Page 1

LEISURE: Get fit and healthy outdoors

The Slovenia Times, Slovenian magazine in English, volume 7, number 128, EUR 4,80

May 2010

REAL ESTATE SPECIAL Exclusive interview with Tom Wright, architect of Dubai’s iconic Burj al Arab

Industrial Design

From Red Times To Red Dots


WHERE THE NEW EUROPE IS BUILT. 18 – 20 MAY 2010, MESSE WIEN, VIENNA WWW.REALVIENNA.COM

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CONTENTS 

May 2010 Business Partners

POLITICS

8 10 11

Slovenia cleaned up in a day Dalai-Lama adored by people, avoided by politicians LDS on the edge of coalition

14 15 16

ECONOMY

19 20 21 24 25

The other truth about Telekom Slovenije Volcanic ash crisis Pension reform divides opinions

FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT German investors in Slovenia Opportunities in India

ENERGY SPECIAL Najmanjša dovoljena velikost logotipa je 25 mm.

Controversies over TEŠ6 The state of green energy industry in Slovenia Coalmine closure

REAL ESTATE SPECIAL 27 30 34 36 38 40 42 48 54

High-end property market around Slovenia Maribor: Europe’s cultural capital in 2012 Pomurje’s on the way up Troubles on the coast Ljubljana gets state of the art sports park Interview: Marko Žehelj, BTC’s technical director Construction cartels revealed Overview of the regional property market Interview: Tom Wright, the creator of Burj al Arab

58 60 62 64

LIFESTYLE: Industrial design History of Slovene creations Leaders in design Interview: Jure Miklavc, award-winning designer People: Japec Jakopin, boat designer

66

BEAUTY AND LEISURE: Fit and healthy outdoors

70

DINE WITH STYLE: City restaurant

73

The capital: Emona, The Roman origin of the city

74

The Event Guide

80 82

SPORTS

83

GUEST STAR: Guest Stars of 2009 revealed

86

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

Datum: Oktober 2008

SLOVENSKA CESTA 5, SI–1000 LJUBLJANA +386 1 426 80 57 /8 E: mail@aparat.org T/F:

Getting ready for Franja bicycle Marathon Ice hockey team enters the world’s elite

Every picture tells a story May 2010

Vsebina: Barvni Logotip angleška različica


PANORAMA

source: STA, Slovenian Press Agency

Borderline Pahor Meets Sanity Obama Check

New Ministers, Welcome

The Slovenian parliament confirmed the border arbitration agreement with Croatia in a 48:0 vote, after the opposition staged a walkout in protest at not having enough time for debate. Parliament Speaker Pavel Gantar had decided to award each party one minute per number of MPs, arguing this was generous, since rules of procedure did not envisage any debate in a ratification situation. While the government hailed the accord as a strategic breakthrough in the two-decade-old dispute, the opposition - Democrats (SDS) leader Janez Janša called a press conference - insisted that the wording of the agreement does not secure Slovenia contact with the open seas and lacked the ex aequo et bono principle. The agreement was also slammed again by the rightist Forum for the Republic in Ljubljana, with many participants of its conference calling for the document to be rejected in a referendum. A referendum on the agreement is expected in June. While Janša announced he would fight against the agreement “until the end”, Pahor called for a civilised debate and challenged the opposition to present alternatives to the arbitration accord. “They should say how they intend to secure more, and when.”

The National Assembly overwhelmingly endorsed 52-year-old doctor Dorjan Marušič as the new health minister. The debate showed that he enjoys even more support among opposition deputies than in the coalition. Marušič said he understood the high, 57:3 backing, as citizens’ indirect support for the policies he had been advocating for the past 20 years. One of his most immediate concerns will be just to keep the cash-strapped health purse above water. He believes it is necessary reduce hospital treatment, to agree an overhaul of health rights with social partners and start pay negotiations in the public health system.

Photo: STA



Prime Minister Borut Pahor took part in a working dinner in Prague between US President Barack Obama and ten other leaders of Central and Eastern Europe. In his address, Pahor highlighted the situation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, saying that the people there must be given good prospects and prosperity rather than just peace. Pahor also talked about Afghanistan, noting that a buildup in foreign troops alone was not enough and was looking increasingly less convincing to the public. Pahor welcomed the new US-Russia strategic nuclear weapons treaty, which Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev signed in Prague that day. He also thanked Obama for the support expressed by the US for the Brdo Process, launched last month at the Western Balkans conference held in Slovenia and aimed to strengthen trust among leaders in the region. The support was voiced by US Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg as he visited Ljubljana a few days earlier. According to Pahor, Steinberg stopped in Ljubljana to learn about Slovenia’s views on the situation in SE Europe and to back the border arbitration agreement with Croatia as a way to solve border issues in this restless part of Europe. Pahor announced new steps as part of the Brdo Process, which is to be institutionalised.

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Also the senior coalition Social Democrats endorsed Prime Minister’s proposal for food executive Dejan Židan to fill the seat of agriculture minister.The boss of food group Panvita should assume the post that has been vacant for a month since former minister Milan Pogacnik left office amidst corruption allegations if coalition partners and the parliamentary Agriculture Committee to the proposal. The 42-year-old Židan, who is not a member of any party, would face a number of challenges should he be appointed. Pahor and Židan share the view that Slovenia needs an agriculture strategy facilitating its participate in the forming of the EU’s new common agriculture policy for the 2014-2020 period. They would also like to cut red tape in food production to make domestic producers more competitive in the EU.

Senior editor Jaka Terpinc editor@sloveniatimes.com

Marketing/Advertising

Business Editor Maja Dragović maja.dragovic@sloveniatimes.net

Irena Kržan irena.krzan@sloveniatimes.com

Chief sub-editor Claire Read Sub-editor Terry Troy Jackson, s.p. Art director Maja Kaplan (design@domus.si)

Marko Stijepić marketing@sloveniatimes.com

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Front page: The doll house, design by Nika Zupanc, Modular facade system Qbiss by trimo, Milano 2009 All uncredited materials printed in the Slovenia Times are either created by the Slovenia Times journalists/photographers or acquired from the author/owner in accordance with the legal terms. The Slovenia Times is listed in the Media Register of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia under number 491. All content - texts or pictures - with no author specified are exclusively created by contributors to The Slovenia Times or published in accordance with owner’s instruction.


UNDER THE PRESS  The Church

Pedophiles in the Robe Presenting the Slovenian translation of Pope Benedict XVI’s pastoral letter to the Irish people,The Slovenian Bishops’ Conference Bishops’ Conference took the opportunity to express its regret for all cases of sexual abuse within the framework of the Church and for the fact that they had also occurred in Slovenia. According to its spokesman, proceedings against some of the perpetrators in Slovenia have already been concluded, while some are still ongoing. Meanwhile Franci Frantar, the former parish priest of a small village near Ljubljana who has been sentenced to five years in prison for sexual abuse of a nine-year-old girl, arrived at Dob prison, after he spent over a year avoiding the sentence. Frantar was sentenced by the Ljubljana Higher Court in December 2008, but has since avoided coming to prison for medical reasons. His latest appeal to further postpone serving the sentence was rejected by the court as the independent expert determined that Frantar was healthy enough to go to prison. Frantar was the first Slovenian priest found guilty of sexual abuse. The initial trial was to start seven years ago, however he would not respond to court invitations. The authorities trailed him to a mission in Malawi.

Safety

Ideology

Beware of Car Vandals!

Not Their Commrade

Nine out of ten people living in Slovenia’s capital felt safe in their neighbourhoods after dark in 2008, a survey (N=2000) by the Statistics Office shows. Car vandalism was the most frequent form of crime in Ljubljana in 2008, followed by bicycle thefts, and thefts from a vehicle. Asked what type of crime they fear most, respondents in Ljubljana and Maribor named strangers physically attacking their relatives or friends. Only a few were worried about terrorist attacks in public places.

The youth wing of the non-parliamentary New Slovenia (NSi), filed a request for a constitutional review of the 2009 decision of the Ljubljana City Council to name a street in the capital after former communist leader Josip Broz Tito, who they consider a synonym for violation of human rights and freedoms. The petitioners believe that the decision to name a street after Tito runs contrary to the Constitution.

As quickly as a problem appears, we call it an “affair” and demand a scapegoat. When he falls, the problem disappears. PM Borut Pahor in TV Slovenia interview on the nature of solving problems in the country.

Many citizens have the feeling that this coalition and this government more or less deal with their own problems and traumas. This government gives an impression they essentially make problems first and then solve them in front of our eyes. In the end, when they solve this self-created problem, they all seem happy and satisfied. We don’t need such a government. Whoever likes such drama can switch on their television and watch some Mexican soap opera. Former administration minister Gregor Virant in Dnevnik on the present government’s ruling style.

Diplomacy

The Forest of Good Relationships Over 20 foreign diplomats gathered near the town of Kamnik to plant beech, cherry and maple trees to help revive the forest destroyed by violent storms in 2008. Organised by the Foreign Ministry and embassies, the action is part of “Greening diplomacy”, an initiative promoting environmental stewardship among diplomatic corps. As part of the campaign the embassies donated funds to buy and plant 1,000 trees - 500 beeches, 200 pines, 100 maples, 100 wild cherries and 100 oaks.

Why limit it at all? Why not allow four passionate card players to make their own community? Why limit this only to sex, same-sex partnerships. Sex goes away in years. Does that mean the end of this community? SDS Franc Cukjati in a parliamentary debate about the legal redefinition of a family, suggested by the new law.

Photo: BOBO

When you decide to have a baby, you are well aware he would leave you some day. Because he should, in order to live independently. A good education results in a child becoming a former child and a parent becoming a former parent. But if you buy yourself a dog, the relationship you have invested into, stays with you until the death of this animal. Psychotherapist Dr. Matjaž Lunaček in Mladina magazine, commenting on the growing number of dogs in Slovenia, in contrast to the decrease in birth rate.




A WORD FROM THE EDITOR

POLITICS

Ecology

A Cleanup Needed!

By Jaka Terpinc

After coming to power in 1992, the Liberal Democrats (LDS) spent twelve years as the strongest political force in Slovenia under the slogan “The story of success”. It was undeniably an interesting story, but the extent of the success remains a matter of judgement as it was, typical to post-socialist countries, also a story of economic liberalisation in the context of porous law and weak control. In the new millennium, especially after the legendary Janez Drnovšek left as prime minister, the party’s inevitable decay began. Some of its staff migrated to the Social Democrats, others established a new party called Zares, a few remained – so much for loyalty. No wonder some argue the LDS was a transitional interest group rather than a political party. At the recent elections, they were left with only five point something: barely enough for government. Today the LDS is a small party with a big ego, a cumbersome past and a charming leader in the form of Ms Katarina Kresal. In the current government dominated by the Social Democrats, they own the interior and judicial ministries – the two ministries behind the state of law. The LDS’ self-proclaimed goal: To heal that law from corruption and other malfunctions. A noble cause indeed. Yet the party seems to have fallen under some strange spell which creates a constant flow of affairs, making them a screaming example of political hypocrisy. These affairs have little to do directly with LDS motions, neither do they have much to do with the young and obviously naïve Katarina Kresal. In the course of just one year, Interior Minister Kresal has survived two attempts to oust her. The first was a frontal attack by the opposition, who blamed her for being too generous to the victims of the Slovenian human-rights disgrace called the Erased. At that time all coalition members firmly stood behind her. Apparently the same went for the populous who honoured Ms Kresal with all sorts of Female-Slovene-of-the-Year titles. Now, only a few months later, even coalition members seem anything but enthusiastic when it comes to backing Kresal – but have obviously put the coalition stability before their sentiments. The popular voice is turning its back on her too. What happened? Among the scandals she has had to explain is the alleged abuse of her position since her ministry has decided to rent a shiny new office building – from a friend, who has built the residence on a loan and the rent offered to the ministry significantly exceeds the mortgage repayment cost. This leads to the conclusion that in a matter of a decade or two, someone who just happens to be close to the LDS will get back his investment plus a notable monthly profit, all totally covered by the taxpayers. Taxpayers have reason to argue that the fair course of action would be for such assets to become mortgage free properties of the state rather than mortgage free properties of well-connected tycoons. The legal arguments, again, stand firm but the common sense of commonly sensitive people leads to whole different conclusions. From a certain viewpoint the state of law as promoted by the LDS appears to be one where, if enough money is involved, anyone can get away with misdoings. Such affairs serve as high-octane fuel for political counterattacks with great populist appeal. But when the opposition strikes, it is the same old double-standard low-sentiment, gossipy, moralist rattle – far from a believable countering voice of reason. And the voters? They have the right to be confused. And whenever the people feel their government neglects them, it is the right time for them to take things in their own hands. Or eventually turn to something as primordial, eternal and beyond good and evil as nature itself. In a time when not just the government keeps on leaving the impression of being an incapable, inconsistent and greedy bunch, one in eight Slovenians has joined the Clean Up Slovenia in One Day campaign. But there seems to be more than just the nature to clean up…

United Through Community Work Tens of thousands of people have donned gloves and filled garbage bags in Slovenia in the biggest clean-up operation the country has ever seen. By Vesna Paradiž and STA

T

he Clean Up Slovenia campaign was organised by a group of environmentalists dubbed Ecologists without Borders and backed by the country’s top officials. The campaign has been modelled after a project staged in Estonia in 2008, when 50,000 volunteers managed to collect 20,000 tonnes of rubbish in five hours. So, on April 17, Slovenia joined forces and tried to top that score. And succeeded. Organizers told at the press conference that as many as 250,000 volunteers helped in clearing rubbish as part of the Clean Up Slovenia in One Day campaign. That is more that 12% of the total population. Around 130,000 people signed up for the campaign until Friday, but organizers said that many unregistered people turned up in order to take part in the event whose primary aim was to eradicate illegal dumping sites and clean up Slovenia’s towns and natural sites.

One of many waste collection sites.

The participation was so large in some places that the organizers ran out of bags to give to the participants. The highest turnout was in the municipality of Pivka, where 35% of all the inhabitants took part. In Ljubljana the number reached around 12,000 attendants and in Maribor about 10,000; just as many were out and about at the coast, half of those in the port city of Koper.

Politicians got Their Hands Dirty Apart from individuals, the campaign saw many institutions make organised contributions. The army and civil protection service sent out nearly 4,000 staff to help in the clean up. Slovenian schools also took part with pupils picking up garbage in the vicinity of schools. Visiting a primary school in Ljubljana before teaming up with pupils to clean up the surroundings, Prime Minister Borut


Photo: BOBO

Investing in the future – alternative energy sources Politics is becoming more “green”. More and more countries are joining those countries that have already committed to using alternative energy sources. The goal of the European Union is that alternative sources of energy will represent 20% of total consumption by 2020, confirming the strong political will amongst European countries to reduce global pollution and improve living standards. Alternative sources bring greater energy independence. The use of alternative sources of energy can significantly increase a country’s energy independence from international political and economic issues, since they need not fear the threat of energy supply interruption. Germany, which in 2007 experienced a disruption of supplies of Russian oil due to the conflict between Russia and Belarus, is currently among the biggest supporters of alternative energy sources. Geographical features of the country affect the final decision as to the type of alternative source of energy to use - solar and wind energy, hydro, biofuels and biomass, geothermal, tides etc. The diverse selection allows each country to select the appropriate source for itself.

Total investments in alternativne energy sector 160 148

155

145

USD bn

120 98

80 62 40

Garbage picking with the Prime Minister.

Pahor said that the fact that so many people had got involved was a sign that Slovenians know how to breathe and live as a community. Addressing the press, Pahor said that Slovenia needed to take care of its environment. “Slovenia is a beautiful country, but there are many beautiful countries. If we want Slovenia to have an advantage over others, we must keep it clean.” Slovenian President Danilo Türk, who along with Pahor and Parliament Speaker Pavel Gantar was a patron of the campaign, said he looked forward to a successful operation in a message issued through his office. Politicians also highlighted the importance of the operation as a public awareness exercise. European Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, who helped out with the effort in the city of Kranj, said that there had been so much talk about the campaign in recent months that the people were now surely better informed about the problem of illegal dumping. Opposition Democrats’ (SDS) leader Janez Janša meanwhile stressed that people must become aware that prevention was a better option than cure when it came to the environment, while the environment Minister Roko Žarnić said that his ministry would follow up the campaign with its own efforts, including legislative proposals envisaging better oversight

and bigger fines for illegal dumping. Žarnić said special signs encouraging people to take their garbage to landfills were also being considered.

0

36 2004

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance: Global Trends in Clean Energy Investment.

Investment in the industry is increasing. In 2008, the total industry investment was USD155bn, which is three times the size of the Slovenia GDP. Despite the impact of the global financial crisis in 2009, the total investment dropped by just over 6% to USD145bn. The largest share of investment comes from Asia where the Chinese stand out in terms of their investment in wind power.

An individual can invest in this sector through the KD Nova Energija (KD New Energy) Fund, the only Slovenian fund specialising in ‘green’ energy. The fund invests in equities of issuers involved in production and research within the renewable energy sector.

To Die in Waste The goal of the campaign was to clear 20,000 tonnes of garbage and the organizers said that number should be achieved. Along with packaging, building materials and paper, the participants helped clear dangerous waste, cars and even a mine. Initial estimates put the total amount of waste collected and taken to landfills at 60,000 cubic metres, but that number is expected to rise as complete figures come in from around Slovenia. In one dumping site in Nova Gorica, western Slovenia, the clean-up team found 26 cars and a bus as well as a corpse. A car and dozens of bicycles were meanwhile pulled from the Ljubljanica River in the capital with the help of heavy-lifting equipment. So much garbage was collected that there was trouble with organising transport to landfills. Organisers said that in some places teams will work until Wednesday to take the garbage to landfills. To cap a hard day’s work, the organisers put on festivities in Ljubljana, Maribor and Nova Gorica. Hopefully, after having fun people cleaned up after themselves as well.

By investing in KD New Energy you can also support the campaign ‘Let’s clean Slovenia in one day!’ KD Skladi (KD Funds) – Management Company LLC, is the gold sponsor of the campaign and will donate the amount of entry fees, received from payments by investors into the subfund KD New Energy received for valuation day 20 March 2010 to valuation day 20 June 2010, for the campaign Let’s clean Slovenia in one day!

For more information about investment possibilities contact KD Funds at nasvet@kd-skladi.si or visit www.kd-skladi.si

Investing in the future:

Gold sponsor of the campaign Let's clean Slovenia.

alternative energy sources. The KD Umbrella Fund Prospectus Including the Management Rules, the simplified prospectus of the Subfund KD Nova energija (KD New Energy), Equity, the most recently published audited annual and semi-annual reports of the Umbrella Fund are available to investors free of charge at all subscripton offices of the Management Company during office hours, or, in e-format at www.kd-skladi.si. Investors have the right to request a delivery of the documents.


10 POLITICS

Dalai Lama visited Slovenia

The Unseen Guest The Dalai Lama visited Slovenia to teach about Tibetan Buddhism and its philosophy of peace and understanding. However, his visit also ended up teaching Slovenia a great deal about the cold realities contemporary power politics. By Jaka Bartolj

I

Photo: BOBO

n most ways, the Dalai Lama’s three-day visit in April was similar to his visit in 2002, as well as to his routine stops in other countries. After planting a tree of peace in Maribor, he addressed a group of high school students. Then, he spoke to a packed auditorium about his vision of universal ethics and how they can help to overcome global conflict. He stressed that compassion and love need to come before money and that ethics should be the centrepiece of any society. In many ways, it was a typical message from the Tenzin Gyatso – he even delivered it in his trademark style, with shoes off, legs crossed, and wearing his famous red visor.

A Message of Caution But another message was heard just as loudly during the Dalai Lama’s visit: the one sent by Slovenia’s politicians. Maribor Mayor Franc Kangler and the Minister for Slovenians Abroad Boštjan Žeks did meet with the spiritual leader, but all of the prominent national politicians stayed away. Neither the President nor the Prime Minister found any time in their schedules for the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize laureate. This was in sharp contrast to the welcome given to the Dalai Lama in 2002. Then, both President Milan Kučan and Prime Minister Janez Drnovšek personally welcomed the Dalai Lama to Slovenia. So what has changed in the meantime? The answer seems clear: the continued rise of China and its global influence. Beijing does not look kindly on anyone who treats the Dalai Lama too well. To the country’s Communist leaders, the spiritual leader is a subversive separatist and a threat. Wherever the Dalai Lama goes, strongly worded protests from the Chinese Foreign Ministry are sure to follow – as are threats of economic consequences. Simply meeting with the Tibetan amounts to interfering with China’s internal affairs. In 2002, China’s protests mattered, but they were not a decisive factor. At the time, Slovenia could even get away with strongly critiThe Slovenia Times

Dalai Lama speaks to the people in Maribor.

cizing the country’s human rights record, as it happened during the visit of China’s political delegation a few years previously. Since then, however, China’s economic and political stature has just kept growing. Slovenian politicians came to realize that any conflict with the Chinese dragon was not in their best interest. After all, Slovenia’s economic cooperation with China is growing, with the Port of Koper recently having signed a cooperation agreement with China’s Port of Tianjin. A standoff of China also wouldn’t have helped President Danilo Türk’s possible UN ambitions.

No Way to Treat a Guest The Slovenian media blasted the leadership for the decision. According to the daily Dnevnik, otherwise sympathetic to the centre-left government, the leader-

ship showed that it was simply an inconvenient time to stick to higher principles and that it failed to look beyond political interest. The daily Delo pointed out that the incident again proves that China is only willing to participate in dialogue on its own terms, while the daily Večer pointed out that even the organizers of the Dalai Lama’s lecture took care emphasize that his lecture would not be about politics. However, in a departure from broad journalistic consensus, Večer also praised the Slovenian leadership’s pragmatic approach, citing China’s angry diplomatic reaction after the Dalai Lama addressed the European Parliament two years ago. Opposition leader Janez Janša was more critical; he argued that the failure of top government figures to meet the spiritual leader was just another indication of the

chronic lack of confidence shown by the current government. Still, the reluctance to meet with the Dalai Lama is not exclusively Slovenian. Even US President Barack Obama failed to meet with the spiritual leader during the Dalai Lama’s visit to Washington, D.C., last year. And when Obama did finally receive him this year, the meeting was held not in the Oval Office, usually reserved for highprofile guests, but in the less formal Map Room – a move designed to send a conciliatory signal to China. In the end, however, the Slovenian government appeared to do itself no favours with the public. According to a poll conducted by Delo, 72.9% of the respondents were critical of the government’s decision to snub the Dalai Lama, whose global approval rating dwarfs that of any Slovenian politician.


Government Crisis

Long Live the Coalition! The Liberal Democrats of Slovenia (LDS) decided to stay in the government, after Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor met all the conditions set by this junior coalition party. By Barbara Štor

A

t the beginning of April and after a marathon session of their council, the LDS threatened to leave the coalition if Prime Minister Borut Pahor failed to agree to their demands related to the clash between the Justice Minister Aleš Zalar and the State Prosecutor General Barbara Brezigar. For the time being, it seems the PM that can still count on a majority in Parliament. After days of uncertainty about the place of the Liberal Democrats (LDS) in the centre-left coalition, in the middle of April the smallest governing party officially withdrew its threat of leaving the Government as PM had met all their demands in connection with the judicial reform. Tensions between LDS and Prime Minister culminated when Minister Zalar from LDS demanded the dismissal of State Prosecutor General Brezigar. According to Zalar, the state prosecutor general had violated the law and Constitution, but Pahor saw no reason for her dismissal and wanted Brezigar to finish her term.

the justice minister and the top state prosecutor, the LDS threatened to leave the coalition unless Pahor would publicly support their minister in the matter. Therefore, in a marathon session of their council, the party formed an multi-pronged ultimatum: the PM had to back a reform of the State Prosecution through a new bill, drawn up by the Justice Ministry; Pahor should publicly support the findings of Minister Zalar regarding Brezigar’s alleged violations of her duties as a state prosecutor general; PM should remove the confidentiality tag from parts of his meeting with Justice Minister, State Prosecutor General and Higher Prosecutor Branka Zobec Hrastar. According to LDS president Katarina Kresal, their demands were not excessive and, if any of the above were not fulfilled, the LDS would walk out of the coalition. She also noted that the LDS was not confronting the PM with an ultimatum but merely wanted to know whether it would be possible to carry out a reform of the prosecution.

The Ultimatum

Accepted Demands

Dissatisfied with the Prime Minister’s response in the row between

In a heated atmosphere, Prime Minister Pahor wrote a support-

LDS president Katarina Kresal defending his party in front of the parliament.

ive letter to LDS leader Katarina Kresal, saying that two of three demands put forward by her party had already been met, and that their last demand would also be met. As he explained, his task was to do everything in his power to prevent an unnecessary political crisis. Regarding the first item of the ultimatum, the PM said he would “absolutely” back Zalar’s proposal to “take on a reform of the prosecution.” In the case of Minister’s report, Pahor explained that it had been endorsed by the government as well as by him. Last but not least, Pahor also

made public the controversial recording. With the conditions fulfilled, according to Pahor, the coalition and the government could push ahead with work normally. “I care precious little today how the public will receive the fact that all the conditions will be met on my part for the LDS to stay in the government,” he explained. As the rebellious party deemed that the Prime Minister had met all their demands, they decided to “stay on board,” although the LDS remains unsatisfied with PM’s support of Brezigar. Challenges and Investigation Meanwhile, LDS leader and Interior Minister Katarina Kresal successfully survived her second parliamentary vote of non-confidence. Opposition MPs accused the minister of taking corrupt and damaging steps in leasing the premises for the National Investigation Office (NPU) and the investigation of the bullmastiff scandal. Kresal faced her first such vote – focused on the unfounded issuing of additional regulations for “the erased” – about a year ago. On the top of everything, an anonymous person filed charges against Interior Minister for her allegedly disputable lease of premises for NPU, blaming her for damaging state budget. May 2010


12

Economy

FACTS AND FIGURES

source: STA, Slovenian Press Agency

Losses Continue at Hit Slovenia’s biggest gaming company is continuing to struggle with losses following a poor performance in 2009.

system of client relationship management with which the company aims to stop the decline in the number of visitors.

Hit, which owns the majority of casinos in Slovenia, has reported a EUR 1.3m loss in the first two months of 2010. It continues the recent trend of poor performance from the company. In 2009 it registered an operating loss of EUR 7m; total revenues of EUR 163m, 13.1 percent less than planned; a 13.6 percent year-on-year drop in gross turnover; and a 9.5 percent fall in the number of visitors to its casinos.

The Nova Gorica-based group will look to generate EUR 176.3m in revenues this year, a 6 percent drop on last year. It will simultaneously aim to cut expense by 13 percent to EUR 133.7m, which it estimates would limit its overall losses to EUR 6.8m.

While revenues were slightly above expected in January and February 2010, they still represented a 10.5 percent drop on the same period in 2009.

Meanwhile, the gaming group has revealed it will not provide fresh capital to a maker of electronic roulettes in which it holds a 60 percent stake. Hit said that it would instead file for receivership at ICIT. The company is said to have had orders but to have run out of raw materials, having to put its workforce of around 30 people on leave recently.

The company continued to reduce staff numbers in the first months of this year. At the end of February it employed 1,738 people.

The company’s supervisory board has now confirmed a crisis strategy will be implemented for 2010-2012 with the aim of both cutting costs and slowing drops in revenue. One of the cornerstones of the strategy is a comprehensive

Central Bank Ends 2009 with Profit

Slovenia’s central bank posted a profit of EUR 103.6m for 2009 compared to a loss of EUR 29.7m the year before. Interest revenue of EUR 116.8m accounted for the bulk of the central bank’s revenue, but the figure is marginally lower than in 2008. Income from the sale of securities and currencies rose to EUR 62.8m from EUR 2.8m the year before, as securities prices rose to pre-crisis levels. Provisions amounted to EUR 64.9m, up from EUR 7.2m the year before, while operating expenses remained virtually the same at EUR 29.7m. As mandated by law, EUR 25.9m of the profit will be transferred to the state budget. The rest will be allocated for reserves.

The Slovenia Times

Economy growth

IMF Forecasts 1.1% Growth in 2010

Slovenia GDP growth rate 7 4

Source: Eurostat

Banks

Slovenia’s economy will grow by 1.1 1 percent this year, the International 0 Monetary Fund (IMF) has said in its -2 latest forecast. This is a 0.4 point upgrade on the October 2009 projection. -5 According to IMF estimates released in Washington last month, growth is expected climb to two percent in 2011 -8 2003 2011 as part of a recovery following the 7.3 percent contraction in 2009. Slovenia’s inflation will rise to 1.5 percent this year and will continue to climb, standing at 2.3 percent in 2011. In 2009, inflation stood at 0.8 percent. Slovenia’s unemployment rate, which stood at 6.2 percent in 2009, is meanwhile projected to peak at 7.4 percent in 2010 and then drop to 6.8 percent in 2011.

Retail

Mercator to Pay Dividends of EUR 7.2 per Share

Retailer Mercator is to pay higher than expected share dividends in exchange for a promise that three top banks will not offload their stock in the company until September 2012. NLB, NKBM and Abanka own a combined 18.7 percent stake in Mercator, mostly seized as collateral for soured loans. Earlier this year they formed a consortium with several other banks to sell a combined 36 percent stake in Mercator, but the project fell through after NLB and its subsidiary Banka Celje backed out. Mercator believes the increased dividends – EUR 7.2 gross per share, more than 60 percent higher than the year before – will “stabilise ownership structure”. Mercator said the EUR 27.1m it will pay out in total would not affect development plans, as it would offload some non-core assets and optimise management of current assets.

Logistics

Rail Operator Anticipates EUR 30M Loss in 2010

Debt-ridden rail operator Slovenske Železnice expects to a record a EUR 30.3m loss in 2010, its chief executive has said. Presenting the company’s 2010 business plan, Goran Brankovič said operating revenues are predicted to be EUR 354.4m with operating loss reaching EUR 20m. He underlined that unless the company introduced certain measures, the loss would amount to nearly EUR 82m. Austerity measures have saved the company around EUR 26.2m but negative factors increased to the virtually same amount, Brankovič said. Operating revenues are expected to increase by 2.3 percent compared to 2009, while expenses are to remain unchanged. By the end of the year the rail operator is expected to employ 6,931 people, compared to 7,728 at the end of 2009. The cargo division will generate the biggest loss in 2010, amounting to EUR 27.9m.


13 Wages

Household appliances

EU budget

Wages Continue to Drop

IFC to Take Part in Gorenje Capital Raising

Slovenia to Pay Less Airport Operator’s to EU Budget in 2010 Profit Halved in 2009

Average gross earnings in Slovenia in February stood at EUR 1,431.45, 1.2 percent less than in January 2010 but 3.6 percent more than in February 2009. The average net wage was EUR 930.01, which is 0.7 percent more than a month before, preliminary data by the Statistics Office shows. Due to a 0.4 percent rise in consumer prices in February, average gross wages decreased by 1.6 percent in real terms compared to January. However, they rose by 2.3 percent year-on-year in real terms. Wages slightly increased in real-estate businesses (a 1.1 percent rise) and other business activities (a 0.5 percent increase).

Banks

NLB Needs Fresh Capital to Fund Construction Jobs A postponed capital injection at Slovenia’s bank will now go ahead, Finance Minister Franc Križanič has announced. The injection of cash at NLB was planned to take place at the end of last year but was shelved. Križanič says it will now take place in the near future since the bank needs money to help Slovenian construction companies carry out big projects abroad. Križanič’s comments come after several construction firms signed major deals in Libya.

Tourism

The International Finance Corporation (IFC) is to take part in a capital increase at a Slovenian household appliance maker. Gorenje announced that the capital increase is designed to improve competitiveness and restructure credit due in the next two years. It did not reveal how much the IFC, which operates under the auspices of the World Bank, is willing to spend on the company. But there were media reports that the IFC would invest EUR 30m and organise a syndicate providing a EUR 150m loan. Gorenje had financial liabilities to the tune of EUR 500m at the end of 2009 and capital worth EUR 400m. It ended the year with a EUR 12.2m net loss on group sales, which were down 11 percent over a year before to EUR 1.2bn.

EU

Brussels Agrees New Liquidity Scheme Extension

Number of Tourists Up 7% in 1st Quarter A total of 490,000 tourists visited Slovenia in the first three months of this year, up seven percent on the same period last year. Preliminary data released by the Statistics Office in April shows the number of Slovenian guests rose 9 percent to 234,612, while the number of foreign tourists increased 5 percent to 255,855. The number of overnight stays stood at 1.53 million, four percent more than in the first three months of 2009.

Source: SURS

Total number of tourist overnight stays in Slovenia (in millions) 8,5

8

7,5

2003

2009

Logistics

Slovenia will pay EUR 6.9m less to the European Union in 2010, it has been announced. The fall is due to a surplus in the EU budget – according to the European Commission, the EU recorded a surplus of EUR 2.25bn in 2009 or 1.9 percent of the budget, according to the European Commission. The contributions of all member states will therefore fall this year. The 2009 surplus was 0.4 percentage points higher than in 2008. But it has been drastically reduced from the beginning of the decade – it was 90 percent lower in 2009 than in 2001.

Cartels

Ministry Suspects Collusion among Stationery Providers The Competition Protection Office has launched proceedings against a group of stationery companies. The companies are suspected of forming a cartel as part of a large tender published by the Ministry of Public Administration, Minister Irma Pavlinic Krebs told the press. The tender for the supply of office equipment for 180 government bodies is worth EUR 17m. Krebs says the ministry has also reported the case to the Corruption Prevention Commission, which has forwarded it to prosecution. He added that the ministry would not sign contracts with any of the providers implicated in the cartel.

Automotive industry

Car Sales Up

The European Commission has endorsed another extension to Slovenia’s liquidity scheme. The scheme is designed to stabilise financial markets by providing state loans to eligible financial institutions until 30 June. It was originally confirmed on 20 March 2009 and was extended by six months on 19 October 2009. The scheme supplements the loan guarantee scheme for financial institutions which was confirmed in December 2008 and which was also extended for six months in June 2009. The available budget for both schemes is EUR 12bn. The schemes cannot be extended beyond 31 December 2010.

The operator of Ljubljana’s Jože Pučnik Airport has posted a significant fall in profits. Aerodrom Ljubljana says the economic crisis severely affected its bottom line in 2009. Sales revenue dropped 13 percent to EUR 33.5m and net profit was nearly halved over a year ago to EUR 6.1m. Sales declined across the board, as passenger numbers dropped 14.3 percent to 1.43 million and cargo transport by 16.6 percent. Pre-tax profit this year is projected to increase by 3.3 percent. Sales, however, are expected to remain level due to an expected EUR 1m shortfall from the twoweek airport closure due to runway repairs.

Car sales in Slovenia rose by 10.8 percent in March compared with the same month last year according to data from the Chamber of Commerce. Renault remained the top-selling car make, with a 17.05% market share. The company was followed by Volkswagen (13.08%), Opel (11.16%), Citroen (7.48%), Peugeot (5.92%), Skoda (4.50%) and Ford (3.80%). The Renault Clio was March’s best-selling car accounting for 6.06% of new car purchases.

Acquisitions

KD Kapital Bids to Acquire Ski Resort Operator Financial firm KD Kapital has announced a takeover bid for the operator of the Vogel ski resort in northwestern Slovenia. KD Kapital already owns 40.79 percent of the stock in Zicnice Vogel Bohinj and is offering EUR 1.65 per share for the remaining shares in an offer that runs until 12 May. The company says the planned acquisition is a long-term financial investment. It does not plan any restructuring or layoffs at the target company. Zicnice Vogel Bohinj also operates five eating establishments in the resort. The operator posted sales of EUR 2.5m for 2009, down 6 percent over the year before, and ended with a net loss of EUR 171,000, down from EUR 266,000 on a year earlier.

Breaking down linguistic barriers!

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14 ECONOMY

Telecommunications

Legitimate Concerns? Is Slovenia’s largest telecommunications company in trouble? With falling profits and increasing debts – as well as the resignation of its vice-chairman and government-mandated audits into its recent acquisitions – some have feared for Telekom Slovenije. But it seems that rumours of the company’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. By Aleš Šinkovec

O

n February 25 2010, Telekom Slovenije published its unaudited revenue and earning report for 2009. The headline results were far from positive. Net profit for the period stood at EUR 24.6m, down a staggering 71 percent on the previous year. Earlier that some month, Economy Minister Matej Lahovnik had called for audits into the company’s recent acquisitions in Kosovo and Macedonia. By the time March

rolled round, bringing with it the resignation of Telekom Slovenije’s vice-chairman Dušan Mitič, much of the media had become convinced that there were serious problems at Slovenia’s largest telecommunications company.

Logical explanations? Further study, however, has convinced many that such concerns were perhaps misplaced. Take the resignation of board of directors

Telekom Slovenije has faced much criticism over the past few months over its expansion abroad

vice-chairman Dušan Mitič. Many are now arguing that his resignation was not quite as untimely as the majority of the media reported. Although undoubtedly early, it is important to note that his departure was preceded by the appointment of a new chairman. Ivica Kranjčević began his term on March 13 2010 and, as with any company chairman, retains the right to create his own board of directors.

Results What of the company’s dwindling profits then? There are three main explanations: the global financial crisis, new European Union regulations for mobile operators, and tighter market conditions within the telecoms sector. And the credit crunch, arguably the common cold of explanations, cannot be discounted either – it doesn’t merely describe drying up revenue streams. In a debt based economy, credit flow is needed, especially during mergers or acquisitions. While the European Union has been very kind to the consumer with respect to mobile telephony, this kindness has had an inverse effect on the companies providing such services. Year-on-year, new EU regulations further tighten the caps on roaming rates; even the intervals at which customers get charged.

Expansion Telekom Slovenije has also had to contend with a progressively more saturated market in SloveThe Slovenia Times

nia. It is this which has prompted the continued expansion of the group into other South Eastern European markets – something critics argue contributed to the group’s poor results in 2009. But the figures seem to suggest otherwise. The company’s most recent acquisitions are Kosovo’s Ipko and Macedonia’s One (previously Cosmofon). Although these purchases have contributed to the group’s net financial debt rising to EUR 590m, both companies are already producing results. Ipko is posting profits; achieving positive earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) already two years prior. Similar results are expected to be achieved in Macedonia in the near future. Why, then, all the furor? Why has Economy Minister Lahovnik demanded audits of the acquisitions? It is worth noting that Telekom had in fact already launched an external audit into One, and an internal audit into Ipko. The reason is simple: the appointment of the new board of directors. Audits are commonplace when executives change. In the words of Telekom Slovenije spokesman Boris Ziherl: “It is a routine procedure to check whether business procedures up till [the change of board] were carried out accurately and transparently, in order to clarify any misunderstandings”. The reports were due to be finished by the end of April and made public. It remains to be seen whether they will be enough to persuade the media that there is life in Telekom Slovenije yet.


ECONOMY 15 Photo: Dreamstime

Volcanic ash crisis

All Hasn’t Gone up in Dust It brought the whole of Europe to a standstill and ensured doomsday scenarios and second wave recession predictions dominating the headlines for almost a week. But was the Icelandic cloud crisis merely a smoke storm in a teacup? By Maja Dragović

J

ust as the markets started seeing a recovery, no matter how meager, the force of nature came back to remind us of the still volatile situation in our economies. The volcanic ash which forced a three-day closure of Slovenia’s airspace has had a severe impact

Volcanic ash crisis has caused disruptions in air traffic greater than those after September 11 attacks in New York

on Slovenian businesses across a number of sectors. One of the most affected is Adria Airways. The company had already been facing a grave financial situation – burdened by old debt; struggling to pay regular commitments; and hit by high

costs, particularly in labour. It is a common story in the airline industry, which has been in steady decline in the past decade. The Air Transport Association had predicted industry losses of over $3.5 billion for this year. That was before the volcanic ash hit – the

cost of which has been estimated at $2.2 billion.

Government saviours? For the latest crisis, the government is ready to step in with a cash continued on page 17

IEDC International Summer Schools: An ever-spreading international network of friends and future business partners The international summer schools of management, organized by IEDC-Bled School of Management, every summer attracts over a hundred participants who come to Bled in order to gain new knowledge and spread their international networks, while they are enthusiastic also about Slovenia’s tourist attractions. In previous years participants from more than 40 countries have contributed to the programs’ multicultural flavor. occupations, organizations and countries. More information about the Young Managers Program is available at www.iedc.si/ymp In the first half of July, IEDC hosts young graduates and students from many countries, who participate in the Discover Management Program (DMP), an intensive nine-day seminar, which does not require preliminary knowledge from the management field, just a large doses of intellectual and emotional energy, an openness to new perspectives and the willingness to dive in and take the initiative. The young people are characterized by curiosity, eagerness to learn new things, willingness to take an active part in

the program and to share experience with the colleagues from all over the world. More information about the Discover Management Program is available at www.iedc.si/dmp In line with the innovative approach of the IEDC that has been systematically integrating learning from the arts and other professions in the curricula and in such a way stimulating creativity and innovativeness of program participants, the IEDC summer schools include numerous artistic, social and sports activities, from concerts, experiencing arts, taking part in various sports, to presenting different countries, cultures, rafting, and relaxation in the nature.

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From the middle of June till the beginning of July, a two-week seminar Young Managers Program (YMP), designed for those who recently assumed management positions, takes place at IEDC. It’s an international two-week course that provides an overview of the main fields of management and managerial skills. The Program aims to apply newly-learned concepts to real-world management situations, to address participants’ business challenges and to build upon their work experience. The major objectives of the program include learning from peers and the sharing of opinions and ideas between participants. There are also many opportunities to network with young managers who come from a wide variety of

The IEDC summer schools include numerous artistic, social and sports activities.

May 2010


16 ECONOMY

Pension reform

Pension Panic In late March, Slovenia’s Labour, Family and Social Affairs minister presented plans to radically shake up the country’s pension system. The move was prompted in part by a warning from the European Commission about the high rate of pension expenditure in Slovenia. But the proposals have proved immensely controversial and arguments now rage about how to sustain the pension system while also protecting Slovenian workers. By Biserka Dežman

O

n March 24, Ivan Svetlik presented a new pension and disability bill for Slovenia. Perhaps the most headline-grabbing of the Labour, Family and Social Affairs minister’s proposals: increasing the full retirement age for both men and women. Svetlik seemed to concede that the proposals were dramatic, taking great pains to assure the public that the changes would be introduced gradually. But he also emphasised that reform was desperately needed. The government believes that without reform, the pension system will not be financially sustainable past 2020.

Following advice The government is far from alone in its concerns. The current

proposals are partially a response to a warning from the European Commission, which believes pension expenditure is so high as to place the Slovenia’s entire public finances at risk. The Commission’s proposed course of action? Four fold: a budgetary strategy to decrease the deficit, enhancements to the fiscal system, better quality of public finances and, of course, pension reform. The new pension and disability bill is the first step towards just that reform. If the bill is implemented as is, the full retirement age for men will rise to 65, and for women to 63, from 2011 – assuming workers have at least 15 years’ of service. Citizens will also need to reach these ages to be entitled to a pension and have 40 years serv-

ice in the case of men, and 38 in the case of women.

Instant consternation Condemnation of the pension shake up began more or less as soon as it was announced. Dušan Semolič, head of the country’s biggest trade union confederation, said the plan “provably hurts the majority of the Slovenian working class”. The ZSSS leader expressed particular concern for those who had started contributing to the pension purse before the age of 25 and who had reached the required length of service but who had not yet met the full retirement age. The number of years service is the “key and just condition” for payment of the full pension, he added. It was perhaps predictable that employee organisations would object to the planned pension reforms. But the proposals have also encountered stiff opposition from those representing employers. Jože Smole, the secretary general of The Association of Employers, said he had hoped the proposals would include incentives for organisations keeping older people in employment.

Searching for compromise Social partners such as Smole’s and Semolič’s organistions have

been far from quiet when it comes to voicing their concerns about the pension plans. Semolič says the ZSSS will demand a legislative referendum should the bill pass in its current form – and stage a general strike if such a demand is not met. The threats have left the government desperately trying to construct a compromise. In midApril, Prime Minister Borut Pahor extended the public consultation period on the reforms until 27 May 2010. He also announced that the government, trade unions, and employers would be meeting every Monday for six weeks in an attempt to come up with a solution which meets the needs of all sides. Meanwhile, Pahor has been working hard to persuade his own party to back the proposals. At the Social Democrat party conference in April, he said reform was “unavoidable” and crucial if Slovenia is to be among the most economically dynamic European countries in the next decade. But the Prime Minister seems keenly aware of just how unpopular the plans are. “Four-fifths of the public are against pension reform,” the Prime Minister said in response to a question posted in Parliament. “This is political suicide, but we are going ahead because there’s no alternative.”

Male

Standard Retirement across EU

Female Source: www.msp.gov.mt

65

The Slovenia Times

United Kingdom

Sweden

Finland

Portugal

Austria

The Netherlands

Luxembourg

Italy

Ireland

France

Spain

Greece

Germany

0

Belgium

60


ECONOMY 17 from the Slovenian Tourist Board (STO) say that the five-day crisis is one of the worst faced by the industry. “The fact is that even after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center twin towers in New York on 11 September in 2001 there wasn’t an air traffic halt to the extent that we have witnessed in the aftermath of a cloud of volcanic dust in Europe,” the STO comments. It has been estimated that hotels in Ljubljana and on the coast have lost 10,000 overnight stays because of flight cancellations. As an average tourist in Slovenia spends EUR 150 a day, this amounts to a loss of EUR 1.5m for the Slovenian tourism, according to the Tourist Board. Jože Pučnik airport avoided the effects of the ash cloud crisis continued from page 15

boost. The ministry of economy has announced plans to declare the ash crisis a natural disaster, enabling businesses to claim back the money lost. It is estimated that Adria lost between EUR 1.3m and EUR 1.4m during the closure and the transport minister Patrick Vlačič believes that the government should reimburse the losses if Adria asks for it. And ask for it they will.

“We will certainly ask for the government to help out,” says Mar jan Ravn ikar, vice president of the board of Adria Airways. “Flight restrictions due to the effects of volcanic dust have further complicated the already difficult economic situation of air traffic.”

Toursim hit hard too Slovenia’s tourism was another victim of the standstill. Officials

Stroke of luck Strangely, the cloud hasn’t been bad news for every company in Slovenia dependent on air travel. A two week closure of Ljubljana’s Jože Pučnik airport had been planned for some time in order to extend its runways. It was a closure that just happened to coincide with flight cancelations due to the volcanic ash. The planned reopening of the airport fell a day after the flight suspension was lifted.

Airport officials can’t believe their luck: “If the airport had been open, the closed airspace over Slovenia would have incurred a daily loss of between EUR 50,000 and EUR 60,000 of turnover,” they say.

Long-term damage unlikely While the ash cloud may have significantly disrupted the economy in recent weeks, the long term effects are likely to be minimal. According to some experts in investment banking, the temporary disruption to the air freight business was offset by the increased use of road, rail and sea transport. The estimates are that air transport accounted for just 0.2 per cent of gross value added in the 16-nation eurozone. But the cloud has highlighted the region’s dependence on air travel and prompted calls for the European Union to develop a better and faster rail network. In Slovenia, demands for a better railway system are becoming louder and more frequent. Perhaps there is one positive lasting effect the ash cloud will have on Slovenia – hastening the long-overdue improvement of the country’s railways.

European leaders meeting in Bled to discuss new leadership approaches to promote innovation, communications and ethics For two days in May, leaders from business, politics, academia, the media, non-governmental organisations and other institutions will gather in Bled from over 20 countries for the European Leadership Centre conference. The aim of this year’s conference will be to discuss new leadership approaches to promote innovation, communication and governance/ ethics. It will be a challenging event focusing on what European leaders should bear in mind to make a difference and contribute to a better Europe and a better world.

The ELC conference 2010 is jointly organized by IEDC-Bled School of Management (Slovenia),

International Leadership Association (USA), Centre for Leadership Studies at the University of Exeter (UK) and Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe from Austria. The European Leadership Centre (ELC) was established at IEDC-Bled School of Management in 2002. It is a centre of excellence to spearhead directions and actions for leaders wishing to enhance Europe’s ability to play a critical and competitive role in the world economy and world affairs. Detailed conference program and application information is available at www.europeanleadershipcentre.org

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The ELC conference, which runs on 27 and 28 May, will be led by Prof. Dr. Donna Ladkin, Centre for Executive Learning and Leadership, Cranfield School of Management from the UK, and feature respected speakers such as Prof. Maurice Saias, professor of strategy at University Aix-en-Provence, France, described by the Financial Times as one of Europe’s 10 leading strategy gurus; Prof. Žiga Turk, Secretary General, Reflection Group, EU; Dr. Riccardo Illy, President of the Illy Group from Italy; Mr. Žiga Debeljak, President of the Board, Mercator, Slovenia; Dr. Erhard Busek, President, Institute for the Danube Region and Central Europe; Prof. Arnold Walravens, Professor Emeritus of the Technological University Delft and President of the Supervisory Board of Eureko; Dr. Nadya Zhexembayeva, professor of leadership, organisational change and sustainability at IEDC-Bled School of Management; and other eminent speakers from European businesses and organisations. The conference will be concluded by a plenary session aimed at formulating further recommendations for recovery and beyond.

May 2010


FDI

NEWS IN BRIEF

source: STA, Slovenian Press Agency

Exports

Automotive industry

Economic diplomacy

Investments

Exports Continue to Increase

Revoz To Assemble New Smart and Twingo Models

Great Expectations for Business Forum in Vienna

Investment Agencies Sign Cooperation Deal

Source: SURS

Slovenian exports in ‘0000000 EUR 150

The Slovenian subsidiary of French car maker Renault is to take over production of two cars. Novo Mestobased Revoz will start assembling Daimler’s next generation of Smart cars and Renault’s new Twingo models in 2013. Both models will be built on the same chassis, although the exterior of the car will differ by brand. The news comes after Renault, Nissan and Daimler last month presented a partnership to develop a new city car. The three car makers will cooperate both in terms of funds as well as in development and technology.

Energy

Slovenia in For Major Investments in Power Grid

120

90 Jan 09

Jan 10

Banks

SID Bank Expanded Lending by 44% Last Year State-owned SID export and development bank provided a total of EUR 1.5bn of loans to Slovenian banks and companies in 2009, an increase of 44% compared to the year before. Even so, the bank said profits were less than expected at EUR 900,000. SID chairman Sibil Svilan attributed the lower than predicted profit to the higher loan risks the bank assumed during the financial crisis. The bank’s total assets at the end of last year exceeded EUR 3bn, which is almost 45 percent more than at the end of 2008. This makes SID the fifth largest bank in Slovenia in terms of total assets. Loans to banks increased 51.2 percent, while loans to the non-banking sector were up 32.4 percent. The Slovenia Times

At least EUR 1.6bn will need to be invested in Slovenia’s power grid in the next ten years according to a representative from the Ministry of the Economy, Franc Žlahtič. Renovations of power plants in Slovenia will cost up to EUR 10bn and in Europe up to EUR 1,000bn, Žlahtič noted. Slovenia plans to link its grid with Hungary and expand connections with Italy, said Žlahtič, who also stressed the need for a transition from 220 kV to 440 kV in the grid. It estimated this will cost EUR 700m over the next ten years.

Tax laws

Greater Tax Breaks for R&D Slovenia’s Economy Minister has promised that the government will take measures to increase tax breaks for research and development. Matej Lahovnik told the management board of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) that planned changes to the corporate income tax act would include an increase in the tax break for R&D from the current 40 percent to 60 percent. He stressed that the government wanted to promote the transformation of Slovenia’s economy from bricks and mortar to knowledge.

Slovenian Ambassador in Vienna Aleksander Geržina has announced the launch of a Slovenian Business Forum in the Austrian city. The new forum is a follow-up to the recently established Slovenian Forum in Vienna. The business forum is conceived as a platform for business cooperation with countries whose ambassadors cover Slovenia from Vienna. Geržina explained that some of these countries, mostly countries from the Arabian Peninsula, Asia, Africa and Latin America, are becoming increasingly interesting for the Slovenian market. He hopes the Vienna forum could provide for stronger economic cooperation by securing easier access to all necessary information.

Railways

Ex-Yu Rail Operators Sign Cooperation Agreement

Trade with Croatia in ‘00000 EUR

Source: SURS

Slovenia’s exports increased by 2.9 percent to EUR 1.32bn in February over January, while imports climbed four percent to EUR 1.41bn, the Statistics Office said in April. In the first two months of 2010, Slovenia exported EUR 2.54bn worth of goods, a rise of 2.3 percent yearon-year, while imports were up 1% to EUR 2.66bn. The country’s trade gap rose 2.6 times compared to January, amounting to EUR 87.4m, which put the February import-export coverage down from 97.3 percent to 93.8 percent. Exports to EU countries in the first two months recorded a strong year-on-year growth of 6.2 percent to EUR 1.91bn, while exports to other countries fell by 8.1 percent to EUR 635.8m.

1400

1125

Exports

850

575

Imports

300 Jan 09

Jan 10

A memorandum on cooperation has been signed between Slovenia’s Agency for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investment (JAPTI) and Croatia’s Trade and Investment Promotion Agency. The agreement was the conclusion to a two-day session of the Slovenian-Croatian economic commission. Its aim is to boost mutual investment. Slovenia has so far invested EUR 1.1bn in Croatia, while the total investments made by Croatia in Slovenia stand at EUR 300m. The volume of trade between Slovenia and Croatia was down 26 percent in 2009 compared to the year before due to the effects of the economic crisis.

Food industry

Croatian Firm Eyeing Droga Kolinska The national railway operators of Slovenia, Croatia, BosniaHerzegovina and Serbia have signed an agreement on business cooperation. The agreement commits to improving the quality and competitiveness of cargo transport. The railway operators will simplify production and secure the interoperability of engines, shortening transport time, increasing capacity and improving reliability. The firms will also establish new railway routes for the transport of containers and standard carriages, including a line between France and Bulgaria, Ljubljana and Croatia’s port of Rijeka, and Ljubljana and Macedonia’s Skopje. The companies operate in the area of the 10th panEuropean corridor, which according to Slovenian Railways is the “main transport axis connecting industrial centres in North Europe with the Western Balkans and Turkey”

Croatian firm Atlantic Group has submitted a non-binding offer for the acquisition of Slovenia’s biggest food company. Droga Kolinska has been put up for sale by Istrabenz, which needs to pay off some EUR 100m in debt by the end of the year in line with a restructuring programme. In late March Istrabenz commissioned French bank BNP Paribas to seek out interested domestic and international investors. Emil Tedeschi, the owner and boss of Atlantic Group, told the Croatian media that the combined firm would be the biggest food producer in the region with over 4,500 employees and annual turnover to the tune of EUR 700m. Atlantic has annual sales of EUR 320m while Droga Kolinska last year posted revenues of EUR 326m with an operating profit of EUR 23.3m.


German investments

Many from Germany Increasing numbers of foreign companies are seeing that Slovenia represents an excellent investment opportunity. In so doing, they are coming to a realisation that many German companies came to several decades ago. By Claire Read

I

t was in the 1970s that the Bosch and Siemens Home Appliances Group (BSH) first entered the Slovenian market, starting cooperation with a factory for small home appliances in Nazarje. In 2010, the facility will produce more than seven million appliances. Compared to Hella Saturnus, however, BSH is a new kid on the block. Saturnus started trading in Slovenia 90 years ago. The popularity Slovenia has with this Central European nation is now such that there is a Slovenian-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce. Established in 2006, the Chamber is dedicated to continuing the strong connections between the two countries. To this end, each year it surveys German companies in Slovenia or those with German capital. The aim is to gain a clear sense of the situation for German businesses trading in Slovenia.

Surveying the scene The results of this year’s survey were released in April. They showed that Slovenia was regarded as the most attractive investment prospect of 18 countries in central, eastern and south eastern Europe. Rudolf Klötscher, chief executive of BSH Hišni Aparati, says Slovenia has multiple benefits for German companies. “We like to summarise the positive aspects of the Slovenian market into the ‘four Qs’”, he explains. “First is the quality of the workforce, second is the quality of infrastructure, third is quality of location and fourth is, of course, quality of life.”

Christof Droste, managing director of Hella Saturnus, agrees that there are numerous positives aspects to the Slovenian market: “I would highlight good and educated people who are very ambitious and productive and a very established market with low fluctuation,” he says. “And due to the length of business experience with Western Europe you find very good foreign language and culture skills here.”

Relying on the market This year’s Slovenian-German Chamber of Industry and Commerce survey may have revealed minimum wage and other worries on the part of German companies.

Taxing times and wage worries Klötscher and Droste don’t just agree on the benefits of Slovenia. They also agree that some recent developments are cause for concern from the perspective of German companies. “Slovenia is an important location for us,” Klötscher asserts. “But the cost topic is making us a bit nervous because Slovenia is no longer the low cost country for production sites. “It is understandable that the government needs to find money to pay for the increase in unemployment but, in my opinion, raising the prices and taxes on fuel and energy is not smart because it’s just a ‘quick fix’, not a long term strategy.” Of the companies surveyed by the Chamber of Commerce, 52 percent shared Klötscher’s dissatisfaction with the Slovenian tax system. Most – 67 percent – complained that the tax burden on them was high. Another source of worry for some companies is the proposed rise in the minimum wage. While

But as Chamber member Henry Dvoršak points out, German firms don’t necessarily expect the government to act in ways which will benefit their business. “German companies in Slovenia do not rely on help but on the market,” says the representative of Weishaupt, a company making technology for burners, heat pumps, heating and solar equipment. It’s an attitude which has helped some of them flourish in the Slovenian market for almost a century – and one which seems likely to guarantee continuing success in the next hundred years.

IN PORTOROŽ FROM 24 TO 27 MAY 2010

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Microsof t d.o.o., Šmartinska cesta 140, 1000 Ljubljana

Christof Droste, managing director of Hella Saturnus, says there are many benefitial aspects for investors in Slovenia

both Klötscher and Droste say they don’t object to the planned 30 percent increase they do warn it could be a risky move in a time of crisis. They are urging the government to apply the increase gradually – according to Droste, a sudden huge increase could “cause further disproportion and dissatisfaction”.


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Trade relations with India

Grabbing Opportunities in India Business, economic and political figures from both India and Slovenia gathered last month at the Hotel Union in Ljubljana. They had come together for a conference on economic relations between the two countries – a conference which emphasised not only how many opportunities there are for Slovenian companies to expand into the Indian market but also how many more companies could be taking them. By Maja Dragović

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So much potential Speakers at the con ference – which was designed to complement the publication of a special Slovenia Times supplement on Indian/Slovenian trade relations – were many and varied. But figures including Samo Hribar Milič, director general of Slovenian Chamber of Commerce (GZS); His Excellency Villur S. Seshadri, Indian ambassador to Slovenia; Foreign Ministry state secretary Dragoljuba Benčina; and Nataša Turk, Area Director for India at GZS all agreed that India is a rapidly growing market with an increasing number of opportunities. And, although Slovenia may be a small country, it was concluded that its experience and expertise in certain sectors would be valuable to the further development of India. Representatives from India’s Ministry of Commerce and Industry explained that India needs to invest US$ 514bn in infrastructure in the 2007-2012 period, with most of the money to be spent on power plants, roads, railways, ports and airports. And India expects further direct foreign investment in The Slovenia Times

The roundtable discussion gave differing views on reasons for the reluctance of Slovenian companies to enter Indian market

the car and telecommunications industries, as the number of users is increasing by 14 million every month. It was agreed that in all of these areas, Slovenian companies have the ability to successfully compete for work. Mrs Anjali Prasad from India’s Department of Industry Policy and Promotion and Mr V.K. Trop, director general of Invest India (India’s equivalent of JAPTI) both joined the event via video conference to highlight how the country’s business climate could suit Slovenian companies. Amongst other benefits, they spoke of corporate tax incentives which in some sectors include tax breaks for 10 years in the 15 years of operations. Representatives from GZS did report that trade between the two countries is on the right track – in the first 11 months of 2009 it rose year-on-year from EUR 124.9m to EUR 177.8m, with exports to India growing from EUR 43.6m to EUR 65.4m and imports from EUR 81.4m to EUR 112.5m.

of businessmen and diplomats with experience of India – Mr Miklavž Borštnik, Former Chargé d’Affaires of the Republic of Slovenia in New Delhi; Mr Alojz Fabjan, Marketing Director; Mr Aleš Rotar, Member of the Board and Director of Research and Development; Mr Rudi Bric, Director, Petra Stroji; and Mr Gregor Kranjc, Marketing Manager, BIA Separations. The discussion brought to the surface a number of issues stopping companies from Slovenia from entering Indian market

– from cultural and geographical differences to the simple fact, as pointed out that Rudi Bric, that some Slovenian companies do not have a product to sell to the Indian market. The discussion did not, however, overshadow the fact that over 100 Slovenian companies are currently working in India. And this conference – along with the Slovenia Times supplement which accompanied it – showed that opportunities in India are not to be feared, but to be embraced.

Trade in goods between Slovenia and India year-on-year in millions of Euros 140 Source: GZS

hen Slovenian President Danilo Türk visited India in February, he made a point which he and many others have made before – India is a country which presents an array of opportunities for Slovenian companies. Why, then, aren’t more businesses doing trade with the Asian country? That and many other questions were keenly debated at a conference last month on Indian and Slovenian economy relations. The event, jointly organised by The Slovenia Times and the Indian embassy in Ljubljana, brought together a variety of leading figures from each country to discuss the links that currently exist between the two countries as well as those which could be established.

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Nothing to fear The conference concluded with a lively round table discussion on why Slovenian companies are afraid to do business in India. Panellists included a variety

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Thermal Power Plant

Power Struggle The government says it’s needed, environmental groups say it’s disastrous, and public opinion is divided. Throw in allegations of corruption and the project to build a sixth generator at the Šoštanj power plant looks seriously troubled. Can an agreement be reached on how best to provide electricity in Slovenia? By Claire Read Proposals for the construction of the sixth coal powered generator has caused a lot of controversy

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f you’re searching for Slovenia’s literal powerhouse, a facility located in the north east of the country is a good bet. The fifty-year-old Šoštanj Thermal Power Plant (TEŠ) currently provides almost a third of the country’s electricity. According to plant owners HSE, however, it won’t be in a position to do so for much longer without significant investment. The company says much of the technology in the facility’s five aging generators is now obsolete and, thanks to wear and tear, unreliable and inefficient. Their solution? A EUR 1.1 billion project to construct a sixth coal powered generator. HSE argues TEŠ6 will not only lead to a cheaper, more efficient electricity supply but will also bring environmental benefits. It is forecast the new generator will produce the same amount of electricity as the existing five while cutting carbon dioxide emissions by almost 1.5 million tonnes. The ultimate intention would be for TEŠ6 to replace all five of its elderly cousins.

Green objections Green concerns are of course a crucial aspect of power supply in the modern age, reflected in country-specific targets from the European Commission. Slovenia’s is for 25 percent of its energy to come from renewable sources by 2020 – a goal environmental groups fear will be impossible to meet should TEŠ6 go forward.

»TEŠ6 is a good move in the short term,« argues Karmen Kogoj Ogris, head of public relations at Umanotera, the Slovenian Foundation for Sustainable Development. »But in the medium and long term it is not a good investment since coal will no longer be a viable resource. It won’t be consistent with climate goals.« It is a viewpoint shared by Darko Krajnc. The President of the Slovenian Youth Party (SMS) says simply »we don’t need TEŠ6.« He continues: »It is not helping Slovenia access the climate target for 2020 – on the contrary, it is taking us away from it.«

dominant source in energy production until 2030 and that Slovenia should thus build coal-fired plants – albeit of the more environmentally friendly variety.

The nuclear option His group also supports the construction of a second reactor continued on page 22

Looking for alternatives Both believe Slovenia can find ways to meet its energy needs without coal. Umanotera’s vision is of an energy system based on three pillars: renewable energy, energy efficiency and a smart grid [a modern type of electricity network which delivers power via two way-digital technology, so saving energy, reducing costs and increasing reliability]. The need to upgrade Slovenia’s electricity grid is well recognised within the industry. Kresimir Bakic, head of the Cigre-Cired association of Slovenian power industry experts, says such improvements are vital if renewable resources are to be brought online efficiently. But this does not constitute an industry acknowledgement that TEŠ6 should be halted. Bakic argues coal will remain the May 2010


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Possible construction of another nuclear plant - NEK2 - is dividing both political and public opinion

Economy Minister Matej Lahovnik has warned scrapping TEŠ6 would lead to massive job losses and Dali Dongalic, a member of the government’s strategic energy council, has declared there is now no option but for it to go forward.

continued from page 21

at the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK), a project opposed by those who believe nuclear power represents a safety risk. While Bakic argues NEK2 is needed in addition to TEŠ6, some believe the expansion of the nuclear plant could be enough in itself to meet Slovenia’s electricity needs. »The construction of NEK2 will provide a generation capacity up to 1,600 megawatts,« says Tanja Jarković, head of public relations for the plant. »This would be a sufficient, reliable and above all safe and affordable supply of electricity for the whole of Slovenia. Of particular importance is that this energy is produced in a sustainable manner – nuclear power plants produce electricity without greenhouse gas emissions.«

Political support – with caveats It seems that the government does not see TEŠ6 and NEK2 as an either/or choice: it is backing both plans as crucial to the reliable sup-

The Slovenia Times

ply of electricity. But its support for TEŠ6 comes with an increasing number of caveats. In January, it requested detailed information on the project to counter concerns about corruption. A day later, it was announced that the anti-corruption commission was to investigate. In March, news broke that HSE had been ordered to negotiate discounts on equipment due to »altered global market conditions«. By April, the company had been told to commission an independent foreign assessment of the economics of TEŠ6. The government hopes such an assessment will increase the deal’s transparency – the lack of which has been severely criticised by TEŠ6’s opponents. Though the government has said appropriate action will be taken if the investment is found to be uneconomical, there is the simultaneous impression it feels it is now too late to turn back. Economy Min ister Matej Lahovnik has warned scrapping TEŠ6 would lead to massive job losses and Dali Dongalic, a member of the government’s strate-

gic energy council, has declared there is now no option but for it to go forward. Opponents disagree. Kranjc’s Youth Party has issued a call for a moratorium on construction, arguing the project should be frozen at least until the publication of the new National Energy Plan. Public opinion, meanwhile, is just as divided as political. A poll recently conducted by daily paper Dnevnik showed 35.2 percent supporting TEŠ6 and 34.8 opposing it. Unsurprisingly, the highest level of support was found in Šoštanj. The lowest? In the Dolenjsko region, which includes the Posavje area – home to NEK. The TEŠ website betrays little of the controversy swirling around its plans for a sixth generator. It calmly sets down a schedule of work for the project, envisaging that start up tests will begin in 2014. For that to happen, both politicians and public will have to agree that coal power is the best way forward for Slovenia’s electricity supply. Right now that’s a possibility that seems as far off as 2014.


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Renewable energy

From Green in to the Black With one in ten Slovenians jobless, the need to find industries which could provide jobs both now and in the future is becoming ever more pressing. It has been frequently argued that the green energy sector could be just such an industry for natural-resources rich country as Slovenia. While a start has been made in developing the sector, there is further to go if the country is to capitalise on this chance to boost employment and create green energy.

Photo: iStock

By Aleš Šinkovec

Slovenia lags behind other European countries in setting up wind turbines

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n incredible sixty percent of the country of Slovenia is green in the literal sense, covered as it is in forest. How green the country in the metaphorical sense is open to much greater debate. Particularly contentious is whether the country could be doing more to encourage the production of environmentally friendly energy. Although already home to hydroelectric plants and a few geothermal energy initiatives, many argue that there is massive untapped potential in solar and wind power.

It is not the case that there is no Slovenian company capable of building wind farms. Proven success Indeed, Maribor-based Traditionally, climate change Feku is currently has been cited as the strongest arconstructing just such gument for eco-energy. But in an of economic downturn, unema facility in Šibenik, age ployment, and high energy import Croatia. The challenge levels, some feel that the promise now is to ensure that of local jobs and local energy procompanies such as this duction would now be a far more persuasive argument. Significantare given the opportunity ly, whereas proving global warmto construct wind turbines ing is a case of endless scientific in their home country. dialogue, proving that green enThe Slovenia Times

ergy can create jobs should be less difficult. There are already Slovenian success stories in the field. Solar energy is a notable example. The collection and implementation of power from the sun has greatly improved in the past decade, moving from being viable for heating swimming pools, to running an entire household with surplus. Slovenia now has a relatively well developed solar energy industry with a handful of private companies taking the initiative and finding great success. The most prominent is Bisol. The company’s revenue has risen from EUR 10 million in 2007 to EUR 27 million in 2009. Their projections for this year suggest that revenue will rise to EUR 50 million. As the market continues to develop, the cost for parts and raw materials will drop, which should increase the company’s potential profit. Bisol attribute their success in part to expansion into European markets such as Belgium and France. They have also been helped by accolades from within the industry – recently the international Photon Magazine named Bisol’s photovoltaic panels the best available in terms of energy efficiency. Bisol is also proving that green energy can provide jobs. They have already taken on 20 extra workers, and will employ a further 50 by the end of the year. This will bring the total workforce to 200 employees.

Blown opportunity Slovenia may be making inroads when it comes to solar power. But one other environmentally-friendly power source remains barely used – namely, wind. There have been attempts. The most famous is Elektro Primorska’s bid to farm wind in the region of Volovja Reber. It failed, primarily because of concerns that development in the area could harm the indigenous and migratory population of Golden Eagles. It is not the case that there is no Slovenian company capable of building wind farms. Indeed, Maribor-based Feku is currently constructing just such a facility in Šibenik, Croatia. The challenge now is to ensure that companies such as this are given the opportunity to construct wind turbines in their home country. It is a challenge that, one way or another, will have to be met. The European Union has mandated that by the year 2020, 25 percent of Slovenian energy needs must be met by renewable sources. Currently only eight percent is eco-friendly in this way. Increasing this percentage will not only make a literally green country more metaphorically green. It could also provide hundreds of jobs, provide a colour change many care about more than the green one – the change from red to black.

Using sun energy has greatly increased in the last decade


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Coalmining industry

The Times They are A-changin’ F

or the past two centuries, the people of the Zasavje region of Slovenia have been dedicated to the mining of coal. Generation after generation has worked in the pits of Zagorje, Trbovlje and Hrastnik, mining the fuel that has powered the country. The Trbovlje-Hrastnik coal mine (RTH) and the Trbovlje thermal power plant (TET) have long been the biggest employers in the region. All that is about to change. Thanks to cheaper labour and transportation costs in other countries, coal production within the countries of the European Union is now regarded as largely uncompetitive. Add to that increasing concerns about the impact of fossil fuels on the environment – coal is regarded as one of the least environmentally friendly fuels – and it has become clear to both the Slovenian government and the European Union that RTH is no longer sustainable.

istry,” says RTH director Aleš Berger. “Thus we could continue extraction from existent seams, which would otherwise remain unused. Moreover, in light of the present crisis, this would buy us some time to initiate new projects and activities in the field of energy production and other economy sectors.”

Where has all the power gone? The “present crisis” to which Berger refers is a desperate need to decide where Slovenia’s power will come from in the coming years. Coal from the Zasavje region is currently the main domestic source of energy. With it gone, the country’s dependence on imported energy will grow yet further. Some are concerned the reliability of the electricity supply will suffer as a result.

Also set to suffer from the changes are the people of the Zasavje region. Should RTH close this year, 186 workers will find themselves facing unemployment in a region where joblessness is already a significant problem. The impact would also be heavy on RTH’s partner companies. Those who have spent their entire working lives in the mines are naturally particularly worried about the prospect of having to search for new employment. Many say they cannot imagine working above ground, believing that the camaraderie, cooperation and sense of belonging that is found in the mines cannot be found elsewhere.

At some point in the next five years, TrbovljeHrastnik coal mine (RTH) is to stop production of the fuel. It will be a major change for a region of Slovenia which has, for hundreds of years, been dedicated to the mining of coal. While some are looking for last minute reprieves, others are searching for ways to apply coalmining knowledge in the modern era. By Ana Gorenc rently preparing a business strategy which looks to an era beyond coalmining. The strategy envisages management restructuring and a focus on new areas, including renewable energy sources and the dissemination of knowledge and experience. It also sets down the foundations for further development of the region. The plan is an acknowledgement that Zasavje must now start a new chapter; one which does not include the fuel which has always been so central to existence. Now the question is what the new chapter will be about, and how Slovenia will cope without a fuel source it has used for so long.

A new start

Employees may be struggling to come to terms with the change, but the management of RTH has little choice but to do so. They are cur-

A changing timetable What is not quite so clear is precisely when the mine will close its doors for the final time. The original plan was for RTH to close by the end of 2009, an intention stated both in Slovenian law and mandated by European Union directives. In 2009 the mine contacted the EU requesting an extension of production until the end of 2010. Now there are hopes production can be extended yet further. “We hope to get the deadline to end our production extended by the European commission until at least the end of 2012, with the support of the Slovenian Min-

Coal mine in Trbovlje is due to close, raising concerns for the local labour market May 2010


26

Interview: Robert Golob, GEN-I

Powering forward Since the liberalisation of the Slovenian electricity market, GEN-I has become an increasingly important player in the sector. According to Dr Robert Golob, GEN-I’s president of the board, the company is well placed to strengthen this position – and to supply more and more of its customers with “green” power. have noted a growing increase in customers seeking consulting services and expressing interest in the introduction of advanced and personalised products. In your opinion, how does Slovenia compare to the rest of Europe in terms of the use of renewable energy sources? Un fort u nately, i n t he past there were very few investments in renewable energy sources, especially in comparison to some other countries. Recently, however, the situation has improved. Incentives are high and market response extraordinary. Hopefully it will encourage the government to increase the funds in the future.

Unfortunately, in the past there were very few investments in renewable energy sources, especially in comparison to some other countries. Recently, however, the situation has improved. Incentives are high and market response extraordinary. Hopefully it will encourage the government to increase the funds in the future.

What is your market share in Slovenia? How has it changed since you were given permission to supply energy to households as well as businesses in 2007? Following the gradual liberalisation of Slovenian electricity market from 2007 onwards, all customers are now free to choose their supplier. Between 2007 and 2009 the number of GEN-I customers in Slovenia grew from 6.5 percent to 22 percent [market share] in the business users category. In household sales we have been present since May 2009, when the “Cheap Electricity” brand was launched. So far more than 8,000 households switched to GEN-I; this may not represent a significant market share [at present], but we expect to at least double the number in 2010. Who are your main suppliers of energy? GEN-I provides 2.1 terawatt hours of electricity to its customers on the Slovenian market. The electricity is largely bought from Slovenian producers – specifically partner production units of GEN Energija. This includes Krško nuclear power station, Sava Hydro-

The Slovenia Times

electric Plant in Ljubljana, Brestanica thermal power station and some of the electricity produced at the Sava River hydro power stations. In addition, GEN-I is an important partner of Toplarna Ljubljana thermal power station, a lead buyer of renewable energy in Slovenia. Your company has developed several products – what are those products and how competitive are they? GEN-I aims to establish a transparent business relationship and professional contact with every user. During the 2009 crisis our sales in the business category dropped considerably in comparison to previous years. Yet, despite the unfavourable circumstances we have managed to gain new customers and tend to existent ones, and thus significantly enhance our portfolio. Bigger business customers are assigned their own administrators who provide them with information and assistance. On our website customers can actively manage their electricity purchases, update their profiles and retrieve all necessary information. We

You are operating in all western Balkan countries – how good is your cooperation with regional companies in terms of energy security? And how important is the cooperation in that sense? Some 75 percent of our business is done in cooperation with eight daughter companies and two commercial representatives in fourteen foreign markets in the region. This widespread international commercial network enables access to cheaper electricity, particularly in Bulgaria, BosniaHerzegovina, Serbia and also in Romania. In south-eastern Europe the high export costs protect domestic electricity markets but also block development of free trade. Clearly, access to cheaper sources is crucial for increasing competitiveness. This means that for GEN-I the western European markets, particularly Austria and Germany, are also very important as in this way we get the chance to carefully plan our buying and selling strategies and protect our portfolios. Much like Slovenian partnerships, foreign ones are an important source of our growth and success. Do you think there are enough financial incentives to encourage an increase in production of renewable energy in Slovenia? Yes, but only in the field of electric energy sources. There is little or nothing for sources of thermal energy.


New Kid on the Luxury Block Quick – name a country known for its luxury property market. Which nation came to mind? The United Kingdom, thanks to the stunning riverside properties of its capital city? France, with the Mediterranean playground that is the Cote d’Azur? Perhaps Italy, birthplace of the Renaissance? All are traditional responses to the question. But for some buyers and investors, the answer is one that is perhaps somewhat unexpected: Slovenia. By Claire Read May 2010


The story in other established European luxury property markets may not be quite as dramatic, but the general theme is the same. Bailey’s colleague Rupert Fawcett reports that the Italian market has remained »relatively robust« in the past year, with an increase in interest from Italian and European mainland buyers. Sterling and dollar buyers are, he says, more cautious due to the swing in exchange rates. In the Cote d’Azur, Knight Frank reports 20 to 30 percent higher activity in the second half of the year from Dutch, Norwegian, Belgian, Danish and Russian purchasers – all assisted by low interest rates and lower capital values.

Signs of progress For the Balkans, however, the early recovery stage in which Slovenia finds itself is a common one. Croatia, Serbia and Montenegro are all in a similar position. And while their beauty may match that of Slovenia, the ease with which foreign investors can buy property doesn’t – an important factor given that foreigners are currently the most active on the luxury property market. There is hope that the story of Slovenia’s luxury real estate market is about to become closer to that of France and Italy than of its Balkan cohorts. In the experience of Eva Jakopin, when the price is right property can and will sell. »Well priced property will sell and sometimes sell very quickly,« says Jakopin. »But in many cases prices have not yet been reduced enough to entice investors back to the market. Pricing is still an issue for many of our investors.« If that changes – as many believe it is about to – there is no doubt that many more buyers hunting for higher-end properties will soon be discovering the delights of Slovenia.

High-end property market in Slovenia is seeing a surge of interest amongst foreign buyers

Slovenia’s glorious landscape may be a consistent factor for real estate hunters, but thanks to the worldwide economic downturn little else has been in recent years. The luxury sector has not been immune to the ravages of the recession, and according to Jakopin it means that sales have considerably slowed. »We are finding that the traditional markets remain the same, although reduced in size,« she explains. »As an agency specialising in attracting foreign investors, we find interest is mainly from Italian, Russian and British buyers in the luxury end of the market. Our The Slovenia Times

Cautious developers One recently completed luxury development is Zeleni Park 2, near Koper. The second phase of this coastal development – which contains both residential and commercial properties – has drawn interest from potential buyers both inside and outside Slovenia. But company owner Uroš Brataševec says there are currently no plans for further developments on the same scale. »I think that [at the moment] we can make five to ten luxury apartments at a time. Not more.« His caution is understandable. The downturn has reduced the number those looking to buy property, even in the luxury sector, and has meant that many prestige developments across Europe have stood empty. Some construction companies have consequently been forced to put planned future developments on hold. Glorious landscapes and a practical location haven’t been enough to satisfy those looking to buy during the downturn. There has also been the expectation of getting significant bang of the buck. According to real estate agents, Slovenia offers just that. »There is no stamp duty when you buy in Slovenia,« Jakopin

points out. »This represents a significant saving for those buying high end property. In the United Kingdom, for example, stamp duty amounts to tens of thousands of Euros on a luxury property.«

Recovery in London UK taxes may be higher than Slovenia’s, but at the moment so too is demand for luxury properties. According to Liam Bailey, head of residential research at global property consultancy Knight Frank, there is now a »dramatic shortage of supply« of high end properties in London, with 22 percent fewer properties available for sale in March 2010 than is normal for the time of year. »The market recovery in London was kick-started in March last year by low interest rates and the weak pound which drew foreign buyers to the capital,« comments Bailey. »There was a definite feeling that price falls in the year to March 2009, at 24 percent, had created good value in London and buyers began to bid prices higher.«

Prices of luxury property around the world EUR sq m

Source: Knight Frank

Changing times

Slovenian part of the business has seen a sharp decline on Slovenians looking for luxury property – rather we have seen a lot more people trying to sell due to financial difficulties over the past few years.« Combine this increase with the completion of developments started pre-recession and there are lots of options for those seeking high end property in Slovenia. In Jakopin’s words: »we have no shortage of luxury property – supply is not a problem.«

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t might not be a conventional choice but, according to real estate agent Eva Jakopin, Slovenia has many attractions for those shopping at the high end of the property market. »Slovenia is a country with a variety of landscapes,« explains Jakopin, who works at Elite Property Slovenia, an agency specialising in luxury property in the Central European country. »It’s possible to have a property on the coast and yet be in the mountains skiing two hours later. And its location in the heart of Europe means it is close to other attractive destinations such as Italy, Croatia, Austria and Hungary.« It’s this diversity and location which means many different types of buyers find their requirements met by Slovenia, says Jakopin. North and South Primorska are favourites for rural retreat hunters, she explains; Bohinj and Bled adored by those looking for mountains and lakes; the coast an obvious choice for water lovers; and Ljubljana and its surroundings ideal for those who prefer to be in a city.

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Maribor – European Capital of Culture 2012

Believe the Hype Not long ago, Maribor was known only as Slovenia’s second biggest city. Recently, however, it has stepped out of the shadows. As the European Capital of Culture in 2012 the city will be holding a number of high-profile cultural events and hosting an expected four million visitors from around the world. It should be a unique opportunity for not just Maribor but the whole region to prosper. By Maja Kaplan The newly acquired public spaces on both sides of the river will be linked by three footbridges, integrating the city’s urban structures, which are currently functionally as well as symbolically separated.

Other developments

In preparations for 2012, Maribor’s city centre will get a significant makevoer that will see the exclusion of traffic from the area

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he citizens of Maribor could be forgiven for thinking that their city hasn’t traditionally received the attention it deserves. Too often this vibrant place, with its three thousand years’ worth of cultural tradition, has been overshadowed by big brother Ljubljana. A new title, however, may mean that Maribor – which lies at the junction of the southeastern Alps and the Pannonian plain and which is a unique mix of German, Hungarian and Slovenian culture – finally takes centre stage. Attracting 900,000 tourists, 700,000 accommodation bookings and almost four million visitors, the European Capital of Culture 2012 (ECOC 2012) title is set to see Slovenia’s second biggest city step out of the shadows once and for all. Maribor is one of two cities to be granted the title – the other is Guimaraes in Portugal – and it will present a unique opportunity to develop the city itself but the whole region of eastern Slovenia.

In order to improve the functioning of the city and increase its longterm growth potential, a significant amount of infrastructure spending will be allocated to those parts of the city that are not necessarily closely involved in the ECOC project. Unshackling energies

According to city authorities, the goal is to leverage the Euro-

The Slovenia Times

pean Capital of Culture 2012 title in such a way as to boost the economic and cultural revival of both Maribor and the region. To this end, Mayor of Maribor Franc Kangler invited neighbouring municipalities in the region to participate in the project. Six mayors accepted the challenge, deciding to unite their efforts with those of Maribor. Every participating city has agreed to contribute to the ECOC 2012 project, supplying those skills and services at which it is best. Maribor, as the holder of the title, will coordinate these efforts.

The riverbank makeover The ECOC 2012 plan for the city’s development focuses on the Drava River as a defining element of the city’s character. The riverbank project foresees several changes, improvements and developments in the river infrastructure. Both the riverbanks and the open areas between the island of Mariborski Otok (on the west of the city) and Melje (on the east) will be extensively redeveloped, giving them a totally new appearance.

The city centre will also get a makeover. The flow of traffic is to be radically changed, with many streets entirely closed to traffic during ECOC 2012. All around the city, new areas for pedestrians and cyclists will be introduced. A substantial increase in the number of parking spaces is planned on the outskirts of the old city centre. Maribor’s old town, Lent, will become a state-of-the-art venue for more traditional cultural events, complete with galleries, auditoriums, an open-air stage and puppet theatre. In order to improve the functioning of the city and increase its long-term growth potential, a significant amount of infrastructure spending will be allocated to those parts of the city that are not necessarily closely involved in the ECOC project. This includes the transformation and development of open public spaces, motorways entering the city, and the city bypass. The project won’t just focus on improving Maribor’s surroundings. There is also a strong emphasis on boosting artistic production and unleashing the creative energy of city and region’s artistic community. This, it is hoped, will be another way in which the ECOC 2012 draws global attention to Maribor.

Shaping up Wit h ECOC 2012, Ma ribor strives to change itself and make the transition from a once-booming industrial town to a post-industrial metropolis better able to face new challenges in an increasingly complex world. It will be a special time for this very special city – and for the country of which it forms a part.


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The international e vent of M e d i t e r r a ne a n r e a l e s tat e

8-10 june 2010, milan - italy WHERE THE REAL ESTATE COMMUNITY COMES TOGETHER TO: > consolidate and start up relations > present its professionality and own projects > confront with the trends of the market > attract investments

FOCUS ON RETAIL, TOURISM AND SOCIAL HOUSING

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Investment incentives

Pomurje – no Longer the Black Hole In the past, the Pomurje region of Slovenia rarely made the news. If it did, it was for being one of the poorest parts of the country. But, thanks to the adoption of a government aid programme, the region now regularly hits the headlines – and for all the right reasons. By Maja Dragović

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he government’s adoption of an aid programme for Pomurje has seen the North Eastern region become a hot topic in both media and business circles. The programme, adopted in March this year, is an addition to the law on development support for Pomurje that was adopted in October last year. The law earmarked EUR 33m for the region in the 2010-2015 period. The programme aims to create new and preserve existing jobs, establish development infrastructure and mitigate the impact of the economic and financial crisis on the northeastern region. The main goal is to create as many new companies as possible and secure 1,000 new jobs, especially those with high value added. More than 60 percent of the funds will be used to achieve this. Local businesses are looking to expand their activities with the help of the aid programme. Kristijan Horvat, a carpenter from Pomurje, says he “intends to register in order to increase the number of employees and acquire better equipment in order to increase competitiveness, quality and productivity.” “The new Act is giving special treatment for companies registered in Pomurje in the form of tax incentives for employment and investments, special public tenders for subsidising investments as well as for infrastructure development”, explains Feri Gönc, marketing director for the region’s development agency.

Bearing fruit Barely two months after it was passed, the programme seems to be bearing fruit. According to Henrik Gjerkeš, the Local Government and Regional Development Minister, about 150 applications have been filed in the first tender for the co-funding of job creation projects, for which the government has earmarked EUR 7.2m EUR. Up to 400 jobs are expected to be created in the next The Slovenia Times

years, thanks particularly to interest from foreign buyers, particularly British. The attraction of the region is the beauty and accessibility associated with the whole of Slovenia but at significantly lower prices. The increased interest has pushed prices up somewhat with some renovated houses now costing up to EUR300,000. However, a similar house in Ljubljana or by the coast would cost well over EUR 1 million.

Will it be enough?

Renovated houses in Pomurje, such as this one, cost up to EUR300,000

two years just on the basis of this tender. But it doesn’t end there. One of Slovenia’s first companies to produce photovoltaic modules for solar power stations has also announced plans to come to the region. Last month Bisol signed a contract to buy 5.1 hectares of land from Murska Sobota municipality for 850,000EUR. The land will be used to build a new production facility due to the company’s expansion in the Czech market in producing solar panels. “We chose Murska Sobota as the area in which to build our new facility because land here is cheaper than elsewhere; because the land is big enough to allow us to expand further; and because we know we will get enough high added value workforce to create a regional centre in Murska Sobota,” said Uroš Merc, director of Bisol. The building of the facility is planned to start in the summer. Initially it will have 40 employees, increasing to 750 over the next five years. Bisol, recently named as number one in its field by German magazine Photon, says it is highly confident the expansion will benefit both its business and the local region. The company’s investment is very much in line with the plans of the Regional Development Agency

Mura. As pointed out by Gönc, “the Pomurje region is mostly interested in investments into new production facilities, innovative products, renewable energies but also for real estate investments in tourism”.

It was written in the past The new investment is not only a product of the new aid programme – it further confirms Pomurje’s status as a region that offers a good business environment. “The evidence is the successful past investments of foreign investors and facts like the availability of industrial land, motivated workforce and one of the most favourable locations in terms of operative costs for various types of activities,” says Gönc. With the likes of Xal and Wolford already successfully established in the region, and with the arrival of Bisol, many believe Pomurje is well on its way to permanently burying the view that it is the poorest of Slovenia’s region. “Present activities are giving us confidence that we can attract investors and achieve our objectives”, adds Gönc. The housing market is another proof of positive market conditions, witnessing growth in recent

The signs may be good but some are still calling for caution, arguing the programme will not be enough to make a major impact on the development of the region. Aleš Lunder, a Ljubljana-based lawyer with CMS law firm, argues the government should not have limited itself by focusing only on potential fields for investment when passing the law. And while he says the tax reductions and subsidies for those investing in the area are a step in the right direction, he fears the lengthy administrative procedures required to gain them may put off potential investors. All this leads him to conclude that “an investor will not decide to invest in the Pomurje region because of the subsidies and the programme alone.” Perhaps not, but the programme is certainly changing opinions of this traditionally neglected region.

Kristijan Horvat will use the funds from the aid programme to expand his business


Skupina Primorje


Adriatic coast

Coasting on Rental Income With the economic downturn increasing the amount of time property takes to sell – and simultaneously decreasing the amount of money it attracts when it does sell – investors in real estate are having to look for other ways to generate income. In the tourist haven that is the coastal region of Slovenia, many are finding that renting out their properties is one of the best ways to achieve liquidity in these difficult times. By Carlos Silva and Claire Read

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t’s not hard to see why Slovenia’s coast is one of the most popular destinations for tourists visiting the country. Thanks to its charming towns, clear blue water, and stunning architecture it’s the ideal location for a glorious summer break. Prices for a hotel room in the area reflect its popularity with visitors. During the high season a double room in the centre of Portorož, one of the country’s most popular coastal towns, can cost anywhere from EUR 100 to EUR 900 a night.

The Slovenia Times

With the economic downturn not yet fully consigned to the history books, those prices are now beyond the means of many tourists. But property owners in the area, unable or unwilling to sell their real estate investments given the poor state of the market, are stepping in with an alternative – property rental.

A competitive option While a hotel room might cost hundreds of Euros a night, rent-

ing an apartment on Slovenia’s coast can cost as little as EUR 60 a night. Even the most expensive such properties are only around EUR 170 a night – still a far cry from the prices demanded by the top hotels. According to one owner of property on the coast, apartments are now a competitive accommodation option for those holidaying in the area for a week or more. He reports occupancy of almost 90 percent of capacity during the summer months, a rate he says

is driven by extensive advertising on a variety of international websites.

Look before you leap That is not to say that every real estate investor in Slovenia should be looking to immediately make purchases on the coast. Tourism may be providing a financial life-


New developemnts on Slovenian coast are far and few between

Properties alongisde Slovenian coast have seen a fall in prices by up to 20 percent

line to those who already own seaside homes and apartments. But it is probably not enough of a money spinner for those looking to make a quick buck from a new purchase. While Branko Lončar, director of Obala Nepremičnine Real Estate Agency, reports that prices

on the coast have fallen by ten to twenty percent, it only takes a few quick calculations to show that the average rental yield for a seaside property is currently low. Consider the specific example of a 70 metre square apartment in the centre of Piran and the profit margins – or lack thereof – become

clear. Such a property, with a large terrace and sea view, would set a buyer back about EUR 350,000. Assume the apartment is rented out for 100 days a year – the self-same owner who reports 90 percent occupancy in high season admits the rest of the year is a challenge – and that it is rented at a rate of EUR 120 a night. Over 12 months, this would amount to an annual turnover of EUR 12,000 – or, in other words, a rental yield which barely reaches 3.5 percent. That’s before general costs such as maintenance, loan repayments and taxes are taken into account.

Still an attractive option Of course, not everyone is looking to buy coastal property as an investment. Many are instead

looking to buy a holiday home, or wanting to permanently relocate to one of Slovenia’s most beautiful areas. Lončar reports 98 percent of current buyers in the region are Slovenes and that most are looking for “small properties, 30 to 50 square metres, with a terrace, balcony, sea views, proximity to the beach, and regulated parking.” There is plenty of choice – Lončar says “there are many new build and old homes on the market which have remained unsold”. It might not currently be a hot market for those looking for a quick return on an investment. But for those looking for a longterm spot in the sun – or for tourists seeking a cheap rental apartment – Slovenia’s coast is just as attractive as it always has been.


Sports Park Stožice

Getting on to the World Stage It has been hailed as the biggest sports project in the history of Slovenia. Due to be completed by the end of June, the Sports Park Stožice is currently the largest construction site in the region. With its completion, Ljubljana will not only get a modern sports facility that meets the highest sporting standards but also a new focal point. By Maja Dragović Marko Kolenc, head of the sports department in Ljubljana’s city council. He adds that the development will also make Ljubljana a candidate for European Capital of Sports Award.

Not just for sports lovers

Stožice is due to open in June, coinciding with Slovenia’s participation at the World Cup in South Africa

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t’s an exciting time for Slovenian sport. The nation’s football team has qualified for the FIFA World Cup – in July the team will travel to South Africa, joining the 31 others competing for football’s biggest prize. The national basketball team is also deep in preparations for a worldwide competition. The World Basketball Championship, in which the Slovenian team placed a respectable twelfth in 2006, takes place in Turkey in August and September. The excitement of each of these competitions will, of course, be fleeting. But one exciting Slovenian sports project is set to have a much longer lasting impact. The Stožice Sports Park is a 182,000 square metre project integrating a football stadium and a multiSite area: 166.000 m 2 Building area: 24.614 m 2 (stadium), 14.164 m 2 (arena), 122.973 m 2 (park) Total floor area: 33.738 m 2 (stadium), 35.496 m 2 (arena), 134.247 m 2 (underground parking garage), 91.600 m 2 (shopping), 122.973 m 2 (park) The Slovenia Times

purpose sports hall. It is due to be completed in the next few weeks and is set to finally give Slovenia’s capital a world-class sporting facility.

Massive capacity Stožice’s surroundings should be just as impressive as the buildings themselves. The project is set in the grounds of a recreational park. The football stadium – with capacity for an astounding 16,038 spectators – is laid out under the plateau of this park, “sunk” into its surroundings. Only the roof over the stands rises above this magnificent crater. The sports hall is located in the north-western part of the park. Its four levels of concourses and the lower, VIP, and upper stands are covered by a beautiful shellshaped dome. The ridges of the shell continue all the way to where the façade meets the dome, creating a shell that opens towards the perimeter with large crescent openings overlooking the park. Like the stadium, the hall is finished in exterior cladding that will change colour depending on the conditions outside and the

distance from which it’s viewed. It will be a stunning sight for the 12,484 spectators which the sports hall can hold.

On a par with the world Municipality officials say that having such a facility will enable Ljubljana and Slovenia to compete as a location for major international sports competitions. “Talks are already under way to apply to hold the European championships in basketball, indoor football, handball, gymnastics and in swimming”, explains

Stožice will not just be a place to view sport, however. Officials also want it to be a place to take part in sporting activity. The complex includes fitness studios, a climbing centre, modern fitness studios, an outdoor sports park with three football fields and both running and skating tracks. And with a shopping centre, 3,800 parking spaces, a children’s playground, and ample space to relax and picnic it is hoped Stožice will become one of the major focal points of non-sporting life as well. “We expect that the sporting events will be attended by families as well as sports lovers and that this will become a new gathering space and a new way of spending leisure time,” says Kolenc. One area that is sure to be of interest to both sports lovers and families is a museum located in between the hall and the stadium. It will exhibit the rich history of Slovenian sport. It’s a history which Stožice will surely make richer still. Roll on June.


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Interview: Marko Žehelj

A Palace in the Heart of Ljubljana At 20 floors high, the Crystal Palace will be the tallest building in Ljubljana when construction is completed in 2011. As Marko Žehelj, technical director and member of the board of BTC, explains, it is a project which will not only alter the skyline of Slovenia’s capital but also the availability of prime office and retail space in the city. seventh or eighth floor, we will isolate the building, and start with fittings, installations, finishing the façade in the lower floors. A technical check up is planned for the end of January and the building is due to open by the end of April or beginning of May next year. There has been a bit of a delay to the project due to the severe winter. But we have now prepared a new timetable by which some of the delays will be made up for by working longer hours, until 7 or 8 in the evening. When we start work on the installations and final fittings, we will be working through the night, too.

Where is Crystal Palace situated and why was that location been chosen for the project? Crystal Palace is located within BTC City [a prominent business, shopping, sport, entertainment and cultural centre in Ljubljana]. Twenty years ago we started the transformation of the area – from a storage place into a shopping centre. Then we found that we needed to expand the facilities and we decided to focus on business premises. In 2000, we built our first commercial tower. The idea was to develop BTC City as an area that will have all the attributes of a town – shopping areas, commercial areas, wellness, fitness areas, a theatre, a cinema – so that we meet the demands of all types of visitors that come here. Bearing this in mind, we realised that there was still something missing in terms of the commercial area of BTC City, since there was still interest in the site from various businesses. When renting out premises in the first commercial tower, we looked for bigger companies that needed a lot of space, we didn’t rent out small spaces. Subsequently, we had so many queries that we decided The Slovenia Times

BTC City needed another commercial building that would be higher and, therefore, could also become the recognisible building of the area. Why did we decide to build Crystal Palace in this area? In the last few years BTC City has had around 21 million visitors per year and based on that we decided that this location is suitable.

The construction has been hailed as one of the most significant projects in Ljubljana. How do you think the Palace will change Ljubljana? It has to be stressed that this building marks the beginning of the Šmartinska Partnership which is one of the biggest projects in Europe and which will cover the area from BTC City to the centre of Ljubljana. We hope that with the beginning of this project we will encourage other investors to accelerate the completion of their projects too.

Have you had much interest from businesses to rent office spaces? There is quite a bit of interest and we already have some contracts signed, mainly in retail. There is a possibility to buy the business premises or to rent them – our business plan includes half the premises for sale, and half for rent. But with retail areas, we would prefer to rent them out. There are current negotiations to rent out four of the floors. What will be the rental prices for premises per month? The cost of rentals is from EUR 15 per square metre (sqm2) up to EUR 25 per m2 – retail premises are more expensive, while the price of business premises depends on the height. The areas higher up in the tower have higher rental rates. Sale prices are between EUR 3,000 per m2 and to EUR 4,000 per m2, again depending on height. There will be 600 parking spaces – basically, each floor will have approximately 20 parking spaces. To buy a parking space costs EUR 15,000, with rental from EUR 150 to EUR 160 per parking space per month.

When completed, Crystal Palace will be 20 floors high and as such it will be the tallest building in Ljubljana. What does the building comprise of? There are 20 floors plus technical maintenance rooms on top. On the roof we also plan to have a helipad for which we are still waiting for a permit. Currently we will be the only place with a helipad in Ljubljana. The building is due to be completed in May 2011. At what stage are the building works at the moment? In construction terms, we are currently at the fifth floor. According to the timetable, the roof of the building will be done by the end of September. Before that we will also start the internal aspects of the project – when we get to the

The conustruction of the Crystal Palace is currently at the fifth floor


www.kristalna-palaca.si


Construction cartels

Building change Alleged cases of price fixing are far from unusual in Slovenia. The most recent, however, is more dramatic than most – it stretches back to the early nineties and appears to have created multi-billion euro deficits for the taxpayer. It also happens to be in the construction industry, a sector already on the brink thanks to the economic slowdown. By Aleš Šinkovec the industry, from subcontractors to providers of raw materials. Although the companies appear to have secured an extremely high profit margin, they did not regularly pay subcontractors. There is no definite figure available, but rough estimates are that 40 percent of all fees have not yet been paid.

The confusion

Competition Protection Office has found evidence on price fixing in a number of contruction projects, costing taxpayers billions of Euros

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t seems as though the crisis in the international housing market is beginning to abate. In many Western European countries, prices have started to increase and the construction industry to once again grow. Slovenia, however, has not yet seen such developments. The construction business is facing severe recession and it is not just dependent on the leniency of the banks to stay afloat. It is now also dependent on the outcome of a corruption investigation.

It is true that 15 percent additional kilometres of highways were laid; yet, the final price of the project was 287 percent The allegations higher. Instead of costing In March, the Competition ProEUR 1.52 billion, it ended tection Office (CPO) announced up costing the taxpayer it was investigating corruption in the region of EUR 4 at eight separate companies: SCT, billion. Vegrad, Primorje, Cestno Podjetje Ljubljana, Cestno Podjetje Maribor, Gradbeno Podjetje Grosuplje, CMC, and Kraški Zidar. The contention is that the companies fixed prices – rigging the public projects market, destroying almost any vestige of competition, and profiting at the taxpayer’s expense.

The Slovenia Times

The focus of the investigation is the building of Slovenia’s motorways. Although it is not unusual for construction projects to go over budget on time and finances, it is feared that the numbers for this project indicate something more sinister. It is true that 15 percent additional kilometres of highways were laid; yet, the final price of the project was 287 percent higher. Instead of costing EUR 1.52 billion, it ended up costing the taxpayer in the region of EUR 4 billion. This equates to EUR 10.22 million per kilometre, versus the initial expectation of EUR 2.65 million per kilometre. It seems the corruption wasn’t confined to the motorways project. The CPO is also looking into possible price fixing on projects including the Markovec and Šentvid tunnels, the renovation of the runway at Ljubljana Airport, and Crystal Palace in BTC City.

The cost The ramifications of the price fixing have been felt throughout

It is clear that such business practices need to be obliterated, and quickly. The completion of the CPO’s investigation will be a good first step. If the companies are found guilty, this could lead to an immediate fine of 10 percent of all revenue created by these controversial business practices. In addition, legislation already exists which could create a blacklist of companies that are inefficient in terms of over expenditure. Other European nations already have and regularly use such lists. Unfortunately, the Slovenian government doesn’t seem to be presenting a united front in the fight. Four of the companies implicated in the current investigation have recently secured valuable projects in Libya. Finance minister Franci Križanič has decided to provide additional funds to the largely state controlled bank NLB to finance the developments. Yet economic minister Matej Lahovnik has declared that none of these companies are too big to fail.

The conclusion? Some now feel one company should be forced to fail. The argument is that the rest would then be helped in the same way that all bank loans work: market variable interest. So long as the interests of the market – in this instance, the taxpayer – were upheld, the interest would stay constant and low. If the companies failed to act to the benefit of the taxpayer, interest would be raised. It’s an extreme form of control. But it may now be the only way to rid Slovenia of corrupt cartels, lift the construction industry out of recession, and finally establish a property regulated free market.


44 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

Feniks Business Centre

The Feniks is rising Letališka Cesta is already one of Ljubljana’s main traffic thoroughfares, providing easy access both to the northern and eastern bypasses and the city’s major shopping complex. But its position as one of the most important roads in Slovenia’s capital is about to be consolidated thanks to the construction of an new business centre. office space with a height of 2.8m with dropped ceilings. The Centre’s modern layout will also suit companies carrying out highly technological activities as well as banks and financial establishments, attorney and notarial offices and furniture, lighting and equipment showrooms. The ground floor of building A, meanwhile, is designed for catering activities – just one of the many ways in which the development will enhance the broader area of Letališka Cesta.

Plentiful parking and high standards

T Feniks is being constructed to the very highest of modern standards. Ensuring good thermal and sound insulation is a priority and particular attention will be paid to the building’s heating. The façade’s design enables good passive protection against over-heating since the horizontal façade mantels serve as a fixed collector for glass surfaces. The Slovenia Times

he EUR 20m Feniks Business Centre is set to be a stunning presence on Letališka Cesta. It will comprise three fourstorey towers which, between them, will create 12,000 square metres of modern office space. With its three interlinked towers, the Feniks Business Centre incorporates dynamic geometry into its design and is a marked contrast to the tradition square design of office buildings. Instead the developers say Feniks will offer a richer sense of public space, reflecting new ambiences and a world of movement that people will explore, bringing their own experiences, knowledge, working and business enthusiasm with them.

The towers also allow the project to be constructed in stages. While a undoubtedly an example of contemporary architecture – the outside appearance of the complex will be markedly modern and unique – developers Raiffeisen Leasing are taking great care to simultaneously complement the existing environment and space.

A range of purposes The Centre is designed to suit a range of business purposes. Each tower comprises a raised ground floor (clearance height exceeding six metres) that can be used as a one-storey raised area for craft workshops, catering activities, warehousing or as a two-storey

Parking at the Feniks Business Centre will be plentiful. There will be 90 spaces on available on the ground level outside, but the basement will also provide a naturally ventilated garage, accessible by two access ramps. Half of this 325-space car park will be designated solely for those working for businesses in the Centre. Feniks is being constructed to the very highest of modern standards. Ensuring good thermal and sound insulation is a priority and particular attention will be paid to the building’s heating. The façade’s design enables good passive protection against over-heating since the horizontal façade mantels serve as a fixed collector for glass surfaces. In addition, the installation of blinds on the external edge will enable the creation of shady spots, significantly decreasing the effects of the sun on the interior climate of the building and allowing economical energy use. When the Feniks rises, it will undoubtedly be one of the most attractive business centres in Ljubljana – and be another reason to head for Letališka Cesta.


Developer:


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The IMOS Group is one of the leading Slovenian companies for carrying out complex engineering for all types of buildings. In more than forty years of successful operation, it has created the appearance of a range of residential, business, school, healthcare, commercial, tourist and production facilities in Slovenia and abroad.

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and business premises

The aim of the IMOS Group is to make a comprehensive offer to a customer, which includes the purchase of real estate to be built in the Litostroj area. In particular, the IMOS Group would like to underline the possibility of individual agreements and adjustments to buyers’ or clients’ needs and specific activities. a contractual relationship can be divided into several phases: • land purchase; • project development; • consulting engineering in preparation; • consulting engineering in implementation; • facility management. In addition to the purchase of buildings and construction to order, the IMOS Group offers long term rental opportunities.

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Stanovanjska soseska Mostec Mostec residential premises

Ljubljana, as the capital of Slovenia, offers a variety of opportunities for new technological and development potentials. Historically, Litostroj has represented innovativeness, new creative solutions and products, which it has been successfully providing and still does so on the whole world market. In recent years, with changes in market conditions and the abandonment of non-profitable programmes the rehabilitation of degraded industrial areas within the framework of urbanisation of the existing city structure has occurred, in line with Slovenia’s strategy of land development. The demolition of currently non-functional buildings and construction of new buildings, as well as the excellent location, with new municipal infrastructure, provide a new opportunity to give administrative, business, trading and other activities a fresh impetus.

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IMOS GROUP ® Fajfarjeva ulica 33, p.p. 2599, 1001 Ljubljana telephone: +386 1 47 33 300 sales enquiries: +386 1 47 33 353 fax: +386 1 47 33 378 e-mail: info@imos.si www.imos.si

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HOTEL - APARTMENTS & RESORT

Quick access to Ljubljana centre and surroundings

V I L A S AV U D R I JA Welcome to the Adriatic, welcome to Savudrija — a perfect location for potencial partners and investors

Litostroj North

At the very north of the Adriatic Sea, on the picturesque shore of Croatian Istria lies Savudrija, a pleasant tourist destination with its beneficial Mediterranean climate covered with oak groves, evergreen Mediterranean plants, vineyards and olive plantations. 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.

In the northern planning zone, in compliance with the applicable ordinance on the development scheme ŠP 2/1 Litostroj, construction is allowed of new buildings intended for various activities, such as business, production, storage, small trade, service and servicing facilities and facilities for commercial activities (as a supplementary activity). New municipal utilities (water supply, sewerage, electricity supply, telecommunications, and district heating) have already been built for part of the northern planning zone and a new road connection, facilitating even easier access, is already under construction.

Litostroj South

Key features of the location •  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. •  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 sights, cultural HOTEL - APARTMENTS & RESORT V I L A Sof AVnatural U D R I JA 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.

In the embrace Contacts of Istrian greenery.

Mr Boštjan Blatnik, Sales Service Manager, Imos d.d. Ljubljana; T: +386 1 47 33 353; M: +386 41 754 382; bostjan.blatnik@imos.si Alberi – Savudrija, a wonderful hilly landscape will provide shelter and hospitality to Mr Jože Novak, Company Director of Vila Savudrija d.o.o.; our new tourist project. T: +386 1 47 33 308; M: +386 51 606 860; joze.novak@imos.si In the middle of this green landscape we have planned the "Hotel & Resort Savudrija" complex viewing with great respect for preservation of the natural landscape with its stone Location is possible by the appointment. built villages and vineyards whilst still balancing the demands of the modern tourist. For further information please visit our website www.imos.si

PIRAN In the southern planning zone, , in compliance with the applicable ordinance on development scheme ŠP 2/1 Litostroj – Southern Part and ŠR 2/1 Stadium, construction is allowed of new buildings for a variety of activities, including administrative and office buildings, production and storage premises as well as commercial and other facilities, facilities for service activities, facilities of general social importance, other non-residential buildings, buildings for transport and the provision of electronic communications, sports and recreation facilities, as well as for other spare time activities.

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Vila Savudrija d.o.o. A. Vivode 22, 52470 Umag, Croatia Telephone +386 1 47 33 308 Fax: +386 1 47 33 309


48 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

Regional overview: Ljubljana

On the Move

After experiencing a steep dowfall in its real estate market, Ljubljana is beginning to see the signs of recovery

The economic downturn put a speedy stop to the growth of the property market in Slovenia’s capital city. Although the global crisis may have ended the days of more than twenty percent year-on-year rises in property prices, there are encouraging signs that the market in Slovenia’s capital city may finally be turning the corner. By Laura Rosling

F

or a brief period in 2008, there was a boom in the Slovenian property market. As the nation’s capital city – and its largest – Ljubljana reaped the rewards. Development after development was announced as construction companies rushed to meet the massive increase in demand. Fast forward a couple of years and the picture is a vastly different one. Those self same construction companies which announced development after development are now announcing financial crisis after financial crisis. Many are dealing with frozen band accounts and the widespread seizing of assets and some are only just holding on to solvency. The economic crisis put pay to the massive demand for property and develop-

ments which seemed during the boom to be a sensible investment are proving extremely difficult to sell. In the final quarter of 2009, 1,100 building permits were requested, a fall of five percent on the same period in the previous year. Significantly, the number of flats for which permission was sought fell by 45 percent.

Looking forward So where now for property in Slovenia and, more specifically, for the market in the country’s capital city? While certainly not recovered to anywhere near the peak that was 2008, there are indications that the market is coming out of the doldrums. The Surveying and Mapping Authority recently reported that the sale of secondhand flats grew in all major Slov-

enian cities in the final quarter of 2009 – in Ljubljana it was the second increase in succession. Sales of houses also increased. The last quarter of 2009 saw a 7 percent increase compared to the previous quarter, tripling the figure from the first quarter of the year.

Price increase Prices are also on the rise. The price of non new-build flats increased by an average of three percent compared to the first quarter – the first registered growth since the second quarter of 2008. The highest price, of EUR 2,466 per square metre, was seen in Ljubljana. It was a similar story with houses. Prices of houses went up by five percent to an average of EUR 128,540. In Ljubljana there was a striking 29 percent in-

crease, bringing the average price of a house in the capital to EUR 300,000. It seems the positive trend is continuing into 2010. The Statistics Office has reported that the prices of new apartments rose by 1.6 percent in the first three months of the year. This brings them in line with prices from the start of 2007. Even more encouraging is that this was the third consecutive quarter in which prices were comparable with 2007 and 2008. When the Surveying and Mapping Authority published data for the last quarter of 2009, it said the figures were evidence Slovenia’s real estate market was coming back to life. It then quickly added that the housing crisis was not yet over. Perhaps not. But it may be that the worst is over.

400

3

300

Source: SURS

Average prices of properties in Ljubljana in March 2010 EUR ‘000 per m2 Source: SURS

Transactions in Ljubljana Number of transactions

2 200

1 100

0

0 Q4 08

The Slovenia Times

Q1 09

Q2 09

Q3 09

Q4 09

Studio flat

1-bed

2-bed

3-bed

4-bed

5 or more bedrooms


50 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

Regional overview: Zagreb

Industrial Revolution A flurry of developments has left Zagreb’s residential property market at saturation point. Its retail market is not far behind. Could industrial real estate now be the best property prospect in Croatia’s capital? By Claire Read market fell below EUR 2,000 by the first quarter of 2009. Even so, many new builds remain unsold as the third quarter of 2010 reaches its midpoint. Experts agree that the market is saturated and fear it will be some time yet before it recovers. The situation in the rental sector is better, however. At 5.07 percent gross rental yields in Zagreb were the forty fifth highest in the world in 2009 – ahead of cities such as Prague, Brussels, Tokyo, New York, Paris and London although slightly behind regional neighbour Ljubljana.

C

onstruction and real estate is an important industry in Croatia. In the fourth quarter of 2008, financial intermediation, real estate, renting and business activities contributed to almost twenty percent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP). The domestic construction sector, meanwhile, accounted for approximately seven percent. Some 89,531 were recorded as working in the real estate sector, representing seven percent of the employed population in the country. The significant contribution of the domestic construction industry is unsurprising when one considers just how many homes were built in 2008. In Zagreb, the most active property market in the country, companies constructed

whole neighbourhoods with over 200 apartments as well as buildings with over 50. 3,000 apartments were completed by the city for those on low incomes.

Sooner than most The result was that the global economic downturn hit Zagreb’s property market much sooner than it did that of other capital cities. As early as the end of 2008 almost one third of newly built homes in the city were standing empty with developers simply unable to shift them. Prices started to fall in a desperate attempt to attract purchasers. In 2009, prices fell by about seven percent on the previous year. In Zagreb, the average price on the primary housing

A young market Retail units in Zagreb haven’t been built at quite the dramatic rate of residential properties. Here too, however, there is concern that saturation point is not fair off. Re-

Prices of different property types in Zagreb EUR per m2 2100

Source: www.oglas.hr

Some experts suggest that office sector has the best prospects for growth in Zagreb’s real estate market

tailers already seem to be turning their attention to the country’s other urban centres. The office sector is a slightly different story. During 2008 there were no major investments in Zagreb. The result was stable rents and high occupancy levels. Many predict that 2010 will see office complexes once again being constructed. Experts do not believe the office property sector represents the best prospect for growth in Zagreb, however. Instead they point to industrial real estate and logistic facilities, a market regarded as being in a very early stage of development. Many predict that the next five years will be one of significant growth in this sector. With Croatia on track to soon complete negotiations to join the European Union, 2010 could prove to be a very industrious year.

1750 1400 1050 700 350 0

Apartments

Houses

Business premises

Regional overview: Sarajevo

The Enigma It’s an apparently simple question: how has the economic downturn affected the property market in BosniaHerzegovina and its capital city Sarajevo? But thanks to the notorious lack of transparency in the second poorest of the countries of the former Yugoslavia, it’s one that is almost impossible to answer. By Claire Read

B

osnia-Herzegovina is, to put it mildly, a troubled country. The history books show it but so too do the daily newspapers – the country’s struggle to deal with the worldwide recession has been widely reported. The Slovenia Times

News on how the downturn has affected the country’s property market, however, has been much harder to come by. The reason is simple: the government’s lack of transparency means there is very little data available on any sector

of the economy, including real estate.

Freefalling

The Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) is one of the few organisations which

has been willing to estimate the current state of the Bosnian property market. The news is far from good. Its report indicates that, in some areas of the country, the continued on page 52


52 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL Source: www.novibeograd.rs

Regional overview: Belgrade

Downturn yet Development The economic downturn has severely affected the property market in Serbia. The country’s capital city has been no exception. Belgrade has seen many developments stand empty, even with significant reductions in prices. The situation is far from static, however. Government subsidies have gone some way to helping stimulate the previously stagnant residential market and retail developments have continued.

The Belville Project was one of the biggest in Belgrade that was completed in 2009

is hoped that by, simplifying the procedure for obtaining building permits, the legislation will serve to improve the improve the investment climate in Serbia.

By Laura Rosling

continued from page 50

number of real-estate transactions fell by a staggering fifty percent in the last quarter of 2008. It suggests that the increased difficulty of obtaining commercial loans, along with rising payments on existing loans, is the main reason for the dramatic decline. It seems reasonable to conclude that the rest of the economy is also struggling. Many believe the situation is now so dire that without support from the European Union, and a dedicated effort to meet EU standards, the country will collapse in 2010. The Slovenia Times

The issuing of such permits did remain active in Belgrade in 2009. In fact, the number of residential permits issued between January and August was actually an increase on the same period in the previous year. Permission for 207 buildings, comprising a total of 237,437 square metres, was granted – an increase of four percent in terms of the number of build-

Source: Colliers International

6000

5000

4000

Tourist haven It’s unlikely that many people would consider a country like this – one allegedly on the brink of collapse – as an ideal holiday destination. Yet tourism represents one of the few strong sectors of the Bosnian economy, and it is leading to significant developments in Sarajevo’s commercial real estate market. The Sarajevo Tourism Board reports that more than 180,000 tourists from 114 countries visited the Bosnian capital last year. This represents a 7.7 percent increase on the previous year. In the first two

Other suburban

Čukarica

Palilula

Rakovica

Braće Jerković

Zvezdara

0

New Belgrade

1000

Voždovac

2000

Stari Grad - Lower Dorcol

3000 Stari Grad - Upper Dorcol

Such data makes depressing reading for those with a stake in the city’s real estate market. But it also somewhat conceals the simple fact that Belgrade remains Serbia’s largest and most profitable property market. It also fails to acknowledge that both the residential and retail markets have progressed over the past year. Development in the residential market has been thanks in large

Permit bonanza

Average residential sales prices in Belgrade EUR per m2

Savski Venac

Far from stagnant

part to government intervention. Faced with a sector which had virtually ground to a halt in early 2009, Mirko Cvetković’s government introduced measures to support both buyers and builders of residential properties. Those buying new apartments have been significantly helped by improved loan subsidies. Development companies, meanwhile, have been aided by the new law on urban planning and development. It

Vračar

A

rguably the easiest way to understand the effect of the economic downturn on Serbia and its capital city Belgrade is to take a look at the real estate market. Data from real estate firm Colliers shows that every sector of the market struggled in 2009. The overall vacancy rate for office space in Belgrade stood at 19.7 percent, up seven percent on the previous year. Prices for residential properties fell an average of five to ten percent. Retail rent also fell. And ten to 12 percent of modern warehouse space in Belgrade and the surrounding area sat empty.

months of 2010, more than 21,000 visited the city, 12 percent more than in the same period last year.

Close the door? Presented with figures like these, many investors are concluding that there is money to be made from Bosnian real estate. Saudi business group Al-Shiddi has recently announced it will build a EUR 200m multi-purpose complex in the heart of the nation’s capital. The Sarajevo City Centre will include a five-star hotel, a business and shopping centre and an underground car park.

ings and 16 percent in total area. The highest level of activity was seen in the traditionally popular municipalities of Vracar, Savski Venac, Vozdovac, New Belgrade and Zvezdara. In addition, several developments started in the previous year were completed. New Belgrade was responsible for the year’s biggest complex. The Belville Project, finished in March 2009, created 1,800 mid-level apartments. The municipality was also home to one of 2009’s major retail developments, the Usce Shopping Centre. The 43,500 square metre centre, which opened in March, was one of many major retail openings in 2009. Among the most interesting was the entry of Austrian furniture maker Kika into the Serbian market. It opened its Belgrade store in December 2009. The coming months should see similar retail and residential developments. A shopping centre on Rajiceva Street is currently being constructed while notable residential projects are underway in the Rakovica, Senjak and Palilula municipalities. It seems unlikely that 2010 will see a complete recovery in the Belgrade property market. But it also seems that, just as in 2009, it will not stand still.

According to company chairman Sulaiman Al-Shiddi, the group started looking at investments in Bosnia in 2004, attracted by low property prices. He says that prices remain 50 percent lower than in other countries in the region. Is this the start of an increase in foreign investment in real estate? Could it see Bosnian natives buy property with a view to renting it to tourists? Could it help speed up reform of the nation’s economy and political system? As with so much in Bosnia, no one knows.


REAL ESTATE SPECIAL 53

Regional overview: Podgorica

Burst Bubble In 2006 and 2007, Montenegro experienced a property boom. Demand vastly outstripped supply and, as a result, prices exploded. In suburban areas of Podgorica sellers asked for almost EUR 2,000 per square metre and development firms flocked to the capital city to capitalise on the boom. And then the global economic downturn hit. By Samantha Kingsdown the end of 2007, it was EUR 1,697. CBM further estimates that the price of a residential property in the capital city is now 8.4 percent lower than September 2009.

Demand continues

Despite the drama of the downturn in the market, demand for property in Podgorica is far from completely evaporating. Real estate firm Colliers reports that demand for rental properties in 2009 remained particularly consistent. The company reports that there is still considerable interest in properties in Preko Morače, long regarded as the city’s most desirable neighbourhood. New buildings in the city centre and the River Moraco are commanding rental prices of between EUR 10 and 14 per square metre. It is predicted that the highest rental prices in the city in 2010 will be for units in the Atlas Centre. This EUR 96m is due to completed this year and will create 84,600 square metres of residential, commercial and retail space.

Average residental prices in Podgorica EUR per m2 1800 Source: Central Bank of Montenegro

O

n 21 May 2006, the government of Montenegro held a referendum on independence. Just over half of the country’s citizens voted to leave the union of Serbia and Montenegro and, in so doing, made Podgorica the official capital of an independent state. It was a development which boosted the city’s status and improved its economic prospects. Factor in favourable credit policies and lower interest rates and the economy grew significant – particularly the real estate market. The vast majority of residential developments sold and sold quickly: typically before construction was even completed. It is necessary to appreciate the magnitude of the boom in order to understand the scale of the bust. According to recent data from the Central Bank of Montenegro (CBM), the fall in property prices has been much more significant than in either Croatia or Serbia. The Bank’s data shows that the average price for a square metre of living space in Podgorica was EUR 1,128 in the first quarter of 2010. At

1350

900

450

End of 2007

Retailers interested

Many retailers believe Podgorica represents a massive opportunity for their businesses. 2009 saw the opening of the capital’s first shopping centre. Delta City, located on Cetinjski Road, has operated successfully in spite of the difficult economy and since its opening has been joined by a similar development – Mall of Montenegro. This centre opened

Discussion Panel at Real Vienna 2010

Hot Investment Regions of South East Europe

T

he Slovenia Times invites you to a discussion panel at this year’s real estate fair in Vienna. Five influential panelists will be on hand to discuss the investment opportunities offered by the countries of the former Yugoslavia. They will discuss how investors can benefit from the fact that countries such as Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia and Macedonia used to be united in one nation – highlighting issues such as the similarity of regulations, language and business environments across the region. It’s a must-attend event for anyone with an interest in this fascinating region.

Jan-April 2010

0

its doors in December 2009 and has seen a high level of interest from retailers. The property market bubble in Podgorica has undoubtedly burst. However, such interest in the city from retailers – as well as consistent levels of residential demand – indicate that a stable and sustainable property market might just be appearing in its place.

Tuesday, 18th May 15:00 Speakers Branislav Bugarski Vojvodina Investment and Promotion Fund (Sebia)

Jovan Jakovac Colliers International (Serbia)

Feri Gönc Regional Development Agency MURA (Slovenia)

Gregor Famira CMS Reich-Rohrwig Hainz Zagreb (Croatia)

Filip Nelkovski Tuesday, 18 May 14:00

New Challenges and Opportunities in Pomurje Region (Slovenia) organized & moderated by JAPTI

15:00

Hot Regions for Investors in South East Europe organized & moderated by The Slovenia Times

Representative of Invest Macedonia for Austria and Switzerland (Macedonia)

Moderated by Maja Dragović Business Editor of The Slovenia Times May 2010


54 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

Interview: Tom Wright

The Wright Approach to Architecture The Burj al Arab Hotel in Dubai is one of the most photographed buildings in the world. The stunning 321metre, 60 floor structure was the world’s tallest hotel when completed in 1999 and quickly became the signature image of the city. It was the brainchild of British architect Tom Wright, Head of Architecture at international firm Atkins – a man who is also bringing his architectural vision to South East Europe. By Carlos Silva Africa. Muslim people tend to appreciate our work given that the Burj al Arab in Dubai is our most famous work. It is somehow their way to show the world they also have something very special. As Germans have Mercedes or Italians have Ferrari, they want to have magnificent buildings which are symbols of their culture, and the Burj is a bit of that. What are your clients looking for? What clients are trying to get from us it not another Burj – they do not really want to get a massive, colossal icon. While the Burj had pretty much no financing restrictions, our general clients are very much sensitive to price. They usually have a certain amount of money and what they are trying to do is to make the most of that money. The fact is that there are many architects and many firms around the world that can deliver high standard projects. I believe the reason people come to us is to get something unique within a certain budget, something different which people will want to see and to which they will want to go.

What we are looking for is a place which is seeking an identity, something to be known and recognised for – a town which wants to be put on the map. Our job then is to create something that does that. The Slovenia Times

What projects do you have in South East Europe? At the moment we have three projects in Croatia. Two of them are located in Rovinj: one is the Tobacco Factory project and the other is the Park Hotel. The third project is in its early stages and is located to the north of Dubrovnik. It is quite an interesting project since the person in charge wants to build a new touristic city and so the challenge will be to attract tourists to this new area. Do you receive many enquiries from South East Europe? Not particularly from that specific region, but three projects in Croatia is not bad. Most of our enquiries are from the North of

what a great place for a hotel! We gotta put one there!”, it is a very good sign. Then what we want is a yes to the following questions: “Do you own it? Do you have the money to get it going? Have you got any investors?” However in cases where the location is really bad or the client’s wishes do not match our expectations, we generally do not go forward even if they have plenty of investors and money to invest. What would be the perfect location for one of your projects? Some cities such as Venice or Paris are iconic by themselves; even people in South America, thousands of kilometres away, can recognise them easily. On the other hand, before the Burj was built nobody in Middle America had heard of Dubai. So what we are looking for is a place which is seeking an identity, something to

What is your approach when someone proposes you a new project? What we do first is to go and take a look at the location. Then we try to visualise something different, something outside of the box. When someone is online and ready to book their hotel, the first thing they see is a picture of the place. If their first impression is: “Wow, I want to stay there”, there is a high chance they will just book it. What our clients are realising is that if they spend a little bit more money in the conception stage, they will profit in real life when they have the hotel built. How can a developer catch your attention and enroll you in a new project? We love great sights! So if you have a great sight and we go “Wow,

Burj al Arab has become a world famous trademark of Dubai


REAL ESTATE SPECIAL 55 What I advise young architects is to really believe in what they do, to be passionate about their projects and transfer this energy and drive what they have forward. Because once you get older, you will find out that all of the things you thought were absolute, you are not so sure about.

Atkins architects are also working on projects on the Croatian coast

be known and recognised for – a town which wants to be put on the map. Our job then is to create something that does that. How did the Burj al Arab in Dubai become so famous? The design of the building itself played a major role of course, but we cannot forget the huge amount of marketing behind it. The amount of money spent on advertising Dubai in Europe and the rest of the world was tremendous. It is some kind of combination of design and marketing that

ensures the success and visibility of a project. Where does your creativity come from? Here at Atkins [where Wright is Head of Architecture] we have a great team of creative people and generally when we meet to discuss ideas, we have some kind of strategy we use. First of all, no pens are allowed in the room. We are just allowed to share our ideas verbally so each and every person in the room can visualise the project in his or her own way. After we have discussed all the features of the project and shared our ideas, everyone is allowed to pick up their pencil and start drawing their vision of the project on their own. Interestingly, when we come back to the meeting table, we all have different drawings and different ideas of how the project should be. What advice would you give to young architects who dream of being part of a project as iconic as Burj al Arab? You have to be in the right place at the right time, and you have to recognise the right place and the right time. When you are young, you have a lot of energy and that is generally when the best projects can come out of your creativity. So what I advise young architects is to really believe in what they do, to be passionate about their projects and transfer this energy and drive what they have forward. Because once you get older, you will find out that all of the things you thought were absolute, you are not so sure about.

A slice of Slovenia in Venice It was in Venice that The Slovenia Times got the chance to catch up with internationally renowned architect Tom Wright. Both Wright and this publication were in the beautiful Italian city for TRE – Tourism Real Estate. The event, which ran from April 15 to 18, brought together an array of organisations working in this exciting sector. The business to business side was represented by banks, investment funds, developers, architectural firms and contractors. The business to customer section of the fair, meanwhile, drew high profile estate agents, golf estate professionals and other private firms. The Slovenia Times was the only Slovene company present at the event and the publication’s stand attracted a great deal of attention. Visitors were keen to find out more about investment and cooperation opportunities with Slovenia, as well as recent developments in Ljubljana such as the Crystal Palace, Situla and Emonika. Many were also curious about the situation in the wider region of South East Europe, asking about countries such as Croatia and Montenegro and expressing their desire to find a local partner to increase understanding of such markets. It won’t be long until The Slovenia Times is back in the world of real estate fairs – representatives from the publication will soon be heading to Austria for the fifth edition of Real Vienna. The event, one of the major real estate fairs in Europe, runs from 18 to 20 May.

May 2010


56 REAL ESTATE SPECIAL

Interview: Jaša Pirkmajer

Bucking the Trend The Ganamm project, a residential complex just a few minutes from the centre of Ljubljana, was completed in 2009. Thanks to an excellent location and an array of twenty first century features, the building has succeeding in bucking the trend of the property downturn. But, says project lead Jaša Pirkmajer, there are still opportunities for those who want to make the stylish development their home. By Carlos Silva for people to enjoy the upcoming warm summer nights. Another area in which we wanted to excel was the “Smart House” concept. Residents can enter their apartments at the touch of a fingertip without needing any kind of key or code. The heating and cooling system can also be controlled wirelessly allowing residents to monitor and control their homes at a distance – either through a phone call or a computer.

There are already some people living in the complex. What is their feedback on the building? It seems they are very satisfied with their apartments. From a design and architectural perspective, they seem to be proud to live in such a modern house wh ic h embrace s t he “Sm a r t House” concept. The layout of the flats is also optimised to maximise the living space, mak-

ing the apartments look and feel much bigger and therefore more comfortable. They also commented they love the technology the building incorporates and how easy it is to operate. I also get a lot of comments regarding how peaceful and green the area surrounding the complex is, making it a safe place for children to play outside or just for some walks at the end of the day. What distinguishes the Ganamm project from other similar developments? We spent considerable resources on the design and architecture of the complex in order for it to be the best living space possible. From green areas outdoors to parking space in the basement, the whole project was designed to satisfy the most demanding of customers. For example, most of the apartments face south in order to maximise indoor natural lightning and the area surrounding the buildings is traffic-free. The terrace space offered is also something unusual in an apartment building. We made sure our flats have a balcony wide enough

The Slovenia Times

Who are the residents of Ganamm? They are quite diverse, ranging from young designers and architects to older couples. Also we have a lot of young families who chose our apartments due to the proximity to school and kindergarten facilities, as well as for safety reasons. Interesting is that older people chose to live here because they are taking care of their grandchildren and see Koseze and our apartments as a great location for this purpose. In a radius of 100 meters, residents can find a primary school as well as a kindergarten and a playground. Shops and the local market are both just a short walk away, providing all everyday necessities. Is the Ganamm project and its apartments a good alternative to houses? Overall we offer a great alternative to the typical house which requires a lot of maintenance and resources. At Ganamm, people can have the comfort and privacy of a house with all the benefits associated with living in an apartment. The green surroundings replicate the peacefulness of the countryside and the design and high tech nature of each apartment provides the comfort of a top-notch living space of the 21st century. Are there still apartments available? Yes, we still have some apartments available. We’re holding an open day on xxx of May and are looking forward to showing people around the complex and explaining why so many people have chosen Ganamm as their new home.


NEW DIMENSION FLATS IN KOSEZE

EVERYTHING YOU NEED FOR PROGRESSIVE LIVING IN ONE PLACE 8 open view houses • Modern architecture and top-class building • 100 superior flats with parking spaces • Abundance of green, a walking path, and peaceful surroundings • Excellent traffic connections • 2 children’s playgrounds • A kindergarten and school nearby • A lift • The most advanced comfort-providing system Do take a look at a sample, fully-equipped flat.

Vendor GANAMM d.o.o. www.ganamm.si / info@ganamm.si Phone: 01 583 00 20; 031 356 784

MOV EJULYIN DATE 2009


58 LIFESTYLE

LIFESTYLE Industrial Design

A Multitude of Iconic Creations The history of Slovenian industrial design is a story of daring individuals with the vision and persistence to withstand a mentality that valued the industrial far above the design. By Jaka Terpinc

T

he recent exhibition “Iskra: Non-Aligned Design 1946– 1990,” held at Ljubljana Architectural Museum recalled the The Slovenia Times

golden age of industrial design. Slovenes particularly identify with the products of that age, since many of them were true design

masterpieces and, due to the narrow choice of available products, nearly every household owned some of these items. The exhibi-

tion was an excellent summary of how design was introduced at Iskra, one of exemplary companies of the socialist era.


LIFESTYLE 59 Špela Šubic, the creator of the exhibition leads us to discover the essential elements and landmarks of this period. She describes the establishment of design department within the Automation Institute in 1962 as the first step towards recognition of the importance of product aesthetics. This however would not be possible without enlightened individuals like Davorin Savnik who managed to bring some forward thinking into the world of socialist politicians and bureaucrats, whose aesthetics were more or less measured in tonnes and megawatts. The encouraging design climate of western and northern Europe also left its mark in Slovenia, particularly influencing some ambitious individuals who began to set standards in domestic industrial design: Edvard Ravnikar, Niko Kralj, Marko Turk et al. The important events that followed were, according to Šubic, the establishment of the “B course” at the Faculty of Architecture, the beginning of the Biennial of Industrial Design in the mid-1960s and finally the establishment of the design department with the Academy of Fine Arts in the 1980s. The relatively closed economy of the former Yugoslavia was a fairly comfortable environment without the pressure of competition, but the more ambitious companies kept track of global trends and set themselves higher standards. Despite the self-contained concept, the state allowed or even ordered trade in foreign markets.

The present

Photo Tanja Vergles

The 1990s started with a shock, but in the long term the arrival of

Špela Šubic, head of the BIO Secretariat and Curator of Industrial Design.

market economy meant the establishment of realistic criteria and integrated systems of product support. Despite versatile and capable designers, we still lack the infrastructure and experience to be comparable with countries that have not undergone a transition through different economic systems. Is there a distinctively Slovenian element in the industrial design artefacts? Ms Šubic says that Slovenes are involved in many successful products throughout the world. Each one emphasises the importance of a good team or a studio, where nationality seems to play no role at all. The question, therefore, is whether it makes sense to look for a specifically Slovenian product at all? There might be some examples exposing a national character of a design, however the times when German products were considered to be the best built and the Italian most beautiful are gone. Successful design studios and production companies do not limit themselves to state boundaries. However, when it comes to the promotion of a country, this view can be reversed – it is essential that the state acknowledge the quality, support it and turn it into its own benefit, concludes Šubic.

BIO The Biennial of Industrial Design (known also by its Slovene acronym BIO) is one of the few major international design exhibitions with a tradition of over fortyfive years of presenting contemporary trends in international design through its selection of well-designed products and its emphasis on quality, originality and innovation. From the first biennial in 1964 to today, BIO has presented twenty-one exhibitions surveying the state of international design. The works presented in the BIO exhibition are carefully selected and critically evaluated. An international jury reviews all of the works selected and awards the highest recognitions in design among all the works exhibited: BIO Gold Medals, BIO Quality Concepts Awards, BIO Honourable Mentions, and Awards for Student Work. The biennial is a cultural event directly connected to industry, the economy, the design profession, innovation, education and development. Through its work, it brings the activities of industry and the profession closer to the general public and helps forge links between various sectors. The next BIO will be held from 7th October to 7th November this year at the Architecture Museum of Ljubljana.

The Highligts of the Golden Age The beginning successes in the area of Slovene industrial design go back to the fifties. The first Slovene who received an international award from this field was innovator Marko Turk and his trademark AOL (microphones). Another such achievement were the collapsible chairs created by architect Niko Kralj for furniture company Stoli Kamnik. The Rex chair (1952) set the standards of quality Europe-wide. Today it is exhibited in the New York MoMA. A true example of a well-coordinated action that conquered the market was Cocta (1953)– the Yugoslav version of Coca Cola. Architect Sergej Pavlin designed a soft drink bottle and logo. He picked out old letters that were used before WWI in Slovenian Newspapers and created a logo of a girl drinking Cocta. The girl soon became a recognizable symbol of one of the most popular Yugoslav drinks that even today holds a certain market share. In the sixties the successes of industrial design moved to the area on engineering and electronics. Some of the finest achievements were Iskra’s telephones (1960), created by Davorin Savnik, Tomos’s motorcycles (1966) and Sasa Meachtig’s concept of kiosks – Kiosk K67(1969). A fine example of an industrial achievement from the recent history is the telephone set called Iskra ETA (electronic telephone apparatus). It was designed in the late 1970’s and featured a revolutionary design done by the then leading Slovene and at that time also Yugoslav industrial designer Davorin Savnik. It even received several awards, such as the “Die gute Industrieform” in Hannover, Germany in 1980, the Yugoslav industrial design award in Ljubljana in 1979, and the “Design Zentrum“ award in Stuttgart, Germany in 1981. The design was obviously so fascinating that it was copied by other manufacturers from around the world, probably because it wasn’t properly copyrighted. At first, the set featured a classic dial, but it has later been modernized.

Iskra The manufacturer Iskra used to be one of the gigantic companies, which was supposed to cover almost any need in the electrical and electronic field in Yugoslavia, for both industrial and consumer use alike. After the independence, Iskra was divided into several smaller companies, which are still more or less successful.

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60 LIFESTYLE

Red Dot Awards

Slovenia at the Forefront of Functional Art Art is equal, unbiased, pure. The Red Dot Awards hold high the notion of equality before the judging process. Yet, as is always the case, some are just better than others. By Aleš Šinkovec

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lovenian industrial and commercial design has made great leaps and bounds in the past several years. There is no sense in comparing the culture of design conformity before the advent of democracy to today’s medley of modernity. This freedom of expression has brought Slovenia renown, both domestic and international. A great sign of the design industry’s collective rising star

has been the tremendously positive results at the Red Dot Award ceremonies in recent years.

The process The Red Dot Award is a highly coveted prize among designers, receiving over 12 thousand applications from over 60 countries in the previous year alone. It has been considered one of the more prestigious awards since its incep-

Innovation and Design – A Strategic Decision Miloš Ebner, Trimo d.d. The visionary head of strategic innovation at the Trimo construction company explains his view on the importance of design and how to approach it. It is important to emphasize that industrial design not only means a stylish and likable look, but is also a matter of efficient and smart shapes, use of materials etc. In order to achieve this, knowledge of markets, users’ needs, communication and other skills are also required. Disregarding the importance of design means that your competitiveness relies more or less on price, meaning lower added value, the need to lowering production costs etc. This is an environment in which a smart company doesn’t want to find itself. That’s why an investment in design is a key strategic decision that establishes the company’s position and its strategy for success. Innovation and design have always been a matter of our strategic decision, which we use for a competitive breakthrough in a branch that is not particularly innovative. Looking for partners here in is a two-way street. If the company values design, it is seen on the market, consequently attracting people who think similarly. Our cooperation with Nika Zupanc was a huge success; the same goes for the other young, successful designers whom we have came across. This is definitely a practice we want to maintain. It is difficult to evaluate how much the international awards won by our designs influence the sale of particular products, but it definitely is recognition of our success. It says that we, together with our partners, have managed to create an outstanding, unique, complete and market-competent solution that has been internationally recognized. This is important information for the market and is certainly reflected in the sale of a product: in our case, the ArtMe technology in the modular facade system Qbiss by trimo. The awards also speak of our ability to lead the integral process of new products, where design, technological and market criteria are accounted for from the beginning. The entire brand gains importance. The Slovenia Times

Subject: Robert Lešnik The Man Robert Lešnik, born at the beginning of the ‘70s in Maribor, has become an internationally recognized designer in recent years. His fame and success has been largely achieved outside his home country of Slovenia; after three unsuccessful attempts to be accepted into the program of his choice in Ljubljana, where he would have been able to study design, he set his sights wider. Germany was to be his starting point, specifically the Pforzheim school for transportation design. During his time at university, he already began collecting a multitude of awards; the most prominent of which was winning Autozeitung magazine’s competition for designing a new concept of the Mercedes SL. Arguably, the experience that has been most beneficial for his continued success was his internship at Volkswagen. Undertaken between his first and second semester, it led to a scholarship and later his employment with the company.

The Material Robert Lešnik’s favourite designs are rather retro; examples include the Porsche 911, VW beetle, Citroen DS, and the Jaguar E-type. He believes that this amount of so called “surface entertainment” cannot be repeated, because of the increasing need to follow countless guidelines, whilst also sharing the majority of parts with other cars being manufactured. Perhaps this is why his favourite shapes are derived from old airplanes; ones which preceded the monotony of computerized design. This idea of destroying neutrality and its repetition ad infinitum, coupled with the confines of modern manufacturing, has led to his success in Volkswagen. His additions to the Golf Mark V design and his pioneering of the latest Passat explain this best: beautifully understated. Lešnik does not believe in focus groups; he believes it is the designer that dictates the direction. Yet, he has no wish to become the next Pininfarina, believing it more fulfilling leaving the administrative matters to others, so that he can solely focus on design.


LIFESTYLE 61 Subject: Gorenje – Ora-Ito Conception Gorenje has unveiled extremely bold designs to much fanfare in recent years. The mind behind this movement is perhaps even more audacious than the subject matter: Ora-Ïto. Originating in France, Ora Morabito, otherwise known by his moniker and brand name Ora-Ïto, has taken the design world by storm. Born in 1977, to a family already entrenched in the world of design, at the age of 19 he dropped out of school to pursue his own visions of the future. He began by creating 3DWhat is meant here? Three dimenstions? Products for various high-end labels, such as Louis Vuitton and Gucci. The difference, at least initially, was the complete lack of approval or awareness by the companies who owned the brands. Despite the lack of such legitimacy, the designs were so impressively developed that the website was inundated with orders. Surprisingly, this led to his employment through official commissions as opposed to being harassed by lawsuits. Since its formation, Ora-Ïto has collaborated with companies varying from Nike, LaCie, Sagem, to Toyota. He has won various awards, including one for his aluminium Heineken bottle and a Red Dot Design Award for an Artemide lamp.

Collaboration Gorenje and Ora-Ïto have recently collaborated to create two different concepts for today’s kitchens incorporating visions of tomorrow. The design can be explained by Ora-Ïto’s encompassing mentality tion in 1955. It is presented by the Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen, in Essen, Germany. The award has three separate general categories: product design, communication design, and design concept. The most important (or developed) is the Red Dot Award for product design. It covers an immense range of product types; this year there are 17 separate classes, spanning from tableware to transport, life science to living rooms. This type of egalitarian approach even stretches to the eventual adjudication. The selection and discussion procedure covers topics such as the degree of innovation, functionality, durability, ergonomics, or even the possible ecological impact. The final result

of which is finding true quality of design; trendsetting in the truest sense. The two remaining Red Dot Awards, for communication design and design concept, are much newer additions, but are important in different ways. They highlight different facets of trendsetting success. The award for communication design incorporates advertising, sound design, interactive media and corporate design. This relates to all communication that isn’t physical. The design concept award is given to visions of the near future that are true creative achievements. This is primarily used to highlight the young, upcontinued on page 62

of “simplexity” – a combination of two polar opposites: simplicity and complexity. The design uses an extremely minimalistic approach, striving to achieve maximum working efficiency. The collaboration first produced the Black line in 2007, which had the option of being completely black or containing a mixture of black and brushed aluminium. This year, the collaboration has unveiled its White concept. Ora-Ïto states that white is a magical, timeless colour that gives every object a modern dimension, transforming the space it sits in with the light it reflects.

A Matter of a Winning Mentality Matjaž Lenassi, CEO, Alpina Leader of an internationally acclaimed sport footwear company, which prides itself on its three Red Dot awards and Good Design award earned in the past three years, comments on the importance of superior design and the effect of design awards. It is not possible to enter the market without superior design, as the excellence in build quality is so self-evident that it is no longer a matter of discussion. Alpina additionally proves it with a collection of Olympics and World Cup medals, earned by athletes in all categories using Alpina footwear. Consumers are ready to reach deeper into their pocket for a product that immediately strikes the eye, especially if seen at certain important competitions. Superior results can be achieved only by teams characterised by mutual respect. Frequently, it takes both technical and design compromises; that’s why it is essential to know the product, the market and the persons you are cooperating with. It took years to perfectly balance both technical and design element – the results speak for themselves. My effort upon arriving at Alpina was to encourage and assure the existing teams that such steps are possible, to introduce the winning mentality. The Red Dot award itself is an additional contribution to Alpina’s recognition, which probably attracts customers into our shops. On foreign, markets where our presence is already strong (Northern Europe, America), it furthermore consolidates the respect for our brand. The awards, however, don’t contribute only to selling success – they mean very much to us, the employees, as they prove our capability in competing and winning on the global market.

Cher bathroom fittings by Kolpa May 2010


62 LIFESTYLE continued from page 61

and-coming leaders in the design industry.

The procession 2010 has been a fantastic year for Slovenian design. Slovenian designers and companies have received six Red Dot Awards for product design, the highest thus far. The winners are: Studio Jure Miklavc (Promise cross-country ski boots, Alpina d.o.o.), Gigodesign (SLX Waveflex skis, Elan d.o.o. & Unisash Arx View window frames, Kovinoplastika Lož d.d. & Sitty retractable street furniture, Petrič d.o.o.), the Faculty of Mechanical Engineering (ArtMe – individual surface modification of facade elements, Trimo d.d.), and Versor (Flying doughnut parking system, Versor d.o.o.). One more company received an honourable mention at this year’s awards: Grafik in fanatic (Cher bathroom fittings, Kolpa d.d.).

Interview: Jure Miklavc

Vision, Ambitions and Courage Jure Miklavc is one of the most recognized Slovenian industrial designers. His breakthrough product, which made him a brand of his own, was the first crosscountry skiing boot he created for Alpina, the Racing CL in 2001, which earned him the DIDA award and the BIO gold medal. Since then, his design has continued to attract buyers and win awards. ther design management nor the representation of design are given enough priority in the management structure of companies. How do you assess the period of the last 20 years, which was characterized by the introduction of the market economy? Has a greater awareness of the competition left consequences on the field of design as well? Most companies invest in design precisely because of this; because all of the competition does, so they are practically forced into it. The companies are divided into two groups. In the first, there are those who have successfully dealt with the transition and have previous experience of investing in design. The second consists of new companies that were founded during this period and are sufficiently mature and large to appear on the international market.

The profit Some will argue that winning awards yields no quantifiable results, other than momentarily propelling a product into the minds of a particular social stratum. This cannot be further from the truth. Undoubtedly, it will help the public relations and marketing departments with little extra input. It has been shown to directly boost sales; after the designer Studio Jure Miklavc and producer Alpina d.o.o. received a Red Dot Award for product design in 2009 for their Binom crosscountry skiing elite racing footwear, sales definitely increased; the total sales increase was between 20 and 25 percent. It is difficult to state exactly how much influence the award had, because the shoes had already been proven extremely effective in competitions. The fact is that awards extend the longevity of the product on store shelves and can increase the retail price.

The prospects Awards are increasingly important. In a globally competitive economy, the free market isn’t inherently fair. Awards exist to guide potential interest and eventual investment. They are irreplaceable for a country the size of Slovenia. Slovenia has shown that it has a multitude of extremely capable, and pioneering, design studios. This must be at least maintained and at best maximized. The red dot marks the spot. The Slovenia Times

What has been the biggest challenge for you so far, in terms of design? The studio undertakes with greater zeal those products that have a well-elaborated strategy and platform. We are most delighted with clients who have a vision, are ambitious and courageous.

Your most notable product is a boot. How did this happen; did you find the boot or did the boot find you? The start of the cooperation goes back to the year 1998/99, mainly with the makeover of individual parts of ski boots. Because of positive results, these first projects developed into a fine long-standing cooperation with the client in the entire sports range. Does the Slovenian design have any specifics in the international arena? Could it be characterized with a specific generalization or a stereotype? In this area, the design has both in the past and the present consist-

ed of a few individual examples of good design, which have proved their quality at the international level through awards – in both the market and the field of expertise. It is not possible to speak of a general identity. Does the Slovenian industry recognize the importance of design? Which fields are the most advanced here? Individual companies are well aware of the importance of design and are utilizing it. But a large majority has not yet realized the true benefits of the strategic “use” of design. Design-driven companies do not yet exist in Slovenia; nei-

Do you pattern your work after others, or rather – do you find your inspiration in someone else? We pour past experience, information from everyday life and our vision of what is good design into our products. What do you wish to design in the future? We would wish to gain new clients, such as those who are present on the global marketplace. Could you highlight a designer product that has recently fascinated or inspired you? In fact, such products are most of those that have been exhibited at the exhibition Iskra – Neuvrščeno oblikovanje 1946-1990 (Iskra: NonAligned Design 1946–1990).


LEADING

14 Days 63

ITALIAN FURNITURE DESIGNER IS CONQUERING SLOVENIAN MARKET ONCE AGAIN

NEW NATUZZI STORE IN LJUBLJANA On 22 April Natuzzi, a world leading leather sofa manufacturer and biggest Italian furniture manufacturer, opened a new store in Ljubljana. Natuzzi has its 370 m2 store in the complex Rezidenca where numerous prestigious stores are located. There, Natuzzi displays the newest Italian interior design trends. Natuzzi, which is known as a company with a lifestyle, has become a synonym for Italian quality– »Made in Italy«, precision and style. This special combination is what gives Natuzzi Group, a world leading and largest manufacturer of hand-made leather sofas and Italian largest upholstered furniture manufacturer, its character. Natuzzi offers solutions that enable anyone to design their interiors according to their own taste. Natuzzi’s Surround, Wave, Zelig, Relevé and Fly sofas are also introduced in Natuzzi’s new store. Surround is Natuzzi’s jewel, a sofa that combines music, relaxation and pleasure. Wave embodies movement as the most important inspiration for the dynamic design, and Zelig conveys the essence of designing geometrical and modern shapes and perfect ergonomics. Furthermore, Relevé expresses haute couture and an elegant representation of the contemporary style, while Fly represents the new concept of comfort with an innovative adjustable mechanism for regulating the position of the back. Natuzzi has recently launched a new collection “Fundamentals”, which was designed by a renowned designer and architect Paola Navone. The idea came to existence for a simple reason, says Pasquale Natuzzi, “to create simple and beautiful furniture, inspired by shapes that have been ever-present in our imagination”. Today and tomorrow intertwine in new armchairs and sofas that share simple, classic and powerful shapes with wonderful details which shape them into modern pieces of furniture. Let the Italian lifestyle inspire you in the new store.

SALON NATUZZI LJUBLJANA, Šmartinska cesta 53 (Rezidenca), 1000 Ljubljana Tel: + 386 (1) 401 20 10, info@natuzzi.si, www.natuzzi.si

May 2010


64 PEOPLE

Japec Jakopin, boat designer

His way – Seaway Japec Jakopin and his brother Jernej started creating boats in the early 1980s. Their company, Seaway, is today the world’s leading nautical development company. Text: Marjan Žiberna Jernej Jakopin and their boats have won 33 Boat of the Year awards. This year’s Boat of the Year is their environmentally friendly Greenline 33 Hybrid.

First a medical doctor

S “Many people think I’m in boat developing business for the money but the truth is I’m in it for the love of boats.”

The Slovenia Times

eaway, with its seat in Begunje, 50 kilometres north of Ljubljana, develops sailboats and powerboats. Over the past two decades, 34 boat manufacturers in 17 countries have produced more than 34,000 boats using the Seaway’s plans, 21 of which were named Boat of the Year. In 2006, the Shipman 63, Jakopin’s 19-metre long sailboat made from carbon fibre, won the European Sailboat of the Year title in the category of sailboats over 14 meters. That made Seaway the first company to win the European title twice (in 2003 their Shipman 50 won the same title). The statistics are even more impressive if we take into account the pre-Seaway years. Almost 60 thousand boats were constructed based on the design of Japec and

Japec Jakopin spent his childhood and youth in Ljubljana, relatively far from the sea to which he dedicated his life. His family environment can easily explain why he speaks eight foreign languages. His mother Gitica was a renowned writer and translator from Romance, Germanic and Slavic languages; his father, an academic and linguist, was also dedicated to languages. Before Japec started creating boats professionally, he studied medicine. It wasn’t really his choice. “My mother decided I should study medicine. I would have chosen mathematics, like my older brother Primož. I saw how little effort it took him; he got up at nine, spent evenings out… But my mother didn’t share my opinion, so I went to study medicine.” He was a successful student, finishing his studies among the best in his class. He finished his medical doctorate and specialized in cardiology in Ljubljana. He lectured on physiology at the Medical Faculty in Ljubljana for a while. He was mostly interested in research work, “I was a research cardiologist and was interested in patients when something interesting was happening to them.”

His medical career wasn’t very long. During the 1970s and early 1980s, professional qualities had to be matched with political appropriateness in order to successfully work in one field. Japec Jakopin didn’t try very hard on the latter and was blocked in his work. “Like many Slovenian medical doctors, among whom were also top quality scientists, I could have gone to the USA. But I knew that if I went I would never come back. Nobody came back. Everyone went for two years, but then extended their residence there. So I decided not to go. The USA is great to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” He resigned from the Medical Faculty in Ljubljana and changed his profession completely; he started a boat business. Before that, he had a charter base on the Croatian island Krk together with Arne Hodalič (today a top photographer). “We took care of the sailboats there, repaired them ... It was a weekend job in order to make a living,” he recalls.

Dedicated to the sea Japec Jakopin loved boats and the sea even as a child. He started scuba diving when he was six (his deepest dive without weights is 45 meters); when he was 13, he went sailing for the first time. “As a child I wished I had my own sailboat to go diving with it,” he recalls. Sailing became an essential part of his life. He sailed

Japec with his brother and business partner Jernej at the opening of Seaway’s Monfalcone boat construction facility.


PEOPLE 65 the Mediterranean Sea; in the 1970s, he sailed across the Atlantic with Slovenian film director Karpo Godina; together with his younger brother Jernej they planned to sail around the world on their 10-metre Melody sailboat. Their plan had to be cancelled because he had resigned from his job as a lecturer and he had to make every effort to make a living entirely in his new profession. Together with his brother Jernej, Arne Hodalič and mathematician Matjaž Prijatelj, they had been working on designing and building sailboats. “We kept redoing the design; we made moulds, special tooling … You had to do it all by yourself at that time and that’s why you really had to know a lot about everything. We wandered around nautical exhibitions, asking a lot of questions...” In 1983, he founded the design studio J&J together with his brother Jernej. The studio later evolved into Seaway. They started to work with Elan, the Slovenian ski manufacturer that also had a boatbuilding department. Japec and Jernej, who worked in Germany at the time, designed a 9.40-metre sailboat, the Elan 31. Together with the Elan 33, a somewhat upgraded and improved model, they were a sales success. “We were in business before we knew very well what works on such a sailboat and what doesn’t. We learned which pump and which motors are good, which toilet pipes prevent bad odours…” They produced 940 boats of those two models –a very large amount in the sailboat business. The cooperation with Elan was very fruitful because the Jakopin brothers knew what kind of boats sell successfully. The cooperation ended in 1987. In the spring of 1988, Japec went to work with the French boat manufacturer Jeanneau as a head of marketing. He stayed there for three years. “I left for Jeanneau with a heavy heart, because I had to leave my family at home. But there was plenty of action there; we developed 20 to 30 boats annually. I was a head of sales and marketing, a developer. I made decisions about which models would be developed and which omitted… I was terrified the first week there. Seeing 1,500 people and who knows how many hectares of the factory, I said to myself, ‘If I blow this one, there won’t be a hole in the world where I could hide.’”

The beginning of “the long march” After three years of successful work in France, he returned home.

Meanwhile, his brother Jernej had continued working on boat designs for Jeanneau and many other manufacturers. In 1990, they founded Seaway and begin with the development of boats. Jernej remained a designer, while Japec focused on marketing strategies and industrial design. “Industrial design involves the preparation of the entire development of the product on the market, where it is exposed to competition, for a known client,” explains Japec. “The role of industrial designer is much wider than people tend to think. The design and development of the product begins with market analysis. There is much important information to gather; talks with the dealers, with suppliers, buyers, representatives of the buyers. That’s why we visit 10 to 15 nautical exhibitions a year, which takes me approximately two months – to walk around, observe what is going on and chat with people. “And when you’ve done that for 20, 25 years, the experience gathered leads you in the right direction. You almost can’t go wrong. You can’t develop a boat that nobody would want because there are many preventive trials before the boat reaches the market.” In 1992, Seaway made the first design for German Bavaria, one of the leading manufacturers of the large-scale production boats. Bavaria later became the main partner of the Seaway, which continued to grow and develop. They developed powerboats and sailboats.

“My brother’s and my hearts are on the sailing side. But in my opinion, there aren’t t wo different nautical cultures, as is prevailing opinion around the world. There is only one nautical culture. And there is a lack of that culture. You either have it or not, and it doesn’t matter whether you are on a sailboat or on a powerboat. There are many people who buy themselves a powerboat because they simply have the money to afford it. It goes with the status; a powerboat is a status symbol as much as the weekend house. All of his colleagues have it, he’s the only one without it and that looks odd, so he buys it ...” The Jakopin brothers’ tandem approach has proved to be successful. Today, Seaway employs 250 highly skilled professionals; their success in the nautical world speaks for itself. Japec Jakopin, a youthful looking father of five children, who has worn a suit only a couple of times in his life, is not short of plans for the future. He sees the future in the further development of the boats that will be financially affordable to wider range of people and will be environmentally friendly at the same time. The Greenline 33 Hybrid, developed on the desks of the Seaway designers in 2007, is such a boat. The boat won several awards during the past few months; as well as the European Boat of the Year 2010, and in March 2010 the Swedish Ministry of Environment presented it with an environmental award.

“My brother’s and my hearts are on the sailing side but I think there is only one nautical culture. And there is a lack of that culture.”

Japec Jakopin sees the nautical future in boats that are financially affordable and environment friendly. The awards won by his company support this direction. May 2010


66 Beauty & Leisure

Get Fit and Healthy Outdoors Winter has bid farewell, the world has awoken again and so must we. It is time to stretch our muscles and lose the weight we gained during our winter sloth. By Vesna Paradiž

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pring is in full swing and it is high time to set aside the fitness centre and other indoor training, and head outdoors. Whether you choose jogging, running, cycling, swimming, hiking or merely taking a stroll, the world outside awaits you. Hiking and walking, however, hold a special place among those sports: they are both suitable for everybody, regardless of fitness level or age, as well as much cheaper to pursue than others – if not entirely free. Getting involved in regular walking or hiking does not require much. The most important things are comfortable shoes: good running shoes if you also to jog, otherwise trekking shoes or hiking boots, depending on what kind of ground you will walk on. Appropriate clothing is also necessary, made from material that

lets the skin breathe. If it is cold, wear more layers of thin clothes that can be removed rather than one thick jacket. For walking on steep terrain, walking sticks are advisable and for longer tours a backpack with water, refreshments and first aid. And while we are at it – carrying a mobile phone is a good idea as well (just in case). Everything else is optional.

Health Factors Some scientists believe that physical inactivity is almost as harmful as smoking. The mortality of people who are not active is one-third higher than of those with an active life. Furthermore, inactive people have a 50% more chance of getting colorectal cancer. But these are just dull statistics. We recognize the real facts only when we change our own

Slovenian cosmetic company introduces innovative beauty product One of Slovenia’s largest cosmetic companies has launched a new anti-wrinkle product. Kozmetika Afrodita introduced its Natural Lift cream last month in the prestigious setting of Steklarna Rogaška salon in Ljubljana. The product’s speciality is effective lifting of skin in one hour in a non-invasive way. the company explained this is possible due to a new technology of filling wrinkles with the micro-smoothing natural active ingredient Marine Collagen. The ingredient, due to its patented structure of The Slovenia Times

microspheres, increases the skin’s volume by up to ten times when applied. Natural Lift contains up to 94 percent natural active ingredients – some of them are also eco certified. Kozmetika Afrodita says the product doesn’t only smooth, firm and moisturise the skin in one hour, but also nourishes skin in the long run, helping it regain a fresh, natural appearance.


Beauty & Leisure 67 The Best Hiking Paths around Ljubljana Šmarna Gora is a hill situated north of Ljubljana. It has two peaks, the lower Šmarna Gora and the higher Grmada. It is perhaps the most well-known and popular walking destination for people living in Ljubljana and tourists who would like to hike up a mountain in a short amount of time, enjoy the view (on a sunny day you can see as far as Mount Triglav) and the local cuisine. There are several starting points for the walk, some of them accessible by public transport.

Iški Vintgar is a gorge made by the river Iška and is a sharp natural separation of two regions, Dolenjska and Notranjska. It is a popular walking route due to its natural beauty, easy distance to Ljubljana and perfect picnic spots. On the left bank of the river, there is a comfortable walking path, but it is impassable in places unless you are prepared to jump into the shallow water to continue your walk. From there it is also possible to walk to the old Partisan hospital, Krvavica, but the path there is quite steep.

lives from inactivity to activity. Exercise, especially outdoors, bring us both physical and mental relaxation and relieves stress. We feel immediate positive effects: we have more energy, we sleep better, fresh air expands our lungs and stimulates our bloodstream, and perhaps even our weight is reduced. Being active outdoors is a short-term and long-term investment in ourselves. When starting out in this energetic way of life, we should also consider bad habits and try to avoid them. It does not make much sense to climb Mount Triglav with a cigarette in one hand and a flask of spirits in the other. Alcohol, tobacco and stress should be reduced, and an appropriate diet

should be adopted. With carefully planned nutrition plus physical activity, we can avoid many diseases such as cancer, cardiovascular problems and osteoporosis, or, if they are already present, ease their consequences. So go for a walk, collect dandelions and make a salad when you return home. Why not kill two birds with one stone?

Hill Hopping in Slovenia Slovenia is full of possibilities for getting fit and healthy outdoors. The land is diverse enough to satisfy every taste. There are vast plains and valleys, hikerfriendly hills and lofty mountains. continued on page 68

Močilnik and Retovje are the Ljubljanica’s springs located near Vrhnika. Ljubljanica is originally a karst river and is actually the last of the seven names of one river (the others are Trbuhovica, Obrh, Stržen, Rak, Pivka, and Unica). After an underground life in the heart of the karst’s limestone, it comes into contact with an impervious base here and starts flowing to the surface. The water springs out from more than 12 sources. Močilnik and Retovje are actually two valleys where the river comes out. The sight is most memorable after heavy rains, when the water seems to burst through directly from the rocky walls. Both valleys are accessible from Vrhnika or, to be precise, from the pub Močilnik. Krim is a 1,107m high mountain rising south of Ljubljansko barje (Ljubljana moors). Between 1970 and 1991, its peak was inaccessible because the military had a post there. Krim has a television transmitter and its peak is the first place to turn to look for the sun when Ljubljana is wrapped in fog and clouds; the view from there is well worth the climb on one of the well-marked hiking paths. Krim is said to be Ljubljan a ’s w e a t h e r prophet, because every time it has a cloud around its peak, there is bad weather for the surrounding area.

Grad Otočec Magnificent castle atmosphere, pleasure of the delicious cuisine and chosen wines, relaxed gathering with friends …   Welcome to join us at spring culinary evenings: • Thursday, 13th May: Forest - a treasure house of delicacies and wines from Šumenjak eco vineyards • Wednesday, 9th June: Garden party in the company of exquisite wines from Movia wine cellar

tel.: 00386 7 38 48 900, booking.grad-otocec@terme-krka.si www.grad-otocec.si May 2010


68 Beauty & Leisure continued from page 67

Wherever you may go, you will find a path to lead you there. Every corner of this beautiful country is easily accessible, though some require more walking than others to reach the final destination. Since there are no large cities but only towns, villages and many rural areas, there is a great amount of nature left unspoilt and immaculate. The mountains of the Julian Alps are perfect for avid hikers but demand great physical condition. The hills of Pohorje lie lower and are easier to conquer, but offer a good exercise nevertheless. In total, there are more than 7,000 kilometres of hiking trails spread throughout mountains and hills and over 40 nature parks, which are also great for walks and also provide outsta ndi ng nat ural attractions. Fortunately, you need not go far from the capital to find all those places; some exquisite sites are situated on the outskirts of Ljubljana or even in it. Ljubljana’s Botanical Garden, for example, is like a little oasis in a desert of concrete and very fitting for a short walk when lacking time for anything longer. The same goes for Tivoli Park and the somewhat higher hills of Rožnik and Golovec.

The Path of Remembrance and Comradeship The Path of Remembrance and Comradeship (POT) is a 34 km-long path around Ljubljana, which runs where the barbed-wire fence that surrounded Ljubljana during World War II was. It winds across Golovec, through tree-lined paths and, because Ljubljana is now larger than it

used to be, in certain places the path now passes through residential districts. The path was organized and opened as a footpath in 1985, on the 40th anniversary of the removal of the barbed wire. Every year from year 1957 onward, there is recreational march on May 9. In the times of former Yugoslavia, the march was obligatory for all pupils, students and workers; nowadays participa-

tion is voluntary but thousands of people still attend. Those who walk the whole path are presented with a commemorative badge., Tek trojk (a running contest of trios) also takes place at the time of the march, with people running 12 km or 28 km. The path is open to all throughout its length. It offers summer and winter recreation, walking, jogging, running and Nordic skiing. advertisment

Thalassotherapy health from the sea From the Greek word for “sea”, thalassotherapy refers to a variety of treatments that use seawater and everything related to it seaside climate, sea mud, sea algae and sea salt - each designed to benefit your mind, body and skin in different ways.

Fango wrap

Treatments that fill you with energy

True thalassotherapy spas must be no more than half a mile from the sea. Thalassotherapy is the trade mark of the only Slovene climatic seaside health resort. The immediate proximity of the sea, 2300 hours of sun per year, exceptional location in a pine forest in the heart of a protected landscape park and by the thousand-year old salt-pans ... Talaso Strunjan is justifiably regarded as a true centre of thalasso therapy.

The Slovenia Times

What is thalassotherapy good for? The effect of thalassotherapy is profound. Thalasso treatments have a beneficial effect on the skin, cellular exchanges, the respiratory system and the body as a whole with a better oxygenation, increased elimination of toxins and a revitalization of the mind and body.

A wide range of specialised treatments for both men and women to relax, rejuvenate and re-balance the body is offered at Talaso Strunjan. A speciality is the salter’s massage with the effect of peeling. The pouches filled with salt crystals from the Strunjan saltpans and essential oils of Mediterranean plants like rosemary, juniper, lavender, pine and basil are drenched in olive oil allowing them to glide smoothly across the skin, leaving it supple and radiant. Also popular are fango and algo wraps. Fango mud cleanses and revitalises the skin,

relieves muscle tension and joint pain. The algae revitalise and regenerate the skin, remove harmful substances from the skin and increase circulation. If you can’t decide which form of thalassotherapy to sample, trained professional team at Talaso Strunjan will help you choose the right one.

Talaso Strunjan Tel.: 05/ 67 64 100 www.talaso-strunjan.si


4th International Wild Flower Festival BOHINJ, 22 MAY – 5 JUNE 2010 This month, Bohinj will host the 4th International Wild Flower Festival. Starting on May 22 and lasting for a fortnight, the festival will provide a bunch of events and activities which will celebrate nature, culture and landscapes of Bohinj.

This year’s opening of the festival coincides with the International Biodiversity Day. That fact makes the beginning of the festival also the main Slovenian event of the celebration of the International Biodiversity Year, set into 2010 by the United Nations. This year is supposed to be a milestone for preserving diversity of life on earth, its jubilation and admittance of the value of biodiversity for our lives. The whole world is invited to take action to safeguard the variety of life on our planet and the Festival happily obliged. In this context an agreement was also signed last year between Danilo Türk and Prince Albert II of Monaco, which entitled Support to Projects in the Area of Nature Conservation and Biodiversity Preservation. It was concluded between the Monaco Office of International Cooperation for Environment and Development and the Slovenian Institute for Nature Conservation. There are several activities currently carried out within the framework of this agreement and Monaco support for our festival is one of them. The Scottish Warden of the Triglav National Park The first International Wild Flower Festival was brought to life in 2007 through the co-operative efforts of the people of Bohinj and was co-ordinated and managed by the local tourist organization. An important role in the development of the event goes to Ian Mitchell, a Scot

Flowery Flavoured Festival The festival will in the whole provide various entertainments. There will be three main themes - wild flowers and art will be a cultural part of the festival with different music events, exhibitions, reviving old habits like village singing and folk dances; wild flowers at home will consider practical use of alpine flowers in everyday life, for example cooking; flowers and science will offer the scientific part with seminars and conferences on sustainable development. This last part will raise many themes and issues on achieving balance between new tourist ideas for advancement of economic development and protection of the environment. Last year the main conference was about developing green tourism standards where Slovenia and Scotland shared best practise. This year’s conference issue will be Culture, Nature and Biodiversity as the Foundation for Rural Development. The festival’s aims are to present the immense value of wild flowers and the diversity of living environments around Bohinj. At the same time the festival tries to exhibit numerous environmental and cultural advantages of the area and evoke pride of the long tradition of alpine farming. The event attracts lots of visitors who can partake in many activities, such as excursions, bird watching, bouquet making, doing embroidery, cutting hay or learning how to collect and prepare edible wild flowers. This way the festival has also become a good way of developing an out-of-season tourism.

Photo:Mitja Karmen Pavliha Photo: Sodja

The Festival in a Wider Frame

who has been coming to Slovenia since 1982. He was the one who suggested organizing an international wild flower festival to promote the internationally important and outstanding wild flowers habitats and the alpine farming cultural heritage of the Bohinj area. He was in 2008 awarded with the Forward Scotland’s Champions for Sustainable Communities award as an International Development Champion. He has helped Bohinj in improving both the cultural and economic quality of local environment by teaching its community about the principles of sustainable development and protecting and utilizing their natural environment.

Photo: Mitja Sodja

T

he organizer of the festival is Turizem Bohinj (Tourism Bohinj) with close cooperation of Triglav National Park and the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning, while the General Patron of the event is The Municipality of Bohinj and the Honorary Patron is Danilo Türk, PhD, the president of the Republic of Slovenia. All of the festival events are meant to contribute to people’s awareness of the unique natural and cultural heritage of Bohinj, Triglav National Park and wider Alpine region. Hence, both the locals and the visitors will be able to take part in various activities, from workshops, music events, art exhibitions and children’s activities to lectures, guided botanical tours and shopping at the local market.

Wild flowers in the Arts •  Exhibitions of paintings, photographs, botanical illustrations, etc. •  Musical events and concerts linked to ‘botanical’ themes.

Photo: Matevž Lenarčič

Wild flowers in Science •  An international conference and seminar on a theme linked to sustainable alpine agriculture and wild flower management. •  Botanical talks and guided walks. Excursions for all abilities to areas rich in wild flowers.

Photo: Tanja Sodja

FESTIVAL FEATURES

Photo: Peter Strgar

For detailed programme see www.bohinj.si/alpskocvetje

Wild flowers in the Home •  A very wide range of activities here to show how wild flowers have had an impact on local culture and activities. •  There will also be a special market of local produce, for example, cheeses and meats from the local alpine pastures. advertisment


Dine

70 14 Days

with style

City Restaurant Šmartinska cesta 140, Ljubljana tel: +386 (0)1 585 19 97 Open: Mon-Fri 8 a.m. – 4 p.m., longer hours available for group arrangements

Food type Local, seasonal Price range 4-course daily special EUR 7 A-la carte 5-course meal EUR 20-50 Reservation Recommended during lunch time (until 2 pm)

Tasting menu Smoked duck breast with parmesan cheese and orange *** Stir soup *** Noodles with asparagu *** Deer steak with herb butter, roasted potatoes

City Restaurant

Delicacies from the 13th Floor City restaurant, occupying the highest point of Ljubljana’s BTC City, combines a versatile menu with an unbeatable ambiance.

T

he BTC City is a vast commercial complex of shops, warehouses, offices and – yes – restaurants. Eating at the BTC City generally means taking advantage of one of many restaurants that serve food of a variety of speeds – from fast food to slightly slower ones. The culinary themes of all continents are there and the food is generally very satisfying regardless of the form it takes. But there’s one restaurant that literally tops them all. Situated under the glass pyramid at top of the skyscraper overlooking the BTC City area, the food of City restaurant perfectly fits its superior position. Distanced from the noisy shopping malls, it is dedicated mostly to business people. Since much business is going on there and a good meal is always sensible, here’s what to do: Drive to the skyscraper, don’t bother with parking fee since it is covered by the restaurant, enter the marble lobby of the building, ride the elevator to the 13th floor, and take your seat...

Seasonal mood

The place itself is fabulous. If the conditions are right, you can sit outside, or in any case enjoy The Slovenia Times

the view from behind the glass. So was during our visit on a cold spring day, but we had another kind of luck instead: the asparagus season was at its peak and since one of the Dine with Style research team members was particularly asparagus crazy, it was especially fortunate. The restaurant pays special attention to seasonal items and modifies the menu accordingly. Every time is the right time for something. Beside the variables, there are treasured constants, too. The restaurant’s specialties, such as three medallions and dumplings, are constantly in demand. So are the 16 different salads, especially popular among healthy eaters. Our tasting menu consisted of four specialities. The smoked duck breast served with parmesan and orange was breathtaking, as it delivered both the powerful salty taste of dried meat contrasted with an incredible sense of freshness. The soup that followed was made of wild garlic, which is a rare and undervalued ingredient in restaurants. And then, finally, noodles with much asparagus. These three courses were a decent introduction to the main dish: deer steak with herb butter and roasted

potatoes: ideally done; the sort of dish which leaves you speechless. The food is generally very fresh with ingredients that are carefully selected from various suppliers. “We have limited storage and can’t let the ingredients just stay there,” said chef Matej Špec, explaining the freshness of the ingredients. Špec, an innovative barbecue specialist, is in charge of a la carte dishes in a kitchen led by chef Janja Merhar. As for wine, since the occasion permitted only “a glass or two,” the tough decision between red and white was solved by ordering Batič Rose, a sweet, fresh, dangerously drinkable wine. The wine list again focuses on certain sorts and years, rather than priding itself on some permanent renowned names. The wine art is partially outsourced, as the bottles are selected and delivered by a nearby, prominent winery, which assures the constant flow of excellent drink, also available to more budget-oriented guests. Of course, this doesn’t mean that more prestigious wines aren’t available.

Truly universal

City is a versatile place. It serves daily specials, a la carte dish-


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JB Restaurant Miklošičeva 17, Ljubljana Tel: + 386 1 430 70 70 restavracija.jb@siol.net, www.jb-slo.com Open: Mon – Fri, noon – 10pm Sat, 5pm–11pm

In Issue 127 In Issue 124

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

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BARVE: PANTONE 194 U PANTONE 401 U

In Issue 121

Grad Otočec Restaurant

PANTONE PROCESS BLACK

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

Bled Castle Restaurant es and special occasions. During short lunch breaks, they can quickly please you with a variety of lunch specials. But if time is more generous to you, even a few hours can pass quickly with their multiple-course slow food treatment, accompanied by good wine. The restaurant is, according to its business character open until only 6 p.m. This, however, can be extended for special occasions. The charming venue, combined

with the restaurant’s wonderful food and service can be a winning combination, ready to impress anyone. To conclude: for hungry minimalists – a wide choice of tasty and quickly served dishes. For gourmets – a complete treatment with healthy, innovative and stylish wining and dining. And for the rational – you pay the meal and get a perfect view of Ljubljana for free.

In Issue 122

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

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

In Issue 117

Pule Estate Drečji vrh 16, Trebelno Tel: +386 7 34 99 700, +386 1 470 27 00 Mobile: +386 51 373 662 marketing@pule.si, www.pule.si Open: Wed-Sat: 12am-10pm, Sun: 11am-8pm; Pule Estate is also available for rental Traditional Slovene cuisine with other culinary delights

Atrium Restaurant

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rgb 0/0/0 Pot za brdom 55, Hotel MONS (main entrance), Ljubljana ring, Brdo exit Tel : +386 1 470 27 00 info@hotel.mons.si Hotel AND CoNGReSS CeNtRe lJUBlJANA Open: Every day, 12am – 10pm

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In Issue 125

Shambala, asian restaurant Križevniška 12, Ljubljana Tel.:+386 31 843 833 info@shambala.si, www.shambala.si Open: 11am-11pm, Sunday and holidays closed. Fresh and spicy experience | Selected wines | Relaxed atmosphere

Jamski Dvorec

In Issue 126 Turizem Kras Jamska cesta 30, Postojna Tel: +386 (0)5 700 0100 info@turizem-kras.si www.turizem-kras.si Innovative cuisine inspired by regional and medieval heritage. Excellent wine choice.

City Restaurant - BTC CITY Ljubljana

In Issue 128

Poslovna stolpnica, 13th floor, Šmartinska 140, Ljubljana Ljubljana ring, Exit 1 Tel.: +386 (0)1 585 19 97 www.btc-city.com Restaurant open: Mon-Fri, 11am – 4pm Bar open: Mon-Fri, 7.30am – 6pm May 2010

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The campaign in conjunction with eight travel companies aims to boost holiday bookings to Slovenia and has the full backing of the football association and tourist board. Holidaymakers booking trips to Slovenia before June 10th will qualify for the cash back offer. If the Slovenia team reach the quarter finals, 25 per cent of the holiday booking will be refunded, if they reach the semi finals, 50 per cent will be refunded and if Slovenia go on to win the World Cup the full cost of the holiday will be returned. Slovenia has been drawn in the tournaments Group C and will play England on June 23rd 2010. Slovenia…. Bet you’ll love it was launched at the Colonies pub in London on March 9th 2010. Traditional Slovenian wine and beer was served alongside Slovenian cheese. A television crew from BBC’s Football Focus inter viewed Mr Kek about Slovenia’s chances in the World Cup and why he was backing the tourism campaign. This was shown on Football Focus on March 13th 2010. Pete Bell from Crystal Ski, which is one of the tour operators participating with the campaign, said at the launch “ Slovenia is a destination which Crystal Ski has been long associated with. It’s a great promotion and we are pleased to be part of it. Slovenia is a great country and an undiscovered gem.” Commenting on their participation in the campaign, Rupert Diggins from Balkan Holidays said. “ It’s a unique opportunity to be involved with and not something we get every year. The promotion is a great way to get the message across to holidaymakers and the key is raising awareness. Slovenia has everything the UK market is looking for as a holiday destination.”

Slovenia… bet you’ll love it campaign kicked off in style in London on March 9th 2010. Journalists from national UK newspapers and television stations including the BBC clamoured to hold interviews with Mr Kek, the Slovenian national coach and Mr Piciga, the director of tourism.

The launch event has so far generated an estimated £196,000 worth of media coverage in the UK, including television, online and print coverage. The second phase of this novel promotional strategy by the Slovenian Tourist board in the UK is the media campaign currently running to promote the Slovenia... bet you’ll love it campaign using print, online and outdoor advertising.

advertisment

Slo-Challenge The Slovenian Tourist Board in cooperation with Slovak Tourist Board is running a web quiz focusing on differences and distinctions of Slovenia and Slovakia, two countries which are often confused. The quiz will take

place before the first matches played on 2010 World Football Championship (WFC) in South Africa, from March to May. The entertaining questions are on subjects such as sport, culture, tourism and general knowledge.

Everyone who answers all the questions correctly can participate in a final draw for the prize of a ticket from a European airport to South Africa and a 7-day stay during the WFC 2010.


73

The Capital

Emona: Myth and Reality This summer is the right time for trip back in time to the age of Emona, a Roman settlement, which lies beneath the modern Ljubljana, as Mestni muzej of Ljubljana set up an exhibition on the subject, open from 18 May. By Vesna Paradiž

N

apoleon once said that history was the version of past events that people have decided to agree upon. Perhaps that is why Slovenia’s capital is still marked by its mythical foundation. Ljubljana’s history is a mix of conventional truth and the myth that lies behind it; the actual reality might perhaps be somewhere in between. The foundation of the actual city of Ljubljana is believed to be around 50 BC when the Roman military penetrated the Balkan area. A military camp was formed on the grounds of the former Illyrian and Celtic settlement and inhabited by retired Roman military veterans, merchants and officials. This was later followed by the establishment of a permanent settlement called Iulia Aemona (Emona). Its strategic geographic position had an important role in numerous wars and, as the crossroad of much trade, it flourished and enabled the spread of Christianity. Emona had a population of about 5,000 people living in brick houses, which were centrally heated and connected to a public sewage system. The streets were paved and organized into perpendicular islands; all of them surrounded by city walls. The decline of Emona began with Marcus Aurelius’ invasion of the territory. The town never completely regained its strength and suffered its final downfall by Huns and Attila in 452 AD.

The Mythical Background A more rom a nt ic ver sion of Emona’s birth is presented through the story of Jason and the Argonauts. Jason was an ancient

Greek mythological hero, the leader of the Argonauts, who accompanied Jason on the quest for the Golden Fleece in the years prior to the Trojan War. Their quest took their ship, named Argo, to Colchis (the coast of Georgia). After attaining the fleece and also a wife, Medea, Jason and his crew were returning from Colchis and (via the Black Sea, the Danube River, the Sava River and the Ljubljanica River) they arrived to what is now Ljubljana. Jason allegedly named the town Emona after his homeland Thessaly (at the time called Emonia). Ljubljana’s Dragon is also said to be a monster in a lake between Ljubljana and Vrhnika that Jason slew. The myth has had many supporters through the years, but today it seems that history has finally won. Nevertheless, the Argonauts are present in many Slovenian works, from paintings and literary works to historical texts. Furthermore, the dragon today is still seen on the city’s coat of arms

and even adorns license plates of the Ljubljana district.

An Exhibition of Ljubljana’s Precursor The City Museum of Ljubljana is starting an exhibition on the theme on 18th May, which will be open until the end of the year. They will be offering an interesting insight into the life of Emona’s inhabitants, their habits, traditions and struggles; from the birth to the downfall of the town. According to Bernarda Županek, the creator of the exhibition, the display will be divided into two parts and highly interactive. At the beginning, the visitors will decide what they are interested in: the mythical tradition or the historic facts of Emona and its society. The curators promise to evoke all of the visitors’ senses, to challenge them with tasting, touching, and listening. They will be given a chance to try on togas, to listen to the story of Caesar Theodosius,

compete in an old Roman chip game and even learn how to cook a Roman dish. Another point of interest will be certain items that will be publicly shown for the first time since their excavation, including a metal military belt with the inscription ‘utere felix’ (use with luck). Traces of Emona on Every Step Of course, the exhibition is not the only way to see the remains of Roman Emona. Many sights can be found on a simple walk through the capital, such as the statue of Emonec, situated in Park Zvezda (currently under construction), and the remains of the Roman Wall around the centre. Daily, more and more archaeological discoveries are uncovered and bring new fascinating finds that answer more and more questions about our ancestors. With almost every new building site in or around the centre, a new excavating area opens up. To conclude with an amusing titbit shared by Bernarda Županek: one of most exceptional finds happened in the 1980s, when archaeologists discovered Roman public toilets. In old Roman times the use of such toilets was common; many people sat there together at the same time so the use of such a lavatory was actually a social event, a chance to meet, chat and exchange news. May 2010


74 EVENTS

The Slovenia Times Recommends

Lord of the Dance

over ten thousand karst caves, over two thousand explored and documented by the Cave Exploration Society of Ljubljana. The photographs taken by its members not only show the beauty of the underground world, but also present a perfect visual record of the Society’s rich history.

Exhibition

Ashot Bayandour Apr 21–May 23, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, no admission After the captivating Riverdance performance, Slovenia is getting another treat of Irish solo step dancing and elements of set dancing. Enthusiasts of beautiful costumes, captivating storylines and wonderfully synchronised dancing will get a chance to feast their eyes on some of the wonderful talents at display during these shows. Lord of the Dance is a project started by Michael Flatley, who was the lead male dancer and was also in charge of most of the choreography. Flatley was scheduled to be the main protagonist of the Riverdance shows, but decided to leave after some contractual disputes and form his own group of dancers, which he named Lord of the Dance. The show turned out to be just as popular as the competitive Riverdance and Flatley himself enthralled audiences all over the world with his style, grace and imaginative choreography. However, years and years of strenuous trainings and live performances do take their toll and Flatley was forced to take a back seat and retire from dancing, as he became seriously ill. But the show

must go on and Lord of the Dance is back with a new group of young dancers, eager to convince us that they can follow in his footsteps. The show is based on Irish folklore and is a classic tale of Good vs. Evil, expressed through the universal language of dance. It has catapulted Irish dance to a new dimension and unprecedented worldwide acclaim. Besides being a tremendous dance spectacle, Lord of the Dance also boasts some amazing figures: more than 100 million people worldwide have seen it in person at sold out theatres, arenas and stadiums; a total of 600 costumes are used between all of the troupes, the show has currently taken in excess of $800 million in global ticket sales; etc.

Ashot Bayandour was born in Yerevan to a philosopher father and poet mother. With his uncle Benjamin Makaryan from the Byurakan Observatory he observed the universe. Small and weak, he scarcely attended school; he was taught by his family members and

May 13, 14 and 17, 8pm, Dvorana Tivoli sports hall, Ljubljana, EUR 30–37 May 15, 8pm, Ledena dvorana, Maribor, EUR 27–39

Exhibition

Laibach: 1980-1990 Apr 15–Jun 6, International Centre of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana The exhibition marks the 30th anniversary of the forming of the world renowned Slovenian music group Laibach. They developed their distinctive artistic expression in collaboration with the artistic movement known as Neue Slowenische Kunst. They play their own original mixture

of industrial, rock, contemporary classical and electronic music. Using provocative symbolism and an aesthetics related to totalitarian ideologies, they won recognition as a distinctive cultural phenomenon. This exhibition sheds light on all aspects of Laibach art. Exhibited works include paintings, prints, publications, clippings, record covers, photos, videos, promotional products, etc.

Concerts: April 20: Acoustic Spaces; Garth Knox, viola April 21: Alone in the Spectrum May 4: Reflections May 10: The Life Inside the Sound

Classical music

This exhibition brings together photographs showing the scenic beauty of the underground world of Slovenian karst caves. Exhibited photographs have been sourced from the photographic archives of the Cave Exploration Society of Ljubljana, which celebrates the centenary of its foundation this year. Slovenia has

Predihano 2010 Apr 20–May 10, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 18–32 The music being presented on Predihano 2010: Acoustic Spaces – Immersion in the Dimensions of Sound represents a conscious effort made by some composers to find that elusive middle ground where the evolution of musical expression and communication meet. The composers all share a deep connection with the so-called ‘Spectral’ movement, which began in Paris in the mid 1970s with Gérard Grisey’s revolutionary cycle Espaces acoustiques.

The Slovenia Times

Exhibition

Slovenian Caves Apr 20–Jun 20, The Tivoli Park, Ljubljana, no admission

their friends. Bayandour worked in Yerevan, Paris, Nicosia and Montreal as a painter, illustrator and set designer. First visiting Slovenia in 1995, he spent his final years travelling between Armenia, Canada and Slovenia, holding a number of one-man shows and taking part in diverse group exhibitions and colonies. In 2001 he wrote a twelve-story collection, Jakob Marelica, creating his final illustration for it in Ljubljana, four days before his death.

Exhibition

Bauhaus Apr 22–Jun 20, City Museum, Ljubljana, EUR 2–3 This exhibition of work by the American photographer Gordon


EVENTS 75 Watkinson marks the 90th anniversary of the famous Bauhaus school of architecture. Watkinson’s photographs create a dialogue between 12 classical works of Bauhaus architecture and 12 projects by internationally renowned contemporary architects to demonstrate the significance of the influence of the Bauhaus legacy on the 21st century architecture.

Pop/rock

Tindersticks May 9, 8pm, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, EUR 20–23

bandleader, percussionist and composer Cyro Baptista, who has gained prominence also from John Zorn’s numerous line ups. At this performance he will promote his latest album Infinito. The line-up includes: Cyro Baptista, percussion, vocals; Brian Marsella, keyboards; Shamir Blumenkranz, bass; Tim Keiper, percussion.

Experimental rock Festival

Secret Chiefs 3

Fable 2010

May 12, 8pm, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, EUR 8–10

May 3–May 28, various venues, Ljubljana

To mark Ljubljana’s designation as the World Book Capital, the 2010 edition of the Fable (Fabula) festival will host a string of literary events of the highest calibre featuring big names in literature from all continents. Some of the best known authors to appear in Ljubljana include Herta Müller, Jonathan Franzen, David Grossman, Daniel Kehlman, Michal Viewegh, and Richard Flanagan. The festival will thematically focus on the city as a living environment, a mental map, and a place of freedom and limitations.

Hiking

The Path Around Ljubljana May 8, The Path of Remembrance and Comradeship (Pot spominov in tovarištva), Ljubljana, no admission The recreational Path around Ljubljana is a unique cultural monument. It runs along the course of the barb wire fence which surrounded Ljubljana during World War II. The fence was built in 1942 in order to prevent contacts between the city and its hinterland. Those participating the 52nd Recreational March along the 35 kilometre Path around Ljubljana will be able to choose from several tracks of different lengths. Like every year, the tracks will start from a variety of different locations across Ljubljana with various degrees of difficulty.

After a five year absence from the musical scene, the legendary English band Tindersticks returned in 2008 with a brand new album The Hungry Saw. This marked a new prolific period of the band’s creative process, which culminated with this year’s release of Falling down a Mountain, their eighth studio effort. They’re also working on a soundtrack, which is set to be released next year. Their unique musical journey will also find its way onto the stages of Kino Šiška, where the band will present their latest effort and some past hits.

Classical music

Slovenian Philharmonic

Secret Chiefs 3 is a group of musicians led by composer and producer Trey Spruance, the ex guitarist of Mr. Bungle. The group experiments with different styles, including surf rock, Persian, Arabic and Indian music, death metal, soundtrack music, electronic

music and many other styles. They are supported by Fat 32, a band which portrays a magnificent duel between drums and keyboards/ samples and Congs for Brums, a solo project by Ches Smith, Secret Chiefs 3’s drummer.

Exhibition

The Appeal of Wood May 12–May 16, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, no admission With the aim of promoting wood and wood products, the Wood Council and the Wood Economy Department of the Biotechnical Faculty are organising an exhibition of industrial products as well as one-off and artistic wood objects. Focusing on various usages of wood and wishing to inspire a positive attitude towards this natural resource, the exhibition will be accompanied by workshops intended for various target groups. Within the scope of the exhibition, a one-day international scientific conference entitled “The Role of Wood and Wood Product Processing in Mitigation of Climate Change” (sustainable development, low carbon technologies) will be organised.

May 11, 7.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 9–20 The English violinist Priya Mitchell studied at the celebrated Yehudi Menuhin School and also spent two years at the Vienna Conservatory. Priya has given highly acclaimed performances with numerous eminent English and foreign orchestras. She launched her own festival – the Oxford Chamber Music Festival. Russian pianist Polina Leschenko made her solo début at the age of eight with the Leningrad Symphony Orchestra, and graduated at the age of 16 from the Royal Conservatory in Brussels. Today, the artist devotes much of her endeavours to notable chamber music partnerships. The two of them will present the music of Mendelssohn-Bartholdy, Schnittke and Grieg.

Jazz

Cyro Baptista & Banquet May 11, 8.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 11–14 Ljubljana will finally be given the opportunity to experience one of the outstanding bands of Brazilian May 2010


76 EVENTS

The Comics Wizard Modern Gallery presents the varied production of the most recognizable contemporary comic artist in Slovenia, whose work is highly regarded also internationally. Tomaž Lavrič, a chameleon comic strip artist is best known to the general public as the socially and politically engaged author of the “Diareja” newspaper strip and caricatures in the weekly Mladina. Lavrič is a member of a generation of artists that started seriously working with comics in the mid-1980s. This was the so-called “Mladina circle”: artists who gathered around the weekly Mladina and its editor Ivo Štandeker and raised art comics in Slovenia to an enviable level. Developing their own individual styles, the artists had one trait in common: they all dealt with current social and political topics. Lavrič explained this thusly: “Mladina has always been a critical, politically engaged magazine, and as such no place for some bland superhero comics. Thus it became second nature to us that real comics too were politically engaged and critical.” In this spirit Lavrič started making his Diareja (Diarrhea), now perhaps the most widely recognized newspaper strip in Slovenia. In the nineties he published a few of the graphic novels which had been previously published in Mladina under his own publisher brand. His debut Red Alert - Dark Days (1996) is an autobiographic portrayal of the Ljubljana punk scene. It was followed by Ratman (1997), a local superhero social and political parody, and Bosnian Fables (1997), a collection of stories of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. He enters the new millennium with a collection of black humor stories under the collective titles Extreme Sports 1 & 2. In 2004 he published the comic album Blind Sun, a series of nine short, cataclysmic stories with poetic text. The Ljubljana born artist finished the secondary school of graphic design he continued his studies at the department of painting at the Ljubljana Academy of Fine Arts.

Thriller - Live is a spectacular show celebrating the music, sensational dancing and distinctive sound of the King of Pop Michael Jackson and the group The Jackson 5. The over two-hour long show features sophisticated multimedia effects and excellent choreography by the five-time MTV award winner LaVelle Smith Jnr. The director of the show, Gary Lloyd, is famous for his collaborations with star artists such as Leona Lewis, Robbie Williams, Pink, Anastacia and many others. The show was produced back in the time when Michael Jackson was still alive. It was premiered in London’s West End in January last year. The premiere was attended by Michael Jackson’s oldest brother Tito, who was thrilled by the show.

Jazz-rock

Jean Louis He has worked continuously with the weekly magazine Mladina since 1987, marking the beginning of his professional career in illustration, caricature and the graphic novel. In addition to the comic strip he also works with illustration and writing in various forms.

Until 6. June; Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana (Tuesday - Sunday 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.)

Classical music

Brown May 13, 8pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 8–19 High expectations for a fantastic musical career as a virtuoso pianist were held for the great German romantic composer, Robert Schumann, but due to a hand injury they were not realised. It was not until 80 years after the composer’s death that the forgotten Violin Concerto was performed for the first time yet it counts as one of the indispensable concert pieces composed for violin. For the eighth concert of the Kromatika British violinist, Priya

Mitchell, will perform the piece as a soloist. After the interval we will listen to Symphony No. 6 by the Austrian composer Anton Bruckner. This is the shortest composition by this composer who is known for his extremely grand symphonic pieces.

Theatre

Macbeth after Shakespeare Apr 20–May 10, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 10–12 Among the Müllerian variations of Shakespeare’s texts there is one

3rd MUSIC FESTIVAL: 20 May 2010 in Pionirski dom Magnificent dance evenings at Festival hall in Ljubljana. Every Friday at 8 pm www.pionirski-dom.si

Pionirski dom – centre for youth culture, Vilharjeva cesta 11, 1000 Ljubljana Tel.: +386 1 23 48 200, fax: +386 1 23 48 220, tajnistvo@pionirski-dom.si

The Slovenia Times

really special – Macbeth – which gives evidence of the brutal art of translation-adaptation. In the beginning of the seventies, soon after this text had been written, it stirred up most turbulent polemics. Müller’s Macbeth has been wilfully bereaved of its optimistic perspective and every teleological dimension. Heiner Müller has condensed the work; crimes follow one another creating a hell circle with increasing speed. The monologues are shortened; there are no more moments of reflection and scruples put in words. He presents no one in a positive light. The piece offers no utopian belief in a revolution that might change the world.

Music and dance show

Thriller – Live May 18, 8pm, Dvorana Tivoli sports hall, Ljubljana, EUR 35–50

May 19, 9.30pm, Menza pri koritu, Ljubljana The French trio Jean Louis flawlessly mixes jazz and rock with the sophisticated use of electronic effects. They don’t want to be limited by genre descriptions, so any attempt to classify them as jazz, jazz-rock or electronic jazz would probably be out of place. Their music is based on the firm rhythmic duo of drummer Francesco Pastacaldi and acoustic bassist Joachim Florent. This is topped off by the wild trumpet of Aymeric Avice. Their influences include Zu, Marc Ducret, Meshuggah, Melvins, Varese, Stravinski, Zakir Hussain, Fela Kuti, Miles Davis and Fred Frith.

Classical music

Georges Bizet: Carmen May 20 and 22, 7pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 14–28 Georges Bizet (1838–1875) is considered as a master of French opera. His work Carmen is considered one of the best in the genre. The story tells of a seductive gipsy woman Carmen, for whom love is only a source of fun. She unintentionally causes the downfall of countless men. The storyline is


EVENTS 77 fairly realistic in opera terms and the music is full of Spanish and Romani influences, adding a local colour to the music.

Photo: Karmen Pavliha

Dancing

Salsa Flower Power May 22, 9pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 12–55 As every year, spring brings us a treat of intoxicating scents, blooming colourful flowers, first gentle sun rays and cheerful faces. We will wake up our dance steps from winter sleep on traditional spring event Salsa Flower Power. On Saturday Club Cankarjev dom will be overwhelmed by seductive Latin rhythms, accompanied by the best salsa instructors and favourite salsa DJs.

Flower festival

4th International Wild Flower Festival May 22–June 5, various venues, Bohinj The 4th International Wild Flower Festival will again showcase some inventive use of flowers. The

ORGANISER:

CO-PRODUCER :

MEDIA-PARTNER:

amme The project is part of the programme Ljubljana - World Book Capital 2010. The project was co-financed byy the Municipality of Ljubljana and the Slovenian Book Agencyy

festival will feature a marketplace, where flowers can be bought, guided botanical excursions, embroideries with flower motives, workshops, conferences, lectures, concerts of traditional Slovene folk songs and many other activities. There will also be tastings, with wild flowers as the main items on the menu.

Classical music

Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra May 27–May 28, 7.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 10–33 The programme includes: S. Barber, Essay No. 2; P. Hindemith,

Druga Godba Festival Druga Godba, held for the 26th year running, is a festival of world and, to a lesser extent, contemporary jazz music. It ranks among Europe’s best festivals of slightly alternative music difficult to fit neatly into musical categories. Druga Godba is well known for bringing to Ljubljana leading artists from different backgrounds and musical traditions which draw inspiration from different types of traditional folk music and are committed to creative musical exploration. The Druga Godba line-up is sometimes even ahead of world trends. This year’s edition of the festival introduces a list of artists from around the globe beginning with Mariza featuring Tito Paris. The Mozambique-born singer Mariza is considered to be the leading Portuguese fado singer. Critics not only compare her withthe late queen of fado Amalia Rodrigues but also credit her with having revived fado music by introducing unexpected arrangements and the sounds of jazz instruments into it. Her unique voice soars like an eagle and gives flight to the rhythmical beats of the instruments. The following acts feature ten performances from Ethiopian Mahmoud Ahmet to Finnish Wimme. May 19–May 25, various venues, Ljubljana


78 EVENTS Pop

Bridging the Gaps

Tereza Kesovija Jun 1, 8pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 29–38

Meeting African people and their culture trough a series of events. The recent increase in the number of non–European immigrants to Slovenia is one of those many gains that can be attributed to its EU integration, which commenced in earnest in 2004, and was more or less completed in 2007, following Slovenia’s signing of the Schengen Agreement. Cultural events like Nights of African Culture at Zlati Zob and Rog are the brainchild of “The Association of Nigerians in Slovenia/Drustvo Nigerijcev v Sloveniji.” The Association of Nigerians in Slovenia and although this non–profit organization is primarily dedicated to the wellbeing of the fast–growing Nigerian community in Slovenia, it has also notably demonstrated its interest in supporting and helping facilitate the full integration of the entire Slovenia–based African community into the Slovenian social order. Other activities and aims of the organization include: consultations on cultural issues regarding Nigeria and wider Africa, creating good awareness of Nigerian and African culture through cultural gatherings like the abovementioned ones, and encouraging participation in internally organized national and local cultural activities. On the whole the group is keen on contributing its fair share in promoting tolerance within the ever–diversifying Slovenian society. Cello Concerto; A. Copland, Symphony No. 3. Samuel Barber did not like to speak about his music. When asked why he gave the title Essay to three of his works he replied “an Essay is a composition of moderate duration on a particular theme… more or less stylistically determined and limited in scope.” Music history ranks Paul Hindemith amongst the most important composers of the previous century. He wrote an enormous number of compositions, amongst which the Cello Concerto takes the most important place. Referring to Aaron Copland’s Third Symphony, Leonard Bernstein said that it is “an American memorial, like a memorial to Washington or Lincoln”.

Tereza Ana Kesovija is an internationally acclaimed Croatian singer, and previously an important artist of the former Yugoslavia. She also had a very successful singing career in France, where she also received several awards. Her discography in 9 languages (Croatian, French, Italian, Slovenian, Russian, English, Spanish, Portuguese and German) includes 12 releases for Columbia Records and about 30 LP-s, 70 singles, 12 CD-s and numerous songs that didn’t appear on them. This concert commemorates the 50th anniversary of her singing career. Thanks to one of its most dynamic members, Dj Baba–K, the past cultural and musical gatherings have been a great success, with the number of Slovenian attendees ever-growing. The highly interesting monthly gathering takes place at Zlati Zob ethno club at Ljubljana’s moste the last Saturday in a month, starting at 10.pm.

and fresh line-up. The headliners for this year will be Skunk Anansie, instantly recognisable by their lead bald female singer Skin. Their song Selling Jesus is one of the anthems of the 90s rock scene. Skunk Anansie have remained true to their rock roots throughout their career and will certainly put on an interesting concert. Other performances will include Urban&4, Dan D and many others.

Metal

Negura Bunget May 28, Menza pri koritu, Ljubljana, EUR 13–15

Mars festival May 27, 8pm, Gospodarsko razstavišče, Ljubljana, EUR 29

The Slovenia Times

Classical music

Pittsburgh Symphony May 29, 8pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 27–56

Festival

Mars Ljubljana - Zagreb Trans Europe festival returns with a new

horn), soft keyboards and heavy guitars makes for an outstanding combination worth seeing. Going on before them will be The Stone (Serbia), Neochrome (Hungary) and Dalkhu (Ljubljana, Slovenija).

Negura Bunget (Romania) was founded in 1994 as a guitar drums duo, until they were joined by a second guitarist in 1997. Negura Bunget are like a black fog coming from a dark forest. Their music is full of atmosphere and intense transitions from the meditative keyboard introductions to heavy black metal riffs. Their use of traditional Romanian instruments (including a large

Established in 1896, the brilliant American orchestra prides itself on a rich history of the world’s finest conductors and musicians: PSO has been led by internationally recognized conductors such as Lorin Maazel, André Previn, and Mariss Jansons, who have been maintaining and enhancing PSO’s high standard of excellence. Since autumn 2008, the Orchestra’s Music Director and Principal Conductor has been Manfred Honeck, with Leonard Slatkin as its Principal Guest Conductor. This time round they’ll be performing Robert Schumann’s Cello Concerto in A minor and Dmitry Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 in D minor.

Classical music

Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra Jun 3–4, 7.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 6–26 After a new work by Dušan Bavdek we will hear the one-movement Violin Concerto by Alexander Konstantinovich Glazunov. The creative work of this pupil of Rimsky Korsakov, whose balanced opus earned him the label of the ‘Russian Brahms’, is largely based on the tradition of the Russian Five. The concerto was premiered at a concert of the Russian Music Society in St Petersburg by Leopold Auer, to whom the work is dedicated. The final piece of the evening will be Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10, a work the composer labelled as an ‘optimistic tragedy’.

Jazz

An Evening of Vocal Jazz Jun 5, 8pm Hotel Mons, Ljubljana, EUR 20 This is the final evening of this season’s Hotel Mons jazz club. The conductor will be Tadej Tomšič, a renowned Slovene composer and arranger. Especially for this performance at the finale of this season’s jazz club Tomšič has compiled a fine repertoire and performers of classic and modern vocal jazz. As always, the protagonists will be supported by the Big Band of the Slovene Radio and Television.


PROGRAM MAY 2010

Sunday, 2. may 2010 at 21 :00 MATMOS (USA) Wednesday, 5. may 2010 at URBANOBALET – Young Chor 20:00 eographers cycle Thursday, 6. may 2010 at 21 :00 Spring Punk YU GO! OVERFLOW (HR),

SUPERHIKS (MK), BULDOGI (S

LO)

Saturday, 8. may 2010 at 20 URBANOBALET - Young Choreo :00 graphers cycle (repeat performance) Sunday, 9. may 2010 at 20 :00 TINDERSTICKS (UK)

David Kitt (IRL)

Tuesday, 11. may 2010 at FINAL SELECTION OF ROCK19:00 OTOčEC 2010 Wednesday, 12. may 2010 SECRET CHIEFS 3 (USA), at 20:00

FAT32 (F), CONGS FOR BRUM S

(USA)

Thursday, 13. may 2010 at 21:00 NOUVELLE VAGUE (F) Friday, 14. may 2010 at 22 JAHCOOZI (B-Pitch Control/ Be:00 rlin), SINDIK AT DJ team

Saturday, 15. may 2010 at EVERY SOUND TELLS A STOR 21:00 Y

Promotion of the new OCTEX

album

Sunday, 16.may 2010 at 20 SOUNDS OF SLOVENIA – :15

Final production of GODIBOD

I 2010 festival

Monday, 17. may 2010 at 20 A CHRYSANTHEMUM ON THE :00 GRAND PIANO (Svetlana Makarovič)

A music-theatre project by Ja

nja Majzelj

Tuesday, 18. may 2010 at 21 EXTRA LIFE (LO recordings/N :00 ew York/ USA) & Man Ze ro (HR)

Wednesday, 19. may 2010 at 20:00 LAMB OF GOD (USA),

NEGLIGENCE

Thursday, 20. may 2010 at 21:00 BURNT FRIEDMAN & JAKI LIEBEZEIT (nonplace/ D), MIRA

CALIX (Warp), RUDI ZYGADLO (Planet Mu/G lasgow)

Saturday, 22. may 2010 from PROGRAM FOR CHILDREN ON 11:00 to 17:00 INTERNATIONAL DRUGA GODB THE 26TH A FESTIVAL Sunday, 23. may 2010 at 20 :00 26TH INTERNATIONAL DRUGA GODBA FESTIVAL

NEVCHEHIRLIAN (Marseille), PEYOTI FOR PRESIDENT (Lond on

)

Tuesday, 25. may 2010 at 19 GROSSMAN – Festival of film :00 and wine Wednesday, 26. may 2010 FLORENCE AND THE MACHINEat 21:00 (UK) Saturday, 29. may 2010 at XIU XIU (Kill Rock Stars/ US 21:00 A)

Box office 030 310 110 · w ww.kinosiska.si


80 SPORTS

Franja

The Mother of All Marathons When journalist Tone Fornezzi and cycling official Zvone Zanoškar started the Franja Marathon in 1982, cycling was far not nearly as popular as it is now. Even so, the first marathon attracted by 700 cycling junkies, many of whom were without racing bikes. By Simon Demšar

T

he event has grown massively since its beginnings. Not only is this the biggest community race and a festival of cycling, but it also started a trend that has resulted in dozens if not hundreds of similar races throughout Slovenia. It gives participants an opportunity to really race fellow recreational cyclists, while at the same time giving their daily trainings purpose. Best of all is the feeling of a really big event, supported by local people who cheer the cyclists on and greet them with music and refreshments along the course. Cycling along the roads that are usually reserved for cars or where you normally sit in traffic jams is also a unique experience. Even the race’s name is special. It comes from a WWII hospital, hidden in the hills near Cerkno, which the marathon passes on its way. It is not too bold to say that the Franja has contributed significantly to the development of recreational cycling in Slovenia in general and that taking part in the event has become a major challenge and goal for many a beginner. If you are dedicated enough, you can join special training programmes, designed specifically for the Franja and supervised by The Slovenia Times

former professional cyclists. The race is usually attended by several active as well as retired professionals, which further enhances the competitive spirit and gives recreational cyclists the only opportunity to compete against their heroes. Last year, former Belgian racer Johan Museeuw attended the Franja, which was then labelled the Johan Museeuw Classic. It is not all fun – the Franja is a tough race. First, it is 156 kilometres long plus there are at least two difficult and long climbs, especially the one from Cerkno to Kladje, with a vertical climb of 360 metres. To finish the race in a respectable time while still enjoying it requires at least some 1,000 kilometres of training before the race. Another problem is the sheer number of participants. With between two and three thousand participants, your space on the road becomes an issue. Organisers have tried to relieve the problem with improved organisation. One of the steps has been moving the start and finish area to the BTC shopping centre in 2005. Together with this and in order to attract more people, the format of the marathon has been changed. A short version (97 km) has been added as well as a short cycling

The story of Franja The marathon got its name by the the WWII Partisan hospital. Franja Hospital is the most famous partisan hospital complex in Slovenia, lying hidden in a deep gorge of the Pasica stream, not far from Cerkno, which is a far point of the marathon route. It was built gradually after the capitulation of Italy; from December 1943 onward, it was used for the treatment of the wounded partisans. It remained in operation until the end of WWII. The hospital was among the best-equipped secret partisan hospitals with an operating room, X-ray machine, disability ward and even an electrical generator. It could admit up to 100 wounded and provided treatment

for a total of 522 persons, especially the seriously wounded. Almost all facilities have been preserved and renovated; it is possible to visit them. Inside are reconstructions of bunk beds, benches and remains of the original equipment, especially in the operating room. Every building is marked, so it is possible to learn about its original use. On foot one can reach it by newly-built wooden footbridges and small inclines or by a shorter path along the stream which has several memorial signs along the way. An old thatched farmhouse above the parking lot before the gorge is worth seeing as well. The message of the Franja Partisan Hospital remains topi-


SPORTS 81 tour (25 km) for families and schools and 1,500-metre course for kids. The latter two will take place on the eve of Franja and are closed for traffic, making it safe for youngsters to take part. The Marathon has gone international in recent years and an increasing number of cyclists from neighbouring countries started participating. Organisers don’t hide their ambitions to promote the race to an even higher international level. This year’s edition will take place on 13th June. The fee is EUR 26 (EUR 24 for registrations before 6th June and EUR 30 on the day of the event).

cal to this day, as it refers to basic civilised values. In January 2007, the Franja Hospital was listed on the European Cultural Heritage List and it is also a candidate for the UNESCO World Heritage List. The same year it was nearly destroyed in catastrophic floods. Much of its parts were recovered and the facility was carefully rebuilt. This year is a significant for the hospital, which will reopen for the visitors in May. Also this year’s ceremony marking the Resistance Day was dedicated to the hospital and its manager, doctor Franja Bojc Bidovec. The hospital and its personnel represent a symbol of the Slovene partisan health care and bears witness to the incredible humanity and self-sacrifice.

Jože Mermal, BTC CEO

A Thousand More Participants Each Year The Franja marathon has become a synonym for the biggest cycling festival in Slovenia. Its fame has begun to spread quickly beyond the Slovene borders when BTC City became the host of the event in 2003. BTC CEO Jože Mermal tells the story of the marathon from the very beginning to its unforeseen expansion in the recent years.

T

he cooperation between the marathon and BTC began in 2003 when the marathon started in BTC City for the first time. The idea of moving the biggest recreational cycling event from Tacen to BTC was presented to BTC’s board of directors by Mr Primož Kališnik, the editor of Polet magazine, and the director of the market communications sector Ms Maja Oven. The marathon has also become a festival for our customers, even many business partners are eager to participate. The Franja marathon is now also on the calendar of the International Cycling Union (UCI) and an associate member of the elite group of the most exclusive marathons in the world - Golden Byke. A 97-km course named “Mini-marathon” has been added to the original 155-km Franja marathon. Merging the start and finish lines has proved to be a good decision, as it is convenient for all the participants to get together in a vast event area in front of Hall A after the race. The great number of participants and spectators at the marathon demonstrates the cycling spirit in Slovenia and displays the dedication to this beautiful sport and to such events, the biggest of which now takes place in BTC City. The first marathon took place in 1982, and was organised by Slovenian cycling enthusiasts and attended by 700 cyclists. Last year’s two-day event welcomed almost 8,000 cyclists of all ages, professions and nationalities, too, as there were hundreds of Italians, Austrians and other nationalities. Indeed, a figure worth of admiration! At BTC we take great pride in this and therefore provide intensive support for the festival. Since 2008 we have been the general sponsor of this biggest cycling holiday in Slovenia and our city literally lives the cycling spirit in the weeks before the event. That is why I have assumed the role of the chairman of the Organising Committee. The marathon passes through the centre of Ljubljana, past the town hall because the event is strongly supported by the Municipality of Ljubljana and its mayor Mr Jankovič, who has

been the honorary chairman of the Organising Committee for several years, and comes to greet a multitude of cyclists at the start each year. Soon after BTC joined as a sponsor of the event, we noticed that this is an extremely popular event, which may well promote our brand, not only in Slovenia but also beyond its borders. BTC City has become the largest business and shopping, sports and recreational and cultural centre in the region. Cycling as a form of physical exercise is gaining on popularity each year, and more than 150,000 people already cycle across our country. The number of cyclists in the Franja marathon also increases each year. Just in the past two years, the number of participants has jumped by 2,000. The promotion of our brand through the marathon has been successful, also due to the fact that the marathon is included in the Alpe Adria Tour score system. On the other hand, our cooperation has provided the marathon with a trusted partner that has a number of services (technical, security, marketing and promotion), all helping in the organisation of such a demanding event which recruits almost 1,700 volunteers. Last but not least, BTC City is also a very suitable and accessible location for the participating cyclists and those who greet them in the event area.

The future This year I expect the event to be organised in the same way as it has been in the past years. Two years ago the marathon was evaluated by the UCI, and their inspector rated the marathon as excellent. This provided us with a good deal of future encouragement and a confirmation that we took a right decision to have welcomed the marathon to our city. As far as the future is concerned I expect a growing number of participants as well as more and more visitors who would arrive to our city by bike. However, record turnouts each year are not important to us. We are mainly concerned that together with the organiser we ensure a safe and quality execution of the event.

Details and registration: http://en.franja.org

Internationally attractive Last year, more than 300 foreign cyclists, mostly from Italy, entered the marathon. A great majority of them was accompanied by their families, so I presume that they made over 1000 overnight stays in Ljubljana. The most distinguished foreign name at the start is a Belgian and world legend of one-day classic cycling races Mr Johan Museeuw. He is the second most popular Belgian sportsman, so with his participation we expect greater international recognisability. This year, two Belgian journalists will also come to the marathon, covering his performance. As I was informed by the organisers, people from abroad inquired about the nature of the marathon that is attended by Museeuw himself. Johan Museeuew will start at a 156 km race again this year. We have agreed with the organisers that the big course will be named the Museeuw Classic and consequently the marathon will gain truly great importance. This year too, we expect the biggest number of foreign participants to come from the neighbouring Italy. In total, there were cyclists from ten countries at the last year’s start. The attendance of foreign cyclists, reporters and all those accompanying them ensures an unobtrusive and pleasant promotion of both Slovenia and its capital, but mostly the promotion of the good organisation and always excellent atmosphere and socialising of all the participants on the entire course. May 2010


82 SPORTS

Ice hockey

Here We Are Again The Slovenian national ice-hockey team won the Division I World Championship in Ljubljana, securing a place among the world’s top 16 teams and its sixth participation in the Pool A World Championships, taking place in Slovakia next year. By Simon Demšar

A

head of the tournament, things didn’t seem to be going well. Jesenice and Olimpija, Slovenia’s strongest and only “serious” teams, struggled in the Austrian EBEL league, finishing at the bottom of the table. A physical assault on Jesenice’s coach, Mike Posma, by his own players made headlines around the world. On top of that, there were the financial difficulties of both the clubs and the national Ice-hockey Association. All in all, there hade been probably more sceptics than optimists, but recent events on the ice proved all doubters wrong. Slovenia started the championship with a difficult win against Poland (3-2). This was followed by walkover against Croatia (101), while the game against Great Britain nearly ended the hopes of advancing to Pool A. Slovenia won in overtime after Great Britain’s two late goals had tied the match. The clash with South Korea was only a warm-up for the grand finale against Hungary, who had been tipped as the main rival to win the tournament. However, Slovenia produced its best performance and won 4-1 in a packed Hala Tivoli. This has been the third time that Slovenia hosted Division I championship and the national team has been successful on all occasions.

No mercy: Slovenia vs Croatia, 10:1

Furthermore, they haven’t lost a match at Tivoli since 1993. In 2001, there was a historic tournament, when Slovenia qualified for Pool A for the first time. It remained in the elite group for two years, but since then it has been a matter of “now you see me, now you don’t”, switching between Division I and Pool A. Building on young foundations There are real reasons to believe that things have changed for the better. The greatest asset of the

team is its youth; except for the most dedicated fans, the names of Jan Muršak, Jan Urbas, Žiga Jeglič and Rok Tičar were rather unknown before the championship. Although only in their early 20s, they became the core of the team. Muršak and Urbas never played ice-hockey at the highest level in Slovenia but instead headed straight to the Czech Republic and Sweden, respectively, while teenagers. Muršak is now officially a member of the NHL Detroit

Red Wings (he hasn’t played for them yet, though) while Urbas is a member of Sweden’s second division team Malmö. Should Anže Kopitar, now an established Los Angeles Kings star, also join the team, they might well lead Slovenia to a new ice-hockey era. An equally important part of the team is coach John Harrington, a member of the legendary US team that unexpectedly won the 1980 Lake Placid Olympic tournament. “I will never forget April 2010. My first grandchild was born on the 14th, I became Italian champion with Asiago on the 15th and qualified for Pool A on the 23rd. I should probably call my wife and ask her to buy me a lottery ticket.” Team member, Žiga Pavlin, added, “In this team, there were only four players, compared to the winning team from three years ago and to qualify with such a young team is incredible.” There are already plans to bid for the Pool A championship in Ljubljana in 2018. A lot will depend on the performance of the national team in the near future, but with its optimism and youth nothing seems impossible. Hopefully, the times when more energy was spent resolving financial issues and sorting out personal relationships than getting the team ready to do its best are also gone.

Judo

Boxing

Gymnastics

No One Matches Polavder

The Unbeatable

Bertoncelj Gets Bronze

Dejan Zavec, Slovenia’s best professional boxer, defended his IBF welterweight title in Ljubljana on with a last-round technical knockout against Rodolfo Ezequiel Martinez of Argentina. With his 29th win in the welterweight category, Zavec became the first Slovenian in history to defend a boxing world champion title.

Slovenian gymnast Sašo Bertoncelj won bronze on the pommel horse at the European Gymnastics Championships in Britain’s Birmingham. This is Bertoncelj’s first podium result at European championships. Slovenia’s other hope for a medal, Aljaž Pegan, made too many mistakes on the horizontal bar, placing 8th.

Slovenian judoka Lucija Polavder has claimed her first European championship title. She defeated Russia’s Tea Donguzashvili in the finals of the women’s over 78kg class at the European Judo Championships in Vienna. By far the youngest and lightest of all competitors in her class, Polavder won all her fights in less than 5 minutes. Having beaten Donguzashvili in the final fight, Polavder received a fond applause even from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who went on to put the gold medal round her neck. The Slovenia Times

Tennis

Ladies into the Fed Cup World Group Slovenia’s women tennis team qualified for the Fed Cup World Group having won three out of four play-off matches against Japan. Katarina Srebotnik clinched the decisive third win as she convincingly defeated Ajumi Morito 6:1 and 6:4.

Football

23rd in FIFA Rankings Slovenia have jumped six places to 23rd in FIFA’s latest world rankings, hitting their highest ever point in the standings. The country’s previous best ranking of 25th was in December 2001, after it qualified for its first World Cup. England are the highest ranked among the teams Slovenia will face in South Africa, holding eighth place. The US are 14th and Algeria 31st.


83

Starry Starry Night The sixth Guest Star, organized by The Slovenia Times and Radio Slovenia International, lived up to its great history and exceeded expectations thanks to a number of welcome novelties. By Jaka Terpinc, photo Željko Stevanič

T

he first of this year’s delights was the venue: Kino Šiška, with its modern, spacious and accessible hall in the heart of Ljubljana, was the perfect spot for such a wonderful evening. The second treat: it is safe to say this year’s event brought with it the most entertaining on-stage candidate presentation ever, thanks to interviews by host Igor E. Bergant, otherwise known as a sports journalist and editor for RTV Slovenia. Bergant’s interviews provoked many interesting and above all humorous reactions from the guests as he challenged them to comment on the new-

The awards by art welder Jože Lisac.

born football superpower – Slovenia – on its way to the World Cup. To add to the special occasion, there was an interesting dance performance by Igen, live music by a string “Inquartet”, and outstanding catering by Vivo featuring a delicious bograč goulash. Cognac as a digestive and… see you next year! This would be an accurate summary of the event. But it would leave out the biggest stars of the event – the Guest Stars or, to put it another way, the most remarkable foreign personalities in Slovenia.

The new BMW 5 showcase in front of Kino Šiška. Something to start with... Vivo catering.

May 2010


84 GUEST STAR 2009 Dr. Villur S. Seshadri, Ambassador of India to Slovenia Guest Star 2009 in Diplomacy I accept the award as a great honour and a matter of satisfaction. In some ways, I also think it reflects the keen interest there is in Slovenia in strengthening ties with India by engaging in more trade and commerce and in having greater cultural and educational exchanges. I must also add here that the award would not have been possible to achieve without team support from my colleagues at the Embassy and from my wife who has been a key source of strength. As for the event itself, I thought it was well presented with music, dance and some humour thrown in. You also managed to keep the element of surprise about names of winners almost till the end.

Bahaa Abdallaha, CEO of Iskraemeco

Diplomacy – a tight result

I was very happy to win this award. Considering that the winners were chosen by internet voting, I guess it shows that people appreciate and like my work here, and I think that is the nicest award an artist can get. Unfortunately I wasn´t able to join the award ceremony due to a rehearsal, but was very happy though that Mr Bervar went to receive the award in my name and brought it to me directly afterwards at Cankarjev dom. Getting there as fast as I could after my rehearsal, I didn´t catch much of the ceremony, but I think people did a very nice job as everything looked very classy but not too formal.

The diplomatic candidates suggested that Slovenians regard the European Union as their “homecountry”, as this time all of the nominees came from non-EU countries. The candidates’ diplomatic skills were further tested by Bergant, who was unable to resist having a good-natured dig at candidates for their countries’ World Cup non-qualifications. But all was taken in good humour and all diplomats on stage agreed that Slovenia finally has something to offer to the likes of India and China – lessons in football. The vote count was tight but finally pointed to His Excellency Dr Villur Sundararajan Seshadri, Ambassador of India. It is of course worth pointing out that, regardless of the category and winner, a nomination in itself constituted important recognition. The Guest Star awards were faced with the classical dilemma of all similar campaigns: should a committee make the decision as to winners, or should it be left to a popular vote. Either option had its own pros and cons, so the committee found an optimal solution – it chose the nominees, but the popular vote determined the winners.

Ivan Hudač, cross-country ski coach

Economy – it all stays in the Mediterranean

Guest Star 2009 in Economy Personally the nomination itself came as a surprise. Last year, when I was invited to the Guest Star 2008 award ceremony as a company representative, I didn’t dare to think I would be standing on the stage the next year and even less that I would take the award in my category. The award means a great deal to me and makes me very proud. I have been living in Slovenia for more than two years now and I have attended some events organised by The Slovenia Times. My impressions are consistently very positive. I like the sense of difference given at these events, as well as the careful selection of hosts. This year in particular it was a very good idea to invite all the nominees to a lunch where we could meet in person and share our views, experience and ideas.

Lukas Zuschlag, ballet dancer Guest Star 2009 in Culture

Guest Star 2009 in Sports The Guest Star award is a great and somewhat unexpected honour from the committee and the people who have voted for me. At the same time it is a great stimulation for my work in the future. As a coach of top athletes you are sometimes faced with doubts whether your way is right and when a hosting country expresses such a confirmation [of your approach], you feel very welcome and encouraged. The entire event was a very positive experience. I had the chance to meet people who each are successful experts in their fields yet who are very nice and accessible. Personally I felt very relaxed. The Slovenia Times

Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković welcomes the audience.

While diplomacy presented us with a set of ambassadors, economy candidates came with more variety in their titles: a self-made entrepreneur, a multinational representative, a foreign joint company manager and a commerce chamber director. Gender-wise, this category was totally equal, unlike the male dominated political category. The winner Bahaa Abdallah, an Egyptian by origin, has proven both the importance of his work in one of Slovenia’s hi-tech com-


GUEST STAR 2009 85

Dance performance by Igen dance theatre.

panies as well as the loyalty of his subordinates.

Culture – two Juliets and an absent Romeo

It is common for people in entertainment to work in the evenings, so it is understandable that half of cultural nominees were absent. Absent was the male half, to be exact, since we had two men and two women in this category, too. While it was nice to see two elegant ladies sharing the stage the prize was ultimately awarded to a man. Ballet dancer Lukas Suschlag was, at the time of his win, rehearsing for a stage performance and so unable to collect his prize personally. But this Romeo materialised in time for the after party, hurrying to Kino Šiška from a dress rehearsal to catch some of the banquet.

Sports – the art of Coaching

The category of sports presented us with three coaches, and a female athlete. Two candidates were

involved in winter sports, two in ball games. Although all of them represent successful, winning stories, the award winner did not come as a surprise. Ivan Hudač, the coach of the Olympic heroine Petra Majdič, stands behind the most outstanding achievement Slovenes witnessed in sports in recent years. Hudač didn’t miss the opportunity to say his award is actually a shared achievement of the entire team. As the formal part of the evening concluded with an invitation to the glorious “Let’s clean Slovenia in one day” campaign and a closing speech from Slovenia Times chief executive Brane Krajnik, guests and the stars moved into the Kino Šiška lobby. There they enjoyed some of the finest food and wine, supplied by Vivo catering and the selected wine makers: Kabaj, Miro Vino and Dveri Pax. As this night of stars drew to a close, attendees took with them a host of wonderful memories – and high expectations for next year’s event.

The Slovenia Times CEO Brane Krajnik with dance expert Barbara Drnač and Ajša Vodnik, AmCham

Prime sponsors

Automotive sponsor

In Quartet

New Kids on the Block The audience of Guest Star 2009 had a chance to enjoy the perfomance of musicians, who merge the piquancy of modern pop with classical tunes of string quartet.

Slovenian musical arena has recently welcomed a new music band, a string quartet to be exact, which presents itself with the name of In Quartet. It can praise itself with four young academic musicians which have gathered together to offer a new kind of musical selection. In addition to the classics, fiery tango or well known movie songs they also play pop and rock anthems and the newest hits from the music charts, all in a classical string quartet realisation. The quartet includes three violins and a cello, their virtuosos being Valentin Štante, Anja Čretnik-Videmšek and a Russian artist Inga Ulokina on violin and a cello player Marko Kragelnik. Despite their age – they are all under 30 years old – they can already pride themselves with striking careers. They have all studied under the guide of most illustrious musical personas and now regularly attend several national as well as international music contests, often bringing home the highest of both awards and praises. The band proffers an excellent musical entertainment at various cultural events, conferences, business meetings, wedding receptions, private parties and other occasions. Hearing them you will be able to sway to the tunes of Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Queen, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Madonna, Sting and many more in the original arrangement for an academic string quartet. Your next chance to hear them is on June 16, 2010 in Botanični vrt (Botanic Garden) in Maribor. Media partner

Organizers

Catering provided by

$&26026 May 2010


Finalists of the Miss Sports 2010 event. (Mediaspeed)

Marie Prelog, Slovenian Ladies International president with Doroteja Omahen, creator of the society’s cookbook “SILA tastes of the world”. (Mediaspeed)

EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY

Making of the sand mandala for the occasion of Dalilama’s visit to Maribor. (Mediaspeed)

Singer Jan Plestenjak performing a charity concert for victimized children at Cankarjev Dom. (Miro Majcen)

Rodolfo Martinez falls under the gloves of IBF welterweight champion Dejan Zavec. (Mediaspeed)

Perpetum Jazzile receiving a standing ovation at a concert organized by the charity for children “Koraki za korakce”.

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