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Guest Star 2010 candidates presentation

The Slovenia Times, Slovenian magazine in English Language, volume 8, number 138, EUR 4,80

March 2011

REAL ESTATE All routes lead through Slovenia

A special conference event at the MIPIM 2011 international property fair will host Mr Patrick Vlacic, Minister of Transport of the Republic of Slovenia and Mr Zoran Jankovic, Mayor of Ljubljana

Wednesday, 9th March 2011 at 2 p.m. Palais de Festival, Cannes, France

the Entrepreneurship Forum was fantastic, along with the associated programme Jernej, Entrepreneur



A Natural Environment for Business Meetings Business tourism, when undertaken in the surrounds of the beauties of the Pohorje mountain range, provides a unique experience that visitors to your event will always remember. The services we offer have been tested extensively and we bring a vast wealth of experience to every occasion. We go the extra mile for you. This is our home. Welcome! For conferences, business meetings, motivational seminars, exhibitions and other business events, you can reach us at: Hotel Habakuk Pohorska ulica 59 2000 Maribor Tel.: +386 2 30 08 100

Hotel Bellevue Na Slemenu 35 2208 Pohorje Tel.: +386 2 60 75 100

Hotel Piramida Ulica heroja Ĺ landra 10 2000 Maribor Tel.: +386 2 23 44 400


March 2011 Business Partners



Velikovec affair - another blast from the inspirational past


10 Rocking the Slovenian banking boat 13 Cracks in the food chain

FDI 15 Interview: Stephen Kai Wong 16

Odranci keeps Carthago in the black


Innovation special: Sky is the limit


Embassy diaries

Real Estate Special 21 Real estate two years after the crisis 24

Why are Russians attracted by Slovenian property?


Construction sector in further trouble


Interview: Filippo Rean


Danube strategy opens new opportunities


Contemporary heroes of Slovenian architecture


Joining the eco train

Najmanjša dovoljena velikost logotipa je 25 mm.

38 Maribor: the Capital of Culture in 2012 40 Regional overview: Serbia, Croatia and Montenegro


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: T/F:



Experience: The Wellness Park Laško’s Touch of Five Elements


Dine with Style: BTC City Restaurant


Lifestyle news


New column: Andja Marić


Interview: Matevž Faganel, fashion designer


Ljubljana: Plečnik’s Architectural Paradise


Guest Star: Meet the candidates


The Event Guide


The Golden age of Tina Maze


Every picture tells a story March 2011

Vsebina: Barvni Logotip angleška različica



source: STA, Slovenian Press Agency

A Friend and Ally

Healing the A Word Healthcare of Advice

PM Borut Pahor embarked on a three-day working visit to Washington which focused on Slovenia’s economic cooperation opportunities. Pahor said at the end of the trip that talks had strengthened US trust in Slovenia as a credible partner that can be relied on, even if it is not an economic, political or military superpower. Pahor, who was accompanied by Foreign Minister Samuel Žbogar and Finance Minister Franc Križanič, travelled to the US on the invitation of US Vice-President Joseph Biden, and wrapped up the visit with a meeting with President Barack Obama and Biden in the White House. Biden and Pahor agreed that the border arbitration treaty spurred new momentum in the region. The vice-president also noted that Slovenia had taken the lead role in the region. The PM also met representatives of US corporations and invited the investors to come to Slovenia. Pahor and Žbogar also met US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg, penning an agreement to share information in the combat against terrorism. The issues discussed also included Afghanistan and other crisis areas. Pahor confirmed they have also touched on Guantanamo, explaining that the closing of the prison was in the interest of the US as well as Slovenia. “I said at the very start of the term, when President Obama expressed the wish for EU countries also accepting one or more prisoners, that this would be a fair thing to do by all countries that demanded the closure and in a way a moral duty of countries that are allies and partners of the US,” Pahor said. He explained that the legal basis allowing Slovenia to accept a Guantanamo Bay prisoner was being drawn up and that a decision would be taken. Meanwhile Slovenian Parliament debated possible consequences of accepting the prisoners, while SNS leader Zmago Jelinčič launched a rumour that two Guantanamo detainees are already secretly kept at Dob prison.

The Health Ministry launched a public debate on a package of guidelines for reforming health care, proposing among other things the merger of mandatory and supplementary insurance payments into a single public health insurance scheme. The overhaul of health insurance is a key component of the health reform, whose aim is to ensure the sustainability of the health purse for the next decade, Health Minister Dorjan Marušič said, explaining that health purse is already short around EUR 90m a year for all health services. The state had drawn up three proposals for implementing this tie-up. The first proposes increasing health contributions by 2.4 percentage points to around 15.4% of gross pay. The second proposal envisages retaining all current rights from supplementary insurance with no increase in contributions. Under the final proposal, certain non-essential services currently included in supplementary insurance would be excluded. Other proposals drawn up by the ministry deal with the separation of private and public services in health. Marušič said that public services must be protected and strengthened. On the same day, the European Commission said it had decided to refer Slovenia to the European Court of Justice because its rules on supplementary health insurance are not fully in line with nonlife insurance directives and are hampering competition. Arguing that it could not abolish the existing regulation of supplementary insurance because the majority of key health care services was partly funded from this type of insurance, the ministry said in a response that the issue could be solved only with a comprehensive reform of the health insurance system. Published every month by DOMUS, založba in trgovina d.o.o. CEO and publisher: Brane Krajnik Editorial office: Trg MDB 12, 1000 Ljubljana phone – desk: +386 (0)1 520 50 84 phone – marketing: +386 (0)1 520 50 85 fax: +386 (0)1 520 50 82 email:

Editor-in-chief Jaka Terpinc


Business editor Maja Dragović

Irena Kržan

Assistant editor Claire Read Sub-editor Terry Troy Jackson, s.p. Art director Maja Kaplan ( Front page by Jaka Terpinc

The Slovenia Times

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said in its 2011 Economy Survey for Slovenia, presented at a high-profile conference at Brdo pti Kranju, that while the country is recovering from the economic crisis, it needs swift measures for establishing balance in the economy and boosting competitiveness. The OECD also recommends in its first report on Slovenia after the latter joined the organisation last July that the country carries out sustainable consolidation of its public finances, even more comprehensive pension reform, freeze the growth of the minimum pay in the long term, make its labour market more flexible and introduce fees for higher education. In the light of problems of Slovenian banks with bad loans, the OECD recommended that the central bank carries out stress tests for all banks to establish which are in need of a capital injection and where bad investments have to be restructured. The recommendations were met with mixed reactions, with Labour Minister Ivan Svetlik agreeing that the minimum retirement age should be further raised, but gradually, but adding that he was against the proposed curbing of the minimum wage. He also agreed with the recommendations for a more flexible labour market. Veteran economist Jože Mencinger meanwhile noted that structural reforms were actually about cutting social transfers, and added that inflation could actually one of the possible solutions for high debt. Development Minister Mitja Gaspari told he hoped Slovenia would be able to accept the criticism from the report and use it as an encouragement for further action and measures.

Marko Stijepić

Printed by Littera picta Medvode 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.

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

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 5 Minorities

Happy Neighbours Slovenian and Italian government officials met in Rome with the Italian government agreeing it will create a permanent body this spring to discuss open issues directly with the Slovenian minority. It also agreed to provide the funding for Slovenian language and literature at the Sapienza University in Rome, while the Trieste music academy will open classes in Slovenian next academic year. Italian FM Franco Frattini underscored the need to boost protection of minorities in both countries, noting that the important thing was to settle the financing of the Slovenian minority. The third such session of Italian and Slovenian ministers also discussed economic cooperation as Italy is Slovenia’s second most important trade partner. Slovenian FM Samuel Žbogar said he was glad it was not only Italy which invested in Slovenia but that Slovenian companies also entered the Italian market. He mentioned plane manufacturer Pipistrel and boat maker Seaway.

“Slovenia was a paradise for us. Everything we could imagine was there. No rules, casinos, women, friends from all over the world. You could get everything. I was there for nine months... In Slovenia, we were so confident that we used our real names. Various mafia institutions can be found there: the Russians, the Serbs, the Sicilian, the Camorra, the Turks. Everyone”. Repentant Naples mafioso Maurizio Prestieri, quoted in Roberto Saviano’s article in La Repubblica


Poet and Conductor get Prešeren

Photo: Mediaspeed

Miroslav Košuta, a poet and long-serving head of the Slovenian minority theatre in Italy’s Trieste, and Anton Nanut, the best known Slovenian conductor abroad, received Preseren Prizes, the top national awards for lifetime artistic achievement. Nanut (78) has conducte d more than 200 orchestras, from Moscow to New York and Buenos Aires, and recorded at least as many records. One of the highlights for him is conducting the Slovenian Philharmonic at their first concert at Carnegie Hall. Minor Prešern Fund Prizes for individual achievements went to writer Emil Filipčič, musician Zlatko Kaučič, actor Janja Majzelj, designer Jure Miklavc, tenor Branko Robinšak and picture book author Lila Prap. Prize winners Nanut and Košuta at the ceremony.



Another Kind of Unpaid Work

The Abandoned Brothers

Deputies unanimously passed the volunteering act defining for the first time at a systemic level the relationship between volunteers and volunteer organisations. The act, adopted in consensus with Slovenian NGOs, also defines volunteering as community service. Presenting the act in parliament, Public Administration Minister Irma Pavlinič Krebs said that the legislation regulated the work of volunteer organisations and the rights, obligations, principles and mechanisms which would boost cooperation in volunteering. Systemic monitoring of the number of volunteer work hours will also be introduced and volunteers will receive certificates about the skills gained during their volunteer work. The minister has also pointed out that the development of volunteering could help reduce poverty, increase employment, increase the number of active population and promote the development of democracy.

Parliament endorsed a coalitionsponsored declaration on ethnic communities from the former Yugoslavia living in Slovenia. The document specifically names the Albanian, Bosnian, Montenegrin, Croatian, Macedonian and Serbian communities in Slovenia, whose members it says have a right to organise themselves based on their ethnicity and can enjoy and foster their culture, language and contribute to multi-culturality. The document is seen as a step that could pave the way for an institutional approach to securing the collective rights of the communities, which do not share the rights enjoyed by the Italian or Hungarian minority. The opposition People’s Party (SLS) and National Party (SNS) were reserved about the declaration, concerned that it could lead to new rights for the ethnic communities. In the 2002 population census around 11% declared themselves members of nations from the former Yugoslavia other than Slovenia.

“I don’t think he confused Slovenia and Slovakia. I think this story has only one purpose: that Slovenian investigation bodies should hear Prestieri and see how the situation really is. It is not the first time that Italian mobsters have told me about their activities in other countries, which then react in shock. The same has happened with Spain, France and Germany.” Author Roberto Saviano (Gomorrah) in an interview with RTV Slovenia’s Rome correspondent Mojca Širok

“I’d start with finance, and then move on to the economy and science ministries. This way everyone would become more cultured, while our operations would become more efficient. And I would abolish the defence ministry.” Cultural Minister Majda Širca explains, on which ministries she would merge to streamline the government (Žurnal 24)

“Taking care of the public finances should be cultural and defensive at the same time: defensive enough to prevent culture from landing on the junkyard of public administration as a result of austerity measures and cost-cutting.” Defense Minister Ljubica Jelušič retaliates on her blog.

“I have a feeling there really is a crisis, when an athlete from Haloze, a boxer, becomes Slovene of the Year.” IBF World Boxing Champion Dejan Zavec after being pronounced “Slovene of the Year” by the weekly Nedeljski Dnevnik.




Top Secrets

The Bottom By Jaka Terpinc Welcome to 2011, the year when the independent Slovenia turns 20. We can expect that a series of celebrations will burn roughly as much gunpowder in fireworks as the Yugoslav army and Slovene territorial defense did in their skirmishes back then. We also know that there will be two sets of celebrations, the governmental ones and those for the fans of Janez Janša’s political opposition, a political force which shares a separate view of recent history - despite the nationwide agreement that 1991 represents the high point of Slovenian unity. This should have been a really glorious and nostalgic anniversary for all Slovenians. The problem is that the anniversary has fallen in the same year that satisfaction with our young democracy has sunk to its lowest point ever. Each month Vox populi surveys present us with the number of people unhappy with the work of the government. Currently the figure stands at 80 percent – the worst figure ever. It is not difficult to agree that, despite some bright moments in lawmaking, the coalition parties row in different directions. And never before have we had a government which has allowed itself so many media-friendly affairs. Nor a prime minister who, despite his constant verbal diarrhea, just doesn’t know how to react. In a time when people would prefer to see a firm and determined personality on the helm, the low approval ratings for our current governors make sense. But who would that firm and determined person be? The leader of opposition Janez Janša, perhaps? But weren’t the recent elections all about dethroning the authoritative rule of unpredictable conservative Janša and his Democrats? For Janša matters seem to have gone from bad to worse. He could be confidently waiting for the next elections just by nodding to the unhappy citizens. Instead, his bitterness, vengeance and hatred for all his real and imaginary enemies do nothing but lock him onto 20 something percent of the population – his loyal followers who would indeed make the biggest group of voters if the elections were held tomorrow. This would make the second party not the currently-ruling Social Democrats, but a bizarre political force called the Pensioner’s Party, with their extremely popular leader Karel Erjavec. Erjavec has managed to establish the image of a constant good victim, while his populism aims at anything a dissatisfied voter would grab at – like obstructing the inevitable pension reform. The choices available to us in the political arena have never been so desperate. In any case, we believe that the entire political elite is a selfish and corrupt bunch without any concern for “the people”. Every day we are exposed to new accusations of thefts and mismanagements. These are stories which normally end in company failures, more workers on the street, new burdens to taxpayers, and managers who keep on enjoying their rewards and assets deposited at tax oases. The pictures as seen by the average citizen simply portray the elite playing for the same ignorant team, regardless of their virtual differences: politicians, managers, top lawyers – all the same! Many of them evidently dirty, some even accused, but no action. No convictions. No asset seizures. No confessions or apologies. If the domestic oligarchy is so indiscriminately protecting itself, can foreigners – immune to our local folklore, nepotism and other bad manners – come to the rescue and make a difference? We are hoping that the Austrians will deal with the scandalous Hypo bank which was generous with defunct politically friendly loans. It’s the Finns we’re relying on to find out who took bribes at Patria arms deal. The Germans have the task of fixing our poor and consuming rail network. It is hoped a strategic partner from abroad will stabilise the costly flag carrier Adria Airways... But does anybody else get the funny feeling than no foreigner could be as tough on Slovenes as we can be on ourselves?

A Blast from the Past SDS leader Janez Janša accused President Danilo Türk of involvement in a terrorist bombing 32 years ago. Is this just another controversy in an eternal debate whether all documents regarding the Yugoslav intelligence service, SDV, are to be accessible to general public or not? By Martina Budal


istory has once again made its way to the current political debate. This time it started in the National Archives and led to questions about the possible involvement of President Danilo Türk in a bomb that went off in the Slovene minority’s Patriotic Museum in Velikovec (Völkermarkt), located in a part of Austria with a large Slovene minority. The bomb went off in September, 1979, destroying the museum, while assailants Luka Vidmar, an associate of the SDV, and Marija Blaj as well as a museum employee were injured. Both bombers were sentenced to four years in prison in 1980, but later exchanged for two Austrian spies captured in Yugoslavia. In addition, Ivan Mrevlje, a member of the Slovene minority in Austria, was sentenced to three years in prison for providing assistance to the bombers. Even though both bombers were caught, the background of the attacks was never fully explored. Some insinuations were made that it was the work of Yugoslav secret services. The journals of a liberal politician Stane Kavčič, who was silenced down by the communist hardliners in the seventies, claimed that the bomb attack was orderd by the SDV, headed by its boss Tomaž Ertl. Ertl denied this allegation. The attack had severe consequences for the Slovene minority in Austria. Relationships were not smooth between the cohabiting ethnicities to begin with; after the bombing, the minority was often accused of being an extension of Yugoslavia, trying to expand to the Koroška region. So actions to deny the autonomy of the Slovene minority were reinforced and ideas of the danger “from the South” became even stronger among Austrians.

Secret or not?

This came back into the news last summer, when a publicist, Igor Omerza, was denied access to the documents of the SDV dating from the time of the bomb attack. This has set the stage for speculations about Türk’s role, with the opposition SDS alleging that the president knows more than he is saying. Since the archives are public by law, the affair compromised the careers of both Dragan Mitić, head of the National Archive and Sebastjan Selan, director of Slovene Intelligence and Security Agency (SOVA). However, it is not that simple. Usually states decide to keep some secrets about the work of their intelligence services for 50 years or even longer. In 2006, the government (then led by Janez Janša) prepared a law that made all documents, including those of intelligence and security services, available without any restrictions. About a year later, the same government issued a decree that SDV documents still archived at SOVA should be transferred to the Na-

Photo: BOBO


Forced coexistence: President Danilo Türk and Janez Janša as the Prime Minister during Slovenian EU presidency in 2008.

tional Archive. A special commission should decide what to transfer and the National Archive had to provide special protection and accessibility to documents in order to protect national security. According to media reports, some documents were never transferred. Presumably due to lack of space in National Archive, SOVA is still keeping 80 meters of intelligence and counterintelligence reports and analyses, including those that Omerza cannot see. They can only be accessed in the company of both SOVA and National Archive representatives. The restrictions were made after a special agreement was signed in 2008. The same government that fully opened archives, essentially closed a part of them again just a couple of years later, because they contain sensitive information.

According to the current government, which proposed an amendment to the law in 2010, its aim is more or less the same: to restrict access to those intelligence documents that could harm Slovene national interests and security. According to Matić, provisions of the amended law will solve the question of how to restrict access to sensitive information, which is now, at least formally, publicly accessible. However, it is a bit peculiar that the amendment was proposed around the same time that Omerza asked to see those documents and then adopted with a fasttrack procedure. Consequently, the SDS opposed it and was asking what in the archives the government was trying to protect and whether it was perhaps protecting the evidence of the background events of Velikovec. After Parliament passed the law and National Council did not veto it, 33 members of the parliament (SDS, SNS, independent MP Andrej Magajna and Italian minority MP Roberto Battelli) filed a demand for the referendum. The only one standing in the way of referendum would be Constitutional Court.

Photo: BOBO

Destructive politics

So where does this leave Türk, Janša and the questions about Velikovec? To Janša, these documents found in the archives and published on SDS website categorically proved that Türk was informed and therefore also involved in the bomb attack. However, the strange thing is that the documents are from July 1980, almost a year after the bomb-

ing; they have since been proven to be inauthentic. As media followed the trail of documents in the archive, they discovered that what SDS published was a montage of three different documents, now publicly accessible at the archive’s website. Caught lying, the SDS apologized, saying that due to the (dis)order of the archive it is possible that some of the documents were not a part of the document dated 2nd July 1980. At the same time, they claim that it does not change their point that Türk had direct knowledge about Velikovec and they refuse to apologize to the president. In September 1979, Türk was a 27-year old lawyer, a junior government employee in charge of Slovene minorities abroad, and as such a member of staff at the Commission for Minorities and Emigration Questions at SZDL (the Socialistic Union of Working People). He claims first heard about the about the bombing when it was reported in the media. Later that year, he was named the president of the commission and he was one of the recipients of the document about responses to the attack from July 1980. As far as Türk is concerned, all documents carrying his name can be made public, without exception. Finally, in an interview with the weekly Mladina, Türk said that allusions, insinuations and innuendos about his alleged involvement are destructive for Slovenia, its minority in Austria and the institution of the president of Slovenia. “We should say ‘no’ to this kind of politics.”

To Janša, these documents categorically proved that Türk was directly informed and therefore also involved in the bomb attack. However, the documents are from July 1980, almost a year after the bombing. They have also been proven to be inauthentic.

Place your vote for Diplomacy candidate see pages 52-55

March 2011




source: STA, Slovenian Press Agency

Four companies affiliated with Pivovarna Laško have filed damage suits against the former boss of the troubled brewer. Brewer Pivovarna Union, beverage companies Radenska and Fructal and newspaper publisher Delo filed the suits against Boško Šrot and his company Atka-Prima last month, demanding a total of EUR 116.7m. The four companies are demanding compensation for the damages they say they incurred through the business transactions made by Boško Šrot in 2008 and 2009. The new legal action is in addition to a EUR 13.4m suit filed by the parent company in January. The lawsuits come after an audit of multiple stock purchases by Pivovarna Laško and its subsidiaries. The audit found that Šrot had been taking decisions that benefited the companies through which he controlled the beverage group. The common feature of all audited deals was that they were unnecessary for the business of Pivovarna Laško or its subsidiaries.

Photo: BOBO

Šrot Facing More Damages Suits

The current management at the brewery group is also facing legal problems. Poultry producer

Perutnina Ptuj is suing Pivovarna Laško for more than EUR 10m over an unpaid loan which had been guaranteed by Šrot. According to unofficial information, the poultry company had issued a EUR 10m-plus loan to financial firms Infond Holding and Center Naložbe, both in majority ownership of Šrot, who insured the loan with a letter of comfort signed in 2009. Since Infond Holding and Center Naložbe have since gone bankrupt, Perutnina Ptuj is now seeking repayment from Laško. The current management of Laško, which took over in the summer of 2009, claims it is not acquainted with the letter of comfort, and that it has no knowledge of the circumstances and business relations between Perutnina Ptuj and the financial firms. It therefore argues it does not have to repay the loan. In spite of the lawsuits, the debt-ridden brewer is continuing with plans to lower its debt from EUR 450m at the end of last year to EUR 160m by the end of this year.





Jobless Number Goes Up

Number of Mobile Users Still Rising

Small Businesses Threaten to Stop Paying Taxes

Slovenia 35th in Number of International Patents

Source: SURS

Worrying upwards trend continues 120


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The number of unemployed in Slovenia has increased again. The Employment Service registered 115,132 out-of-work individuals in January, up 4.6 percent from December and 15.6 percent yearon-year. The bulk of new registrations were from those whose fixed contracts have expired (7,635) or who have been made redundant (2,625). The share of unemployed men continues to rise but the share of long-term redundant and those who lost their jobs as a result of bankruptcies showed a year-on-year drop in January.

The number of mobile phone users in Slovenia is continuing to rise, new data has shown. The latest quarterly report from the Agency for Post and Electronic Communication (APEK) shows that mobile telephony penetration stood at 103.5 percent at the end of 2010 – 0.9 percentage points more than a year earlier. Fixed broadband penetration is also on the rise. Mobitel remains the leading mobile provider but its market share decreased year-on-year from 56.3 percent to 54.7 percent according to the agency.

Small businesses are stepping up threats of civil disobedience in protest at the government’s economic policies. Members of the Chamber of Trade Crafts and Small Business (OZS) are planning to stop paying taxes in reaction to what they see as the government’s failure to improve conditions for small firms. The companies also plan to make mass withdrawals from banks and to stage a rally in Ljubljana. Responding to the threats, the Economy Ministry says the government has adopted a number of legislative proposals dealing with one of the key demands of small businesses – the tackling of payment defaults. The OZS says its data show that 6,471 small businesses were shut last year.


Annual Inflation at 1.8 Percent

Winter sales brought down consumer prices in Slovenia by 0.8 percent in January, while inflation at the annual level was 1.8 percent, new calculations from the Statistics Office (SURS) show. Prices of clothing and footwear fell by 15.4 percent due to end-of-season sales, pushing down total price growth by 1.3 percentage points. January did however bring higher prices for food and non-alcoholic beverages (by 2.4 percent), and energy (2.4 percent). The Slovenia Times

Slovenia submitted 121 international patent applications in 2010, the Slovenian Intellectual Property Office has announced. The 2010 figures put Slovenia in 35th place among 142 countries that are party to the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) – directly in front of Portugal and behind the Czech Republic in 2010. The US is still in first place with 44,855 international patent applications, followed by Japan with 32,156 and Germany with 17,171 applications. In Slovenia itself, the total number of patent applications filed in 2010 increased by 17 percent over the year before and by 42 percent compared to 2008.

9 Telecommunications

Corporate crime

Telekom Group Posts Record Loss

Tuš Under Criminal Investigation

Source: LJSE

Telekom Slovenije shares are losing value (in EUR per share) 150



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The group around Telekom Slovenije has announced a record loss. The telecommunications group made a EUR 221.2m loss last year, which compares to a EUR 29.5m net profit in 2009. The group’s operating revenues dropped by one percent to EUR 843.6m. The company says the loss is a consequence of writedowns of investments, primarily in Telekom’s subsidiaries in Macedonia and Kosovo, in the total amount of EUR 208.2m. The group says it would have otherwise posted a profit of EUR 15m. The liquidity of the Telekom Slovenije group will remain unchanged, and write-downs will not affect its revenues and expenditure, management board member Jožko Peterlin says.


Blocked Company Accounts Increasing

Source: AJPES

The number of Slovenian companies whose accounts were blocked for at least five consecutive days has increased according to data from the Agency for Public Legal Records and Related Services (AJPES). The Agency says that in January there was a 22 percent year-on-year on blocked accounts. A total of 5,941 companies in Slovenia had defaulted on their payments in January 2011 with the construction sector accounting for 22.5 percent of all defaults. The daily amount of defaults also continues to rise. It reached EUR 412.3m in January 2011, which is 50.5 percent more year-on-year. Payment defaults still going up 7




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Jan 11

One of Slovenia’s largest retailers is being investigated for suspected criminal activity. Police investigators searched the headquarters of Tuš last month, apparently in connection with the 2008 granting of a Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) licence to Tuš’s mobile arm Tušmobil. Police have also visited the Agency for Post and Electronic Communications (APEK), which issued the licence. The awarding of the UMTS licence to Tušmobil was highly controversial since it was given free of charge. Slovenia’s leading mobile services provider, Mobitel, had to pay nearly EUR 100m for the same licence in 2001 while wireless operator Si.mobil and telecommunications provider T-2 paid EUR 6.5m and EUR 6.3m respectively in 2006. A spokesperson for the Ljubljana police administration says an investigation into corporate crime and corruption at Tuš is being been

carried out in parts of Slovenia, including at the home of owner Mirko Tuš. A spokesperson for Tuš Holding says the investigation is related to a decision issued by APEK and not to operations of any of the companies in the holding.




T-2 Reports EUR 100m Loss

Majority Stake in Intereuropa for Sale

CPO to Become Independent Agency

Insolvent telecommunications provider T-2 has reported a EUR 101m net loss for 2010. The company, which has been undergoing debt restructuring since January, recorded a EUR 5m net loss in the final quarter of 2010, while generating EUR 11.6m in net revenue. The revenue was eight percent above average for the first nine months. The longterm financial commitments of T-2 – which employs around 200 people – stood at EUR 94.3m at the end of 2010, with short-term liabilities at EUR 153.8m. The state-owned NLB bank is T-2’s biggest creditor with around EUR 125m in secured debt, followed by technology firm Gratel Gratel, with around EUR 80m in claims.

A call for bids for the majority stake in Intereuropa has been published. Shareholders holding a combined 50.98 percent in Intereuropa are selling their shares in the logistics company. Bidding for the stakes held by insurer Zavarovalnica Triglav, the banks NLB and Abanka Vipa, and port operator Luka Koper is open until 31 March. Another 1.93 percent of Intereuropa owned by institutional investors is being offered along with the main stake. At current market prices, the 53 percent stake up for sale is worth EUR 15.4m.


Abanka’s Net Profit Shrinks

Slovenia’s third largest bank has announced reduced profits for 2010. Abanka Vipa made a EUR 6.6m net profit last year, which is more than three times less than in 2009. The bank’s total assets did increase from the end of 2009 to the end of 2010 – by 0.9 percent to EUR 4.55bn, which amounted to a nine percent market share, up 0.3 percentage points year-on-year. Pre-tax profit stood at EUR 7.9m, which compares to a figure of EUR 29m in 2009, while net interest was up 8.5 percent to EUR 81.4m in 2010 compared to the year before. The overall amount of loans at the end of 2010 stood at EUR 3.6bn, which is 5.6 percent more than at the end of 2009. Loans given to non-banking clients increased by EUR 324m.

The Competition Protection Office is to become an independent agency. Changes to the competition protection act, adopted by the government last month, will separate the Office from the Ministry of the Economy. The revised Office will have three main bodies: a council, the director and an expert commission for the protection of competition, Economy Minister Darja Radić says. The expert commission was highlighted by Radić as the key novelty, as it will take decisions on individual cases, whereas the director will manage the agency and launch proceedings. The minister expects to have a fully functioning agency on 1 January 2012.

International rating

D&B Concerned about Weak Domestic Demand

Credit monitoring firm Dun&Bradstreet (D&B) kept Slovenia’s rating unchanged in February but says that the country’s sovereign credit rating remains vulnerable. According to the D&B report, domestic demand remains weak amidst increasing unemployment and tight credit. The firm says a lack of payment discipline is proving especially troublesome for small and medium-sized companies and that consumer confidence remains low. The report raises particular concerns about the construction sector with D&B predicting the sector will weaken further, citing the Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s forecast of a seven percent drop for the sector in 2011. March 2011



Rocking the Banking Boat Slovenia’s biggest bank had always been expected to register a huge loss for 2010. But when the figures were announced last month, the sheer scale of the loss took many by surprise. The news wasn’t quite as surprising as that of developments at Hypo Alpe Adria’s branch in Slovenia, however.

Photo: BOBO

By Maja Dragović Regardless, the bank is to issue a maximum of 2,155,173 new ordinary shares set at EUR 116 per share. Only the existing shareholders will have the right to subscribe to new shares in the first round, while in the second round the remaining shares will be offered to all Slovenian and foreign companies or individuals.

Unfavourable conditions

Cleaning up the mess: allegations of questionable deals forced Hypo Alpe Adria’s owners to take drastic action and replace the entire management of its Slovenian branch overnight

Place your vote for Economy candidate

The Slovenia Times

see pages 52-55

However, the greater-than-expected loss has got analysts and media pondering on what went wrong. “We were somewhat surprised by the loss of NLB,” admits Aleš Škerlak, chief executive of financial analysts Alta Skupina. “It was expected that the loss would be around EUR 100m, but it was almost twice as much.”

Divided opinions

The losses have brought the issue of recapitalisation back to the forefront. There are those who think the bank should be sold and others who believe it should sell seized shares from insolvent compan ies. The govern ment, meanwhile, is keen on raising the bank’s capital by injecting taxpayer money. The government has already agreed a capital injection for the bank in the amount of EUR 250m due to be completed by end of March. Many argued this would be insufficient even back when the bank’s losses were expected to be EUR 100m. With the latest announcement, it seems the injection will only allow the bank to clear its losses.

But according to the bank’s board member David Benedek, the capital increase will increase the bank’s Tier 1 capital ratio to 7.6 percent at the group level, and 8.1 percent at the bank level. This is still quite low compared to the European banks whose average Tier 1 capital ratio stands at 9.9 percent. It has been calculated that NLB would need between EUR 750m and EUR 1 billion of fresh capital to achieve that ratio.

Net profit/loss of the Slovenian banking system

Source: Finance daily newspaper


ast month, Slovenia’s biggest bank announced its results for 2010. The news wasn’t good. NLB generated a EUR 202.2m loss before tax, over two times more than in 2009 when the loss stood at EUR 86.8m. The bank’s management says the loss is a consequence of EUR 477.3m worth of write-downs and bad loan provisions. “Business operations in 2010 were marked by the economic crisis, which strongly affected the clients,” says chief supervisor Marko Simoneti. He adds that this has lowered the quality of the portfolio and, consequently, increased the amount of provisions and impairments.

NLB chairman Božo Jašovič says the capital injection will certainly enable NLB to get more favourable financing on the international financial markets. But there are doubts as to whether any individual investor will be interested in buying NLB shares at the set price even though it is much lower than during the last capital injection when it was EUR 334 per share. Simon Mastnak, a financial analyst, argues that the current share price is above the book value and that no outside investor will be interested in acquiring the shares at that rate. He suggests the shares should be below the book value especially since investors have the opportunity to buy shares of another state-owned bank, NKBM, on the stock exchange for 65 percent of the book value. In contrast to NLB, NKBM made a EUR 17.2m profit last year and is going to be listed on Warsaw stock exchange in March to look for potential investors for the capital increase. If the price of NLB shares

in EUR ‘000 000 500






-100 2006






Other options

Matej Lahovnik, former economy minister, argues that recapitalisation without private investors would constitute just another reorganisation of the bank by the government. He says that the most logical solution for NLB would be to first sell the seized shares and then look for other solutions. With the confiscation of such shares, NLB has become a major owner in a number of interesting companies such as Mercator and Pivovarna Laško whose shares would attract much interest if they were available for sale. “It is illogical to keep those shares indefinitely and not try to sell them more aggressively,” Lahovnik says. The clearest sign that foreign investors are unlikely to invest in the bank under such conditions is the fact that its second largest owner, Belgian KBC group, is unlikely to participate in the capital increase – although the group claims the negotiations are still under way. Mitja Gaspari, Minister of Development and European Affairs is also urging all banks, including NLB, to get rid of the shares seized from tycoons who failed to repay their loans. He argues the sale of these shares is now one of the main tasks to improve the competitiveness of the economy. This would also improve the capital adequacy for the banks and raise more funds for loans and businesses. Jašović has, however, said that the bank is planning to sell off non-strategic investments, reduce loans on non-strategic markets and reduce investment portfolio risk as well as take measures for streamlining business operations and cost-cutting. It has recently announced the sale of its 40.99 percent share of Celje Bank. What else is to be sold remains to be seen.

arm Hypo Leasing. Seven managers were replaced overnight without any prior notification and escorted from the bank in the company of Slovenian and Austrian security guards. Most feel the action reveals deeply rooted problems within the Slovenian law enforcement system. “It is absolutely unusual for guards to come from Austria,” Lahovnik admitted in a television interview. “But the point is that, although obviously familiar with the procedure, [the Austrians] do not trust the Slovenian institutions and did not even attempt to obtain any permits because they feared that, the now former administration would be warned in advance. continued on page 12

Net profit/loss of NLB group

Source: Finance daily newspaper

at book value were equalised with NKBM’s, the price would be less than EUR 75 per share – a long way off EUR 116. “I think that the entire capital increase is based on the government recapitalising the bank at a ridicuolously high price, knowing in advance that nobody else will want to participate in the process,” Mastnak says.

in EUR ‘000 000 150 100 50 0 -50 -100 -150 -200 -250 2006





Foreign matters

Unbelievably, the problems at NLB were not the biggest story in the Slovenian banking sector last month. That honour went to the unexpected developments at the Slovenian branch of the bank Hypo Alpe Adria and its leasing March 2011

12 ECONOMY “Obviously, confidence in the Slovenian institutions is so low that they have taken matters into their own hands, which was apparently done quickly and efficiently, and thus they acted effectively as owners. Austrians have shown us how to act when problems arise. The security guards surrounded the building, seized documents, immediately deposed the existing management and installed a new one. “I believe that our authorities are investigating allegations of wrongdoing, but we should hurry. This would give us the credibility, the greater trust of citizens and we will no longer have the feeling that nothing happens,” he concludes.

Dubious deals

Such swift action by the Austrian bank has caused much concern in Slovenia in many ways. There are confirmed and unconfirmed reports that the move was the result of suspicion of wrongdoing on a massive scale. The business daily newspaper Finance says a document it received from the Austrian parent bank to the Slovenian Central Bank says “the supervisory board doubts the management of the bank and the leasing house are providing comprehensive and correct information. Unfortunately there is evidence... of fraud, corruption, unlawful property gains and gross negligence”. Quoting unofficial sources, Finance says an internal audit

Biggest leasing groups in Slovenia by balance

Source: Finance daily newspaper

continued from page 11

in EUR ‘000 000 3000 2500

2000 1500

1000 500

0 VBS Leasing + VBS Hiša

Unicredit Leasing

KBM Group Leasing

found opaque transfers to Liechtenstein and other tax havens, hidden commissions, blackmailing of bank customers, approval of loans without sufficient collateral and unwarranted outsourcing of backoffice activities. Da i ly Dnev n i k mea nwh i le quotes a well-placed source at the Austrian parent bank as saying that it had been assumed the Slovenian branch was an “honest oasis” in the desert of unlawful business of Hypo branches in neighbouring countries. But when it was realised this may not be the case, the Slovenian managers were urged to disclose any irregularities in exchange for amnesty. According to Dnevnik, the Slovenian Hypo leadership did not respond to the offer. The media suspects the irregularities are also related to Hypo’s


SKB Group

Porche Leasing

Sparkassen/ Immorent

dealings with bankrupt builder Vegrad, which reportedly paid millions in commission to Liechtenstein-based firms in real estate purchases involving Hypo Leasing. In three property developments alone these firms pocketed EUR 27m in commission from Vegrad, Dnevnik says. Other reports suggest that Hypo’s exposure in Vegrad case is as much as EUR 80m.

What now for Hypo?

The internal investigation into suspicious deals has also left a big question mark regarding the bank’s liquidity. With connections to now many bankrupt companies and significant exposure to the troubled real estate and construction sectors, the bank is left with a large number of seized properties on its portolio. Hypo Leasing has


NLB Group Leasing

Hypo Leasing

a market share of nearly 50 percent and assets currently valued at EUR 2.57bn. How will Hypo be rescued, then? “It is not in Hypo’s interest to make a complete sale of its properties overnight,” says Mastnak, arguing it would cause a sudden drop in property prices in Slovenia which are still somewhat inflated despite the financial crisis. The prices will have to be adjusted eventually and when they do, it will significantly weaken Hypo’s value. A spokesman for Hypo Alpe Adria’s parent bank has said RTV Slovenija that the bank wants to do “good and clean business in Slovenia”. Another ominous sign for the Slovenian banking industry?

Special annual issue brings you the best in investment opportunities, economic success stories and top lifestyle choices. NOW OUT!


Food industry

Cracks in the Food Chain With soaring prices and a decline in domestic production, the Slovenian food sector is facing tough conditions. The government is stepping in, but can it reverse the strong downturn? By Maja Dragović Photo: Maja Kaplan

Among the priorities will be sustainable use of agricultural land, creating favourable economic conditions for farming, and promotion of balanced and socially sustainable development of the countryside. The country will strive for the strengthening of its food processing chain and promote Slovenian products, while also bearing in mind the environment and the cultural landscape.

Declining numbers

Vasle added that the present year-on-year increase of the food price index stands at around 40 percent, with global food prices reaching the highest level for the past 20 years. He expects that prices in Slovenia will be affected, though not as strongly as in 2007 and 2008, when the last hikes of such dimensions were seen.

The weakest link

The latest food price rise has just added to the woes of Slovenian farmers who claim their share in food revenue is far from fair and that they can hardly get by on current buy-in prices of produce. They cite one of the main problems as retailers’ huge margins on products. The farmers have already asked the Competition Protection Office to conduct a market analysis to establish who takes the biggest cut from food revenue. In addition, the government is expecting the CPO to review whether Slovenian retailers give poorer conditions to Slovenian food producers compared to the foreign. The Agriculture Ministry is currently drawing up a code of ethics that involves all members of the agri-food chain in Slovenia in order to ensure transparency.

Self reliant

Farmers also blame their position on a decline in food production in Slovenia. The Slovenian government is now tackling the issue, last month adopting strategic guidelines for the Slovenian agriculture and food processing industry. The main goals will be assuring food security through stable production of safe, quality and accessible food, and boosting the competitiveness of agriculture and the food processing industry. Average price of Chicken and Wheat

Wheat (1kg)

in EUR

Chicken (1kg)


Source: SURS


he crisis in the food market is deepening, with the high prices of key raw materials on world stock exchanges continuing to rise. In Slovenia, prices of food and non-alcoholic drinks went up by 2.4 percent in January. The increase was due to a 9.9 percent hike in prices of vegetables, 4 percent increase in fruit prices, a 2.8 percent rise in prices of milk, cheese and eggs, and a 2 percent rise in oil and fat prices, among other things. Compared to the rest of the European Union, the prices of food and non-alcoholic beverages in Slovenia have seen an above-average increase in the last four years. Between January 2007 and December 2010 the prices increased by 17.3 percent in Slovenia, while the average EU rise was 12.5 percent. The Institute of Macroeconomic Analysis and Development (IMAD), a government think-tank, says that while the effect of the global food price hikes on inflation in Slovenia has been moderate, this is expected to change. “Core inflation remains moderate in Slovenia as well as in the entire eurozone, but expectations for the future are of course very different,” says Boštjan Vasle, IMAD director.

In the meantime, the number of livestock in Slovenia declined further in 2010, most notably in pig and poultry breeding. Since 2006, the number of pigs had decreased from 575,000 to 395,500 in December 2010, with the number of farms breeding pigs falling by 4,000 to 31,000 in 2010. The reasons for the decline are multifold. Pig breeders have warned that the falling prices at which pigs are sold only cover 65 percent of the growing production costs. In addition, pork production covers only 30 percent of the demand and since the Slovenian market is small, it is easily put out of balance by incoming meat from other European countries. With rising food prices, declining farms, farmers, and livestock numbers, the future of food production is somewhat worrying. However, the government has recognised the need for action. Now the hope is that it will act on its promises in a swift and efficient manner.





Jan 07

Jan 08

Jan 09

Jan 10

Jan 11

March 2011




source: STA, Slovenian Press Agency




SKB Posts Record Profit

Iskratel Enters Strategic Partnership

EUR 7M Still Available for FDI Incentives

Telecommunications supplier Iskratel announced last month it had entered a long-term strategic partnership with Dutch company Elephant Talk Communications. The deal envisages Elephant Talk, an international provider of business software and services in telecommunications and finance, providing Iskratel with 10 multimedia control nodes. The nodes will be combined with Elephant Talk’s intelligent platform to provide modern telecommunications services to telecommunications providers as well as business clients, including banks.

The Public Agency for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investments (JAPTI) is offering EUR 7.13m in incentives for foreign direct investment (FDI) this year as part of a two-year public call issued in 2010. The deadline for the first opening of bids was 9 February, followed by three more by 9 September, JAPTI said. The main novelty in the call is valuation of the investment, with the addition of a mechanism that includes the investment’s value in the calculation of the incentive. Technical adjustments have also been made to make the call clearer and more transparent.

Source: SKB

The SKB banking group, the Slovenian subsidiary of Societe Generale, made a record net profit in 2010, amounting to EUR 28.3m, which is 36.5 percent more than in the year before. SKB chairman Andre-Marc Prudent said this was also the best result among all banks in Slovenia in 2010. He attributes the success to the bank’s clear business model - universal banking. Prudent also underlined the bank’s clear strategy and long-term conservative and prudent risk management policy. In the last five years, the bank’s profits grew by 15 percent a year on average. The group’s total assets in 2010 stood at EUR 2.86bn, making it the fifth largest bank in Slovenia in terms of total assets. Loans amounted to EUR 2.2bn, with loans to households standing at EUR 833.6m, 20 percent more than in 2009. Loans to companies were down slightly at EUR 1.2bn. The SKB net profits (in EUR ‘000 000) volume of deposits by households, 30 companies and the state stood 25 at EUR 1.4bn, which boosted the bank’s market share in this 20 respect to 6.2 percent. Prudent announced a better forecast for 15 2011 in terms of revenues and 10 profits, with commercial management director Borut Vujčič adding 5 that the bank was planning for growth in all areas, especially 0 2006 2010 household loans.

Automotive industry

Revoz Gets Smart and Twingo Contracts French car maker Renault has confirmed that its Slovenian subsidiary, the Novo mesto-based Revoz, will start assembling the new Smart and Twingo models in 2013. Renault confirmed its announcement from April 2010 last month, as it disclosed plans to invest EUR 5.7bn into manufacturing between 2010 and 2013, with 40 percent of the investment in France.


Knauf Insulation In the previous issue of the Slovenia Times, we published an article on Knauf Insulation company’s reasons for entering the Slovenian market. In the article we mistakenly quoted the company’s marketing manager Barbara Hafner. The answers to our questions were, however, provided to us by Mr. Remco Teulings, Managing Director of Knauf Insulation for Central Europe. We hereby apologise for any inconvenience caused by this oversight.


Radenska Sells Share in Triglav Cypriot holding company Claycroft Limited, owned by Swedish fund management company East Capital, has become the fourth largest owner of Triglav insurance company. Last month Radenska company, the mineral water producer, sold its entire 1.6 percent share of Triglav to foreign banks and funds managed by East Capital. The sale was worth EUR 6.5m. Most of the shares were bought by Clayfort, increasing its share in Triglav to 1.7 percent.

JAPTI (Public Agency for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investment) is a business facilitator providing free information and advising services for foreign investors: •  •  •  • 

Information on business opportunities, legislation, taxes and incentive Information on industrial sites and local suppliers Links with industry and local authorities Arranging visiting programmes to the most suitable locations The Slovenia Times


South Stream Joint Venture Expected in March The Russian Minister of Communications and Mass Media, Igor Schegolev, announced last month that the joint venture between Russian gas giant Gazprom and Slovenian gas pipeline operator Geoplin Plinovodi to construct the South Stream gas pipeline across Slovenia, is expected to be set up in March. Schegolev told Russian press agency Ria Novosti that Russia and Slovenia would also cooperate in fitting the pipeline with an optical cable, which will be used for managing the pipeline as well as for commercial purposes. Scheduled for completion in 2015, the EUR 10bn pipeline will cross several countries in SE Europe, with the exact route yet to be determined.

Paper industry

Is Vevče Paper Mill For Sale?

Slovenian media has reported on the possible sale of Papirnica (paper mill) Vevče. Austrian Prinzhorn Holding, owner of Brigl & Bergmeister (B & B), under which the company operates Vevče paper mill, is reportedly selling the entire group that manufactures paper for labels. Slovenia’s daily Dnevnik has reported that the purchase price for the paper mill will be around EUR 40m. According to unofficial information, the buyer is Vienna-based Roxcel company. It is a trading company that deals with a wide range of securities, including cigarette paper and paper made without wood pulp. The company does not have its own production yet, so the acquisition of Papirnica Vevče would bring synergies, Dnevnik concludes.

Division for FDI Verovškova 60 1000 Ljubljana Slovenia tel.: +386 1 5891 870 fax: +386 1 5891 877 e-mail:


Interview: Stephen Kai Wong, Director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office

Potential Partners Much of Slovenia’s current economic diplomacy effort centres on improving bilateral trade with China. Could Hong Kong, one of two special administrative regions in China, help Slovenia extend its trade to the east? Yes, according to Stephen Kai Wong, director of the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office based in Berlin. And he’s optimistic that Slovenia could help Hong Kong expand too. How would you evaluate trade relations between Slovenia and Hong Kong? During the first 10 months of last year bilateral trade increased by 50 percent. That’s a very encouraging indication of the potential expansion of bilateral trade. On average trade between Slovenia and Hong Kong (HK) increased steadily by about 7.5 percent during the period 2006-2009. That’s a modest increase but means we have a lot of opportunities to work on. Where do you see the potential for growth in trade relations between Slovenia and Hong Kong? Flow of finances, investments, tourism, energy and industry relating to the environment. Service industry should be the core part of our trade. Slovenia serves as a hub for this part of Europe while we in China have a lot of contacts and expertise in Cambodia, Vietnam. We can provide you with financial services, merger acquisition, direct investment, also dispute resolutions. Also logistics – you’re seeking to become a logistics hub in this region. Hong Kong has been that for years. It used to be the largest container port (now Shanghai). We have the largest cargo jet terminal in the world (100 cargo jets landing in Hong Kong every day).

Entering Slovenia is entering the region, not just the country. There’s huge potential for everyone involved. Why did Hong Kong decide to open an economic and trade mission in Berlin? Because Germany is the largest trading partner with Hong Kong. The annual volume of trade reaches around EUR13 billion. Berlin is the political capital city and we come from government. This does not mean we focus only on Berlin. It’s just a base where we stretch ourselves from. We didn’t choose Germany first, we chose the area. We were looking for emerging economies – Poland, the Baltic, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, Austria, Switzerland and then Germany was the obvious choice. Due to Slovenia’s location and reputation amongst the countries of south east Europe, would Hong Kong consider opening an office in this part of the world too? It’s probably too soon to say yes or no. You fit in the previously described region. If there’s a need for a new office in this region, we’ll consider it. We have offices around the world but not yet in South America, the Indian subcontinent or the Middle East. We’re working on that.

Source: Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia

Trade between Slovenia and Hong Kong In EUR ‘000 18000





Jan-Oct 2009

Jan-Oct 2010

Hong Kong organises a number of events for business and diplomatic delegations abroad. Could you mention some that are happening this year? The Design Week. Every year we hold a large scale of exhibitions, forums, seminars on creative industry in November, December. We invite a country as a partner to join us. Last year it was Japan. We’ve just signed the contract with the German authorities to be our next partner. There will be events, activities in HK and in Germany as well. Another one is this series of Chinese New Year events in 11 cities and we invite all of the business sector, diplomats, and government officials. We also have delegations which come to us to understand Hong Kong. A visit ensures accurate, first-hand information. Promoting the overall image of Hong Kong, this is our job. How does your office fit into the structure of Hong Kong institutions promoting trade and business? Government is the policy maker for trade policies, constructing infrastructure for the business centres. We have two departments. One is called “invest Hong Kong” department. Their primary mis-

sion is to attract direct foreign investment. The other one is “trade department”. This one formulates trade policy, ensures Hong Kong to provide the best trade, satisfy international standards of trading. Above it is the Ministry of Commerce and Economic Development. It implements trade policies. It is known as overseas offices. We’re one of them. Co-ordination is our mission.

Government is the policy maker for trade policies, constructing infrastructure for the business centres. We have two departments. One is called “invest Hong Kong” and other “trade department” March 2011


Good practice example

Keeping the Group in the Black The market for mobile homes has been in decline but one manufacturer is bucking the trend. German company Carthago registered a 33 percent growth in 2010, thanks in no small part to the efforts of its Slovenian subsidiary. By Mateja Novak


ccording to luxury mobile home manufacturer Carthago, launching a production facility in Odranci has proved to be a real landmark in the firm’s development. Opened in 2008, the factory manufactures the company’s Chic C-Line products – a high-end light-weight mobile home. The line was initially produced in Germany but proved far more successful than envisaged, leaving the firm facing growing pressures on delivery times. In addition, the newly developed motor home concept called for a completely separate production unit which was simply not available in the industrial zone of Okatreute in Schmalegg. Ta k i ng t h i s i nto accou nt, Carthago jumped at the chance to acquire an industrial plant in Slovenia which had previously been producing boilers. The 7,000 square metres of production surface as well as the adjacent four storey administrative building were so suited to Carthago that, after a short three-month period of adaptation, production had already begun.


Since launching production in Slovenia in 2008, the firm has

The factory in Odronci manufactures Carthago’s high-end light-weight mobile home, Chic C-Line

steadily grown in terms of output, revenue and the number of employees. The company’s Slovenian venture has in fact proved so successful that it is now planning a second plant in Pomurje, worth EUR 3m. The new manufacturing facility, which will open in May 2011, will produce 25 to 30 vehicles per week and bring 110 new jobs. The company has successfully logged an application for a foreign direct investment incentive in Slovenia with the Public

Source: Carthago Reisemobilbau

Cathargo’s steady road to success 1500


Number of sold vehicles


600 Sales revenue (in EUR ‘000 000) 300 Number of emploeyed

Number of markets

0 2008

The Slovenia Times



Agency for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investments (JAPTI) which approved EUR 840,000 for the project.

The right product

Carthago’s sales figures show it is doing rather well despite the crisis that has hit hard the automotive sector. “Sales are growing despite the crisis, because we manufacture niche model motor home belonging to the high price range,” explains Matej Kekec, chief executive of Carthago Odranci. The factory in Odranci makes only the Chic C-Line model which, in contrast to Carthago’s other models, is smaller and much lighter and can be driven with a B-category driving licence. The model is popular amongst older, wealthy customers who have the time and means to travel around, Kekec says. Carthago management considers the decision to increase the production of its smallest model and open a factory in Odranci just before the crisis as a blessing. With the sales of Chic C-Line rapidly growing, the factory has played a big part in helping the whole of the group overcome the crisis. “Sales of models Chic C-Line represent about half the total

number of mobile homes sold, which in terms of revenue represents 30 percent,” says Karl-Heinz Schuler, the company’s owner and managing director. “Our initial modelling series, which is produced in our factory in Odranci, has proven to be very popular. In times of crisis, it is also our major sales asset.”

Reasons behind success

Schuler says there are several reasons for the firm’s success. “The first is surely related to the composition of the company,” he says. “Carthago is a private company with one owner, that’s me. Given that I am solely responsible for the success and failure of the company, I will, of course, do everything in my power to be as successful as possible. I have also managed to establish a management staff that has a good working relationship and is not losing energy through unnecessary mutual rivalries. “In addition, we of course also have very well-developed model range. Together, we seek innovative solutions which have become our model for Chic C-Line. With it, we broke new ground in its segment and now everyone’s following us.”

Limitless Possibilities for One Euro

The Nokia C7 handset with Ovi Store apps and an eight megapixel camera provides users with limitless possibilities. However, it is still easy to use, and suitable for entertainment as well as business use. At Mobitel, it is available for just one Euro.

of work obligations, even when out of the office or on the road. Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDF viewers allow you to open and view attachments easily, push e-mail prevents you from overlooking important e-mails, and an extra camera on the front of the handset supports video calls.


The Nokia C7 is more than just a smartphone; it is also elegantly designed. With its slim case and small size it fits in every pocket or small purse. In addition to the usual mobile phone features, the Nokia C7 also allows you to be constantly in touch with friends through social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. These are constantly updated on your home screen, allowing you to be up to date with what is happening online. An eight megapixel camera, which also supports high resolution video recording, provides memories of every beautiful moment. The integrated video editing application allows you to edit short films directly on the mobile phone. You can always carry highlights from a pleasant journey, trip or visit with you and, using the device’s TVout connector, you can play videos from your phone on your TV.

Nokia C7 is more than just a smartphone; it is also elegantly designed. With its slim case and small size it fits in every pocket or small purse.

In addition to this, the Nokia C7’s usability can be upgraded with free-of-charge fun and practical apps, available at Mobitel or the Ovi Store. The Monitor app provides access to information on mobile usage; the Kolosej app provides access to movie show times with the option of ticket purchasing; the LPP Bus app allows you to keep track of Ljubljana city buses; the Poslušaj Radio! (Listen to the Radio) app allows you to listen to Slovenian radio stations; the Toshl application allows you to keep track of daily expenses… With thousands of applications in the Ovi Store, everyone can find suitable apps to make their daily errands easier and access to information simpler. Upon signing or extending a subscription agreement, the Nokia C7 is available at Mobitel for only one Euro. You can read more about the handset and the terms and conditions of the offer at You can find more information on Mobitel’s range of services and products at, at Mobitel’s centres and on the freephone number 041 700 700. The Nokia C7 is an excellent guide which always points you in the right direction with the free, preinstalled Ovi Maps navigation. And it allows you to send postcards through Mobitel’s MMS Postcard app, available in the Ovi Store. This app turns photos taken with a mobile phone into real postcards – you only need to add a message and the recipient’s address and the picture is then sent to the recipient’s mailbox. Mobitel users are already familiar with the MMS Postcard service, and the new app makes sending postcards even simpler. But the Nokia C7 is not only handy for entertainment. It also allows you to keep track

18 Innovation SPECIAL


The Sky is the Limit Powered gliders are not a particularly new thing but a Slovenian company has managed to put an innovative spin on an old concept. LZ Design has recently completed its first delivery to Lithuania-based firm SA ir Ko and it seems the sky is the limit for this exciting new Slovenian business. By Simon Demšar


uka Žnidaršič was 15 years old when he started gliding. Now in his late 20s, Luka has a more than 1,800 flying hours, 70,000 kilometres and 30 different gliders under his belt. He also has a degree in Mechanical Engineering at the University of Ljubljana, specialising in aeronautical engineering and computer assisted design. With this background – and with father Matija, also a gliding enthusiast and owner of a mould production business – it was only going to be a matter of time before Luka came up with a novel solution for his passion. It came in 2009 in the form of the Front Electric Sustainer (FES), an electric propeller system which won him the Grand Prix award for the best invention at the 2010 International Exhibition of Inventions in Slovenia.

Positive response

Luka first presented his product at last year’s air show in Friedrichshafen, Germany. The response was very positive and Žnidaršič has recently signed a contract to sell his first units to the Lithuanian company SA ir Ko. He plans to sell eight units this year, generating some EUR 140,000 in revenue. This should increase to EUR 700,000 next year and EUR 1.2 million in 2013, which should also generate net profit in the amount of EUR 271,000. By then, Žnidaršič

FES has won the Grand Prix award for the best invention in 2010

plans to fully employ four highly trained professionals, who would make EUR 100,000 added value per employee. It is undoubtedly an impressive piece of kit. The FES mounted is to the nose of the plane and incorporates a 1m carbon fibre propeller that automatically unfolds by centrifugal force. When not in use, the propeller blades fold against the nose of the sailplane, reducing drag. The electric motor develops 20kW and weighs only five kilograms. Power supply is by lithium-ion batteries, mounted in two battery boxes, weighing around 6,5 kilograms, behind the cockpit. It takes only

Although it is still in development stages, the electric propeller system is already being tested in several countries The Slovenia Times

two and a half hours to recharge one pack of batteries if they are fully discharged.

Undeniable advantages

A powered craft m ight go against the principles of hardcore gliders, but its advantages are tough to deny. The main one is the ability to fly over areas with no or weak thermals, which considerably extends the plane’s range. When a representative of Žnidaršič’s first customer tested the motor he managed to fly 65 kilometres with the motor on – but still had about a third of energy remaining after landing. Compared to combustion en-

gines, other major advantages of the FES motor include almost no noise, virtually no maintenance, instant restarts, no loss of power at higher altitudes and similar. A combustion engine also requires 35 seconds or 500 metres of altitude to start, compared to FES’s only one second or five metres of altitude. While FES is still in the development phase – European Aviation Safety Agency certification is expected within the next year and should further boost sales – the system is being tested in several countries. And Žnidaršič is already in talks with several single-seater high performance sailplanes manufacturers. He also believes the system will be of interest to private owners. “Besides sailplane manufacturers, other potential customers are sailplane owners who are considering upgrading their toys,” explains Žnidaršič. “Most potential buyers are in Europe and the USA. Our estimations show that in Europe alone there are between 6,000 and 9,000 sailplanes, ready to be equipped with our system.” Later this year, Žnidaršič will return to the air show in Germany at which he launched FES. This year he returns with a significantly improved version of a control unit, developed in cooperation with a Celje-based company LXNAV. LZ Design is clearly a company on the rise.



British Chamber of Commerce

Marathon Exhibition

British House in Ljubljana

The Greek embassy has organised an exhibition to mark the anniversary of the Battle of Marathon. In cooperation with the Municipality of Ljubljana, the embassy presented “2,500 year anniversary of the Battle of Marathon” at the Atrium of the City Hall in Ljubljana. The exhibition comprised a presentation of 18th century archival materials from the collection of the Greek writer and researcher Georgios Dolianitis. Supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Culture and Tourism of Greece, the exhibition proved popular with Slovenian visitors – particularly young primary school pupils.

The British Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia has organised the very first “British House” event. Held in the centre of Ljubljana at the prestigious new Antiq Palace Hotel & Spa, the event has been established as a channel for cooperation between the British Embassy and three other British organisations in Slovenia with points of interest in economics, culture, education, knowledge, sport and politics. The guests were welcomed by the president of the chamber Kevin Morrison and the ambassador Andrew Page, who introduced the mission of the British House, as well as giving a quick preview to the exciting year ahead.

British Chamber of Commerce

Visnegrad group

American Chamber of Commerce

An Important Visit

Celebrating the Alliance

Water is Slovenia’s Renewable Energy Source

Slovenia has joined the celebrations of the 20th anniversary of the Visnegrad Group, an informal alliance bringing together the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary. There was a morning panel with guests from the four countries; an official ceremony in the evening accompanied by an exhibition on the cultural heritage of Visnegrad countries; and a meeting of mayors from the four capitals held by Ljubljana’s mayor Zoran Jankovič. The ambassadors of the four countries explained that Slovenia was chosen as one of the celebration hosts due to its great interest in co-operation with the group.

Environment and Spatial Planning Minister Roko Žarnič has spoken about limitations in implementing green technologies in Slovenia at a meeting of the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia in Ljubljana. Given Slovenia’s weather, the only true renewable energy potential in Slovenia is water, he said. He warned that Slovenia should not rush into building renewable energy infrastructure just because other countries are doing it.

Slovenia has received a visit from a notable British politician. Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow visited the British Chamber of Commerce in Ljubljana last month. In his speech he congratulated Slovenia on its political and economic achievements since independence and also highlighted five major problems he believes are holding back the country’s economy. Bercow’s two-day trip was the first ever visit to Slovenia by a Speaker of the House of Commons to Slovenia. He concluded his stay with a meeting with Prime Minister Borut Pahor and a trip to the world-famous lake resort of Bled.

The Slovenia Times

Greek embassy

A Greek Poetry Night Greek Ambassador Dionyssios Coundourea last month attended an event for the 100th anniversary of birth of Greek poet Nikos Kavvadias. Under the auspices of the Greek Embassy, the evening of live music and poetry was organised by the Hellenic Foundation for Culture from Trieste and the Lectureship for Modern Greek Language at the Faculty of Arts in Ljubljana. Part of the poetry collection was given an original interpretation by the Slovenian-Greek music group Pegasus.



Two Years On Two years ago, the global economic downturn hit and changed the real estate market beyond all recognition. Slovenia did not escape the effects. Highly publicised construction firm insolvencies and financing difficulties have scared away local as well as foreign buyers. By Carlos Marques Silva March 2011

22 REAL ESTATE special his company was selling three to four properties to foreigners per month. By late 2008, that figured had halved. Foreigners, themselves hit by the crisis, had become less able to buy holiday properties – especially at the high prices being demanded. “Slovenia was no longer a reasonably-priced place to invest,” says Young. “Prices grew too high too quickly and certain properties were clearly overpriced.” As a result, transactions in the market progressively fell, amounting to 141 in the first quarter of 2009 compared with 393 registered in the same period of 2008. “Our selling clients thought that what was going on globally somehow would pass them by. Many initially felt detached from the global crisis,” admits Young.

Present situation


s the song says, don’t it always seem to go that you don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone? At the end of 2008, the Slovenian economy was booming. So too was real estate, with prices increasing by an average of 13 percent each year from 2004 to 2007.

“Before the crisis, demand for real estate was higher than the existing supply and consequently sellers were the ones in power when defining the conditions of a sale.”

“Customers are becoming impatient because in the last two years there has been much speculation around property price reduction,” explains Horvat of RE/MAX Slovenia.

Eva Jakopin, Elite Property Slovenia Jerina Davor from the real estate agency Bidom remembers these as times when real estate seemed like a sure bet given the ongoing growth. Demand was coming from both locals and foreigners. Domestic buyers were experiencing a Source: Surveying and Mapping Authority of the Republic of Slovenia

Average price of apartments in Slovenia (in EUR per m2) 1800


Q4 2009

The Slovenia Times

Q1 2010

Q2 2010

Q3 2010

Q4 2010

growth in employment, which led to increased interest in properties in the main cities and surrounding areas. The growth required more office buildings to host new and larger companies as well as more residential properties to accommodate employees flowing to the main cities. Unable to keep up with the high demand, real estate prices grew frenetically and the bubble kept growing larger and larger. According to Igor Horvat from estate agency RE/MAX Slovenia: “The need for property was overwhelming the market and generated a great opportunity for investors, construction companies as well as banks.” In the meantime, foreigners were discovering the picturesque Slovenia thanks to European Union accession. “Several foreign buyers saw in Slovenia an investment opportunity not present in their own countries,” says Justin Young of Slovenia Estates. “Foreign buyers’ demand outstripped supply so sales decisions were fast and negotiations relatively simple.”

The economic downturn

And then the downturn hit. Suddenly, the growth registered over several years came to an end. The real estate sector was hit hard, not least because the main players in the market had grown comfortable – some might say complacent. “The market had been growing constantly for 15 years and the majority of players in the real estate market did not foresee any rapid changes and were shocked by the change,” says Horvat. Justin Young recalls that in 2007

So what of the situation today? Unfortunately it seems the recession in Slovenia’s property market is not over yet. Although apartment sales have picked over the summer season of 2010, and so far 2011 seems promising, several sellers are still reluctant to lower prices to reasonable levels. Buyers are still reluctant to invest their hard earned cash when they believe prices will have to drop further. “Customers are becoming impatient because in the last two years there has been much speculation around property price reduction,” explains Horvat of RE/MAX Slovenia. “This means buyers have kept delaying their purchases.”

Upcoming trends

As far as the future is concerned, experts agree that Ljubljana will see growing demand from both local and foreigner buyers.

“The average value of a property in Ljubljana was EUR 2,700 per square metre and the price on the coast went up to EUR 5,000 per square metre before the crisis. Between the end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009, sales stopped completely. Sellers were not willing to lower their prices and buyers were waiting for a reduction. This created a heavy atmosphere where everyone was simply waiting.” Igor Horvat, RE/MAX Slovenia

REAL ESTATE special 23 “Foreigners are not interested in purchasing a property that is largely overpriced compared with alternative ones in other international destinations.” Justin Young, Slovenia Estates “Ljubljana is now more popular among foreign investors as they have, over last few years, seen the city improve at a fast pace,” says Young of Slovenian Estates. That improvement is set to continue. Several projects are now under construction and will make of Ljubljana a landmark and architecture reference in Eastern Europe. Projects such as the winning architectural design Situla complex, the new railway station included in the modern Emonika City Centre, Tobacna City residential and office complex, the new Opera House, the high Crystal Palace, the new Stožice Arena and many others are transforming Ljubljana in a new city where modernity and art merge with culture in a perfect harmony. Young says these developments are helping to tempt foreign buyers back to Slovenia: “Signs of re-

covery are already visible given the growing interest of overseas buyers who are returning again; they are always a good barometer of change,” he says. He is encouraging his clients to buy: “Now is the time to make a decision to buy given the good deals available on the market. Prices are at their bottom, banks are slowing lending again and supply is superb right now. There is a lot of choice and competition in the market, allowing buyers far more opportunity than in the past few years.” But the fact is that the real estate sector isn’t quite out of the woods just yet. Properties are still generally overpriced compared to personal income levels or rental income levels. Foreign

“The combination of the announced economic growth allied with the increased willingness from banks to offer competitive loans again might increase the number of property transactions in 2011. Maja Šorn, Metropola Ljubljana

buyers who compare investment opportunities will see that places such as Croatia, Greece, Spain and Portugal have seen their property prices drop significantly over last two years – and therefore decide that these places represent a more attractive investment opportunity. Even though banks are progressively lending again and foreign buyers are gradually coming back, sellers’ ongoing unwillingness to lower their offering prices might slow down the dynamism of the Slovenian real estate market in 2011.

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March 2011

24 REAL ESTATE special

Foreign buyers

From Russia with Love In recent months, real estate agencies in Slovenia have noticed a curious trend: a dramatic increase in interest from Russia. Attracted by beautiful landscapes and the many cultural similarities, more and more Russians are considering opting for life in the country. In so doing, they are giving the Slovenian property market a significant boost. By Claire Read


t used to be that Justin Young received only occasional enquiries from Russians interested in buying property in Slovenia. Over the last twelve months, however, that has changed. Now Young and his colleagues at Slovenia Estates are receiving numerous and regular approaches from those whose phone numbers begin with international dialing code 7. “I now get around five to eight enquiries a week from Russia,”

says Young. “Three of the last four properties we have sold have been to Russians.”

On the ball

According to real estate agencies, the interest has been sudden and recent. So why have Russians decided to look towards this small country in the heart of Europe? Young says that those who approach him cite disillusionment with life in their home land as an important reason for considering

Slovenia. The prevalence of open green spaces, friendly people and reliable services doesn’t hurt either. Eva Jakopin, whose Elite Property Slovenia agency specialises

in luxury apartments and houses, agrees that the beautiful surroundings and quality of life are a big draw. She says the good food, economic stability and European Union membership are also ap-


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upon a time Russian interest centred on the coast of Slovenia. But no more. “We do still get enquiries for the coastal region, but it is not solely the coast that draws interest anymore,” says Jakopin. “Our enquiries are now also for properties in mountainous regions as well as in flatter regions. For example, we recently sold one property near Celje and one in Prekmurje.” Young tells a similar story: “In the past Russians favoured the coast but now it can be mountains, the rolling hills of Goricko in Prekmurje, or the beautiful Soca area. We are getting demand for areas from Prekmurje to Bovec and from Maribor to Ljubjana.”

Capitalising on the interest

Slovenian coast is still very popular with Russian buyers looking for a holiday home

preciated. And she argues the importance of cultural connections between the two nations shouldn’t be discounted. “Russians feel a connection to home here,” Jakopin points out. “Slovenians have the same roots as Russians – we are both Slavic nations, so the cultural and linguistic differences are not that great.” As for the timing of the interest, Jakopin suspects a certain footballing competition may have played a part. “When Slovenia knocked Russia out of the World Cup qualifiers, there was a lot of press coverage about it in Russia,” she says. “This may have highlighted Slovenia and its location.”

Branching out

The coverage may also have highlighted the massive variety of landscapes in the country. Once

Understandably, real estate agencies are keen to capitalise on this new source of interest. Elite Property Slovenia has recently translated its entire site into Russian. “That has made it easy for Russians to look at real estate in Slovenia,” says Jakopin. “It has allowed those who could not obtain property information before to now get all the facts they are looking for.” Of course one important fact when looking at property is price. According to Jakopin, it is not necessarily the case that those from Russia are looking for properties with high price tags. “They like properties of a newer construction or ones that may be older but renovated to a high standard with modern amenities. Properties that offer a lot of privacy in nice surroundings but are close to a city. Normally they are looking for bigger houses with land.” Young agrees: “There is a common misconception that Russian buyers spend huge amounts of money on their purchase. This is not so true, they want value for money and are careful purchasers – they know what they want.” And right now it seems that what they want is Slovenia.

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Home Ownership out of Fashion? Job mobility in its primitive, rudimentary sense is the ability or willingness of a worker to move his or her home for work. Such a definition, although rough and insufficient in terms of expert literature, implies the eagerness of a person to follow the trends set by his or her interests and potential within economic possibilities and given opportunities that are sometimes beyond the boundaries of his or her primal geographic area. The Slovenian mentality regarding home ownership strongly opposes this logic. Let’s take a look at why. Slovenia has one of the highest homeownership rates in Europe. Owning one’s house or apartment is a status symbol, it means more financial security, and it is one’s contribution to his or her legacy for future family generations. But it also means lower geographic mobility for obvious reasons – it is more difficult to move from an area when selling a house or apartment is involved. Why is geographic job mobility sometimes necessary? In recent times more and more companies have faced the need to change their strategies in order to catch up with rising demands in the market and this inevitably calls for higher labour market flexibility. Job profiles are changing, competency requirements are ever growing and life-long job tenure is part of an era that has long since passed. Workers move between different jobs out of their own interest or their company’s request and that mobility frequently brings up the subject of relocation. And if you own your house or apartment and have established a home, is this acceptable? From this point of view headhunters are facing a difficult task and pinpointing the best candidates for jobs is only the first step. Challenging the geographic rigidity of not only job candidates, but also clients is the next and even more demanding step. Let’s take for example a high profile job opening in a remote region of Slovenia. Is there a high profile candidate already living there? Not necessarily. Our job as headhunters is also to shift the mindset of our clients and allow them to consider their options: choosing the best candidate for a position even though that candidate may not live in the area or allowing a candidate’s address (and with that lower travel expenses) to outweigh other, and in our opinion more important, factors such as competency. In times of rising professional mobility demands, is home ownership an asset or a liability hindrance? There is no absolute answer to this question. The problem is much more complex since home ownership is not the only factor influencing job mobility – age, marital or relationship status, children, interest priorities, social standards, wage appetite, etc., also play a part. We must ask ourselves as individuals if home ownership in a specific area determines our way of life, or as potential employers if choosing a local candidate for a job opening is an absolute must. After all, Slovenia is by geographic standards a small country and what we call “long-distance travel” may in other European or worldwide countries seem laughable.

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A Little Help? As Winter turns to Spring, there is still little sign of sunnier times for Slovenia’s struggling construction sector. In 2010, 9,400 people lost their jobs in construction and it seems likely this year will not be much better – the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry is forecasting a further seven percent decline in the sector for this year. The main question now is the extent to which the government is willing to help this sector out of its troubles. By Aleš Šinkovec


he Ministry of the Economy has recently announced extensive plans to reinvigorate Slovenia’s troubled construction sector. Economy Minister Darja Radić believes the government must now intervene, arguing that the alternative is a multitude of construction companies folding like dominoes. One of the problems that the Minister identifies is the lack of any large state projects. There is, however, EUR 52m designated for hospital refurbishment, a further EUR 137m available to the Ministry of Economy and the Eco Fund and the final decision for building the sixth block of the TEŠ power plant “hasn’t fallen”. There are also possibilities for developers to build various hydroelectric plants.

A greater opportunity may lie in work abroad. Radić explains: “We are in intense talks with the Russian Federation, Work abroad A greater opportunity may lie so that a consortium of in work abroad. Radić explains: Slovene construction “We are in intense talks with the companies under the Russian Federation, so that a conleadership of Energoplan sortium of Slovene construction would land a project in companies under the leadership of Energoplan would land a project the construction of the in the construction of the Olympic Olympic Village in Sochi.” Village in Sochi.” The Slovenia Times

While Radić and her colleagues work on measures to help the sector, debate rages around which companies are worth saving. The largest construction company in Slovenia, SCT, remains a controversial presence on the market. It has been in court for administration proceedings, leading to the loss of two major contracts in Bosnia together totally more than EUR 110m. Meanwhile the assets of boss and owner Ivan Zidar have been successfully frozen, after the Cerknica District Court approved a creditor’s motion. This David versus Goliath victory was achieved by the Liko Liboje company, which is owed EUR 1.8m by SCT. The fear had been that SCT’s managers would move the remaining healthy assets, such as SCT Tovarna Kovinske Opreme, and establish a new company wholly owned by the management. Even throughout all of this uncertainty, SCT battles on. The firm has secured a collection of deals in Serbia worth EUR 31m. It will include many different elements, such as a sport and recreational centre and a shopping mall. The latest plan for SCT, to be able to go through administration, is to create revenues of EUR 450m in the next two years. To

radically increase their income, they are looking to win the contracts to participate in the renewal of the Slovenian railway network. Zidar has registered a new company in conjunction with the Austrian construction company Porr, SCT-Porr. On the one hand, Zidar states that he is set on repaying SCT’s creditors. On the other, if SCT’s toxic debt is not divorced through the creation of a new, healthy company with references, then no other company will become a strategic partner to win the railway contracts. Many believe Ivan Zidar, with his multiple allegations of corruption, is not trustworthy. Should SCT therefore be allowed to fold? It seems there’s a feeling this firm may be too big to fail – Radić has not publicly condemned Zidar in the way she did Hilda Tovšak, the former boss of Vegrad. For now it’s a case of wait and see but the significance of the construction sector to Slovenia’s economy shouldn’t be underestimated. It employs massive numbers of people and, before the recession, was one of the big drivers of the economy. Can it regain that position? Not without state help, it would seem.

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Interview: Filippo Rean, MIPIM director

Measured Optimism Real estate representatives from around the globe are once again descending on Cannes for MIPIM, the world’s major real estate conference. They do so at a time of continuing uncertainty in the property sector. MIPIM director Filippo Rean says the event will reflect this reality while simultaneously helping its 18,000 participants to build development strategies for the future. By Claire Read an overview of what’s going on in the real estate sector on an international scale. Investment is at the heart of real estate and at MIPIM you find the largest community of investment companies from all over the world with about 4,000 investors expected this year. The scope of investors is expanding with the globalisation of economies and besides the traditional players from Europe and the USA, MIPIM is able to attract new players from Asia targeting international markets. What is the main focus of this year’s event? The MIPIM conference programme will give pride of place to the theme of investment with major speakers and the launch of several new conference formats related to investment. Cities will continue to take an important place at MIPIM with the Mayors’ Think Tank focusing this year on urban strategies and the implementation of integrated solutions. The United Kingdom is this year’s Country of Honour. This choice has been made in recognition of the contribution that the UK has made to the global real estate market during MIPIM’s 22year history and the vital role the UK has played in the promotion of cross-border investment.

After the difficult times the global economy has been through these last two years, it seems very important to us to help our participants have a lear vision of the global economic outlook when building their development strategies. MIPIM is widely regarded as the world’s premier real estate event. How has it secured this position? With real estate players from over 80 countries, MIPIM is the mirror of the global real estate market. It gathers the whole spectrum of the industry which makes MIPIM the best platform to have The Slovenia Times

How has MIPIM managed to stay relevant during the property downturn? MIPIM’s goal is to stay constantly in touch with the property market. The world of real estate has changed considerably, both in its practices and geographic scope. Therefore, we are putting a special focus on content through premium and business focused events adapted to the needs of each different category of professionals. MIPIM participants will have the opportunity to interact with today’s finest experts in their field of activity as well as to network and develop their business. Presentations from leading figures have always been a key part of MIPIM. Who do you have speaking this year?

The MIPIM 2011 conference programme will feature prestigious speakers, including the world famous economist Nouriel Roubini for a keynote speech on the global economy and its impact on real estate. After the difficult times the global economy has been through these last two years, it seems very important to us to help our participants have a clear vision of the global economic outlook when building their development strategies. Two other leading international experts in economics and investment – Dr Holger Schmieding, chief economist at Berenberg Bank in London and Pierre Vaquier, chief executive officer of AXA Real Estate – will provide delegates with their insight into winning investment strategies in Europe. Also two major names in German investment, Dr. Karl-Joseph Hermanns-Engel, managing director of Union Investment Real Estate GmbH and Dr Gerhard Niesslein, chief executive of IVG Immobilien AG, will give a complete overview of the German market which is known for its investor expertise and know-how. Cities play a vital role in tomorrow’s real estate projects. Beside the Mayors’ Think Tank, the programme of conferences will feature the mayors of two international metropolises: Sao Paulo mayor Gilberto Kassab and Boris Johnson, Mayor of London, a city which faces the major challenge of welcoming the 2012 Olympic Games. What does this year’s event tell us about the current state of the real estate sector? MIPIM has always been an excellent indicator of the situation in the international real estate sector. The return of important real estate projects in the exhibition hall and in the MIPIM Awards competition are positive signs. However the first signs of recovery haven’t occurred at the same time in each country. Real estate professionals are showing a measured optimism and MIPIM 2011 will clearly reflect this state of mind.

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30 REAL ESTATE special

European strategy

Polishing the Gold With its position in the centre of Europe and two important European routes running through the country the geographical location of Slovenia is a golden asset. This gold is set to shine even more with the new European Danube Strategy which will be implemented after approval by the European Commission in June. Extra Slovenian investments in logistics are already underway. By Mark Koghee

Slovenia is constructing a new railway line between Koper and Divača which will meet the line from Trieste


t´s a rainy Sunday in early February and on the Lukovica parking along Slovenia’s motorway A1 a Romanian lorry is parked between trucks from Italy, Ukraine, Germany, Russia and the Czech Republic. The back of the vehicle is opened and on the floor of the car the driver places two chairs and a table where he and some colleagues gather around. It´s an everyday scene along Sloven ia n motor ways and it shows the big plus of the country; its geographical location. In Slovenia, Europe and beyond meets. The A1 is part of European Corridor Five which connects Venice, Ljubljana, Budapest and Kiev. In Ljubljana Corridor Five crosses Corridor Ten, the route from Salzburg through Ljubljana, Zagreb, and Belgrade to Thessaloniki. The corridors are the two central axes of the Danube region.

by road, rail and air gets faster and cleaner. As for Slovenia, little work on the roads isn’t needed as the country just finished a network of motorways. Now that this work is completed, the government is shifting its focus to the railways. Several railway projects have already been put into action or are about to. Last year Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia Herzegovina set up railway company Cargo 10 for freight trains on Corridor Ten. The company should boost railway traffic on this route and connect the markets between Germany and Turkey. Republic, Bulgaria and Romania. Parts of Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, Ukraine and Moldavia fall within the region as well. Cooperation between this mixture of well and lesser developed countries will have to make the region as a whole take a step up the ladder of prosperity. Using more of the potential is one way of achieving that. The countries will work on projects for a better supply of energy and a cleaner environment, they will fight organised crime and invest in education. Recently Slovenia was appointed to coordinate actions to improve traffic of passengers and freight, one of the pillars of the Danube Strategy. “In the field of transport the strategy will mean that the gap between Western and Eastern Europe should slowly but surely diminish,” explains Eldina Knez of the Ministry of Transport. “States will work together with a common transport policy. Slovenia as a transit country has a role of its own to play to contribute to seamless road and rail transport. It has been historically, economically and politically part of the Danube region, and it represents the easiest land connection between the Danube region and Western Europe”.

The A1 is part of European Corridor Five Potential unused According to the European which connects Venice, Union a lot of potential in the reLjubljana, Budapest gion stays unused. The river Danand Kiev. In Ljubljana ube for example stays behind in transport in comparison Corridor Five crosses freight with rivers in other parts of EuCorridor Ten, the route rope. And while there are plenty from Salzburg through of trucks on the Slovenian motorLjubljana, Zagreb, and ways, the railways of the corridors see a lot less traffic. Belgrade to Thessaloniki. Besides Slovenia the Danube re- Faster and cleaner The corridors are the gion covers parts of European Un- transport The specific Slovenian task two central axes of the ion members Germany, Austria, Danube region. Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovak will be to see to it that transport The Slovenia Times

A new railway

On Corridor Five the construction of a new railway line is being prepared between Koper and Divaca where the new track will meet the line from Trieste. After the construction of 27 kilometres of brand new double track rail the capacity of the connection will grow from 82 trains per day to 231 trains per day. The modernisation of the railways and the vicinity of Corridors Five and Ten promise further growth for Slovenia’s only sea port. For the Port of Koper a third pier is in the pipeline with a new container terminal. One of the biggest logistics operations though will be the metamorphose of eighty hectares of land into Aeropolis Ljubljana, a business and logistic centre next to Ljubljana’s Jože Pučnik Airport, also near the corridors. The first phase of the construction of Aeropolis is scheduled for 2012. In 2021 it should be completed with a railway connection to Ljubljana. Like Aeropolis, the Danube Strategy and other projects are long-term plans. But if they travel the road that is now laid out for them, in about twenty years’ time resting drivers at the Lukovica parking would be passed by frequent high speed trains transporting a lot more goods and passengers all around the Danube region and beyond.

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32 REAL ESTATE special

Contemporary architecture

Seeking an Identity The beginning of the 20th century was also the beginning of a golden era in Slovenian architecture. Following the political situation, as architecture often does, designers were inspired by the Viennese Secession movement to seek distinctly Slovenian traditions. As time as gone on this, these traditions have evolved and amended courtesy of a variety of visionary individuals. By Irena Hlede ogy and remained in the city at the studio of Otto Wagner until the turn of the century. Returning to Ljubljana, he undertook his first large-scale architectural project – the urban plan for the newly established capital. Under the personal sponsorship of the mayor of Ljubljana, Ivan Hribar, Fabiani designed several important buildings, including Mladika, which is now the seat of the Slovenian Foreign Ministry.

The national style

Ivan Vurnik: Cooperative Credit Bank, Ljubljana (1921–1922)

Max Fabiani: Mladika Palace, Ljubljana (1896) The Slovenia Times


t the end of Austro-Hungarian Empire and the establishment of the independent Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, there were two important names in architecture: Max Fabiani and Ivan Vurnik. Fabiani was born to a wealthy family in the village of Kobdilj near

Štanjel in what was then the Austro-Hungarian province of Gorizia and Gradisca. He grew up in a cosmopolitan trilingual environment; besides Italian and Slovene, he learned German from a very young age. Fabiani studied architecture at the Vienna University of Technol-

Max Fabiani: Palace Urania, Vienna (1909–1910)

By the end of World War I, he was a professor at the University of Vienna and also invited to teach at the newly established University of Ljubljana. However, he rejected both positions and returned to his home region, which was then under Italian control. His later works were devoted to this landscape, where he stayed for many years as mayor of his native Štanjel. His most important works, besides the aforementioned city plan and Mladika, were the villas of Portois and Fix, Artaria and Urania in Vienna, the Revenue Office building in Gorizia, Narodni Dom in Trieste, the plan for the reconstruction of Gorizia and the general urban development plan for Venice in 1952. Ivan Vurnik was equally important. Born to a wealthy artisan

REAL ESTATE special 33 The impact of war

Vladimir Šubic: Nebotičnik (The Skyscraper), Ljubljana (1933)

family in the town of Radovljica, he studied architecture at the Vienna University of Technology under the architect Karl Mayreder, where he was influenced by the Viennese Secession, especially by the work of his compatriot Fabiani, with whom he maintained a lifelong friendship. He stayed in Vienna until the end of World War I. Once back in his native Slovenia, Vurnik tried to establish a specifically Slovenian style of architecture, combining the modern quest for utility with aestheticism and ornamentalism. One of the highlights of this so-called “national style” is the multi-coloured, patterned building of the Cooperative Credit Bank in Ljubljana.

The first skyscraper

In his later works, such as the central building for the Sokol movement in Ljubljana, he moved to simpler ornaments with a more archaic flavour. Among his greatest contributions to Slovenian architecture is the establishment of the department of architecture within the Technical Faculty of the University of Ljubljana. He devoted his later years mostly to teaching; only few of his projects

were realised. Among them, the set of family houses for industrial workers in Maribor should be mentioned, because it fully exemplifies Vurnik’s new vision of a simple, ascetic and purely utilitarian style. The Slovenian styles established by Fabiani and Vurnik evolved with the work of the architects that came after them. One was Vladimir Šubic. His most famous achievement, which reflects his interest in contemporary architectural developments, was Nebotičnik, the first Slovenian skyscraper. At the time of its completion, it was the tallest building in all of southeastern Europe. Besides Nebotičnik, Šubic designed many other important buildings, including the Koehler Villa, the Chamber of Labour, palaces of Trade, Grafika and the Trade Academy, the Udarnik Cinema in Maribor and the Putnik Pavilion in Belgrade. After World War II, he felt out of favour with the new Communist authorities because of his liberal views; he died under unknown circumstances at work as engineer in work brigade in Bosnia.

World War II brought changes in political orientation, which were also reflected in the field of architecture. The first years were devoted mostly to the reconstruction of demolished transport infrastructure. The flowering of architecture began in the 1960s and ‘70s. The most important figures of the time were Edvard Ravnikar and Edo Mihevc. Also active were graduates from the Ljubljana Faculty of Architecture, including Milan Mihelič, Oton Jugovec, Branko Kocmut, Svetozar Križaj, Janez Lajovic, Stanko Kristl and Miloš Bonča. They mostly worked in Slovenia and in the rest of Yugoslavia. After growing up in Novo Mesto, Ravnikar attended the School of Architecture in Ljubljana as a student of Jože Plečnik. Completing his studies in 1935, he worked for four years in Paris with Le Corbusier, which had a distinct influence on his work, particularly his vision of urban planning and modern architecture. He is significant in Slovenian architecture not only for his professional work, but also as a critic and essayist and as an important figure in the development of the Ljubljana Faculty of Architecture. As a professor, his most significant contribution was the promotion of the Scandinavian architectural style in Slovenia. Ravnikar’s most important work in Ljubljana is Republic Square. He also made the urban plan of Nova Gorica, City Hall in Kranj, the cemetery of internees at Rab, the Cankarjev dom cultural centre and the Ferantov vrt residential complex in Ljubljana and many others.

At the time of its completion, Nebotičnik was the tallest building in all of southeastern Europe.

Ravnikar’s most important work in Ljubljana is Republic Square. He also made the urban plan of Nova Gorica, City Hall in Kranj, the cemetery of internees at Rab, the Cankarjev dom cultural Influence across Europe centre and the Ferantov There are still many significant vrt residential complex Slovenian architects at work to- in Ljubljana and many continued on page 34 others.

Edvard Ravnikar: Trg republike (Republic Square), Ljubljana (1960–1981) March 2011

34 REAL ESTATE special

Boris Podrecca: Hotel Valamar Lacroma, Dubrovnik, Croatia (Photo: Miran Kambič)

One of biggest current successes of Slovenian architectural skill and construction knowledge is the project for a new bridge over the Danube River in Belgrade.

continued from page 34

day. Although he does not live in Slovenia, Boris Podrecca must be mentioned, since he’s one of the most famous European architects. Born in Belgrade, he spent a short part of his childhood in Ljubljana and in lived Trieste as a youth. He went to Vienna to become a student of sculpture but there he encountered architecture. Podrecca has worked for many years as a professor at different European universities; he has won dozens of awards and competitions, and his professional portfolio is enormous, covering arrangements of city squares, department stores, churches, housing developments, company headquarters and hotels throughout Europe, es-

Proprio Property Fair The much anticipated second Proprio international property fair will take place on 23 and 24 March 2011 at Gospodarsko Razstavišče in Ljubljana. The fair will host both Slovenian and foreign exhibitors, presenting the latest sought-after projects in the property market. The mélange of exhibitors will include construction companies, developers, engineering companies, architects, investors, agents, public institutions, banks and other organisations working in real estate.

Jurij Sadar and Boštjan Vuga: The Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, Ljubljana (1996–1999)

pecially in Slovenia, Croatia, Italy and Germany.

Removing barriers

In the post-independence era, one firm has been especially prominent. The SADAR+VUGA architectural studio was founded in Ljubljana in 1996 by Jurij Sadar and Boštjan Vuga. Their growing portfolio of work ranges from innovative town planning to sculpture for public spaces, from interactive new public buildings to interventions within older existing structures. One of their earliest, but extremely high-profile works was the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, a project attempting explicitly to do away with any barriers between public, semi-public and private features. These goals have been expressed visually through the façade, designed like boxes piled on top of each other. Its unique approach and visual appeal set the Chamber of Commerce and Industry as one of the most important works of contemporary Slovenian architecture.

A bridge to the future

One of biggest current successes of Slovenian architectural skill and construction knowledge is the

project for a new bridge over the Danube River in Belgrade. The creators are Peter Gabrijelčič, architect and dean of Ljubljana Faculty of Architecture, and Viktor Markelj, head engineer from Ponting, d.o.o. It is envisaged that the bridge will last for centuries as a new icon of Belgrade and the biggest bridge of that type in Europe. With its 200-metre high pylon, it will significantly change the panorama of the capital of Serbia. The bridge’s concept is derived from the idea of a city boulevard. The towering yet elegant cable-stayed bridge crosses the Danube River over Ada Island, on which the gigantic pylon has its foundation, dividing the bridge in two parts. The project is already under way and completion is planned for 2014. It is the most important contemporary engineering achievement in Belgrade and all signs indicate that it will become a new icon of this great city. All of the aforementioned architects and their best achievements are just a small part of the creative scene of one of the smallest countries in European Union. All are proof that Slovenia is small only according to its population, not in its creative potential.

On both days visitors can attend numerous conferences and educational roundtable discussions organised by The Slovenia Times, Public Agency of the Republic of Slovenia for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investment and others. Thursday will be wholly devoted to the latest developments in eco construction. For more information go to Peter Gabrijelčič and Viktor Markelj: Bridge over Danube by island Ava (2009–2014) The Slovenia Times

Koseze City oasis

Prestige apartments close at hand Apartment and business complex Koseze

The Koseze pond

The hill Rožnik

A rare opportunity, an incredible location! Prestige apartments, the vicinity to the city and nature are inviting you to decide upon buying something at the apartment and business complex Koseze. This location offers you all the modern infrastructure, like a school, a kinder-

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garten, shops, a bank, a post office, the Koseze market, city transportation, the motorway, and also an excellent opportunity for a quiet stroll or recreation activities (the Koseze pond, Mostec, the zoo, PST, Rožnik).

The comforts of living are guaranteed by the superior way of construction, the energy-saving object and a high quality final realisation of the object. CALL US FOR A TOUR!

36 REAL ESTATE special

Eco materials

Architecture for the Environment Architecture has always been a demanding vocation. But in the twenty first century, those working in the field face a new difficulty – making their buildings as environmentally friendly as they are attractive and practical. By Irena Hlede


n capital cities across Europe, leaders find themselves debating how to create sustainable environments for both residents and visitors. It is not a simple task. Ljubljana, however, has a major advantage when it comes to meeting this challenge – its deputy mayor is a visionary architect. Professor Janez Koželj has wide knowledge of architecture theory and urbanism; knowledge which is being put into practice as he helps transform the capital one of the smallest and youngest members of European union into a modern and sustainable city. A pedestrian zone has already been completed renovated in the historical centre of Ljubljana. And while outside the city a multitude of developments are springing up, the emphasis is very much on environmental sustainability.

Energy efficiency

T h e l a r g e s t de ve lo p m e nt is no exception. Part nersh ip Šmartinska is a massive redevelopment project in the northeastern part of Slovenia’s capital which will see the creation of shopping, residential and office space as well as the construction of the largest skyscraper in the country, Crystal Palace. The hope is this building will be as green as it is tall. Its south facade will be covered with solar panels; rainwater will be used in the cooling towers; the windows and window frames will have low permeability

Ostan Pavlin The Slovenia Times

Domnovo is being designed by Kragelj Architects

factors of solar and thermal radiation; and all offices and tenants will have separate measurements of energy consumption and water. Crystal Palace is far from the only environmentally-friendly architecture being practised in Slovenia. On the eastern border of Ljubljana, work is underway to convert an old sugar factory into the new administrative centre for the nation. Architects Marko Studen, Miha Dobrin, Ilka Čerpes and Boris Matić of Scapelab are aiming for the highest level of energy efficiency for the new building. The goal is for zero carbon emissions.

New residential developments

A commitment to sustainability is also found at Ljubljana-based firm Atelje Ostan Pavlin. The team there is currently working to convert an abandoned quarry, Podu-

tik, into a new residential area. The settlement is located next to the green belt of the city under forested hills, so it’s logical that it uses natural sources of renewable energy: the heat and the cold of existing watercourses, geothermal energy through water pumps, and solar energy. In accordance with the principles of geobiology, the architects have proposed healthy building materials and green roofs on the top of terraced apartments. A similar sustainable development is planned close to Novo Mesto, a small town in the southern part of Slovenia. Domnovo is being designed by Kragelj Architects, led by director and chief architect Alenka Kragelj Eržen. Kragelj Eržen is clearly well placed to create an environmentally friendly development – she is the author of more than thirty articles on architecture, green

Vila Viktorija

buildings and interior design, and is frequently invited to various events to speak about contemporary architectural design and sustainable architecture. Enota also adopts a researchbased approach towards land design. The two current partners in the firm – Dean Lah and Milan Tomac – say that sustainability is the key principle of their work. Their main current project is the redevelopment of the historic Villa Victoria, located on the shore of Lake Bled. The century-old building is to be transformed into a hotel, with Enota’s plans ensuring that all trees on the site will remain unaffected and that the redeveloped building will meet all current environmental requirements. It may not always be easy being green. But Slovenian architects are trying hard to be so – and in many instances are succeeding.

REAL ESTATE special 37

Capital of culture

More Affordable Maribor Ljubljana is not merely the political capital of Slovenia – it is also the country’s cultural and educational centre. Often, the city overshadows other locations in the country. However, there are lots of places that deserve attention and are interesting from many points of view, not least the real estate situation. One of them is Maribor, the country’s second largest city. By Polona Cimerman


ext year Maribor will boast the impressive title of the European Capital of Culture. The title will no doubt increase interest in Slovenia’s second largest city. Yet this is a place with a long history and a diverse cultural tradition which have for years made it a unique and interesting city to call home. Its fans are unequivocal about its charms. According to Daniel Sauli from the city’s Atrium real estate agency, Maribor “is the most attractive city in Slovenia since it has everything that a leading city of the region should offer – medical centre, university, sport and recreational objects, tourism facilities, business and industrial centres and a transport infrastructure – but its real estate prices make flats more accessible

for an average family budget than Ljubljana.”

Better prices

According to the Surveying and Mapping Authority of the Republic of Slovenia (GURS), the prices of all kinds of real estate properties in the country fell in the last quarter of 2010. In 2009, Maribor was hit hardest by the decreased demand and had less real estate trade than the third largest Slovenian city Celje. But in the second half of 2009 and in 2010 the number of transactions rocketed by 162 percent, placing Maribor back in second place. The average price for a square metre in Slovenia was EUR 1,737, a three percent decrease on the previous quarter. Maribor followed the national trend. The average price

was EUR 1,159 per square metre – 3.4 percent less than in the previous three months. At EUR 107,103, the average house price in Maribor was 19.9 percent lower and 17.1 percent lower than at the end of 2009. It seems that future prices will be largely dependent on banks and whether they decide to demand loans back from investors. Jožef Murko from Dodoma real estate argues that “the prices are going to remain the same and they surely won’t go up.” He does not expect fresh capital in the market and suggests there will therefore be no greater changes. However, Sauli from Atrium disagrees: “Nowadays it’s difficult to predict, but I think that in general the prices in the next two years are going to rise due to the lack of new offers and the growth of demand.”

Culture sells?

As Maribor approaches 2012 and the cultural title, the city is bustling with projects. Real estate agencies in Maribor say that are not noticing and do not expect any special interest in property purchases as a result of the title. However, Tjaša Poropat from Insa agency says that they anticipate an increased demand for flat and office rentals. In Sauli’s opinion, a greater impact will be felt by a variety of planned infrastructure

projects – he expects CERUM, Glavni trg and Dravsko nabrežje to raise the attractiveness of the quarter and suspects property prices will be boosted as a result. Both Poropat and Sauli agree that foreigners are not the main target customers. “Some years ago there was a rush of foreigners here,” says Poropat. According to Sauli, today they represent less than 10 percent of clients: “But they are definitely more demanding than the local buyers due to the absence of the emotional factor.” They are interested in detached buildings in more prestigious locations such as Vrbanski plato, Radvanje, Pohorje, next to the city park and the Drava. Daily newspaper Finance recently reported that four real estate agencies from Maribor joined in the sale of one of the new property developments in the city. They decided to do this due to the changed market and optimisation of marketing costs. They believe they can create healthy competition by co-operation and thus achieve better results for the investor, the buyer and themselves by uniting their knowledge, experience and information. It is an innovative approach to boosting the property market in Maribor, but in a time of downturn innovation is surely what is needed.

Parts of the old city are being refurbished in preparation for 2012 Capital of Culture March 2011

KRANJSKA INVESTICIJSKA DRUŽBA d.o.o. Krainische Investitionsgesellschaft m.b.H. Carniolan Investment Company Ltd

The Carniolan Investment Company Ltd

Kranjska investicijska družba d.o.o. Zaloška cesta 1, SI - 1000 Ljubljana T: +386 (0)1 600 40 00 F: +386 (0)1 600 40 09


The Carniolan Investment Company Ltd, founded in 1993, is one of the largest real estate development companies in Slovenia. Its development solutions are bringing a new quality of living into the business, social and cultural spheres in Slovenia. Its innovative projects are based on solidity, usability and beauty, and simultaneously demonstrate the high economic efficiency of an investment. The Carniolan Investment Company (KID) is not only active in the development of real estate, but is also a major supporter of cultural projects. Each year it sponsors the Ljubljana Summer Festival, the main summer cultural event in the Slovenian capital which features more than 3,000 performers and around 70 top cultural performances. Among other charitable organisations it supports the Parus Foundation, through which it grants scholarships to promising law students. It devotes special attention to the preservation of cultural heritage. KID organised the restoration of the Pule Estate, one of the most prestigious tourist estates in Slovenia, as well as the restoration of several churches and four church organs. One of its most recent contributions is the erection of the first monument to the late Pope John Paul II in Rome – the work of the reputed Slovenian sculptor, Bratuš.

The development of a new concert and opera hall is unique in terms of programme, appearance and purpose. The hall is located in the north-western part of the inner city centre – on the grounds of old Kolizej building – using the last disposable plot in the area with sufficient size and dimensions. It is easily accessible with the national airport being only 26 kilometres away. The concert and opera hall with 1,671 seats, superior acoustic and stage design technology is the central part of the new building complex. It is designed so that many different programmes can take place at the same time: opera and ballet, classical music concerts, banquets and conferences, dance events, fashion shows, rock concerts and other events. Above the concert and opera hall, a new luxury five-star hotel with two seperate parts offers 160 rooms/suits and a residential villa with 15 luxurious apartments. Musica complex also features an office building with shops in the plinth, and a vast underground garage with 468 parking spaces. The whole project, based on an initial concept from 2004, is a result of collaboration among distinguished experts on global scale. The project that won at the international tender is designed by the renowned Neutelings Riedijk Architects from Rotterdam. Construction is due to start in 2012 with the total investment valued at EUR 130m. The future Musica complex will be a centre of culture, as well as a centre of lively cultural activities, various events, attractive performances and gatherings of eminent guests.


A COMMERCIAL/BUSINESS CENTRE A new commercial/business centre in a total gross area of 25,978 square metres will be constructed on an ideal site near one of Ljubljana’s three main radial roads, in the direct vicinity of the motorway ring. The conceptual design foresees a separate commercial section (ground floor facility) and a business section (10-storey tower). The commercial building is planned as a shopping centre featuring eight shops of varying size. These have been designed to meet the requirements of individual tenants, with appropriate storage areas and parking spaces. The ground floor facility in a net floor area of 5,395 square meteres is L-shaped, with entrances into individual shops from the north/west side, and delivery and service entrances into storage areas from the south/east side. The facade will be partly glazed, and external parking areas will be partly embellished with horticultural greenery and provide a total of 158 parking spaces. The business building will be located along Celovťka cesta, one of the most important radial roads leading to the center of Ljubljana, and will be designed as a tower. It will have three underground levels, a ground floor, and ten storeys in a total gross floor area of 20,300 square metres. There will be 278 parking spaces underground, and an additional 28 outside the building. All rooms intended for business activities will have forced ventilation, heating and air-conditioning. The facade will be made of light aluminium elements and glazed surfaces. External areas will combine asphalt and horticultural arrangements. Work on the commercial section is planned to start in March 2012, while the time schedule for the business building project is still in the planning phase.

40 REAL ESTATE special

Regional overview: Croatia

Return of the Buyer With pirvate investors returning to the country, it looks as though 2011 may be a slightly betteryear for the Croatian propertymarket. However, it is stlifar from the case that “anything goes” – atpresent, onlysensibly pircedlocatoi ns andrelativelyinexpensive hodilayproperties are in demand. By Mateja Novak


lthough some reports have suggested a five to ten percent fall in Croatian property prices, the actual decline has been a much steeper 20 to 30 percent. The reason for this disparity? The difference between advertised and actual sales values. This is especially true for coastal areas where much of the property is purchased by foreigners and where transaction volumes are low and data is limited. Furthermore, the current system of monitoring Croatian real estate prices is fairly ineffective due to a lack of accurate data. The main source of data is the tax office, where contractual prices of property sold are registered. However, the practice of manipulating contractual prices for tax purposes is still common in Croatia making available data highly unreliable.

Coast still the most popular

What data is around indicates that seaside properties in Croatia are selling well and for reasonable prices, five to 10 percent below the

2010/2011 are also up from the previous year, yet they remain far from pre-crisis levels. Transaction volumes are still low but the number of sales converted is rising and investors who have been showing interest over the last 12 months are beginning to commit, estate agents report. Nonetheless, property consultants still expect there to be continued downward pressure on real estate prices in Croatia in 2011.

EU prospects

Split old town is currently very popular with foreign buyers

peak price. Apartments around the EUR 100,000 mark and not too far from the sea are most popular. An oversupply of such properties means heavy discounts which are proving attractive to buyers. Enquiries for properties in Split old town are on the rise as buyers are

looking for a holiday home as well as an investment property. Since prices in the area have dropped by 20 percent since the peak, properties are now more affordable and yields more attractive. Overall enquires for properties in Croatia during the winter of

In 2012 Croatia is expected to join the European Union, but it remains to be seen how much of an effect this will have on its real estate market. Agents suggest two distinct possibilities, a moderate and stable effect or an inflationary drive. Real estate firm First Property Croatia believes the impact is likely to be somewhere in the middle: “in which case we don’t expect to see the same price inflation post-EU accession as seen in those countries that joined in 2004, but we do expect to see confidence returning and expect moderate but stable price rises.”

Regional overview: Montenegro

Keeping Up Appearances Montenegro’s property market is still grabbing headlines across the world, despite the ongoing slowdown in the real estate market. Tourist numbers continue to grow with agents hoping this will reflect in an increase in demand for holiday homes. However, despite all the promising news, both local and foreign buyers are still in decline. By Mateja Novak


he media often likes to paint a picture of Montenegro as the next jewel on the European coast; a place of significant natural beauty and a good location close to many other European destinations. The number of announced and undergoing developments supports this image. The government’s plans for improving infrastructure and creating a friendly environment for foreign investors reinforces the feeling that the future is bright. Significant money is currently being channelled into improving the The Slovenia Times

coast’s water supply. The northern section of the regional water supply system is already completed – at a reported cost of EUR 81.7m – and a second phase covering the southern regions due for completion shortly.

Preparing for the future

In addition, a number of initiatives are underway to improve power provision in the country. They include multi-million euro investments into hydro and wind power plants. Power lines link-

ing Italy and Montenegro are proposed from 2015 in a partnership with Italian investors. And as a part of wider European initiatives to expand transport logistics across south eastern Europe, Montenegro is investing into routes connected to ‘Corridor X’ which links western Europe to Greece.

Dealing with the present

In spite of all this investment and promise, the property market in the country continues to

struggle. The volume of property transactions in Montenegro peaked in 2007 while in 2009 transaction levels shrank dramatically. Data for 2010 suggests the market remained at the same level as the previous year. According to the annual real estate market analysis conducted by the Central Bank of Montenegro, 20.1 percent of real estate agencies in the country registered the same traffic in 2010 as the year before, while 45.9 percent of agencies said they registered less traffic for the same period. Decline in demand for

REAL ESTATE special 41

Regional overview: Serbia

Slight Growth Continues Following last year’s 20 to 30 percent fall, property prices in Serbia are expected to remain level in 2011. However, there are expectations that the market will gradually begin to pick up towards the end of the year. That said, prices are not expected to leap in the way they did between 2006 and 2008. By Mateja Novak


Fast forward to the present day and Parivodić is cautiously upbeat about the market prospects in 2011. But he expects a more significant shift, especially in terms of foreign investor interest, in 2012 by which time the state should have reformed the law on ownership and building rights. Parivodić stresses that foreign investors are

interested in investing in real estate in Serbia, but are often put off by inappropriate legal framework and certainty for i nvest ment, not only in residential buildings and office space, but in factories also. A lt houg h t h e global economic crisis has not affected Serbia in the sphere of mort- Prices per square metre in the centre of Belgrade stand at around EUR 2,300 gage backed secusee a shift in the housing market Belgrade is still seeing the most rities, since Serbia never had them, in 2011, although a significant activity with prices per square methere was an impact in terms of upward trend is not expected to tre ranging from EUR 1,100 in the liquidity and lack of foreign in- loom until the end of the year. suburbs to EUR 2,300 in the city vestment. According to Parivodić, “This year brings a shift in the centre and in the areas of Vračar foreigners in Serbia are mostly in- housing market, although the in- and Dorćol. The most expensive terested in shopping malls, hotels stitutional foreign investors, and areas remain Senjak and Dedinje and logistics centres. by that I mean major corporations, where prices per square metre are still consider the Serbian market around EUR 3,500. Those in SerSome time to wait as risky or secondary,” Vujičić bian real estate are watching these Srdjan Vujičić – director of King says. He expects the residential prices with interest; hoping they Sturž consulting firm for real es- market to remain as slow as last will increase as the year wears tate in Serbia – also expects to year. on.

services on average was around 25 percent. Many agencies say the decline is explained by a significant drop in interest amongst foreign buyers. At the same time, local buyers do not have the means to get on the property ladder. With sellers un-

able or unwilling to adjust their prices in line with the current economic situation, many Montenegrins are finding it almost impossible to afford the properties on offer. “Prices are still unrealistically high,” confirms property con-

any real estate professionals in Serbia agree that the market is in slightly better shape than it was in 2010. Last year there was serious pessimism. Milan Parivodić, founder of Foreign Investors Services – which works with foreigners who want to invest in real estate in Serbia – said that in the areas of construction and sales the market was “almost in a free fall “ in 2010 as a result of reduced liquidity in the local economy. He described that as a consequence many residential properties remained unsold and the bulk of office space remaining unused.

Foreign investors

sultant Nataša Obradović. “In order for sales to increase and for domestic or foreign buyers to be able to afford a property in Montenegro, prices will have to fall dramatically.”

Montenegro is looking to revive some of its past glory with a number of luxurious developments across the coast

Upward trend

Some data, however, does suggest that an upward trend is beginning – 16.1 percent of agencies had a higher turnover in 2010 and turnover growth was 20 percent on average. In addition, many report that February saw a growth in sales. “Sales have increased by 15 to 20 percent in the last month,” says Djurica Maletin, director of Contest real estate agency. “This could be because there are a number of developers who are now forced to lower their prices as they can’t keep up the loan repayments.” The prices across the coast do seem to be falling, with some properties in Budva – which was one of the most expensive locations in the past – now between EUR 1,300 and EUR 1,500 per square metre. Elsewhere on the coast, prices have dropped to as little as EUR 800 per square metre for some properties. Enough to bring back the foreign buyers and for this country to fulfill its considerable promise? March 2011


The Wellness Park Laško’s Touch of Five Elements

BTC Restaurant Dine with Style



Wellness The Magic Touch Park Laško

The Slovenia Times editor-in-chief Jaka Terpinc was invited to Wellness Park Laško to uncover the mystery of a ritual called the touch of five elements. At first he was reluctant to take time out of his hectic schedule to indulge in a massage session. But it turned out that a relaxing three hours at the Spa left him better placed than ever to deal with the challenges of day-to-day life.

Some might think that beer is the only revitalising fluid that springs at Laško, but the warm thermal wells were a matter of curiosity centuries before the brewery was set up. Laško follows the classic story of Slovenian spas, a tourist business which has been developing from the early industrial age to today when spoiling is a leisure activity offered in ultra-modern facilities. Hotel Wellness Park Laško, the newest and most advanced of the resort’s spas, is definitely a gem. It boasts a water park under a convertible glass dome, internally connected to other wellness facilities, a hotel, and a congress centre capable of hosting over a thousand attendees. In other words – seminar halls have never been so close to thermal centre and wellness spa. But the facility is keen to underplay its many aspects. “We don’t want to emphasise that we

The Slovenia Times

can serve so many purposes,” explains company marketing manager Mojca Dragar. “People might get a false impression of mediocrity.” Even if they did, they would be disabused of that notion as soon as they visited the place.

From water to iron

Before I headed for my massage there was time to relax in the Jacuzzi. It was a room with a single bath tub, where bubbles and streams move the aromatic water around your body, and an iPod docked in a set of speakers plays mystical, relaxing tunes. A particular colour theme also adds up to this blissful, hypnotic ambience urging you to relax, relax, relax... Life began in water, didn’t it? By the time the masseur showed up I was already feeling seriously chilled out. Lying on his table facing downwards with my eyes closed I decided to relax and enjoy


then ask questions later. The gentle light and new age music carried on the atmosphere from the previous room. On my back, all sorts of pressures came with a spectrum of feelings. From warm to cold, from smooth to rough, from slight pain to tickling. The warm was melted wax from a candle, symbolising fire. The rough was black soap – the earth. The metal and the wood were represented in scents and oils applied to the skin all over the body. From my back to legs, then arms, feet, stomach, face. Everywhere. Turning my face upwards I was actually able to see the master at work and despite a calm, meditative atmosphere I couldn’t resist asking for some tips for a healthier life. He might be a master of body meridians and energy fields, but the answers were satisfying for a down-to-earth person like me. They could be summed up as “Exercise – and don’t look for excuses!” The fusion massage I experienced – which features elements of many techniques including shiatsu and ayurveda – is the masterpiece of wellness mentor, masseur and shiatsu instructor Dejan Jelen, who decided to combine his extensive knowledge into the best one can get in a two hour time period. Apart from the combination of techniques and fluids applied to your body, the massage also takes into account individual particularities and body reactions during the massage. The muscle relaxation comes with harmonisation of the body energy flow.

I am relatively new to massages. Not a virgin, but definitely inexperienced. I used to consider massages as something that applied to injury treatment, or to wealthy old people (or mobsters who eventually get killed on the massage bed). I didn’t think of them as being valuable for a man in late thirties who still considers himself well and relatively fit. Apparently I was wrong. The session at Wellness Park Laško was relaxing, educational, and came with an instant feelgood effect

which probably applies to all ages and walks of life. The invitation to experience this treatment came a few days prior to my deadline, and the idea of invading my professional prime-time seemed totally unacceptable. However the three hours spent at Wellness Park Laško were actually the best thing that could happen in these busy, hectic moments, when the only valid law seemed to have been Murphy’s. It got my body aligned and thoughts back on track.

Time warp

The aftermath: relaxed, rejuvenated, adjusted, merry. After finding out that the whole session, including the warm up and chill out took me an unbelievable three hours, two of which were for the massage itself, my timed mind this was really puzzled. Three hours! I couldn’t believe it. I’m familiar with the works of Stanislaw Lem, I saw Inception at the cinema, but for the first time I felt like I’d personally experienced time being manipulated – and I didn’t fall asleep during the massage as 80 percent of people do. Well, whatever… At the end I was just another happy face leaving the Spa Centre Wellness Park Laško. And I’ll probably be back, bringing along some of my dear ones. A final remark: two days later, the blessing of this “ritual” still lasts. The body feels light and the mind is focused. March 2011



wit h St yle City Restaurant - BTC CITY Ljubljana Poslovna stolpnica, 13th floor, Šmartinska 140, Ljubljana Tel: +386 (0)1 585 19 97 Open Mon-Fri, 11am – 4pm Food type Local, seasonal Price range 4-course daily special EUR 7 A-la carte 5-course meal EUR 20-50 Reservations Recommended during lunch time

Seafood salad on a bed of rocket

Soup of creamed kohlrabi with ginger essence

Tagliatelle pasta with sautéed spinach and toasted pine nuts

City Restaurant Room With a View

A stunning location, lovely ambience, friendly staff, gorgeous food, and wonderful wine. Quite simply, one couldn’t ask much more of a restaurant.

BTC City is becoming a very versatile location to have lunch. With many different restaurants and types of cuisine on offer, visitors to Slovenia’s largest shopping and entertainment complex are spoilt for choice. Unfortunately, some of these establishments tend towards the noisy and crowded, lacking any sophisticated ambiance. No such problem at City Restaurant. Positioned under a large glass dome on the thirteenth floor of a skyscraper, this restaurant is a room with a view. As soon as you enter City Restaurant, located in the BTC centre, you know you are in for a treat. The bright and airy feel is striking, with vaulted glass ceilings and greenery offering an immediate escape from the hustle and bustle of the city below. Tucked into the corner is The City Café, where visitors can enjoy a coffee or tea with gorgeous cakes. Upon arrival, we were immediately greeted by our friendly host. After kindly helping us with our coats, he showed us to a charming table nestled in the corner overlooking the patio with fantastic views. It might have been a cloudy day, but this did not affect the amount of natural light that poured into the dining room.

Contemporary and comfortable Roasted beef stuffed with boletus mushrooms and served with a traditional teran sauce

The tables are comfortably spread out to give customers privacy but there is no loss of atmosphere as a result. The colour palate

of the dining room is very contemporary with light browns and whites which look very sophisticated but at the same time unpretentious. There was no problem settling into our soft leather chairs and whether you are visiting for a quick bite or a leisurely lunch, you will be very comfortable. Unfortunately the winter kept us from using the patio but you do not need a strong imagination to know that it would be an extraordinary dining experience.

Delicious food

We opted for a mixed seafood salad on a bed of rocket to kick off our meal. It was lightly tossed in lemon vinaigrette and garnished with olives. It was a pleasant fresh start to lead us into our next course, a very seasonal soup of creamed kohlrabi with a strong essence of ginger, finished with light toasted miniature crotons. It had a surprisingly light flavour but the essence of ginger gave it a cleansing effect, leaving us reinvigorated the next dish – tagliatelle with sautéed spinach and toasted pine nuts served with fresh parmesan and garnished with oven roasted cherry tomatoes.

Top choice

JB logo 4/15/08 4:32 PM Page 1 C







JB Restaurant

Miklošičeva 17, Ljubljana Tel: +386 (0)1 430 70 70, Open: Mon – Fri, noon – 10pm Sat, 5pm–11pm In Issue 127

Castle Otočec Restaurant

Grajska cesta 2, Otočec Tel: + 386 (0)7 384 89 00 Open: Every day until midnight


In Issue 129

Barka Restaurant - St.Bernardin - Portorož Obala 2, Portorož Tel: +386 (0)5 695 30 08 Restaurant with selected fish dishes Open: 11am – 11pm

In Issue 130

Vila Prešeren

Veslaška promenada 14, Bled Tel: +386 (0)4 575 25 10 Open: 11am – 11pm In Issue 131

Pule Estate

The pasta was melt in the mouth and the toasted pine nuts gave a nice nutty flavour. A lovely combination of ingredients cooked to perfection. And so to the main course: a very tender roasted beef stuffed with boletus mushrooms and served with a traditional teran sauce. It was accompanied by a barley cake – a terrific alternative to the usual potato or pasta side dishes – and a medley of roasted peppers and courgettes. We finished our meal with what only can be described as a tower of tiramisu. This delicious concoction of mascarpone cream, Italian lady fingers and espresso proved a wonderful finish to an impressive meal.

Wonderful wine

Of course, such a lovely meal would be lacking without an equally delicious wine. Here too City Restaurant excels – its impressive wine lists features many notable Slovenian purveyors. The only difficulty may be deciding which tipple to opt for. Fortunately your waiter will be more then happy to explain the various varieties and also suggest what would work well with your meal. And we found the pricing of the wines extremely reasonable. Whether it’s for a business lunch, a quick snack, or a private party, we recommend a visit to this special room with a view.

Drečji vrh 16, Trebelno Tel: +386 (0)7 34 99 700, (0)51 373 662, Open: Wed-Sat: 12am-10pm, Sun: 11am-8pm; Pule Estate is also available for rental Traditional Slovene cuisine with other culinary delights In Issue 132

Cafe Central

Grand Hotel Portorož ***** Obala 33, Portorož Tel: +386 (0) 5 692 1050, Open: Every day, 8am – 9pm In Issue 133

Promenada Gourmet Restaurant Cesta svobode 15, Bled Tel: +386 (0)4 579 18 39 Open: Tuesday to Sunday: 12pm–10pm In Issue 134

Bled Castle Restaurant Grajska cesta 6, 4260 Bled Tel: +386 (0)4 579 44 24 restaurant Open: Every day, 10am –10pm In Issue 136/137

City Restaurant - BTC CITY Ljubljana Poslovna stolpnica, 13th floor, Šmartinska 140, Ljubljana Tel: +386 (0)1 585 19 97 Restaurant open: Mon-Fri, 11am – 4pm Bar open: Mon-Fri, 7.30am – 6pm

In Issue 138

The Slovenia Times


Interview: Matevž Faganel, fashion designer

Passion for Fashion

Since its establishment in 2007, the m*faganel fashion label has gone from strength to strength. It attracts a high profile following amongst the Slovenian elite with fans including Katarina Kresal, the minister of the interior and Hannah Mancini, the American-born singer that has made Slovenia her home. Designer Matevž Faganel says he has further exciting plans for his label, not least the imminent launch of a new Spring/ Summer collection. Why did you decide on a career in the fashion industry? I have been interested in fashion and the world of clothes – as well as music, art, make up and so-on – ever since I was a kid. I grew up in the era of George Michael’s supermodel videos, when the fashion world was making headlines. It got me interested and I went for it. I already had a little sketch book when I was seven, so I guess it was an obvious choice for me. When did you first start designing? I was always sketching but I formally started designing during my studies. I did small collections which got my work noticed – my first small collection was presented on national TV show TLP with Lorella Fluego. I spent the final year of my studies in Paris, where I had a chance to be in the Chloe design studio. After that I returned to Slovenia and established m*faganel. Do fashion trends in Slovenia differ from those in France?

I think that fashion trends are global. What differ are people’s styles of dressing. I could say that Parisians have a special love for fashion, it’s their heritage, it’s in their roots. Here in Slovenia fashion is taken more casually. On the one hand the styles people wear here are very different from Paris but on the other hand there are many similarities, especially among the young. These differences in culture and lives of humans are what make everything that much more interesting. That’s also how new inspirations come, new trends develop. Where do you find inspiration for your collections? I get inspired by many different things. It can be from something interesting that I have seen such as exhibitions, architecture, movies, travels or just from everyday life. Typically all these build up in my mind and then somehow a new story for a new woman develops – and a new collection follows.

How do you go about preparing a new season’s collection? Preparation of the collection starts in my mind. I envisage a story of a woman. Then I decide on colours, fabrics, shapes, textures and so on. I then start designing, changing until I’m satisfied with the results. How would you describe your 2011 spring/summer collection? The new spring/summer collection is about making a woman feel godly and feminine, making her feel good. It contains strong colours – pink, blue, orange with combinations of white and black. This spring/summer is about combinations for different colour blocks. It’s a very fresh perspective on dressing. How do you intend women to feel when wearing m*faganel clothing? I like to make a woman feel like a woman. Sexy, sophisticated, relaxed, attractive. I want her to be free, feminine, a flirt. She’s a woman who is not afraid to go after what she wants. She’s a life hunter, she’s a lover, she’s romantic and she has that special something that you can’t quite put your finger on. What are you working on at the moment? Currently I’m working on a project with Hannah Mancini for EMA [the national competition to select the country’s entry for the Eurovision Song Contest]. We are working on sexy and edgy disco look, as she is collaborating with two DJs – Sylvain and Mike Vale. It’s a really great project and I’m proud to be a part of it. She has great fashion sense and is always fun to work with.

The Slovenia Times

You started your m*faganel brand in 2007 and the collection is now available in stores across Ljubljana, including the popular Maxi department store. In addition, your collection is also available in Zurich and St Tropez. What is next for your label? I am planning to develop an additional younger collection; a younger sister to m*faganel if you will. Also I’m looking further into foreign markets. The plan is to make the brand grow bigger. And in the near future I’m working on a project for Cro-aporter where the new collection will be exhibited.

photo: Dejan Nikolič hair & make up: Luka Luka model: Nadiya Bychkova


The Capital

Architectural Paradise

Jože Plečnik is the synonym for Slovenian architecture that practically created the city of Ljubljana as we see it today. By Vesna Paradiž of the river facade of Slovenian Philharmonic in 1937, and many, many more. His only major commission after the war is the renovation and reconstruction of Križanke (1952-1956). Plečnik died in 1957 in his home, having designed and cut his own tombstone a few years before.

The Žale cemetery

The future of Jože Plečnik, born in 1872, had perhaps not always seemed as bright as it turned out to be. At first, he did not do very well in school, so his father took him to work in his joiner’s workshop. With the experiences gained there, he earned himself a scholarship that brought him to the crafts school in Graz, where he studied to become an art carpenter and furniture designer. He upgraded his knowledge at an academy in Vienna where he studied architecture under Otto Wagner, one of the most important protagonists of Vienna Secession. His final dissertation won him the Roman scholarship which enabled him to travel to Italy and France. In 1900, he returned to Vienna where he became an independent architect and stayed there, working, till 1910. His most famous works from that time are the Zacherl Villa, quite an unusual building of modern architecture, and the first iron-concrete church, The Church of the Holy Ghost of Ottakring. In 1911, a classmate from Wagner Academy invites him to Prague to teach as a professor at Prague Arts and Crafts school (department for architecture) and the city becomes his home for the next decade. Mostly due to the Hradčani and the Prague castle renovation his work there is so widely recognised that a lot of Czech people still claim him as their own. In 1920, he is appointed a professor at the Ljubljana Technical University. Due to his work abroad he travels between Ljubljana and Prague often, but in essence, the great architect had returned home.

to adorn one of the bank notes of the former Slovenian currency Tolar and his never build Cathedral of Freedom is depicted on the European ten cents coin. Over the years his work or his character were repeatedly printed on postage stamps. From 1972 the Jože Plečnik Foundation is granting a special Plečnik Award and Medal for architecture achievements. Legacy At the moment, there is also a With his bold urbanistic and Plečnik themed exhibition in the architectural designing not only Ljubljana’s newest open exhibiin Ljubljana, but also in Prague, tion area in Krakovski nasip. If you Vienna and in The Balkans, wish to take a look, you can view Plečnik became one of the most Vision of the City artistic photographs of the great important protagonists of the 20th Despite his undisputed references, century architecture. He is perhaps architect’s works from Slovene Plečnik does not get his first big photographers Stane Jeršič and the last real classical architect commission in Slovenia until 1925.oglas LJ- KARTICA - 113x155 mm 6/24/10 15:12 Barbara there. Hurry up, Page Jakše 1 but at the same time, the first Ljubljana was not overly fond of as the exhibition is there by 3rd post-modernist. His image used him and he at first returned the March. feeling. In a letter to his brother he claims that he finds the city ugly, but perhaps that was the exact feeling that prompted him to give it a nicer, friendlier face. He was persistent with the idea of a city for pedestrians and after his first works Ljubljana indeed started to thrive and blossom. His first important commission was the Church of St. Francis in Šiška, which was a success. He knew how to find the right opportunities and as he won the trust of city authorities, he began receiving commissions to design not only buildings but public areas as well. With high quality buildings and arrangements of public spaces between 1925 and 1941 when World War II seized Slovenia, he left a powerful mark on Ljubljana. With the master’s stamp practically everywhere in the city, the capital is justly crowned with the name of Plečnik’s Ljubljana. Among architect’s most prominent works in his hometown are the construction of The Triple Bridge in • free admission to the main sights the heart of the city centre, next to • free public transport, boat ride, funicular, tourist train the Prešeren Square, around 1932; • other attractive free services rearrangement of the Congress 24 hours: € 23.00 • 48 hours: € 30.00 • 72 hours: € 35.00 Square and Zvezda Park, the French Revolution Square with the Sales outlets: Napoleon monument and other • Tourist Information Centres and major hotels decorations, Tivoli Park, Ljubljana’s Stadium, National and University Library, Žale cemetery, renovation

Ljubljana tourist card

March 2011


THE CANDIDATES Diplomacy Anunciada Fernández de Córdova Ambassador of Spain

Nicole Michelangeli Ambassador of France

A career diplomat who has devoted much of her professional activity to culture, Fernández de Córdova has organised writers’ meetings, theatre forums, publications and exhibitions. She is credited for organising events including an exhibition of Spanish painters Clave and Picasso; a concert by Paco de Lucía; a concert from the Spanish tenor José Carreras; and the friendly match between the Slovenian and Spanish basketball teams which opened the Stožice stadium. She came to Slovenia in May 2009 and speaks of the country and its mountains with greatest passion. Her hobbies are hiking, golf and travelling due to which she enormously appreciates Slovenia’s nature and central European location. She has published three novels and three collections of poems which received several literary awards; one of the novels is about her thoughts on Slovenia.

A life-time diplomat, Michelangeli has gained experience in many countries from the Netherlands and Germany to Senegal and Ivory Coast. Her diplomatic activity in Slovenia has already borne fruit as she has negotiated the strategic partnership between Slovenia and France that will be signed soon. Besides that she is encouraging cultural exchange, visiting companies, giving lectures at universities and at the same time looking forward to further achievements in Slovenia in the future. She says she particularly enjoys the variety of Slovenia to which she came in 2009. Michelangeli sees it as very friendly, welcoming and beautiful with approachable, open-minded, proud and courageous people. Though not speaking the language, she gives her speeches in Slovenian. Her main hobbies are music and cinema.

Ahmed Farouk Ambassador of Egypt

Andrew Page Ambassador of the United Kingdom

Since the beginning of Farouk’s term in Slovenia in September 2007, he has put great effort into routing investments from Egypt to Slovenia and vice versa, e.g. he established a business council between the chamber of commerce of the two countries and opened new market for Slovenian products in the Middle East through Egypt in various fields. The extensive list of his achievements is not limited to enhancing economic ties, but involves a great deal of cultural cooperation as well by which too he strives to retain the traditionally excellent relations between Slovenia and Egypt. Many remember the Pharaonic Renaissance exhibition and the concerts of the renowned Omar Kairat Group which are just a few of Farouk’s many cultural contributions. His hobbies include playing the piano and doing all kinds of sports, especially squash.

Page is a career diplomat with over 20 years’ worth of experience. He was appointed to Slovenia in 2009 having previously served as Deputy Head of the Russia, South Caucasus and Central Asia Directorship. He is devoted to supporting bilateral economic projects, encouraging cultural links and promoting the image of the UK while encouraging support for its policies. One of the achievements he highlights is learning Slovenian which he keeps brushing up. Page perceives Slovenia as a story of success with diverse nature and countryside; he cherishes its winter and summer sports and tasty cuisine. He is a devoted fan of Planica and Zlata lisica ski events and likes visiting the wine-growing regions. In his opinion, Slovenia is an absolute touristic delight and he spreads the good word about it whenever possible.

vote!   vote!­   vote!   vote!   www.gues The Slovenia Times

53 Meet the Guest Star nominees! They are 16 exceptional individuals from allover the world. Some got appointed to Slovenia for their professional term, others have chosen this country for more private reasons. All of them, each in his or her own field, have significantly contributed to Slovenian society and its reputation in the world. Here are their stories...

Economy Louise Chatwood KD Funds former member of Board, Australian

Klemens Nowotny Chief executive of Raiffeisen Bank, Austrian

Throughout her rich career in investments, Chatwood has focused on the process and scope for improvements within the business and in the broader industry. An example was the implementation of investment management software, which she initiated and sponsored to optimise the trading and decision-making process. She has also been actively involved in socially responsible actions including “Očistimo Slovenijo”. KD Funds was the major sponsor of this large project to eliminate the illegal dumping of rubbish, improve the cleanliness of Slovenia and, in Chatwood’s opinion, enhance the country’s immense beauty. She came to Slovenia in the time of joining the EU and was attracted to it due to its rapid development and the challenges the country is about to face. Her hobbies are hiking, skiing and travelling.

Banker Klemens Nowotny has spent many years in Slovenia and held a variety of different posts in the industry which makes him an experienced banker. Recently, he has led the transformation and repositioning of the acquired local Krekova Banka into a modern internationalised bank well linked to the Central and Eastern-European markets, thus supporting the Slovenian economy in its effort to expand. He likes animals and is a licensed dog trainer and a guide of rescue dogs. Novotny sees Slovenia with its nature, history, culture, good food and wine a great place to live and he wished to stay here. One of his hobbies is hiking which makes Slovenia a perfect country for him and his two dogs.

Ayhan Öztürk Turkish Airlines General Manager for Slovenia, Turkish, Italian

Christof Johannes Droste Managing director of Hella Saturnus, German

Turkish Airlines’ rapidly expanding network is helping to connect Slovenia with the world while offering good prices and schedules: a daily flight to Istanbul is expected in the near future. After the airline started operating, the two countries improved their good co-operation, triggering various collaboration agreements on both sides. Apart from expanding the travel options provided by his company, Öztürk is actively involved in the promotion of Slovenia as a destination, co-operating with the Slovenian Tourist Organization and organizing FAM trips to both destinations. He is also devoting his energy to a humanitarian project in Uganda named “Sunny skies women’s project” for which TA is going to provide logistics services. He has lived in Slovenia for five years and thinks the country has mesmerizing nature, is well organized and very lovely where warm, peaceful and friendly people live.

Since his arrival in Slovenia in 2003, Johannes Droste has helped make Hella Saturnus a real success story in the car lightning sector. Under his leadership, the firm has received many international awards, among them the FDI Award Slovenia 2010. Droste is also active in many industrial associations including the Automotive Cluster of Slovenia and the German-Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry for the purpose of finding opportunities for a prospective future for his company and the Slovenian business society. He has lived in Slovenia for eight years and has thoroughly enjoyed it. He loves exploring the hidden gems of Slovenia and tasting the local cuisine. For him winter is about skiing and spending time in Krvavec, while during the warmer months he rides his motorbike on the Slovenian roads.   vote!   vote!   vote!   vote! March 2011


THE CANDIDATES Culture Hannah Mancini Singer/songwriter, American

Lasanthi Manaranjanie Kalinga Dona Musician, Sri Lankan

Mancini moved to Slovenia four years ago from Los Angeles where she had pursued a successful decade-long career in entertainment, appearing in glamorous LA venues and performing alongside famous names such as Luis Miguel and also singing back-ups for many well-known artists alike. Besides that she performed on the famous Jay Leno show. In Slovenia she is part of the band XEQUTIFZ, which has performed at many big name events in Slovenia and Croatia, and it continually rides high on the music charts. Hannah says her European career with various artists is even more creative and personally important than the one in the USA. She enjoys the culture, the people and the Slovenian lifestyle. Her hobbies are connected with Slovenia’s astounding beauty and include hiking, skiing besides generally exploring nature and top-quality restaurants and local wine.

An ethnomusicologist by education, Lasanthi came to Slovenia in 2007 to finish her studies and now she lectures at the Faculty of Arts of the University of Ljubljana, occasionally teaching also in Maribor and some faculties abroad. Her expertise extends from North Indian classical and Sri Lankan music to healing rituals and music therapy. As a musician she has performed all over Slovenia as well as in several other central Europe countries. She finds the natural, cultural and human resources of her chosen home truly remarkable and perceives Slovenia as a place of great opportunities and freedom for creative expression where life is calm, quiet and disciplined. With her cultural background and specialisation in medical ethnomusicology she wishes to contribute to the well-being of Slovenia.

Carlos Yoder Musician, Argentine

Uwe Laysiepen Visual Artist, Dutch

Yoder describes himself as part-tabliya (a player of the tabla, the percussion instrument typical of North Indian music), part web builder, part writer, part educator, part cultural promoter, part tourist guide, and part compulsive commentator on all of the above. After playing classical piano for 15 years, he switched to Indian classical music and “has never looked back.” Among his achievements in Slovenia are concerts with many prominent Indian musicians, founding of the Vedic institute and establishing Eslovenia Corazón, a non-profit website about Slovenia in the Spanish language to promote his adopted homeland in the Hispanic world. Carlos is very proud of the fact that he managed to learn Slovenian and he enjoys being a Slovene by choice. His hobbies are cooking spicy vegetarian food and discussing films, music, philosophy and religion.

Laysiepen with the stage name Ulay has been exploring new media since 1969: performance, photography, film, video and installation art and can be considered the father of the visual arts. His contributions to postWorld War II art – created in six continents during four decades – place him among the 30 most influential contemporary artists above 50 years according to the Art Now magazine. He moved to Slovenia in April 2010 and currently he is mainly involved in water issues which made him establish Zavod Nastati, focusing on fresh drinking water from all aspects. He loves travelling around Slovenia and exploring its nature and water resources; he believes it is potentially the most beautiful country in Europe. Uwe says his chosen home offers him everything he wishes to be happy and content, both personally and professionally.

vote!   vote!­   vote!   vote!   www.gues The Slovenia Times

Organizers Award Ceremony partner Communication partner

Sports Hannu Järvenpää Head coach of HDD Tilia Olimpija Ljubljana, Finnish

Andrea Massi Head of Team to A-Maze, Italian

Before becoming a coach of Olimpija Ljubljana’s ice hockey team, Järvenpää was a successful professional hockey player himself and was active in NHL and Finland. Now on his new post every day is a new challenge for him, but he really enjoys his job in Ljubljana. He devotes most of his time and energy to helping his team achieve success, but when he doesn’t have a whistle around his neck, his favourite passions are downhill skiing, cycling, and climbing mountains. He is an easygoing person and loves listening to music. Järvenpää thinks Slovenia is a small, compact, admirable and beautiful country of which Slovenes as polite, positive and helpful people should be proud of. He knows some basic Slovenian words and wishes he knew more, however is happy that he can do groceries on his own.

Massi is a trainer who is constantly determined to meet and surpass expectations. In the last year’s Olympic season he did this perfectly with the success of his protégé Tina Maze speaking for itself, recently adding yet another success to all the achievements by bringing Maze to win gold Giant Slalom in the world championship. He coached the Slovenia’s national female team from 2002 to 2008 when he became a fitness trainer in A-Maze team. As a child he went to a Slovenian school and so he is fluent in Slovene. He likes dogs and spending time in nature.

Chris Booker Basketball player, KK Krka Novo mesto, American

Kenny Gregory Basketball player, KK Union Olimpija Ljubljana, American

Booker has been collecting awards for his talent and hard work since his junior years, becoming one of the All-Big Ten mentioned by conference coaches, standing out in the number of blocked shots. He is currently one of the star players for Slovenia’s Krka Telekom, with his size and strength proving a great asset to them, adding scoring and rebounding to the front line of the Krka team.

Gregory started his career in Ohio and later on continued playing college basketball at the University of Kansas. He came to Europe in 2002 and played in different countries such as Italy, Greece and Turkey, then signed for Union Olimpija in September 2010 where he has been one of the pillars of the team ever since, becoming the Most Valuable Player of one of the Euroleague matches and winning the affection of the fans.   vote!   vote!   vote!   vote!


Slovenia Times Recommends


Your chance to see these American Hip Hop stars for the first time in Slovenia, brought to you by Blackout Slovenia. On Wednesday, 9th March 2011 the stars of the Slovenian, Croatian and American hip hop scene will put the night on fire. Blackout Slovenia brings to Cvetličarna, for the first time in Slovenia, the American hip hop duo M.O.P. (Mash Out Posse). Artists, known by their aggressive lyrics, penetrated the mainstream in 2000 with the album Warriorz. The song “Ante Up” became an instant success on radios and brought their album to the twentieth place of

the Billboard chart. Establishing M.O.P. as part of the world hip hop elite also happened due to the single “Cold as Ice”, which was, among other things, used for a TV ad for tooth paste Ice White. M.O.P. have worked with main some players of hip hop, like Jay-Z, Busta Rhymes, Wu-Tang Clan, G-Unit, DJ Premier, Statik Selektah and many others. So, on Wednesday, 9th March you can expect an evening to remember. Warming up the crowd will be done by Mrigo & Ghet, who will be presenting their album Mrigz ‘n’ Ghet Hitz. Other supporting acts include some of the big names of the Slovenian hip hop scene, like Zlatko, Emkej, etc. Strong rhythms and hip hop beats will be the responsibility of DJ K’POW (RDYO DJs) and DJ Phat Phillie (Blackout).

Wed 9 Mar, 8pm Cvetličarna, Ljubljana, EUR 18–22



Ancient Greeks in Croatia

Remote Culture Festival: Visages of Brazil

Thu 3 Mar–Mon 30 May, City Museum, Ljubljana This exhibition presents the legacy of the ancient Greeks in Croatia. The most outstanding of all the artefacts and pieces of art on display is the famous Croatian Apoxyomenos, a bronze statue of an athlete cleaning his body after exercising, found in the vicinity of the Croatian island of Lošinj. Including artefacts from over 30 different museums and private collections in Croatia, the exhibition offers an insight into the Greek presence in Croatia from the 12th to the 1st century BC, both chronologically and through various themes such as Art, Mythology, Religion and Necropolises.

Fri 4 Mar–Thu 7 Jul, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana This spring, the Cankarjev dom cultural and congress centre will host a series of events dedicated to Brazilian culture. The events, held as part of the annual Remote Culture Festival, will feature Brazilian artists of different disciplines. The festival will host several music artists including, among others, Gilberto Gil, Adriana Calcanhotto, and the idiosyncratic body percussion group Barbatuques, who perform music using exclusively the human body as an instrument.


Amira & Bojan Z Place your vote for Culture candidate

The Slovenia Times

see pages 52-55

Tue 8 Mar, 8.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 11–14 In November 2010, the overwhelming sevdalinka singer from Sarajevo in the virtuosic jazz pianist recorded their first joint album to be released in spring 2011. This duo sold out the Bosnian Cultural Centre. Amira

and Bojan played the idiosyncratic adaptations of traditional songs from Macedonia as well as Bosnia and Herzegovina with extreme sensibility. Amira ‘s voice is full, powerful and suggestive, and Bojan provides an infinitely subtle accompaniment to her animated versions of familiar songs.


Nevermore, Symphony X Thu 10 Mar, 6.45pm, Cvetličarna, Ljubljana, EUR 23–29 Fans of pure, melodic, progressive, traditional and modern metal will all be able to enjoy the evening of various metal genres. The headliners will be two progressive bands from the USA – Nevermore and Symphony X. They will be supported by another progressive metal band in Psychotic Waltz, a death metal band (Mercenary) and a symphonic metal band (Thaurorod).


Lipica Stud Farm Fri 11 Mar, 7pm, Stožice Sports Park Stadium, Ljubljana, EUR 20–50

The Lipica Classical Riding School presents a unique spectacle including top-notch performances by horses of the Lipizzaner breed and concerts by renowned artists. The show features a modern reinterpretation of traditional elements of classical dressage performed to the accompaniment of live music. The skills of horses and their riders are combined with excellent music and ballet performances. The music for the show is performed by the Slovenian Army Orchestra, Trio Eroika, the renowned piano duo of Bojan Gorišek and Milko Lazar and other performers.


Mimoza: Isolée Live! Fri 11 Mar, 10pm, K4, Ljubljana, EUR 8–11 After fifteen years of activity, Ljubljana will finally host one of the fathers of the so-called microhouse sound, Rajko Müller, better known as Isolée. He will use this performance to present his latest album, called ‘Well Spent Youth’, put out by the Pampa record label, which was recently established by an almost transcendental DJ Koze. Isolée is now considered one of the most respected producers out there. What catapulted him there was his huge hit ‘Beau Mot Plage’, which will surely be heard on this night as well.


Vaya Con Dios Sat 12 Mar, 8pm, Tivoli sports hall, Ljubljana, EUR 29–35 The Belgian pop group Vaya con Dios achieved fame in the 1980s and 1990s with hits such as What’s a Woman, Don’t Cry for Louie, Nah Neh Nah and Puerto Rico. The group’s characteristic sound, fronted by the distinctive voice of the vocalist Dani Klein, is an eclectic mixture of French chanson, Latin music, jazz, rock, flamenco, blues, Gypsy music and other styles.


TM Stevens & Shocka Zooloo Mon 14 Mar, 9pm, Štuk, Maribor, EUR 5 TM Stevens is one of the best bass players of all times and a real American legend, having played with the likes of Miles Davis,

EVENTS 57 James Brown, Tina Turner and was also a permanent member of the Pretenders. Many see him as the godfather of funky bass and he still excels with his amazing stage presence and his tremendous charisma. He is joined by guitarist Blackbyrd McKnight and drummer Gman Sullivan.


Burn, Baby, Burn Tour Tue 15 Mar, 9pm, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, EUR 8–15 Bass player and co-founder of Einsturzende Neubauten, the main protagonist of Fatih Akin’s film “Crossing The Bridge”, founder of Berlin techno circus Love Parade, the muse of David Lynch and Angelo Badalamenti – the angelic voice from Twin Peaks and Blue Velvet, two instrumentalists from bands The Cramps, Gun Club, The Bad Seeds and Hugo Race & The True Spirit, and the great electrothrash-rock ‘n’ roll entertainer Khan Of Finland! They’ll all be on the same stage on the same night!


New Russia State Symphony Orchestra Tue 15 Mar, 8pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 20–56 Instead of the National Philharmonic of Russia, whose European tour has been cancelled, the New Russia State Symphony Orchestra will perform within the scope of the Golden Season with the same soloist and programme. The soloist will be Tatiana Vassileva on cello and the conductor Yuri Bashmet. They will be performing compositions by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky.


Ray Anderson & Marty Ehrlich Quartet Tue 15 Mar, 8.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 11–14 Ray Anderson and Marty Ehrlich, two outstanding musicians, have known each other for 30 years and finally started their own quartet now, playing vigorous and melodic jazz, with which they have been touring worldwide since 2009. They have also released a live album recorded at the Willisau Jazz Festival. In spite of all of the joy of innovation that the quartet has,

The Slovenia Times Recommends

Mulatu Astatke The father of ethnic jazz has been one of the leading musical figures for several decades, but his rise to fame came with Jim Jarmusch’s film Broken Flowers and then with two excellent projects for the Strut record label – with the bands Heliocentrics and Mulatu Astatke Steps Ahead, which he will be presenting at this concert. Combining world dance music of various types, the legendary Ethiopian composer and vibraphonist and his Afro-British band summon spring. When the green Africa turns the Sun green. “Mulatu Steps Ahead is a transitional record – a transition from minor bands to an almost bigband form, a shift to loose, yet meticulously finished arrangements, to a fusion of various world styles. It is a record of lucidly introducing various instruments from totally diverse social and musicological contexts. In this sense, Steps Ahead is actually an upgrade of a kind, in other words, a breath of fresh air, a new approach to the form of Ethio-jazz, which certainly stands if compared to Astatke’s previous record Inspiration Information. What is fascinat-

ing about it is that it is no “retro” record, rather, it is a playground, a sandpit for all the numerous participating musicians.” Borja Močnik, Radio Študent Band: Mulatu Astatke, vibraphone, percussion, electric piano; Alex Hawkins, keyboards; Byron Wallen, trumpet; James Arben, saxophone, flute; Danny Keane, cello; Olie Brice, bass; Richard Olatunde Baker, percussion; Dave de Rose, drums.

Fri 11 Mar, 9pm, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, EUR 20–28 the program has an unmistakable relation to one of the sources of today’s jazz: New Orleans!


The Tiptons Tue 15 Mar, 10pm, Menza pri koritu, Ljubljana Four women on saxophones, accompanied by a drummer – an unusual musical concoction which excites audiences with a great mix of jazz stylings, funk and rock motives, Balkan tradition, klezmer and African and Cuban elements. The driving forces in the band are Amy Denio and Jessica Lurie. The band released three albums between 1992 and 1997, then they disbanded, but now they are making a comeback.

Impressive merge of two cultures presented by the oldest instrument in the world Concert by Chinese flute virtuoso Liu Zhenggom and Ljuben Dimkaroski from Slovenia playing on the Divje Babe flute SNG Maribor, 11 May 2011 The Slovenian Philharmonic Hall, Ljubljana, 14 May 2011



Toulouse-Lautrec Thu 17 Mar–Thu 25 Aug, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, no admission The life and work of Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, an illustrious French painter and graphic artist,

The Confucius Institute at University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Economics The Slovenia Times

Honorary Partner Embassy of the People’s Republic of China


Academy of Music, University of Ljubljana Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana Slovenian Chamber of Commerce

More information: Irena Kržan,, T: +386 59 045 003

March 2011

58 EVENTS symbolises the intensity and exoticism of the Parisian fin de sicle. A central figure of Parisian nightlife, Lautrec’s artistic oeuvre embraces picturesque Montmartre scenes as well as the lively pulse of music cafés and dance halls of the era. Featuring unusual silhouettes, stark colour contrasts, dramatic lighting, and pronounced contours, the posters created in the last decade of his life have turned advertising into an art form, for the first time blurring the distinction between fine art and the so-called applied arts.


The Moscow Soloists Thu 17 Feb, 7.30pm, Narodni dom, Maribor, EUR 20 In 1986, Yuri Bashmet founded the chamber orchestra, “Moscow Soloists”. In 1991, when the orchestra was on tour in France, Yuri Bashmet, as an Art Director of the Orchestra, signed a temporary contract with the Administration of the city of Montpellier. Afterwards the musicians of the orchestra decided to stay in France; a decision untenable for Bashmet himself, who was committed contractually to return to Russia.

He consequently resigned his position with the Orchestra, while inviting the musicians to return to Russia with him.


Pomp Forum Thu 17 Mar, 8am, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana The programme has been specifically tailored for those who make marketing and sales as well as business strategy decisions and who want to know more about branded content. The morning sessions will be on print custom media, the afternoon session will be about digital custom media. There will be at least three main keynote speakers: dr. Samir Husni (USA), Wayne Holder (UK) and prof. dr. Peter Kherkhof (The Netherlands).


The Magnificent Seven Sat 19 Mar, 10pm, Inbox, Ljubljana, EUR 5–10 After being absent for more than two years, Jackie DJ returns to the

domestic club scene with his new song “Don’t”, which has already been released in the USA. Naturally, he is coming back in the same way he left: loudly and fearlessly, in the company of seven magnificent DJs, fathers of the domestic house scene, who have been taking care of its development for more than a decade.


Elevators 10 Sat 19 Mar, 9pm, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, EUR 12–15 The band Elevators has been creating a unique blend of jazz, funk and rock for a decade. It has been exactly ten years since the release of their debut album ‘Elevator Music’. They will commemorate this occasion with a special concert. The regular lineup will be joined by three singers, unique and completely original, just like the band itself: Josipa Lisac, Aphra Tesla, Tinkara Kovač.


Rise Sun 20 Mar, 6pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 15 Recharge this spring as ‘Rise - Fly Fishing Film Festival 2011’, the world’s largest fishing film festival, hits theatres on a European tour. Over the last five years the festival has become the premier event on fly fishers calendars across nine countries and two continents. The festival will sweep Europe as a limited release and will stop in eight cities, including Puy-en-Velay, Reykjavik, Helsinki, Oulu, Ljubljana, Zurich, Copenhagen, Warsaw, Vienna, Munich and Tampere.



Choral music


Perpetuum Jazzile



Tue Mar 22, 8pm, Slovenian National Theatre, Maribor, EUR 20



A concert spectacle of vocal jazz and pop music, which also this year music lovers should not miss! At this year’s mega charity concert the playful XXL vocal group Perpetuum Jazzile will present interesting new songs from their current concert repertoire, which filled Cankarjev dom’s Gallus Hall three times last November; but they will also perform popular songs from their recent CD. The main part of the vocal spectacle will be characteristically songs without instrumental accompaniment.


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Ante Upedanten Banda Tue 22 Mar, 8.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 11–14 The Ana Pupedan band was born in January 1992 in Pivka. The ensemble, whose lineup has not changed since its foundation, has adopted a unique musical approach as well as a predominantly critical and occasionally lucid lifestyle and commentary of the world. It also appears in another variant – as the Ante Upedanten Banda, with acoustic throw-away instruments playing songs in diverse musical styles. Nevertheless, it gives preference to its own, original music, an artful blend of various genres, such as rock, punk, jazz, blues, reggae, hippie and more, but has still preserved a recognizable and individual sound.


Pavel Kohout Wed 23 Mar, 7.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana EUR 8–19 Winner of first prize at the International Organ Contest in Ljubljana in 1998, and again two years later at the prestigious International Organ Competition in Tokyo, Pavel Kohout is today regarded as one of the finest concert recitalists of his generation. He graduated from the Music Faculty of the Academy of Performing Arts in Prague. He continued his studies in historical performance practice at the Amsterdam Conservatory, and is currently studying for his PhD in the historical performance practice of South German Baroque organ music. He regularly appears as a recitalist and soloist with international orchestras all over the world.


13th International Documentary film Festival Wed 23 Mar–Mon 28 Mar, various venues, Ljubljana Each year, Ljubljana’s International Documentary Film Festival offers an insight into contemporary documentary film production. The festival has made it its mission to strive valiantly to reach into the core of the greatest social and political problems. It brings together political and portrait

EVENTS 59 documentaries and films on myths, icons, the media and other themes. The festival includes a competition section. In collaboration with Amnesty International Slovenia, a prize will be awarded to the best film on the theme of human rights.


Tori Trio Thu 24 Mar, 8.30pm, Narodni dom, Maribor, EUR 7 The Tori Trio is an Alpen-Balkan groove trio headed by composer accordionist Jure Tori, a self styled jazz-punk accordionist from Slovenia. The international trio includes contrabass legend Ewald Oberleitner from Austria and renowned multi-percussionist Ganesh Anandan from India. The trio plays acoustic original compositions in a variety of styles with the energy of a punk band! The line-up: Jure Tori: Accordion (Slovenia), Ewald Oberleitner: Double bass (Austria) and Ganesh Anandan: Percussion (India)

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St. Patrick’s Comedy Festival

Welcome to the First International St Patrick’s Irish Comedy Festival. I’m sure you have met Irish people travelling or working abroad. This little nation loves to spread its wings throughout the world and bring with it the music, culture and funny stories or a humorous joke. They are known for their humour and storytelling. Through the hardships of history, the Irish nation has always looked at life with a humorous outlook. We have searched Ireland for the best comedians for this two day festival.


Colum McDonnell is Irelands fastest rising comedy star. A comedian and comedy writer widely known for his appearances with the dynamic duo Podge and Rodge, also appeared at Edinburgh Festival and Kilkenny Cat Laughs Festival. What Colum lacks in stature, he gains in laughter. His set is energetic, full of fun and bursting with enthusiasm. His vibrant, energized stage presence connects with the audience and his often self-depreciative outlook on family, life, love and the pain of being the last living hobbit in Ireland mesmerizes until the end. Fred Cooke has rapidly become a unique stand-up comedian, delivering a style of comedy that simply cannot be imitated. Fred has already contributed to a variety of successful Irish TV shows. He has also regularly been the warm-up act for many different television chat shows. He combines his musical talent with outrageous stunts and jokes. There will also be music, songs and outrageous stunts performed. The selected comedians have years of experience, some with high TV status, bringing you their experiences and outlook of what it is like to be Irish.


Thursday 24th March, Friday 25th March, 8pm and 9.30pm, Restaurant Glažuta, Ljubljana

Thu 24 Mar, 7.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 6–19 The programme for the sixth concert of the subscription season consists of three lesser known works and includes a new piece by Slovenian composer, Igor Štuhec. The other featured composer will be Anatoly Lyadov, who wrote mainly for piano, and in his orchestral works we find traces of his Russian folk music legacy as he was very involved with the collection and arrangement of folk songs. The final piece will be by modern Russian composer Rodion Shchedrin. Among other works, he has written six piano concertos.


Mathilde Monnier: Pavlova 3’23” Thu 24 Mar – Fri 25 Mar, 8pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 13–24 The legendary Russian ballerina, Ana Pavlova, who created many historic roles, is celebrated as one of the finest ballet dancers of all time. Her most famous showpiece was The Dying Swan, choreographed for her in 1907 by Fokine to the music of Saint-Saëns: a solo lasting for 3 Minutes and 23 Seconds. The swan by Pavlova

represents a mythical point in the history of dance: an improvisation tackling the idea of “movement that won’t stop, won’t die”, and at the same time a progression from the classical ballet to the dance of a liberated body.


Collecta Fri 25 Mar–Sun 27 Mar, Exhibition and Convention Centre, Ljubljana, no admission The Collecta fair will bring together philatelists, numismatists, cartophiles and collectors of fossils, minerals, telephone cards, antiquities, military objects and other small collectables from different European countries. Visitors to the fair’s trading areas will be able to not only to watch and admire exhibits from around the world but also trade in them.


Epica Thu 31 Mar, 8pm, Cvetličarna, Ljubljana, EUR 21 Epica are a gothic and symphonic metal attraction from the Netherlands. They are particularly

interesting and exciting to watch because of the beautiful lead vocalist Simone Simons, who is also considered one of the most beautiful women in metal. The band itself creates an enchanting mix of classical music and gothic metal, very much in the style of their forerunners, Nightwish, albeit less operatic in the vocal department. A treat for the ears and eyes!


Slovenian Philharmonic Orchestra Thu 31 Mar – Fri 1 Apr, 7.30pm, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 10–33 We will become familiar with Matthias Pintscher both as a conductor and a composer – Toward Osiris is one of four short compositions composed on a commission from the Berlin Philharmonic, intended for performance alongside Holst’s Planets. Composed in haste just a few days before his wedding, Aleksander Skrjabin’s Piano Concerto does not demonstrate the characteristics typical of the composer’s future musical philosophy and language. March 2011

60 Column

Alpine Skiing

By Aleš Smerdel, the Institute for promotion of Sports

The Championship Season

Last winter, sports fans’ main focus was on the Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada. Winter 2011 is reserved for three big World Championships. The most prestigious one is already behind us as the best Alpine Skiers were racing at the prestigious German ski resort Garmisch-Partenkirchen. What a championship for Slovenia it was! Twenty-two years after the gold medal of Mateja Svet, Slovenia once again has the World Champion in the most elite skiing discipline – giant slalom. Tina Maze overcome a series of bad results this winter at the right moment and, in a dramatic battle, won her first gold medal at a major event. The second big event will happen at the end of the February when the Nordic World Ski Championships begin in Oslo, Norway, where Slovenia will once again be among the favourites for medals. And once again women will take the leading role. Petra Majdič, Vesna Fabjan and Katja Višnar are listed between top favourites in the cross-country sprint race. This winter was something special for our sprinters. Petra Majdič made a great comeback after last year’s injury at the Olympic Games, and has already won a few races in the World Cup this season. However, the biggest success of Slovenian cross-country skiing came on 5th February, when Vesna Fabjan and Katja Višnar finished on top two places in Ribinsk, Russia. Ski jumpers will also compete at the same championship, but the form of the Slovenian competitors is not the best this season. It’s been quite a few years since Primož Peterka, Rok Benkovič, Robert Kranjec and others were main contenders for medals. The final major winter event will happen in frigid Khanty-Mansiysk in Siberia between 1st and 13th March, at the Biathlon World Championships. Before the season, the main story in Slovenia was whether Croat Jakov Fak, winner of two medals from the World Championships and the Olympic Games would compete for Slovenia or stay on the Croatian team. After many complications, his wish to compete for Slovenia was granted. Together with Klemen Bauer, they made few good results this season with placements in the top 10. The women’s team did not stay far behind, with Teja Gregorin is the best placed Slovenian in the general classification of World Cup, currently on 9th place. While medals in individual races will be hard to achieve, many count Slovenia among the favourites in a mixed relay race, where two men and two women compete. The final act of the winter will once again happen in Slovenia. Planica will host the best ski jumpers at the World Cup Ski Jumping Finals. This event is every year’s final winter sports event and signals that the summer sports Place your vote season is on the horizon. This year, athletics, swimming and basketfor Sports ball Championships will make candidate summer even exciting.

The Slovenia Times

see pages 52-55

Who Let the Bull Out? Twenty-two years after Mateja Svet won a gold medal in Alpine skiing at the 1989 world championship, Tina Maze became the second Slovenian to do so when she won the giant slalom event at the Alpine Ski World Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. By Simon Demšar


o be precise, Maze, 27, was actually the first to win an Alpine gold for Slovenia, because Svet was still competing as a member of the Yugoslav team in 1989. Six days before the gold, Maze had won a silver in the super combined. With another silver from the 2009 World Championships in Val d’Isère and two more at last year’s Olympic Games in Vancouver, Maze openly admitted before the race that she had had enough silvers. Another irony is that she missed on the gold in both Val d’Isère giant slalom (GS) and this year’s Garmisch super combined by nine hundredths of a second, but she won the Garmisch GS event by the same nine hundredths. In Van-

couver, she was even closer to the gold – four hundredths. “I’ve been so close before, I’ve lost by a few hundredths and today it worked out for me,” said Maze, who celebrated by performing cartwheels in the finish area. Even before those silvers, Maze had been a regular contender on the World Cup circuit for years, posting her first win, in GS, back in 2002. At the 2003 World’s in St. Moritz, Switzerland, she finished fifth in GS. “GS was my first discipline, so I have a lot of experience in it, and I know I can ski well, and it finally worked out,” she said. With the start of the Garmisch race delayed for two hours by fog and low visibility, Maze’s win was

SPORTS 61 based on her blazing opening run, helped by being the first skier on a deteriorating course. She then held on to her lead through the second leg, beating Federica Brignone of Italy, and Tessa Worley of France. “It felt like forever. We were waiting in the start house and every half hour they told us there was another delay.” But when it finally did start, “I felt like a bull, I couldn’t wait to get going,” Maze said. “I have Swiss skis, three Italian coaches and it’s the first gold medal for Slovenia, so I think I made a lot of countries happy today. It shows that even if we’re a small country we can be on top,” Maze said. Her coach, Andrea Massi, was equally ecstatic, saying, “What Tina has achieved deserves the utmost respect. Only with the passage of time will we realize what becoming a world champion means in a sport, dominated by Austria, Switzerland, USA, France… This is one of the greatest medals for Slovenian sport in general.” Back at home, Maze received a hero’s welcome, first in Ljubljana in front of 3,000 fans, where boxing champion Dejan Zavec joined her on the stage, before heading to her native Črna na Koroškem. Similarly to Mateja Svet, who left Alpine skiing in still unexplained circumstances, aged only 22, Tina Maze is a woman of a strong character. It has often resulted in difficult relationships with the media and fans, but according to observers, this is just a sign of her striving for perfection. She also possesses a quality that many Slovene athletes lack: being the best when in matters the most. However, it hasn’t always been like that. She has stumbled more than once but kept coming back stronger than before. At the 2006 Olympics in Turin, for example, she was a favourite but couldn’t handle the pressure. The following season was her worst in the World Cup. She then created her own team, for which she received much criticism and which led to constant fights for funds, but the dividends are now being paid. On the competitive side, this season has been more troubled than not. Having being guaranteed the funds for her team by the newly elected president of the Ski Association of Slovenia, she openly announced than she was going for the overall World Cup win. But things soon took a different course and she struggled for most of the season. There was a string of DNFs and even more bizarre things like disqualification for starting too early. On top of everything, her ski serviceman, Dušan Kapš left the team, and his replacement took quite some time to adapt.

Football: European Championship Qualifications

Slovenia – Italy 25th Mar at 8 p.m., Stožice Stadium, Ljubljana, from EUR 20 Football spectacle we have been long waiting for. This will be one of the decisive matches in the qualifications for both teams. Italy leads the group table with a three point advantage comparing to Slovenia. The match is expected to be sold out in a few days, so it is likely that only the sky will be the limit for the ticket prices on the black market.

Basketball: NLB League

Krka – Partizan (Serbia) 12 Mar at 8 pm, Leon Štukelj Hall, Novo mesto, EUR 6 Two rounds are left to be played in the regional basketball league and this will be last home match of Krka. At the moment both teams are placed on top two spots of the league table and are main contenders for Final 4 tournament. This could well be the decisive match for Krka. The difference between top 6 teams in the league is just 2 wins. Partizan had once again good season in Euroleague, while Krka qualified for Top 8 in the third ranked European competition Eurochallenge Cup. Will this give them extra boost or did they spent too much energy in previous games?

Basketball: NLB League

Union Olimpija – Radnički (Serbia) 15th Mar at 8 p.m., Stožice Arena, Ljubljana, EUR 3-10 Last round of the regional NLB League will give an answer to a question of who will qualify to the Final 4 tournament and who is going to finish the season early. Six teams are still in the game for top placements and Union Olimpija is one of them. If the team from Ljubljana qualifies, the Final 4 tournament could be organised in the new Stožice Arena. This is just another additional motive for Union Olimpija’s team.

Tennis: Davis Cup


Slovenia – Finland

Masters of Dirt

4th – 6th Mar, Tivoli Hall, Ljubljana, from EUR 5

Thu 17 Mar, 8pm, Stožice Sports Park Arena, Ljubljana, EUR 28–82

In one of the first round clashes of the 1st Euro-African group of the Davis Cup, Slovenia will start their journey to the elite World group where best 16 tennis nations compete against Finland. Slovenian tennis has made a huge step forward in past two years. Blaž Kavčič and Grega Žemlja are ranked around 100 best players in the world. Finland on the other hand has one star player, Jarkko Nieminen who once was ranked 13th on the ATP table. If Slovenia wins in the next round, they will then play against Italy.

Handball: European Championship Qualifications

Masters of Dirt is one of Europe’s biggest freestyle motocross shows, featuring two and four-wheeler riders performing loops ten metres above the ground, extreme jumps of over 23 metres, reverse jumps, and many other breath-taking tricks. The categories include FMX, 50’s, BMX and MTB. The Masters of Dirt show is performed by some of the bravest and most skilled freestyle motorcyclists and bikers from Europe, the United States and Asia, including the 50’s and BMX champion Mike Mason, the originator of MX and FMX techniques Travis Hart, Mike Jones, Ronnie Renner, Chris Brock, Busty Wolter and many others.

Slovenia – Poland 9th Mar at 8.15 p.m., Stožice Arena, Ljubljana, EUR 6-10 After two rounds Slovenia is the leading team of Group 3 which besides Poland consists also from the national teams of Portugal and Ukraine. The top-two placed teams will qualify for the Championship which will be held in Serbia in January next year. Since Portugal and Ukraine are huge underdogs, this will be the most attractive match for our team. The triumphs would mean that Slovenian fans can start planning a visit to the popular Belgrade and Novi Sad.

Ski Jumping

FIS World Cup Ski Jumping Final 16th – 20th Mar at 9 a.m., Rateče Planica, EUR 20 The most massive event held in Slovenia will once again attract many foreign guests as well. After many years Planica lost the title of the biggest flying hill in the world in February since the new world record is held by the Norwegian Vikersund. However, one can be sure that Planica will do anything to bring the prestigious title back, if not this year, than in the next season when the Nordic Ski Center and all the jumping hills will be renovated. The competition starts on Thursday with a training; single competitions are held on Friday and Sunday and on Saturday the viewers will witness the team clash.

March 2011

Illustrator Lila Prap at the premiere of theatrical adaptation of her international bestseller Dinosaurs. (MS)

The opening of exhibition of Lipizzaner horse motives at Slovenian Embassy in Washington with photographer Alenka Slavinec, Slovenian Prime Minister Borut Pahor, and Slovenian Ambassador to U.S. Roman Kirn (speaking). US Embassy charge d’ affaires Brad Freden, his wife Piedad and British Conuncil director James Hampson at Slovenian premiere of King’s Speech. (MS)


Pležuh race in Maribor. Pležuh is a centuries old ski-sled hybrid invented by Pohorje locals. (MS)

IBF World Boxing Champion Dejan Zavec and his adversary Paul Delgado (USA) after the fight in Ljubljana. (MS)

‘Retired’ ski champions Jure Košir and Alenka Dolžan as the ambassadors of Diner’s Club campaign to arrange skiing holidays for hundred kids from underprivileged families. (MS)

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