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The Slovenia Times, Slovenian magazine in English Language, volume 8, number 143, EUR 4,80

Slovenia - Serbia business special September 2011


Business Conference

Slovenia-SErbia A sporting spectacle as an opportunity to boost the economic collaboration 11. October 2011, Maribor, Slovenia

Programme 13.00 Registration and welcoming refreshments 14.00 Opening of the conference & an overview of the collaboration between the two countries On 11th October 2011, Maribor will host the final game of the qualifiers for the next European Football Championship, between Slovenia and Serbia. Both countries are traditionally good partners in the field of economy, but there are still plenty of opportunities to upgrade the existing business connection and make new investments. On the day of football spectacle, our business magazine “The Slovenia Times� will host a BUSINESS CONFERENCE between Slovenia and Serbia in Maribor. The conference is conceived as a top network event. The guest list will include diplomats, business partners, managers of companies from both countries who are already working together and also managers interested in new projects.

15.00 Networking break 15.30 A panel discussion on the experiences of Serbian and Slovenian investors 16.20 Networking break 16.40 A panel discussion about crucial market obstacles and business opportunities for encouraging cooperation between the two countries 17.30 Concusion of the conference 17.45 Late luncheon networking reception for the participants of the conference 19.45 Organised departure for the football match at the stadium (VIP seats)

Organizor

contact Marko Stijepić Marketing Manager, The Slovenia Times T: +386 1 520 50 85 marketing@sloveniatimes.com

Communication Partner


CONTENTS 3

September 2011 Business Partners

POLITICS 6 8

New traffic regulations Slovenian media between the owners and politicians

ECONOMY 12 Overview of half year financial results

FDI 16 17 18

BSH Hišni aparati shows its charitable side Telekom Austria to buy T-2? International call to set up electronic tolling system

20

Innovation special: A new type of advertising

21 22

DIPLOMATIC SOCIETY H.E. Ahmed Farouk, Egyptian Ambassador to Slovenia Embassy diaries

Slovenia – Serbia Relations special 24 28 29 30 32

100

Relationship going strong Slovenian experience in Serbia Serbian experience in Slovenia The brands’ impact Making the most of the advantages

Business Tourism special

95

33 36 37 40

75 100 95 25

42

75 5

46 48 49 50 52 54

0 25 5 0

Tourist in a suit Interview: Miriam Možgan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs Keeping the business industry green Expert opinion: Linda Pereira, Executive Director of CPL Events Interview: Jerneja Kamnikar, director of Vivo catering

LIFESTYLE Experience - Vinag wine cellar Lifestyle news 50 years of Renault 4 Experience - Pule Estate Dine with Style - Bon Appétit The Capital: Happy Johnny tourist bus

CULTURE 55 56

Two years of Kino Šiška’s urban culture The event guide

Slo times avgust 230x95 mm

SPORTS

11. junij 2009 10:43:56

60

Facing the EuroBasket 2011 challenge

62

Every picture tells a story September 2011


PANORAMA

source: STA, Slovenian Press Agency

Until the Early Elections... Interior Minister Katarina Kresal resigned after the Corruption Prevention Commission found elements of corruption in the controversial lease of a building for the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) from her friend. Kresal said that as “a sworn advocate of respect for the integrity and institutions of the rule of law” she respected the Commission’s opinion although she personally did not agree with it. The LDS however decided to stay in the coalition, but Kresal’s resignation has left the government without a third of all ministers, raising the question of government’s continued legitimacy. Law experts are not unanimous as to whether this means that the government should be dissolved under the government act, which stipulates that

the government starts its term when more than two-thirds of all ministers are appointed. The resignation has also led to ever louder calls for early elections, in particular if parliament fails to appoint new ministers at the September session or if the government’s supplementary budget is not confirmed. With four ministries already missing their bosses after Zares left the coalition, Prime Minister Borut Pahor announced he would send to parliament a list of names that are to succeed the recently resigned ministers in a package, along with a vote of confidence in mid-September. Parliamentary Speaker Pavel Gantar, also a member of the Zares party, said he postponed stepping down until September because the senior coalition Social

Democrats (SD) had not proposed a candidate to succeed him. The SD on the other hand claims that it plans to wait for Gantar’s resignation before looking for a replacement. Meanwhile, the SD and its remaining coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats (LDS), are seeking to fix the date of the next general election. Pahor announced that he had constitutional experts draft a new constitutional bill paving the way for the next election to be held ahead of time while fixing the general election date for future polls. Most parties expressed support for such a motion, although some are sceptical about it being adopted as a way of shortening the term of the incumbent government.

Supervisor

The Importance of Family

Transparency Machine

Ljubljana Archbishop Anton Stres highlighted the importance of Christian values, especially that of the family, as he gave a sermon to mark the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Brezje. Addressing a crowd of around 4,000 at the country’s main pilgrimage site, Stres pointed to the need to strive for justice, truthfulness, mutual respect and honesty, for fair wages, human dignity and the protection of human life in society and the country. Stres is convinced that the Holy Family is a symbol and the ideal of the family, which through centuries and millennia has proven to be the best basis for national existence and social progress. The floor was also given to Ales Primc, the head of a pro-family initiative which is seeking a referendum on the new family law act which introduces additional rights for gay couples and liberalises the definition of a family. Primc urged a joint effort for the values of motherhood and fatherhood, saying they were depreciated by the new act. Katarina Kresal, the head of the coalition LibDems, reacted to Primc’s address by describing it on Twitter an abuse of “a Church holiday to spread intolerance, even though tolerance is also a Christian value”.

Insight in the money flow from the public to the private sector concerning goods and services is available to the public through the web application Supervisor. According to the Corruption Prevention Commission head Goran Klemenčič, the user-friendly accessibility of the data will increase the responsibility of public office holders for reasonable and efficient use of public funds, while reducing the risk of bad management, abuse of power, systemic corruption risks, unfair competition and cronyism in public procurement. The application will allow oversight over the average EUR 4.7bn a year used for goods and services by the entire public sector. The web application is a unique project in Europe, which Klemenčič is very proud of and was set up by an “excellent team” for free. Besides the Supervisor application, the project includes a web application for up-to-date monitoring of lobbying contact reports and a public presentation of the assets of the commission’s officials, which he said should serve as a role model for other officials.

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The Slovenia Times

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Religion

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4

The untouchables? Goran Klemečič and Rok Praprotnik.

Editor-in-chief Jaka Terpinc editor@sloveniatimes.com

Marketing/Advertising

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Marko Stijepić marketing@sloveniatimes.com

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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.

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Front page by Jaka Terpinc


UNDER THE PRESS In memoriam

Farewell, Andrej Bajuk Former Slovenian Prime Minister, former Finance Minister and president of the conservative New Slovenia party (NSi) Andrej Bajuk died at the age of 68. A doctor of economics, Bajuk had held senior positions at the World Bank and the Inter-American Development Bank before shooting to political fame seemingly overnight in 2000. Almost unknown outside the Slovenian diaspora in Argentina, he was named prime minister of a short-lived interim government. In 2004, Bajuk was named the finance minister in the government of Janez Janša, serving his full fouryear term.

It is a fact that the Greeks will not be able to pay their debt, because it involves such a large share of GDP. All ideas about how they will increase competitiveness are pretty useless, as there’s not much industry in the country. But in reality it is all about rescuing German and French banks. All eurozone members will be funding the rescue of Greece as long as it takes to pay off these banks. Economist Jože Mencinger in Delo

Health

Drunken Youth Some 12 percent of the Slovenian youth between 11 and 15 drink alcohol at least once a week, while 40% never drink, according to a survey by the Public Health Institute. The number of abstinent 11-13-year-olds has dropped compared to 2006, but the number of 15-year-olds who drink, especially girls, is increasing. Alcohol consumers were more likely to have an alcohol poisoning, be involved in traffic and other accidents, engage in violent behaviour, commit or attempt suicide. The most important factors of alcohol consumption are availability and tolerance of drinking in the society, peer pressure as well as the example set by the parents.

Crime

Animal! The Koper District Court sentenced a man to prison over animal cruelty. The man, who starved his parasite infested dog to death in June, faces a month in prison. Vera Tonel of a regional association fighting animal cruelty called the ruling a great victory. The first ever prison sentence for animal cruelty in Slovenia, gives the animal rights activists new hope that people would start changing the way they treat their pets and other animal

Austria

The End of Bilingual Saga? Prime Minister Borut Pahor attended the main ceremony honouring the erection of first additional German-Slovenian signposts in the province of Carinthia in line with the new Austrian law on minorities, labelling it a day of “tolerance, peace and good neighbourly relations”. The ceremony marked the start of the implementation of the agreement on German-Slovenian town signs which was reached in April between the Slovenian minority and Austrian authorities and which envisages bilingual city limit signs in 164 localities in Carinthia. The agreement on the signs, which also settles issues of minority education funding and the status of Slovenian as an official language in certain municipalities in the province, was brokered on in April after years of unsuccessful efforts. The new arrangement encompasses the 91 settlements already included in a decision from 1977, as well as Bleiburg and Ebersdorf, where signs were erected by decree of the Constitutional Court.

Politicians

Profitable Hobbies National Party president Zmago Jelinčič will have his assets thoroughly checked after his wife bought a beachfront lot near Koper for over half a million Euros last week. Always quick to blame allegations against him as political conspiracies, Jelinčič said the check was designed to “remove” him from politics, since he is “the only one who demands a crack-down on organised crime.” Jelinčič, the owner of a big and recently renovated house in the centre of Ljubljana which is estimated at well over a million euros, has said he borrowed some of the money from friends as well as that he has assets worth ten million euros on account of his passion for numismatics.

...everyone knew that Greece did not fulfill the [credit] conditions, maybe they have even been advised to choose Goldman-Sachs to fake their documentation. The banks, being German or French, who have been involved in this gambling, should take the burden on themselves. It is as simple as that! Greece is nothing else but an addict, which needs to be guilty because someone kept offering it heroin at a discounted price. Politician Gregor Golobič in a debate with Philosopher Slavoj Žižek on the Greek problem.

If lies were banned only for a day, then most of Slovenian media would go bankrupt and auctioned off, just like Delo Revije. SDS leader Janez Janša in his speech at the party gathering Perhaps it is about time to ban lying for a day – then most of Slovenian populist politicians would go down. They are the ones who simply don’t realise that citizens are not their servants, but rather opposite. Delo columnist Janez Markeš on populist politicians.

She was working for the king of Burma and guys like him. For the wedding and so on. It’s a work of art, which she donates to the government of Burma, and receives a diamond of some seven or eight carats in return, which we sell off. That’s life. If you can be inventive, that’s fine. If not, then you are a typical Slovene. SNS Zmago Jelinčič explains his wife’s decoration skills as the source of suspicious income.

September 2011

5


6

A WORD FROM THE EDITOR

POLITICS

New Traffic Regulations

Light at the End of the Tunnel?

By Jaka Terpinc

If you ask a Slovene to name the most problematic issue in governing the country, he or she would probably point to the evil brotherhood of corruption and clientelism. The later is understood as any exchange of favours encouraged by friendly and family relations. In most cases it involves distribution of businesses and jobs as well as influencing judicial procedures and the like. The whole crusade against it makes total sense, but there’s a problem: radical estimates suggests that around 80 percent of jobs in Slovenia were arranged through personal connections. That means that many who moan over the situation actually benefited from it. We may start out as idealistic job seekers, but most of us soon realise that many job adverts are placed just to follow procedure – the one who gets the job will be the one who was “recommended”. Realise that, and it’s not long before you give in and start inviting people to dinners and cultivating useful friendships. When these practices happen in the world of small business and lower bureaucracy, and when favours represent nothing more than an invitation to a barbeque, it’s easy to dismiss it as harmless. It’s when such an attitude extends to the world of multi-million Euro deals between the state and privately owned business that it’s time to worry. This sort of thing might have been widely accepted practice in times of socialism, but the problem is that the change of system has done nothing to eradicate it. On the contrary: by lifting restraints on individual wealth, it’s actually made matters worse. In the past 20 years of our capitalist economy, little reward has been left for the fair-players in certain businesses. They quickly become uncompetitive and in many cases it was either accept the “rules” or stay on the margins. The crescendo has come with the previous government’s wave of privatisation and the worldwide economic crisis. State-owned banks issued loans to individuals in order buy out the shares in state-owned companies. Needless to say most people involved knew the other stakeholders well. As the economic crisis kicked in, the share values sunk far below the actual debts. The perversion became so obvious that everyone quickly realised that taxpayers are now repaying the sins of the business elite. “Tycoons” became the embodiment of corruption and clientelism and, as such, the ultimate enemies of the people. The Commission for Prevention of Corruption, which under its new boss Goran Klemenčič has become a highly trustworthy institution, has now blessed us with a work of art. They have released a piece of online software which allows any user to peek into the transactions of budget-sponsored companies. It displays raw data which of course needs proper interpretation, but some numbers are shocking enough on first sight. It also doesn’t require much analysis to find out that certain companies enjoyed enormous privileges just under a certain government. Interesting, because in the world of politics any party will always say it is “us” who are fair and transparent against “them”, who are corrupt. Actually it needs to be that way, because pointing to another is a means to make the own sin more relative. As the corruption watchdog has pointed out, Slovenian corruption is systemic, not administrative. This is a more academic rephrase of a common finding that over here it’s very difficult to bribe an officer, while the state administration is highly corrupt. If this means that the individuals can keep their integrity even while the society as a whole works against it, at least some optimism remains – optimism that bad attitudes have reached their turning point. That all the bits and pieces, the revelations and the new software are leading to the conclusion that a transparent country is in everyone’s interest. And that these conclusions will guide a new generation of businessmen, politicians and voters. Too much to hope for?

Severe Times, Severe Laws The national goal is to cut the number of deaths on the roads in half. One of the measures to do so is even more draconian sentences for traffic offenders, introduced by legislation passed in July. However, experts are doubtful that this will help: our way of thinking is what we need to change instead. Tjaša Pureber

E

ven though the number of dead and wounded in the car accidents has already been halved over the previous decade, the statistics are still alarming. Two years ago, 214 people died; in 2010, the number of dead in the car accidents was 138. In the first six months of 2011, 69 people died due to injuries in car accidents, which is more than in the same period of the previous year. The most common reasons for fatal accidents are speeding, driving in the wrong direction (against the flow of traffic) and ig-

norance of the traffic regulations. Slovenia is also known to be one of the European countries whose citizens consume the largest amount of alcohol per habitant. Thirty percent of all people who are guilty of causing traffic accidents are later proven to have been drinking while driving. The new set of laws are therefore aimed especially on those who are both driving too fast and drunk.

No more fast and furious

The police have declared war against drivers who speed in cit-

editor@sloveniatimes.com

New traffic laws - for more survivors or for more money from the fines?


POLITICS 7 ies, towns and villages. Driving 60 km/h, in a 30 km/h zone can cost you your driving license in addition to a maximum fine of €1,200 (the average monthly salary in Slovenia is around 970 euros). The same sentence applies if you drive 50 km/h over the limit within an inhabited area. Meanwhile, driving 50 km/h over the limit (or more) on highways will cost €400. You will also lose your licence. Since there have been several cases of people caught driving in the wrong direction on the highway, new legislation introduces maximum sentence (€1,200 and immediate seizure of driving licence) for this.

New rules for alcohol abusers

If the police stop you when you are drunk and find out you have a blood alcohol level of more than 1.1 in your breath, you will immediately lose your license, pay the maximum fine and spend from 6 to 12 hours on the police station, until they decide you are sober enough to go home. The same applies if you are driving under the influence of drugs or strong medications. One innovation is that the police officers will have the discretion of deciding when to keep you in jail to sober up and when you are fit enough to continue your travel. People who lose their licence due to alcohol or drug abuse will

have to participate in the mandatory rehabilitation as well. This can take place as educational and practical workshops, or as classical treatment.

Heavy on the bikers

In 2006, five percent of all casualties of fatal traffic accidents were cyclists. The number has since risen to 12 percent (9 people) in the first half of this year. Therefore, police will be paying more attention to them as well. They will have to pay fines for driving in the wrong direction, using a mobile phone or listening to music while riding. Children under age of fourteen must use safety helmets, which are recommended but not mandatory for everyone else.

Experts: it will not work

Even though no one is denying the need to change Slovenia’s driving culture, experts are concerned that the new traffic legislation will not bring the desired effect, especially since this set of laws is only one in the long series that has been increasing the severity of punishment for traffic offenses. They worry that this is merely treating the symptoms and that it does not affect the core of the social problem that leads to the offences on the road. Some early polls also indicate that drivers do not believe they will be driving slower because of the higher sentences. The question how to solve the sad death toll on the Slovenian roads therefore remains unanswered. Only the future will show if charging people will do any good.

If the police stop you when you are drunk and find out you have a blood alcohol level of more than 1.1 in your breath, you will immediately lose your license, pay the maximum fine and spend from 6 to 12 hours on the police station, until they decide you are sober enough to go home.

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September 2011


8 POLITICS

Media

The Truth for Sale The Slovenian media seems to be trapped in an opaque web of politics and business. In the meantime, journalists can only hope to keep their jobs in the midst of amateurish moves from Slovenian wannabe Murdochs. By Jaka Terpinc

D

elo Revije is the biggest Slovenian publisher of magazines, with most of its titles enjoying a long tradition. During that time, the ownership has changed from public to a shared stock company. However, a month ago readers realised with disappointment that their favourite reads from the company were missing from the newsstands. The reason? The company has gone deep into debt and has been unable to pay its employees for several months. On the face of it, this is peculiar. Delo Revije reported EUR 106,336 in net profit last year. The key to the mystery lies in the 2008 takeover of the firm by a company called Monera, which for this purpose received a EUR 32m loan from state-owned bank NKBM. The further financial manoeuvres by Monera’s owner Matej Raščan pushed Delo Revije to a EUR 27m debt, facing bankruptcy. Then the creditor jumped back in and called an auction for the 44 publisher’s brands. The sole buyer was NKBM’s own subsidiary KBM leasing, which intends to lease these brands to the best buyer. Although the magazines got back on the shelves and the journalists were finally paid, the agony seems far from over.

Brewery owns the papers

The Slovene Association of Journalists has published a statement condemning the outcome as a continuation of the farce, suggesting that: “The transfer of brands only spruces up the bank’s balance sheets while failing to solve the staff’s problems. They could have ended the agony of Delo Revije months ago by seizing the shares and transferring claims into ownership stakes.” President of the Journalist trade union Iztok Jurančič, meanwhile, criticised the lack of supervision over the dealings of Raščan’s companies. According to him, there was no basis for a EUR 30m loan the bank gave to Monera, as Raščan did not meet the bank’s criteria for such loans. The story of Delo Revije is just one episode in the ongoing saga The Slovenia Times

of Slovenian media ownership. In short: the major owner of Delo, Slovenia’s biggest daily, is debtridden Laško Brewery. Delo itself owned 80 per cent of Mariborbased daily Večer, which was sold to a small computer company 3lan owned by the infamous Matej Raščan, but the Ministry of Culture found illegalities and imposed restrictions to this buyout. What all this means is that Večer currently has no owner and daily Dnevnik lacks an editor-in-chief with a full mandate, apparently because the journalists and owners have different ideas about the candidates.

Politics and Ownership

While the three major Slovenian dailies have financially fallen victim to the appetites of Slovenian tycoons and the recession that has followed the buyouts, the media as a voice of the political truth has suffered too. The 15 years of liberal government up until 2004 led the Slovenian political right wing to believe that the media in general was systematically keeping them down. When they finally seized power it was clear that a major project would be ‘harmonising’ the mediascape. Janša’s government did not merely make legislative changes. It also did its best to secure editorial loyalty wherev-

er it could, most notably in public broadcaster RTV and in Delo through the ownership changes. This resulted in a notorious petition against censorship signed by 571 journalists and also backed by the Slovene Association of Journalists. These events among others resulted in the establishment of the renegade Association of Journalists and Commentators, a small yet vocal union in line with the ideas of the conservative SDS and its leader Janez Janša. To return to the Delo Revije affair, magazine editor Goga Sredojević has stated that she was subjected to political pressures as she was asked to put Janša on the front page of a magazine Obrazi (Faces). This pressure allegedly came along with Matej Raščan as the owner of Delo Revije. This suggests that Raščan does not only make business, but also influences the political agenda. Nevertheless, his assets were involved in still mysterious free weeklies, the content of which exclusively worshipped the SDS and damaged its opponents. These two weeklies, which had no formal political allegiance, were distributed in 2008 and ceased immediately after the elections.

A messy picture

Slovenia boasts six dailies: politically they range from the rela-

tively conservative Finance to the liberal Dnevnik. East-Slovenia oriented Večer and Delo as the biggest national paper with its Delo’s tabloid goldmine Slovenske Novice are tougher to pigeonhole. While the liberals view Raščan as the conservative patron of the press, pushing the media under the control of SDS, it is seems that Boško Šrot, the member of ruling Social Democrats and the infamous owner of Pivovarna Laško which owns much of the Slovenian press, aligns more to the “transitional left”. Only Finance and Žurnal24, which are in total foreign ownership, seem to be spared the political games. The weekly front reveals a less complicated situation with traditionally liberal Mladina against conservative Reporter and Demokracija. W h atever cer t a i n pol it ica l interests might have to gain through media, the damage is being done to the profession of journalism and to quality reporting. Women’s magazine Jana has been around for 40 years but recent events have pushed it on the brink of extinction. Its editorin-chief Melita Berzelak, made it clear: the government should change the “predatory legislation”. But when it comes to media laws and ownership, it all gets very complicated.

Nothing Shocking Tabloid Slovenske Novice remained the best-selling daily in Slovenia in the second quarter of 2011, while Nedeljski Dnevnik is still the most popular weekly, data from the Slovenian Advertising Chamber shows. Slovenske Novice was followed by broadsheets Delo and Dnevnik as the best selling dailies, while the second and third best-selling weekly papers were Nedelo, the Sunday edition of daily Delo, and tabloid Lady. Data on the best-selling periodicals in the first six months of 2011 show that the most widely read monthly magazines were Vzajemna, which is intended for pensioners, ahead of Reader’s Digest and children’s magazine Cicido, while women’s magazine Anja was the most popular

fortnightly paper followed by Bravo and Kih. The Chamber established that the negative trend of the average circulation of printed media was gradually coming to an end.


10

Economy

FACTS AND FIGURES

source: STA, Slovenian Press Agency

Luka Koper: Counting the Losses The eight-day strike at Luka Koper at the end of July has caused a wide raging stir amongst business as well as political circles. Even Slovenia’s president, Danilo Türk felt obliged to respond to the strike of crane operators. As the real cost of the strike is yet to be evaluated, the intial losses for Luka Koper alone stand at EUR. 1.3m. The workers demanded improvements in safety at work and a reduction in the number of working hours, while the management argued their demands were illegal. Luka Koper CEO Gregor Veselko stated that increased working hours from four to five and a half a day was only a temporary measure, necessary due to the increased workload. He added the crane operators will receive some EUR 250 higher salary for the months during which the measure will be in force. Veselko further said Luka Koper had already met several demands voiced by crane operators back in February, including hiring an additional 13 crane operators for the coming two months. In August, all employees were also to receive a pay raise they demanded. The strike was not supported by the trade union of port workers, whose representative Gregor

Mislej said the demands were unreasonable and the crane operators were trying to achieve special privileges. However, the crane operators had the support from the trade union of national railway operator Slovenske Železnice, port workers from Italy’s Trieste, the International Transport Workers’ Federation, and even from some (more Italian than Slovenian) politicians, according to the reports in the media. The impact of the strike was wideranging, with Slovenske Železnice reporting a 44 percent drop in the number of transported cargo carriages compared to the same period last year, which translates to a loss of EUR 506,000. Although Luka Koper’s management and the operators came to an agreement after eight days, the damage caused by the strike will linger for some time. The damage caused to the company and all its business partners will be hard to sum up, as the consequences are yet to be seen. After

receiving all the claims and penalties for the delays and inability to perform their business activities, Luka Koper estimates its financial losses at least twice the intial estimation of EUR 1.3m. And there is still to take into account business damage of all the involved parties; speditions, contractors, Slovenian railway system and others. But the most worrying of all is the impact the strike had on Luka Koper’s reputation as a reliable partner.

Finance

Logistics

Food industry

Logistics

Loans Burdened by Strong Swiss Franc

Karavanke Deal Reached

Landmark Deal

The recent strengthening of the Swiss franc compared to the euro is taking its toll on borrowers who have taken loans in this currency in Slovenia. The hardest-hit are households, which have taken 70 percent of such loans, the bulk of it to purchase real estate, according to the latest data from the central bank. According to Banka Slovenije’s data for February, the amount of loans approved in Slovenia in Swiss francs amounted to EUR 1.748bn, of which EUR 1.241bn has been taken by households. The Swiss franc, which is widely considered a safe investment given the current financial and economic situation globally, gained almost 25 percent to the euro in the past year, according to the European Central Bank. Banks are now more reluctant to give out loans in the currency.

Slovenia and Austria have reached an agreement to end the stand-off at the border tunnel of Karavanke over Austria’s unilateral decision to ban traffic for heavy lorries during weekends. Under the deal, Slovenian lorries will be allowed

Viator & Vektor Initiate Insolvency Proceedings

The Slovenia Times

to go through the tunnel in special convoys at night. Convoys of lorries heavier than 7.5 tonnes, which are not allowed to go to the tunnel from 10pm on Fridays until 3pm on Saturdays between 29 July and 3 September, will be let through at 1am, 3am and 5am. Austria recently adopted a regulation extending the ban on cargo vehicles by 10 hours every weekend, as heavy lorries are already prohibited from using Slovenia’s motorways on Saturdays from 8am to 1pm during the tourist season and on Sundays from 8am to 9pm throughout the year.

The participants of the agri-food chain signed a code of best practice at the 49th annual Food and Agriculture Fair (AGRA) in Gornja Radgona last month to improve business relations and prevent abuse among farmers, food industry and retailers. The deal is a voluntary commitment of the participants to adhere to the best business practice and look for solutions to problems through dialogue. Its implementation will be overseen by a committee featuring representatives of all participants in the agrifood chain, but the document envisages no sanctions for violations. The signatories agreed on the final price, to respect payment deadlines, on the right to change orders in a reasonable time, to charge actual services and to regulate business relations by means of written contracts. The deal was signed by Peter Vrisk of the Cooperatives’ Association, Štefan Pavlinjek of the Chamber of Trade Crafts and Small Business, Marica Lah of the Chamber of Commerce, Anka Miklavčič Lipušček of the Chamber of Agricultural and Food Enterprises and Ciril Smrkolj of the Chamber of Agriculture and Forestry.

Logistics group Viator & Vektor intiated insolvency proceedings after failing to persuade creditor banks to back its restructuring plan, the boss of subsidiary Viator & Vektor Logistika Bojan Novak announced. Viator & Vektor will draw up measures for court-mandated debt restructuring within 30 days if conditions are met. If not, the company will file for receivership, Novak said. According to him, the creditor banks are prepared to resume talks with Viator & Vektor in case of a capital injection. Insolvency proceedings are being started in holding company Skupina Viator & Vektor, which has around ten employees, and Viator & Vektor Logistika, which employs nearly 500. Chairman of Skupina Viator & Vektor Zdenko Pavček said that the proceedings would not affect other companies in the Viator & Vektor group, which would continue to operate normally.


11 Media

Home appliances

Energy

Promising figures

Delo Revije Brands Leased to Krater Group

Gorenje to Equip Apartments in Hong Kong

Petrol Acquires ELTEC Mulej

More tourists visit Slovenia Numbers for half year results in millions 1.5

Source: SURS

Tourism

1.2 0.9 0.6 0.3 0

2009

2010

2011

Encouraging visitor figures for the first half of the year and the summer months inspired the Slovenian Tourism Board (STO) to forecast an improvement in 2011 on the results from last year. Significant improvements have been confirmed from Piran, Novo mesto as well as Kranjska Gora. With more than 640,000 overnight stays a substantial 13 percent increase is being reported from the coastal Piran municipality for the first seven months of the year. June saw a 12 percent increase and July a 3 percent rise on the year before. Improved figures for the summer season are also coming from Kranjska Gora, primarily a skiing resort, where a 10 percent increase in overnight stays was recorded in June and July. Moreover, the Novo mesto area with its Krka river valley confirmed for the STA a 15 percent increase in the tourism tax revenues for the first seven months.

The group around the NKBM bank has leased the brands of magazine publisher Delo Revije to the printing and media group Krater. The move comes after the bank sold the brands, provided as loan collateral, to its leasing arm KBM Leasing for EUR 10.14m in an auction last month. The brands of Slovenia’s biggest magazine publisher Delo Revije will be leased by publisher Salomon together with local paper Dolenjski list and Radio Glas Ljubljane, all part of the Krater group. Also part of the group are several other radio stations and the printing house Set, which prints the magazines published by Delo Revije. According to the business daily Finance, the Krater group offered the Mariborbased bank EUR 1m per year for a period of 10 years. Krater would then buy the brands and the payments would count towards the final purchase price.

Gaming

Logistics

Sailaway Anchored

Another Term for Skobir

A new entertainment center combining shopping and gaming is about to enrich the already exciting tourist offers in a border town of Nova Gorica. The project titled Sailaway is set to bring new and different guests in addition to those attracted mostly by 3,000 gaming machines operating in Nova Gorica. As the mayor of Šempeter-Vrtojba has pointed out: built at the excellent geographic location, the centre will attract not only Slovenians and those transiting through Slovenia, but also the inhabitants of a wider area of northeast Italy. Several exciting facilities will be included in the 30.000 square metres of the complex: casino, bowling, video games, go-kart track, indoor golf range, swimming pools, cinema multiplex, shops, restaurants, hotel, etc.

Chairman of the board of Aerodrom Ljubljana Zmago Skobir won the unanimous support of supervisors to lead the company until 2017. Although Skobir’s mandate expires in July next year, he was entrusted by supervisors a new five-year term, during which time the airport will see a major investment, which is building the second terminal worth EUR 50m. In addition, due to growing uncertainty about the fate of Adria Airways, Skobir is likely to engage in the acquisition of new airline customers.

The Velenje-based company Gorenje has been selected as the exclusive provider of household appliances for 149 apartments in the new SOHO189 housing facility, which is being built near the centre of Hong Kong by Kerry Properties, one of Hong Kong’s top real estate investors. Gorenje will equip both standard and luxury apartments with more than 1,000 appliances, including refrigerators, washing and drying machines, wok burners, gas stoves and induction cookers, microwaves, coffee machines and wine coolers. The apartments, which will be finished in the first quarter of 2013, are located in a lively part of the city Sheung Wan, boasting prestigious boutiques, restaurants and art galleries, and were sold out on the first auction day, Gorenje says on its web site. This will be the third skyscraper that Gorenje will have equipped in Hong Kong.

Government

Tight Budget for 2012 The government is planning a very tight budget for 2012, Finance Minister Franc Križanič told the press last month after the first government session following the summer break. The plan is to reduce the public deficit from the initially projected 4.6 percent of GDP to 3.25 percent. Krizanič said that the document would be one of the tightest budgets in Slovenia’s history and that negotiations with other cabinet members were intense. The minister however expects the parliament to pass the changes by 1 October.

Energy

Energy company Petrol announced last month it had purchased 74.9 percent of EL-TEC Mulej, a company specialising in district heating systems, water distribution systems, lighting, and energy management of buildings, for an undisclosed sum. EL-TEC Mulej is present in Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo and Macedonia, as well as in Italy and Austria. The company with 40 employees recorded a turnover of EUR 10m in 2010, while its net profit in the same year stood at EUR 406,000. Petrol CEO Tomaž Berločnik said that the purchase was in line with the company’s strategic guidelines to offer comprehensive energy and environment-related energy solutions to its clients in the field of municipal energy and industry.

Fruit industry

Good Year for Apple Harvest This year’s harvest of apples in Slovenia will be the second best in the last 10 years, as fruit growers expect to collect some 73,000 tonnes of apples, which is 11 percent more than last year, CEO of fruit producer Evrosad Boštjan Kozole said. Apple is one of the few foods that are produced in quantities that ensure self-sufficiency in Slovenia, as growers produce twice as much as consumed by the home market every year, Agriculture, Forestry and Food Ministry State Secretary Tanja Strniša said. She added that apples were produced on most of Slovenia’s 8,900 hectares of fruit gardens and orchards, while Kozole noted this was the reason why Slovenia’s pear production was not so plentiful, despite favourable conditions in the western parts of the country.

Debeljak Steps Down as Petrol Supervisor Mercator CEO Žiga Debeljak resigned last month as a member of energy company Petrol supervisory board and the audit body after Slovenia’s largest retailer moved into the oil retailing by acquiring En Plus at the end of June. With the move Debeljak wants to avoid a possible conflict of interest. In line with the contract which took effect at the beginning of August, Mercator became the sole owner of oil retailer En Plus and its network of petrol stations 24/7. September 2011


12 ECONOMY

Financial results

Positive Half Year Results Half year results have been published sporadically over the summer and the outcomes are mixed – some of Slovenia’s top companies are continuing with positive trends, despite gloomy economic climate, while others are seeing their profits continuing to plummet. By Mateja Novak and STA

Although it was expected the company will make a loss of at least half a million euros, Slovenia’s biggest casino operator Hit recorded revenues to the tune of EUR 96.1m and a pre-tax profit of EUR 2.2m in the first seven months of 2011.

hen it comes to good performances, those are not limited to one sector only but are recorded across different sectors, from pharmaceuticals to telecommunications and retail.

The right medicine

Hitting the jackpot

W

The g roup around pharma company Krka generated EUR 92.4m in net profit in the first half of 2011, which is one percent up compared to the same period last year. Krka generated sales of EUR 488.7m, up two percent year-onyear, while the group sold goods and services worth EUR 528.8m, a six percent increase. The biggest share of products for foreign markets went to Central Europe (30 percent), followed by Eastern Europe (25 percent), Western Europe and overseas markets (21 percent) and Southeastern Europe (14 percent). Most of Krka’s goods and services went to Russia, where it generated sales of EUR 92.8m, up five percent compared to the fist half of 2010.

Keeping up with crisis

Similarly, Slovenia’s ‘best neighbour’ continues with upward trend financially, reporting in August a EUR 18.52m net profit for the first half of 2011 – a 4.9 percent increase year-on-year. Revenues increased by 6.1 percent to EUR The Slovenia Times

Although it was expected the company will make a loss of at least half a million euros, Slovenia’s biggest casino operator Hit recorded revenues to the tune of EUR 96.1m and a pre-tax profit of EUR 2.2m in the first seven months of 2011. The company paid

EUR 25m of gaming taxes in the mentioned period and lowered its liabilities to banks by EUR 7m to EUR 101m, Hit CEO Drago Podobnik stated. The number of visitors to Hit slot parlours and casinos increased by one percent to 757,000, while the number of overnight stays in its hotels grew by almost 16 percent to 82,000 in comparison with the same period last year. Podobnik said the company is working hard to attract guests from foreign markets in the light of the decrease of visitors from Italy, where the competition in the form of almost 30,000 slot machines was becoming increasingly strong. He added the company succeeded in attracting some wealthy guests from Russia and Ukraine to the casinos in Nova Gorica and Kranjska Gora, and it was hoping to attract visitors from the Scandinavian countries and China.

Good…but is it good enough?

The beverage maker Pivovarna Laško nearly doubled its net profit in the first six months of 2011, generating EUR 11m compared to EUR 6.2m for the same period in 2010. The group’s net revenues amounted to EUR 161m, up nearly 4 percent year-on-year. Pivovarna Laško CEO Dušan Zorko said the results were good but they were not good enough for the banks.

Krka’s steady increase (half year net profits in ‘000 000 EUR) 100

80

60

40

20

0 2009

2010

2011

Source: STA

Surprising results: Hit registered half-year profits

1.42 billion, exceeding plans by 48.1 percent. Mercator’s supervisors, however, are cautious and acknowledge the volatility of the current economic situation in the countries where the retailer operates. “In the first six months all of Mercator’s markets saw an increase in the number of unemployed, while dearer raw materials had a negative impact on consumption. Also still noticeable is an increase in default on payments and loan activity by banks remains below pre-crisis levels,” the press release says. Mercator’s measures included lowering the prices of more than 2,000 products, which required an investment of almost EUR 12m in this period. The Mercator group spent a total of EUR 67.78m on investments in the first six months of the year, mostly for the development of its retail network. The surface area of the company’s operations expanded by more than 31,000 square metres, almost half of which where in Serbia.


ECONOMY 13 the report. Despite the projection of a 2.2 percent economic growth for Slovenia this year, business conditions will remain strained, mainly due to payment defaults and failures of construction and other companies, Petrol said. As other negative factors affecting the company’s operations, the management pointed to the forecast increase in unemployment and inflation. At the end of June, the group operated 444 service stations, of which 313 in Slovenia, 81 in Croatia, 38 in Bosnia-Herzegovina, six in Serbia, three in Kosovo and three in Montenegro.

Favourable results

Writing down the losses

Telekom Slovenije meanwhile, recorded a five-fold increase in its net profit in the first six months of 2011, generating EUR 25.1m. Revenues were, however, down three percent to EUR 402.3m, according to an earnings report released by the company. The results are favourable, Telekom Slovenije chairman Ivica Kranjčevič told the press, adding the group has already come close to achieving its yearly goal – EUR 28.1m in net profit. The g roup reg istered EUR 138.3m in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), up five percent compared to last year, while its earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) stood at EUR 40.3m, a 61 percent increase. Telekom Slovenije has implemented a number of measures for lowering costs, restructured the activities of its affiliates abroad, implemented changes in sales and marketing, renewed its business processes and optimised its operating capital, all in line with its strategic plan for the period until 2015. The group has meanwhile severely cut back on investments. Most of the total sum, EUR 30m, went to Telekom Slovenije (EUR 13.5m), its mobile arm Mobitel (EUR 8m) and its subsidiaries in Macedonia (EUR 2.5m).

Telekom Slovenije registers excellent results (half year net profits in ‘000 000 EUR)

Source: STA

He expressed hope the banks will show understanding for the company’s efforts to reprogramme the loans, as the group was entering new markets. Pivovarna Laško chief supervisor Vladimir Malenkovič expressed belief that simply reprogramming the loans will not be enough, therefore, the beverage maker will have to make additional divestment. He expects the management of Laško to inform the supervisory board at a session planned for September about a cost-cutting plan for the group that employs 1,800 people.

30

25

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15

10

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Banks are similarly struggling with achieving higher profits. Slov0

continued on page 14

2009

2010

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Low on energy

Energy company Petrol reported EUR 21m in net group profit in the first half of the year, which is down six percent on the same period last year. Meanwhile, net sales revenues rose by 17 percent to EUR 1.5bn. EBITDA rose by 11 percent yearon-year to EUR 51.8m and operating profit by 16 percent to EUR 35.1m, according to a semi-annual operating report posted on the web site of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange last month. The strained economic situation continued to affect the group’s operations in the first six months of the year, the management stated in www.air france.si September 2011


25

NKBM profits plunge (half year net profits in ‘000 000 EUR)

Source: STA

Petrol’s profits drop slightly (half year net profits in ‘000 000 EUR)

Source: STA

14 ECONOMY

12

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continued from page 13 enia’s second biggest bank, NKBM, generated a net profit of EUR 5.6m in the first six months this year, which is a nearly 50 percent drop compared to the same period last year, when its net profit reached EUR 10.2m. The bank says that poor net profit was the result of writeoffs amounting to EUR 31.6m. The management is nonetheless satisfied with the bank’s performance, according to the bank’s press release. The bank’s pre-tax

The Slovenia Times

2010

2011

profit stood at EUR 7m, amounting to 50.1 percent of annual plans. In the same period last year, NKBM’s pre-tax profit was EUR 15m. Slovenia’s largest bank, NLB, generated a modest EUR 0.9m in after-tax group profit in the first half of the year. The profit at the core bank was EUR 1.2m. NLB’s operations continue to be affected by impairments and provisions, although these are not as high as in the first half of last year when the bank reported

2009

EUR 34.6m in after-tax loss for the group and EUR 20.1m loss for the core bank. Provisions and writedowns, however, were down 16 percent year-onyear to EUR 90.9m at the core bank, while dropping by 24 percent to EUR 125.6m for the group, but remain high in the face of prolonged turmoil in some sectors of the home economy. NLB stiffened the terms for the approval of new loans both with respect to project eligibility and collateral. But the crisis continued to impact the investment

2010

2011

portfolio and the need for extension of loans for the most affected industries. The financing of the non-banking sector was down two percent compared to 2010 to EUR 9.02bn at the core bank and EUR 11.66bn at the group. Although not all companies are recording sky-high profits, most remain on the right side of zero. However, with worrying forecasts about unemployment and rising inflation, some expect that annual results will paint a different picture.


FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT 15

FDI

NEWS IN BRIEF

source: STA, Slovenian Press Agency

Production

Automotive industry

FDI

Telecommunications

Secop Trade Union Negotiates Fewer Layoffs

Revoz Planning New Jobs

Slovenia Lags Behind in FDI

Simobil Revenues Increase

Finance

Media

Unicredit Slovenia Profits Rise Last month, the fifth largest bank in Slovenia – Unicredit banka Slovenije – announced a pre-tax profit of EUR 9.5m for the first six months of the year, noting that this was a rise of 17.8 percent on the same period last year. The bank, which is a member of Italy’s Unicredit Group, attributed the increase in earnings to a 23 percent rise in revenues. These amounted to EUR 42.2m in the first half of the year. Net interest revenues went up by 19.6 percent year-on-year to EUR 29.8m.

Source: UNCTAD

Unicredit profits continue to rise (half year pre-tax profits in ‘000 000 EUR) 10 8 6 4 2

2009

2010

2011

Freesheet Publisher Lays Off Staff Žurnal Media, the publisher of free daily Žurnal24 and weekly Žurnal, laid off a dozen of its employees and at least as many temps last month. The move is part of restructuring of the company that will help the publisher climb out of the red, Žurnal Media chairman and the freesheets’ editor-in-chief Goran Novković said. The freesheets will no longer have regional editions and each will be published in a single edition for the entire Slovenia, although the papers will maintain some regionally-based content. Novković said the cost-cutting and measures to boost financial efficiency were needed because the company is still lagging behind its goal of becoming a profitable company. The owner, Austrian media corporation Styria Media International, wants the company to break even by 2013. Last year Žurnal Media generated a loss of EUR 5.8m.

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

Number of FDIs drops significantly Inward FDI Performance Index 150

Source: UNCTAD

The trade union of Črnomelj-based compressor maker Secop has managed to negotiate 220 fewer layoffs than the initially planned 650 over the next year. The remaining employees will be making compressor components for the production that was moved to Slovakia in August. The trade union signed an agreement with Secop management in July, under which 51 workers will be laid off in September, 164 in December, 168 in March 2012 and 57 next June. Secop currently employs over 1,100 workers. The compressor component programme planned until June 2012 is reportedly worth around 3.2m annually, however it is not certain the contract with the Slovakian plant will be extended.

Car assembly plant Revoz, Renault’s subsidiary located in Novo mesto, announced last month it will hire some 300 people on fixed-term contracts. Revoz will rehire additional workforce as it relaunches the night shift that was scrapped in late May in the face of supply problems following the tsunami in Japan. Back in May, the company let go some 520 workers on fixed-term contracts. The 300 shop workers who are to be rehired are to sign contracts running until the end of the year.

120 90 60 30 0

2005 ‘06

‘07

‘08

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‘10

Slovenia is lagging behind small European countries in the flows of foreign direct investment (FDI), as its inward flows increased, while outward flows decreased in 2010, according to a report by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) published last month. Marjan Svetličič of the Ljubljana Faculty of Social Sciences told the press that inward flows in FDI increased by USD 252m yearon-year in 2010 to USD 834m, while the outward flows amounted to only USD 151m (USD 167m in 2009). He added that Slovenia, with the FDI inflow at around 20 percent of the GDP, lagged behind small and countries in transition, such as the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland, where the FDI inflow stood at around 40 percent of the GDP.

Logistics

Closer to the Target Market Japanese company Makita is moving its headquarters for eastern Europe from Vienna to Ljubljana, which will create 30 new jobs in the country. “We see Slovenia as logistics centre for Balkans and eastern Europe. Hence, the main reason for our move is to be closer to our target market,” says chairman of the board of Makita Minoru Tanaka. Makita company is amongst biggest makers of electrical appliances (CHECK orodje) in the world, employing 12,000 people worldwide. Its revenue in 2010 was EUR2.4 billion.

Simobil, Slovenia’s second biggest wireless carrier, posted revenues of EUR 47.3m for the second quarter of 2011, up 12 percent over the year before. However, operating profit dropped 7.9 percent to EUR 5.9m. Pre-tax profit (EBITDA) inched up 3.1 percent to EUR 12m, according to the earnings report of Simobil’s owner, Telekom Austria, released last month. Simobil expanded its user base by 6.9 percent to 632,700 users, increasing its market share by 1.7 percentage points to 29.9 percent year-on-year.

Drinks industry

Laško Shareholders Approve Fructal Sale

The shareholders of beverages maker Pivovarna Laško approved last month the sale of juice maker Fructal owned by Laško’s Pivovarna Union to Serbian juices and jams maker Nectar. Brewer Pivovarna Union that is a part of the Pivovarna Laško group now may sell its 93.73percent stake in Ajdovščina-based Fructal to Nectar, a family-owned Serbian company, with which a sale agreement was also signed last month. The sale of Fructal is expected to be carried out by the end of November, while the money is expected to be on the accounts of Fructal’s current owners by the end of the year. Pivovarna Union will get EUR 35.3m for the 93.73 percent stake in Fructal, which puts the total value of Fructal at EUR 50.2m. As Nectar will also take over the debt of the Ajdovščina-based fruit drinks maker, the deal will enable Laško to reduce its debt by EUR 48m.

Division for FDI Verovškova 60 1000 Ljubljana Slovenia tel.: +386 1 5891 870 fax: +386 1 5891 877 e-mail: fdi@japti.si www.investslovenia.org September 2011


16 FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT

Charity

Being Socially Responsible BSH Hišni aparati tends to makes the news in Slovenia for creating jobs, making profits despite the crisis, and expanding its business. Less well known but equally important is the time and resources the firm devotes to charity work, ensuring that those who are less fortunate – especially children – are still able to enjoy life’s little luxuries.

T

he company started its charity work at the end of 2010, joining together with the Slovenian Association of Friends of Youth (Zveza prijateljev mladine Slovenije) to enable 40 children to spend five days of their winter holiday at Srednji Vrh (Gozd Martuljek) near Kranjska Gora. This summer the company has continued making children happy by donating funds to cover holidays in Savudrija in Croatia for 20 youngsters from underprivileged families from Velenje. It was ten days of real fun, with the children welcoming Rudolf Klötscher, BSH Hišni aparati chief executive, together with his wife on 26 July. They prepared a special show for the guests where they sang and danced, as well as displaying their knowledge in acrobatics and clown entertainment. They also prepared a souvenir bazaar with things that they had made themselves. Mr.

“I will do my best in motivating other companies to join us in the idea that we can all support you in your efforts to make life better for children,” Klötscher said.

Thanks volunteered

and Mrs Klötscher were presented with a gift from all the children of a dream catcher, and the couple reciprocated by giving a present to each of the 140 children at the holiday camp at the time – a windmill and a Bosch bag.

A warm welcome and precious memories

“Allow me to take this opportunity to thank you for the very nice welcome that you and the children

organised for my wife and me in Gozd Martuljek and Savudrija,” Klötscher said while at the camp. “These are for both of us very nice moments and precious memories that we will take from Slovenia.” Emphasising the importance of social responsibility in such turbulent times, Klötscher expressed the company’s dedication to continue with its charity work. He also made a personal promise to encourage other companies to do more in respect to their social responsibility.

In order to show his appreciation to the 20 volunteers who worked in the holiday camp in Gozd Martuljek and Savudrija, Klötscher gave each of them a gift. He explained he was very impressed by their voluntary work and their dedication to it. “Your enthusiasm is very precious. In today’s world this is getting more and more important. It is good to know that there are still people who can positively influence children’s lives with their work. I am happy that I can show you how much I respect what you are doing because I believe that humanity is very important.”

GZS, SEPTEMBER 28, 2011

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FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT 17

Telecommunications

Telekom Austria to Buy T-2? Telekom Austria, the listed Austrian telco, is in talks to acquire fibre cable companies in Croatia and Slovenia, a person close to the company said. By Mergermarket

T

-2, Slovenia’s second biggest telecommunications services provider after Telekom Slovenije, is the only fiber optic cable company that may currently be of interest to Telekom Austria, said two sector bankers not directly involved in the matter. “T-2 filed for insolvency in December 2010. Creditors and suppliers may want to recoup their loans and investments,” one of the bankers said. T-2 was up for sale throughout 2010 but no potential investor agreed to take over the telco because of its outstanding debt, the other banker claimed. T-2’s new majority owner, Gratel, a Slovenian fiber optic network provider, and Lokainvest, a Slovenian telecommunications consultant, are looking for buyers, the banker said. Gratel, which currently holds an 87 percent stake in T-2, is looking to sell its shares in order to retrieve the EUR 80m investment pumped in the company, a spokesperson for Gratel confirmed. However, she declined to comment on whether Gratel has been approached by Telekom Austria. Lokainvest, which now owns a 12 percent stake in T-2, did not return calls for comment. Smart Com, a Slovenian NextGeneration Network (NGN) integrator which holds a minority stake in T-2 via two legal entities, is also eager to recover its investment, Jure Remškar, Smart’s chief executive officer said. Remškar said that T-2 has seen approaches from many potential buyers, adding that Telekom Austria might be one of them. By May 2011, T-2’s outstanding debt of EUR 247m prompted suppliers and creditors to go for a capital increase. Zvon Ena, a listed investment fund which had held a 95 percent stake in T-2, failed to participate in the capital increase, Remškar said. He added that Zvon contested the capital increase by filing a complaint with the Ljubljana Court. Remškar also noted that creditors were still ne-

gotiating over T-2’s restructuring programme. Zvon Ena did not return calls seeking comment. The court is expected to issue its final verdict in September. “We hope that the ruling will be on our side and enable us to engage sale talks with potential buyers for T-2,” the Gratel spokesperson said.

Interest in Croatia

Metronet, the private Croatian telecommunications operator and Optima Telekom, the second largest fixed telephony and broadband services provider could also be potential acquisition targets, according to a telecommunications analyst and a banker with knowledge of the sector. Despite their revenue growth both companies are indebted and may become targets in the near future, the banker said. Metronet’s 2010 Ebitda was EUR 8.2m, but its net loss was EUR 7.58m and its liabilities stood at EUR 79.8m, while Optima in Q1 2011 had an Ebitda growth of 18.5% (EUR 2.4m), but liabilities stood at EUR 136.73m, according to company financial statements. Optima is 65.9 percent owned by its founder Matija Martić, while Metronet’s majority owner is Croatian Quaestus Private Equity. Optima and Metronet owners were not available for comment. In January local press reports indicated that Telekom Austria was close to acquiring Metronet, a privately owned Croatian ISP company, but six months later Telekom Austria dismissed the rumours by saying that Metronet was not its acquisition agenda. On 6 June Telekom Austria acquired the Croatian cable operator B.net at an enterprise value of EUR 93m out of existing cash flow. The acquisition was made via Telekom Austria’s Croatian subsidiary Vipnet. Telekom Austria is also interested in acquiring telecom companies in central and eastern Europe, both in its existing markets as well as in new markets to ex-

tend its footprint, said the person close to the company. For example, Telekom Austria would be interested in acquiring in Macedonia to boost its position and could look at the Telekom Slovenije subsidiaries in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Albania, the person said. As recently reported by this news service, Telekom Slovenije is considering selling its Bosnian and Albanian operations. Across the region, most of Telekom Austria’s business is mobile telephony, therefore there is scope to acquire in fixed line telephony, the person said. He confirmed that the company remains interested in Telekom Srbija, the state-controlled Serbian telecommunications group, as previously reported. Telekom Austria could finance most buys in the region from its own resources but could look to

bank financing in the case of a larger buy, the source said. Telekom Austria recently failed in an attempt to acquire 51 percent in Telekom Srbija due to differing price perceptions. The Serbian state wanted at least EUR 1.4bn, according to a previous report. Telekom Austria had revenues of EUR 4.65bn and Ebitda of EUR 1.6bn in 2010. The company reported group revenues of EUR 1.12bn (USD 1.6bn) for Q1 2011, down 0.7 percent year on year. In February T-2 issued a press release to announce a EUR 101m net loss for 2010 on sales revenues of EUR 44m. The long-term financial commitments of T-2 - which employs around 200 people stood at EUR 94.3m at the end of 2010, while short-term liabilities are at EUR 153.8m, the company said in a press release.

Report on salaries: Slovenian CEOs’ earnings on average around EUR 150,000 EUR The Slovene-German Chamber of Commerce has issued for the first time a detailed report on salaries in Slovenia in 2011. The report encompasses 116 pages and offers an insight into the salary structure and the offer and demand of the 21 standardized profiles in the Slovene companies. In addition, the report carefully examines some of the most important fields of employment and gives the opportunity for international comparison with Czech Republic and Slovakia. The analysis is based on the empiric dates of 2,700 employees in Slovenia and represents a reliable benchmarking for the structure and the earnings in Slovenia. The report can be ordered at the Chamber.

Tomšičeva 3, 1000 Ljubljana Tel.: +386 1 252 88 60 ahk@ahkslo.si, www.dihk.si

September 2011


18 FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT

Logistics

Electronic Tolling for Lorries Next Year The Slovenian motorway company DARS published an international call for applications last month to select a company that will set up the electronic free-flow motorway tolling system for lorries to replace the current system of tolling at tolling stations. The call, which will be open for 60 days, envisages the introduction of electronic tolling for lorries by October 2012. By Maja Dragović and STA

D

ARS business director Ciril Kafol said the new tolling system would apply for vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes, as the current system was not sustainable in the long run. He said that both the price and quality will be taken into consideration in selecting the best bidder, adding that the call also envisaged the possibility of future expansion of electronic tolling to all other groups of vehicles. “The system of electronic tolling is an evolution, which is to

meet the needs of users of our motorways,” said the director of the tolling department at DARS, Bojan Banfi, adding that domestic and foreign vehicles will be tolled the same. Future without tolling stations The project will gradually lead to the removal of tolling stations, which will boost safety on motorways, adding, however, that no major changes in terms of employment are expected. DARS will only cut the number of students currently working at toll stations, he added.

The introduction of the electronic tolling system is in line with changes to the relevant action, which the government endorsed on 2 June. The government decided to put off the deadline for transition to electronic free-flow tolling for cars from 2014 to 2016. Slovenia introduced toll stickers for cars and motor bikes on 1 July 2008, while keeping classic tolling for trucks. In 2011, the price of the annual sticker for cars stands at EUR 95, monthly stickers cost EUR 30 and weekly stickers EUR 15. Motorcycle owners pay

EUR 47.50 for the annual, EUR 25 for the six-month and EUR 7.50 for the weekly sticker.

5 LET S LOVE N S KO - N E MŠK E G O S P O DARS K E Z B O R N I C E 5 JAH R E AH K S LOWE N I E N Im AuftrAg des

The Slovene-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, under the auspices of the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Slovenia, announces the second dance of German economy.

5 LET S LOVE N S KO - N E MŠK E G O S P O DARS K E Z B O R N I C E 5 JAH R E AH K S LOWE N I E N

Friday 21.10.2011 / 19.30 ˇ H o t e l K e m p i n s K i pa l ac e p o r t o r o z

the Chamber will host a gala ball with the slogan “5 years of the german Chamber of Commerce and Industry”, where fine music and exquisite german cuisine will grant you a unique experience. Let yourself be allured by the scent of the sea and the charm of the prestigious Hotel Kempinski Palace Portoroæ. Create new business acquaintances and become a part of the strong slovenian-german partnership. TickeTs:

e 49,-*

* Without reserved seat. the ticket price includes the german cuisine buffet

TickeTs:

e 90,-**

** With reserved seat. the ticket price includes the german cuisine buffet

companY taBle (6 persons): e companY taBle (8 persons): e

600,1.000,-

BOOkiNG TickeTs:

www.dihk.si/derdeutscheBall

derdeutscheball@ahkslo.si · 01 252 88 60

Highlights:

Sm le German cuisine Networking Disco

Helena Blagne

special awards

The Slovenia Times


13-14 October 2011

Ljubljana, Slovenia

EXECUTIVE-LEVEL CONFERENCE ON FOREIGN DIRECT INVESTMENT

PreliminarY ProgramME Venue: Grand Hotel Union, Ljubljana

DAY 1, THURSDAY, 13 OCTOBER 2011 12.00 – 13.00 Registration + Welcome luncheon

DAY 2, FRIDAY, 14 OCTOBER 2011 9.00 - 9.45 Opening discussion - Presentation of Start-up potential of Slovenia Creating the regional innovation and talent harbour. Can Slovenia play a role of a regional start-up hub for the South Eastern Europe?

13.15 - 13.30 Official opening of the conference Brane Krajnik, The Slovenia Times, CEO 13.30 – 13.45 Opening address Dr. Danilo Türk, President of the Republic of Slovenia 13.45 – 14.30 Keynote speech What it takes to become a regional hub – Hong Kong case study 15.00 – 16.00 Panel discussion Using the potential of Slovenia as a regional hub for the CEE and SEE markets 16.30 – 17.30 Panel discussion The right recipe for strategic high value added FDI: a blend of R&D, production, effective logistics, marketing & sales (establishment of competence centers)

10.15 - 11.00 Panel discussion Findig successfull development concept of Slovenia in Global Economy - Urgent improvement in state competitiveness, quality of governance, clear definition of strategic companies/ sectors, credible strategy of state withdrawal from nonstrategic part of the economy, effective exploatation of geostrategic location and implementation of sustainable development strategies. 11.30 - 12.30 Panel discussion On a hunt for development capital! How to establish effective platform for promotion and realisation of investments and development projects in increasingly volatile European and Global Economy? 12.30 - 13.15 Closing session with special keynote speaker 13.30 Closing luncheon

19.30 - 22.00 Special evening event FDI SUMMIT and LJUBLJANA FORUM RECEPTION FDI AWARD CEREMONY Award ceremony of the 6th annual campaign to present the best cases of foreign direct investments in Slovenia Venue: Ljubljana Castle Organized by: City of Ljubljana , CeGD, JAPTI, Slovenia Times Hosted by: mr. Zoran Janković - Mayor of Ljubljana

Additionally to the FDI Summit Slovenia programme, selected start-up companies will present their innovative business ideas to potential investors during conference breaks.

Organised by

Premium Partners

Institutional Partners

Co-organised by Start:Up Slovenia

Programme Partner

Main Media Partner

Media Partner


20 Innovation SPECIAL

Celtra

Straight to the Heart It’s rare for a Slovenian company to tackle the US market straight away. But that’s exactly what innovative mobile marketing firm Celtra has done under the leadership of Miha Mikek, Maja Drolec and Matevž Klanjšek. By Simon Demšar

C

eltra is one of the top five players in its field and its worth is expected to grow to several billion USD within the next couple of years. Its product? Rich media mobile advertising. Any time you see an advertisement on your iPhone or similar smartphone, it might just be the brainchild of Celtra. Mikek and Drolec opened the business five years ago while studying for their MBAs in Boston. They were soon joined by Klanjšek, a postgraduate student of communication design in London. Initially, they were engaged in messagebased mobile marketing, creating self-service tools for advertisers. The service was commercially quite successful, winning several awards and counting several Hollywood studios as clients.

fresh money allowing the firm to expand its operations and grow from five employees to 27. The money is being invested into the product, as well as sales and marketing. Now, Celtra is split between Boston and Slovenia. Boston mostly takes care of sales efforts while the team in Slovenia is responsible for product development and creative services.

Be crazy

A new type of advertising

However, with the arrival of iPhone, other smart mobile devices and mobile applications in particular, the team discovered that time had come for a new generation of advertising, much richer than the old one. They started looking for an investor and they found it in the form of RSG, Grandbanks and Fairhaven venture capital funds, all together providing funding in excess of five million USD. The funding is expected to help Celtra further establish its leading position among mobile advertising solution providers. The firm already has an impressive client list. Celtra has executed advertising campaigns for some of the largest brands in the automotive industry (Mercedes, Volvo, Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota), the entertainment sector (Paramount, Universal, Dreamworks), and counts other big clients in a diverse range of industries (Intel, Starbucks, Virgin, Duracell, Evian and many more). Celtra is among the top five mobile advertising players but Klanjšek boldly says that his company is the most advanced: “Americans are generally not as innovative as it seems and they often rely on established solutions,” he asserts. “We, on the other hand, are more radical, braver, we dare The Slovenia Times

Matevž Klanjšek

enter unchartered territory, we are fast, agile and willing to break rules. I daresay that Slovenian talent surpasses American.”

Enthusiasm

According to Klanjšek, his enthusiasm is shared by his staff and that’s a big reason for the firm’s success: “Of course we want to make money but the main objective is to do and improve what we believe in – our love for the product, if you like.” One of Celtra’s distinguishing features is the ratio of engi-

neers to designers and creatives. In Celtra’s case it is 1-1, while in traditional cases it is up to 10-1 in favour of engineers. Klanjšek believes that Celtra’s strength lies in its ability to bring together specialists from different areas and create an efficient team. Mikek likes to joke (or not) that his main concern is that Google will start calling his staff, trying to lure them away.

Growing

The company has been steadily growing, with the arrival of

Klanjšek is very positive about Slovenian abilities in the field of IT but says they have been created without much help: “There is a lot going on. Slovenia is strong and aggressive, it is hot and wellknown in this area, there are many fantastic start-up companies. There is an awful lot of talent around and maybe we have finally got rid of rigidness and working patterns of the past. To be honest, the credit does not go to the business environment in general. There is no proper infrastructure and incentives and we mainly created this environment by ourselves through knowing and mentoring each other.” As for America, not everything is sweet. “Coming from small Slovenia, it is more difficult to earn respect and credibility,” says Klanjšek. Generally speaking, he sees a lot of business opportunities around: “There is a lot of room for improvement but you have to be innovative, able to think outside the box; you have to be radical and crazy.”

With the arrival of smart mobile devices and mobile applications in particular, Celtra team discovered that time had come for a new generation of advertising


DIPLOMATIC SOCIETY 21

Interview: Ahmed Farouk

Time to Say Goodbye Four years ago, Ahmed Farouk arrived in Slovenia as his country’s first ambassador. The first meeting of his team was held in a local hotel. Now, as he prepares to bid farewell to the country, he reflects on the enormous progress made since – an embassy established, relations further strengthened, and investments secured. Maja Dragović How would you evaluate your time in Slovenia in terms of work? These have been the most fruitful four years of my life. It was my first assignment as an ambassador and starting was a big challenge – a double challenge actually because I came to establish the Egyptian embassy in Slovenia. It really was a turning point in my career. I arrived without any premises, staff, friends, or any previous colleagues to help me and guide me. I arrived as the first Egyptian to stay permanently in Ljubljana. On my first day in Ljubljana I had my deputy, counsellor, and attaché in a hotel. We gathered in the lobby in one of the hotels because we didn’t have an office in which to meet. And I was really under huge pressure; we didn’t even have telephone numbers! But we were there to make a plan of what we’re going to do. If I look at what we’ve achieved since then – I can say that was the most fruitful and challenging time. We established the embassy, a residence, and we have a very good Slovene-Egyptian team – there are 11 of us now. We have organised a huge amount of cultural activities, increased the budget we had; and in the political domain we have been enjoying excellent relationships before and even after the revolution in Egypt. In the past there was a good relationship between Yugoslavia and Egypt. Has that helped in establishing good relations with Slovenia? It definitely helped. Egypt, Yugoslavia and India established the non-alliance movement. When I arrived in Slovenia and established the embassy and tried to boost the relationship, I didn’t start from a zero point thanks to the past. Slovenians remember Naser, Egyptians remember Tito, especially business people. The cooperation in those times between the countries was huge in all domains – economic, political, and military. When I started in Slovenia knowing that it was an industrial place of ex-Yugoslavia, I didn’t find obstacles. Everybody knew Egypt and Egyptians knew Slovenian firms.

How has the relationship between Egypt and Slovenia changed since you came here? The opening of the embassy and the first [Egyptian] investment [in Slovenia] have both drawn attention to and interest in Slovenia. I noticed interest of some mega Arab companies to invest in real estate, telecommunications, or joint ventures. The reputation of Slovenia as a country, a political system, a story of success since independence is very high in the Arab world. The point that Slovenia is small and has a small market and prices are not competitive is not true – the market is the EU market, and Slovenia also has access to the Balkans. Just a word about the price: if you’re looking for quality, forget about the price. The workforce quality in Slovenia is really high. What would you consider as your greatest achievement here? If I can single one out, it is the economic cooperation. This is the first time that the figures of volume of trade have been increasing year after year. The statistics will tell of over EUR 100m this year, I think. Products trade is varied: fruits and vegetables, cosmetics, pharmaceutical products, paper, wood are all important. What about possibilities for Slovenian investments in Egypt? Luka Koper is an excellent hub for Egyptian fresh products to Central Europe, Balkans, and Eastern Europe. The distance from Alexandria to Slovenia is two days so the quality of food is good. Luka Koper wants to take one of the terminals in Alexandria. They want to modernise facilities and build a mega fridge for fresh products. In the future everything will come through this terminal, Slovenians are going to be working there, they will be checking everything, and products can go directly to Luka Koper and to other markets. What will you miss most? The Slovenian people. Places cannot be nice if you don’t have nice people there. I’ll miss my friends and the people in general.

They’re helpful. On the first days I was driving around, getting lost, I was asking people for directions and they even went with me to show me the right way. Slovenian people are really unique, a combination between the East and the West and they know how to enjoy life. Eastern people enjoy life more than work while western people work more than they enjoy life. In Slovenia I found the right combination. They are working very hard, but playing very hard as well. I’ll also miss the lack of traffic. I travelled the world and in all the capitals I suffered from traffic. In Slovenia – in five minutes I reach my appointment on time. You don’t need a plan here for those things. Finally, I have to mention The Slovenia Times. It is a story of success. All the foreign community in Slovenia waits for The Slovenia Times because we cannot follow the daily news in the Slovene language. When it comes every month it simply summarises everything. Also I have to appreciate the magazine’s efforts to boost the economy.

The reputation of Slovenia as a country, a political system, a story of success since independence is very high in the Arab world. The point that Slovenia is small and has a small market and prices are not competitive is not true – the market is the EU market, and Slovenia also has access to the Balkans. September 2011


22 DIPLOMATIC SOCIETY

EMBASSY DIARIES Spanish embassy

US embassy

Award for Tomaž Pandur

NBA Legends Welcomed by the Ambassador

Slovenian theatre and film director Tomaž Pandur has been presented with one of Spain’s highest honours. Pandur received the Order of Isabella the Catholic in recognition of his contribution to bringing Spain and Slovenia closer on an artistic and cultural level in the field of theatre. The Order is presented to native and foreign individuals who contribute to enhancing the friendly relationships and co-operation of the country with the rest of the international society. The private ceremony took place at the Spanish embassy a day before the premiere of Pandur’s work Twilight of the Gods. The play is being staged in Križanke open air theatre and is a production of a Spanish theatre company from Madrid.

Coaches and legends from the National Basketball Association (NBA) travelled to Ljubljana last month for Basketball Without Borders Europe (BWB) 2011. They were greeted by Ambassador Mussomeli and joined together with 50 of the top youth basketball players from more than 25 countries across Europe for the camp. This year’s edition was the tenth annual event but the first to be held in one of the former Yugoslav republics. The NBA representatives also promoted social responsibility, focusing on grassroots basketball development, community service and health related issues through life skills seminars and community events. On the first day of the camp NBA legends including Rašo Nesterovič and Vlade Divac spent time with Paralympic athletes.

Polish embassy

US embassy

Hungarian embassy

Art Exhibition

Independence Day Celebration

Ensemble Marquise Concert

An exhibition of the work of Monika Grycko has opened in Ptuj as part of the ninth International Festival of Contemporary Art (Artstays). The Polish artist is known for her use of ceramics and animal bones in her installations. Her new sculpture Biancaneve (Snow-White), included in the exhibition, demonstrates the elegance of Gothic and pop art and saw its premiere in Slovenia.

Polish embassy

Agra Fair 2011

The US embassy in Ljubljana has hosted its annual gathering to celebrate America’s Independence Day. Ambassador Mussomeli greeted guests at his residence in Ljubljana where they enjoyed a classic 4 July barbecue with hamburgers and hot dogs and danced the night away to the tunes performed by the US Air Force Jazz Ensemble Check Six. One of the delights were the hundreds of red, white and blue cupcakes, arranged in the shape of the American flag.

Polish Minister of Agriculture Marek Sawicki was a guest of honour at the opening of Agra fair, held last month in Gornja Radgon. The event is one of the leading trade fairs for agricultural food and products in the region. This year Poland was the guest country and presented its cuisine at a special exhibition, part of which involved food tasting of ecological and traditional delicacies.

The Hungarian Ensemble Marquise has given a concert as part of the SEVIQC Brežice festival. The ensemble, established in 2004 by the two sopranos László Blaskovics and Judit Blaskovics-Felszeghy, gives old music performances played on ancient instruments in a complete Baroque and Rococo style. During the concert, which was organised with the help of the Hungarian embassy, the ensemble created the atmosphere of 17th and 18th century with that time’s fashion, acting, court dancing and reciting.

Polish embassy

Stop Motion Films Maribor last month played host to Stoptrik, an international film festival dedicated to stop motion films. For the first time, the festival included Polish work. Beside the television productions (Of The Quarrels of All Quarrels by Kotecki) and international coproduction (Esterhazy by Plucínska), Stoptrik also presented music videos from Monika Kuczyniecka and Kijek/ Adamski duo.

Polish embassy

Spanish embassy

Between Bach and Polish Kings

Spanish Film Week

Three Silva Rerum concerts have been held as part of the SEVIQC Brežice Festival with the programme entitled “Between Bach and Polish Kings”. In it the five performers told the audience about the love of arts at the Polish 18th century court, the relationship between Polish kings and European composers and also about the king’s music in general, including music written and performed by kings themselves. The programme was inspired by the venue in Brežice and was written specifically for the festival with the support of the Polish embassy.

The Spanish embassy, in collaboration with Kinodvor, last month organised a Spanish film week in Ljubljana. The “filmES” festival opened with a premiere of the “The Last Circus”, the new work from director Álex de la Iglesia’s. Later in the week, filmgoers were able to enjoy a variety of new Spanish and Latin-American productions including Familystrip and Cell 211. According to the organisers, the movies selected for the festival were extraordinary and unconventional, the idea being to introduce viewers to the “other” side of films in Spanish language and present new genres and directors.

The Slovenia Times


DIPLOMATIC SOCIETY 23 French embassy

Egyptian embassy

Celebrating the French National Holiday

Ambassador Ends Mandate

The French ambassador to Slovenia Nicole Michelangeli last month organised a reception in Fužine Castle to celebrate Bastille Day. The event was attended by several hundred representatives from Slovenian authorities, diplomacy and the French community who were all able to enjoy the pleasant atmosphere and indulge in a French rustic buffet. The ambassador gave a speech in which she expressed satisfaction over the good, friendly and active relationship between the two countries which covers many areas, from politics to art and philosophy.

Egyptian ambassador Ahmed Farouk has officially bid farewell to Slovenia after four years in post. A reception to celebrate Egypt’s national day was also an opportunity to celebrate Farouk’s tenure. He gave a speech in which he highlighted how wonderful the four years of his stay in Slovenia were for him and his family and thanked all with whom he collaborated in that period. The reception was attended by numerous personalities from diplomacy, politics, economy and Slovenian show business. They were able to enjoy a performance by Arabic folk dance group Rozana and a feast which followed it.

Spanish embassy

Japanese embassy

Supporting Young Translators

Helping the Victims

The Spanish embassy has organised its second ESASI competition for young translators. The biennial competition – which alternates with the award for the best professional translators – recognises and supports beginner translators who translate from Spanish to Slovene. It also aims to make Spanish culture more accessible to Slovenians. This year aspiring translators had to deal with the novel The Parachutist by Juan Bonilla to win an award worth EUR 2,000.

British embassy

Last of Harry Potter British Ambassador Andrew Page last month opened the Ljubljana premiere night for the last of the Harry Potter films. Page described Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 as an epic finale to the story. The Ambassador argued that Harry is truly the highlight of the creativity Britain has to offer, pointing out that author J.K. Rowling has brought joy and imagination to millions across the globe with the boy wizard’s adventures. The British Embassy Ljubljana was the honorary patron of the opening night.

In August the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Embassy of Japan organised a charity event titled Japanese evening for victims of March 11 quake and tsunami in which they raised EUR 2,000. All proceeds will be given to those victims who are in the biggest need of aid. The audience enjoyed the performance of two traditional Japanese music instruments – shamisen and koto – lectures on the relations between Slovenia and Japan, and prayed for the early recovery of the devastated region. The charity event was attended by 170 guests, including Environment and Spatial Planning Minister Roko Žarnič and other representatives of state institutions, business, public life and culture.

Spanish embassy

Spanish Musicians connect with Maribor Twenty-six Spanish musicians have taken part in the Maribor International Orchestra (MIO), an international education project providing young musicians the chance to take part in the Orchestra Academy and Master Classes. The students performed on the last day of July in the Slovene Philharmonic in Ljubljana. The event was sponsored by the Spanish embassy which helped with organisation, transportation and accommodation.

Polish embassy

US embassy

International Evening with Polish Specialities

Art Stays International Festival in Ptuj

The Slovenian branch of the International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience (IAESTE) has organised the first international evening for their trainees and employers. The event gave foreign students in Slovenia the chance to talk about their native countries. Polish participants did not only give a presentation and distribute many informative materials about their country, but also offered an insight into their country’s rich cuisine by serving the traditional pierogi dish.

The US Embassy has once again supported the Art Stays International Festival of Contemporary Art in Ptuj. The 9th edition of the festival entitled CONNECT took place between 22nd July and 5th September and has become one of the most important contemporary art events in Slovenia. This year the festival brought together more than 100 artists from more than 17 countries.

Polish embassy

Amber Expedition on Roman Games Ptuj has welcomed the “Amber Expedition” from Kalisz, taking part in its fourth Roman Games. The reconstructed Roman carriage from the oldest Polish town took a journey following the trails of ancient merchants through the lands between the Baltic Sea and the Adriatic. In Ptuj they presented the history and beauty of amber in an exhibition entitled “The Magic of Amber”. Guests were also able to purchase some unique pieces at Grand Hotel Primus.

September 2011


Slovenia - serbia relations

Photo: BOBO

24

Strong Relations After the turbulent break up of Yugoslavia, relations between Slovenia and Serbia are going firmly strong, especialy in the last few years. Slovenia is one of Serbia’s main advocates in its attempt to join the European Union and was one of the main supporters for visa liberalisation for the country. In addition, companies from Slovenia are top investors in Serbia, while Serbia puts a lot of emphasis promoting itself to Slovenian investors. By Laura Bovec

Serbia’s President Boris Tadić and Slovenia’s Prime Minister Borut Pahor have officially met five times in 2010 alone. The Slovenia Times

Political support

The relations between Slovenia and Serbia have been very intensive at various levels and fields in

the recent time. Serbia’s President Boris Tadić and Slovenia’s Prime Minister Borut Pahor have officially met five times in 2010 alone. Photo: BOBO

R

elations between Slovenia and Serbia had many phases. During the World War II, many exiled Slovenians came to Serbia. The post-war period up until the break-up of Yugoslavia was followed by extremely good relations, with Slovenian products being highly popular in Serbia. The idea of „brotherhood“ embraced during Yugoslavia, was working quite well between the two republics. Then, with Slovenia’s call for more liberalisation and subsequent independence from Yugoslavia, followed by the 10-day war in June 1991, the relations between the countries cooled. However, after the revolution in Serbia in October 2000, the countries renewed their relationship and Slovenian products once again became popular in Serbia. At the same time, Serbia is a popular destination for Slovenes escaping for a fun weekend away.

Slovenia’s Foreign Minister Samuel Žbogar visited Serbia in June 2011


SLOVENIA – SERBIA RELATIONS 25 Trade between Slovenia and Serbia (in ‘000 EUR)

Source: SURS

What is more, Pahor was the first Slovenian Prime Minister to pay official visit to Serbia. During such meetings, both officials reiterated the good relations between the countries, with potential for an even closer economic cooperation. In addition, Slovenia’s officials, including the Prime Minister, are always ready to emphasise their support for Serbia’s membership to the European Union. During the working visit to Serbia in June this year, Slovenia’s Foreign Minister Samuel Žbogar, expressed his conviction that the European Commission would propose in October that Serbia be awarded EU membership candidate status. Slovenia will also support the launch of membership talks with Serbia as soon as possible, the minister said. “Serbia’s future within the EU is important for the region and we believe the time has come to take this step,” Žbogar told the press. He moreover believes “it makes sense to set the date for the start of negotiations if this means that negotiations will start already next year”. “We would wish for this...and are convinced that many open issues can only be solved through the process of negotiations,” Žbogar said as quoted by the Croatian press agency Hina. Slovenia also supports the dialogue between Serbia and Kosovo under the auspices of the EU. Four rounds of talks have taken place so far, with Serbia assessing that the last round in mid-May was the most productive so far. While stressing the importance of dialogue between Belgrade and Priština, Žbogar believes that recognising Kosovo will not be a condition on Serbia’s way to the EU, although the situation could change once negotiations near the end, the Serbian agency Tanjug meanwhile reported. In an interview with Serbia’s daily Danas on his visit to Serbia in May 2010, Slovenia’s President Dr Danilo Türk confirmed that relations are in a continuous upward trend. “We have created a very good communication with President Tadić. During President Tadić’s visit to Slovenia in September 2009, a contract concerning social issues was signed (it was ratified in 2010) - there were substantial changes in terms of helping create a legal framework for addressing social issues for people, especially those with pensions. “E conom ic r el at ion s h ave also progressed significantly, and even though we are in the middle of economic crisis, this

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26 SLOVENIA – SERBIA RELATIONS

Slovenia Facts and Figures Serbia Facts and Figures

Population 2,000,092 (July 2011 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 1.8% (2010 est.)

Public debt 39.5% of GDP (2010 est.)

Agriculture - products potatoes, hops, wheat, sugar beets, corn, grapes; cattle, sheep, poultry

Inflation rate (consumer prices) 6.3% (2010 est.)

Labor force 935,500 (2010 est.)

Industries ferrous metallurgy and aluminum products, lead and zinc smelting; electronics (including military electronics), trucks, automobiles, electric power equipment, wood products, textiles, chemicals, machine tools

Unemployment rate 10.7% (2010 est.)

Current account balance -$542.7 million (2010 est.)

Labor force 3.25 million (2010 est.)

Population below poverty line 12.3% (2008)

Exports $24.39 billion (2010 est.)

Unemployment rate 17.2% (2010 est.)

Investment (gross fixed) 23.1% of GDP (2010 est.)

Exports - partners Germany 19.4%, Italy 11.4%, Croatia 7.8%, France 7.4%, Austria 7.3% (2009)

Population below poverty line 8.8% (2010 est.)

GDP (purchasing power parity) $56.58 billion (2010 est.) GDP - per capita (PPP) $28,200 (2010 est.)

Budget revenues: $19.62 billion expenditures: $22.14 billion (2010 est.) Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) -5.3% of GDP (2010 est.) Public debt 33% of GDP (2010 est.)

Imports $25.68 billion (2010 est.) Imports - partners Germany 16.5%, Italy 15.9%, Austria 11.8%, France 5%, Croatia 4.3% (2009)

Population 7,310,555 (July 2011 est.) GDP (purchasing power parity) $80.1 billion (2010 est.) GDP - per capita (PPP) $10,900 (2010 est.)

Investment (gross fixed) 19.2% of GDP (2010 est.) Budget revenues: $17.16 billion expenditures: $19.07 billion (2010 est.) Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-) -4.9% of GDP (2010 est.)

Agriculture - products wheat, maize, sugar beets, sunflower, raspberries; beef, pork, milk Industries base metals, furniture, food processing, machinery, chemicals, sugar, tires, clothes, pharmaceuticals Current account balance -$1.209 billion (2010 est.) Exports $9.809 billion (2010 est.) Exports - partners Italy 11.5%, Bosnia and Herzegovina 11.2%, Germany 10.5%, Montenegro 8.4%, Romania 6.3%, Russia 5.4%, Macedonia 4.9%, Slovenia 4.4% (2010 est.) Imports $16.14 billion (2010 est.) Imports - partners Russia 12.8%, Germany 10.6%, Italy 8.5%, China 7.2%, Hungary 4.9% (2010 est.)

Your Gateway to SEE Markets You can participate in the high-growth markets of South-Eastern Europe through KD Balkans (KD Balkan) Equity Subfund which invests in companies from Slovenia, Austria, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Macedonia, Romania, Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey, without sector limitations. KD Balkans is managed by KD Funds (KD Skladi) – the oldest management company in Slovenia that has been actively managing equity and fixed interest securities throughout Central and South Eastern Europe since 1994. These regions are the core focus of the KD Funds investment team which is one of the few managers which invests in the region and which is based in the region with investment professionals located across the core markets. For more information about the investment possibilities contact KD Funds – Management Company LLC at nasvet@kd-skladi.si or visit us at our headquarters in Ljubljana, Celovška cesta 206 (1st floor).

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Invest for a reason

The Slovenia Times

The KD Umbrella Fund Prospectus – including the Management Rules, the Simplified Prospectus of the KD Balkans subfund, Equity, and the annual and semi-annual reports of the Umbrella Fund – is available free of charge at the management company’s headquarters and subscription offices. Electronic versions, along with a list of subscription offices, can be viewed at www.kd-skladi.si. The investor has the right to request these documents.


14 Days 27 continued from page 25 has not diminished the importance of strenghtening business relationships.”

Open issues

There are no major open issues between Slovenia and Sebria, but they do exist. They still include the issue of succession of Slovenian companies in Serbia. Belgrade passed a decree protecting assets of companies which are based in other former Yugoslav republics as part of its privatisation legislation in July 2008. Based on the decree, property belonging to 16 foreign companies were sold at an auction in July 2008. Further auctions were then cancelled due to protests from several countries, including Slovenia. The Serbian government subsequently extended the deadline for an agreement between the Serbian companies that currently hold the assets and the Slovenian companies which claimed them before the break-up of Yugoslavia. There is also the issue of the “erased” citizens in Slovenia, some 25,000 nationals of former Yugoslavia, mostly Serbian citizens, who were deleted from Slovenia’s permanent resident registry in 1992. Slovenian government, including President Türk, are working on resolving this issue. In regards to the division of real estate, including military and consular property, progress is continuously being made. However, some issues, including the issue of joint banks and guarantees for old foreign currency deposits, remain open.

Getting the maths right

The economic relations between the countries, are an im-

Slovenia’s President Dr Danilo Türk

portant, if not the most important aspect of cooperation which is being dealt with by a joint commission. The commission was established in 2001, and during the meeting in May 2010, an agreement was reached that the Slovenian Public Agency for Entrepreneurship and Foreign Investments (JAPTI) and Serbian Agency for Foreign Investments and Export Promotion will sign a memorandum on strengthening cooperation and investment activities. In 2009, Serbia was Slovenia’s 10th most important trade partner. According to the Slovenian Statistics Office, the trade amounted to EUR 793.7m, which was a 27.3 percent drop year-on-year. Slovenia’s export accounted for EUR 532.6m, which was 24.8 less than in 2008, while import from Serbia was down 31.8 percent to EUR 261.1m. Trade in services topped EUR 204m in 2009, which was 7.7 percent less than in 2008. While Slovenia’s exports of services accounted for EUR 112m (down 17.5 percent year-on-year), imports amounted to EUR 92m (up 7 percent compared to 2008), according to data from the Slovenian central bank. Serbia is also among the most popular investment destinations for Slovenia. Investments reached a total of EUR 1.696bn at the end of 2009, according to the central bank. Meanwhile, Serbian investments in Slovenia amounted to EUR 3m at the end of 2008. There are some 1,500 Slovenian companies registered in Serbia. Serbia and Slovenia have come a long way since parting ways in the nineties. Based on recent events – both politically and economically – it seems the relationship will just keep getting stronger.

Profil d.o.o. Parmova 53, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia Phone: +386 01 280 54 00 Fax: +386 01 280 54 09 E-mail: profil@profil-group.com www.profil-group.com

By Franc Jamšek, MSc, Profil d.o.o.

Benefiting from the Past Slovenia and Serbia have been for some years now working on a closer business relationship. Slovenia as an EU member state has some advantages Serbia can profit on and future-oriented Serbian companies are looking to establish subsidies in Slovenia. According to Tourist Information Center of Ljubljana, Serbs are the fourth most important visitors of Ljubljana in the first half of 2011. They come after Italians, Germans and British and before Austrians. The data showing that Serbian tourists like to come to Slovenia again is significant in many ways. It means that Serbs feel good and comfortable in Slovenia again. Prior to the break-up of Yugoslavia, Serbian tourists and businesspeople favoured Slovenia, for most part due to the similarity in language and the Slovene welcoming attitude to people from all around former Yugoslavia as well as other parts of the world. Serbian tourists always found in Slovenia expected intimacy and enjoyed Slovene hospitality. A very intimate connection also stems from the fact that a number of Serbs have relatives living in Slovenia whom they come to visit. In the near future Serbs will come to Slovenia not only as tourists but as a workers and as investors. Currently, only a small number of people from Serbia come to work in Slovenia and those are mostly in the metal industry. In the near future there will be many free positions in medical sector (such as nurses and doctors); mechanical engineering; and IT industry. However, it is important that Serbia continues its path towards joining the EU as this will allow Slovenian companies to count on a long-term workforce. Especially since in Slovenia companies are increasingly knowledge-based - they focus on investments in HR competencies and what needs a lot of additional training. Serbs will also come to Slovenia as investors if Slovenian attitude changes towards foreign direct investment. Prior to the recession Slovenian companies were among five most important investors in Serbia. This is due to the similarity in language and knowing and understanding the Serbian market; and past and present culture in Serbia. There are many companies in Serbia which look for market enlargement in Slovenia such as Next, the company that makes fruit juices. For Serbian companies the main reason to come to Slovenia is the similarity in language and knowledge of the market, as well as understanding Slovenia’s history and culture. On the other side, it is important that Slovenes see Serbia as a future EU member state as soon as possible as this will open minds and generate new business ideas. On the other side investing in Slovenia is also a responsibility for the image of the investor country. Some previous investments by Serbian companies, such as those in IT industry, cannot be seen as success stories and possibly we can learn some lessons from the past. During the time of Yugoslavia, Slovenian and Serbian companies preferred to cooperate in joint ventures on both domestic and foreign markets. I think now is the right time to rethink common strategy of cooperation on joint ventures for the near future. In the time of recession both countries have to open their minds as wide as possible, try to make most from the good experiences from the past and cooperate as though they are already both members of the EU community.

PROFIL is an independent human resources management consultancy, established as a limited company with private capital in 1989. It was the first consulting company in Slovenia and in SE Europe to provide executive search and selection services. They operate in Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), Macedonia, Albania, Kosovo and Montenegro. The logo says it all: Three smiling faces, representing happy Client, happy Appointee and happy Consultant.

September 2011


28 SLOVENIA – SERBIA RELATIONS

Slovenian experience in Serbia

Great Potential It is a well established fact that Slovenian companies are top investors in Serbia, with both Slovenian and Serbian governments putting a lot of focus on economic relations between the two countries. Some companies see their investment in Serbia as a definite good move, while others are more cautious, focusing on long term potential of the country. By Mateja Novak developing industry, since it is a market of several million people with relatively good labor force, which will undoubtedly grow, and this will be even more reflected with the possible entry of Serbia into the European Union.”

Great potential

Gorenje, Valjevo

G

orenje, maker of home appliances, has had its products available in Serbia since the fifties and since 2006 it has opened in Valjevo a factory for the production of refrigerators and freezers. This was the company’s first Greenfield investment abroad. The following year it has opened a production plant for water heaters in Stara Pazova that has become the company’s only location for the production of water heaters since the closure of the factory in Slovenia. The company is also planning a third production plant in Serbia in Zaječar. The plant will be assembling washing machines and dryers, as well as manufacture plastic wash basins.

Profitability matters

There are several reasons behind the decision to establish partial production in Serbia, the company says. “Production in Serbia with the various aspects of production is cheaper than in Slovenia (such as labor costs and energy costs). In addition, the Republic of Serbia - in accordance with the job creation program offers investors grants for new employment and education of employees – has set up a favorable tax treatment. The Slovenia Times

“A very important argument for us is the customs agreement that Serbia has with Russia and some other Eastern European countries that are very important for Gorenje in terms of profitability. “It should be mentioned that since the establishment of production in Serbia, the company has acquired a status of local manufacturer, which certainly affects the perception of consumers in Serbia towards us and our devices and also the sales (in the country), which have greatly increased in recent years.”

Good long term prospects

Like Gorenje, logistics group Intereuropa has been present in the Serbian market since the fifties, when a branch office was established in Belgrade as one of the first branches in the former Yugoslavia. Being a logistics group, Intereuropa invested in the Serbian market in order to round off its range of logistics services in the Balkans, the company says, “and so followed the vision of strengthening the position of the leading logistics provider in southeast Europe.” “Serbian market represents one of the key markets for the group and Serbia has great market po-

tential within the future economic developments in this area of Europe.” The company cites as one of the major obstacles for the overall business environment, the instability of the local currency - dinar. As other drawbacks, the company cites the country’s bad shape economically as well as imbedded grey economy, especially in the southern parts of the country. Though the workforce is cheaper than in Western Europe, the productivity still lags behind the western European standards, however, the education and training of personnel is increasing, the company adds. The biggest advantage of Serbia as an investment destination lies in the “the possibility of long-term development of the market and

Intereuropa logistics centre

Nova KBM bank is one of the more recent investors in the Serbian market - it has entered the market in 2010 with EUR 10m recapitalisation of Serbian Credy bank, a move “which has realised the strategic development goal of expansion to the markets of southeast Europe, which was set by the bank and the group strategy for 2008-2013”. The bank has also completed the second recapitalisation of the Credy bank in June this year, amounting to EUR 5m. The bank sees huge potential in Serbian financial market. “The Serbian market is considered one of the most promising financial markets in southeast Europe”, says Peter Kuplje, executive director of the management board for the field of accompaniment and control operations. “The Serbian banking system is less developed and has great potential organic growth. This means huge opportunities for development in the area of business volumes, as well as the introduction of new financial products. “ Although Serbia might have some way to go before meeting the business standards of the western world, Slovenian investors are seeing its huge potential and are capitalising on all the advantages the country currently offers.


SLOVENIA – SERBIA RELATIONS 29

Serbian experience in Slovenia

Creating a Giant Serbia’s ComTrade Group has acquired Hermes SoftLab, Slovenia’s largest IT company, in 2008. Three years on, we speak to Veselin Jevrosimović, the president and majority owner of ComTrade Group, about the experience and the expectations the company has regarding its investment in Slovenia. By Maja Dragović Slovenia is constantly criticised for being an expensive country for IT companies and that administration processes take too long – why have you decided to invest in Slovenia? Primarily because the business expansion in the region is a natural process and, as you know, ComTrade operates in all former Yugoslav republics. Hermes SoftLab is the largest software company in the region and the acquisition itself contributed in creating a regional software giant who is capable to serve markets that are much larger than our region, especially the U.S.A. and the European Union. Hermes SoftLab is a company that has been working in the software development and services for more than two decades and it has the most experience in this type of business. Investing in Hermes SoftLab, ComTrade acquired knowhow that it needed in certain segments. Despite the fact that Slovenia is an expensive country, Hermes’ people and knowledge are of paramount importance to our group. Has the investment paid off and have the initial expectations been met? The acquisition was happening at the worst possible time since it was during the beginning of the world economic crisis. Despite that, I am convinced that this investment will pay off and, taking into account the potential and expertise of people at Hermes SoftLab, it was the right business decision. What is your opinion on your experience during the purchase process itself?

Founded in 1991 in Serbia, ComTrade Group now operates in South-Eastern and Western Europe, USA, and has operations in Middle East. It is one of the biggest companies in South East Europe, employing over 1,600 people, of which over 1,000 are software engineers.

If you are asking me whether there was any resistance to the purchase, I can tell you that there was no resistance. We had a positive experience that I already repeated several times to both Slovenian and Serbian media. Was there anything negative about your experience? The only negative is that the acquisition process was happening during the world economic crisis that is still present today and there are also indications the crisis will become even worse than in the last three years and with which the world economy will struggle until 2020. Many foreign investors praise Slovenian workforce, stating they are diligent, educated and loyal. Do you also have such opinion on Slovenian labour force? I share the opinion of other foreign investors. Over 1,000 engineers are employed by ComTrade and my experience is highly positive regarding their commitment, training and loyalty. How do you comment the efforts of the Slovenian government to combat the crisis? All local governments have their own recipes how to ease the crisis. I am convinced the Slovenian government is considering all possibilities to solve the difficult economic situation. My advice to the government would be to focus more on local companies and to have a greater appreciation and value more its own skills and economic capacity. What are your plans for Hermes SoftLab in 2012 and beyond? Primarily we want to strengthen gaming, storage and embedded

sector as much as possible and to use the difficult economic situation to develop of our own IP solutions.

Over 1,000 engineers are employed by ComTrade and my experience is highly positive regarding their commitment, training and loyalty. September 2011


30 SLOVENIA – SERBIA RELATIONS

Brands

A Tasty Relationship Economy in a popular sense lives through brands. In these terms both Slovenes and Serbs know and praise each other through a series of products, most of which end up the stomach. By Jaka Terpinc

S

moki is definitely the king of salted snacks in the countries of the former Yugoslavia. The soft crispy bean-like snacks with peanuts have been around for decades and have long been the region’s essential party-time snack. Even when the country broke up and many international competitors rushed in, no similar product came close to rivalling Smoki’s popularity. Even today, the crisps remains tasty, addictive and omni-present, and it’s safe to say the product needs no additional advertising in order to keep ruling all over its shattered homeland. Smoki is produced by Serbian firm Soko Štark, which was purchased by Slovenian Droga Kolinska, which itself was recently taken over by the Croatian Atlantic Grupa. Despite several changes in ownership, Smoki remains a recognisable Serbian product just

as another brand from the same owner, Cockta, remains a legendary Slovenian beverage.

Trust and fame

This example highlights that the tragedy of Yugoslavia could not destroy the trust and fame of brands that were mostly invented by socialist economy. Moreover, people still identify them by origin (Serb, Croatian, Slovene) and yet at the same time as their own. Focusing on consumer products, we could say that exchange of brands between and Slovenia and Serbia applies mostly to the earthly pleasures called eating and drinking. Serbia’s Smoki, Crvenka’s Jaffa Cakes, Beers, Plazma keks (tea biscuits) all fare very well in Slovenian stores. Serbs on the other hand recognise Slovenia’s Mercator (retail), Fructal (juices), Radenska (miner-

Cockta Cockta was developed by Slovenijavino in 1952 and could be regarded as the first “modern brand” in the Socialist Yugoslavia. It had everything: a visual identity with the “designer” bottle, smart promotion, and most importantly, a unique taste based on thorough experimenting with herbal extracts. 71m bottles were sold in its first decade in the markets of former Yugoslavia, what resulted in additional filling plant in Belgrade. Its sales kept rising up until 1967, when western competition. A strong promotion campaign for the redesigned bottle in 1975 led it to a new high in 1983 with 37m litres (over a litre and a half per capita throughout the former Yugoslavia). The breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s meant the end of Cockta in Serbia. It returned in 2001 when a humble 1.2m litres were sold. Ten years later, Cockta is definitely back – in 2010 sales had risen to 18m litres. The Slovenia Times

al water) and Kranjska sausages. According to Serbian advertising expert Mihailo Tešić, the licensed mayonnaise Thomy is often mistaken as a Slovenian brand since it was formerly manufactured in the small Balkan country but is actually a Swiss product owned by Nestle. Apart from the foodstuffs, older people associate Slovenian devotion to skiing with related products and therefore also recall Alpina (ski boots) and Elan (skis) as well as furniture made by Lesnina. These used to be notable brands, today either discontinued or lost in international competition. When it comes to trust, Tešić mentioned Fructal juices as a real mark of quality. The same goes for Laško beer, but it may not be particularly popular. “The stereotype of Slovenes is that they make good products, the prices are OK – a bit more expensive than ours. Essentially they make the same stuff as Serbs only better. With a better technology, more investment, better packaging – that’s it!”

The taste of the former homeland

Even today brands mostly prosper based on fame gained in the times of the former Yugoslavia. Little has changed afterwards. For Slovenia, a discovery could be Serbia’s Voda water, perhaps due to its simplistic name and breakthrough innovative square packaging. Some others have been rediscovered because of increased

availability on the market, such as Serbia’s Knjaz Miloš mineral water in Slovenia or Laško beer in Serbia. Although retailers don’t want to reveal any information on the sales of particular brands, a glance at the supermarket shelves speaks for itself. The already mentioned Slovenian retail chain Mercator, which has spread all over the exYugoslavia believes in established brands of local producers: the ones that people want and trust. At the same time they make opportunities for their suppliers to expand their marketing range, while the rest – branding, quality and pricing policies – are still up to them.

Smoki The first of its kind party snack in south-eastern Europe was created in 1972 by Belgrade based cake, chocolate and candy factory Soko-Nada Štark. As such it was a huge success and quickly conquered the Yugoslav market. Its distribution to Slovenia was discontinued in 1991 but it has since slowly re-entered the market. According to Droga Kolinska, the past four years have seen an intensive rise of its sale in Slovenia, around 20 percent annually. The launch of Smoki Party Pack (a big package) made it the best selling product in its category in Slovenia, taking a 45.5 percent share.


SLOVENIA – SERBIA RELATIONS 31

The Balkans

Loved Once, Unjustifiably Neglected Now Prior to the crisis, and for a few years after Lek was sold to Novartis, the main thoughts crossing the mind of Slovenian investors were about repeating the privatisation experiences of the Balkans. Conversations were light, revolving around the art of “čevapčiči” (Bosnian meat specialty) turning on the barbecue. However, the arrival of the financial crisis changed everything, not least the conversation topics amongst investors. It was a cruel plunge that was especially painful for many an investor. Therefore it is no wonder that today many of them do not want to hear a word more about the Balkans. But the core reason for the attraction of years ago is still present today.

Other pro-Balkan factors

We need to also consider the long-term factors that affect the attractiveness of the region, such as political stability (the entire region is practically already in the EU and perhaps in the future some countries can adopt the Euro as their currency), low correlation with other stock exchange markets, low workforce cost and market liberalisation (accompanied by a good basis for economic growth). Neither should we forget factors such as the low representation of the region in global investors’ portfolios. In this respect we can stress that due to the low liquidity the shares from the region are not very interesting for global investors. This is also indirectly visible in some stock exchange indexes structures where the region is poorly present. For example, in the MSCI Frontier market index which is supposed to represent frontier markets (or can mean the next step in the context of developed and developing mar-

kets etc) we notice that Southern Europe is represented only with a good six percent weight. And it is a fact that each small entrance of new investors is going to show in the general liquidity. An excellent example of this is the takeover of the Croatian Ina at the end of last year. At that time the Croatian stock market rocketed by several percentages in a few days while average trade in the Zagreb stock exchange considerably increased. The fact is that every transaction which happens in the region may have a positive effect on the general state of affairs.

Time of opportunities

When discussing the right moment for investment it makes

sense to think about the proverb which says that when everybody is talking about a particular investment, the time to make that investment has already long since passed. The thing is that all of those who thought they might make a profit out of it have already made their purchases by then. In addition to this, the question of who is going to be willing to buy something for higher prices arises. This is why the time periods when regions, industries or individual companies are overlooked make much more sense from the perspective of long-term and patient investing. And today is just such a time for the region in which we live.

Matej Tomažin, Member of the Board at KD Skladi

Investors have forgotten the Balkans – stock exchange indexes movement from the top before the crisis

Source: Bloomberg

A

nd there is more. Today there are quite a few proBalkan factors. Not just that share price movement on the Balkan stock market went its own way, but also the story of economic growth tells us that this is a place where there is potential. Of course it is not immediately accessible. But we can easily imagine how companies would do their business if owners and management were focused mostly on business – that is without some side interests which are often visible in the outflow of free capital to absurd projects. We are going to reach this “stage” through privatisation procedures which will gradually diminish the influence of politics.

120

100 MSCI Emerging Markets index 80

MSCI World index 60

40 STOXX Balkan index without Greece and Turkey 20

0 31 Oct 2007

31 Oct 2008

31 Oct 2009

31 Oct 2010

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Slovenia Times.

September 2011


32 SLOVENIA – SERBIA RELATIONS

Reasons to invest

Making the Most of the Advantages When it comes to whether Slovenian or Serbian businesses should look to invest in each other’s countries, there are plenty of opportunities that should be explored. There is the obvious common history, the mutual knowledge of the markets and most importantly, there is no language. In addition, each country has trade agreements that can help investors expand their businesses with maximum profits. By Mateja Novak

W

hen it comes to assessing Slovenia as an investment destination, it has attracted some brownfield and greenfield investments, but nothing like other countries in Central and Eastern Europe. However, despite a relatively small number of FDIs and its small population of two million, the country’s economy often punches above its weight on the international business arena.

An executive club

Slovenia’s economic, as well as political, reforms did not come without prestigious awards: it is now a member the European Union, NATO, eurozone, and most recently OECD. Memberships that future investors can certainly take advantage of and also feel secure in their investment. Then there is Slovenia’s geostrategic position at the cross-roads of transport routes, well-developed ITC and physical infrastructure, technological networks and platforms, centres of excellence and clusters as evidence of a high-level innovation activity, that make it a location of choice for many types of businesses. Strong commercial contacts across Eastern and Southeastern Europe, a deep-sea port and the extensive transport network give easy access to some 500 million consumers in Europe.

Opportunities in crisis

The opportunities that opened up in Slovenia with the onset of economic crisis cannot be overlooked. Like all governments in the face of the crisis in 2008, Slovenia also reassessed its policies to help cope with change in the economic situation. It was almost inevitable that the government will review its own stakes in companies, meaning that some of those are now available for sale or are looking for a strategic partner. These include the sale of coatings maker Aero (33 percent); the planned sale of electronics company Fotona (70 percent); while a strategic partner is being sought to invest in Elan (a list of current companies on sale is available on www.kapitalska-druzba.si)

Duty-free Access

Serbia’s advantages are different but still potentially lucrative. Serbia has a number of free trade agreements meaning that starting a business in Serbia is an opportunity for exporting to a market of one billion people without paying any customs duties. Many will agree that Serbia’s free trade agreement with Russia is one of the country’s biggest selling points when it comes to attracting foreign investors. The Free Trade Agreement, signed in August 2000, makes Serbia par-

Serbia’s Preferential Trade Agreements Market

Trade regime

European Union

Preferential trade regime

United States

Generalised system of preferences

Russian federation and Kazakhstan

Free trade agreement

Southeastern Europe

Free trade agreement

Belarus

Free trade agreement

EFTA

Free trade agreement

Turkey

Free trade agreement

The Slovenia Times

ticularly attractive to foreign investors in the manufacturing sector. The Agreement stipulates that goods produced in Serbia, with over 50 percent value added in the country, are considered to be of the Serbian origin. For exports to Russia, the FORM A Certificate is required as a proof of goods origin. The only tariff charged is the customs record keeping tariff, amounting to one percent. The list of products, excluded from the Free Trade Agreement, is revised annually. In 2009, the duty-free regime was extended to the following goods: all drugs, confectionery products, apple juice, malt beer, fresh grape wines, all soaps, wool clothing, refrigerators, freezers and all refrigerating devices, washing and drying machines, wooden upholstered seats, wooden office furniture, sleeping bags, sheets, and similar goods. Serbia is also a member of the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) comprising of a free trade area with 29 million people. This region is also the one with the highest growth rate in Europe. The Free Trade Agreements with Turkey, EFTA members (Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, and Liechtenstein), Belarus, and Kazakhstan envisage mutual abolishment of customs and non-customs duties in trade between the countries. Added to this are dutyfree exports to the European Union and the United States for most products and services. Finally, with the population of 7.5 million people, Serbian market itself is among the largest in the region.

Skilled and competitive workers

There is also the matter of Serbia’s labor force which, with a combination of high-quality and low costs, is one of the key factors in reaching a strong business performance.

Why invest in Slovenia • A strategic location as a bridge between western Europe and the Balkan states, boasting strong levels of efficiency and productivity • A well developed transport infrastructure both on land and through the sea port at Koper to serve some of Europe’s major transit routes • A proficient and skilled labour force boasting a high degree of IT and technological knowledge, from electronics to financial services • All attributes to become a location of choice of international companies for international or European headquarters, an R&D centre, or a centre for administrative/ accounting functions • The government reforms have helped Slovenia’s economy increase its competitive edge and appeal to foreign investors • Registering a company in Slovenia has been greatly facilitated in many ways • Financial incentive programme • Tax allowances are in place for investment in research, technology and development Labor supply is yearly increased by approximately 27,000 university and college graduates and 75,000 high school graduates. Technical education is particularly strong as high school students are among the best performers at world contests in natural sciences, while Serbian engineers are wellknown for their expertise. With so many advantages on both side, the only question that remains is which one is the right one for a particular investor?


33 Photo: Dreamstime

Business tourism SPECIAL

Tourist in a Suit Slovenia is targeting the tourist in a suit. Now that the country is playing host to a growing number of congresses, conventions, events and meetings, the hospitality industry is aiming for those in the country for business as well as those there for pleasure. By Mark Koghee

T

he summer holidays are over and the meetings industry in Slovenia is about to kick into full swing. From 10 until 13 September Cankarjev dom in Ljubljana will welcome 1,600 nurses and doctors for the fortieth international conference of the European Dialysis and Transplant Nurses’ Association

and European Renal Care Association. It will be the biggest professional meeting in Slovenia this year. Soon after the picturesque Alpine village of Bovec will play host to the twentieth International Conference on Nuclear Energy for New Europe 2011. The packed schedule gives workers in the meetings industry

a continuing reason to smile. Congress manager Tatjana Radović of the Ljubljana Convention Bureau has seen the number of enquiries by foreign clients grow since the second half of last year. “The majority of those in the meetings industry would agree that the current year definitely shows a positive trend compared

to 2010, measured both by the number of confirmed events and new enquiries,” Radović says, “If seen through the statistics of international association meetings, Ljubljana has more registered events right now for 2011 than for all of 2010.’’ Radović is convinced that the growth will continue in the com-

Cank arjev dom – Serving 1001 Purposes

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Since its very beginning in 1980, Cankarjev dom has been destined to play the role of a cultural and congress centre, facilitating a hospitable environment for every kind of experience – business, cultural, entertainment, amusement and leisure. With 22 multipurpose halls, a maximum capacity of 2,000 delegates in the Gallus plenary hall and a large exhibition space, Cankarjev dom is the largest congress centre in Slovenia. Dedicated to modernisation, Cankarjev dom has recently undergone extensive renovations: Grand Reception Hall, 1st & 2nd Foyer, CD Club and Kosovel Hall now dazzle with splendour. Its central position affords Cankarjev dom many advantages. Notwithstanding the fact that nothing is remote in Slovenia, having a base in Ljubljana, the country’s capital, puts Cankarjev dom at the centre of attention. An easy access either by road, train or air – central Slovene

airport Jože Pučnik lies only 20 kilometres northward – is vital for hosting national and international business and science related meetings. The immediate vicinity of all major hotels and the city’s attractive Old Town is also very appealing. Cankarjev dom also offers and develops the services of top-quality congress and events management implementing events in-house or in rented premises anywhere in Slovenia or abroad. An expert team can organise an integral event, from concept to implementation, or provide only specific services. Numerous scientific and professional associations, companies, various governmental and nongovernmental organisations, societies, fair organisers and diverse exhibitors have trusted Cankarjev dom with the organisation of scientific and specialized congresses, symposia and seminars, economic-entrepreneurial events, educational

fairs and a myriad of social events, including celebrations, banquets, balls and receptions. On average, up to 500,000 people visit the centre in some 1000 cultural and artistic performances and 250 congress events. Their contentment is the best testament to Cankarjev dom’s success. More info: www.cd-cc.si/congress

September 2011


Photo: K. Lajevec, STO

34 BUSINESS TOURISM

ing years. But Miha Kovačič, the director of the Slovenian Convention Bureau, is taking a more cautious stance given recent economic developments. “We are seeing minor improvements in the number of meetings and events in comparison to 2010, but the world, European and Slovenian economies are facing difficult times and this also has a negative effect on meetings and events,” Kovačič warns.

Novelty factor

Each year, the International Congress and Convention Association (ICCA) draws up a yearly world ranking of meetings. In 2010 Slovenia came in 44th place with 44 registered meetings – a huge jump over 1999 when only 25 meetings were counted. Regionally, Serbia placed 43rd last year with 46 meetings and Croatia held 40th place with 50 meetings. According to Kovačič, “looking European-wide, Slovenia is still quite an unknown destination”. This brings benefits: “This nov-

The Slovenia Times

elty factor is a plus as clients are always looking for a new destination. [In addition] we are quite an experienced country which gives more confidence to the client. We are proud that each potential and existing client is very much surprised of the positive experiences generated while staying in Slovenia.’’

Keeping up with competition

Radović and Kovačič both say the business tourists visiting meetings in Slovenia are generally from European countries but there are no hard statistics at present. “As there are no nationwide statistics we don’t have an overview from which countries these people come from and how many, says Kovačič. “In the meetings industry we compete against the whole of Europe and delegates also come from almost all over Europe and beyond.’’ What goes for Slovenia goes for its capital Ljubljana. The city

competes with bigger cities like Hag ue, Rotterdam, Tampere, Leipzig, Cancun, Antwerp, Zagreb and Belgrade. “In terms of competition, we don’t have an easy job, since we are surrounded by very strong destinations like Italy, Austria and Hungary which, especially with their capitals, hold a strong position on the European and global meetings market”, says Radović. “We are constantly keeping an eye on Zagreb and Belgrade, as well as some destinations that have a similar ranking as Ljubljana on international meetings statistics.’’ Although the biggest venues for meetings are in Ljubljana, congresses and conventions are held all over Slovenia, with Ljubljana, Portorož and Bled being the most established destinations. “The advantage of the meetings industry is that it’s spread throughout the country,” explains Kovačič. According to Radović meeting planners go for places that suit the nature of their event as well as their budget. “Corporate clients tend to prefer convention hotels for the ‘everything under one roof’ concept, whereas association clients often consider congress centres and academic venues,’’ she says.

Good source of income

Although concrete figures that express the value of the meetings industry are not currently available, it is clear that business tourism is a welcome addition to leisure tourism. For example, the meetings industry brings visitors to hotels, bars, restaurants and tourist attractions in periods when regular tourism is slow. Even a small convention can fill a whole hotel.

Kovačič asserts that figures from the World Travel and Tourism Council for 2011 show that business travel will account for 18 percent of total tourism revenue. “Statistics from other countries reveal that business travellers spend three times as much as leisure guests. In addition, meeting attendees act as promoters of the destination when they have enjoyed their stay.’’ With neighbouring countries also emerging in the meetings industry, Slovenia can’t sit still. Both Kovačič and Radović already have some thoughts about what needs to be done. Kovačič emphasises the cooperation between organisers, hotels, venues and so on. “At the moment players in the destinations are not cooperating properly,” she argues. “They are not aware that the client is first buying the destination and only then the individual property.’’ To make Slovenia more visible for potential organizers, Radović says a higher marketing budget is needed. “A stronger Slovenia country brand, a few more hotels in the city, more airline connections are some of the items on the top 10 list.’’ One strong card that Slovenia holds over the competitors in the region is the meeting of all meetings: Conventa. The trade show of the meetings industry in South East Europe is held in Ljubljana and organised by the Slovenian Convention Bureau. The 2012 event, to be held in January, will have a record number of participants. Compared to last year, 40 percent more exhibitors signed in. The rise of the meetings industry seems set to continue in the next year.


Grand Hotel Union

Tradition of Excellence and Comfort since 1905

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The Grand Hotel Union is the largest hotel convention centre in the capital of Slovenia. The art noveau Grand Union Hall with over 11 meters in ceiling height can accommodate up to 850 delegates in reception style. The conference area includes 21 rooms over a total area of 3,150 square meters. All rooms have state-of-the-art technology and natural daylight. The hotel is officially designated as a “Congress Hotel” with Certificate F. The certification is issued by the Slovenian Convention Bureau and assures that customers can expect a high standard in service and conference facilities. The hotel provides outstanding cuisine and has an excellent offer for receptions, business lunches, gala dinners and other important functions.

can enjoy in the generous working area and free internet. The variation of room categories fully meets business traveller’s needs. In October 2009, the newly refurbished part of Grand Hotel Union – Business part – presented its completely new image with a combination of modern and elegant design with superlative comfort. The 133 rooms provide guests with a pleasant atmosphere, comfortable beds, large working surfaces, LCD screens and a novelty – massage chairs. Grand Hotel Union Executive part also unveiled 96 refurbished rooms in the historical part. The rooms have been given a new softness thanks to the use of subtle but high-quality fabrics and signature detailing that has always defined the architectural and interior art nouveau style of the Hotel Union.

The Grand Hotel Union consists of two connected parts, Executive and Business part. Together they offer exclusive accommodation with modern technical equipment, tailored to the needs of today’s business travellers. In 327 spacious and comfortable rooms guests

One of the crucial elements of a century old story of Grand Hotel Union is its exquisite culinary offer. Under the leadership of Janez Dolšak, the head chef and the leader of the competitive Slovene culinary team, culinary masters pamper the guests with their masterpieces.

Photo: Bor Dobrin

The Grand Hotel Union is a renowned address of celebrities and major Ljubljana’s events. When it was built in charming art nouveau style in 1905, the Grand Hotel Union was considered one of the most beautiful and modern hotels in this part of Europe. Located in the heart of the Ljubljana city centre and just a few steps from the old part of the city, business district, governmental areas and major sights, this hotel provides its guests with the highest level of personal service, as well as utmost comfort.

Grand Hotel Union **** Hotel & Conference Center Miklošičeva 1, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia Tel: +386 1 308 1270 Fax: +386 1 308 1915

hotel.union@gh-union.si www.gh-union.si

September 2011


36 BUSINESS TOURISM

Interview: Miriam Možgan, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Bled’s Major Brainstorming In just six years the Bled Strategic Forum has become a major international event, attracting business and political leaders from around the world. Jointly organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia and the Centre for European Perspective, the conference gives a chance to discuss the thorny issues facing the world – and to come up with ways to tackle them. According to Miriam Možgan, Secretary General of the Bled Strategic Forum, this successful but still young forum is set to grow yet further this year. By Maja Dragović 2020: Enlarging and Integrating”, participants discussed the future of the EU. The 2008 event, titled “Energy and Climate Change: Si.nergy for the Future”, tackled questions of energy security and the impact of climate change. In 2009 the conference discussed the geopolitical consequences of the global financial and economic crisis. Last year’s forum was dedicated to the global challenges of the next decade. On the basis of the success of the international conferences held to date, the annual Bled Strategic Forum has become one of the leading international conferences in the region.

What was the initial idea behind the Bled Strategic Forum? The Bled Strategic Forum was established as a new Slovenian brand in 2006 by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia. The Forum was designed as an international conference – a mega brainstorming – to promote an in-depth strategic dialogue on the key issues faced by Europe and the transatlantic community. The Forum was set out to provide a relaxing discussion point for policy-makers, business people and experts, where we could address pressing and strategically relevant global issues. In the past six years we have welcomed participants from more than 50 countries around the world. This year we’re expecting guests to come from India to Iceland, from Chile to the Czech Republic, from Rwanda to the RusThe Slovenia Times

sian Federation, from Cape Verde to Qatar. We’re happy that in just six years the Bled Strategic Forum has become an established brand and that our high profile guests enjoy coming back to Slovenia to attend it. What are some of the topics the Forum has covered over the years? The first Bled Strategic Forum took place in 2006 as a follow-up to the Slovenian chairmanship of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Under the title “Caspian Outlook 2008”, the conference addressed the geopolitical importance of the Caspian region regarding energy supplies. The second Forum took place just before Slovenia took over the EU presidency, the first of the new member states to do so. Under the title “European Union

The forum does not only focus on Slovenia and its immediate areas of influence. Discussions also address worldwide developments. Why is that the case? Bled Strategic Forum is still a relatively young forum and is still growing, adding new panels and expanding its programme. It started as a regional forum, but evolved into a global forum. Slovenia is a smaller state, but it aims to be a smaller state with a global view. Being member of EU and NATO, part of the globalised world, we want to address the future challenges of international community. At the Bled Strategic Forum, we try to analyse some of the trends that lie ahead of us in order to better prepare ourselves and the international community for forthcoming challenges – how to face them and, even more importantly, how to avoid them. And Bled Strategic Forum has been very successful in attracting some of the most brilliant minds from all around the world to address the challenges of the decade. What impact does the forum have in political and/or financial circles? The Forum is traditionally well attended by politicians and busi-

ness people from the region and beyond. In the relaxing atmosphere of Bled, business people and policy makers find good opportunities to meet and conduct informal bilateral meetings that often represent a basis for further cooperation. This year we’re expecting a group of investors from the USA, business people from Western Balkan countries as well as representatives from multinationals such as Microsoft and BMW. Conferences such as Bled Strategic Forum are even more important at the times of the crisis since politicians and business people are all looking for fresh ideas from prominent experts all around the world and their analyses of the trends in the current situation in order to speed up economic recovery. What is the main agenda for this year’s forum and why? This year’s forum, titled “The Power of the Future”, will take place on 9 and 10 September 2011 and will address power shifts in the international arena, including relations between states and economic relations, with an emphasis on emerging economies. The discussion panels will address a wide array of topics, focusing on new players, especially the BRIC countries; on European challenges in the Mediterranean; EU–China relations; Afghanistan; the future of energy; challenges and perspectives in the Western Balkans; the role of small states in global affairs; as well as food security and the role of innovation in economy. The Forum will thus again remain centred around regional and global topics. This year, an important addition has been introduced to the Bled Strategic Forum – the Young BSF, which aims to attract a younger audience; an audience of future decision-makers. For more information on the Bled Strategic Forum, please visit www. bledstrategicforum.org.


BUSINESS TOURISM 37

Environmental focus

Keeping it Green Photo: David Ralita

With the growth of the meetings industry, there is also more emphasis being placed on organisers to focus on sustainability. Miha Kovačič, head of the Slovenia Convention Bureau, explains what steps Slovenia is taking to look after the environment while at the same time making sure it becomes more competitive as a business tourism destination. By Maja Dragović What are the current trends in Green Meetings industry? Sustainability has proven to become one of greater trends in today’s meeting industry. In recent times, the focus has been on developing tools (event measurement tools, sustainable event guidelines etc) and international and national standards to ease the transition to sustainable event management. Further emphasis has been placed on professional education and research, in particular through professional associations such as the Green Meeting Industry Council. As a consequence of increased in-

terest in the sustainable meeting industry, more attention has been placed on highlighting the gap between strategic sustainable event management and greenwashing. How important is it to be environmentally aware in current times for business meetings industry? Sustainability has been an important topic of discussion and, increasingly, action in the recent years. Studies show that meeting industry suppliers, i.e. the supply continued on page 38

New Congress Centre Wellness Park Laško follows green guidelines This year hotel, Wellness Park Laško received the Eko Marjetica (Eco Daisy) environmental emblem. Events in our new Congress Centre follow these green guidelines: windows and skylights bring daylight to halls and lobbies. Natural colours, and the vicinity of nature itself influence the wellbeing of event attendees, who can visit unspoilt nature directly from the hall on the terraces by the Savinja River.

Eco-green guidelines in our new Congress Centre Wellness Park Laško: • Waste separation bins are available everywhere inside the centre • We use recycled and reusable materials – paper and stationery • We try to minimize the use of promotional materials. While we strive to use electronic displays wherever possible, attendees can take desired documents, which are eventually recollected. • We do our best to use environmentally friendly floral arrangements. There are evergreen arrangements and other environmentally friendly elements from non-disposable materials. Cut flowers are available only at the specific request of the customer.

• Congress Hotel Wellness Park Laško**** Superior, • 10 Conference halls, • parking garage, • Wellness Spa Centre, • Thermal Centre.

Informations:

Thermana d.d., Zdraviliška cesta 6, Laško, Slovenia kongres@thermana.si | www.kongresi.eu +386 (0)3 423 2480 September 2011


38 BUSINESS TOURISM Fierce competition among meeting destinations and individual providers encourages the development of sustainable management in the meeting industry.

continued from page 37 side, lead the road to sustainable meeting industry. Fierce competition among meeting destinations and individual providers encourages the development of sustainable management in the meeting industry. The demand side or meeting planners are following the lead, which can be claimed is more a consequence of market development than actual increase of demand for sustainable services. Do clients nowadays pay more attention to the sustainable event management? In line with the rapid inclusion of buzz words “green, sustainable, eco” in the meeting industry vocabulary, the meeting planners are attentive to and appreciate sustainable measures. For instance, at the leading regional meeting industry trade show Conventa meeting planners noted the implemented green measures. J.H. Weil of The Federation of European Biochemical Societies thus commented: “The exhibit was very well organized, with a green, durable touch.« The question remains in which instances meeting planners only appreciate, perhaps inquire about sustainable credentials and in which they are will-

About the BeBee campaign The Slovenian meeting community has assumed responsibility for the negative environmental impacts generated by the meeting industry and taken action. The Slovenian Convention Bureau started to run the “BeBee campaign” as one of the projects to take practical steps towards a greener future. The BeBee campaign focuses on protecting bees that symbolise the diversity of natural resources and unspoiled nature in Slovenia. Bees reveal the level of environmental protection and symbolize the Slovenian vision of preserving nature. Furthermore, bees relate to the Slovenian uniqueness seeing that Slovenia is the only European country that has protected its indigenous species, the Carniolan bee. The BeBee campaign therefore aims to increase the number of bee colonies, slowing down the negative trend reflected in the loss of bee colonies. In cooperation with the Beekeeping Association of Slovenia, the BeBee campaign enabled the Beekeepers Club of Dobrna to set

up a school beehouse to learn bee breeding. Based on practical presentations and active participation, the pupils can learn how to think and behave in the company of their winged friends. 26 children will learn about beekeeping and therefore become aware of the importance of natural and cultural heritage. The Slovenian meeting community invites meeting professionals, eager to make a positive impact on society and environment, to join the BeBee campaign. By signing the BeBee petition, meeting professionals can support the aspirations of the Slovenian meeting community in preserving the green character of Slovenia.

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Parmova ulica 53, 1000 Ljubljana tel.: +386 1 280 54 00, fax.: +386 1 280 54 09 www. profil-group.com Slovenia | Croatia | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Serbia | Macedonia | Albania The Slovenia Times


BUSINESS TOURISM 39 ing to pay a higher price for implementing sustainable measures.. How do Slovenian businesses conferences fare against others in the region in terms of Green Meetings industry? In line with the green orientation of the Slovenian Tourism Board, in 2010 the Slovenian meeting community launched “Push up Slovenia 3.0” campaign focused on developing and promoting “Slovenia Green Meetings” brand. Push up Slovenia 3.0 campaign aims to promote Slovenia as an honesty green and authentic destination, where its meeting suppliers are increasingly focusing on implementing sustainable business practices and developing innovative sustainable services. The campaign has thus given a strong incentive and a number of tools (www.slovenia-greenmeetings.si comprehensive webpage, Slovenia Green Meetings catalogue, upcoming Event Carbon Calculator) and guidelines (e.g. Road to Green Meetings in Slovenia manual) to greening the meeting industry in Slovenia. In comparison to other destinations in the region of South East Europe, respective meeting providers are joining the green wave at a similar pace. Slovenia is how-

ever making a stand with its socially responsible campaign “BeBee” and hosting the “IMEX 2012 Challenge”. Both projects focus on bees that symbolise the diversity of natural resources and unspoiled nature in Slovenia as well as symbolize the Slovenian vision of preserving nature. Around 30 countries support the introduction of the new ISO standard 20121 for sustainable event management that is to be completed by the time the 2012 Olympic Games kick off in London. Does Slovenia support it and how long will it take for it to comply with the new standards? Slovenia welcomes the adoption of ISO 20121 sustainable event management standard, based on the the British standard BS8901. As other already existing sustainable event standards, including BS8901, APEX Green Meeting standards, Global Reporting Initiative Event Supplement, we expect the ISO standard to represent a further step in incorporating sustainability in the meeting industry as well as prove the power and value of the meeting industry. The above named standards relate to sustainable event management, thus meeting planners can earn these standards for planning

a respective event in a sustainable manner. There are further green certifications earmarked for various meeting providers, including Green Globe, EU Flower and ISO 14001. While individual meeting professionals can acquire these green certifications, it is the role of the Slovenian Convention Bureau to promote these professionals, educate them further and consider the possibility of establishing a national scheme for sustainable event management (as in the case of Austria or Germany).

In comparison to other destinations in the region of South East Europe, respective meeting providers are joining the green wave at a similar pace.

*With answers we also received help from Maruša Rosulnik who is an early stage researcher in Go.Mice Marketing and Congress Agency assistant at Anton Melik Geographical Institute, Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts

About the IMEX 2012 Challenge Slovenia with its capital Ljubljana will host a CSR project the IMEX Challenge in summer 2012. Three official partners – the Slovenian Convention Bureau, Ljubljana Tourism / Convention Bureau and Go.Mice Congress & Marketing Agency, sided by the Slovenian Beekeepers’ Association and Draga Centre, have created a meaningful project that will continue long after June 2012. The idea is to build beehives within the grounds of an institute for mentally and physically disabled children and adults. It is anticipated that they will be involved in the bees’ upkeep as well as potentially create revenue from harvesting and selling honey. By pure coincidence, two of the school’s staff are registered beekeepers and are keen to assist in the future, too.

• Simultaneous Interpretation Equipment for up to 31 languages • Wireless&wired Conference Microphones (Discussion Systems) • BOSCH IR Digital Receivers (INTEGRUS) • Conference Sound Systems • Interpreting Booths ISO 4043 • Guideport Systems/Whispered Interpreting Systems • Projection Facilities • Consulting • Cooperation with Professional Interpreters Robotrade, d.o.o., Bled Grajska cesta 18, 4260 Bled, Slovenia T: +386 4 576 50 00 F: +386 4 576 50 01

info@robotrade.si www.robotrade.si

September 2011


40 BUSINESS TOURISM

Expert opinion

A New Love Affair Awaits the Meeting Industry Whenever I am asked to write something on a specific destination in connection with the meetings industry, I try to focus on my experience of more than 25 years of analyzing, dissecting, visiting and scrutinizing destinations for a vast number of meetings with a variety of objectives and profiles. By Linda Pereira, Executive Director of CPL Events

I

Portorož or Lake Bled with its towering castle at sunset for example. This has just got to be one of Europe’s most underestimated meeting industry destinations and a perfect incentive location– and it is not just a question of quality but of phenomenal quality at affordable prices – for now! There are conference venues for all tastes. Slovenia can house conferences of up to 1,550 delegates comfortably and that would be the bar I would set for it, but it is the endless possibilities of complementary programmes and the sheer tradition of hospitality of its people that truly mark the difference. Slovenia has a lot of advantages: a very young, well-educated travel professionals and hospitality industry community who are also hungry for the business. They are “possibilitarians”! That is they believe that if they raise their sights and see the possibilities they will achieve anything. This can-do attitude is one of the best features of the destination. The qualitycost ratio and the novelty factor is also an added benefit. Slovenia of course is relatively unknown. I, myself have just come to really know it and feel that I had, until now, been deprived of something. There is a tendency to box all the Photo: D. Mladenović

The Convention Bureau clearly understands that part of the Slovenian experience is the variety of landscapes, restaurants and places to visit all compacted into short distances; the friendliness of its locals; the surprising taste of its wines; and the exquisite quality of its food – now it must learn to sell its business value, especially in today’s economy.

s there really a perfect meeting destination? Well of course not- there are so many variables. However, as most meetings are not large meetings, my heart always goes to smaller, highly accessible destinations. Places that are on the human scale. Yes, of course you must have the infrastructure and the logistic capability and the qualified human services and the quality etc. But when you add the human scale factor everything just seems to fall into place. Yet smaller destinations spend a lot of their time apologising for their size! This is precisely my experience of Slovenia. I first walked around the capital city of Slovenia, Ljubljana, a few years ago, and I loved the way it seemed to envelop me like a welcoming hug. Today every time I return I still get the same feeling, only stronger and it just takes my breath away. I do not know whether it is the friendliness of its people, the layout, the river, but whatever it is the city has a special light and smell – the sweet aroma of the sea breeze. And everyone I know who travels there tells me a similar story. I am still taken aback by how beautiful the whole country really can look, be it the seaside town of

Perfect location: Ljubljana is ideally placed to host business conferences The Slovenia Times

Linda Pereira

countries in the region together and just see them from one perspective where they all appear to be very similar. This is not only a mistake but deprives the industry of expanding to new experiences and new ventures. Of course to become a star in the meeting industry Slovenia must up its marketing game and make itself more accessible internationally. It would definitely benefit from an Ambassador Programme but it has other advantages. It is a young country with young dedicated professionals, it is already actively “networking” itself onto the buyer’s horizon and its politicians are listening and watching. It must be able to differentiate itself positively from its local competitors while still benefitting from synergies born out of such proximity. Slovenia has a meeting industry business plan and it has, so far, taken the right road. The Convention Bureau clearly understands that part of the Slovenian experience is the variety of landscapes, restaurants and places to visit all compacted into short distances; the friendliness of its locals; the surprising taste of its wines; and the exquisite quality of its food – now it must learn to sell its business value, especially in today’s economy. So why is Slovenia still something of an undiscovered secret? Perhaps therein lies the reason for its perfection.


Sava Hoteli Bled launch their “Green for events” programme All the hotels and other important venues are located within walking distance and no on-site transfers are required in Bled.

Sava Hoteli Bled is the largest

hotel and tourism company in Bled offering more than 60 percent of all overnight accommodations and is one of the most important employers in the area. The company also wishes to gain a leading position with regard to the sustainable development of tourism and be seen as a model and initiating leader in Bled and the surrounding regions. “Green for tomorrow” initiative has been therefore started within Sava Hoteli Bled in 2010 with the main purpose of developing new sustainable products. These should contribute to the preservation of nature and natural resources, thereby enabling the long term development of tourism in Bled. In line with this initiative a new “Green for events” product has been launched in June 2011. It offers conference or business meeting organisers an opportunity to take into account various environmental and sustainable criteria when planning and organising their events. Special attention is placed on reducing the volume of trash and transport. Therefore, regional food and domestically grown produce take precedence in catering offers and coffee breaks consist almost entirely of locally grown food. Instead of water from plastic bottles, tap water is served. Ecological containers for separate trash collection are located in all conference rooms. To save energy, the conference rooms are mainly illuminated with natural lighting and the room temperature is adapted to the natural conditions so that

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Sava Hoteli Bled, d.d. Cankarjeva 6, 4260 Bled, Slovenia

www.hotelibled.com www.sava-hotels-resorts.com

the rooms are not overheated in winter or overcooled in summer. An additional advantage of choosing Bled as a conference location is the favourable location of the hotels. Everything is located in close proximity and can be reached on foot with nearly no on-site transfers required. Conference organisers can arrange airport transfers with a gas-powered car or organised group transfers. At the same time, an offer of teambuilding programmes with sustainable components has been developed, in which the rich natural and cultural heritage of the region is particularly highlighted. Participants can either learn traditional regional crafts or experience Bled in the style of the first spa guests who visited the physiotherapeutic institute of the Swiss physician Arnold Rikli in mid 19th century. The programmes are implemented in close cooperation with local small businesses and craftsmen, thereby contributing also to the development of the rural area.

Bled Strategic Forum as a model green event

Bled Strategic Forum 2011 will be the first large international event organised by the principles of the “Green for events” programme. The Sava Hoteli Bled company, hosting a majority of the forum events, made a commitment to reduce the use of energy and generate as little emissions as possible

when hosting the event. Additionally, all the participants are invited to join in and help to preserve nature and natural resources through their actions. A set of guidelines for the participants has been determined, encouraging them to separate wastes and reduce waste quantities, sample local food and drinks, drink tap water instead of water in plastic bottles and be sustainably mobile by walking between different venues of the event. The Sava Hoteli Bled company would like to measure the actual impact that this year’s Bled Strategic Forum will have on the environment. Therefore, a detailed carbon footprint analysis of the event will be made in cooperation with the Bled based Ekogenca company, which will measure the total amount of greenhouse gasses produced throughout the event. The carbon footprint analysis will enable Sava Hoteli Bled and organisers of the event to assess the effectiveness of the aforementioned activities which will be carried out during this year’s event, and point out the problematic points which still require attention. This will serve as a starting point to determine additional measures and activities in order to further reduce the carbon footprint for the future events to come.

Abundant natural daylight in conference rooms creates a stimulating working environment and brings down power consumption.


42 BUSINESS TOURISM

Interview: Jerneja Kamnikar, director of Vivo catering

Bringing out the Slovenian Ethos for the Future As business tourism is increasingly becoming an ever more important tourist product, special care and attention need to be paid to all its aspects, including catering which can make a true difference in the perception of the entire event. Jerneja Kamnikar, director of Vivo catering company which is renowned for high professional catering standards in any context, be it a small private party of just several people or a grand business meeting with hundreds of attendees, is very much aware of that. By Polona Cimerman private visit. A well-known fact is that what sticks in people’s heads years after the business event took place are the fun events with dinners and culinary experiences. How does business tourism catering differ from its other types? One needs to be highly professional in all contexts, but in business tourism catering awareness of the complete approach where the entire service is thorough is vital. The organiser must take into account norms that apply for the world of business and not something that he or she fancies privately. The approach and purpose in a private or business event are diametrically opposed. For example, one must always bear in mind that the attendees come from extremely heterogeneous environments and thus a proper balance in the traditionally heavy Slovenian cuisine needs to be achieved. As organisers usually do not have professional knowledge of arranging events, the caterer has to possess it to offer advice and make suitable decisions on the food, programme and service, all following a certain protocol.

The guests are more conscious of what they eat and want the service to be environmentally aware in all aspects, be it the energy use or proper dealing with waste which are among the high standards Vivo adopted in all our services. The Slovenia Times

What is the role of catering in business tourism? Its basic service is providing food and drinks but at the same time catering plays the role of an ambassador of the location where the event is taking place. Catering companies thus act as indirect promoters of the country and are an expression of its culture. Business tourists are the most demanding and sophisticated guests who can and do spend. However, they know what is good and what it not. The goal is then to make a good impression of the country on them so that they later on return with their family and friends for a

Is there room for being original? Despite the fact that there cannot be any improvisation and since food must not be too exotic, very much so. A huge difference can be made with either the choice of service, food or design, but the best way to show innovativeness is by preparing a dish in front of the guests. Business catering requires complete harmony as everything needs to act as a whole – table decorations, cutlery, music... Paying attention to details is crucial which is very visible on multiday events – repetition is bad so one must make small but efficient changes like changing the colours of tablecloths, napkins, staff uniforms. And food of course, it

should be varied. Contrasts work! How important is ecological awareness? Busi ness tourists are such guests who notice those things and it is significant that this aspect is taken care of. At the moment the times are not in favour of organic ingredients since their price is considerably higher, but there definitely is room for this. We deal with it by having “ecocorners” where guests can find two or three dishes. But my opinion is that since Slovenia is blessed with fertile land and enjoys clean environment it is the origin of the ingredients which really matters. We use exclusively Slovenian ingredients and also make them priority over the imported organic ones as the local produce here is qualitative and comparable with the highest international standards. Guests of course need to be made aware of this. What are current trends in business catering? The guests are more conscious of what they eat and want the service to be environmentally aware in all aspects, be it the energy use or proper dealing with waste which are among the high standards Vivo adopted in all our services. Another thing is that programmes are not so lavish as currently price that dictates everything. Where lies the future of business catering in Slovenia? Definitely in emphasising and recognising the Slovenian aspect everywhere. We need to be aware of our own identity and promote it as Slovenia has immense potentials in tourism. As I said before, one remembers the food and the fun not the business agenda and we should keep reminding us that a business tourist does not just simply happen – they are a result of a well-thought-out strategy and hard work from both the state and all others in the tourism chain.


In the Arm s of Nature Hotel AND CoNGReSS CeNtRe lJUBlJANA

Despite this, local organisers of events still represent the biggest share. They recently approached this target audience with a low-budget, yet ingenious short film, with which they remind their old and potentially new clients of their advantages in a completely different way. The film was created by young talents with the name “JocoHud Prodakšn”, and you can find it on their Facebook page, if you have not already seen it on other social networks.

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The Mons Hotel and Congress Centre is according to the Slovenian Convention Bureau standards one of only five congress hotels in Slovenia and the leading venue for business events. Mons is always ready to maintain a high level of services and innovative products. Its managing director, Irena Grofelnik, and her team are well aware that this is the only way to exceed the expectations of their guests and visitors.

The hotel is entering the new congress season with renewed and more international banquet services. The cream of international organisers of congress events, which visited Ljubljana for the recent Conventa business event, said at the opening that they had not experienced such a unique coffee break anywhere in Europe. The visitors were talking about the themed coffee breaks, prepared by Mons in the colours and flavours of lemon, chocolate and berries. That is not the only flattering recognition they have received this summer, as the renowned Tripadvisor gave them an award for excellence.

With an average rating of 4.5 out of 5, Mons is the best hotel of its size in Ljubljana. There will also be more international events due to their acceptance into portfolio of the HelmsBriscoe agency, based in Arizona. This agency is the biggest in the world when it comes to searching for places to hold business events, and organizes over 25,000 business events every year.

However, creating a fresh and innovative offer is not enough. Striving towards a greener attitude and the protection of the environment runs throughout all the activities in the hotel. That is why the men’s lavatories are adapted for usage of less water, and most documents are printed with solid ink technology (the greenest printing method thus far). The company has a detailed plan for handling waste and has concrete annual plans for reducing waste, and also uses cleaning products with the EU’s Eco-Label Flower. The company also collaborates with important Slovenian companies in the field of environment protection.

Jazz Club Mons

Facts & Figures •  114 hotel rooms •  9 congress halls •  Maximum capacity is 800 guests in the congress centre •  2 restaurants, a bar •  Fitness, sauna •  360 parking spaces •  More than 3,000 m² of green space •  More than 8,000 m² of forest

For a few years now, the jazz evenings in Jazz Club Mons have been a tradition. They are organised on Saturday evenings, in collaboration with the Big Band of RTV Slovenia. This season, there are some established musicians on the programme: Nuška Drašček, Lucienne, Uroš Perić, Tomaž Grintal, Janez Bončina Benč, Neža Drobnič and Neisha. The first concert will take place on 15th October, while the subscriptions for the whole season cost €115.

Embraced by nat ure HOTEL AND CONGRESS CENTRE LJUBLJANA

Hotel and congress centre • Pot za Brdom 4, SI-1000 Ljubljana • T +386 (1) 47 02 700 marketing@hotel.mons.si • www.hotel.mons.si


www.visitljubljana.si

Are you looking for a cool conference city?

Keep an eye on Ljubljana, the capital of Slovenia! Photo: Stane Jeršič

With its 280,000 residents Ljubljana ranks among the smaller European capitals. Small in size, but large in charm, it offers a wealth of history, tradition, style and arts & culture. Its location just in between Venice and Vienna lends the city an atmosphere that is both Central European and Mediterranean. Those knowing it better would add adjectives, such as safe, green, multilingual and hospitable.

Ljubljana has been actively present on the European conference map for over thirty years, but is still perceived as a relatively new destination. History would prove that wrong, since in 1821 the city was the stage for one of the earliest proper congresses in Europe the Congress of the Holy Alliance. This gathered for several weeks powerful sovereigns of the time to discuss the new political map of Europe after Napoleon’s downfall. Several city streets as well as the central, newly refurbished Congress Square, bear witness with their names to this event. The choice and variety of meeting facilities in the Slovene capital is ample, starting with the two largest convention venues in the country - Cankarjev dom Cultural and Congress Centre (the pioneer on the scene) and the Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre – GR. Both are well geared and experienced to welcome events with up to 2,200 delegates in plenary seating, which is also reflected in their reference lists of past international congresses and future ones confirmed up to the year 2016. Several convention and seminar hotels, ranging from small design and

boutique hotels to more spacious historic or modern properties (Grand Hotel Union, Mons Hotel, Austria Trend Hotel Ljubljana, Lev Hotel, Hotel Slon Best Western Premier, Cubo Hotel, Antique Palace Hotel, City Hotel, M Hotel, etc.) complement the two congress centres. The Union is the second largest convention hotel in Slovenia, with a maximum 800 seats in plenary. The city additionally features an array of special event venues providing attractive settings both for informal events or those with a feel of exclusivity. The most privileged spot is the Ljubljana Castle, which sits on a hilltop overlooking the Old Town. Several museums, galleries and other cultural institutions can also lend a touch of elegance to special functions. Inventive caterers take a pleasure in creating attractive culinary journeys across the Slovenian gastronomy, based on fresh local ingredients. Ljubljana is often chosen as the destination for scientific events due to its knowledge and scientific base. The Ljubljana University, enrolling 60,000 students, together with a host of scientific and research institutes and the Ljubljana Technology Park, generate many ac-

The Ljubljana Tourism / Convention Bureau is pleased to assist Meeting Planners interested in the destination with its product knowledge and neutral, objective role, aimed at representing all relevant suppliers. A one-stop shop for Ljubljana that is able to assist a Client in identifying the most suitable solution for an event. As a non-profit entity, its services are free of charge. The official tourism website, www.visitljubljana.si/meetings, also contains a dedicated Meeting Planners’ section. tive or potential new members in various international associations or professional networks. Also due to the city’s historic, geographical and political position as the gateway to the SEE markets, event organisers can expect attracting new members / delegates from this basin, as well as prospective business initiatives. The meeting industry providers in Slovenia have been standardised by the national convention bureau, which is also valid for all the major suppliers in Ljubljana. Clients can therefore rely on the support of highly experienced and professional local DMC and PCO companies at any planning stage. Ljubljana’s compact size, which allows walking distances from a number of hotels to the main meeting or function venues, is one of its advantages. The city is also large enough to provide all the services that even a major meeting may require and, as an elegant lounge, small enough to make the delegates feel at home during their stay. Moreover, the capital represents an ideal departure point to quickly reach many of Slovenia’s attractions, including several ideal settings for incentive programmes or outdoor events. At less than two hours’ flight and with good daily connections from the major European hubs, Ljubljana is easily accessible; its international airport is also conveniently close – just 25 km from downtown. You are welcome to discover and experience our cosy and open-minded city worth of your attention and consider bringing your next event to “A Cool Capital for Great Meetings!”.

Cankarjev dom Cultural and Congress Centre

National Gallery

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Ljubljana Exhibition and Convention Centre – GR


Experience

Vinag wine shop and cellar

Experience

Photo: Vinag

Pule Estate

Dine with Style

Bon Ap pĂŠtit


experience

46

Vinag The Amazing Maribor Underground

Paris has the Eiffel tower, Vienna has the Prater – what does Maribor have to compare? “Nothing so significant,” an uneducated visitor might say. But he could not be more wrong. The trick here is that Maribor’s greatest monument is not visible from the surface – making it even more amazing. It’s not a tomb, but a birthplace – of some best wines in the world. So we took on a role of accidental tourists who found themselves in front of Vinag’s tasting bar. But someone knew we were coming, and it was no accident we were greeted by the charming Ms Mateja, chief of marketing, who showed us around and told their story. After an initial glass of sparkling wine and an introduction telling the history and details of Vinag, we moved downstairs into the magical underground of Maribor. Twenty thousand square meters to depths of 18 meters belowground and corridors, filled with barrels keep the secrets of the finest winemaking. I was told that the recent guests of honour were brought in from the nearby Ljutomer film festival. It was Lady Lee (of Sir Christopher) and producer Menahem The Slovenia Times

Golan, who was determined to film a scene of his upcoming flick right there, while the Saruman’s wife simply couldn’t take her eyes off the mossy wall textures. As a film buff, it all made sense to me. Any adventure-mystery-horror would feel far more real in there than inside some studio fabrication. The mould inside these tunnels is two hundred years old, and intact, because it preserves humidity and microclimatic conditions for maturing wine. The corridors lead from one end with the biggest oak barrel dating 1862 to another with enormous mixing cistern and archives. The archives hold all years from 1946 on. Interestingly, the previous archive was walled up as the proud cellar keeper decided to hide it from the occupying Nazis during WWII. Bottles were

found; however, it’s difficult to make sense of them, because most labels have fallen off and additional digging could damage the tunnel structure.

The drink

What’s a wine cellar without wine? Vinag bottles approximately twenty labels of mostly white wines. Its wide range of tastes from tasty, dry companions for culinary pleasures to light and fresh wines, ideal for the on-going summer. The cellar is also birthplace of Mariborčan, a fine blend of the cellar; it is their own trademark, demonstrating the virtue of winemaking and blending. Special mention should definitely go to the sparkling Penina Royal, made with a classical method and Lisičkino vino (The Fox Wine). It’s


47

Once upon a time... In 1847, thirty years after the first corridor was dug, the construction of the wine cellar was completed. Meanwhile, the area became the property of nobleman Alojz Kreihuber, who is remembered as the father of the wine business. The time was right as the southern railway was laid, connecting Vienna to Maribor. The cellar and the shop have exchanged owners a few times, when a company named Vinag, established in 1960 bought it, proudly spreading the fame of Maribor wine around the world. According to Mateja, the golden years of winemaking were the 1970s, when Vinag produced 11 million litres; still less than it could sell. During that period, Vinag used to win one medal after another, and set the status of winemaking very high. The famous cellar no longer serves its primary purpose. A year ago, the last series matured there, while production has been moved to a modern facility in Košaki. Today, the production is half that of the 1970s, but the philosophy has changed as well: it’s a quality product and they know it.

a couvée composed of sauvignon, white pinot and chardonnay grown at the best locations – dedicated to the Golden Fox trophy, a world cup skiing competition held at Maribor Pohorje.

Join the elite

Vinag is innovative and follows current trends. It has decided to form a special production and marketing policy for the new era, abandoning their traditional line and focusing on fresh wines of the upmost quality, covering a wide range of prices. This is achieved by the total control of vines in strictly their own vineyards and carefully handpicked grapes. Actually, the winemaker’s pride and selfconfidence borders on arrogance, as in, “Oh, we have crates of medals and prizes up in our management offices, but they don’t mean much to us”. For Vinag, the product speaks for itself and therefore needs no such medium to prove it. Unlike most other winemakers, who would crow about their export success, Vinag is not rushing to conquer foreign markets. Irrelevant, they say. What matters is that their wines are highly desired in elite society and that they don’t even have to push their way in there. Moreover, there is also a list of celebrities who are regular drinkers of Vinag: Slavica Ecclestone, Donald Trump, Monica Belluci, Brad Pitt and Agnelina Jolie are just a few names form the hall of fame. There’s also a list of historical famous customers, such as the President Tito,

who had his own barrel to consume and refill every year. I was told that a renowned Hollywood couple plans a visit to the cellar sometime soon, but the details are top secret, because they don’t want a media parade around it. The cult status of wines is earned by a carefully nurtured tradition. By the way, a bottle of 1946 Reisling would cost you EUR 3,500. Still, the guardians of this tradition somehow despise the many snobs who come and say “Just give me the most expensive one you’ve got.” If you are ready to meet this tradition in person and raise a glass, the doors of Vinag are always open. Tours to the cellar are made every hour from 9am to 5pm, while groups can negotiate any kind of cellar visit-tasting combo.

Vinag Sadjarstvo in vinarstvo d.d. Trg svobode 3, 2000 Maribor T: +386 (0)2 220 81 19 vinag@vinag.si www.vinag.si

September 2011


The Slovenia Times


September 2011


experience

50

Pule Estate

An Estate with Status Pule – an enchanting field in the Dolenjska region. A heavenly peace, disturbed only by the song of birds. A feeling of homeliness. These are just some of the feelings I experienced on my arrival at the Pule Estate. This luxurious countryside hotel resort was once a derelict estate but one which owner Jože Anderlič found captivating from first sight. Nine million Euros’ worth of investment later and it’s guaranteed that every visitor will be spellbound when they first set their eyes on the resort. When you find the route to Mokronog in Dolenjska you have basically already dealt with the task of getting to Pule, the romantic plateau amidst the winegrowing hills. The signs are absolutely exemplary and each signpost adorned with a flower pot, with the last one before reaching the estate decorated with symbolic little haystacks. It’s the perfect introduction to the charming character of Pule. The beginnings of the estate date back to seventeenth century when a mighty farm, owned by the Anderlič family, stood there. The name was first mentioned in the history books in 1627. Back then the farm covered 11 hectares, a massive area for the time. The grandson of the last owner found the ruins of

The Slovenia Times

the farm in the beginning of this century – completely by accident. It was love at first sight, says the current estate manager Vesna Virant, who takes us to the convenient museum on our way through the estate. Here we can see the records and photographs of the owner’s ancestors. In the past few years, Jože Anderlič has thoroughly renovated the farm in a manner which consistently respects the heritage of the Slovenian countryside. The works were especially intensive from April

2005 to June 2006 when the estate saw its opening. Today it covers 120 hectares of land, of which 100 are woodland.

Only natural!

One of the many special characteristics of the estate is that everything the eye meets is made of and from natural materials which were found there. Even wood the wood is impregnated exclusively by beeswax. Imagine the amazing scent inside of


51

Turkish and Finnish sauna and both inand outdoor pools.

A top restaurant in a former barn

each of the nine little houses – luxurious apartments which call you to take a rest! The entire estate heats itself with wood chips; biomass which they produce from the trees of nearby forests. Time here loses its vigour. Among the lush meadows edged by forests, the need to hurry and rush is brought to a halt. After your eyes have seen enough of greenery and your ears have heard enough of birds’ twitter, you can surrender yourself to the pampering in the spa centre. This fantastic facility offers cosmetic services alongside top massages,

And when your stomach starts to rumble after the indulgent spa treatments, you will be met by another surprise. The staff at Pule Estate take particular pride in the culinary delights on offer, with the symphonies of tastes prepared by culinary virtuoso Boštjan Kokalj very hard to forget. The pristine flavours that unite the traditional dishes from the region and the contemporary culinary trends are going to leave you overwhelmed. They will make their way into your memories and leave their mark on your tasting buds. And since the estate is all about authenticity you will be, from a safe distance and from a glass box, observed by stud horses in the Pod skednji (Under the barns) restaurant. After all, that is where you are, right?

Business in nature

The estate is also equipped with a complete business meeting infrastructure. There is no doubt that it is easy to really think about important business decisions in the embrace of nature on an estate where time stops. The estate manager takes you to the top equipped conference hall in the attic where the push of a

Pule Estate Drečji vrh 16 8231 Trebelno, Slovenia Tel: +386 (0)7 34 99 700 info@pule.si www.pule.si Open Estate: wed-sat: noon-10pm, sun & holidays: 11am-8pm Spa: wed-sat: 1pm-9pm, sun & holidays: noon-8pm button lifts the wooden wall and opens up a view over the vast forests of Dolenjska. Could there possibly a person who would not be able to be constructive and creative in all this greenery?

“Yes” for eternity at Pule

And who wouldn’t want to be romantic in such surroundings? “Since our estate is an idyllic setting for weddings, we organise also those with a complete civil ceremony,” says Virant. “However, only one bride at a time can enjoy her special day on our estate,” she emphasises. It sums up just how dedicated the staff are to making everyone’s visit to Pule a special one. The estate is opened from Wednesday to Sunday while Monday and Tuesday are reserved for groups which are larger than ten people. In the long run the staff wish to keep the estate open all year round.

September 2011


52

Dine

wit h St yle Bon Appétit Miklošičeva 28 1000 Ljubljana T: +386 (0)1 430 80 80 www.bonappetit.si Open Monday to Friday: 12pm-3pm; 7pm-10pm Saturday and Sunday: by reservation Price range Lunch menu: EUR 9.30 3-course a la carte: around EUR 25

Bon Appétit

Food type French Reservations recommended

Vive la France! Bon Appétit, the only authentic French restaurant in Slovenia passes a difficult challenge: gaining the approval of Jade Van Baaren, a graduate in French cuisine. Just outside the bustling city centre and a stone’s throw from the railway station, the doors of Bon Appétit await you. The only restaurant of its kind in Slovenia, stepping into Bon Appétit transports you straight to Southern France. A sophisticated Provence-inspired menu centres on local produce, and the carefully sourced ingredients shine through in the dishes. Of course, no French meal would be complete without wine and here too Bon Appétit has you covered. The restaurant and bar are located on the lower floor and give you the impression of walking into a members’-only French wine cellar – appropriate, since the restaurant has over one 100 varieties of wines. They are all

from exclusive boutique wineries that the restaurant’s owner, Serge, has discovered through his own travels throughout France. There’s a wide price range of bottles, and Serge is on hand for guidance. You may can buy wines directly or opt to have a tasting of the many regional wines.

Impeccable hosts

Serge and fellow manager Krystyna are nothing short of impeccable hosts, catering to your every whim. The exceptionally reasonable set lunch menu – which varies each day and includes duck, chicken, fish or beef – is highly recommended. But I decided to try the a la carte menu, and


Top choice Pule Estate

Drečji vrh 16, Trebelno Tel: +386 (0)7 34 99 700, (0)51 373 662 marketing@pule.si, www.pule.si Open: Wed-Sat: 12am-10pm, Sun: 11am-8pm Traditional Slovene cuisine with other culinary delights In Issue 132

Cafe Central

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

Promenada Gourmet Restaurant Cesta svobode 15, Bled Tel: +386 (0)4 579 18 39 restavracija.promenada@hotelibled.com www.sava-hotels-resorts.com Open: Tuesday to Sunday: 12pm–10pm In Issue 134

was not disappointed. Warm French bread was quickly laid in front of us and I held my breath as I took my first bite. Could it live up to my memories of freshly-baked French baguette? It could. With the gorgeous smell of baguette lingering in my nostrils, it was time for my first course – casserole of French snails with wild mushrooms, served in a small le creuset hot pot. It was creamy and tasted of the musty, damp woodlands. I find mushrooms and snails always go together, perhaps it’s their shared love for moist environments that pairs them so well, regardless it was delicious. My companion opted for the homemade foie gras terrine and jasmine jam. It’s a rare person who wouldn’t appreciate the velvet buttery textured of terrine of foie, sweetened by a pungent jasmine bloomed jam.

Cooked to perfection

Our second course arrived in short order. My dinner partner went for rack

of lamb with mild garlic sauce and flageolet beans. The lamb was plump, succulent and juicy with a lovely herb crust. Cooked to perfection it was accompanied with braised flageolet beans and finished with a lovely buttery garlic sauce. I opted for seared foie gras, served with braised apples. This opulent, rich dish was a lovely blend of flavours. The fresh foie gras, quickly seared and crusty while rosy within, played beautifully against the sweetened braised apples with a touch of cinnamon and tamed by vinegar. The portion of foie was more than generous – even I couldn’t finish it all! The desserts were equally memorable – classic Crème brûlée and a flawless lemon pie. You will savour every bite and they are worth the calories. All in all, it was a glorious meal. If anyone asks me where they can get an authentic French meal in town I know my answer will be incredibly simple: Bon appétit!

Bled Castle Restaurant Grajska cesta 6, 4260 Bled Tel: +386 (0)4 579 44 24 restaurant@vgs-bled.si www.hotelastoria-bled.com/castle 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 www.btc-city.com Restaurant open: Mon-Fri, 11am – 4pm Bar open: Mon-Fri, 7.30am – 6pm

In Issue 138 JB logo 4/15/08 4:32 PM Page 1 C

M

Y

CM

MY

CY CMY

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JB Restaurant

Miklošičeva 17, Ljubljana Tel: +386 (0)1 430 70 70 restavracija.jb@siol.net, www.jb-slo.com Open: Mon-Sun, 11am – 11pm Sat, 5pm – 11pm In Issue 139

Otočec Castle Restaurant

Grajska cesta 2, Otočec Tel: + 386 (0)7 384 89 00 booking.grad-otocec@terme-krka.si www.castle-otocec.com Open: Every day until midnight

Composite

In Issue 140

Kavarna Restavracija Nebotičnik

Štefanova 1, Ljubljana T: 0590 70 396 info@neboticnik.si, www.neboticnik.si Open: Sun to Wed: 9am – 1am, Thu to Sat: 9am – 3 am (Restaurant operates until 10pm, Sun closed) Bon Appétit Miklošičeva 28 1000 Ljubljana T: +386 (0)1 430 80 80 www.bonappetit.si Open: Monday to Friday: 12pm-3pm; 7pm-10pm Saturday and Sunday: by reservation)

In Issue 141

In Issue 143


54

The Capital

Take a Happy Ride With Johnny

If you thought the only way to go sightseeing in Ljubljana is walking, there is news for you. You can discover the Slovenian capital in a completely different way by hopping on Happy Johnny, a double-decker panoramic bus with an open roof that takes you on a trip around the city, unveiling its cultural gems from a freshperspective. By Polona Cimerman The tour is in Slovene and English; in cases of organised larger groups other languages are also available. It starts in the city centre every Sunday at 10am, on a bright green bus, adorned with photos of cultural and natural attractions from all 26 municipalities of the Ljubljana urban region. The driver and a tourist guide welcome their visitors with bright smiles, holding the promise of the pleasant three hours that await visitors who opt for the tour.

Fun and Educative

Happy Johnny (Veseli Janez in Slovene) got its name from the most typical Slovenian male name”Janez”. It first takes tourists around the centre of the city and later passes by the botanical gardens on its way to one of the focal points of the tour which visitors, often missed due to its out-of-town location – Plečnik’s intriguing church in Črna Vas, which reflects the architecture of the first Roman Catholic churches and is set amidst the unique natural surroundings of the Ljubljansko Barje marshes. This is also the first stop

The Slovenia Times

of two, and thanks to the tour guide Alan visitors can learn a great many fascinating facts about the most famous Slovenian architect and his work,while admiring this very special piece of architecture, and also later during the ride as Plečnik’s buildings abound in the Ljubljana area. After a ride through the other side of the city centre and heaps of interesting facts about Ljubljana’s prominent spots on the way,the bus heads to its second stop – the Ljubljana castle where visitors have an opportunity to climb the lookout tower, enjoy the magnificent view over the city and also visit the virtual museum to learn about Ljubljana’s history. For most, this is the ultimate highlight of the tour; however, one should not neglect the rest of it as visitors are taken to nearly all parts of the Slovenian capital, including the embassy row, Plečnik’s Žale cemetery, the new Stožice football stadium, the Trnovo and Krakovo neighbourhoods, the ancient Roman Emona wall and the gallery district to name but a few.

Enriched Tourist Offer

Matjaž Pavlin, director of Kompas Novo Mesto mesto tourist agency, believes that Ljubljana needed andalso deserved a tourist product like Happy Johnny, stating, “Our bus offers visitors a chance to experience an alternative view of the city. There is a huge difference between seeing it on foot or from a bus; the latter is also accompanied with an explanation from an expert guide.” Pavlin is also the man who has stood behind the idea for the tourist bus for over a year: “The majority of other European capitals have panoramic buses and I thought that it would be great if tourists in Ljubljana as well could have an opportunity to enjoy our beautiful capital on such a tour.” It is interesting that Happy Johnny appeals to both foreigners and Slovenians: “Groups can be very diverse and are composed of locals from Ljubljana, Slovenians from other regions, foreign businesspersons, and tourists. Also the age of our guests is extremely varied,

from the elderly who have difficulties walking topupils on a school trip.” At the moment, the bus tours are not entirely occupied, but Pavlin says that it takes some time to make people aware it exists: “We are in the process of intensive promotion and our goal is to become an indispensable part of the offer of tourism services in Ljubljana.” That such an offer was missing is proven by enthusiastic faces of foreign and locals visitors. “We were born and raised in Ljubljana and have lived here for all our lives, but still we have seen and learned many new things about the city on the tour,” said one of them and instantly made an enquiry about the date of the next ride. You too can seize the opportunity to see a different side of the city as Happy Johnny takes its visitors for a ride until the end of September for €18 per adult and €10 per child. Like many others, you may be surprised by what you can find in a city that you perhaps thought you knew inside out.


CULTURE 55

Kino Šiška

The Sight and Sound of Urban Culture Two years after its opening, The Centre of Urban Culture Kino Šiška prides itself on a lively concert scene with a trendy global programme and an audience drawn from beyond national borders.

W

hen Kino Šiška opened its doors, the pessimists predicted it would be nothing more than just a shortlived cultural experiment, or that it would wind up being just another concert venue. Two years down the line, these predictions have been proved comprehensively wrong. Kino Šiška’s appearance on the cultural scene came with a certain hype. It is a hype which has not faded but at the same time this is a venue which has transformed into a rock solid institution for urban culture. It has filled certain niches with its decent capacity and equipment. Neither too big nor too small, Kino Šiška occupies the space between a club and a concert hall. It has introduced a new line of top performers, which has broken the monotony of constantly reappearing world acts. Matjaž Manček, Assistant Manager for Arts and Music says they are proudly picking the fruits of their critical analysis of domestic and international music scene: “We are not limited by genre, only by quality. I think we have done a good job in shaping the varied profile of our audience which is spreading to all sides.” The word has been spread and more and more agents of internationally acclaimed performers approach Kino Šiška directly.

Sold out

This year Kino Šiška has been sold out several times: Tricky, Yann Tiersen and Flogging Molly all drew capacity crowds, while Kino Šiška’s production of Nick Cave’s Gridnerman squeezed the maximum out of Križanke Theatre. The international character of Kino Šiška’s events reflects the makeup of its audiences. Manček notices the ever-increasing demand from abroad, especially when the performer doesn’t hold a concert elsewhere in the region, citing the examples of Interpol, Battles and The Walkmen. The grateful Croatian audience is almost a constant, while more and more visitors come from the areas of Trieste,

Klagenfurt or Graz. More exclusive events can extend this range even further – all the way to Venice, Belgrade or even London. Yet those who don’t manage to secure one of the venue’s hot tickets – or who can’t make a particular event – don’t have to miss out. Kino Šiška films many of their events, transmits them online, and then stores them in a freely available online archive. Most performers are happy with the arrangement. Indeed, Manček says that American band Living Colour let members of their fan club know about the broadcast and the result was a globally popular event.

and area our ever-stronger concert scene represents a global phenomenon – both in its range and the number of attendants.”

Looking ahead

The hot concert summer started with legendary jazz drummer Billy Cobham, Atari Teenage Riot, The Necks, Sepultura and more. In addition, many domestic musi-

cians were lucky enough to get on Kino Šiška’s schedule to introduce their new materials. As for the future, Manček sees it in keeping and improving the event quality. Meanwhile they want “the meeting point of urban culture” to become a lively place during the day as well, and to furthermore spread their activity to bigger venues.

The Greatness of Small Proportions

Challenged to describe the Slovenian audience, Manček doesn’t spare criticism – or excitement: “The problem of our concert market is that Slovenian audience is small in quantity, while the concerts on offer get more and more varied. Compared to some other audiences – Croatian for example – Slovenes need more time to respond to trends in music. That is partially caused by uninspiring programming of the local media, mostly television. But given the smallness of both population September 2011


56 EVENTS

Slovenia Times Recommends

Koraki za Korakce Borghesia, Noctiferia, Res Nullius, Otroci socializma, Via Ofenziva, Šund, Kuzle, Psycho-Path, Elvis Jackson, Muškat Hamburg and even Siddharta, while this edition will feature the likes of Demolition Group, Niet, Buldogi, NIET, Melodrom, N’toko, Damir Avdić, Nikki Louder and others.

Alternative

Editors Sat 10 Sep, Križanke, Ljubljana, EUR 10-30 The association Koraki za Korakce continues its charitable activities in the autumn. The charity walk starts at 11am at the Trg svobode square in Maribor. The proceeds from the event will go to the primary school Borcev za Severno Mejo from Maribor; primary school Bratov Polančičev from Maribor; and Društvo Debra which helps children affected by the congenital

skin disease Epidermolysis Bullosa (having skin as fragile as butterfly wings). Entry fee includes a souvenir t-shirt Koraki za Korakce, while children under 10 accompanied by a parent will receive a T-shirt free of charge. To register go to www.korakizakorakce.si. The walk will take place regardless of weather conditions.

Sat 24 Sept, 11am, Trg svobode Maribor, EUR 10 (free for children under 10)

Exhibition

Ida Brišnik Remec & Marjan Remec Thu 8 Sep – Sun 6 Nov, Maribor Art Gallery, Maribor, no admission The first joint and retrospective exhibition of two Maribor artists provides a perfect opportunity to present the significant art work of both artists. Marjan Remec is an important representative of the Slovene Late Modernism. He reached his creative peak in the 70s and 80s of the 20th century and has influenced the fine art scene of that time in Maribor as

well as the Slovene fine art scene in general. He created paintings, drawings and watercolour paintings. Ida Brišnik Remec is a significant representative of the Slovene Late Modernism. Like her husband, she has influenced the visual fine art scene of Maribor especially in the 70s and 80s of the last century and her impact goes beyond the local sphere.

Alternative

Emeralds Thu 8 Sep, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, EUR 8-12

Their music is of an improvisational nature and is synthesizer and guitarcentric, however vocals, electronics and field recordings are often utilized to create dynamic textures amidst melodious backdrops and minimal structures. Though their sound cannot be pinned down to one specific genre, it recalls the organic/electronic explorations of Ashra, Coil, Terry Riley and Popol Vuh to name but a few. Their third album, ‘Does It Look Like I’m Here?’, which they will be presenting, heralds a turning point for all those involved and is perfect vivid soundtrack to emerge out of the recent harsh grey winter. Fresh, shiny and totally essential.

Rock

Novi rock 3.0 Fri 9 Sep, Križanke, Ljubljana, EUR 9-14 After ten years of being away, the Novi rock festival is returning to give us another feast of alternative music. Novi rock is an event that dates back to 1981, when the first edition was held, showcasing some of Slovenia’s best talents. The event was held annually until 2000, and then it just disappeared. In the past, we were able to see names such as Videosex, Laibach, The Slovenia Times

Editors, one of the most popular British rock bands, are only one of the many groups to appear at Ljubljana’s annual open-air music festival known as Itak Džafest. The band, well known for their slightly dark variety of guitar rock and hit songs such as Munich, Blood and Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors, have been compared by critics and journalists to U2, Joy Division and Interpol. They have been active as a band since 2002. Currently they are preparing their fourth album.

Fair

Medieval Fair Sun 11 Sep, Gornji trg square, Ljubljana, no admission The Medieval Fair, conceived as an open-air living history event, will try to evoke an authentic medieval atmosphere in the midst of Ljubljana Old Town. Stalls at the fair will be selling medieval objects, food and drinks. The fair will be accompanied by demonstrations of medieval handicraft techniques and nowadays unusual practices such as bloodletting using leeches, medieval dentistry, torture, etc. Accompanying events will also include creative workshops offering visitors an opportunity to try their hand at various handicrafts, and a theatre show featuring medieval buffoons.


14 Days 57 Film

Dance

The Robber

Magic of the Dance

Wed 14 Sep – Sun 18 Sep, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 4.2-4.9

Sat 17 Sep, Križanke, Ljubljana, EUR 39-49

This is an adaptation of the eponymous novel, based on a true story. Leading a double life, the protagonist’s doppelganger is an endorphin addict pursuing the quest for total freedom. Johann Rettenberger has just returned from prison. He is a marathon runner but also a professional bank robber. He lives an official life with his girlfriend in Vienna and robs banks repeatedly throughout Austria. He is driven to stay in motion and motivated by the adrenaline effect of the robberies on his athletic body. When the authorities finally locate him, he uses his marathon skills in an attempt to escape the largest deployment of police officers in Austria’s post-war history.

Rap

Klemen Klemen & Playbackers Fri 16 Sep, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, EUR 13-15 A city legend, the nightmare of night-time city wanderers and undoubtedly the main Slovenian rap attraction, Klemen Klemen, will finally present his rap poetry in Kino Šiška. This is a unique opportunity with every song from his debut album taking you into its own film through his world. Klemen Klemen should have performed his show with a gig last year, but being a ninja in his spare time, he broke his leg at the time. The opportunity for the 10th anniversary was thus wasted, but now the menu features the gig celebrating 10 years, 7 months and 3 days of his “golden disc” entitled “Trnow stajl”, which indeed placed him on the Slovenian music map.

Folk

The Dubliners Fri 16 Sep, Križanke, Ljubljana, EUR 32

Early September shows in Ljubljana have become a tradition for the Dubliners, who are returning to Križanke summer theatre after a few-year break in the 48th year of their long career. The Dubliners, active since 1962, are one of the world’s longest-running bands. They made a name for themselves in 1967 with the song Seven Drunken Nights and are credited with pioneering and popularizing Irish folk music. With their original style and outstanding live performances they paved the path for later artists of the genre, such as Chieftains, The Pogues, Ossian and the Fureys.

Competition

Entente Florale Europe Fri 16 Sep – Sun 18 Sep, Rogaška Slatina, no admission The international competition ‘Entente Florale Europe’ will once again take place in Rogaška Slatina, where they will choose the most beautiful town/city and village. Entente Florale Europe is a European competition for Towns and Villages. The competition was founded more than 25 years ago, initially between Great Britain and France. At present there are twelve member countries. Each participating Country puts forward a representative Town and Village. The Town and Village are visited by the Jury and an assessment is made. The overall aim of the competition is the improvement of the quality of life for local urban and village communities. The Association also has an aim the enhancement of the roles of Horticulture,Tourism and Environment which are central characteristics of the competition. Through this competition, public authorities, private bodies and individuals are encouraged to cooperate in beautifying their towns and villages, thereby improving the quality of life for both inhabitants and visitors, by the planting of flowers and shrubs, by the development and maintenance of green spaces and parks and by generally acting ecologically.

The famous Magic of the Dance show, a celebration of Irish dance, features several tap-dancing world champions. Remarkable for its outstanding dance acts, music and special effects, it has been seen by over three million people to date. The Magic of the Dance show, first performed in Ljubljana ten years ago, now has a new choreography, created by John Carey, an eighttime Irish dance world champion, new costumes and new special effects. It tells a story about love and the struggle between good and evil. Performers include both Irish and modern tap dancers.

18TH INTERNATIONAL PERFORMING ARTS FESTIVAL •

16. 9. — 25. 9. 2011 LjUBLjANA •

THE LEXICON OF THE MYTHOLOGY OF FORMER YUGOSLAVIA Direction: O. Frljić (SI, HR, KS, ME, MK, RS) S. Nešković Peršin: 33 TURNS Concept and choreography: S. Nešković Peršin (SI) N. V. Gogolj: THE GOVERNMENT INSPECTOR Direction: V. Mićunović (ME) B. Keff: A PIECE ON MOTHER AND THE FATHERLAND Direction: J. Klata (PL, SI)

Photography

Be Thoughtful of Others Tue 20 Sep – Tue 1 Nov, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, no admission One of the most propulsive young Slovenian photographers, Tanja Verlak among others won the 2006 Slovenian Photography competition organised by the EMZIN magazine. The series of featured photos were shot while pursuing her postgraduate art and aesthetics studies in New Delhi and during her subsequent stay in New York. While sojourning in two such dissimilar cultural environments, the artist was impelled to contemplate the representation of culture-induced shock in photography and beyond. In her dissertation she treated the scope of the visual communication as an indexical medium, namely from the early shots of horror to voyeurism and displays of sensational images.

Rock

Tito & Tarantula Thu 22 Sep, Cvetličarna, Ljubljana, EUR 17-23 Tito Larriva has a long history in music and film that goes back to the Los Angeles punk days. His seminal band, The Plugz scored the film Repo Man directed by

V. G. Repnik and M. Ruhsam: HOW FAR CAN WE TALK? Concept and direction: V. G. Repnik & M. Ruhsam (SI, AT) WAITING ROOM Direction: V. Docolomansky (CZ) M. Krleža: SALOME Direction: B. Brezovec (HR, ME) W. Shakespeare: THE WINTER’S TALE Direction: M. Mladenova (BG) B. Brecht: THE CAUCASIAN CHALK CIRCLE Direction: M. Kočovski (MK) M. Tomášik: OFF-BEAT Concept and choreography: M. Tomášik (SI, BE) T. Stoppard: ROCK’N’ROLL Direction: D. Mustafić (KS) S. Schwenner: BUTCHER’S SHOP Concept and direction: S. Schwenner (SI) A.P. Čehov: PLATONOV Direction: Z. Bálázs (HU) S. Potokar and R. Fukuhara: NOT.ALL.WAYS Concept: R. Fukuhara in S. Potokar (SI) D. Loher: ROOSEVELT SQUARE Direction: R. Afrim (RO) B. Dežulović / G. Ferčec / B. Šeparović: GENERATION 91. – 95. Direction: B. Šeparović (HR) Under the patronage of Mr Zoran Janković, Ljubljana Mayor Festival was made possible by: EU Programme Culture • Ljubljana Municipality • Ministry of Culture • Doclea • O. K. Consulting • Hotel Park • Eclipse Print • SPEM Communication Group • TAM-TAM • Cebort • Vivo catering • P&F Jeruzalem Ormož • Radgonske gorice • mula •Fini oglasi • GEM Public multimedia • DPG • Radio Študent • SiGledal.org • Mladina • The Slovenia Times • eLjubljana.si • Embassy of the Republic of Hungary • Embassy of the Republic of Poland • Embassy of the Republic of Croatia • Embassy of Romania • Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria • Embassy of the Republic of Macedonia • Embassy of Montenegro • Cankarjev dom • Glej Theatre • Kino Šiška • Mini theatre • Slovenian Youth Theatre Ljubljana •Bunker • Ljubljana Dance Theatre • Museum & galleries of Ljubljana • Old Power Station – Elektro Ljubljana

WWW.EXPONTO.NET B51@EXPONTO.NET • INFO: 041 200 390 Kulturno društvo B-51 Prešernova cesta 7 September 1000 Ljubljana 2011


58 EVENTS

Slovenia Times Recommends

The Game of the End and the Beginning The programme of the 18th Ex Ponto International Festival - comprised of 16 selected performances - will give the audience the opportunity to check and re-examine the aesthetic, social or political horizons of the time and space we live in.

Alex Cox . The Plugz became The Cruzados, which produced two top ten hits for Arista Records. Morphing into Tito & Tarantula eventually lead to a collaboration with Robert Rodriguez, which produced their critically acclaimed record, Tarantism. Their musical contributions and performances include the films Roadhouse, Desperado, From Dusk till Dawn, Once Upon A time In Mexico, and Planet Terror. The band has been touring extensively in Europe and the Balkan states, churning out unforgettable shows.

Performance

Rock’n’Roll Thu 22 Sep, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, no admission

Lexicon of the Mythology of Former Yugoslavia

It is no coincidence that the directors and authors of selected performances are members of the young or middle generation who with orbital speed conquer the European theatre scene (Viliam Docolomanský, Jan Klata, Oliver Frljić, Martin Kocovski, Zoltán Balász…). In addition, they have distinctive aesthetic and social views of the well-known texts adapted to the current situation in Europe. They will put a mirror to our everyday life. The Lexicon of the Mythology of Former Yugoslavia (new international coproduction by NETA directed by Oliver Frljić), A Piece on Mother and the Fatherland (a specific performance by a rising Polish star, director Jan Klata, which focuses on the historical Polish as well as European dilemmas), Generation 91-95 directed by Borut Šeparović and the Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle by Martin Kocovski are productions which address constantly present historical and political associations and traumas in their local environment, but they do this in their own aesthetic, provocative and witty manner. These performances will undoubtedly provide new perspectives of the cyclic intertwining, entangling and recycling of (non)sense of the contemporary identity through the optics of historical traumas. The relations between the myth and gossip, the dilemmas of the historical absurdities and witty generation links of destructive moments shall expand the horizon of each and every one of us. The Government Inspector directed by young Veljko Mićunović, Salome by Bojan Brezovec, The Winter’s Tale by Margerita Mladenova and Platonov by Zoltán Balász search for new inspirations in the well-known, classical texts merging them with the contemporary elements in all relevant segments of life. The game of the end and the beginning spins in a circle of from 16 to 25 Sep, Various venues in Ljubljana The Slovenia Times

theatre texts, contemporary consumption society and an individual’s attempt to acquire a privileged and comfortable status in a rapid yet unattainable rhythm of everyday life. Waiting Room directed by Viliem Docolomanský - a regular guest to the European festivals for some years now - Roosevelt Square by Radu Afrim and Rock ‘n’ roll from Prishtina directed by Dino Mustafić are performances which, due to specific moments and situations and the way of acting, the directors’ rebellious attitude and the aesthetic approach, allude that the game of time and space should be stopped; they want to draw attention to their situation and their need for a new approach to history, politics, dilemmas and general conditions in Europe. Are the performances and subjects supported by music, intransigence and determination enough to transfer the rebellious energy from the theatres to our minds? By addressing the subject of the End or the Beginning, the local productions and premieres by Sanja Nešković Peršin, Vlado Repnik & Martina Ruhsam, Milan Tomášik, Sabina Schwenner, Ryuzo Fukuhara & Samo Potokar will - through the world of dance and theatre - present both the local as well as foreign audience interesting and new perspectives. Further to the local and foreign productions, the 18th Ex Ponto Festival’s programme also encompasses the programme of the New European Theatre Action (NETA). A number of foreign guests and performances as well as two panels on the links and the role of the Slovenian culture within Europe will provide new and various perspectives. You are kindly invited to join us at various venues in Ljubljana to once again demonstrate the proverbially excellent Ex Ponto atmosphere.

The theme of this work of Tom Stoppard is various attempts of rebellion against an oppressive regime and the importance of music in such a rebellious act. This modern work, whose setting is placed in Prague and Cambridge in the period from1968 until 1989, ends with a Rolling Stones concert in Prague in 1990. The director of this performance is Dino Mustafić, a renowned Bosnian artist with many prestigious awards to his name.

Alternative

Broken.Heart. Collector Fri 23 Sep, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, EUR 8-12 Broken.Heart.Collector is an Austrian band consisting of five independent risk takers when it comes to musical adventures. The music is a constantly evolving entity, comprising of genres such as jazz, free improvisation, chanson, industrial noise and allout rock. The band also includes the Slovene Maja Osojnik on vocals and flute duty. The lineup is Maja Osojnik: vocals, flute; Susanna Gartmayer: bass clarinet; Raumschiff Engelmayr: guitar, vocals; Derhunt: bass, vocals; DD Kern: drums.

Exhibition

Biennial of Graphic Arts Fri 23 Sep – Sun 20 Nov, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 3-6 The art event – the central theme of the 29th Biennial of Graphic


EVENTS 59 Arts in Ljubljana – experienced a remarkable development in the twentieth century and today still gives the impression of being a privileged medium. It is employed as a medium by a broad range of various figures from the contemporary art world in a broad spectrum of different forms. At the exhibition, that above all seeks to present as fully as possible the energy and vitality of the current trend of art events, a selection of such events will be presented in four different groups based on themes that are inherent in contemporary art: violence, generosity, emptiness, and the search for the sacred and ritualistic.

Metal

Inquisition Sat 24 Sep, Channel Zero, Ljubljana, EUR 20-24 The band Inquisition was formed in 1988 in Cali, Colombia by Dagon. The band started as a thrash metal act, and evolved into raw black metal. In 1996, Dagon left Colombia and moved back to the United States. That same year Dagon met Incubus, their new drummer, and the creation of their debut full length album began. This line-up has remained stable for more than ten years and is now seen as the classic line-up. The band’s style of black metal involves slow, deep and dark riffing combined with sudden tempo changes to faster sections based around blast beats and high-speed riffing; at times with melodic solos. The opening acts will be Revenge, Corpus Christi and The Stone.

Dance

Not.All.Ways Tue 27 Sep – Wed 28 Sep, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, EUR 9-12 Not.All.Ways is a dance duet performance which deals with the misunderstandings and errors in translation. It offers an unorthodox insight into the world of dancing and choreography, which is bound to attract people looking for something out of the ordinary in the world of dance. The realisation of this project has been funded with support from the European Commission.

Classical

Richard Clayderman Wed 28 Sep – Thu 29 Sep, Križanke, Ljubljana, EUR 29-45

and personal fury. Joining them for their concert in Orto bar will be Anchor from Sweden/Norway and Run with the Hunted from the USA.

Pop

Perpetuum Jazzile and Vocal six Sat 1 Oct – Mon 3 Oct, Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana EUR 14-29

Opera

The Tales of Hoffmann Richard Clayderman is a French pianist who has released numerous albums, including the compositions of Paul de Senneville and Olivier Toussaint, instrumental renditions of popular music, rearrangements of movie soundtracks, ethnic music, and easy-listening arrangements of most popular works of classical music. He has sold many millions copies of his albums and there are also about 30 million bootlegs of his albums floating on the black market.

Metal

In Flames Wed 28 Sep, Kino Šiška, Ljubljana, EUR 20-28

Fri 30 Sep, Slovene National Theatre, Maribor, EUR 35 Jacques Offenbach’s opera, imbued with fantasy, sentimental and grotesque features, originates from E. T. A. Hoffmann’s fantasy stories. The French libretto, inspired by Hoffmann’s work, was written by Jules Barbier and Michel Carré. The plot is in contrast to the staple operatic repertoire, and focuses also on poetic and existential issues. Offenbach’s music reflects a strong connection to the essence of stage and operatic performance, humour, dynamism and sensitivity. The new opera production in Maribor will represent an excellent aesthetic mixture of Western opera tradition and the Far East theatrical perspectives.

Founded 28 years ago, Perpetuum Jazzile has grown into one of the most renowned and acclaimed vocal groups, both locally in Slovenia and globally. Their masterpieces have been viewed by over 20 million people on the YouTube portal, which makes them the world’s most frequently viewed a cappella group. Their rich history and unique musical style leave venues sold out and critics impressed, and have resulted in a number of hit recordings. The choir’s hallmarks include punching grooves, rich harmony, unsurpassed creativity, and a thrilling blend of pop, jazz, gospel, blues, Brazilian bossa nova, disco, and funk.

Currently on their European tour, In Flames will present their latest album. Having been active for two decades, the five of Gothenburg have moved from the basic idea of mixing the melodic values of Iron Maiden and the brutality of death metal to one of the creative forces that defined melodic death metal. But this had not brought In Flames to a standstill: from album to album, they have been developing their style and shifting the boundaries of the genre. And it was them who introduced many guidelines of modern metal. Not only do In Flames convince you with their studio work, but also with their strong and explosive live performances. Expect to hear both old hits and tracks from their latest studio album.

Metal

Trial Thu 29 Sep, Orto Bar, Ljubljana, EUR 15-18 Since their formation in 1994 the band Trial has worked desperately to communicate their infusion of activism, emotion, anger and intensity in a world where people are more comfortable remaining sedate. Challenging that attitude, Trial has never given up, all the while fuelled by a relentless desire to play hardcore music which is charged with political September 2011


60 SPORTS

EuroBasket 2011

Anything is Possible In the 20 years of Slovenian independence, European basketball championships have always been a major event, gluing thousands of fans to their TV sets. The championship in Lithuania (from 31 August to 18 September) will be another test of players’ abilities and fans’ nerves. By Simon Demšar

T

he emotions were tumultuously intense and left scarcely anyone untouched. Lifelong friendships were established and bitter conflicts broke out. From the fans’ perspective, the 20 years can be roughly divided into two phases: during the first decade, expectations tended to be high but the final results were disappointing, with the team finishing their competition

after preliminary rounds. Learning from the disappointments, the fans and the media began to be more cautious, while still secretly hoping for good results. In Slovenia’s case, this meant a medal. Coached by Jure Zdovc, Slovenia came closest in 2009 in Poland when they finished fourth. They were given hero’s welcome in the centre of Ljubljana, but a bitter aftertaste nonetheless remained.

Maljković’s 12 Mirza Begić, Age: 26; most recent team: Real Madrid He is one of the tallest players in European basketball and also a fantastic rebounder, which is hardly surprising, but a real bonus is just how energetic and mobile he is for a big man, which creates problems for most of his defensive match-ups. Goran Dragić, 25, Houston Rockets Goran has matured in recent years through competing in the NBA and playing alongside one of the best point guards in the world, Steve Nash. Consequently, he will definitely be one of the players to watch in Lithuania.

Photo: KZS www.alesfevzer.com

Zoran Dragić, 22, Krka He was the last player to be cut from the squad last year in preparation for the World Championship. This summer, he will be hoping to make an impact follow-

ing a solid year playing in the Slovenian league, where he averaged 15 points. Goran Jagodnik, 37, Union Olimpija A national team player for almost 15 years, Goran Jagodnik is by far the most senior member on the Slovenia roster and could well be the oldest player at the championship. He prides himself on his shooting, and is most comfortable when shooting from the corner or near the baseline. Jaka Lakovič, 33, Barcelona As one of Slovenia’s most experienced players, the role of Jaka Lakovič is to teach the new era of young Slovenian players what it takes to win. On his best day, he can rain down triples with ease, if the defence dares to leave him open. Erazem Lorbek, 27, Barcelona Probably the best individual Slovenian player, Lorbek returns to the national team looking to repeat his efforts at EuroBasket 2009 in Poland when his performances earned him a place in the all-tournament team. Maljković is expected to start Lorbek as one of his most influential players. Edo Murić, 19, Krka The young and inexperienced Murić will join the national team for the very first time at a major tournament. He is still learning with every game and the championship in Lithuania will be another step on his learning curve. Sašo Ožbolt, 30, Union Olimpija Ožbolt is coming off one of his best seasons in his career, and heads into the

The Slovenia Times

championship full of confidence. He has already been part of the Slovenian team after appearing at the 2006 World Championship in Japan and so he knows all about competing at this level. Luka Rupnik, 18, Geoplin Slovan Božidar Maljković has called Luka Rupnik into the squad after the young player impressed him at the U18 European Championship in Poland this summer, where he averaged 17.3 points per game. Uroš Slokar, 28, Manresa After a stint in the NBA, Slokar returned to Europe, but never really excelled. However, he was given the chance to shine at EuroBasket 2009 where he proved the doubters wrong with some solid performances. He has the potential to become one of the best centres in Slovenian basketball. Matjaž Smodiš, 31, CSKA Smodiš is another of Slovenia’s veteran stars, who has tasted success with CSKA Moscow in both the Russian league and in Euroleague. If fit, he will provide great experience, intensity and of course has the winning mentality required at the top level to be a game changer. Samo Udrih, 32, Union Olimpija As one of more travelled Slovenian players on the roster, Samo Udrih brings valuable experience and guidance to the younger generation on the team. He is a big threepoint shooter, and relies heavily on this element of his game. He has a cool head and rarely loses his composure.


Photo: KZS www.alesfevzer.com

SPORTS 61

to spend time with his wife. For Saša Vujačić (New Jersey Nets), this was just another in a string of cancellations. Gašper Vidmar, Primož Brezec and Boštjan Nachbar were forced to miss the championships due to injuries. For a while, it seemed that Erazem Lorbek would also be missing. The situation turned into a comedy of errors after Lorbek had first announced that it was up to his team in Barcelona whether he would play or not. After Barcelona had denied this, and after some behind-the-scene manoeuvres, Lorbek finally agreed to join the team. Rašo Nesterović, 35, still

round, they should finish in the top three. It shouldn’t be too ambitious to expect a walkover, but history has proved that nothing should be taken for granted when Slovenia is concerned. In the second round (beginning on September 7), Slovenia would likely play against Greece, Croatia and another team from the area of former Yugoslavia (Montenegro, Macedonia or Bosnia and Herzegovina). On paper, the draw has played into Slovenian hands, as the teams like Spain, Lithuania, Turkey, Israel, France and Serbia can be met only in the quarter finals. At both recent championships (2007 and 2009), Slovenia would start the tournament with a string of easy wins but their performance would drop later on in the tournament. With 24 participating teams, this year’s championship is even longer, which is one of Maljković’s concerns. He is also aware of the lack of tall players, but he will try to compensate for this with speed and agility. For a change, the championship in Lithuania will not be only about medals. The first two teams will qualify directly for the Olympic Games next year and four other teams will qualify for the Olympic qualifying tournament.

Photo: KZS www.alesfevzer.com

When it seemed that things have taken an upward trend, this year’s pre-championship story is a case of déjà vu. The only difference is that some solid foundations for the future have been laid. First, Zdovc resigned soon after the 2009 championship. He has been replaced by Božidar Maljković, 59, a highly respected Serbian coach who has won three Euroleague titles. However, this fact did not prevent another unpopular trend from the past – cancellations by some of the best players. Beno Udrih, a member of the NBA team Milwaukee Bucks, got married and wanted

plays professional basketball but decided against playing for the national team some while ago. Instead, he might play an advisory role as a member of the support team. Maljković did not find a place for Sani Bečirović, a regular national team member, on his team. Instead, he deliberately opted for fresh blood and invited six young players to the training camp. Two of them (Luka Rupnik and Edo Murič) will be part of the team in Lithuania. The only NBA player is now Goran Dragić (Houston Rockets). More good news is that Matjaž Smodiš seems to be ready after a number of injuries had prevented him from contributing his share to the efforts of the national team. All in all, the team is still optimistic about the championship, hoping for the semi-finals. With most other teams coming with their strongest line-ups, this will be one of the strongest championships in history and Slovenia has a steep mountain to climb. Maljković is more cautions and says: “Others are driving a Mercedes, we only have a Golf.” In the preliminary rounds Slovenia will play Bulgaria, Georgia, Russia, Ukraine and Belgium. In order to qualify for the next

September 2011


The force is strong with him: Sir Christopher Lee as a special Guest at Grossman Film Festival, Ljutomer. (MS) Uniforms of the Great War: Isonzo Front soldiers at the memorial event by the Russian Chapel, Vršič pass. (MS)

EVERY PICTURE TELLS A STORY

Presidential lunch: Danilo Türk at Bogračfest, festival dedicated to a traditional stew. (MS)

The heroes of Panč festival: Stand-up comedians Tom Wriglesworth, Tin Vodopivec, Dave Johns, Lucija Ćirović, Janez Trontelj, Uroš Kuzman and Andrej Težak - Tešky. (MS)

Hot in the town: Miss Bikini and her companions at Ptuj Festival. (MS)

Accordion attack: Players gathered at Panonika Harmonika event in Cerklje ob Krki (MS)

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The Days of Slovenian Tourism 2011 This year, for the first time ever, a brand new event Days of Slovenian Tourism will gather all the major Slovenian institutions operating in the field of tourism. Tourism is definitely one of the biggest economic and social phenomena of today, affecting many aspects of our life. With a number of benefits to economic and social development as well as significant effects on business it represents one of the most important economic sectors. As such it also accelerates national and regional development in Slovenia. The tourist industry in Slovenia with its indirect impact creates no less than 12.1 per cent of the entire gross domestic product (GDP), as well as 105,000 or 12.4 per cent of all jobs in the country (WTTC, 2001).

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To further stress the importance of tourism for the Slovenian economy, the most influential organisations in the sector have joined together: the Slovenian Tourist Board with the Ministry of Economy, the Tourist Association of Slovenia,

the Tourist-catering chamber and The Chamber of Crafts and Entrepreneurship of Slovenia. For the first time ever the central event Days of Slovenian Tourism will unite all the major events for experts in tourism in Slovenia. The Days of Slovenian Tourism are dedicated to aligning the views of future strategic moves and marketing of tourism on the national, regional and local levels. Along with much educational content, The Days of Slovenian Tourism are here to adjust the current policies and priority projects of the tourism industry. The Days are a great opportunity for networking between experts, businessmen and decision-makers in the tourist industry. The first Days of Slovenian Tourism are scheduled for 8 and 9 December 2011 in Bernardin Hotels, Portoro탑.

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