MIPIM are from Western Europe, including the UK, France, Germany, Belgium and Sweden. But at the same time, we also see the emergence of new countries with highly ambitious developments, such as Brazil, with the participation of the city of Sao Paulo; Egypt, with the business park project ‘Stone Towers,’ designed by Zaha Hadid and developed by the Rooya Group; Libya, with important redevelopment projects in Tripoli, presented by Al-Inmaa Holding; and South Korea, with the project ‘Dream Hub,’ designed by architect Daniel Libeskind, that is to be built in the Yongsan Business District of Seoul. What did you do differently this year, in response to the current market conditions? In the current context, companies need to continue to develop existing and new business relationships, as well as keeping abreast of the market tendencies on an international level. That’s why MIPIM remains a key rendezvous for the industry. The numerous networking and business match-making activities we offer our clients are tailored to give The Slovenia Times
the mayor of Ljubljana, Mr. Zoran Jankovic, to Cannes this year.
them the opportunity to meet with the best business partners for their particular project. This year we decided to put a special focus on investment, which is at the heart of the industry, with a conference cycle entitled “Recovery Positions” aimed at answering our clients’ questions on how to master the economic crisis and which alternative solutions to consider, given the current market situation. Also, given the global economic downturn, we are aware of the budget constraints of many of our clients. In that respect, we have introduced a new pricing policy with attractive ‘early bird’ registration offers. You’re focusing on Turkey and Latin America this year. Could you tell us more about that? For the first time, we have put together two distinct [but simultaneous] events: MIPIM and MIPIM Horizons. MIPIM Horizons, launched in December 2008, is an event dedicated to the world’s fastgrowing regions, such as Central Asia, Turkey, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America. Given the current economic situation, we believe that MIPIM Horizons at MIPIM will create a beneficial synergy for delegates of both events. This will allow exhibitors from countries that are not generally repre-
sented at MIPIM to showcase their projects in the exhibition hall. This includes companies such as Cedar IV C/O Renaissance Partners (South Africa), Rooya Group for Real Estate Investment (Egypt) and Eria Partners Real Estate Investment (Turkey). But this is only one aspect of MIPIM 2010. As in previous years, most of our clients come from Europe and North America and we do our best to meet their requirements. And there will be some extraordinary projects showcased at MIPIM that come from as far afield as Brazil, Egypt, Libya and South Korea. What type of companies are most represented from the countries of Central and Eastern Europe? Is there a particular sector from this region that tends to be represented? Traditionally Central European countries like Poland and the Czech Republic or Slovenia send city delegations to exhibit at MIPIM. These city stands welcome lots of private companies from their region or city on their exhibition area and give a bigger visibility to all their real estate players. Slovenia will be represented in the exhibition area with two stands, held by Invest Slovenia and the Municipality of Ljubljana. We are very honoured to welcome
What sectors and regions are attracting the most interest this year? Aside from the office market, MIPIM delegates will see several multi-billion projects in Cannes this year, all of which have one major ingredient in common – they are being driven by sport! Poland and Ukraine will host the UEFA Euro 2012 competition, the world’s second most important football tournament after the FIFA World Cup. Euro 2012 host cities such as Warsaw, Poznan and Wroclaw in Poland and Lviv in Ukraine, will be out in force in Cannes as they promote investment opportunities linked to developing infrastructure and tourism for the event and beyond. Furthermore, Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod region is bidding for the FIFA 2018 or 2022 World Cups. Winning a bid includes persuading FIFA that the football stadiums, transport infrastructure and tourism facilities will meet the needs of the tens of thousands of fans who flock to watch the games – and that means finding the investment to either upgrade or create the facilities, hence the region’s participation at MIPIM. Brazil, on the other hand, is to host both the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Investors at MIPIM are expected to have an eye on the fact that demand for rental properties in the Olympic host cities, including Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, is expected to soar as the event nears and that significant real estate projects will continue to develop post-Olympics. And in the meantime, the 2010 host of the Football World Cup, South Africa, will also be represented at MIPIM. The South African pavilion will feature both government authorities and private companies and a press conference on the subject “Major sporting events as a catalyst to development and sustainable growth, evidence from South Africa” is planned.
36 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL
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A Turning Point
The Emonika project promises to transform the centre of Ljubljana and the cityâ€™s public transportation facilities. Progress on this exciting combination of office building, residential area, and shopping centre may have been slower than Hungarian developer Trigranit originally hoped, but company spokesperson Mateja L. Nacevski is confident that 2010 will see the project move forward â€“ and that it will bring with it an array of new jobs and new opportunities. We are in the middle of a financial crisis and the real estate sector has been hit hard. When do you hope to open Emonikaâ€™s doors to the public? It would be wrong to try to forecast again when a project as big as Emonika will be completed, especially since it depends not only on the Emonika team but on other organizations, too. I am, however, very optimistic and positive that in 2010 we will make a big step forward. We worked hard The Slovenia Times
for this in the previous year and it is becoming obvious that 2010 will mark a turning point for the Emonika project, one for which we have waited a long time. To speed up the process, we have changed our strategy a bit, we made some amendments to the project as a whole which made it more efficient and most importantly, together with Slovenian Railways we are in the final stage of allocating the location for the standing pillars that will support
the new railway station above the railway tracks. You are working with the Ljubljana municipality and Slovenian Railways on the architectural plans for the logistics part of the Emonika project. How close are you to finalising those plans? We have agreed on the concept but to finalise it we need the positions for the supporting pillars. The study as to where the supports would be best placed will be finalised soon, and as soon as the
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The new bus station will include more than 30 platforms, offices for drivers, a ticket selling area, bicycle shed, green area for pedestrians to move along the bus station, car park over three levels, as well as toilets and offices for the staff of the bus station.
Emonika’s plans to rebuild Ljubljana’s bus and train stations will include interlinks between the two as well as indoor shopping premises
will, to a great extent, help reduce traffic from Massarykova Street and Trg Osvobodilne Fronte. The new bus station will include more than 30 platforms, offices for drivers, a ticket selling area, bicycle shed, green area for pedestrians to move along the bus station, car park over three levels, as well as toilets and offices for the staff of the bus station. The bus station will be connected to the large station hall of the train station. Besides the station hall, there will be five access points to the train platforms, Slovenian Railways offices and a commercial section.
Could you tell us at this time what the public logistics part entails? I can but only to some extent while the design is not yet final. The new bus station will change its location to Vilharjeva Street which
How do you think local people will benefit from the development of the Emonika project? Apart from the new and modern premises I believe that Ljubljana and the country as a whole has a lot to gain from our project. At
a time when real estate projects are few and far between, when investments in infrastructure have slowed down (with some exceptions) and when construction companies are struggling to survive, the commencement of the development will bring jobs and will help many local companies ride out the crisis. And this does not only include the construction sector but many other subcontractors who will need to be involved in the development of the project. While developing the logistics part of the project, are you taking into consideration the viewpoint of the local municipality? Of course, we are aware that at the end of the day the Emonika project will be in use of the Ljubljana´s citizens and visitors. Ultimately, the Emonika project does not belong to us – it belongs to the city of Ljubljana.
At a time when real estate projects are few and far between, when investments in infrastructure have slowed down (with some exceptions) and when construction companies are struggling to survive, the commencement of the development will bring jobs and will help many local companies ride out the crisis. March 2010
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positions for the pillars are agreed upon (Slovenian Railways are involved at every step but need to approve the final result), the plans will be completed. We plan to present the final concept design of the Public Logistics Plan (PLP) to our partners – the Ljubljana municipality and Slovenian Railways – in April this year. Before the design is final, our partners have to approve it. After this happens, we can move on to the project documentation for the building permit of the logistics part as well as the shopping and entertainment parts.
The City Belongs To You
Strategically situated in the Bavarski Dvor area in the heart of Ljubljana, the S1 tower provides an exceptional location for global players as well as for international and leading domestic companies. Residents in the upper floor apartments, meanwhile, will enjoy unparalleled and rarely seen views of sunny mountains and the 24 hour bustle of the city below them. Just a few steps away from Ljubljanaâ€™s downtown, the S1 building is not just the new pre-eminent office and residential address in Ljubljana city centre. It is also one of the premier properties in Slovenia, set to become an iconic masterpiece distinct in both style and design.
S1 investicijsko podjetje d.o.o. Tivolska cesta 48, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia Managing director: Darko Škodič Telephone: + 386 (0)1 43 80 720, +386 (0)31 649 064 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Condominiums On the 16th to 20th floors the S1 tower hosts a range of beautiful living spaces. With apartments from 120 square metres to 740 and a range of stylish studios from 65 to 95 square metres, there are unmissable opportunities both for those looking for a permanent home and those in need of a stylish parttime residence. And of course these villas in the sky come with everything you could possibly want in a prestige modern property: air conditioning and cooling, 24-hour entrance control, excellent sound isolation, intelligent control of electrical and mechanical appliances and a beautiful glass façade. Just imagine the sensational view you will be feasting your eyes on – you will feel like the whole city belongs to you.
Unique location – a wise investor choice There are a lot of “prestige” locations in the city of Ljubljana but none quite like this. Bavarski Dvor has been known as the “northern gate” to downtown Ljubljana for decades. Now with one the country’s most exclusive properties located there, its importance is enhanced yet further.
16th floor 15th floor
Planned to perfection 2nd floor HEALTH / SPA
COMMERCIAL ENTRANCE SLOVENSKA CESTA
Excellent business environment The S1 tower is the perfect base for any business wanting to distinguish itself from the competition. It boasts four basements for parking and storage, a prestigious restaurant and 15 office floors ranging in size from 680 to 740 square metres and of course that strategic location in the heart of Slovenia’s capital. You will find the ideal space for your offices, equipped with state of the art solutions and elegant, reliable high-tech materials. The S1 tower doesn’t just give your company the right image – it gives it perfect working surroundings.
RESIDENTAL ENTRANCE DVORAKOVA ULICA
But it’s not just the location that makes the S1 tower special. Every single one of the property’s 20 floors has been carefully planned to ensure efficiency, unmatched prestige, complete comfort and total convenience. And as a building of the 21st century, this is a property built with total respect for the environment, including a complete commitment to energy efficiency.
Facts and figures Property size
Gross build area
Ofis architects Coloni & Coloni architects
Construction status Preparatory works, infrastructure and construction pit finished Completion
End of 2011
40 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL
Actively Becoming Passive The popularity of energy efficient housing has grown substantially in Slovenia in recent years, thanks in large part to a range of government-sponsored initiatives. But if eco-houses are to become the prevailing type of housing in the country, bolder and more binding actions will have to be taken on the international level. By Luka Vodopivec
REAL ESTATE SPECIAL
wareness of the benefits of energy efficient housing is increasingly widespread in Slovenia. It has become well understood that such properties not only help the environment but also – in an age of rising prices for fossil fuels such as oil and gas – make excellent economic sense. The main reason for this spreading awareness is the government’s clear commitment to eco-houses. In 2009, the Eko Sklad (Eco Fund) granted some 2.3m EUR of nonrefundable loans for the construction of 182 low energy homes – defined as properties which consume no more than 35 kilowatt hours per square meter ampere (kWh/ m2a). The result is that around five percent of family homes being built in 2009 were classified as low energy. And data from the Passive House Consortium – a collection of Slovenian experts and companies aiming to promote the construction of ultra-low energy “passive” houses – shows a rapid growth in the number of such houses being built in Slovenia. To be classified as passive, properties must meet an array of strict standards, including consuming no more than 15 kWh/m2a. The Consortium reports that 15 such properties were being built in 2008. In 2009, the number doubled to 30.
More to come It seems 2010 will see the number of energy efficient homes grow further still. Eko Sklad secretary Vesna Vidič says the fund will continue to offer grants for new eco-houses. The majority of available money, however, will be designated for improvements to existing properties – the introduction of solar heating systems, for example, or wood biomass boilers. She predicts a total of 18m EUR will be available to citizens wanting to make such improvements, an increase of 6.5m EUR on the previous year. The Slovenia Times
Though eco homes are on the rise, Slovenia still has a long way to go to catch up with its EU neighbours
Low interest loans will also be available to both businesses and private individuals wanting to invest in environmentally friendly building projects. In all, close to 70m EUR has been designated for such money lending in 2009 and 2010. Two private banks also offer favourable loans for eco-homes.
A choice on the supply side As the desire for energy efficient homes has grown, businesses and entrepreneurs have moved in to meet the demand. Those already in the sector are specialising their services. Architects are ensuring they are familiar with the requirements for an eco home while suppliers are ensuring their windows,
doors and other materials are energy efficient. And several businesses now sell pre-fabricated eco-houses. In recent weeks, Maribor-based Lumar IG has become the first Slovenian company to receive certification from Germany’s Passive House Institute (Passivhaus Institut), widely recognised as the world’s leading institute for ecohousing. The company has also recently won The Golden Gazelle award for Slovenia’s fastest growing company.
Waiting for the policymakers It is clear, then, that good progress is being made on the construction of energy efficient
properties in Slovenia. Some say, however, that it is not quite good enough. The fact remains that the country is still lagging behind nations such as Germany, Switzerland and Austria when it comes to eco-homes. Many are looking to the European Union for the solution. In 2002, it passed the Energy Performance of Buildings directive. At the end of last year, EU lawmakers reached a compromise on a new, tougher version of the directive which should be passed this year. Many hope that it will serve to spur on the construction of eco-homes in Slovenia. Whether it passes or not, the financial and environmental imperative for eco-homes will remain.
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Paint it Green Ecology in tourism extends from the natural environment, through infrastructure, all the way to the tourist himself. The way forward to sustainable eco-friendly tourism passes through all of them. Eco-tourism is a form of environmentally aware tourism based on natural destinations. Although the expression itself sounds very new and trendy, elements of eco-tourism have been around for decades. Dimitrij Piciga, CEO of the Slovenian Tourist Board, considers “eco” to be the most abused term in marketing, “Tourist farms can be very eco, most Slovenian ones are, but some can be ‘antieco.’ When we speak of eco and green services, we are trying to achieve environmental friendliness, but apart from that, it is also the tourist, the customer, who needs to behave that way. We may have very ecological tourist farms, but how environmentally friendly are they with guests who want to order squid and fried cheese or demand a Jacuzzi?”
The obligations are also on the customer’s side. It is a triangle of the provider, the customer and the state, with the latter raising the awareness of the first two. The image of green tourism used to be a vacation at the countryside and trekking in the hills. However, the overall eco-orientation is moving towards sustainability in a much broader sense. “This goes with any product, regardless of what relationship to nature it has. Even in the most energy demanding hotel you can have baskets for separation of waste. Then, in a few years you try to modify this hotel as energy self-sufficient,” according to Pigica.
Unspoiled nature The greatest potential is in the destinations themselves, where Slovenia excels in its variety of unspoiled environments. Statistically speaking, natural heritage is the only outstanding reason why Slovenia is chosen as a destination. Other criteria, such as “nice people” or ”interesting towns” may be praised as well, but Slovenia is merely an average European country in these categories. Piciga estimates that in the terms of ecology, destinations are not living up to their potentials, with places like Bohinj, Logarska dolina, Solčavsko and Bela Krajina making most progress. The same applies to services: there is only one hotel with eco daisy sign. All tourist farms offering organic food are coming close, but these are just fragments of what is needed.
Controversial as it may sound, it is the easiest to build ecological behaviour in towns – with electric cars and bike rentals. Urban areas can make the most progress as “you can’t reforest a forest.” In contrast, it is easiest to build an eco-environment where there is little devastation. “At this point, Slovenia has potential, but in terms of its implementation there’s still much to do,” according to Pigica. Despite appearing so, eco-tourism is absolutely not just a rich person’s privilege. It is becoming a standard. “Just as CO2 emissions have become a crucial attribute for choosing a car, the same is expected to happen with tourist destinations, where ecofriendliness will become a decisive element.”
No more faking Speaking of greenwashing (i.e. the usage of ecological attributes to describe products which are actually not eco-friendly), Piciga admits that it inevitably occurs in Slovenia as well, “The terms ‘bio’ and ‘eco’ can be misused despite the standards and controls. You can put seven stars in your hotel logo or add ‘eco’ or ‘green’ to your name. But it is our goal to introduce certification in conjunction with the Ministry of the Environment. This would enable us to see into what is really sustainable, organic and energy saving. You can be one or more of these. Scandinavians and Scots already have green certifications. It is one of our crucial tasks – to set standards and apply them to destinations and services.”
Like a Horse and Carriage
Most romantic stories begin with “Once upon a time...” and the story I am about to tell starts the same way, although its beginning is not so romantic. Once upon a time in Europe, marriage was considered a business agreement between two families who arranged the marriages of their children. It used to be more of an economic association rather than emotional one; love and affection were not quite necessary. Fortunately, modern times have amended that perception, largely due to a changed social background. Women are (mostly) not dependent on men anymore; they are able to make their own money and can raise children by themselves.
o instead of choosing marriage because of financial gain, people now marry for love. A wedding is no longer only a means of reaching to higher social rank or a way of making children born to a woman the recognised legitimate offspring of both partners; it is now mostly a celebrated union of two people who love each other and would like to legally vow to do so for the rest of their lives.
With this change, the wedding day has become the most important day in the lives of the betrothed; it must be everything special and memorable and splendid for them and for everyone invited. These sentiments have been happily blown out of any proportion by Hollywood-style movies, mass media and (most importantly) by businesses aiming to profit out of the whole affair. Thus, weddings
have become a task of organizing many diverse things, from deciding which guests to invite and creating and delivering invitations, deciding on the sort of music everyone would like, choosing the right food and photographer, to getting a nice restaurant to hold the wedding reception and finally finding the perfect place to say “I do.” Slovenia, with its natural and cultural attractions, has become a
popular place for tying the knot. More and more tourists get their wishes granted here, whether they seek a traditional, ancient, medieval or modern ceremony or perhaps something entirely different and unconventional. Slovenia offers a great variety of choices for a picturesque nuptial day that the newlyweds will not forget while living happily ever after.
Get Hitched on the Sunny Side of the Alps Getting married abroad has become very popular, so why not choose Slovenia? It has it all – a wide range of options and friendly people with good organizing skills. By Vesna Paradiž
any people discovered the attractions of Slovenia when low-cost airlines started to fly to Ljubljana, Maribor and some towns nearby, just across the border. Suddenly there were hordes of Englishmen, Spaniards, Japanese and other non-Slovene speaking tourists strolling through Ljubljana’s streets and enjoying the beauties of the town and beyond. They must have liked what they saw, because next year they came again and brought friends. For a time, bachelor parties were very popular among young English groomsto-be, mostly due to the fact that Slovenian beer was just as good as British but cheaper. The Slovenia Times
In recent times, quite a few tourists have returned to get married. Wedding agencies seem to cost less than in other countries of the European Union, and while this little nation has a substantial wedding tradition of its own, it is also receptive to modern and unconventional ceremonies and – quite honestly – to almost any whim the betrothed might have.
Traditional Slovene Wedding The traditional path to matrimony is still widely respected among country folks. A day before the big day, the families of bride and groom separately host parties for
neighbours who come to say their goodbyes and good luck to future spouses by nailing a large sheaf of spruce branches and flowers onto the front door and planting two young beeches on the sides of threshold. Sometimes these parties drag on long into the night, leaving the fiancés quite hung-over the next day, when the groom with his wedding guests has to come and “earn” the bride from her family. Usually they ask him some questions and give him some manly work to do before he can claim his lover. When all is said and done, they send out two different women first; one is normally a man dressed into an ugly old woman. When his bride finally comes, guests are given some food and drink before they head to registry office or church or both. Before they reach the goal, however, the whole procession customarily encounters “Šranga,” a gathering of all the village boys who will not let another girl from their neighbourhood leave them, at least not without a toll. The groom has to show his skills once again and then negotiate the price for the bride. After that, the ceremonies proceed without further delay, but when the reception begins the groom, his best man and the bride’s best man (she does not necessarily have a maid of honour) have to watch over the bride lest she be kidnapped and not returned unless a price was paid by the groom – again. Although the details of such wedding differ from region to region, the basis is common to all. Those traditions are nice and amusing for all involved when applied with good measure; however, since people do not always possess that, drunken disputes have also often been a part of the wedding day.
A Wedding for Every Taste The number of different, unique types of weddings is increasing day by day. Many people want
to get married in a more uncommon way, to try something new. According to Vida Trenz, Hotel Otočec’s Head of Sales, people like to choose weddings outside, under the sky, or a castle wedding or a romantic wedding lit by torches and candlelight. Slovenia offers multiple choices for such wishes. If you desire a wedding out in the open air, you have plenty of beautiful sites to choose from; whether you prefer hills, valleys, meadows or an ocean view, your requests will be granted. One of the more exciting alternatives is to get married high above ground on a hot air balloon, which is possible in Ljubljana’s Balonarski center Barje (Balloon Centre Barje). Another is quite the opposite; exchanging vows underground in the Postojna cave or in Pekel (the Hell cave) and recently a couple got hitched in Muzej premogovništva (the Mining Museum of Slovenia), 160 meters below the ground. Also popular are the theme weddings where everything is arranged according to a specific theme, for example an African, Spanish, Greek wedding etc. An additional option is to tie the knot on a boat in the middle of Lake Bled or Lake Bohinj. Unfortunately, according to Slovenian law, it is not possible to get married on the Adriatic Sea, but perhaps it will eventually be so. Nevertheless, it is an possible to get married on a river and you can experience that on the River Drava where a registrar will unite you and your beloved for life while slowly floating down the river on a wooden raft along with all your wedding guests. Some decide to get married in a lighthouse and others on a ski slope or on the top of Mount Triglav. No matter what kind of wedding you choose, it is becoming extremely popular to rent classic old cars or even carriages for transportation of all wedding guests. continued on page 46
46 LIFESTYLE Above the Expectations
Matt and Helen, New Zealand, Married at Bled We were looking for an idyllic summer spot with lakes and mountains somewhere in Europe, and Lake Bled fit the bill perfectly. We had never been there before we considering getting married there, so we visited for a weekend in winter to have a look at the place and to meet those that would be arranging the wedding (if we decided to go ahead).
We were impressed with everything on that trip and liked the people we met, and decided that it was the perfect place! As we live in London but are from New Zealand, we could probably have found spots as naturally stunning in New Zealand, but it would not have been possible to get married in a fairytale medieval castle or to have our reception in a beautiful palace. We can’t imagine that we would have found a similar spot in the UK either – certainly not for the price that we paid.
The whole day exceeded our expectations. The lake gave us and our guests a unique and fun experience, and we were able to fill the day with lots of surprises for everybody. Many of our guests told us that they had never been to a wedding like it before – we were thrilled we gave them an experience that was worth the trip: one such exciting moment was carrying the bride up the stairs on the island. The organisation was superb – we couldn’t have asked for better and more professional services. It made the whole process very easy and nonstressful, and all of the suppliers that we met were lovely and very helpful. Practically, the formalities in Slovenia are easier than in a lot of other European countries and Bled was very accessible from London (where most of our guests were travelling from). It was much better value for money than anything comparable in the UK. On the negative side, while we were able to provide input on what we wanted (flowers, cake, menus etc), we didn’t know exactly what we were getting or what the day would involve. We also weren’t able to sample the food for the reception or have any choice about flowers / cake supplier and things like that. There is a huge amount of trust in those organising the event, which could be a bit scary for some (not for us). It took a bit of work to get the formal documentation together, and we now have a marriage certificate that nobody in the UK can understand.
continued from page 44
It is not only newlyweds who decide for these unusual ceremonies. People who have already been married for years also decide to celebrate their anniversaries in a different way. When they were young, they perhaps entered into an arranged union and fell in love later or they could not afford a wedding they wished for, so they make up for that loss in the fall of their lives and only now properly honour their long lasting marriage and love. Better late than never.
Start your fairy-tale at the magnificent Otočec Castle exclusive location on a river island • wedding protocols • romantic honeymoon destination • excellent cuisine
The Slovenia Times Otočec Castle Hotel*****, tel.: 00 386 7 38 48 900, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.terme-krka.si, www.castle-otocec.com
Old Meets New Special sorts of ceremonies include the so-called medieval weddings, chivalrous weddings and old Roman weddings. They combine old traditions with modern ones and offer a unique experience of the time passed. Medieval weddings are held in Ĺ˝iÄ?ka Kartuzija (a Carthusian monastery in Ĺ˝iÄ?e), at Stari grad Celje (Old Celje Castle), in Ĺ kofja Loka and at Predjama Castle. At the beginning, guests usually get a â€œpotion of eternal lifeâ€? and then enjoy a ceremony with court ladies,
knights, swordsmen, medieval music, dancers and a large crowd of costumed viewers. It all ends with a big medieval feast at a select location. Chivalrous weddings start with arriving carriages and fanfares and â€œpotion of rebirth.â€? The bride and groom have to clean their souls by washing their hands in wine and undergo three tests before entering marriage. These weddings as well as similar castle weddings are held at castles such as Mokrice, Celje, Bled, BogenĹĄperk and OtoÄ?ec.
Predjama castle weddings
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Little things that make a huge difference THE SLOTIMES 101 X 145.indd
Piers and Sarah, UK, married at OtoÄ?ec
We came to Slovenia in 2008 on a two-week holiday and had the best time of our lives. We immediately fell in love with the country, its people and the scenery. From a husband-to-beâ€™s perspective, it was the holiday when I realised I wanted to spend the rest of my life with Sarah, and therefore thought that it was the ideal location for our wedding. We looked into it online a lot and then just decided to go for it. In comparison to the weddings in our homeland, Slovenia turned out to be a much better choice. The whole day offered little differences that we both felt wouldnâ€™t have happened in the UK. The meal was more relaxed than it would be in the UK. There was no pressure to keep to timelines (we were a lot longer taking photos than planned). Typically in the UK weddings finish when the bar closes, but at our wedding the fact that people could relax for as long as they wanted with the bar being open made a huge difference. The most exciting memory from the wedding was the snowfall in the afternoon! It just made the day a little bit more magical. Having visited the hotel previously, our expectations were already quite high,
knowing what to expect, and neither of us were disappointed. Everything about the day was perfect, from the exceptional food and drink right through to the reception by the count and countess. There are some downsides of such wedding as well, particularly that not everyone was able to make it over, and (due to the travelling) you couldnâ€™t just invite evening guests. Travelling also comes with possible problems, such as lost luggage, what fortunately didnâ€™t happen in our case. We both felt that our choice for Slovenia was better value for money than any venue we had considered in the UK. We both got to have another break in a country we love and our guests got to experience a country that theyâ€™d never been to.
A novelty is old Roman wedding 25.2.2010 11:59:22 in Ptuj where they try to imitate the symbolism of ancient Rome. Bride and groom wear togas and are married in front of Roman gods. The ceremony is followed by a real Roman feast and celebration.
More romantic, less expensive Bled and OtoÄ?ec seem to be the two most attractive picks for weddings in Slovenia. According to Petra ÄŒuk, the hotel manager of Vila Bled, most couples who decide for a wedding there are either foreigners or mixed couples, meaning one of them is Slovenian. Foreigners are generally impressed by the romantic landscape, which can be explored by carriages or boats, the food, the legends behind the setting of Bled and some historic facts. ÄŒuk estimates that the very favourable price/performance ratio attracts many to choose a wedding in Slovenia, adding that choosing a remote wedding can also be a way to avoid greater number of guests. She says that it is pleasure to arrange different specifics, such as decorations, music and certain procedures, which different nations are consider essential to the wedding. continued on page 48 March 2010
48 LIFESTYLE continued from page 47
“Last year we had a wedding of a Romanian and a Dane. It is Romanian custom for the bride to dance on the table. The whole wedding demands a lot of dancing – completely opposite to Danish habits, where many speeches seem to be the important part.”
Bureaucracy To get married in Slovenia you have to meet some Slovenian marriage license requirements. A local registry office needs to be contacted at least 12 days before the wedding. Full names, professions, dates of birth, nationalities of witnesses, a photocopy of valid passports and legally attested copies of documents have to be presented. Then, eight days before the wedding both partners have to come to the registry office together with their passports, an extract from the birth register and a certificate of no impediment from their native country (or countries). It is necessary to get a certified sworn statement that you are free to marry and proof of termination of any previous marriages or a certified copy of death certificate of former spouse. One day before the wedding, witnesses have to present their passports at the registry of-
fice. All documentation must be translated into the Slovene language and certified by a notary.
The Grass is always Greener on the Other Side of the Fence Foreign tourists come to exchange their rings in Slovenia, and in a similar fashion Slovenes seek to find their perfect wedding option elsewhere. Lately, there has been an increase of people getting married while travelling or deliberately planning their trip to suit their wedding wishes. More and more people are attracted by sunny sandy beaches and pictureperfect sunsets. The main destinations for a Slovene dream wedding have become Mauritius, Maldives, Bali, Greece and Italy as well as boat cruises along the coasts of Latin America, the Caribbean or Egypt. Adventurers looking for a more exciting selection and are happy to find options from Slovenian travel agencies, such as getting married under a waterfall in Grenada or an underwater wedding in Tobago. A wedding is a once in a lifetime event (hopefully) and it is worth making it a memorable and special event, tailored to your dreams and wishes. And if you wish to make it happen abroad – why not?!
Five culinary Q&A with Vivo Catering When is the appropriate time to start wedding preparations? Preparations for a wedding celebration should start early enough because we at Vivo Catering, as well as a couple, wish that day to be magical and exactly what the couple wants it to be. The couple should be able to enjoy their wedding day carefree, so it is necessary to make a careful plan beforehand or to include a wedding planner who saves their time. It is best if the couple starts the preparations as early as possible because booking of the location and its availability for their wedding reception have to be made. Which wedding menus do you recommend? Vivo Catering employs a person, who deals exclusively with wedding receptions and is at the same time consultant on the reception execution and organisation at wedding celebrations. At the same time I like to join her myself. At Vivo Catering we don’t have set meals, which the couple could choose from, as it is essential for us that we harmonise wishes and expectations for selection of food and drinks for each couple individually and that we adjust to them. We have formed some guidelines, which help to advise the couple, however the final menu is always the result of their wishes and our recommendations. Not a single wedding celebration is the same as the previous one, each is prepared and executed in a special, unique way. The couple, for whom the wedding reception is prepared, is always the source of our ideas. We use a personal approach when organising wedding receptions, therefore we invite the couple for a tea or a cocktail to have a short chat and get to know each other better. It is important that the engaged couple gets the feeling that they are the most important at the event and that we build on a personal approach. How about the wedding cakes? The wedding cake is the only part of Vivo’s reception execution where we refrain from suggesting tastes and shapes because each couple has made their picture of the wedding cake’s shape. So, we neither interfere with this picture nor impose our opinion. We also permit that the newly-weds bring their own cake or we made it according to their wishes.
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Does the wedding reception differ from other receptions? At Vivo catering we establish a personal relation with each client thus making each reception different. The way we organise a personal event definitely differs from formal receptions as we do not know a target group beforehand, namely their common characteristic that could be used again and again. Lately we have noticed a difference and a sharp rise in wedding receptions on spots that used to be unusual in the past, namely in clearings, meadows, tents, forests, castle halls, etc. especially in upcoming warmer months which make outdoor celebrations possible. And on such spots professional wedding catering is absolutely indispensable. Do you have any advice for future newly-weds? If you want to have your day magical and exactly the same as in your dreams you should leave nothing to chance. First of all, you should harmonise your wedding wishes between yourself. There is no need to lay out a fortune on your unforgettable celebration, but it is necessary to have details well and sensibly chosen. Besides, start your preparations early enough as numerous small matters, which you may have not noticed at all before, pop up during preparation.
� 07/ 39 19 400, email@example.com, www.terme-krka.si The Slovenia Times
e h t t i H es Slopwith 50 14 Days
Jure Košir, multiple world cup slalom winner, Olympic medallist and Slovenian ski legend:
“Vogel is the most spectacular ski resort in Slovenia. It has marvellous views: The lift takes you high to a very attractive location with a stunning panorama of the lake and the Julian Alps with Mount Triglav. With a number of offpiste variants, it is also much appropriate for free riders. A sunny day on Vogel is a truly unique experience.”
Free-riders and Sunbathers’ Heaven Vogel is a mountain skiing resort, which has a long skiing season and plenty of options for all skiers, who dare to take a ride off the maintained skiing tracks.
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Žičnice Vogel Bohinj, d.d. Ukanc 6 4265 Bohinjsko Jezero T: +386 (0)4 572 97 12 firstname.lastname@example.org www.vogel.si
Features snowboard park childrens park
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The Slovenia Times
ogel is perhaps the only resort that feels truly alpine. As far as the eye can see, there’s nothing but mountains. A visit to Vogel starts at the lower station of a modern, recently installed cable car, not far from the lake shore. At the moment, Vogel can offer seven lifts and a variety of tracks. Logically, the closer to the top cable car station you are, the easier the tracks are. The children’s park with a transport belt is positioned right above the restaurant’s sunbathing terrace with a good overview of the playground; something for the parents... Orlove Glave (meaning Eagle’s Heads), where the mentioned new chairlift takes you, should suit everyone. From its top you can go back to the lift’s start on a long and gentle track. Alternatively, you can descend towards Kratki plaz and Konta T-bars which service two short and steeper tracks, each with an easy “blue” alternative bypass. West of Orlove Glave is Zadnji Vogel, a chairlift offering a bit more of a challenge. The last and the oldest chairlift, built in 1966, is Šija. This, probably the only single-seater still operating in Slovenia, will take you to the highest point, the 1,880 m high Mount Šija, from where you can descend on a blue or red track or, of course through the free-ride wilderness. The bad thing about the Šija lift is that it is often shut down due to strong winds. Different climate
types collide in the area and the ridge where this lift was constructed is the most exposed to the winds, so you shouldn’t expect this lift to operate during times of weather changes. Vogel is one of the few slopes that emphasizes its adrenaline “free-ride scene” – with a reason. It is safe to say that it offers the best terrain you could find in Slovenia for such fun. However, the slopes on the western side, where free-ride can be practiced at its best, are working only if the snow blanket is thick enough. Vogel is special for many reasons. First of all is its high altitude environment, which provides a magnificent panorama and favourable snow conditions with excellent off-piste terrain. Secondly, it serves all sorts of skiing styles, which are well separated. Beginners needn’t fear fanatics
behind their backs and the latter don’t want to be disturbed by constantly avoiding the slow skiers. Thirdly, it is a truly relaxing place, quite far from civilisation at first glance. Some Vogel guests have a far greater respect for sunbathing and relaxing on the hut terraces than skiing iself. Such a Mediterranean style of skiing is encouraged with a few huts and restaurants. Good for foreign visitors who stay for longer is also the fact that there’s plenty of lodging facilities in the Bohinj area as well as alternatives if you intend to exchange a day of skiing for something else, such as visiting the Pokljuka plateau or Bled. Skiing at Vogel lasts well into spring, sometimes even until the May holidays. In March, they usually have the thickest snow, which lasts until late summer in some areas.
LIFESTYLE 51 Photo: Iztok Kordiš
There’s No Winter for Inuits Far away from the Olympic hustle and bustle, 40 cross-country skiers were discovering the beauties of the Slovenian high plateaus on their skis. In February they conquered almost 300 kilometres of cross-country trails in the classic technique. By Manca Čujež
Across Slovenian Plateaus” is a guided tour on crosscountry skis across the extensive forests and plateaus of the Slovenian mountain ranges in different parts of Slovenia. Thus, in seven days the participants of the non-competitive cross-country challenge visited the Pohorje, Golte, Velika planina, Bloška planota, Trnovski gozd, Jelovica and Pokljuka. After the two snow-lacking years, the third year yielded the abundance of snow causing trouble in the organisation of the event. Numerous tracks had to be
bypassed, some shortened, while the track-setting crew were hindered by fresh or blown snow, heavy wind, snowdrifts and avalanches. However, the efforts of the crew made the 40 competitors from Slovenia, Germany, Russia and Norway, among which there were six women, really happy. The team diverse in age – from 22 to 68 – breathed as one in spite of the differences and created a relaxed and positive atmosphere, which is definitely needed for overcoming almost 300 kilometres of crosscountry trails in diverse weather conditions. The encouragement
and refreshments along the way were provided by the local clubs, societies and enthusiastic locals.
Back to Nature “The competition was a great success; however, in the future we should invite more local tourist organisations, which will then be able to develop this kind of green tourism on their own and take over a part of the organisational and financial burden, which is currently on the shoulders of individual enthusiasts,” contemplated after the successful realisation of the challenge Mr Iztok Kordiš,
the father of the event and organiser. Moreover, he singled out the idea of taking cross-country skiing back to nature: “Following the model from abroad, we would like to overcome the current way of thinking, which is to prepare only a few kilometres of cross-country tracks in ski resorts, because we can use the potential and offer people the possibility of discovering the wonders of Slovenia on cross-country skis as well. This is not only a sport for cross-country ski resorts and noisy mass events, but it is mostly a bond between the individual and the nature and the individual with himself. advertisment
Aesthetic surgery at Terme Krka’s Dolenjske Toplice Spa One year anniversary of the opening of the Balnea Hotel brought upon a novelty in our offer. An outpatient clinic for aesthetic surgery started operating at the renowned Slovene health and wellness resort in mid-December. The clinic offers minimally invasive methods of rejuvenation, which enable you a fresh and youthful look in a quick and efficient way.
he natural process of facial skin ageing reflects in the change of facial shape and in the appearance of wrinkles which is a consequence of losing subcutaneous fat and dermal collagen. In time our appearance can show the image which is no longer coherent with our state of health and
self-image. Today’s rejuvenation methods have leaned towards minimal invasive procedures which enable rejuvenation that does not demand any bigger risks, long recuperation period or huge expenses. Among the most common rejuvenation methods carried out at Terme Dolenjske Toplice are:
Botulinom toxin also known as Botox - for a nicer look It’s the right choice for erasing the vertical lines appearing between the eyebrows due to muscle contracting and correction of wrinkles around the eyes and vermilion border, forehead wrinkles, etc. Natural dermal fillers – a solution for sunken cheeks, thin lips and acne scars Suitable for the elimination of the consequences caused by ageing, injuries, scarring or illnesses. They have extremely efficient results, and no side effects. Chemical peel and skin bleaching – for wrinkled face and age spots The rejuvenation effect with chemical peel where the upper, aged skin layer is peeled off is very good. Skin bleaching is a very efficient method, especially suitable for excessive skin pigmentation caused by long-term sun exposure, hormonal changes and ageing. Mesotherapy – for a firm and youthful skin, an efficient addition to daily treatment of skin This treatment solution can contain various ingredients which improve the firmness and skin texture, such as vitamins, hialuron acid or lipolytic substances.
Tea Jedlovčnik Štrumbelj, MD, specialized in plastic, reconstructive and aesthetic surgery.
We use safe, tested and mostly natural ingredients at Terme Dolenjske Toplice. Aesthetic procedures are carried out by a competent specialist doctor with numerous experiences in the field of aesthetic surgery who knows the treatment preparation well and is also able to deal with the possible difficulties. At the Balnea Hotel**** superior we provide the guest with all the necessary confidentiality. Upon request we take care of the room service so that the guests can enjoy all the hotel’s intimacy and comfort. Besides a procedure the guest can choose among the numerous wellness programmes and enjoy the time away from the everyday hustle and bustle and pamper at Balnea Wellness centre, a part of the Balnea Hotel.
Information and making appointments for the outpatient clinic aesthetic procedures: Ms Petra Sreš tel. 07/ 39 19 400 and 031/ 342 250 email@example.com
Dine with style Jamski Dvorec Turizem Kras Jamska cesta 30, Postojna tel: +386 (0)5 700 0100 firstname.lastname@example.org www.turizem-kras.si Food type Regional Price range 3-course daily special: EUR 12-18 5-course a la carte meal: EUR 30-50 Reservation recommended
Jamski Dvorec Tasting menu Smoked trout mousse *** Rice rolls with gorgonzola cheese *** Roasted salmon with fennel and garlic *** Stuffed dates
A Culinary Wonder Next to a Natural One If the Postojna Cave holds a respectable rank on the world’s natural wonders list, then the restaurant Jamski dvorec (Cave Mansion) certainly matches with the location’s fame.
hundred and ninety years ago, in a time before mass tourism, the Postojna Cave was already attracting and amazing the visitors. The locals were quick to learn that amazement causes hunger and thirst, so their hospitality skills kept growing with the crowds. However, it was not just about quantity. The cave attracted important people, whose appetite needed to be treated with more respect. In other words, a cuisine successfully matching the elite tastes of this crowd. In 1928, a glorious mansion was built in front of the Postojna Cave, able to host up to 1,500 guests, who would be either daily tourist groups or attendees of massive evening ceremonies. Apart from the large halls and the great number of seats, they provide a quality of food and service that makes many guests return for a lunch or dinner even if the cave is not a part of their agenda. These guests have included presidents, prime ministers and royalty.
At the crossroads Photo: Miha Krivic for book Navdih
The Slovenia Times
The first impression of roomy dining halls is an enchanting one of classical elegance, especially
if you get a table at Venecijanka (meaning Venetian room), the most prominent of the halls. Then you are introduced to a classically-trained waiter and a certified sommelier; the restaurant employs three highly-educated wine masters. And finally, you enter the world of Chef Slavica Smrdel, the culinary mastermind behind the award-winning kitchen team. The food is essentially local, that is of the Notranjsko region. By this, we mean “the best of all worlds” as this region is at the confluence of Mediterranean and the Continental influences. Postojna and its environs were occupied by both Vienna and Rome in the first part of 20th century. Thus, we blend the inspiration of the Austrian court, the Mediterranean flavours of Venetian kitchen, and a rich local tradition with delicious ingredients and crops, including the grapes of the Vipava valley, a wine-growing haven extending south of Postojna.
Not just any wine... The sommeliers run the game here just as much as the chef. It is interesting to learn how they became engaged into a kind of
productive conflict: a sommelier always supervises the menu and, if by any chance, he finds a certain ingredient too incompatible with his wine choice, intense negotiations begin. So, when it comes to the wine, it is best to just trust your waiter. The wine list complements the Slovenian food, but the selection is uncompromising and daring, from top productions of common types of wine to rare predicates. According to the sommelier Ivo Kiđemet, the restaurant often buys a large share of a selected winemaker’s annual production and stores it for a couple of years.
Of kings and knights Chef Slavica is a true explorer of cuisine, who has been practicing her art throughout Europe. Still, she finds most of the inspiration at home, re-discovering old monastery recipes. She is also firmly convinced that despite the trends of globalisation in cooking, it is well worth looking back to the medieval courts and their kitchen. Therefore, she tends to accomplish her inventions using the ingredients provided by small farms in the surroundings.
Top choice JB logo 4/15/08 4:32 PM Page 1 C
JB Restaurant Miklošičeva 17, Ljubljana Tel: + 386 1 430 70 70 email@example.com, www.jb-slo.com Open: Mon – Fri, noon – 10pm Sat, 5pm–11pm In Issue 124
Fabula Restaurant Borovška cesta 100, Kranjska Gora Tel : +386 4 589 20 88 firstname.lastname@example.org www.hitholidays-kg.si Open: daily from noon to 11 p.m.
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Grad Otočec Restaurant Grajska cesta 2, Otočec Tel.: + 386 7 38 48 900 email@example.com www.terme-krka.si Open: Every day until 11pm
Bled Castle Restaurant
The menu includes dried ham, fish, game, pork and lamb, accompanied with polenta, pasta or gnocchi. Local specialities deserve a special mention. If you would like to try a Pivka turkey or a Brkini apple, this is the place. And if you are used to starting with a soup: there’s much more than the usual veal or mushroom, try the kohlrabi or spinach soup. The choice of dishes varies seasonally; for example, when asparagus is in season, Slavica’s creative lab is particularly busy. Some would expect these recipes remain a well-kept secret. That is not so: Slavica doesn’t mind revealing her tricks to the curious guests. “One that does not give, does not receive,” she says.
For your taste only Jamski dvorec is ideal for special events, whether feasts for groups of thousand or an intimate meal for only two. It is not unusual to reserve the entire Venecijanka room for a romantic dinner with a medieval theme and become a king and queen for the evening. The most popular themes are inspired by Knight Erasmus, medieval coaches, the Venice carnival or those of the Viennese court, inspired by Kaiser Franz Joseph’s visit to Postojna in 1857, when the railroad was constructed here. These settings feature costumes, selected dishes, entertainment and can be used for any special occasion, from weddings to team building.
In Issue 122
Cesta svobode 11, Bled Tel : +386 4 579 44 24 firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com www.hotelastoria-bled.com, www.zavod-za-kulturo-bled.si Open: Every day, 8am – 8pm (November-April till 6pm) Special experiences for special occasions.
Vila Bled Restaurant Cesta svobode 26, Bled Tel: +386 4 575 37 10 firstname.lastname@example.org, www.vila-bled.si Open: Every day, 12pm – 10pm Delights of the French, Mediterranean and Slovenian cuisines.
Top Eat & Party Tomšičeva 2, Ljubljana centre Tel (reservations): +386 40 177 775 email@example.com; www.klubtop.si Open: Wed-Sat, 8:30am – 5am Delights of the French, Mediterranean and Slovenian cuisines. Pantone Process Black cmyk 0/0/0/100 rgb 0/0/0
Atrium Restaurant Pot za brdom 55, Hotel MONS (main entrance), Ljubljana ring, Brdo exit Tel : +386 1 470 27 00 firstname.lastname@example.org Hotel AND CoNGReSS CeNtRe lJUBlJANA Open: Every day, 12am – 10pm
Shambala, asian restaurant
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Križevniška 12, Ljubljana Tel.:+386 31 843 833 email@example.com, www.shambala.si Open: 11am-11pm, Sunday and holidays closed. Fresh and spicy experience | Selected wines | Relaxed atmosphere
In Issue 126
Turizem Kras Jamska cesta 30, Postojna tel: +386 (0)5 700 0100 firstname.lastname@example.org www.turizem-kras.si Innovative cuisine inspired by regional and medieval heritage. Excellent wine choice. March 2010
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The Capital Culture
Long Live the Book! Are books becoming a rare species in the face of digital predominance? This year, Ljubljana, the world book capital, will be all about making books cool. By Tanja Goršič
he digital era and the flood of electronic media aside, the fact is people still read and love books. There is something deeply intimate about curling up under a duvet with a good book. Try doing that with a laptop – not the same thing. Ljubljana has a long and rich literary history. As the capital and the country’s cultural hub, it has been home to Slovenia’s most prominent writers. The city boasts a wealth of bookshops, book-related festivals and events. Bookshops are mushrooming all over town and the trend shows no signs of stopping. From huge department store-like bookshops, to intimate personal ones for true connoisseurs, everyone can find their own favourite shop. Books are respected items. To throw a book away seems unimaginable; they have to be sold second hand, given as a present or otherwise recycled and reused. Old book sales are really popular; there are at least six working second-hand bookshops, along with several permanent book-selling stands along the riverside. Moreover, the city plays host to several book-related festivals, events and fairs, which have woven themselves into the fabric of the cultural agenda. The Slovenia Times
The World Capital
This year, Ljubljana is the World Book Capital, as declared by UNESCO in Paris. Ljubljana is the tenth holder of the honorary title. With this project, UNESCO is trying to present literature to as wide an audience as possible, and to promote reading. Ljubljana was chosen from a group of seven rivals (Vienna, Lisbon, St. Petersburg, Riga, Guadalajara and Wellington); the board was persuaded with its high-quality and diverse programme, which was well supported by other members of the book industry – publishers, bookshops and libraries. The start will be marked by the raising of the World Book Capital flag in front of the Town Hall on Mestni trg on April 23. The city will be the holder of the title for one year, during which over 300 events will take place. The programme will include the permanent promotion of books and world literature, promotion of reading, enhanced accessibility and availability of books, and emphasis on the uniqueness and necessity of the book as a medium. The events will also include bookthemed art shows, performances and film.
In the following months, Ljubljana will host two previously established festivals: The Fabula festival, taking place in May, organized by the Študentska založba (Student Publishing) house, and Mesec Knjige (Book Month) in April, organized by the Municipality of Ljubljana. Fabula, an international festival of story, will be held this May for the seventh time. Its special draw is its prominent interna-
tional guests who give the festival its extraordinary range. Among this year’s guests, we will be able to see Jonathan Franzen from the USA, David Grossman from Israel, Michel Viewegh from the Czech Republic, Richard Flanagan from Australia, and Daniel Kehllmann from Germany, and others. The main focus of the festival will be the city, which plays a major role in the works of all the invited authors. Each author will symbolically represent their own city. The festival will explore how different urban environments generate literature, the relationship between urban and rural writing, and how the migration to or from urban areas influences writing. The program section entitled “International within Local” will focus on Chinese-Slovenian connection through poetry. Four Slovenian poets and four Chinese poets in cooperation with two translators will be translating poems from Mandarin to Slovenian and vice versa. The fruits of this collaboration will be published in a bilingual anthology. The festival will end with the presentation of the Dnevnik Fabula award for the best short story collection published in the previous two years.
Herta Müller, one of this year festival’s prominent guests.
Wednesday, 31. 03 20:00
Zlatko Kaučič KOMBO & Trio Alexander Balanescu – Javier Girotto – Zlatko Kaučič
Price: 10 eUR/ 12 eUR (walk-up)
Info blagajna 030 310 110
The main event of the evening will be the presentation of KOMBO project, which was developed by Kaučič within his percussion school. Under his artistic supervision, nine young Slovenian music performers develop their own music originating in jazz and world music and comprising a good deal of improvisation. The event will be introduced by an international line-up consisting of BalanescuGirotto-Kaučič. Alexander Balanescu, one of the most renowned violinists in the world, and Javier Girotto the Argentinean master of soprano sax will join Zlatko Kaučič to present a set of improvised music. In the final part of the main performance - presentation of Biči project (the eponymous album that was released last year), the renowned guests form abroad will join the KOMBO, thus integrating and upgrading both parts of the event. A special programme element will be the debut performance of a new suite titled Rara roža, composed by Zlatko Kaučič and dedicated to the late radio journalist Tomaž Simon.
The renowned slovenian jazz composer, drummer and teacher Zlatko Kaučič launches a special project integrating several layers of his activity so far, at the same time presenting his new original materials.
The Slovenia Times Recommends
Let the Sunshine In! Despite its story dates back to the sixties, the famous Broadway musical successfully transcends its eternal message into our time.
made from glass plates. These are exceptional specimens from the early period of the 130-year history of Armenian photography.
Quartet - Four Biennials reflected in prints Jan 21 – Mar 21, International Centre of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana, no admission
Gerome Ragni and James Rado shared an appartement in Hoboken. They observed the wild life of the streets of East Village and the Be-Ins in Manhattan parks. And they started writing this piece. The year was 1967. Political theater was an important issue in these days. Those who took it seriously wouldn’t have acted in a play without political background. The broadway premiere was on 29th of April 1968 at Biltmore Theatre. The production was performed more than 1758 times. More than 30 million visitors had been to Hair, when Broadway stopped playing it. In these times, war and the global spirit of love and understanding made people togehter. Hair expressed all of it through music and songs. Now, after more than fourty years, Hair is one of the most successfull musicals of all times. It is played all over the world and it‘s plot is still full of actualtity. The contents of Hair - an emotional story and real good music - are the basic ingredients for an on going success.
The message of peace and love is more important than ever in these days. Still we are confronted with unjustified wars all over the world, and we ought to use all our power to fight this. One central leitmotif in Hair is racial segregation, the Civil Rights Movement had been in progress a while at that time already. Blacks stood up for their rights and demanded equal rights as well as power, both of which the white establishment was not willing to give away. All this can be found in Hair. The hippie movement, starting from San Francisco, questions the ideals of wealth of the middle class which are devoided of meaning in their eyes and preached an attitude towards a life free of restraints or white-bread taboos. Compared with the movement of 1968, it was dominated rather by individualistic than by sociopolitical concepts. The idea of a more peaceful and humane life was connected to the term „flower power“. This incarnation of Hair is performed by Island Musical Theater, directed by Austrian Erika Galamb featuring an international group of actors.
13 March at 8 p.m.; Tivoli Hall, Ljubljana; EUR 40-54
Armenian Tradition Between the Secular and the Sacred Feb 17—Jun 13, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 4–6 Armenia is the first country to have officially adopted Christianity in 301 AD, preserving it to date in an indigenous form. The Armenian Church has indubitably been the strongest adhesive agent for the preservation of Armenian identity throughout the turbulent as well as tragic history of the Armenian The Slovenia Times
nation. The exhibition will present a selection of exceptional specimens of Armenian church art from the 12 –19th century: curtains, covers, ritual utensils and vestments, as well as a unique khachkar (crossstone) dating from the 12 –13th century and a Gospel manuscript from the 15th century (altogether 26 exhibits). Being of the spiritual sphere, the objects also present a picture of decorative applied arts, i.e. metalwork and embroidery, from different historical and ethnographic regions of Armenia. The selected objects are especially valuable because they bear dated inscriptions in Armenian.
The exhibition will also present reproductions of ten masterpieces of Armenian church architecture
The exhibition Quartet: Four Biennials Reflected in Prints offers a unique cross-section of the past twenty years of developments in print art. Presenting works from four different print biennials, held in Hamburg (1985), Sydney (1990), Istanbul (1995), and Cetinje (2005) respectively, it brings together over 80 prints by 60 renowned artists from around the world. Exhibited print portfolios reflect the development of printmaking techniques, which are shown as being in conformity with the context of modern art, and represent a cross section of work by different generations of artists from around the world.
Shen Wei Dance Arts: Map, Folding Mar 9, 7.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 14–28
As a visual artist independent of Shen Wei Dance Arts, Shen Wei is a painter, designer, and photographer. Director Shen Wei develops an original dance vocabulary incorporating visual and storytelling elements from the theatre, Chinese opera, Eastern philosophy, traditional and contemporary visual art, and sculpture. The result, at turns figurative and abstract, combines performance with strong scenic elements to create a “fascinating fantasy in movement” (Sydney Herald Sun). In July 2000, he formed Shen Wei Dance Arts with performances of Near the Terrace at the American Dance Festival. For each dance and opera work created with his company, Shen Wei also creates the sets, costumes, and make-up designs. Shen Wei was also commissioned to choreograph part of the Opening
EVENTS 57 Ceremonies of the 2008 Beijing Olympics. In order to create an abstract dance of raw and pure movement, Shen Wei develops techniques to explore the concepts of rotation, bouncing, internal isolation, internal circular, and internal individual movement.
Kremerata Baltica Mar 10, 8pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 25 - 53
The most renowned Baltic chamber orchestra builds its artistic identity on outstanding young musicians and a daring repertoire that places the classics in juxtaposition with contemporary rarities. On this occasion, the mastery of Bach and Beethoven will be complemented by two extraordinary women: a St Petersburg composer of pronounced creative ardour, and an incisive Venezuelan pianist possessing a radiant and diversified musical talent.
Anja’s First One Anja Golob, a stage critic, poet and dramaturge, presents her work as a photographer for the first time. Anja Golob (1976) has graduated in comparative literature from the Faculty of Arts, Ljubljana. Currently she is completing her philosophy studies. She was a regular contributor to Večer daily newspaper for more than a dozen years, mainly publishing stage reviews. Apart from these, she has lately been writing longer journalistic and expert articles for various media, but also practicing dramaturgy in dance performances. Her debut poetry collection V roki / In the Hand is to be published soon by Litera Publishing. She has been practicing photography quite seriously since 2007. You are kindly invited to visit Mons Hotel, where you will be welcomed by the exhibition of photographs by Anja Golob titled simply The First One. At the exhibition, Anja Golob, a stage critic, poet and dramaturge, shall present her work as a photographer for the first time. Although being very diverse in theme, the selection of about twenty photographs that were taken in the past few years do express the artist’s visual language and her artistic stance tentatively. Speaking of motifs, the line in photographs by Anja Golob is extensive, reaching from intimate folds of interior spaces and travel diary entries all the way to geometric patterns of rural and urban landscapes, and animal portraits. At the visual level, they are related by the artist’s emphasized feeling for composition and colour, whether dissolved in the all-pervading tone or quite the contrary, thickened in a tiny accent of colour traversing the black and white plane. When construct-
ing the meaning, the author only rarely resorts to metaphor, rather deploying metonymy. Sometimes she provides the photograph as such with a sliding movement, thus recording only a trace (of the meaning), whereas at other times this consequentiality only appears at the level of contents. Photographs by Anja Golob thus often direct us outside of the field of vision, to their own blind spot covering what has or will happen. It is therefore no coincidence that people on her photographs as a rule turn their backs against us, glaring covertly in their own (passing) stories.
February 22–March 26, Hotel Mons, Ljubljana, no admission participants to use storytelling while teaching English as a second language in a more confident and relaxed manner, while at the same time encouraging pupils to use storytelling or assist in the formation of stories. David Campbell will offer his selection of exercises, which he uses on teachers in various European countries. The practical work will be combined with his comments and his experience.
– something that, unfortunately, is a rare virtue amongst conductors.” The Third Symphony, the so-called Organ Symphony, represents the peak of the symphonic output of Camille Saint-Saëns, a composer whom Charles Gounod called the ‘French Beethoven’. Dedicated to the memory of Franz Liszt, the composer wrote of the work: “I put everything I could into it. I will never be able to repeat anything like this again.”
Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra
Out of the Mouth of the Morning
David Campbell Mar 10 – 11, 3.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 30 The two day workshop is part of the 13th Storytelling Festival and is intended for teachers of English at elementary schools, students of English or other foreign languages and everyone interested in the subject. The purpose is for the
Mar 11—Mar 12, 7.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 10–33 Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No. 3, or more simply ‘Rach 3’, has virtually earned cult status amongst the concert public. With its traditional three-movement scheme, the concerto was written in 1909 for the composer’s first American tour. Gustav Mahler, who conducted the concerto at Carnegie Hall in 1910, said that the composition “moved my composer’s heart, as every detail in the score was important to me
Mar 12, 8pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 6.5 David Campbell is a kind of legend of Scottish storytelling. His hair is gray and long and he almost always wears a kilt. He has done many things in his life. He was a professor of English, he was an athlete, a journalist, he worked for BBC radio and is also an author and poet. His many experiences have turned him into a renowned storyteller. He has appeared at several storytelling festivals at home and abroad – from New Zealand to Japan. His style is based on the Celtic tradition
and encompasses all kinds of stories: from old heroic myths, to magical fairytales and humorous anecdotes from the past and present. Out of the Mouth of the Morning is the title of his last book of Scottish tales. There will also be a simultaneous interpreter present to assist anyone not proficient enough in the English language. The evening will be followed by music from Katarina Juvančič and Dejan Lapanja, who will be performing some Scottish songs.
Strasbourg Philharmonic Orchestra Mar 12, 7.30pm, Narodni dom, Maribor, EUR 20 The philharmonic orchestra from Strasbourg has been around for more than 150 years. Its history has 2009
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Culture candidate www.gueststar.org see pages 68-69
Rara Roža Renowned Slovene jazz composer, drummer and teacher Zlatko Kaučič is preparing a very special project, which combines several layers of his previous activities and at the same time presents new original material.
antiquity, but for their exquisite, often heartrending melodies, which originate from the period before the medieval division of Armenian and Roman Catholic Church.
DJ Amor & Exforium Beatlle Mar 12, 10pm, Cvetličarna, Ljubljana, EUR 5 After the Billysi concert, Cvetličrna will present another edition of their clubbing programme for fans of electronic music. This time the crowd will be entertained by DJ Amor & Exforium Beatlle.
Armenian folk song and dance Mar 13—Mar 14, 2pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 25
The central part of the evening is focused around the presentation of the project KOMBO (combo), which Kaučič developed as part of his school for percussionists. It involves nine young Slovene musicians as performers. Under the artistic guidance of Zlatko Kaučič they develop original music in the realms of jazz and ethnic music, with a hefty dose of improvisation. The evening will be kicked off by the international ensemble of Balanescu-Girotto-Kaučič. One of the most distinguished violinists in the world Alexander Balanescu (also known for his original classical adaptations of Kraftwerk compositions) and Argentine master of the soprano saxophone Javier Girotto will showcase their programme of improvised music together with Zlatko Kaučič. The prominent foreign guests will join the group KOMBO in the closing stages of the central part – the presentation of the project Biči (an album with this title was released last year) – and thus connect and complement both parts of the evening. A special element of the programme will be the first performance of a new suite entitled Rara roža, which was written by Zlatko Kaučič and dedicated to the deceased radio journalist Tomaž Simon.
Zlatko Kaučič KOMBO It began in the school for percussionists, under the guidance of drummer, percussionist and composer Zlatko Kaučič. KOMBO (or combo) is a jargon word for an orchestra composed of percussionists, guitarists, a keyboard player, a bass player and other musicians. The music this orchestra performs belongs to jazz, with occasional elements of ethnic music. The music is always original, whether they’re playing works by renowned composers or original music by Zlatko Kaučič. As is typical of the genre and especially the creative spirit carefully nurtured by Kaučič among his young musicians, their performance is distinguished by directness, freshness, pure joy and a good deal of improvisation. Musicians: Zlatko Kaučič – artistic leader, Marko Lasič – drums and percussion, Vid Drašler – drums and percussion, Anže Kristan – drums and percussion, Gal Furlan – drums and percussion, Jan Jarni – guitar, Vitja Balžalorsky – guitar, Peter Šavli – guitar , Andrej Frančeškin – keyboards, electric piano, Jošt Drašler – electric bass, acoustic bass.
Mar 31, 8pm, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, EUR 10–12 revolved around such composers as J. Brahms, G. Mahler, R. Strauss and P. Boulez. This time the orchestra will play a piano concerto by Rachmaninoff and a symphony by Erich Wolfgang Korngold.
Sharakan and Shoghaken Mar 12, 7.45pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 10–24
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.
Pionirski dom – centre for youth culture, Vilharjeva cesta 11, 1000 Ljubljana Tel.: (01) 23 48 200, fax: (01) 23 48 220, email@example.com
The Slovenia Times
The world reputed 8-member traditional music Shoghaken Ensemble encompasses Armenian virtuosos who play traditional instruments (duduk, zurna, kanun, kemanche, dhol, dham, shvi). Dedicated to rediscovering and continuing Armenia’s extraordinary folk music tradition, the group presents music from a broad geographical and historical span using traditional song styles. Sharakan is the name of a remarkable body of Armenian liturgical songs dating back at least as far as medieval times - songs that are remarkable not just for their
During the weekend workshop, Hasmik Harutyunyan will present and teach Armenian folk songs, including work songs, love songs, ceremonial songs, songs of longing, and traditional Armenian lullabies from across the Armenian homeland. The songs will be taught according to their specific regions and dialects, so that participants will gain a true understanding of the Armenian folk song. Hasmik will also teach several traditional Armenian folk dances, representing the different regions of Historic Armenia. The dances are mostly circle dances, and include men’s dances, dances for women, mixed men and women dances, also those known as “songs of dance,” in which the dancers sing as they dance (each dance corresponding to a certain ceremony, such as the wedding, funeral, national holidays, etc., dancing being an indivisible and integral part of each Armenian ceremony).
Boris Kovač & La Campanella Mar 16, 8.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 11–14 By now a legendary composer and horn player, Kovač acquired international fame in late 1980s with the Ritual Nova band and has
EVENTS 59 recently won worldwide acclaim. In Slovenia, all of his projects have been presented, this time he will perform with his La Campanella Orchestra.
Bloody Hollies Mar 17, 9pm, Menza pri koritu, Ljubljana
he completely changed his style and started doing harder electronic music. In 2006 his style changed again, as he started becoming interested in more extreme sounds. In 2008 he formed BoneBreakers with the intention of promoting electronic music in Slovakia.
Nca. Small Theatre, Armenia - Versiliadanza, Italy
SEVENTH SENSE Dance theatre
Obituary Mar 21, 8pm, CvetliÄ?arna, Ljubljana, EUR 25
American band The Bloody Hollies has been impressing everyone with its original rock â€˜nâ€™ roll sound ever since the new millennium. They released their debut Fire at Will in 2003 and have been going strong with their mixture of punk, blues, garage rock and hard rock ever since. They have even won an award (San Diego Music Award) for rock album of the year (If Footmen Tire You) for their efforts. If nothing else, we can certainly expect a loud and dynamic show. Going on before them will be Slovenians Barely Modern.
Obituary is one of the most www.cd-cc.si renowned and one of the best death metal bands to have ever graced the stage. They were Diversified insight into formed in 1985 in Florida and have contemporary world documentary released a series of historically VHGPLBFXWBRJODVB67LQGG film production, which is becoming important albums that the fans increasingly more incisive and still hold dear nowadays. At the topical, deeply stirring the nucleus end of the 1990s they seemed to of major social and political issues have become defunct, but in 2005, and probing all walks of life. with the release of their sixth Festival sections: Human Rights studio album Frozen in Time, they Films competitive section; Intimate returned to the scene with style. Portrayals; Myths, Icons, Media; Tribute; Topical and Socially Critical Documentaries. In conjunction with Amnesty International Slovenia, the HR Award will be bestowed to best human rights film for the second time.
was prevented from making films or incarcerated, he continued to give expression to his artistry â€“ paintings, collages, puppets and hats made from various odds and ends. Paradjanov enjoyed being photographed and often devised the theme of a composition. Many of his shots furnish evidence of the team work between the author and the subject of the photo. Apart from this, Paradjanov also cut
Documentary photo exhibition
Mar 19, 9pm, Orto bar, Ljubljana, no admission
Mar 23, 7.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 12â€“23 One of the most talented Croatian pianists, in Slovenia better known for his inspiring master classes, has recently been realising his great potential as a soloist. He has attained especial renown in France, where last year he released a recording featuring works by Rachmaninoff and Mussorgsky. This time round, he will be performing works by Bach, Schumann and Mussorgsky.
Lene kosti (Lazy Bones) are considered to be the godfathers of Slovene heavy metal. Recently they released an archival recording, but this concert will be the release party for their first real studio album Do or Die. Supporting them will be Brezno and Astrid Lindgren.
DJ Trezor Mar 20, 10pm, Channel Zero, Ljubljana, EUR 6
12th International Documentary Film Festival
DJ Trezor started with a lighter variety of techno in 2002. In 2003
Mar 24â€”Mar 31, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 3.80â€“4.80
The World of Sergei Paradjanov Mar 25â€”Apr 11, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, no admission Sergei Paradjanov (Sargis Parajanyants) was born in 1924 in Tbilisi, Georgia, to Armenian parents. Having graduated from VGIK (Russian Federation State Institute of Cinematography) in Moscow, he left Russia for Kiev to work at the Dovzhenko Film Studios. In 1963 he filmed Shadows of Our Forgotten Ancestors, which became famous worldwide because Paradjanov authentically recreated a forgotten world, winning him world acclaim as well as causing many a difficulty. His next antiwar film, Kievâ€™s Frescoes, was banned. He had many difficulties afterwards. He spent some time in prison, while many of his movies were banned. All those years when he
most of these shots into pieces and used them in his collages. The CD exposition will present photos taken by Sergei Paradjanov as well as reproductions of some of his most celebrated collages.
Parni Valjak Mar 26, 8pm, Dvorana Tabor, Maribor EUR 25 After one of the biggest rock bands from former Yugoslavia Parni Valjak had already announced their retirement from music as a band, they have decided to give it one more go. Their comeback tour also takes them back to Slovenia, where they have always had a strong
60 EVENTS following. Their hit songs are still remembered by many fans: Jesen u meni, Uhvati ritam, Sve još miriše na nju, Prokleta nedelja, Kao ti and Moja je pjesma lagana.
Autechre Mar 28, 9pm, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, EUR 8–10
Sean Booth formed this ensemble in 1987 in Rochdale, England. Their beginnings were firmly rooted in techno, electronic music and hip hop. Ever since signing for Warp in 1993, Autechre have started doing more and more complex rhythms and abstract melodies and have become a synonym for the aesthetic which greatly influenced modern electronic production and production in general.
Aleš Rendla Sextet Mar 30, 9.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 11–14
Ahleuchatistas Apr 6, 8pm, Gala Hala, Ljubljana
Taake, Horna, Angantyr, Black Shore Mar 30, 8pm, Gala Hala, Ljubljana, EUR 20–24
Autechre is a duo, which is considered as the biggest representative of British record label Warp, besides Aphex Twin and Squarepusher. Rob Brown and
It has been said that hell is coming to Ljubljana. This time it will happen with the arrival of the elite of the black metal genre, including the immortal Taake from Norway and Finland’s Horna. Besides these two Scandinavian bands we will also have the opportunity to listen to the delightful sounds of the Danes Angantyr and Germans Black shore
Outstanding drummer Aleš Rendla will premiere his album AR Tales, the result of a decade of contribution to various formations (Quatebriga, Begnagrad, Fake Orchestra) and creativity with diverse musicians.
Ahleuchatistas is an American instrumental band, which plays a style sometimes referred to as math rock. Their blend of highly technical and innovative compositions includes influences from such diverse sources as jazz, progressive rock and avantgarde music. But the biggest recommendation for visiting their concert must surely be the fact that John Zorn, the influential jazz musician, thinks very highly of them and has even signed them to his record label, Tzadik.
Epic RockLine Contest Apr 1, 9pm, Rock Cafe, Postojna, no admission This is the last stage in the first round of the contest. Thus far, eight bands will have already made it to the second round, where the competition will be even fiercer. This edition will feature local power metal favourites Divine Illusion (from Postojna) and two challengers Noom 8 and Almostrage.
Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra Apr 1–2, 7.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 10–33 In 1876, one of Wagner’s greatest wishes was realised with the mounting of the first Bayreuth Festival. At that time, one of his key works had not yet been written. The premiere of Parsifal was given in 1882, with the generous financial support of Ludwig II. The story of the opera is based on the Christian myth of the Holy Grail and the legend of King Arthur and his knights. Wagner wrote the opera as a kind of ritual performance, with which the stage is supposed to be consecrated. Thus even today Parsifal remains the opening performance of each year’s Bayreuth Festival. The power The Slovenia Times
of the composer’s feeling for the archetypal converges in a special way in the third act, in a description of the ritual of the Holy Grail and the celebration of Good Friday.
Vlado Kreslin & Chris Eckman Apr 6, 8.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 11–14 Vlado and Chris have been collaborating for ten years. For his band The Walkabouts (Ljubljana saw several of its performances) Eckman adapted Kreslin’s song Tista črna kitara. A few years later Chris moved to Ljubljana and both their friendship and their collaborations grew: Chris was involved on some of Kreslin’s albums and they played various concerts together. Their acoustic concerts are about friendship and a deep love of songs and songwriting. This concert will be the first time they have done such a concert in Ljubljana.
Festival Armenia Up Close
Staging the Holy Book The performance called 7th Sense within the festival Armenia Up Close will truly bring something fresh and exciting: a fusion of religion and art.
n this upcoming period Cankarjev dom will be the host of a festival named Armenia Up Close, which will show us the culture and history of this sometimes overlooked country. One of the central performances within the confines of this series of events will be the performance entitled 7th Sense, masterminded by distinguished Armenian artist Vahan Badalyan. 7th Sense is a contemplation on the body, a sensual meditation. The seven pictures of the performance draw inspiration from the Book of Lamentations by Grigor Narekatsi, the famed 10th century Armenian poet, musician, philosopher, theologian and monk, who was later canonised and is now sometimes known under the name Gregory of Narek.
Gregory of Narek and “The Book of Lamentations” Gregory of Narek is one of the most important people in Armenia’s history, an honour recognised also by Mr. Badalyan: “G.Narekatsi is one of the most powerful spiritual personas of Armenia. Narekatsi’s genius is reflected in his most famous work and masterpiece the “Book of Lamentations”. For centuries it has been regarded as a holy book for Armenians.” The book consists of ninety-five separate lamentations or prayers, which are the writer’s monologues with God. It is believed that the “Book of Lamentations” has a healing quality and each of the 95 chapters or prayers is a cure for a certain emotional or physical illness. “Some Armenians often put the “Book of Lamentations” under the pillow to protect themselves from Evil,” says Badalyan. The “Book of Lamentations” has been translated into more than 30 languages and is considered as a sacred text also outside the realms of Armenia. The book is deeply religious and offers guidance to anyone willing to listen, not only Christians: “Through limitless confession and description of the infinite and sinful life man leads, the writer tries to approach God and beg mercy.” Still, despite its great religious
value, the work also has a deeper spiritual meaning, relevant not necessarily to religious people, but to all people needing spiritual council: “Narekatsi lived 300 years before Dante. While Dante expressed the external, physical suffering of man, Narekatsi had delved deeper, into the inner suffering of man.”
Religion and Art The performance is an attempt to solve the enigma of the human sense of guilt. Through a specific musical and rhythmic speech, symbolic gestures, video visions and contemporary dance, a trio of performers invites the spectators to witness the expressive, intense and dramatic situations that challenge the communication of emotions and sensations. “Generally I think Narekatsi’s “Book of Lamentations” is about the confession of the guilt which has infected humanity. The guilt has an important role in human morality and it also holds a vital and special place in Christian morality: guilt and innocence, guilt and confession, guilt and forgiveness etc. Inspired by this vision of The “Book of Lamentations” and by using the
language of theatre, dance and visual arts we have tried to think on this theme, to examine, to discern the enigma of this sense of guilt. I think Narekatsi’s message is still relevant because the sense of guilt is always with Man. That’s why our performance was named Seventh Sense.”
la Torriani Evangelisti. The text of the “Book of Lamentations” which can be heard during the performance is read by Armenian actor Ara Geghtrikyan.” The multifaceted performance One of the more interesting aspects of the performance is the fusion of several forms of art, which makes it interesting to watch and listen to on several different levels: “In the last period I prefer to mix more and more, to connect different genres and styles of theatre art, freely move from drama to dance and be free from the traditions of individual forms. Our theatre becomes some kind of small laboratory, where we research new ways to express the inner world of human nature.” Badalyan feels the performance is very special and should go down well with the Slovene people if they are receptive enough: “We are going to present a visual dance performance where the unique languages of contemporary dance, visual art and theatre are connected. We will try to invite Slovenian spectators to become witness of expressive and intense dramatic situations, which will hopefully challenge the communication of emotions and sensations. Our performance is a contemplation of human’s body and soul, a sensible meditation.” Mar 26, 8pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 12–24
Armenia and Italy The message of Gregory of Narek’s words may be deeply relevant particularly to the Armenian people, but this special performance also features the aid of the Italians, who haven’t failed to see the significance of Narek’s writings: “Our performance is a theatrical coproduction between our theatre (Small Theatre in Yerevan, Armenia) and Italian cultural company Versiliadanza, which was realized during one month in 2008. The idea, concept and staging are mine, choreography by Italian choreographer and dancer Angela Torriani Evangelisti in collaboration with Armenian actor and dancer Arsen Khachatryan. Video creations are made by Italian video creator Leonardo Filasto. The performance is interpreted by Arsen Khachatryan and AngeMarch 2010
Risking it All for a Medal Petra Majdič’s heroic campaign to win a bronze medal in the individual cross country classic sprint at the Olympic Games left nobody cold, including political authorities, who saw her stunning comeback after a nasty crash in the pre-race warm-up as a metaphor for the solution to personal, political and economic problems. By Simon Demšar
t’s easy to say that a silver or bronze medal shines just as brightly as gold but in the case of Petra Majdič it is most definitely so. Or, as humorist Tone Fornezzi Tof said, “The medal doesn’t shine like gold but like life.” The medal is not just a reward for a third place – it’s a story that will go down in history as one of the most memorable Olympic achievements. Almost certainly, in years to come the events that led to the medal will be remembered more than the medal itself. The events have been the topic of much conversation in recent days. According to national television website statistics, this was the most commented-upon news story in the last 12 months, surpassing even Slovenia’s qualifying for the football World Cup. There was hardly a dry eye in Slovenia that evening, including those of television commentators. The story among also spread like wild fire those who usually don’t care about sport. A hot pre-race favourite, Majdič had an unfortunate accident during the warm-up when she skidded off the track and plunged into a three-metre deep gully, breaking one ski and both poles. Had it been her mistake, she herself could have been blamed for it but there was no protective railing there despite pre-race warnings. As luck would have it, the official in charge of security was a Slovene, Uroš Ponikvar, a person-
al friend of Majdič. He said that he was deeply sorry for what had happened but refused to accept blame. Nevertheless, the Slovene Olympic Committee lodged a protest against the organizers and is considering a legal suit after the games.
“If I could do it, anyone can do it” She was visibly shocked after coming out of the hole. “At that moment I was thinking ‘It’s all over’,” said Majdič, who won the
Presidents’ Words “My sincere congratulations on your exceptional heroics, courageous fight and great success at the Olympic Games. What an incredible race! It included a whole spectrum of feelings, from dismay to joy. We cannot even imagine what unstoppable competitive spirit and perseverance are needed for a person to be able to accomplish what you have done,” said Danilo Türk, the president of Slovenia said in his message to Petra Majdič on the occasion of bestowing the Golden Order for Service on her. In his response, Prime Minister Borut Pahor said that Petra Majdič was a great inspiration to him and that she should also be so for the whole nation. “We have problems, but we will fight them and succeed,” said Pahor in an emotional statement. The Slovenia Times
World Cup sprint the last two years. “I couldn’t walk, move or breathe. But I had been working 20 years for this and I knew that it was my last chance to win a medal. I would have died if I hadn’t won a medal.” Indeed, it seemed like she was willing to die to do it. Immediately after the crash, she was taken to a nearby clinic for X-rays, but initial checks showed no serious injuries, save for bad bruises and severe pain. Majdič decided to start the qualifying run against the clock anyway. She was allowed to start last, but she was screaming in pain from start to finish. “I think this was the first time in my career that all coaches from all countries cheered for me. They heard how painful it was for me to run,” she commented. She won the quarterfinals heat but only managed fourth in the semi-finals. Fortunately, she was quick enough to qualify for the finals as a lucky loser. With each round, she got stronger – though each time she collapsed in pain at the finish line and had to be
helped up. In the finals, Marit Bjoergen of Norway and Poland’s Justyna Kowalczyk quickly pulled away but Petra reappeared and managed to nip Swede Anna Olsson in the homestretch in front of an exuberant crowd. “If I could do it, then the whole of Slovenia can do it! Never give up, even if you are on your knees. We can always stand up, and we can do anything. Miracles do happen,” was Petra’s message to Slovenia after the epic achievement. “Today, this is not a bronze,” she added about her first Olympic medal and ninth for Slovenia. “This is a gold with little diamonds on it.” The value of her achievement kept coming up also after the race. On the podium, she was hardly able to stand up straight and she needed an escort. From the ceremony, she was airlifted straight to a hospital in Vancouver, where four broken ribs and an injury to her lungs were detected.
What’s next? Majdič has been a popular sports figure for a number of years, but there were still wagging tongues to be found, particularly when she failed to meet the expectations, such as at the Turin Olympics in 2006 or World Championships last year. Despite her present
Slovenian placements Silver medal • Tina Maze alpine skiing, super-G alpine skiing, giant slalom
Third Time Lucky If there were justice in sport, then Tina Maze’s silver medals, won at the Vancouver Olympic Games in Super-G and Giant Slalom, would be taken for granted. But the 26-year old can tell you more than anyone else what it is like to live with a burden on your shoulders. By Simon Demšar
status as hero, her future career looks uncertain. At age 30, she has hinted several times that these Olympic Games might be her last international competitive event.
fter crossing the finish line in second place, she wasn’t quite sure how she had done “Usually, people are cheering if you do well, but looking at the audience, they were rather cold, so I had to find the numbers on the display,” she recalled. Asked what the most difficult part was, she replied, “Coming to the start and believing in yourself.” And what was the first thought after winning the medal? “Confirmation that you can do it, that this is the best you can do. You fight for it, you practise, people believe in you and you believe in it. It is hard at times but in the end, the hard work has paid off.” Maze’s medal is the first silver Olympic medal for Slovenia after nine bronzes. Jure Franko (giant slalom, Sarajevo 1984) and Mateja Svet (slalom, Calgary 1988) won silvers under the Yugoslav flag. Maze’s silver medal is a great relief to her, She was already a force to reckon with in Salt Lake City in 2002, but was only 18 at the time. At the Turin Games in 2006, she was a hot favourite but cracked under pressure, finishing 12th in giant slalom.
Bronze medal • Petra Majdič cross country, classic sprint 4th place • Klemen Bauer biathlon, sprint 10 km 5th place • Tina Maze alpine skiing, super-combined • Teja Gregorin biathlon, mass start 12,5 km 6th place • Robert Kranjec ski jumping, normal hill • Mitja Valenčič alpine skiing, slalom • Žan Košir snowboard, parallel giant slalom 7th place • Peter Prevc ski jumping, normal hill 8th place • Filip Flisar freestyle skiing, ski cross • Primož Pikl, Mitja Mežnar, Peter Prevc, Robert Kranjec ski jumping, team • Dijana Ravnikar, Andreja Mali, Tadeja Brankovič-Likozar, Teja Gregorin biathlon, relay 4 x 6 km • Rok Flander snowboard, parallel giant slalom 9th place • Teja Gregorin biathlon, sprint 7,5 km biathlon, pursuit 10 km • Klemen Bauer biathlon, pursuit 12,5 km • Robert Kranjec ski jumping, large hill • Tina Maze alpine skiing, slalom
She has gone through several transformations since then, had conflicts with the national Ski Federation, the media, fans and probably herself, while her outspoken criticisms haven’t always been received with sympathy. She has had seasons to forget but now it seems that she has finally found her peace of mind. Most of the credit goes to her private team,
led by Andrea Massi. Lifting the burden from her shoulders can only lead to greater things. In the World Cup, she has eight wins to her name. She has made great progress in slalom this year and at 26 years of age; there are probably still a couple of seasons ahead of her. However, the financial conflict with the Ski Federation has yet to be resolved.
Bloudek Prizes Go To…
Kranjec Wins SkiFlying World Cup
Swimmer Sara Isakovič, kayaker Peter Kauzer, football coach Branko Oblak and sports educator Evgen Titan are the winners of this year’s Bloudek Prizes, the highest national awards for achievements in sport. Sara, who won silver in the 200 metres freestyle at the 2008 Beijing Games, has been awarded for her achievements prior to 2009, while Kauzer was honoured for his extraordinary 2009 season, which he capped by winning the title of world champion. Branko Oblak and Evgen Titan were honoured for lifetime sporting achievements. The former is the best Slovenian player of all times and now a successful coach, while the latter worked as coach, referee event organiser and commentator.
Victory against renowned Italian team Lube Banca Marche Macerata, has set a new milestone for Slovenian volleyball champions ACH Volley as they have qualified for the quarterfinals of the European Champions League. The team was accompanied by more than 200 fans.
10th place • Aleš Gorza alpine skiing, giant slalom
Robert Kranjec of Slovenia finished as the runner-up in ski flying event in Oberstdorf, but the second place was enough for the overall win in the three-event Ski-Flying World Cup. Kranjec, who said he was “extremely happy”, won the Ski-Flying World Cup with a win and two second places, an achievement that bodes well for the Ski Flying World Championships in Planica in March. 2009
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Beginning of a New Era Planica may not be on par with the most popular ski-jumping venues in Europe, but its setting in a stunning natural amphitheatre is without doubt among the most spectacular ones. From 2013 onwards, after the new Nordic Centre will be finished, this will change and Planica will be both fashionable and idyllic. This year’s skiflying championships are set to be an overture to a bright future. By Simon Demšar Photo: Srdjan Živulović/Bobo
imes changed, political regimes changed, and economic systems changed, but Planica stayed the same – an immensely popular venue for skijumping and ski-flying World Cup and World Championships events since 1934, when the first competition took place. There have been slight fluctuations in terms of attendance, but they were mostly due to the expected performance of Slovene competitors. This year, things are very positive. Instead of a traditional final World Cup event, Planica will host ski-flying world championships event between March 18 and 21, and Slovenia’s Robert Kranjec has already proved to be in top form, winning at Kulm earlier this year. It seems that organisers have found a winning formula to attract people, and a crowd of 100,000 fans is expected over four days. The official practice on Thursday is aimed at children and schools. It is also the day that usually sees the longest jumps (oops, flights) as the jury can play with the length of the runway. The first competition on Friday afternoon is a warm-up for the biggest crowd on Saturday, and Sunday is the icing on the cake. Planica has its place in history books as the venue of the first jump over 100 metres (Austria’s Sepp Bradl in 1936) as well as 200 metres (Finland’s Toni Nieminen in 1994). As many as 39 world records have been set at Planica in its 65-year history. Since 1987, every record has been set at Planica.
The current one was set in 2005 by Norway’s Björn Einar Romören at 239 metres. Janne Ahonen of Finland landed even one metre further but he fell when landing.
Nordic Centre After modern ski-jumping centres had been built throughout Europe, it became increasingly evident that Planica’s facilities were outdated. Things even declined so far that the old ramp collapsed under snow in 2001. Nothing happened until 2006, when the decision was made to build a brand new Nordic Centre in Planica with government support. The EUR 42
million project is well under way and some developments, such as a new chair lift, will be seen this year. According to Jelko Gros, chief manager of Planica Institute, the new Nordic Centre will be completed by 2013, becoming a new benchmark in terms of tourist and sports facilities. Financed by the government and EU funds, the centre will be aimed at the widest public. Together with competitive ski-jumping and cross-country skiing facilities, it will incorporate a central building with a restaurant, saunas, wind tunnel and a ski-flying educational centre. During competitions, it will be transformed into a communication centre. Outside, there will be
a football pitch, children’s playground and a theme park. “Our plan is for the centre to be self-sustaining, covering its operational costs from the revenue. Excluding the competitions, Planica is visited by 30,000 to 40,000 people annually. By offering sports and tourist products, we would like to provide guests quality leisure time and keep them in Planica for a longer period,” says Gros. As a former ski-jumping coach, he is quick to point out the significance of the centre for ski-jumping: “Not only will training become cheaper. The coaches will also be able to choose from a wide range of training options and athletes will have top-quality facilities close to their homes.”
Photo: Srdjan Živulović/Bobo
Ski-Flying World Championship
The Slovenia Times
Schedule of events Thursday: 9 am: Practice, 11 am: Qualifying Friday: 2:15 pm: Practice, 3:15 pm: Competition (two rounds) Saturday: 9 am: Practice, 10:15 am: Competition (two rounds) Sunday: 9 am: Practice, 10:15 am: Team competition (two rounds) Tickets Children under 7: free Children under 15: EUR 3, free on Sunday Adults: EUR 10 (Thursday), EUR 18 (other days)
Legendary Designer of Ski-Flying Twenty-seven ski-flying world records have been set on the Planica ski-jump designed by Janez Gorišek. Since 1987, the world record has been in “his hands.” At age 76, Janez Gorišek is still full of fresh ideas. Text: Marjan Žiberna, Photos: archives of Ski Association of Slovenia and Marjan Žiberna
On the giant’s shoulders
H Janez Gorišek wanted to construct a ski-jumping hill that would allow jumps of about 200 meters and even more in the early 1960s. The Slovenia Times
e was born in Ljubljana and in his youth he himself was a competitor in ski jumping (twice a student world champion, his personal record set in 1957 is 105 m). In 1961 after graduating in civil engineering, he started building ski-jumping hills. Together with his brother Lado (who died in 1997) they are considered the fathers of the modern Planica ski-jumping hill, known also as The Big One; it is in fact the biggest ski-jumping hill in the world. The Big One has enabled many ski-jumping and ski-flying world records since 1969.
The beginnings of Gorišek’s construction project and his future involvement in the sport of ski-jumping is strongly linked with the Stanko Bloudek, who was involved in sports as competitor (he was a figure skater, a member of Slovenian Olympic team in 1928), trainer and constructor of sports infrastructure. In 1934, he – together with Joso Gorc and Janez Rožman – constructed a large ski-jumping hill in Planica, which enabled the first ski jump of over 100 meters, achieved by Austrian jumper Sepp Bradl in 1936. Planica dominated the ski-jumping scene until 1948, when Swiss Fritz Tschannen set the world record at 120 meters, but then it was overshadowed for two decades by other large ski-jumping hills – Austria’ Kulm, Germany’s Oberstdorf and Norway’s Vikersund. After Bloudek’s death in 1959, the organizers of ski-jumping competitions wanted to revive Planica’s status as a world leader. It was at that point that Gorišek was included in those plans at request of Stane Pelan, Bloudek’s closest co-worker. He invited his brother Lado, also a civil engineer, to join him. The reconstruction of Bloudek’s old ski-jumping hill did not seem to be appropriate to Gorišek because of its location, which made any substantial improvements and enlargements impossible. At the beginning of the 1960s, the world record was 141 meters (it was set in Oberstdorf in 1961 by Slovenian Jože Šlibar). Janez Gorišek wanted to construct a ski-jumping hill that would allow much longer jumps – of 200 meters and even more. That is why he decided for a new location. Together with his brother Lado and Rudi Finžgar (the first Slovenian jumper to over 100 meters, in 1947), he consulted Janez Kerštajn, Bloudek’s co-worker and they picked a location not far from Bloudek’s old jumping-hill. In the following years, Janez Gorišek contributed key ideas for construction of the
biggest ski-jumping hill in the world, while his brother Lado took over supervising the construction works and funding. It is interesting that The Big One was “created” in Africa. In the 1960s, Janez Gorišek worked as an executive director of a company constructing a new city called Barca, near Benghazi in Libya. He worked there for seven years, so the ideas and calculations for Planica ski-flying hill were made there, while drawing of plans, research and preparation of the grounds in Planica was taken over by his brother Lado. The actual construction works didn’t begin until 1967. In just a little more than a year, a ski-jumping hill whose location allowed further enlargements and improvements – which turned out to be a visionary idea – was built. Janez Gorišek almost missed the trial jumps on his ski-flying hill; returning from Libya, he was still on a bus from Zagreb to Ljubljana when the first jumpers were already in the air.
Planica overshadowed others The first competitions were on from 21st to 23rd March 1969, attracting 90,000 spectators. The success was complete: five world records. Norwegian Bjørn Wirkola made it to 156 and 160 meters, Czech Jiří Raška jumped 156 and 164 meters and the longest was German Manfred Wolf’s jump at 165 meters. The success of Planica contributed to ski flying to assert itself as a distinct sports discipline and come out from the shadow of the shorter ski jumps that had previously been dominant. In 1972, Planica hosted the first World Championship in ski flying and then again in 1979, 1985, 1994 and 2004. Many ski-flying competitions for the World Cup were also set here as well as other important competitions in ski-jumping. In the following decades, Janez Gorišek, together with his brother Lado, constructed many ski-jump-
In March 1987, Pole Pjotr Fijas jumped 194 meters at the sky-flying hill constructed by Janez and Lado Gorišek. That was the first in the unbroken series of 18 world records set in Planica.
Planica giant hill in 1972, during its first Ski-Flying World Championship.
ing hills and winter sport facilities in Slovenia and abroad; among others the ski-jumping centre for the 1984 Olympic Games in Sarajevo, Bosnia. However, his most important creation remains The Big One in Planica with its impressive statistics. After the multiple world records set there in 1969, the world record in ski-flying has been broken 35 times; 22 of those were set in Planica (the rest in Germany’a Obertsdorf (9), the Czech Republic’s Harrachov (2) and Austria’s Kulm (1)). The last world record not made in Planica was set by Austrian Andreas Felder (191 m, Kulm, 1st January 1986). In March 1987, Pole Pjotr Fijas jumped 194 meters and that was the first in the unbroken series of 18 world records set in Planica. In 1994, at the 13th skiflying World Championship, Finn Toni Nieminen was the first man to fly over 200 meters; with his 203 meters he made Gorišek’s visionary ideas about the possibilities of Planica come true. In the next decade, many names entered the list of world record setters; many of whom were Finns and Norwegians. In 2005, Norwegian Bjørn Einar Romøren set the current world record; 239 meters. At the same competition, Finn Janne Ahonen flew even one meter longer but fell when landing; the rules didn’t allow his achievement to be treated as a record.
Planica was too great The advantage of the Planica hill is its position, which is unique, according to Gorišek. Its microclimate is perfect for long flights, because in March, when the competitions take place, there are usu-
ally favourable lifting winds making long flights possible. Janez Gorišek was a head of the first World Championship held in Planica in 1972 and retained this position for the next 32 years, until 2004. He planned numerous smaller and some larger improvements to Planica, which – together with the new jumping technique, new jumping sportswear and development of the sport of ski-flying– made new records possible. He introduced many organizational improvements into ski-flying; it is fair to say that without him ski-flying sport wouldn’t be what it is today. He has always been critical of the international ski administration. He says the development of Planica was too great for the international organization; that they couldn’t comprehend that it was possible to safely jump so far. He is certain that its safety actually lies in the length of these jumps – landing is safer with long jumps than with shorter ones. Gorišek says that the international jury supervising the Planica competition is comprised of people who do not yet take ski-flying sport as a challenge that brings psychological pressure and responsibility. He also believes that the suits competitors are obliged to wear today are not appropriate for this sport.
No rest for a visionary Nowadays Gorišek dreams of substantially longer jumps – 250 or even up to 300 meters doesn’t seem impossible to him. He believes that under ideal conditions, Planica allows safe jumps up to about 245 meters but for longer safe jumps a new, bigger ski-fly-
ing hill would be needed. That of course depends on the FIS allowing and encouraging the reconstruction and building of such facilities, which is not the case at the moment. Some years ago, Gorišek had a heart attack. When recovering, his doctor said to him, “Forget the excitement, and especially forget Planica – write a memoir …” Gorišek recalls that period, “After the heart attack, I was like a junior schoolboy again – I had to learn how to read and write fast.” But he came back. He still plays an important role in the organization of the Planica competition as the chairman of the competition committee (the next world Championship will once again take place in Planica from 18th to 21st March this year). Together with a group of co-workers, he is finishing work on a new ski-jumping hill in Erzurum, Turkey, where the 2011 Universiade will take place. This is also where his wish for a computer-controlled curtain, which will protect the competitors from side wind, and is being developed at the Jožef Stefan Institute in Ljubljana, will be tested for the first time. He is also part of the team for constructing a new skiflying hill in Vikersund, Norway, and ski-jumping hills in the Russian town of Sochi, where the 2014 Olympic Games will take place. At 76. Janez Gorišek, who has spent almost his entire life closely connected to ski-jumping and skiflying, is full of enthusiasm that is rare even in much younger people. He remains full of visionary ideas, which will undoubtedly contribute to the further development of ski-jumping and ski-flying.
In 1994, Finn Toni Nieminen was the first man to fly over 200 meters and with his 203 meters he made Gorišek’s visionary ideas about the possibilities of Planica come true.
Nowadays, Gorišek dreams of substantially longer jumps – 250 or even up to 300 meters don’t seem impossible to him in the future.
68 GUEST STAR
Which will be the Brightest of All?
We proudly present you the list of Guest Star 2009 candidates. Voting is already underway; log on to www.gueststar.org and cast your vote once per day for your favourite candidate in each category.
Diplomacy Samoil Filipovski
Ambassador of the Republic of Macedonia
2007, he has been the Ambassador of the People’s Republic in the Republic of Slovenia. He invested much of his effort into successfully increasing trade between the two countries and paved ground for many delegation exchanges.
Ambassador of Egypt
its as well as scientific and technological cooperation. He is busy organizing many events in the scientific, academic and cultural spheres. A recent one was the International Conference on Ayurveda. His main business goal is that the Port of Koper become an entry point to Europe for Indian companies.
Economy Jacqueline Stuart
Director of Slovenia Invest The United Kingdom
Ambassador Filpovski’s effort in enhancing economic ties resulted in many successful ventures; Slovenia has become one of the biggest investors in the most southern former Yugoslav republic. He also made a notable positive impact on cultural exchange between the countries.
Ambassador of China
Ahmed Farouk is an ambassador with extensive list of achievements, including the first FDI exchange between Egypt in Slovenia, a fruit and vegetable transport route between the ports of Alexandria and Koper, establishing a business council between the countries’ chambers of commerce, and many more.
Villur Sundararajan Seshadri Ambassador of India
Ms Stuart is the director of Slovenia’s first international commercial real estate company. After living in Spain, Greece, Sweden and Austria, she moved to Slovenia in 2006, to enjoy life in the “last green jewel of Europe,” where she dedicates her free time to skiing in winter and spending time on her boat in summer.
Bahaa Eldin Abdallah Mohamed Baiomy CFO of Iskraemeco Egypt
After years of experience as the main financial supervisor of Egyptian energy provider group El Sewedy Cables, Mr Bahaa took on the financial leadership of company Iskraemeco in Kranj. He holds an MBA in Economics and is a dedicated activist of many expert associations for accountancy, revision and tax advisory. He is much respected among the employees of Iskraemeco.
CEO of BSH Hišni aparati Germany
As an expert in management, Mr Klötscher developed a successful career in home appliance companies, which ultimately led him to Slovenia in 2008. He is responsible for the successful expansion of the Bosch Siemens Home Appliances group to other south-European markets, as well as to the notable expansion of the BSH market shares in these markets despite the recent economic crisis. He is also a board member in the German Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia.
Gertrud Rantzen Mr Zhaolin is a professional diplomat and has served in many countries in Europe and Asia. From 2000 to 2004, he was the Chinese Ambassador to Croatia. Since The Slovenia Times
Ambassador Seshadri is dedicated to enhancing trade and economic links between India and Slovenia, promoting cultural vis-
Director of the SlovenianGerman Chamber of Commerce Germany Ms Rantzen excels with 20 years of experience in a network of Ger-
GUEST STAR 69 Ljudmila Bodnieva came to Slovenia in 2003 after signing for the Krim Handball Club. One of the best handball players at her position, she has been voted six times in a row as the best world and European pivot, and is one of the go-to players for both her club and the Russian national handball team.
man Chambers of Commerce throughout the world. Her greatest achievement in Slovenia thus far has been the establishment of the bilateral chamber and strengthening the network of Slovenian and German companies, which resulted in nearly 40% increase of trade between the countries during the seven years of her work in Slovenia.
A New Yorker who married a Slovenian poet and made a new life in a new country, she works as a writer and columnist. She has published four books, her essays and stories have appeared in many US and Slovene magazines. She won the 2007 Family Matters Award; her work has been translated into Italian, German, Hungarian, Bosnian, and Slovakian.
Head coach of ACH Volley Canada
and architecture and jazz. He also takes a particular interest in environmental issues.
Sports Ivan Hudač
Head Coach of Nordic skier Petra Majdič Slovak Republic
Lukas Zuschlag Ballet dancer Austria
Glenn Hoag became a member of the Canadian national volleyball team in 1981. After his successful career, he started coaching. His arrival in Slovenia seemed to have an immediate effect, as the ACH Volley club won the Slovene Cup in December 2008 and reached the second round of champion’s League. ACH Volley has become one of the six best teams in Europe.
Culture Nadiya Bychkova
Professional Latin-American and Ballroom dancer Ukraine
A professional Latin-American and Ballroom dancer, she comes from a small town called Lugansk. She moved to Slovenia five years ago for her dancing career. Since then she has won several titles including the National Champion in 2009. Her rare moments of free time are dedicated for exploring Slovenia’s rich natural environment.
Erica Johnson Debeljak Author and publicist The United States Prime sponsors
Mr Zuschlag’s dancing career at SNG Opera and Ballet Ljubljana has been a clear story of success. His biggest performance so far at the young age of 19 has undoubtedly been the role of Romeo in Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, which is still his favourite role. He enjoys performing for Slovenian spectators and definitely considers them a good audience.
Hudač and his training methods are responsible for the brilliant career of Petra Majdič, the Slovenian cross-country skiing diva who won the Olympic bronze at this year’s Olympic Games. Before taking up coaching, Hudač was a member of the Slovak national team until the Nagano Olympic Games in 1998.
Head coach of Slovenian snowboard team Switzerland
Handball Player, HC Krim Russia
Chief Conductor of RTV Slovenia Symphonic Orchestra The UK En Shao started to play the piano and violin at the ages of four and by the age of 18 was working as a composer, pianist and percussionist with a local orchestra in China. His music career has led him through many institutions such as the BBC. His wide range of interests includes Chinese cuisine, contemporary interior design Automotive sponsor
Mr Jaquet studied sport math and physics; his life has been devoted to sports from judo, BMX and Tchoukball to snowboarding; in 2001 and 2002 he became a world champion snowboarder and won the world tour. He then decided it is time to pass what he had learned on to younger generations. His hobbies include performing circus acts; he especially enjoys juggling and unicycling. Organizers
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$&26026 March 2010
Women in Science programme by UNESCO commission, L’Oreal and Slovenian science fundation: Sponsors, partners, the First Lady and the sponsorship receivers.
PM Borut Pahor and his PR representative, former photoreporter Denis Sarkić at the charity photo bid organised by Enooki (One-eyed) photographer’s association.
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Singer Chris Rea at his concert in Ljubljana. (Photo: Miro Majcen)
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Ansambel Roka Žlindre and Kalamari: a folk-rock joint venture, Slovenian representative for Eurosong contest. (Photo: Mediaspeed) Special offer for the new subscribers. The first fifty subscribers to the Slovenia Times Magazine get a special gift - a free Thai massage!
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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.
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