The Slovenia Times Winter Edition 2014/2015

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The Slovenia Times Slovenian Magazine in English Language Winter Edition 2014, Volume 11, EUR 4.90

False political dilemma: public vs. private sector Social peace?

Government deal with public sector trade unions: Political wisdom or shot in the knee? Interview: Janez Ĺ krabec, CEO, Riko, d. d., President of the Alumni Club of the Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana

Companies & countries should be led by visionaries, not by accountants!

Skiing in Slovenia: You can buy a ski ticket or maybe a ski resort

The definitive guide to the Slovenian Business and economic environment

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From May – October 2015, BIS will be available at the Slovenian pavilion of the world’s largest fair: EXPO Milano 2015

city of opportunities



Ongoing political redistribution and the lack of a business approach and knowledge is slowly killing the remains of Slovenia’s development potential By Tilen Majnardi, M. Sc.


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

Published quarterly by Domus, založba in trgovina d.o.o. Dunajska cesta 5, 1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

Editorial office

As I pointed out in my last editorial, it was only fair to give new PM Miro Cerar the benefit of the doubt, he was new to "top level" politics and without operational experience inside politics although he had been, for many years, close to politics and politicians. But the time for indulgence is fast disappearing following his recent statements and actions. What is the main problem? More or less the same as the last governments. Nobody wants to tackle the real, structural problems of the Slovenian economy and the functioning of the public sector, from the government organisation, ministries, agencies… down. Nobody is prepared or able to confess to the public, the basic strategic mistakes of the past, to prepare an operational plan to fix those mistakes and prepare a new, bolder, clearer development strategy for the future. The political elite is stuck in a rigid, out of date organisational structure, political divisons, with conceptually shriveled bureaucrats and subsequently in the maze of political redistribution in state budgets until there will be some space to do that. Their only goal seems to be to not lose too many points in the public opinion ratings and their friends inside well established lobbies, including the trade unions. But the recipe is not working any more, not for them, not for Slovenia. For now, the "new faces" in politics, which personifies PM Miro Cerar, don’t bring anything new which is the main reason that his SMC party is experiencing a "free fall" in the political public opinions polls. He has made a lot of mistakes: from choosing the wrong coalition partners, he was obviously not able or strong enough to step past the clas-

Winter Edition 2014

sic Slovenian divisons of the left and right; he hasn’t modernised the government organisational structure and is consequently trapped in a structure that brought Slovenia to its deep crisis (and now they are supposed to save Slovenia!!!); he has not been able to attract new, businesss oriented people to the government, cabinet, main agencies, other government bodies, his team is thus in fact weak, it’s not even a team, it’s a bunch of more or less capable individuals on their daily mission to manage their garden plots. The result is that the Ministry of Finance has become the "state within the state" and is governing all sorts of different areas including the health issues of the younger generations. In a normal country, a proposal for tax on sugary drinks would come from the Health Ministry not the Finance Ministry and so the goal of this tax is very clear and it has nothing to do with sugar or health. But the biggest mistake by the PM is strategic and represents a worrying political position: with his implicit bureaucratic logic he has attacked the economy, stating that companies are not prepared to "give up" something in the public interest. He was referring to the goodwill of the public sector trade unions which signed an agreement which presumably contributes to stability. The PM will definitely have to understand better that the trade unions "contribute" something which does not exist, it’s fairytale long gone in the recession, the economy is contributing every day, in real euro amounts, in global markets, in the daily struggle with competition. 

Dunajska cesta 5, 1000 Ljubljana phone – desk: +386 (0)31 446 808

CEO and publisher Brane Krajnik

Editor-in-chief Tilen Majnardi,

Marketing/Advertising +386 (0)31 446 808 Goran Mladenović

Art director Marko Pentek,

Translation Sandra Klemenčič

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Photo used on front page fotomontage by Shutterstock The Slovenia Times is listed in the Media Register of the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Slovenia under number 491. All content - texts or pictures - with no author specified are exclusively created by contributors to The Slovenia Times or published in accordance with owner’s instruction. 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. ©DOMUS d.o.o., 2003. All rights reserved.

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Contents Page 4


4 Will the new Economy Minister gain real power in the current overbureaucratic government apparatus 4 Can Tina Maze repeat her record breaking 2012/2013 season? 5 Road to political revival for opposition leader, Janez Janša?


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6 Surprising Growth! Until When? 7 The end of the South Stream Project: No problem for Slovenia? 8 EXPO Milano 2015: I Feel Slovenia at the biggest global event in 2015 10 Interview: Janez Škrabec, CEO, Riko, d. d., President of the Alumni Club of the Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana 14 15 great years of AmCham Slovenia 16 Interview: Archibald Kremser, M.Sc., NLB 19 Beauty and the Beast: Don’t Underestimate the Power of Talent 20 Interview: Robert Koren, Vice President of Starwood hotels Southern Europe 22 ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA: Economic forecast and investment atmosphere 2015 23 Raising awareness for the environment 24 Interview: Dr Balz Hösly, MME Partners, Switzerland Greater Zurich Area AG - Location Marketing 26 SEE MEET Pomurje 2014: 134 bussinesmen from 10 countries in Radenci 28 We illuminate everything - even the darkest economic situation 29 Conventa will once again heat up the meeting environment in Ljubljana 30 IEDC-Bled School of Management Presidents’ Forum with strategy expert Roger Martin: "Strategy is about making 5 distinctive choices"

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32 Government deal with public sector trade unions: Political wisdom or shot in the knee? 33 Voters not satisfied with the Government, PM’s Party Rating in free fall


34 Commissioner Bulc Urges More Action in Bid to Secure EU Funding 34 European Commission: A Little Progress in Tackling Imbalances 35 No signifact problems with the new food labeling rules Page 48


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36 Interview: Marko Guček, Director, GoOpti 38 Open Kitchen will be bigger 40 Interview: Laura Jamšek, President, SILA 42 A Beautiful base in winter 43 Perfect View: 'Hayracks in the Sun' wins photo contest 44 Slovenian dancers, The Artifex, World Hip Hop Champions


46 Interview: Jure Košir, Slovenian ski legend, Olympic Medallist, Entrepreneur… 48 You can buy a ski ticket or maybe a ski resort


52 Škofja Loka Passion Play; a unique story and experience 54 Event Guide Winter Edition 2014 | The Slovenian Times


Winter Semaphore Sport

The new Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek (on the left) with Finance Minister Dušan Mramor – Some say that he will not fit into the government with his straightforward, often inflexible, goal achieving, leadership style

Can Tina Maze repeat her record breaking 2012/2013 season?


Will the new Economy Minister gain real power in the current overbureaucratic government apparatus After a few difficult months, PM Miro Cerar has finally found an Economy Minister who is respected and credible, at least at first sight. Zdravko Počivalšek, the new Economy Minister, is expected to finally bring corporate credibility to the Miro Cerar government, having spent the last three decades in senior management, most recently as the boss of spa operator, Terme Olimia. His management experience dates back to the mid-1980s when he was a member of a crisis management team tasked with turning around the agricultural cooperative in Šmarje pri Jelšah, of which he later became general manager. An agronomist by training, Počivalšek, 57, was later general manager of the dairy, Mlekarne Celeia, from 1995, before joining Terme Olimia in 1999. His management is credited with turning around the spa in Podčetrtek, a rural town in south eastern Slovenia, which has become the poster child for the efficient drawing of EU funds. The erstwhile, sleepy spa village has become one of the top tourist destinations in the country and Terme Olimia expanded across the border into Croatia, when it acquired Terme Tuhelj in 2003. The majority state-owned Terme Olimia is now for sale, one of the 15 names on the priority list of companies slated for privatisation. Počivalšek is the single biggest shareholder of Bioto Turizem, a company that is the third biggest shareholder of Terme Olimia with a 5.6 percent stake. Počivalšek also heads the Tourism and Hospitality Chamber at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), which honoured him for special achievement in business in 2004. The Managers Association named him Manager of the Year in 2010. 


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

Superstar back on the winning track; Photo: STA

Winter Semaphore Tina Maze has started the 2014/2015 winter season in similar style to her amazing 2012/2013 season when she broke all the records. After a disappointing start to the season on the Soelden Glacier in Austria, where she finished 22nd, many wrote Tina off as too badly prepared and maybe too old to compete with the "teenagers" creeping up behind the aging elite. But the Director of her private team, Team to aMaze, Andrea Massi persistently repeated that Tina had a great summer training season and that she is mentally and physically in excellentz condition, that the first race was just a bad day. And then Tina exploded in the next slalom race, taking the win at Levi in Finland. Since then Tina has proven that she can win in all disciplines, slalom, giant slalom, downhill. In fact she is the only girl competing in all disciplines, on top of that she is always ready for a win if she is in a good mood. One of the main goals of the season is the World Championship in Vail in February 2015. With her current form, Tina is one of the main candidates for the overall win this season which could be her last as she speculated before the start of the season. 

Janez Janša; Photo: BOBO


Road to political revival for opposition leader, Janez Janša? Opposition Democrats (SDS) leader, Janez Janša, celebrated his first victory in his attempt to overturn his conviction for corruption in connection to the Patria case but highlighted that the fight has not been won, as he addressed his supporters in Ljubljana hours after being released from prison in mid December on a temporary injunction from the Constitutional Court. "Today is the end of something that was started, but it is not the end of the path," Janša said when addressing a crowd of supporters which, accordingto some accounts numbered around 800. He said that overhaul of the judiciary still awaits. He reiterated his call for lustration in the ranks of Slovenian judges, saying only "those who have not violated human rights should adjudicate". Janša made his statements at a rally organised by Committee 2014, a group established to call for his release from prison as part of their demands for a broader shake-up of what they say is a slanted judiciary. In the address to the crowd gathered in front of Ljubljana’s Supreme Court, Janša thanked his supporters for persevering "for six months in the cold, sun and rain in front of this house of shame". He labelled their demands for a fair judiciary as demands also for greater prosperity. "Without rights there can be no prosperity." He said that the group showed that there was still hope in Slovenia. "You are the ones who are helping to change Slovenia just as another committee did 25 years ago," he said in a reference to Slovenia’s independence efforts. He described his conviction in the Patria corruption scandal as one of thousands of examples of miscarriage of justice perpetrated by the Slovenian courts in recent decades. While all judges are not bad, Slovenian courts have been built on a system of negative selection, he said. "The more unfair a judge is, the higher up the ladder he or she has made it." The decision of the Constitutional Court, granting Janša a temporary injunction on his sentence, was welcomed by the crowd and representatives of the group which has held daily rallies in front of the Supreme Court.  Winter Edition 2014 | The Slovenian Times







Surprising Growth! Until When? By T. M., STA, IMAD

Slovenia’s economic growth gathered pace in the third quarter of 2014 as GDP expanded by 3.1% from the same period the year before, fuelled by export and investment growth, official statistics show. Adjusted forthe season and working days, the EU gauge, the country’s GDP grew by 0.7% from the second quarter, expanding by 3.1% year-on-year, the Statistics Office reported in its first estimate. This puts Slovenia above the average for the EU and the eurozone (1.3% and 0.8%, respectively in Q3 y/y). Only Poland and Romania posted higher growth rates.

Exports: The Main Engine of GDP Growth Should the economy grow at the same pace in the fourth quarter, Slovenia would post a growth rate of about 2.8% this year, Anže Podnar of the Statistics Office’s national accounts department estimates. The country’s economic activity increased by 2.7% in the first nine months of the year from the same period in 2013 with exports and fixed capital formation continuing to be the main engines of growth. Exports of goods and services increased by 6.8% in the eighth consecutive quarter of growth, with merchandise exports shooting up by 8.2%. Given the steady growth in exports, "we can assume our exporters compete well in the EU market, where industrial product prices have


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

been falling faster than the prices of our exporters", Podnar said. Growth in imports also picked up at 5.5%, mainly on account of a 28.5% spike in the import of motor vehicles. "Imports were mainly used in the production process, final consumption, investment and could also be used in future exports, reflecting positively on economic growth," Podnar told a news conference in Ljubljana. As exports grew faster than imports, the external trade balance continued to contribute positively to economic growth at 1.4 percentage points. Domestic consumption increased by 1.9%, chiefly due to a 7.2% growth in gross fixed capital formation as construction expanded by another 14%. Podnar said the growth was primarily on account of state investment in road and rail infrastructure, utility infrastructure, telecommunications and energy efficient upgrades to non-residential buildings. Part of the investments are EU-subsidised projects from the 2007-2013 budget framework for which funds need to be used by the end of 2015 with Podnar saying the growth was expected. Due to the higher import of motor vehicles, investment in transport equipment rose by 18.5% but invest-


ment in machinery and equipment declined by 2.7% and investment in intellectual property products increased by 2.6%.

Private consumption picking up the pace Final consumption rose by 0.6% with private consumption up by 0.8% due to a 9.5% spike in consumption of durable goods on account of a 14% surge in spending on cars, which Podnar attributes to the 2013 VAT hike. After a longrunning decline, government consumption remained flat compared to the year before, mainly as a result of a 3.3% increase in the expenditure for goods and services. Slovenia’s growth has outpaced EU growth for the past four quarters. The country is also doing much better than its biggest trade partner, Germany, whose economy grew by 1.2% y/y in the third quarter. "Considering the trends in Germany and Slovenia, we may justifiably ask ourselves whether the premise that we are doing about as bad or good as Germany still holds true," Podnar wondered. But the Institute of Macroeconomic Development and Analysis (IMAD) warned, in its response, that Slovenia’s growth still lags far behind pre-crisis levels. IMAD attributed growth in exports, mainly to EU markets, to a boost in Slovenia’s export competitiveness and some major export deals recently. The government economic forecaster also highlighted an increase in household spending, which it puts down to a positive trend in the labour market and a boost in consumer confidence. 

Photos: Production in Gorenje (photo 1 and 2) and Revoz (photo 3 and 4) – Slovenian exports still increasing


Karl Erjave – Good business opportunity lost; Photo: MZZ

South Stream Project; Photo: Gazprom

South Stream Project

The end of the South Stream Project:

No problem for Slovenia?

The government suggested that Russia’s decision to shelve the South Stream gas pipeline project would not significantly affect the Slovenian portion of the project, in what appears to be an admission that the project never really took off. Prime Minister Miro Cerar is not surprised by the decision. "To our knowledge, the key decisions and commitments regarding the investment concerning the Slovenian part of the project have not been adopted yet and the project did not have the requisite approval from the European Commission."

Poor Communication With Russian Partners "We believe the decision by the Russian partner will not have significant consequences for the project," reads a statement by the Ministry of Infrastructure. Meanwhile, pipeline operator Plinovodi, Gazprom’s Slovenian parter in the project, said that the company had not been officially informed of the decision to shelve the project. "We have very firm commitments signed at the corporate level and we have not received any official information regarding any kind of halting of the deal and so we will continue to work on the project until we are officially told otherwise," Plinovodi CEO, Marjan Eberlinc, said. He also noted that a meeting with the Russian partners was scheduled for December, in Moscow and that the fate of the project would probably be discussed there. Asked about Plinovodi’s investments in the project so far, Eberlinc estimated that they ranged from EUR 150,000 to EUR 160,000 in 2013. Eberlinc asserted that the supply of gas in Slovenia was not in jeopardy due to the recent developments. He also implied that Russia’s

statement regarding the shelving of the project might be a manoeuvre to win over the EU, but warned that even if that is the case it would have long-term consequences.

Collateral damage of the Ukraine Crisis PM Cerar said he was not surprised by Russia’s decision. "I think that this position should not surprise us, as it was expected considering the latest developments," Cerar told the press. Cerar, who is waiting for formal confirmation of the decision, said that Slovenia needed to respond by looking for alternative, renewable sources of energy. According to him, Slovenia needs to develop an energy policy which will have multiplicative effects and provide new opportunities. Foreign Minister Karl Erjavec meanwhile said the project would have been a good business opportunity for Slovenia. He also noted that the countries on the SouthStream route had already signed agreements with Russia, so "these new circumstances will need to be examined". But the Minister also said that the project would have been very costly. For Slovenia alone

costs would top EUR 1bn, he noted, adding that no major financial investments in the project had been made so far. According to Erjavec, Russia’s decision was clearly a result of the international sanctions against Russia due to the Ukrainian crisis, the drop in oil prices and the currency. Slovenia and Russia signed an inter-governmental agreement on the SouthStream in 2009 and a joint venture was set up. The plan was finally sealed in November 2012. About 266 km of pipeline, worth EUR 1bn was to traverse Slovenia and preparatory construction work was due to start in 2015, with zoning requirements due to be fulfilled this year. However, the project remained bogged down due to the EU’s concerns about Gazprom’s near monopoly position and the escalation of tensions in Ukraine, which led to EU sanctions against Russia. Moreover, there were zoning problems in Slovenia, where locals around the ski resort of Kranjska Gora, in particular, mounted a serious challenge against the project on environmental grounds. The Ministry also said it was awaiting official notification from Russia "which would affect the actual implementation of the [intergovernmental] agreement." While the Ministry reacted coolly to statement by Russian President Vladimir Putin and Gazprom Chairman Alexei Miller that the project was being called off, a geostrategic analyst warned that it could have major implications. The decision means Slovenia will not be on one of the key gas routes, Klemen Grošelj of the Faculty of Social Sciences told STA. He believes Russia will now shift its focus toward expansion of Blue Stream and ship gas through Turkey towards Greece, which will make Turkey a major player. Instead of being connected to a key gas route, Slovenia will thus be reliant on Turkey, which will become a crucial gas hub, Grošelj said. More broadly, Europe will have to figure out how to satisfy its energy needs, as it is unlikely it will be able to make the transition to renewables. "I believe energy will become a much more serious issue for the EU than it appeared a month or two ago and the Energy Union will face formidable challenges in the coming years."  Winter Edition 2014 | The Slovenian Times



Slovenian Pavillion for EXPO 2015; Drawing/rendering: Sono Arhitekti d.o.o.

EXPO Milano 2015

I Feel Slovenia

At the 2015 Expo, one of the biggest global events next year which will run from 1 May until 31 October under the slogan "Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life", Slovenia will promote itself on a surface of 800 m2. The country’s regions will each be given a two week presence to organise different events, while Slovenia will present itself with: salt, bees, thermal and mineral waters, a healthy and active lifestyle and green technology. An interactive approach will be used whereby visitors will get five buckwheat seeds at the end, "five being a special number symbolising the five senses that are the central component of the 'I Feel Slovenia' story", explained the project leader for Slovenia’s Expo 2015 project, Jerneja Lampret. The event, which will feature 143 countries representing 94% of the world’s population, is seen as an incredible opportunity for promotion, with 130,000 visitors expected each day. 

at the biggest global event in 2015 Slovenia has started its preparations for EXPO Milano 2015, where it will promote itself to an expected 20 million visitors as a green, active and healthy country.

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Economy Interview: Janez Ĺ krabec, CEO, Riko, d. d., President of the Alumni Club of the Faculty of Economics, University of Ljubljana

Companies & countries should be led by visionaries, not by accountants! By Tilen Majnardi, M. Sc. 10

The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

Economy Janez Škrabec is one of the most prominent and successful Slovenian managers. He has not been involved in any of the transitional affairs and has managed to steer his company, Riko, through the current crisis which severely affected Slovenia. One of the reasons for the crisis was the ineffective management of the country at the highest levels. He is also renowned for his obstinate advocacy of the entrepreneurial spirit and private property. We talked to him about how Slovenia can be directed back on to the path of success. Q What is your assessment of the existing economic situation in Slovenia? Is the current, economic growth stable or merely a consequence of the major GDP fall in recent years and a logical, at least partial recovery following the short-term initiatives such as the extensive infrastructure investment at the local level and the reasonably good position in our export markets? A Current economic growth is definitely not stable and fluctuation is to be expected also in the future. The fall of production in the past has liberalised the production capacity which led to the higher growth rates. However, since the beginning of the crisis, the productivity increase of processing activity has enabled companies to be more competitive and achieve higher exports than before 2008, which is vital. Another strong supporter of growth is investment in infrastructure having the shortterm acquiring effect and providing the investment is rationally selected, infrastructure can expand market activity.

Q Exports, the engine of growth in Slovenia, registered record growth in September. Will our exporters keep up the pace without any serious structural reform and additional labour market reform with the government preparing new taxes on financial transactions and soft drinks, pollutant fees, a new energy tax... Do you think this is the best policy? A The exporters have made significant structural change and changed the production range (discontinued the unprofitable ones) and increased productivity by reducing capital and the number of employees. Labour market reforms are definitely necessary, but mostly in the public sector because redundancy is already possible in the private sector. It is, nevertheless, still relatively expensive in comparison to countries where there is no severance pay or notice period. New taxes will slow down all

economic activity. It is my opinion that a tax increase is not the solution and it would be better to rationalise the public sector, not by linear reduction but by effective management. A general reduction in bureaucracy with partial suppression of posts in the public sector would be first in line for reform. Then, only increasing other taxes if this is not sufficient.

Q You are an expert on the situation in Russia and Ukraine. What is the current impact of the Ukrainian crisis on the business activity of Slovenian companies and what are the long-term risks if the situation is not mastered? A In the short term this crisis hasn’t significantly affected Slovenian exports. But with certain legal actions and sanctions, we are definitely blocking our way into the Russian market and Russians are already reorienting toward their east, toward new markets. Another interesting fact is that these sanctions were imposed in that they do not affect the USA, but have other effects in respect of policy relevance of the EU. At its core, the capital is timid and cautious and wriggles out of high risk. That is the reason that any political tension paralyses the vitality of business relationships and slows down business activity. However, Russia is facing several major economic difficulties which are, in the short-term, solved by the price of oil. To illustrate, Russian industry has not been restructured and remains uncompetitive in numerous fields. The car industry, for example, is obsolete which is, nevertheless, a good sign that it will be modernised in the future and means new business opportunities for us. I would like to stress that it is important for Slovenia not to withdraw, in spite of the crisis, from the Russian market and to keep building good relationships. Slovenia has simply built a good image in the Russian market because we had a very good starting position after the collapse of the old systems built during the time of Yugoslavia.

Q Do you think the corporate promotion of Slovenia is appropriate and effective and the economic diplomacy is oriented toward operational objectives? Are the government institutions harmonised, do we even have an umbrella strategy in this area....? It often appears that foreigners, potential investors, have poor data on Slovenia and that we sometimes describe our situation as "suicidal" and worse than it actually is? A Building a trademark is difficult at the best of times. We probably expect too much from this promotion, at least in the short run. I think that the government organisations in charge of the promotion spend too many financial resources on self-maintenance and not enough on operative promotion. Their thinking is not entrepreneurial enough. I miss entrepreneurial

thinking; not only in government institutions but in Slovenia in general, even in Europe. We expect too much from the country. I design the atmosphere in Riko in a way that we rely on the country as little as possible. The country should provide good education, an efficient healthcare system, cultural platforms but here too encourage the entrepreneurial spirit as much as possible. But predominantly it should lighten the bureaucratic burden, promote the Slovenian economy abroad and cultivate "political moves" which shut some doors due to partial interests against Slovenian economic breakthrough.

Q Has our attachment to the country and its interventions been dragged from our recent history? A Here we basically face an interesting paradox - I, who survived socialism, stand for entrepreneurship, whereas the young, who were born yesterday, stand for the "communist" regime. But it is true that the recent crisis is responsible for such observations and people do not understand that crises are a systemic part of the capitalist system. Furthermore, everybody forgets that in the planned socialist system, we were in an economic crisis practically all the time. Until a better system is invented, the capitalist system is still the best in my opinion.

Q Which action do you personally expect from the government in the next year to actually move toward economic growth? A When asked this question, I like to summarise the great Uzbekistani leader from the 14th century, Kimur Amur, who said the country should make sure that a merchant travels from Samarkan to Istanbul as quickly as possible and encounters as little difficulty as possible on the way. In my opinion, this is the principle role of the country to this day - it should provide an effective infrastructure for its operation and not an ownership system of (quasi) government institutions. Privatisation is therefore one of the most important projects since it might reduce interest payments and enhance management effectiveness. State ownership has proven sub-optimal on many occasions. Unfortunately, important obstacles are hidden behind the government’s prudence which may also affect the attained price of the property sold. It is unlikely that any given company, on the free market, will tie its hands as far as redundancy is concerned. The government personnel obviously don’t understand that security is important in the sense of being employed and not in the sense of keeping existing jobs (employment versus job security).

Q All this sounds rather simple. Governments usually also speak in general, but not much is done about it. We get stuck by numerous bureaucratic obstacles, unnecessary politicisation, things drag Winter Edition 2014 | The Slovenian Times


Economy We’ve created utopia, thinking that some trademarks can be global leaders but this simply does not work, except in some niche exceptions. In the long-term, the "quality of life" is our best product and I personally bet everything on this development. on forever... Is the problem in the grassroots organisation of the government, the teams and concepts of the people running it? More and more competence is being conferred to the Ministry of Finance which indirectly runs the entire country and which is becoming an increasing system anomaly retarding development thinking? A This is true. What is happening is similar to a situation where an accountant is managing the company. In the long run, such a company will definitely fail. At the head of a country, at the head of a company there should be a visionary, not just a financier. A good example is the relationship between Nokia and Apple. Nokia has spent billions on development of smart phones and completely failed whereas someone with a vision and far less money succeeded. Some of the most successful countries (such as the Switzerland) and examples from history show that a decentralised system is far sturdier and more successful than centralised systems. However, there is a small advantage with centralised systems, that good practice will transfer to all parts of the system much faster but there is also a bigger risk that the central planner will miss the point altogether. In a decentralised system, it is the variety of ideas, specificity of each individual part, that creates a competitive process of a generation because of which, the system per se is sturdier. The probability of 1,000 individuals finding the right idea in a competitive market is much bigger than someone from above doing so (such as the central planner).

Q What is your opinion about the structure of the use of European development resources? Do we disburse the funds merely because we can? Do we channel these sources meaningfully? Do you think that roundabouts and fountains are the best examples of "development" investment? A Well, things are not so unclear with the use of these resources. In Riko, we have some experience with this because we are building several purification plants and regional waste management centres across Slovenia. We have used all the resources mainly in the field of enhancing water quality. The EU has set high criteria for quality of life and environment and here we are achieving excellent results in terms


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

of the EU but in Slovenia we still fall slightly behind. We are at 40 percent of the EU average as far as water purity is concerned. I believe that, in the long-term, one of the few comparative advantages of Europe is quality, the way of life. We will be able to sell our cleanliness, security, orderliness, healthy environment. That will be the sole source of financing development and that is, of course, particularly true for Slovenia. We’ve created utopia, thinking that some trademarks can be global leaders but this simply does not work, except in some niche exceptions. In the long-term, the "quality of life" is our best product and I personally bet everything on this development. This should be absorbed by the state structure.

Q The exacerbating underlying Slovenian macroeconomic imbalance lies in the mismatch of revenue and consumption by the public sector, the budget. Do you think we are caught is some kind of a trap which is slowly becoming logical to people? This results in the fact that over 10 percent of expenditure represents interest on debt payments? A No doubt the current state of affairs is very difficult, none of the parties involved is ready to give up anything. But the state is committed to the objective of reducing public expenditure and is bound to sell property and reduce the general government deficit in order to meet sustainable public finances. It is also very important for us that the general government debt doesn’t exceed 100 percent of GDP. Even 80 percent is a dangerous figure which indicates at least 2.4 percent sustainable growth at an average interest rate on public government debt of around 3 percent. Attaining such a growth rate of GDP is difficult at this point. At 100 percent, GDP, the general government debt becomes untenable because it indicates that required growth rates of nominal GDP are around 3 percent.

Q What is your view on the diminishing significance and the role of the Ministry of the Economy recently? One can’t deny the fact that we haven’t got a "normal", strong, creditworthy Minister of the Economy who could advocate and pursue clear development strategies and have the power within the government.... Furthermore, the Ministry of Economy is no longer empowered in the areas of infrastructure, energy economics, spatial planning...? A It is an exaggeration to say it is a matter of depreciation of the role of the Minister of the Economy, it is more of a difference between the expectations of the society about the role of a saviour of an individual or an institution on the one hand and their actual power on the other. People often long for somebody from above to show the right direction and find the solution, but the reality is far more complex

and dynamic. Actually, it is not up to the ministries to lead the politics of each individual company but create conditions where the more creative individuals can materialise their ideas. Companies will be founded and fail (this is a natural process), in the long-term artificial prevention of this process of creation and destruction is not possible and will result in failure and big costs for the company. So I don’t see the role of the Minister of the Economy as the central planner, but principally as a catalyst in the sense of creating a fertile environment for growth and development of companies.

Q How do you see privatisation in Slovenia? Do you think it’s reasonable, without a clear strategy, for state property management to be placed within individual sector policies? A The key problem of Slovenian privatisation, so far, lies in the fact that it significantly undermined companies instead of bolstering them which was the main objective of these processes. The reasons for this are various, but principally it’s the phobia about foreign capital and the so-called "domestic" approach which has created the so-called "tycoons" who ruined companies under the false pretence of national interest. I am personally against any extremely complicated strategies because we will never be able to reach agreement on exactly what it is that we want, what is strategic and what isn’t. There are simply too many interests. To me, nothing is strategic, principles are strategic. The first strategic principle is that the economy should be as open as possible, which particularly applies for a small country such as Slovenia. Vast economies can afford certain irrationalities, Slovenia cannot! However, we have implicitly defined the problem of privatisation exceptionally well in Slovenia which is substantively summarised by the catchword "we shall not sell our silverware". What is silverware exactly? You are an owner merely from some completely irrational, non-economic reason which offers no further benefits. Basically, we don’t even know why we mourn any kind of "silverware loss" so much. The key function of privatisation is to obtain clear owners who are prepared to take the upside as well as the downside risk. In Slovenia, we tend to look to avoid risk as well as success. It is a fact that it is the competitive environment and the possibility of failure that creates the initiative for development. Of course, we must not forget those who can’t participate in this process objectively and are reasonably to be taken care of. How will a child start to walk if it is always kept in the playpen? Without falls there is no growth and there are no new ideas without the risk of failure. If you protect a butterfly against all danger and shut it in a glass, it will survive in the short-term, but in the medium-term it will die and never fly. 


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AmCham Slovenia celebrated its 15th anniversary with Slovenia’s most successful business representatives and guest of honour, Ronald M Šega, an astronaut of Slovenian descent who has orbited the earth more than 270 times. At this occasion, AmCham Slovenia launched the "Believe in Slovenia" initiative, the purpose of which is to show what a remarkable and a creative nation Slovenia is. The American Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia was established in 1999, at the initiative of Mark Mlakar and the following founding member companies: Microsoft, Goodyear Dunlop Sava Tires, Ernst & Young, McDonald’s Slovenia, Slorest, Comtrade and its first president, Samo Ivančič. In 15 years it has become the largest international business community in Slovenia, which brings together more than 270 companies and strives toward an improved business environment and a better life. The founders of AmCham Slovenia hoped it would become a platform for sharing ideas, experiences and would help create a better business environment in Slovenia. After 15 years, Jacek Pryzeck, Managing Director of Goodyear Dunlop Central Europe, believes that it has become all of this and much more.


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014


AmCham organises more than 50 events each year, has active committees and working groups tackling major business challenges with their constructive proposals, provides support for US-Slovenian economic integration through the US Business Bridge, has established the Young ProfessionalsTM Program for development of young talent and has given more than 8,232 hours of voluntary work back to the community through it’s socially responsible project 'Giving Back to the Community'. As Matej Potokar, President of AmCham Slovenia, expressed, all of this would not be possible without AmCham members and therefore the strength is not in numbers, it is in the AmCham community. US Ambassador to Slovenia, Joseph A. Mussomeli, pointed out that he has not had the opportunity to work with an AmCham community that is so devoted to its work, to the economic development of the country and to promoting the development of young people as is the case with AmCham Slovenia. AmCham Slovenia celebrated its 15 years together with the guest of honor Ronald M Šega, an astronaut of Slovenian descent, who has orbited the Earth more than 270 times, worked at NASA for many years and spent a tense 17 days, 12 hours and 25 minutes in space, including a docking mission at the Mir space station. At this occasion, Šega expressed his feelings about Slovenia, recognising Slovenians as extremely capable and good-hearted people, who can achieve anything they set their minds on. Greatness of a nation is not measured by the size of a country but by the size of its heart - and Slovenia certainly has a big heart, according to Šega. AmCham Slovenia launched the "Believe in Slovenia" initiative, the purpose of which is to connect the USA and Slovenia through extraordinary stories of Americans with Slovenian roots who believe in Slovenia. Ajša Vodnik, Executive Director of AmCham Slovenia, has three specific reasons for believing in Slovenia: creative young people, with incredible ideas and determination to live and succeed in Slovenia; the nation’s character; as well as admiration and love toward Slovenia, which is cultivated by everyone who knows the country or is connected to it through their ancestors. On its 15th anniversary, AmCham Slovenia as part of the "Best of the Best" program



also awarded the best business practices in Slovenia, particularly from those companies that bring new knowledge and experience into Slovenia and significantly enrich the Slovenian economy through the transfer of good practices. This year’s winners of the "Best of the Best" award were Mladi upi from Zavarovalnica Triglav, Simbioza med generacijami from Zavod Ypsilon and Pozorn(!)i za okolje from Goodyear Dunlop Sava Tires. AmCham Slovenia also marked its 15 years with 15 values that reflect their beliefs and work. Each of the values was supported by a member company that donated funds, a part of which was dedicated to Zveza prijateljev mladine Ljubljana Moste – Polje and to their Family Center, which supports families in need.  You can find more information on AmCham Slovenia at: Find more about the Believe in Slovenia Initiative at:

Photos 1 Ronald M Šega, American astronaut and Ajša Vodnik, Executive Director of AmCham Slovenia 2 AmCham dream team: Maja Košir, Ajša Vodnik, Katarina Makovec, Petra Kocjan and Vida Dolenc 3 Ronald M Šega, Major General Michael Edwards, Colorado National Guard, Major General Dobran Božič 4 Matej Potokar, President of AmCham Slovenia and Joseph A. Mussomeli, US Ambassador in Slovenia

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Fast forward!

Economy In Slovenia, the corporate private sector is still over-leveraged, which means the loan demand, by definition, is very low, because the corporate sector needs to repay debt and very few companies are in position to assume new debt, so they are very careful with investment projects. Therefore, for us, the difficultly is in demand not supply. We are probably one of the few banks in Slovenia which can offer our customers the whole product range of financial services depending on their needs, and that is our main competitive advantage.

Q Relatively speaking, NLB is known for signifi-

Archibald Kremser, M.Sc., NLB; Photos: medwed fotografie

Interview: Archibald Kremser, M.Sc., NLB

NLB on track for a

successful turnaround By Tina Drolc, M.Sc.

With a five-year mandate, Archibald Kremser was appointed to the NLB Management Board in 2013. As the CFO, he is responsible for the successful implementation of the financial restructuring of NLB. With more than 15 years of experience in the banking sector in restructuring, performance improvement and transformation, he is now focused on improving NLB performance, to get it 'ready' for the capital markets. 16

The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

cant impairments due to the write-off in accounts receivable. How will you reduce the impairments and what policies will you implement? A We went through two very extensive "asset quality reviews" in 2013 and 2014. In 2013, we created additional provisions of roughly EUR 872.187 thousand at the group level, raising our "coverage level" for non-performing loans to 72 percent, which we consider adequate. In the coming years we expect that, with the newly established, much more prudent underwriting policies and procedures, the provisions will be more in line with regional benchmarks and so the cost of risks are expected to be approximately 130 to 150 basis points on the risk exposure.

Q NLB, as the largest state-owned bank, failed the European Central Bank stress test in October. How does the impact of state-ownership affect current performance and what could change the privatisation, which according to the Prime Minister it is planned to happen by 2017. A State-ownership doesn’t affect the bank negatively per-se, the state has indeed just "rescued" the bank and the bank has benefitted, to a large extent, from state support. Our deposit base is growing strongly again this year, people feel comfortable with us as a bank and they trust the bank. As a consequence of the state-aid, the Republic of Slovenia has given a commitment to the European Commission (EC) to privatise the bank and we think that is the right thing to do. The job of the new management is to make the bank fit for this priva-

Economy tisation process. We have launched a number of transformation projects to make the bank fit for such a process. In addition, we have again successfully accessed the capital markets; so we set a lot of activities to get ready for that. Of course, in the end, it will be the decision of the government to initiate the process. The gap from the ECB stress tests is marginal and the fact that we are state-owned has no influence on this result. Even if we would be private, the results would be the same.

Q As mentioned, NLB has mostly received capital from the Slovenian government with a capital injection of EUR 1.55bn last year. What are the other sources of capital and how do you plan to increase the attractiveness of NLB among these "other sources"? A At the moment we are very well capitalised. We still have to wait as to what the Bank of Slovenia and the ECB will give us as the target capital level. Another potential source is the capital markets, but the instruments are quite expensive that way. This year we issued EUR 300m of unsecured bonds and this was important for us to demonstrate that we have access to these markets. From the European roadshow, our bonds were picked up mostly by UK based investors which demonstrated our ability to attract a diverse range of investors from the international capital markets.

invest. In Slovenia, the corporate private sector is still over-leveraged, which means the loan demand, by definition, is very low, because the corporate sector needs to repay debt and very few companies are in position to assume new debt, so they are very careful with investment projects. Therefore, for us, the difficultly is in demand not supply. We are probably one of the few banks in Slovenia which can offer our customers the whole product range of financial services depending on their needs, and that is our main competitive advantage.

Q The so-called "non-strategic component of NLB’s portfolio" contains loans and investments which NLB plans to dismiss. How would you describe your operation’s this year in terms of what has been done with the current portfolio and how are the numbers?

A The non-core segment has been reduced very substantially. Part of that was transferred to the 'bad bank' but this year we were, in terms of equity, very successful - NLB has participated in a number of sales processes of the state-owned companies:. Helios, Mercator, Letrika and part of the stake in Petrol d.d … and in this sense, we have already met the commitments by the European Commission in terms of our need to reduce our level of equity. On the loan side, it is a bit more difficult because the portfolio is quite diverse. We sit on lending, loans, leasing, factoring… but for example, leasing was reduced by about 20 percent in the last year. Nevertheless, we need to manage the balance between how fast we need to wind down versus how much this will cost us. 

Q What is your target capital adequacy ratio at NLB and what is the Tier 1 proportion?

A After the bail in of the sub-debt instruments, the bank’s and group’s capital is composed solely out of CET1 capital. The current capital ratios (CAR, CT1 and CET) at the consolidated level are around 16% and most market participants tell us that this is more than the market would expect from us. Investor expectations would consider an efficient CET1 ratio of about 14%. However, most important is what the regulator requires; I guess I would not expect short-term changes in our capital structure.

Q The ECB is now pursuing a policy of record low interest rates. How does this impact your business? To what extent will the action ease the ability to credit the commercial sector by Slovenian banks, including NLB? A The low interest environment for the bank is not helpful. Theoretically, it stimulates the economy, however for a bank it is just a drain on interest income. Our interest margin was, throughout 2013, reduced substantially but in 2014 we were able to increase it by substantially reducing our deposit rates. So the economy needs more than a low- interest environment, it needs demand, a robust macro situation, export opportunities, employment and people to feel comfortable to spend and companies to Winter Edition 2014 | The Slovenian Times



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Economy Annika Elias, CEC, Ledarna: Europe

is today squandering the intelligence of women. Warning of a European brain-drain have sounded for a long time but still many women acquire a university education that is never used to its full potential. The proportion of women in the workforce has risen steadily, but the pace of change remains slow. There are many challenges to tackle, most of all when it comes to women working as managers and especially women in top positions. In these times of crisis, we should not ignore the fact that women are perhaps the greatest unused asset at Europe’s disposal. Reducing the gap between the sexes is associated with a stronger economy, greater prosperity and better living conditions.

Allyson Zimmermann, Executive Manager of Catalyst Europe: We need business leaders to step forward and acknowledge that the male-dominated status quo is no longer tenable for organisations wishing to compete globally and to, instead, focus on recruiting the best and brightest to lead their companies, regardless of gender. An organisation is fishing in only half the talent pool if women are excluded from this process. This wasted pool of educated labour is costing business dearly. The advancement of women isn’t hard; it just requires intentional focus and leadership. And it can literally pay off. Across Europe, hearts and minds are changing. But the barriers to women’s progress can only be swept away by serious culture change within corporations and action propelled by the realisation that change is essential. Madi Sharma, Member of the Euro-

pean Economic and Social Committee: Madi Group is about "No Excuses". Sadly there are numerous excuses given as to why we do not have gender equity in the EU. As Christine Lagarde, Head of the IMF, says: "there will be little sustainable growth without inclusion". Despite centuries of politely requesting an increase of the number of women on company boards, in the decision-making process and in EU institutions, Europe remains far from gender balance. The biggest challenge we have is engaging men in the debate and helping them understand the benefits of greater female inclusion. This is not women versus men, this is an economic, social and environmental essential, that needs addressing, if Europe is to be a growth economy.

Simona Paravani, one of the lead-

ing experts in the field of banking, talent management and inclusion: "Can women have it all?" There is a lot of evidence and numbers that highlight that there is still a significant gap between genders in terms of representation in Boardrooms, senior positions and pay; while such stats may give rise to a sense of pessimism on the diversity landscape, my talk will focus on how the glass should be seen as half full and why the gender / diversity agenda should not be seen as a women-only issue, but a meritocracy issue; in other words, by addressing the question "how woman can have it all", we can help ensure men can too.

Beauty and the Beast: Don’t Underestimate the Power of Talent

International conference on inclusion and equality in Slovenia The Managers Association of Slovenia, in conjunction with the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities of Slovenia, has prepared a program, 'Include.all', with European financial assistance, to set the model and achieve a higher level of representation of women in leading positions in management and politics in Slovenia over the next few years. One of the planned measures within the program is the preparation of a 6-step-model that will help business, leaders and managers, in reducing the gender gap within business organisations. Another measure, also very important, is an international conference on Gender Equality to be held in Slovenia on 5-6 February 2015. We will host mag. Violeta Bulc, European Commissioner; Dr Anja Kopač Mrak, Minister of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities in Slovenia; Madi Sharma, European Social and Economic Committee; mag. Andreja Kodrin; Dr Sarah Rutherford; Allyson Zimmermann; Sofia Falk; Simona Paravani; … all great and inspiring women! The goal of the project hosted by the Ministry of Labour, Social Affairs and Gender Equality, is to increase business performance through a balanced leadership due to complementarity of genders. One of the reasons for organising the conference is to exchange best practice in terms of inclusion and gender equality in Europe and more broadly, as companies have better financial results with a balanced leadership due to: • attitude to risk, • comprehensive solutions, • a better understanding of customers, • greater creativity and innovation, • greater return on education and recruitment. Difference between companies with and without women in boards (Fortune 500): • + 35% Return on equity, • + 34% shareholder value, • + 112% return on invested capital. Source: Catalyst, 2007 • + 56% income Source: McKinsey, 2007 Comparison in the sector: • + 41% ROE, • + 56% EBIT, • + 170% growth in share Source: McKinsey, 2007, 2010 For more information about the conference go to: The conference is partially financed by the European Commission and is part of the project Include.All. Winter Edition 2014 | The Slovenian Times


Economy "Slovenia is a discovery country. I’ve been coming here since 1972 and there is so much to do and see here. It’s also an affordable destination. There is good service, history and heritage, a good story to tell. For a lot of people there is lack of awareness. I do presentations to sales people and then the reaction is: Oh gosh, we didn’t know. So yes, this is an emerging destination which customers will love."

Robert Koren, Vice President of Starwood hotels Southern Europe; Photos: Mark Koghee

Interview: Robert Koren, Vice President of Starwood hotels Southern Europe

New Four Points hotel in Ljubljana also hit with tourists By Mark Koghee

The opening of the Four Points by Sheraton hotel in the former hotel Mons in Ljubljana, in spring 2014, was a memorable moment. For the first time in many years an international hotel chain has entered Slovenia. In November we sat down with Robert Koren, Vice President of Starwood hotels Southern Europe, to talk about one of the latest additions to the Starwood chain.


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. is one of the leading hotel and leisure companies in the world with 1,200 properties in 100 countries and 171,000 employees at its owned and managed properties. Starwood is a fully integrated owner, operator and franchisor of hotels, resorts and residences with the following internationally renowned brands: St. Regis®, The Luxury Collection®, W®, Westin®, Le Méridien®, Sheraton®, Four Points® by Sheraton, Aloft®, and Element®. It was a rainy Thursday afternoon when I met Koren in the hotel which lies tucked between the damp forests west of Ljubljana and the A2 motorway. It is not a popular time of year to be visiting Ljubljana but in the lobby of Four Points by Sheraton, a wide variety of people come and go. Koren looks around the stylish lobby and says: "I have now been here three times and I haven’t seen it so crowded before. I’m proud!" Robert Koren’s accent is unmistakeably Australian but his roots are Slovenian. Koren was born in Australia of Slovenian descent and speaks and understands a little Slovenian. Being a child of immigrants shaped him. "In the era I was growing up, it was challenging for children of immigrants. We were one of many European families in those days that came to Australia. It was a good education; you had to be really strong and determined to succeed." Koren worked in the banking, manufacturing and pharmaceutical industries before finding a job in the hospitality industry at Sheraton, now already 30 years ago. "I wanted to be international! Between the ages of 18 and 22 I decided to have a portable degree, something I could do anywhere in the world. I got an economics major and looked for work in international compa-

Economy nies. The attraction of the hospitality industry was, and still is, the unique destinations. I visit the most beautiful places. But now I enjoy the software the most, that is, the people. The best part is meeting people." During his career, Koren has lived in Australia, Thailand, the USA, Belgium, China, Italy, Nigeria and Sweden.

Q Can we expect more Starwood hotels in Slove- can be at the door to greet them. In the US we nia?

are now running a pilot with doors that can be

but I would like to see something on the coast. Somewhere around Portorož would be ideal. There is a lot of demand for it and we have good experience from our hotel in Split."

have the Aloft hotels which use the Botlr-robot which can take things to their room. There is so much going on. We have invested millions to keep up. But, ultimately, this is a people business. With the help of technology, our personnelget more time to concentrate on valuable guest experiences. Guests still want human interaction. The right person will make the difference to create a memorable experience for our guests so that they keep coming back!" 

A "It all depends on finding the right owner opened by scanning your phone. And then we

Q Do you see Slovenia as an emerging destinaQ Four Points Ljubljana is the first Starwood ho- tion? tel in Slovenia. What can guests expect in a Four A "From a company perspective yes, it’s a Points hotel?

A "Four Points is simple and uncomplicated. You get a good clean room and a good meal. We have a Best Brews program. It’s a relaxing experience. No fuss. Yes, you can get a burger here but you can also get the best cevapcici."

Q What are your target groups in Ljubljana? A "Initially, when we started, we aimed at business guests. But the interesting thing is that leisure guests also come here. Ljubljana is an easy to get to capital. So now we’re seeing developments in a segment we didn’t expect because we are a little out of the centre. I am pleasantly surprised by that. I thought it would be a great corporate hotel but the leisure phenomenon is also good. Even now you see tourists and it’s not even summer."

Q Why do you think that is? A "We are a global brand and have the Starwood Preferred Guest loyalty program which means lots of returning guests." Aleksander Valentin, General Manager of Four Points in Ljubljana acknowledges: "Since we became Four Points the percentage of leisure guests is up. We get a lot more overseas guests that come here because ofthe loyalty program."

Q Why did you choose to open in Ljubljana? A "It is our strategy to be well-positioned in capitals and in the countries around Slovenia we already had a pool of hotels. We will have Sheraton Dubrovnik and Four Points Podgorica, there will be hotels in Sarajevo and Montenegro. We have the Sheraton and Westin in Zagreb, Le Merdien Split, Metropole Palace in Belgrade and further east, Sofia. You can draw a circle where we can link all the cities! We like to capture new and emerging destinations."

discovery country. I’ve been coming here since 1972 and there is so much to do and see here. It’s also an affordable destination. There is good service, history and heritage, a good story to tell. For a lot of people there is lack of awareness. I do presentations to sales people and then the reaction is: Oh gosh, we didn’t know. So yes, this is an emerging destination which customers will love."

Q Can you, as Starwood, help to make Slovenia better known?

A "Well, we are still in our first year which is intense. We’ve got to get through that but we are just about there. After that, we will have an opportunity to tell the Starwood story about this hotel and the location. Aleksander and his team will have a role in trade shows, events and destination marketing. There is a story to tell now."

Q Technology has changed a lot and is still changing a lot in the hospitality sector. How does Starwood deal with that? A "Innovation is our edge. We have personalised websites and use many apps. One of the things we are working on is beacon technology. With that, the hotel gets a message on the phone when the new guest is close and we

"Innovation is our edge. We have personalised websites and use many apps. One of the things we are working on is beacon technology. With that, the hotel gets a message on the phone when the new guest is close and we can be at the door to greet them. In the US we are now running a pilot with doors that can be opened by scanning your phone. And then we have the Aloft hotels which use the Botlr-robot which can take things to their room."

Robert Koren, Vice President of Starwood hotels Southern Europe and Aleksander Valentin, General Manager of Four Points Ljubljana

Q So why didn’t Starwood come to Slovenia sooner?

A "We must first find the right owner and the right brand. You can’t just tick a box and for instance deal with bad service. That doesn’t work. Here, in Ljubljana, we found the right owner. The location is not downtown but there is high traffic. You know, this hotel already has one of the best service ratings of our entire group. That’s a real compliment to Aleksander and the team." Winter Edition 2014 | The Slovenian Times


Economy Survey of ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Ljubljana

Economic forecast and

investment atmosphere 2015 Austrian companies are the largest foreign investors in Slovenia with approximately EUR 5bn invested. Every year, ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Ljubljana investigates the mood of Austrian companies in Slovenia. The survey target group are senior representatives of Austrian branches in Slovenia as well as selected importers and sales partners of Austrian companies. 36 percent of the Austrian companies in Slovenia are from the service sector, 26 percent from the retail and wholesale industry, 16 percent from the construction industry, 12 percent from the manufacturing and trade industries and 10 percent from other sectors. 92 percent of the Austrian companies are small to medium-sized with a maximum of 250 employees. "About 700 companies participate in the survey and they are very satisfied with the quality of education and the labour market in Slovenia", says Peter Hasslacher, Director of ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Ljubljana. They also praise the motivation and the availability of labour. Representatives of Austrian companies still assess the economic situation in Slovenia as relatively poor. According to Austrian companies and Mr. Hasslacher, the trends and expectations for 2015 are still positive. Peter Hasslacher states: "The hit list of problems in Slovenia are similar to other South Eastern European countries. The fight against corruption, payment default and the inflexibility of the labour law are areas that need to be improved".

Accordingly, 48 percent of the investment in Slovenia is from Austria. Austrian companies are active in almost all sectors of the economy and are usually among the market leaders. In total, there are around 700 branches with a majority of Austrian capital. They operate in trade and the commercial sector (supermarkets, hardware stores, gas stations, wholesale), in financial services (banks, insurance companies, sales organisations) and in production (metal working and processing, paper mills, printing, etc.). According to ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Ljubljana, Austrian companies in Slovenia employ between 15,000 and 20,000 employees. "Foreign trade between Austria and Slovenia is at a high level and this trend will continue" states

Locational factors: IMPORTANCE vs. SATISFACTION

General facts of the relationship between Austria and Slovenia: Slovenia is: • The 13th most important market for Austria • Per capita, imports of Austrian goods to Slovenia are more than EUR 1,300 • Austrian market share (imports from Austria in relation to the total Slovenian imports) of 11% • 3rd quarter 2014: - increase in exports to Slovenia 0.7% to EUR 1,259,146,054 - increase of imports by 3.1% to EUR 1,853,631,246 • Austria is the biggest investor in Slovenia: app. EUR 5 bn (48%)

Peter Hasslacher, Director of ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Ljubljana

Peter Hasslacher. Slovenia is, per capita, the most important economic partner of Austria globally! Bilateral trade continues to rise, reaching EUR 4.5bn in 2013. Exports to Slovenia increased by about 8 percent in 2013. Slovenia also exports a significant portion of its products to Austria. 

Importance Wichtigkeit

Zufriedenheit Satisfaction

Contact: ADVANTAGE AUSTRIA Ljubljana Director: Dr. Peter Hasslacher Nazorjeva 6, 1000 Ljubljana T +386 1 513 97 70 F +386 1 513 97 81 Facebook: AussenwirtschtsCenter Laibach Twitter: wko_ac_LJU


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014




for the environment The newest round of Pay Attention(!) to the Environment started last October. The campaign aims to raise awareness, among young people in particular and the community in general, about the importance of a responsible attitude towards the environment. The quest for this and the next four years is to find ways to reduce the carbon footprint. A carbon footprint is the sum of total greenhouse emissions caused by a person, event or activity. For example in daily life, different activities such as producing waste, using transport, electricity and heating determines the size of our carbon footprint. The central campaign activity is a competition for participating secondary schools, accompanied by a number of additional activities. This school year, the competition has been split into three categories. Schools compete in implementing the ECO-plan and organising an ECO-day, both familiar from last year’s campaign. New this year is the ECO-talent category. When it comes to achieving the campaign objectives, the project partners play a key role. By sharing specialised topics, they get students interested in a whole range of different aspects of environmental protection: with a goal of reducing the carbon footprint. Ministries, municipalities, companies and educational, health and non-governmental organisations are all involved in planning the campaign activities. Goodyear Dunlop Sava Tires found 63 partner organisations, of which 35 are schools, willing to join the campaign which is now in its fifth round. In addition, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food and the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning support the project. Goodyear Dunlop Sava Tires is pleased with the decision of its partners to

join the campaign for another year, since it confirms the fact that the campaign has had a major impact and has remained relevant even when it comes to environmental policies at the government level. The campaign has surpassed its goals every year since inception. In addition to the growing number of partners annually, the company has also been encouraged to continue the campaign by annual survey on participating student attitudes to the environment. Over the last four years, the share of participating students that do not separate waste has dropped from 15 percent to eight per cent. Participating schools have also experienced many positive impact from the campaign. "I can confirm that we have seen more progress every year, as our students grasp the opportunity and join in with the campaign activities with great dedication", says Branka Jarc Kovačič, Project Coordinator at the Kranj School Centre. "The most obvious positive change we have seen is in separating waste. Students have also become more careful when it comes to water consumption, they think more about the amount of food they waste and they are much more diligent about turning off the lights." The Pay Attention(!) to the Environment campaign started in 2010. The idea for the campaign came from the employees of Goodyear Dunlop Sava Tires. While the employees noticed that, within the company, the correct separation of waste was well established, they found it difficult at home to convince their family members to do the same. Almost five years later the campaign is a lot bigger and broader. The growing awareness among the increasing number of participants of Pay Attention(!) to the Environment will, in the end, hopefully translate into a better environment. 

What started almost five years ago as a regional campaign for waste separation, is now a nationwide campaign for a better environment. In the 'Pay Attention(!) to the Environment' campaign of Goodyear Dunlop Sava Tires, 63 partner organisations and 15,000 students seek ways to reduce their carbon footprint.

Winter Edition 2014 | The Slovenian Times



Dr Balz Hösly, MME Partners, Switzerland; Photos: Tadej Bernik

Interview: Dr Balz Hösly, MME Partners, Switzerland

Greater Zurich Area AG Location Marketing By Ladeja Godina Košir, Giacomelli media

Dr Balz Hösly is a renowned lawyer and since 2011, he has also been the Chairman of the Board of the Greater Zurich Area (GZA). He recently participated in a roundtable discussion at the IEDC Bled Presidents’ Forum as the special guest from The Boston Consulting Group. 24

The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

Q Why is it that the Greater Zurich Area (GZA) has become an example of an excellent and successful public private partnership? What were the crucial steps in convincing private capital to join the foundation? A At the very beginning, there was a conviction that private companies only want to work with the government and the state if they need too but they would prefer to do it on their own if they can. But as an agency for foreign direct investments you cannot work without the trust of the government. In 1999, Zurich realised that territorial marketing was a big issue and so they created a regional agency, involving seven cantons and established a company. This was a brilliant decision! In the last 10 years, international competition of the locations has changed dramatically. Before that, competitors were countries and it was at a national level. Now it is metropolitan areas – New York, Vienna, Copenhagen, London, that are competing for the capital.

Economy Q How much private capital is actually involved vate companies are contributing substantially to 2013) we cost the public CHF 30m in total. in GZA?

to GZA then they should understand that they

If you calculate only the tax income from the

the private economy contributed CHF 650,000, in 2015 they will contribute CHF 11m. This is a 40% increase! This is a very important political sign, if politics understand and hear that pri-

ent – we report all the figures annually to the board and also prepare an annual report. Efficiency and transparency are very important. An interesting fact is for example that Slovenian Tourist Board invests 3 times as much into promotion of Slovenia as GZA does.

work for those companies, the income is CHF 150m. The return on investment is considerable. We can clearly give you an outline about the relationship between investment and effectiveness. Of course, I would not be able to do that if I hadn’t been dealing with politics for a certain time, I can speak both languages and build bridges between politics and business. That is quite rare also in Switzerland. Most people decide for one or the other career option – business or politics.

A In 2011, when I was taking over the GZA, also have to contribute. We are very transpar- companies that we settled and the people who

In 2011, when I was taking over the GZA, the private economy contributed CHF 650,000, in 2015 they will contribute CHF 11m. This is a 40% increase!

Q Companies and the state have to co-create an environment attractive for investments as well as the place where a good standard of living is possible. It’s hard to take decisions together and to start acting. How did you manage this in GZA? A We did not "do it", it has developed over the centuries. Switzerland is a very liberal country. We want to have as little influence of the state as possible but where the state plays a role, it has to play a strong, defined role. A weak state is no good for anyone. Our system is based on the principle that everything originates in communities, cantons, provinces and lastly at the federal state. The state cannot do anything by itself unless it is managed bottom-up. As long as the community can do it by itself, it will do it and so on … It is the principle of subsidiarity. It goes down to the individual who has to feel responsible for himself. This is the mindset and the character of Switzerland.

Q What kind of knowledge and experience is needed to run a platform like GZA?

A GZA was in a bad state in 2010 because eve-

Dr Balz Hösly, MME Partners, Switzerland

ryone had other ideas. Cantons struggled with each other, no one actually knew what people were doing, it was a mess. We had to clean up and make people understand who does what, the distribution of competences, authorities, who plays which role and who pays for what. We now know that in the five year period (2009

Q The story of GZA seems to be not only well recognised but also very successful. What are the next steps? A Believe it or not but more than 60% of my time is spent explaining to the Swiss people why location marketing is so important. My CEO explains to the world what GZA is. I have to convince my people that we cannot neglect the location marketing. I do many presentations, speeches, comparisons to other countries. None of this could be done without the support of THE BOSTON CONSULTING GROUP (leading management consulting company). They help us to accumulate facts and figures on location marketing, they do a great job. The point is that they are a global organisation with many insights into markets while we are tiny organisation (18 employees) and we do not have our own research department. So, for the future, it’s crucial to keep on going, exploring, predicting … Napoleon once said: Plans are nothing. Planning is everything. Strategy is not bookkeeping, it is the idea of where you want to be in the future and you have to adapt to the changes in the meantime. That’s how I see the future. 

We now know that in the five year period (2009 to 2013) we cost the public CHF 30m in total. If you calculate only the tax income from the companies that we settled and the people who work for those companies, the income is CHF 150m.

Dr Balz Hösly, MME Partners, Switzerland (on the right) and author – Ladeja Godina Košir (on the left), Giacomelli media

Winter Edition 2014 | The Slovenian Times



134 bussinesmen from 10 countries in Radenci

Can you imagine meeting 15 prospective business partners in just two days, in person and in one place? That you can inform yourself beforehand or that you are contacted by those who may not seem a business prospect but their services are beneficial after all? That you can negotiate projects in one place? This and much more happened on 11 – 12 November at SEE MEET Pomurje 2014 in Radenci. Together with Regionalna agencija Mura (Mura Regional Development Agency) and project coordinator, Mr Franc GÜnc in the vanguard, the organisers successfully implemented an excellent business event with the basic intention to connect prospective business partners in one place.

The Pomurje region, with its innovative marketing ideas and events in recent years, hosted SEE MEET Pomurje 2014, the first Futurallia concept international matchmaking business event. The positive feedback from both local and international companies and entrepreneurs confirmed that the organisers had successfully organised as many as 1,326 How were the companies individual meetings over the two chosen? days. The participants also had for SEE MEET Pomurje 2014 the opportunity to attend three Applications started flowing into the electronic catalogue a interesting introductory lectures and few months ago. After completing the registrathe accompanying program. tion requirements, companies created a profile

describing the nature of their business, their field of operation, the partners they would like to meet and their reasons for participating in the event? The better and the more interesting the profiles were, the greater the possibility they would stand out from the rest and create interest from others. Three weeks before the beginning of the event, the catalogue was


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

Mark Jordan, Futurallia, in Franc GĂśnc, koordinator projekta, RRA Mura

Key Statistics 1,326 meetings, 134 participants, 104 companies from 10 different countries (Slovenia, Italy, Serbia, Croatia, Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, Luxemburg and Turkey), 14 Heads of Delegation, 3 introductory lectures, 2 days of meetings in Radenci. Average number of meetings per participant: 11 meetings from a possible 15. Company statistics 104 registered companies, the majority with more than 50 employees, 20 with more than 100 employees and 9 companies with more than 500 employees.

Economy opened to all registered participants who were able to start browsing profiles and select those they wanted to meet. Each participant could choose 20 potential companies and set their own priority list. According to their wishes and interests, the Futurallia match-making system compiled schedules for each participant.

SEE MEET Pomurje 2014 On the first day, each registered participant was given their list for their individual 25-minute meetings with potential partners. The introductory lectures were organised with the intention of preparing participants for the concentrated action of the following two days to enable them to achieve as much as possible from those meetings. The first lecture, Introduce yourself as a diamond given by Branko Žunec Jr. was very well received as were the addresses How to be

a creative and constructive thinker whom everybody likes from Nastja Mulej, MA and Marko Lotrič with Say yes to internationalisation. In the enthusiastic feedback, participants stressed that they had gained new momentum from the lectures which broadened their view as to how to introduce oneself to a prospective partner as efficiently as possible. Of course, networking and socialising did not end after the official meetings. Participants experienced an evening of the authentic Pomurje feast of St. Martin with the christening of must and traditional folk music. The organisers, who invested themselves in the preparation and successful implementation of this international meeting, were more than pleased with such a large turnout and the variety and quality of the registered companies. They are confident that such meetings are an efficient way to make new and strengthen existing business connections with business partners from Slovenia and abroad. Excellent feedback and praise was received after the event, but more importantly the desire that this event become one of the regular features of the Pomurje economic arear. We are looking forward to SEE MEET Pomurje 2015!  More info about MEET Pomurje 2014 is available at or social media profiles Facebook (SeeMeetPomurje) and Twitter (@seemeetpomurje).

To be honest, I was a bit worried ahead of participating in SEE MEET Pomurje 2014, but everything went smoothly and the organisation was excellent. This year I took part as the Head of the Turkish Delegation and as an observer but I will definitely bring along Turkish companies next year. I was more than pleased with the selection of companies and I met with several other Chambers and Agencies. I will absolutely participate in the event next year. Okay Başbug ˘ , Foreign Affairs Supervisor, World Trade Center Istanbul, Turkey Because I work in advertising, business events are a weekly practice. SEE MEET Pomurje 2014 surprised me as one of the best-structured and organised businessoriented events that I’ve visited in my 13-year career. The required preliminary preparation for the event enabled undisturbed activity and substantiated the quality of the ”SEE MEET” formula. The systematic process of the meetings ensures time-efficiency and the targeted one-on-one business socialising. I would certainly recommend the event to anybody wanting to expand their business and make a solid introduction to potential partners. Ana Pegan Pergarec, Project Manager at Amicus, Ltd. from Kranj SEE MEET was an exceptional opportunity for us to meet with a number of potential partners in a small place and in a short period of time. In two business days we managed to negotiate at least six to seven projects with partners whom we only knew by name beforehand, but at SEE MEET we actually worked on concrete projects and ideas. At the same time we renewed some old acquaintances with the intention of preparing new joint European projects. Branko Malagurski, CEO, Regional Development Agency Panonreg, Subotica, Croatia



Winter Edition 2014 | The Slovenian Times



We illuminate everything even the darkest economic situation During the winter months, there are more darker days and the business of electric distributors thrives. But in order to prevent wallets being empty, especially those of the owners of larger companies, we can make a difference by choosing economical lightning. A quality offer of LED lighting was introduced by GeoEnergetika, where they fight the current economic situation with innovation and knowledge.


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

As the days grows shorter and weaker, we are forced to consume more artificial light, which is not only necessary for lighting spaces and outdoor facilities but also for our well-being as we are more likely to get depressed when it is dark. Something else that can put us in a bad mood is the electricity bill at the end of the month. This is true for both households and companies where higher energy costs are noticeable, especially for those whose businesses run in shifts, which makes their quest for saving solutions a necessity. Harmonisation of lighting with the law is also important and the economical LED lighting offers a solution. There are many providers of such lighting in the market and amongst them is GeoEnergetika which is renowned for its development of lights. They develop their lights themselves, give them a designer form and then manufacture them. Their product is, from conception to realisation, Slovenian. This is a great advantage for domestic buyers who may need service, replacement or replenishment after purchase, which is also the reason they cooperates with foreign partners because they also want to ensure they have the same terms and conditions. "Development and production means costs", says GaĹĄper Puhan, Manager "but we see this as an advantage in the quality of products. We are not intimidated by the magnitude of a project but we always let our customers know that it takes time; especially when special adjustments are required in order to produce adjusted end products. We understand the wishes of our customers and for successful cooperation, we want them to understand us, too. At the same time, these are also conditions for the positive 'yield' for both parties, especially in the current uncertain economic situation. It is because we respect each and every business partner, even if they order only one single lamp and because

we offer quality, that we are successful and we can claim that we illuminate everything and dissolve the economic darkness." Later in the conversation, Mr Puhan introduced their lights. They are joined in the family of GeoLED lights which follow the company’s philosophy which is strongly connected with the name of the company: Geo - Earth, the preservation of which is a part of their consciousness and Energetika (or energy), which is the lever of development innovation, energy conservation and environmental impact. To provide progressive quality yet economical and environmentally-friendly solutions, the company commits to customers wants and needs individually. Therefore, in larger companies, they advise on the renovation of existing lights, instead of replacement, by which the company significantly lowers the renovation costs although with outdoor lightning an overall replacement is more efficient. Efficient electricity consumption economises the environment as well as finances and therefore the input is reimbursed. The time of the refund on an investment correlates with the scope of the renovation. "Considering that GeoLED lights accumulate over 90 percent savings. Experience shows that replacing outdated lights of up to 250W with GeoLED lights accumulates more than 90 percent in savings whereas replacing the 125W lights accumulates up to 80 percent in savings. We can make a quick calculation that the investment is refunded in only two years", explains Mr Puhan. This data has been tested many times in practice because, so far, many have trusted GeoEnergetika in Slovenia as well as abroad. A recent, bigger project, which will be finished in December 2014, is the renovation of lighting at the Petrol 24-hour filling stations across Slovenia. "We are extremely pleased with the trust of the major players in the domestic and foreign markets because it proves our quality and competitive flexibility," says the director of the company. All of the successful projects give rise to new wishes and GeoEnergetika is seeking connections with foreign business partners with whom they can mutually offer assistance and spread the idea of economising electricity and consequently, the environment and finances. ď ´


Conventa will once again heat up the meeting environment in Ljubljana Considered as one of the most anticipated professional meeting industry gatherings of 2015, Conventa will, once again, gather meeting industry professionals in Ljubljana from 21 to 22 January 2015. Over the past six years, Conventa has hosted 753 exhibitors from 13 countries, 1,436 hosted buyers from 40 countries and recorded 17,240 One2One meetings between exhibitors and hosted buyers. The most recent show was particularly successful and broke several new records which means expectations for 2015 are that much higher. The extra pressure has given the organisers even more energy and desire to deliver the promise of another successful show. Miha Kovačič, Director of the Slovenian Convention Bureau and organiser of Conventa explains: "Conventa is not just a two-day trade show; it is much more. It is a marketing campaign running 365 days a year. It is also an event that remains alert as to how important it is to understand client needs, market developments and market trends. Year after year it delivers on its promises to host buyers and exhibitors at the only meetings show where they are treated equally. The results received from buyers and exhibitors attending the shows bear testament to its continued success. We look forward to seeing you at the seventh Conventa in January 2015!"

Conventa opens up to emerging destinations in “New Europe” After six years of growth and raising awareness about South East Europe and Central

Europe among meeting planners, Conventa is proud to open the exhibitor area and invite the emerging destinations of New Europe to join the Conventa meeting industry playground. Conventa is the first trade show to represent the international destinations of Southern, Central and Eastern Europe, also known as "New Europe". Anne Lise Gangstad, Project Manager at Berg-Hansen in Norway said: "A lot of our customers have already been to quite a few destinations around Europe and are now looking for something new and exciting. We therefore have to be one step ahead." The Conventa team firmly believe that it is necessary to go beyond the outdated ways of thinking and start with new forms of integration and cooperation. New Europe is a perfect addition to the show as it can be associated with the fundamental professional values of the meeting industry, with youth, energy and creativity that radiate from the destinations represented at Conventa. For the first time, Conventa 2015 will host meeting providers from Azerbaijan and Russia. Also represented in large numbers will be the Austrians who were pleasantly surprised by the success of the sixth gathering. Although the trade show is inviting new destinations to join the loyal exhibitors, Con-

venta will remain focused on its initial market (South East Europe), personal touch and compared to other shows also a boutique trade show experience. Geraldine Huybrechts, Managing Partner at Borealis Belgium and hosted buyer at Conventa 2014 said: "Conventa is well organised. It is a small exhibition with very personal contact thanks to its size. You get in touch with almost all suppliers and a lot of other hosted buyers which provides excellent networking opportunities."

Great educational programme The upcoming exhibition promises a great educational programme. Every day during Conventa, participants will be able to enjoy quick presentations, workshops, forums and different lectures of all levels. The Conventa Academy, Conventa morning energy sessions, Conventa Expert’s corner and IMEX-MPIMCI Future Leaders Forum will stimulate the minds of meeting industry players. Conventa will also host Kevin Kelly, an internationally acclaimed motivational speaker and authority on the success principles underpinning entrepreneurship, leadership, sales and motivation for which he has developed the cutting edge methodology of Xceptional Execution and Martin Ferro-Thomsen, Founder and CEO of Conferize, a stealth startup for the conference industry and Co-Founder of Issuu.  For more information visit

Over the past six years, Conventa has hosted 753 exhibitors from 13 countries, 1,436 hosted buyers from 40 countries and recorded 17,240 One2One meetings between exhibitors and hosted buyers.

Winter Edition 2014 | The Slovenian Times


Economy Questions to Roger Martin Q We live in the time of fast change. How is

Roger Martin at The 27th annual Presidents Forum

Q Setting strategy has been around for a long

IEDC-Bled School of Management Presidents’ Forum with strategy expert Roger Martin

"Strategy is about making 5 distinctive choices" The 27th annual Presidents’ Forum, which took place on 28 November 2014, at the IEDC-Bled School of Management, was organised in partnership with NLB. Attended by 150 CEOs, managers and government representatives from 22 countries, it was opened by the Prime Minister of the Republic of Slovenia, Miro Cerar, and the Dean and President of IEDC-Bled School of Management, Danica Purg. The forum topic was Strategy. Roger Martin, the key-note speaker who is a renowned management thinker ranking third on the Thinkers50 list, focussed on the questions 'How a winning strategy works and what it is?' and 'Why strategic planning is not strategy?' "Every organisation knows that strategy is important and most spend a lot of time on strategic planning. However, for most, the process is neither enjoyable nor effective. A central reason is that planning is not strategy. Strategy is the act of making an integrated set of choices on where to play and how to win. Most strategic plans aren’t actually strategic because they don’t specify what the organisation will and won’t do. They are therefore not effective", maintains Roger Martin pointing out that, "Fortunately, strategy can be made simple, fun and effective by focusing on five distincitve choices which have to fit together and reinforce one another: what is our winning aspiration, where will we play, how will we win, what capabilities must be in place and what management systems are required."


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

this influencing the way we think about strategy? A Many people believe that a fast-changing environment means that strategy isn’t necessary, helpful or even possible. That belief will get them in big trouble. In times of rapid change, it is even more critical to have clear logic behind your where-to-play and howto-win choices. Only if you are precise about what you are attempting to accomplish will you be in a position to shift intelligently, not randomly or superstitiously, with changes in your competitive environment. time. Managers learn about it in MBA programs of highly reputable business schools, organisations get advice from global consulting companies. Why then are 'bad' strategies so common? A Academic strategy work does little to address the centrally important managerial question: What specific steps do I need to take to shift from an unsatisfactory strategy to a great one? It focuses more on strategy concepts that are interesting to strategy academics. The global consulting firms have found that there is far more revenue to be garnered by performing non-strategy services than strategy services. Even for the so-called 'strategy consulting firms,' strategy is a relatively small part of their overall business. As a consequence, their expertise in strategy is dwindling. So, together, business academics and consultants don’t provide nearly the help on strategy that real managers need.

Q What is the key difference between the strategy that looks good on the paper and the one that gets implemented? A This question is based on a mythical creature – like the Loch Ness monster. I have never seen and never expect to see, a strategy that simultaneously 'looks good on paper' and 'doesn’t get implemented.' I do see many strategies that make the creators extremely proud but simply are not very good. I can accurately predict, in advance, that nothing good will arise out of them. Typically, they are really nothing but abstract statements of hopes and dreams: 'We will be the biggest in our industry by 2020 by being the provider of choice.' When nothing good happens on the basis of these lovingly wordsmithed strategies, poor implementation is blamed, while the real reason is a useless strategy. Roger Martin

IEDC-Bled School of Management

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Politics Business Chamber Shocked by the government‘s concessions to unions The Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced it would boycott the talks on a new social pact over what it sees as unfair burdens being placed on business in shoring up public finances. The Chamber, which is one of several partners representing employers in talks among social partners, said that it would suspend its participation in the negotiations until the government takes a more balanced approach in dealing with the crisis. As a precondition for rejoining the talks on a new four-year umbrella document settling relations between the partners, it demands that the government withdraw all proposals that would impose additional burdens on business as part of the 2015 budget. The Chamber argued that the new burdens would only additionally skew the balance of crisis measures against business, after the government had abandoned plans for more radical cuts in the public sector in reaching a pay deal with trade unions. "This is a form of pressure, a strike, if you will," GZS Head, Samo Hribar Milič, told a session of the GZS Board, which endorsed the proposal. Members of the board were loud in criticising the government’s willingness to concede to the trade unions on around EUR 100m in savings while refusing to negotiate around EUR 100m in new burdens on business. They said this attitude "threatens numerous jobs in the private sector and drives away investors". While the number of staff in the public sector has risen by 3,400 during the crisis, business has shed 90,000 jobs and is losing more due to the unfair burdens, they highlighted. Negotiations have been launched several times in recent years but never resulted in an agreement. The last attempt was made for a 20142015 social agreement, but the initiative fell through in the spring Samo Hribar Milič, GZS Head; Photo:STA

Finance Minister Mramor (on the right) – The Finance Minister hopes for a boost in private spending during the Christmas holidays

Social peace?

Government deal with public sector trade unions:

Political wisdom or shot in the knee? By STA, M. T., G. M.

The government and public sector trade unions struck an agreement on cuts in the public sector wage bill, for 2015, after marathon talks in late November. Both sides emerged from the negotiations happy that looming industrial action had been averted. Who will pay the price for social peace is more or less clear: the economy! Although the savings will be much lower than initially proposed by the government, officials said the deal would be sufficient to form a viable budget. The trade unions said they were happy that pay would not be significantly affected.

Interesting compromise: Instead of EUR 130m, just EUR 20m of savings! The agreement envisages the extension of existing austerity measures plus additional cuts in bonuses and top-up pension insurance. In return, the trade unions have been granted their demand for promotions to be made available again as of the end of 2015. While the government had initially hoped to secure EUR 130m in savings with the new deal, unofficial information suggests the figure is expected to be closer to EUR 20m-30m.


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

Prime Minister Miro Cerar and Finance Minister Dušan Mramor joined chief government negotiator, Boris Koprivnikar, the Public Administration Minister, as the talks closed. "We have shown that we are capable of achieving smart, meaningful and constructive deals through dialogue and compromise," said Cerar. PM Miro Cerar – A smart, meaningful and constructive deal! Photo:

Politics Public opinion

Signing Trade unions and Minister for Public Administration

"The effort put in by both sides to reach an agreement was great and I think we have achieved a deal that is acceptable to both sides, but which will also require additional effort to get us through 2015 financially," he added. Mramor said the deal falls at the "extreme edge" of what was needed to form a budget that will meet the primary goal of reducing the deficit to below 3% of GDP next year. The Minister did not go into the specifics of how much the government expects to save with the deal or where it would make up the difference for what it had to give up in return for agreement with the unions.

Positive effect on private consumption in December? He highlighted that an important factor in the deal was also to avoid the turmoil that industrial action would bring. "This peace before the New Year, before Christmas, is something that will have a positive effect on consumption and consequently on growth." Trade union representatives were also satisfied with the deal, labelling it as meeting the minimum requirements that they had throughout the talks. Still, they said it amounted to a compromise for them, given that they had maintained that anything beyond an extension of the existing austerity measures in the public sector was unacceptable. Branimir Štrukelj, one of the two chief union negotiators, said a major win was to make promotions available again. They will kick into force as of December of next year. In return for the promotions, the trade unions agreed to cuts in top-up pension insurance and performance bonuses. Currently being funded by 30% of the original premiums, the top-up pension purse will receive only 10% premiums in the first six months of 2015 and then 15% in the next four. The 30% rate will be restored in November. Meanwhile performance bonuses, which are currently limited to 60% of that envisaged in the public sector pay system, will now fall to 40%. As part of the deal, the two sides also agreed to review the possibility of enabling a voluntary shortening of the working week, a part of which staff could choose to work 36hour weeks (instead of 40 hours) for a corresponding reduction in pay. 

Voters not satisfied with the Government, PM’s Party Rating in free fall The opposition Democratic Party (SDS) took the lead in a poll released in the beginning of December as the rating for the senior coalition partner, the Party of MiroCerar (SMC) collapsed to 12% from 29% after the July election. SDS gained almost five percentage points from the month before to 13.7%, while SMC lost four points to 12.4% and the opposition United Left (ZL) edged 1.3 points higher to 8.5%.The coalition Social Democrats (SD) polled at 6.4%, down from 7.2% the month before, followed by the now non-parliamentary People’s Party (SLS) at 3.9%, the coalition Pensioners’ Party (DeSUS) at 3.5% and the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) at 2.9%. The steady fall in the SMC’s rating is reflected in an increase in the proportion of those who would not vote for any party to 21% from 13% in November and 9% in October. A further 10.2% were undecided and 14% said they would not vote.

The approval rating for the government fell to 2.49 on the scale from one to five, down from 2.58 in November. The government now enjoys the support of 22.5%, while 53% disapprove of it with 18% undecided. The National Assembly’s score improved slightly to 2.34 from 2.31 in November. The most popular politician remains President Borut Pahor, ahead of Slovenia’s former European Commissioner Janez Potočnik and Agriculture Minister Dejan Židan, the leader of the SD. Meanwhile, PM Cerar fell to fourth spot from second in the past two months. He topped the rankings after the 13 July general election. 

PM Miro Cera – Voters expect more action from the PM; Source SMC; Photo: Aljoša Rebolj

Winter Edition 2014 | The Slovenian Times


European Union EU Funding

Commissioner Bulc Urges More Action in Bid to Secure EU Funding By T. M., STA, EC

European Transport Commissioner, Violeta Bulc, urged all stakeholders in Slovenia to join forces and draw up good projects if they are to be successful in securing funding from the Commission’s investment package.

Good preparation and promotion of a project is crucial Bulc held talks with Prime Minister Miro Cerar and Parliamentary Speaker Milan Brglez, and attended a joint session of the economy, finance, infrastructure and EU affairs committees in what was her first visit to Slovenia since she took office. She told the MPs that there are multiple instruments at their disposal as part of the investment package, which is theoretically worth EUR 315bn, and each one needs to be studied carefully as they have specific rules. Bulc stressed that a lot would depend on how a project is framed and narratedregarding cooperation. "Many stakeholders need to take part in a concerted effort...there are opportunities," she said.

False optimism is dangerous. "Too much talking, not enough walking" may jeopardise projects Slovenia hopes to secure funding for, in particular, the Divača-Koper rail upgrade and the development of the third axis, a north-western expressway that is seen as crucial to improving links in economically disadvantaged regions. Infrastructure Minister Peter Gašperšič said both projects were viable for funding consideration, noting that "Slovenia has a few cards up EU Commissioner Violeta Bulc and PM Miro Cerar


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

its sleeve and we can play them." Infrastructure investments were also the subject of talks with Prime Minister Cerar, who noted that the government has shortlisted 20 projects worth EUR 9.2bn that he described as very important for Slovenia. "I’m sure Commissioner Bulc will help. The projects Slovenia is proposing are of strategic importance for Central Europe and for Slovenia’s links to the rest of the world," Cerar said. Bulc would not speak about the individual projects, but she was quick to point out that commissioners do not have a say on which projects would be financed, as that is the task of special commissions. Cerar and Bulc also talked about Slovenia’s fiscal consolidation efforts, which Bulc described as "encouraging" measures that have earned trust in its ability to sort out the public finances.  Slovenia has proposed a number of infrastructure projects but without clear priority, funding or documentation… – Porto of Koper, highways, railways

Macroeconomic imbalances

European Commission: A Little Progress in Tackling Imbalances Slovenia has made progress in some key areas but many measures are yet to be implemented, according to a European Commission report on the elimination of macroeconomic imbalances.

European Union Consumer Protection

No signifact problems with the new food labeling rules New rules transposing EU regulations on the provision of food information to consumers entered into force in December, bringing mandatory origin labelling and information on allergens. The sweeping changes, three years in the making, will affect large swathes of the food and the catering industry. Early elections caused delays in reform efforts but progress has been achieved in areas where political decisions have been adopted, says the report, which covers the period between June and November 2014. Among the measures that have been carried out, the report singles out bank resolution, pension reform and labour market reform, which it says have started to produce results. On the other hand, Slovenia is yet to implement the Fiscal Rule Act, review health spending, and tackle non-performing loans to the corporate sector, which are weighing down bank profitability. The Slovenia Sovereign Holding has been incorporated but little progress has been made in adopting its strategy or appointing a new supervisory board. A code of corporate governance, designed to improve the governance of state-owned companies, has been drafted but is still awaiting adoption. Progress on reforms that would improve the business environment is slow; the same applies to structural reforms such as legislation on long-term care. While Slovenia has expressed "strong commitment" to reforms aimed at eliminating the excessive deficit in 2014, the success of the efforts hinges on broad public support and implementation. At the institutional level, the Commission urges Slovenia to improve cooperation between the Central Bank and the Finance Ministry in corporate restructuring. Overall, the government needs to tackle institutional fragmentation, determine the priorities and set out to implement them. Slovenia is one of three countries subject to excessive macroeconomic imbalances procedures, along with Croatia and Italy. All three are deemed to have achieved progress. The report will be updated in February 2015, when the Commission will re-assess the progress and determine whether it is necessary to launch additional proceedings. ď ´

The focus in Slovenia has been on the requirement that food allergens be clearly labelled in restaurants and even schools and kindergartens. Allergens in all food items must be displayed either on menus or on at least on one visible display. Food companies have welcomed the rules as a step in the right direction in term of consumer awareness of food origin.

A few technical problems and a period of adjustment However, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) has said some requirements were unclear and would probably have to be modified

based on practical experience. The Chamber of Craft Trades and Small Business (OZS) warned that bars and restaurants need additional time to adjust. The OZS questions the sensibility of imposing the measure given that patrons order food realise full well what it contains. One source of disgruntlement is that the rules also apply to kindergartens, which means their menus will have to name the allergens. The problem, as one kindergarten nutritionist wrote in an op-ed this week, is that compliance is nonsensical since the children cannot yet read anyway. Children with allergies already get special food based on doctor recommendations and the new rules will simply ensure compliance for the sake of compliance. ď ´

Winter Edition 2014 | The Slovenian Times


Experience&Lifestyle Slovenia Interview: Marko Guček, Director, GoOpti


takes care for his customers An interview with the face of GoOpti, Director Marko Guček, who introduces the user-friendly novelties offered on time of arrival/departure when making the booking whereas with the OPTI transfers, the customer specifies a time interval in which they would like the transfer. The bigger the time interval (Flexibility window), the lower the cost of the transfer. The site has been enhanced by a time interval which alerts to possible inconsistencies between the GoOpti transfer and the time of the flight (Time safety tool). We have also developed the MyOpti tool which enables an individual to manage all existing bookings, take an overview of all (also past) bookings and to cancel the transfer.

Q How has the website been accepted by your customers?

A All website changes were made with the in-

Q This year is coming to an end. How would you describe it?

A 2014 was extremely prolific and full of novelties for GoOpti. In May we introduced a brand new portal, a refreshed version at the existing website, which is the result of two years of programming. Designing the new website was driven by knowing what our passengers need and the desire to further expand our offer.

Q What new things can we find on the new website?

A What makes the new website significantly different from the old one is the applications which make the whole experience friendlier. I would stress that it is now possible to make bookings from anywhere to everywhere for up to 49 people. We have simplified our transfers to OPTI, FIX and VIP. With the latter two, it is possible for the customer to specify the exact


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

tention of making the website easier to use and to increase the satisfaction of our customers in this area. We recently carried out a customer satisfaction survey and we found that 94 percent of customers are satisfied with our service and would recommend us to their friends. Thinking of these customers, we designed and introduced two new programs which reward customers for their loyalty and references: The 'Loyalty Program' and 'Invite your Friends'.

Q All this sounds intriguing, tell us more! A The Invite your Friends program proves that having friends is nice! It is now possible for you to invite your friends to sign up at the GoOpti website. In exchange for signing up, your friend will receive a welcome coupon for a EUR 5 discount and to show our appreciation for your reference and kind words, we will increase your GoOpti virtual wallet balance by EUR 5. The Loyalty Program, as implied, will bring joy to those loyal passengers who travel often with GoOpti. Our system automatically keeps a record of all purchases and simultaneously adds your kilometres travelled. According to your kilometres travelled, we will refund a certain amount to your MyOpti virtual wallet on every purchase. The refunded amount will be based on your kilometres travelled - the more

kilometres you travel, the higher the refund on your purchase. Your refunds will be kept in your MyOpti virtual wallet and can be changed into a discount code at any time. Discount code can be used purchasing GoOpti transfer and lowering the final amount of your transfer.

Q On your website you offer an affiliate marketing option. Can you tell us a bit about this?

A The affiliate programme is a marketing move where all interested parties are offered a 3 percent provision on every transfer sold in exchange for posting the link for the GoOpti website. The registered user is assigned a unique tracking link for the GoOpti website which can be used for spreading a good word about GoOpti. The advantage of the GoOpti affiliate program is its simplicity and suitability for everybody. If you are the owner of a website, you post the link in the form of a banner advert and invite your visitors to buy GoOpti transfers or simply share the URL as a "copy-paste" with your Facebook friends or post it on Twitter or LinkedIn. Why not take advantage of the power of social media? A 3 percent provision from every purchase made through the tracking link will be added to your balance in your MyOpti virtual wallet. Your credit can be converted into a discount code at any time and cashed in on the purchase of a GoOpti transfer. The more you share the link, the higher the credit in your MyOpti Wallet.

Q What about companies? Can they also create the affiliate link to the GoOpti website?

A Of course! The tracking link is suitable for everybody with their own place on the web, whether they be individuals with their profiles or website owners, hoteliers, organisers of various (public or personal) events or proprietors of places which attract the public. For the latter, we offer a personalised GoOpti website with a designated initial/entry or final/exit location which they determine themselves to facilitate bookings for their guests and at the same time guarantee their arrival at the right destination. 

Experience&Lifestyle Slovenia

Registered GoOpti users are offered the Loyalty Program, Invite your Friends and the possibility for affiliate marketing.

Post the tracking link to GoOpti website on your Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn account or on your website.

Winter Edition 2014 | The Slovenian Times


Experience&Lifestyle Slovenia Q Where did you get people? A "The team is a collection of people we know. We just invited them to join."

Q What obstacles did you have to overcome? A "Whenever you introduce something new it comes with obstacles. You have to make people see what you see. Basically, you have to convince people of the success. Open Kitchen is very different from other food markets. We had to connect all the dots. Convince restaurants. In the beginning that was one of the obstacles. The city and market operator JP LPT saw the potential for a successful project. I tried to create a win-win situation for all; an event for the city, extra earnings and promotion for the restaurants. And visitors can choose their favourite dish, get an endless variety of food and have a great place to hang out." Lior Kochavy – brainchild of the Open Kitchen market in Ljubljana

Tourist and gastronomic success story

Open Kitchen will be

BIGGER By Mark Koghee

The Open Kitchen market, where Slovenian restaurants prepare and sell their food, started in 2013 next to the market in Ljubljana and was an immediate hit with locals and tourists. The open-air restaurant offers all types of Slovenian cuisine and some international cuisines. This year, the organisers of the Open Kitchen also organised the Beer and Burger Festival in Ljubljana. In autumn, a new book featuring a collection of recipes from the food market was released. There is currently a team of eight people behind the Open Kitchen, which will open again in March 2015 and be there every Friday until the end of October. It is the brainchild of Lior Kochavy. Kochavy is originally from Israel where he was the manager of one of the biggest beach resorts in the country. After he met his Slovenian wife, he moved to Slovenia and discovered Slovenian cuisine. Kochavy: "After I came to Slovenia I discovered such a variety of food, it surprised me. There are so many different cuisines and the people are proud of the local cuisine. Gastronomy in Slovenia is really developed and visitors should be able to experience it in a different way."

Q The Open Kitchen was something Slovenia hadn’t seen before. How did you come up with the idea? A "Well, it all started with my wife being abroad. I’m really not a talented cook so when she wasn’t there I realised I had to go out and get food. It reminded me of home, in Tel Aviv, where we have a food market on Friday’s where you get your food for the weekend. I started to think why not start something like that in Ljubljana?"

Q What did you think of the first year? A "We started badly. The first two Friday’s we had to cancel because of rain. When it rains we don’t open. So we actually started in June. The first reactions were immediately positive. Every Friday we saw an increasing number of visitors. At the end of the year we got the Jakob award. That was an important confirmation that we were going in the right direction."

Q Did the experiences of the first year lead to changes?

A "We are adapting all the time. The number of visitors rose so our offer had to rise. We want to enrich the visitor experience so we are constantly working on new seating and dining experiences. Next season there will probably be new things too. I can’t say anything about that as yet because we are still finalising some things. Later I can say more but some things we will keep as a surprise."

Q Did you expect to be this successful? A "Actually yes. I didn’t have a single doubt that this would be accepted by the visitors and the city. If you do something like this, you do it from the heart and you don’t cut corners. If we would just have made this a market with food it wouldn’t have been this big."

Q Will you expand further next year? A "That’s a normal evolution. The Open

A winner of two important tourism Kitchen will be bigger but I can’t yet say by how much. The preparation is intensive and we only awards (Sejalec and Jakob) and have three months. We had a maximum of 40 a top attraction in Slovenia, to 45 stands and there is a long waiting list the Open Kitchen in Ljubljana with restaurants that want to participate." (Odprta Kuhna) is without doubt Q Can we expect any new projects from you? a tourist and gastronomic success Q What was the idea? A "This year we had the Beer and Burger Fesstory. It’s time to sit down A "I wanted the best food providers in a place tival. We will definitely keep doing that. We with Lior Kochavy; the creator and where you could hang out and socialise. I also have just had our new book coming out. director of the food market which has worked the idea out with my wife but quickly There are no other plans for the winter, but who shaken up Ljubljana. we learned that two people were not enough." knows what the future will bring."  38

The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

Experience&Lifestyle Slovenia

President Pahor and his partner Tanja Pečar visiting SILA; Photo: Jan Jamšek

Interview: Laura Jamšek, President, SILA


international community with charity at heart By Tina Drolc, M.Sc.

Laura Jamšek is the President of the Slovenian International Ladies’ Association – SILA, a colourful society of different generations, intellectual profiles and nationalities, which today has almost 200 members. Laura Jamšek explained that SILA was formed in 1993, with the aim to foster mutual international understanding and to expand the knowledge of Slovenia among the foreigners who live here. In the past 20 years, SILA members have collected and donated more than EUR 1.2m to help people in need. Q On 29 November 2014, SILA concluded an- come to assist in the organisation of such a big other successful international bazaar. Where did the idea for organising such an event originate and what is the “rule” for participation? A The idea was born more 20 years ago from the necessity and the desire to help people in need. Slovenes have a lot of understanding and compassion for those people who do not have it easy in life. Each country, each embassy, is wel-


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

event. There is not a rule, just the wish to help Slovene people in need. In this way, different countries can show, to a large mass of the local population, their culture and typical products.

Q In the past 20 years, SILA members have collected and donated more than EUR 1.2m to local shelters and charitable organisations. Has

Laura Jamšek, President, SILA; Photo: Matevž Paternoster

the amount of money been collected only through the bazaar or is SILA also involved in some other, smaller, charity activities? A The bazaar is the only charity project. SILA is not a charitable association, it is an association; a non-governmental, non-religious and non-profit organisation, formed in 1993 and run on a voluntarily basis by its members. SILA offers its members numerous opportunities to participate in diverse and interesting activities to foster deeper mutual understanding among ourselves and to expand our knowledge of Slovenia and the rest of the world. We have many activities for our members.

Q At the very beginning, SILA was purely a “social platform” for the wives of foreign ambassadors. Today the Association has been expanded into the “expat” community. Could you explain more about its mission? A In our association are ambassador’s wives, but increasingly there are more foreign members, who work here, are married to Slovenes or came because of their husband’s job. Among us are also Slovenes that have an international background. It is a very colourful association of different generations, intellectual profiles and nationalities. This mix makes us better.

Q How are the ladies in the Association connected? How is the community organised? Do you also share some contacts with other similar international associations? A Every month we have a meeting where we discuss and debate current issues. During the month, we have different clubs where people with different interests meet, such as: an English book club, French conversation, Slovene lessons, the wooden spoon, art corner etc. We are always open to collaboration with other associations. 

* Sparkling Wine. Rejdno dobro. “Prleška Tünka.” Rejdno dobro. Pumpkin Oil. Rejdno dobro. “Špricer” from Goričko. Rejdno dobro. Castel Grad. Rejdno dobro. Vulcania. Rejdno dobro. Homemade Bread. Rejdno dobro. “Pereci.” Rejdno dobro. Punpkin Chocolate. Rejdno dobro. Prekmurje Ham. Rejdno dobro. Orchid from Dobrovnik. Rejdno dobro. Thermal Spa. Rejdno dobro. Walking along Mura River. Rejdno dobro. “Radenska Slatina”. Rejdno dobro. Spoiling Yourself. Rejdno dobro. Pomurje. Rejdno dobro! *Really good. Come and experience by yourself!

Experience&Lifestyle Slovenia Active in Bled


A winter wonderland

A Beautiful base in winter Slovenia’s most picturesque destination, Bled, is also an ideal spot in winter. The small town, with its clifftop castle and fairylike lake, is an excellent base for active and cultural winter adventures in and around town.

Perfect starting point

Romantic Bled

In Bled, a brand new regional tourist and nature conservation information centre has opened its doors to the public. Centre Triglavska Roža is the perfect starting point for visits to Bled and/or its surroundings. Triglavska Roža is the place to go for information about Bled, the Gorenjska region and Triglav National Park. At the centre, which is open daily, is a brand new exhibition about the region of Gorenjska, its Natura 2000 sites and Triglav National Park, featuring a rich multimedia presentation. The centre has a gift shop which sells traditional arts and crafts from the region and there is a café. Triglavska Roža will also organise guided tours for groups. The region wants sustainable development and has therefore chosen to share the magnificent natural and cultural heritage of the region and the treasures of the national park: 'Triglavska Roža helps to better communicate the values and assets of the destination and invites visitors to discover, experience and enjoy its riches'. At Triglavska Roža visitors can enjoy: • the permanent exhibition: Paradise at the Foot of Triglav • a multimedia hall with daily film screenings • tourist and mountaineering information • the souvenir and gift shop with locally made products and artwork, natural science books, maps and guidebooks • the cafe • various events, workshops, an eco-market and occasional exhibitions • free WiFi

If you like the sight of Bled’s lake and castle among the green hills and mountains in the summer sun, then go and see Bled in the winter when a blanket of snow hugs the treasures that make up Bled’s amazing scenery. The picture perfect views created by the winter conditions become truly magical when on a romantic horse-drawn carriage or a balloon ride over the magical Alpine world of snow and ice. Bled is a wonderful place to celebrate advent and Christmas or ring in the New Year. There are numerous events, concerts and parties as well as fireworks on New Year’s Eve. In winter Bled doesn’t hibernate, there are workshops, fairs, ice disco’s and concerts all year round.

The building has access for disabled visitors.


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

New Year's Eve in Bled

Bled castle in the winter; Photo: Matej Vranič

Its location, amidst snow covered mountains, makes Bled the perfect place for lovers of winter sports. Winter hiking, sledging, skating, snow-shoeing, ice climbing, cross country skiing, snowboarding and skiing is possible just a stone’s throw from Bled. There is a ski bus which can take visitors to the ski resorts. With the Ski Pass Slovenian Alps visitors can get access to five resorts including free rides on the ski-bus. Skiing is also possible close-by on the Straža hill in the centre of Bled, which offers floodlit night skiing and opportunities for less demanding skiers. The Pokljuka plateau, which towers above Bled, is a cross country skiing paradise, famous for its biathlon World Cup in December. Pokljuka is a high forested plateau embellished with around 60 kilometres of cross-country ski trails.

Watch winter sports In and around Bled you can also passively enjoy winter sports. In addition to the previously mentioned biathlon World Cup at Polkljuka, there are also ice hockey tournaments in Bled, the World Cup downhill skiing in Kranjska Gora and in March, the FIS world cup ski jumping final at Planica which will, when the current renovation is completed, be the biggest ski jump in the world. Biathlo World cup at Pokljuka

Relax Should you prefer to simply unwind, then enjoy the thermal waters of Bled. The town has a rich spa tradition; it was in the 19th century with its thermal waters that tourism began. The delicious local cuisine caters for every taste and may be accompanied by a glass of excellent Slovenian wine or beer.  Information centre Bled; Photo:Aleš Zdešar

Photo Contest Perfect View The winning photo of hayracks in Šentrupert na Dolenjskem. Photo Alenka Lamovšek

Runner up, a photo of Lake Bohinj at sunrise. Photo Bor Rojnik.

'Hayracks in the Sun' wins photo contest Mark Koghee Third prize winner, a photo taken from Triglav. Photo Jure Vrčko

This photo of Kongresni Trg in Ljubljana got the most votes (454). Photo Tija Mikeli

A photo of 'Hayracks in the Sun' has won The Slovenia Times summer photo contest. In the winning photo, photographer Alenka Lamovšek captured a typical Slovenian scene, the 'kozolec' (hayrack) in a truly summer atmosphere. Other winning photos were 'Sunrise at Lake Bohinj' by Bor Rojnik (2nd prize), 'Triglav' by Jure Vrčko (3rd prize) and 'Kongresni Trg in Ljubljana' by Tija Mikeli (most votes). No less than 171 photos were entered into the photo contest, which was themed Perfect View. Slovenians, expats and tourists sent in photos of their picture perfect views of Slovenia in summer, although it was not always an easy task to choose which ones to enter. "There are so many pictures to show because there are so many beautiful landscapes in Slovenia", wrote Alison Rouvera from France who entered a picture from Kobarid. The Slovenia Times, as organiser, were very happy with the outcome of the contest and thankful for the amount, quality and diversity of the entries.

The jury consisted of • Brane Krajnik, CEO of The Slovenia Times; • Arne Hodalič, photographer and photo editor National Geographic Slovenia; • Janez Skok, publisher, photographer and alpinist; • Marko Pentek, designer; and • Mark Koghee, journalist and Editor of The Slovenia Times Summer Guide 2014. Of the photos, 30 were taken in Bled, 15 photos including the second prize were from Bohinj, 14 from Ljubljana and 13 from Piran. There were four photos from Slovenia’s highest mountain and national symbol, Triglav, of which one was awarded the third prize. The winning photo was taken in Šentrupert na Dolenjskem. All 171 photos can be seen on the The Slovenia Times website:

Winter Edition 2014 | The Slovenian Times


Experience&Lifestyle Slovenia

Slovenian dancers, The Artifex,

World Hip Hop Champions "Dance is the most beautiful thing a man does and we enjoy it. Our reputation extends beyond the borders. It is where we focus all our energy and thoughts." (The Artifex) STORY The Artifex dance group has seven dancers: Tadej Premk, Aleš Trdin, Žiga Mlakar, Žan Jeršin, Miha Furlan, Jan Marolt and Tilen Jeras, who were revealed to the public on 'Slovenia's Got Talent'. An exceptional TV performance was followed by the Champions League title in hip hop at the National and European Championships and finally at the World Championship. This year, the group received an invitation to participate in the world's biggest dance show in Las Vegas.

PASSION, PROFESSIONALISM & A DANCE SCHOOL In the two years The Artifex dance school has been operating, their dancers have become European and World Champions in two categories: the hip hop small group and the hip hop royal discipline formations. Today, the dance school has 200 dancers in various genres of hip hop (hip hop, krump, tuttin', jerkin', dougie, swag, popping...) and show dance (jazz, step, show dance…). In addition to their professional approach to dance and training, their success is based on a mutual understanding.

EVENTS, PERFORMANCES & CHILDREN'S BIRTHDAYS The performances of The Artifex are known by their choreography, adapted to the theme of the event. The dancers have already appeared in many different guises at various occasions in Slovenia such as appreciation events, grand openings, anniversary celebrations etc. Professionalism and flexibility for a single event is the greatest asset of the group in their work with all their partners, whether they are large companies or individuals who come with a variety of questions, proposals and issues. Nevertheless, at The Arfitex dance school in Šiška, dancers together with the partners organise birthday parties for children with different themes (Princesses, Pirates, Halloween, Ice age, etc.).


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

The Artifex Celovška cesta 175, SI-1000 Ljubljana T: +386 (0)40 130 070 E: W:


Jure Košir

Interview: Jure Košir, Slovenian ski legend, Olympic Medallist, Entrepreneur…

Slovenian skiing needs big changes By Tilen Majnardi, M. Sc.

Jure Košir was amongst the first generation of sportsmen to represent a newly independent Slovenia, but it was as a competitor for Yugoslavia that he won his first major title, gold in the super-giant slalom, at the 1991 World Junior Championships. He made his breakthrough in the 1993-94 season when he became the first representative of Slovenia to win an event on the World Cup circuit. Košir "exploded" at the Lillehammer Olympics and moved from eighth after the first run to claim a bronze medal in the slalom. His efforts earned him the title of Slovenian Sportsman of the Year for 1994. Košir retired in 2006 and started his new career as an entrepreneur.


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

Sports Q We can’t start without mentioning Tina that is known to everyone involved and everyMaze, this season she is again in excellent form in all disciplines. How does she manage this? Do you think that she can take the overall win this season? A She still keeps surprising. It is amazing how strong and prepared she is again. It is difficult to find the motivation for such a long and hard training period after such great success. If she stays healthy she is a top contender for the overall title.

Q Why don’t we somehow transfer the knowledge of Team aMaze to others. Is it even possible in the current organisational structure of the Ski Federation? A Tina Maze is, for sure, an outstanding talent but she and her team have proven that they have found a way for her to progress. As a member of the National Ski Team she was lost in stagnation. This proves that precise analysis of the system used in the national team system is needed. Many talented Slovenian skiers couldn’t develop in the junior ranks.

Q We see that, apart from Tina Maze, our alpine men’s and women’s teams are more or less lost in maze of below average performances. What is the main reason for this, a lack of funds in the Ski Federation, organisational issues, leadership incompetence , technique, the training system…..? A All of these issues are affecting the results. Slovenian alpine skiing was well-known for its expertise, professionalism and innovation for many years. I think we lost this over the last 10 -15 years. Many Slovenian coaches and experts left Slovenia and are working for other teams. We lost a system, a clear development plan for athletes. How to bring them from child skiers to top athletes in the World Cup, there needs to be a clear path, defined development. Ski clubs, the Ski Federation, the Faculty of Sport, ZUTS all need to be on the same page. Special attention must also be paid to proper/modern education of the coaches. Setting up a system

one follows it.

Q Is the standard of Slovenia’s trainers and experts comparable with others at the moment? Are they following the trends, equipment and development quickly enough? Is there any strategy on skiing training inside the national system of the Ski Federation? A I think we are slowly moving behind at all levels. The Slovenian National team cannot be compared to top teams ( Austrians, Swiss, US, … ). They have the possibility to train on the best courses all year round. They allocate funds for equipment testing, new methods of training, etc. Slovenian skiers are now in the position where they have trouble getting good equipment from suppliers. They have to financially participate in most of the training camps. It doesn’t put them in a good position, but a lot can be done and achieved with scarce resources - with harder work, more dedication, enthusiasm and lots of ingenuity.

Q How good is the system of junior training? In the past our young, junior skiers were quite successful but they disappeared after joining the World Cup. What is the reason for that? A There should be a system established that would enable a larger number of children to enter skiing. It should be more available and only through large groups can we find pure talent. The acute problem is that the total number of kids starting alpine skiing programs has decreased a lot. Ski clubs are facing huge problems financing and supporting the youngsters and so it pretty much comes down to the parents. Having a child who is training in alpine skiing represents a significant cost which not many Slovenian families can afford.

Q You personally had experience with the change in skiing technique, you had some problems switching from classic to carving. Why was that? A Yes. I was part of the 'big change' from classic technique to carving. It wasn’t easy but I am happy I didn’t give up on totally changing my technique and style of skiing. It was hard work, lots of repetitions but it paid off. I was still able to finish in the top three in the World Cup with 'short' carving skis. I think that the carving 'revolution' was great for alpine skiing. New types of skis help skiers of different skills to ski more smoothly and make more precise turns.

I must say that I was quite frustrated when I was President of Alpine Board. I had good intentions to change things and to involve the best expertise and individuals to help Slovenian alpine skiing get Q Why do you think that we are more successful back on track. But we faced big in Nordic skiing and ski jumping? It seems that obstacles. There are too many there is new talent one after another and that the spirit in the whole team is excellent, friendly and different interests, ski clubs positive. don’t cooperate with each A It’s all due to a well-established system. There is a well organised training centre in other, too many conflicts…

Tina Maze; Photo: Goran Antlej

Tina Maze is, for sure, an outstanding talent but she and her team have proven that they have found a way for her to progress. As a member of the National Ski Team she was lost in stagnation. Kranj with modern facilities, Planica is developing also. Young jumpers do not need to travel so much, costs are much lower. There is also good cooperation with schools and clubs. Consequently they have a very strong World Cup team and have consistently good results.

Q You had some experience working inside the bureaucracy of the Ski Federation. Do you think that the current system can be improved or do we simply need a completely new system and organisational structure at all levels? A Yes, I think so. I must say that I was quite frustrated when I was President of Alpine Board. I had good intentions to change things and to involve the best expertise and individuals to help Slovenian alpine skiing get back on track. But we faced big obstacles. There are too many different interests, ski clubs don’t cooperate with each other, too many conflicts… The decision-making system didn’t allow me to drastically change this. I had to resign because I didn’t see any effect from my side. I hope everybody involved in alpine skiing at the organisational level realises that big changes are needed. I am prepared and would like to help when the moment is right.  Winter Edition 2014 | The Slovenian Times


Economy Sports – Winter Sport Resorts in Slovenia Skiing in Slovenia

You can buy a ski ticket or maybe a ski resort


By Tomi Gračanin

Slovenia is an alpine country and in the winter it could be a skiing paradise - a small Switzerland, so to speak. In terms of numbers, there are more than 50 ski resorts in Slovenia but unfortunately that means almost 50 ski resorts in difficulty and the largest are for sale.





Kanin: Sleeping Beauty run by Incompetent Owners and Managers This could be the story of Slovenian ski resorts; but in fact it’s the story of Kanin, the highest ski resort in the country. It was planned in socialist Yugoslavia, in the 1960’s, to compete with the prestigious resorts such as Courchevel or Zermatt. When the ski centre was opened in the 1970’s, only one-tenth of the planned lifts were built. However, it had some good seasons: in 1984 more than 140,000 skiers visited Kanin. But the never completed resort, with its outdated lifts, has lost its appeal. In 1999 there was only 10 percent of the number of skiers recorded 15 years before. The obsolete Kanin lifts were given a second chance in the 2009/2010 season, when they were connected with the Italian resort, Sella Nevea, on the other side of the Kanin mountain. It became the first international ski resort in Slovenia and the wider region. It seemed to be a winning combination: modern lifts and challenging pistes on the Italian side, sunny slopes and a spectacular view on the Slovenian. But in January 2013 the cable car derailed. Two people were caught in the


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014


gondolas and were rescued by firefighters. For urgent repair which could save the ski season, they needed a mere EUR 80,000 but it was apparently too much for the lift operator, who was millions in debt. Neither hoteliers nor the municipality nor the state wanted to pay the bill. Since then the Kanin lifts have been out of operation.

7 1-6 Ski center Kanin in 2014 Photo (1, 2): Igor Zlodej; Photo (3, 4, 5, 6): POP TV 7 The slopes on Kanin in 2010, when they were connected with the Italian resort Sella Nevea; Photo: Tomi Gračanin

Winter Sport Resorts in SloveniaEconomy – Sports


9 8-11 Mariborsko Pohorje Photo (9): Aljaž Sedovšek; Photo (8, 10, 11): Mariborsko Pohorje 12-15 Kranjska Gora Photo: Archive LTO Kranjska Gora

The effect on local tourism from the collapse of the Kanin resort have been very tangible, with winter tourism all but disappeared in the town of Bovec and the surrounding areas. Efforts to find a buyer for the ski infrastructure at Kanin have so far been unsuccessful. Nevertheless, a Russian investor remains interested in acquiring the infrastructure but is looking to lower the price, which was set at EUR 1.14m, for the ruins and scrap of the 'wannabe' Yugoslav St. Moritz. The mayor of the Bovec municipality has estimated that the cost for the complete restoration and building of new lifts would be over EUR 40m.



NLB. Recently, the banks entered the ownership of ŠC Pohorje but they are seeking a strategic partner. In the disastrous winter season of 2013-14, the company generated revenue of only EUR 3.5m and reported a net loss of EUR 4m. In the meantime, Maribor’s police investigators pressed charges against the former executives of ŠC Pohorje due to an alleged business dispute. Fortunately the new season seems to be saved. A court in Maribor has approved a deal between the bankrupt Maribor ski slope operator and the city-owned mass transit company, Mar prom, whereby Mar prom will rent the ski lifts and accompanying infrastructure until

the end of March 2015. Terme Maribor also recently announced it had reached an agreement to lease four hotels at the Pohorje ski resort for one year; the deal will give it a stranglehold on lodging capacity at Slovenia’s biggest ski resort.

Kranjska gora: Collateral damage from the "Wild West" practices of Maribor





The second traditional Skiing World Cup venue in Slovenia, Kranjska Gora, is also connected with the bankrupt Maribor company. RTC Kranjska Gora ski lifts are still (formally) owned by ŠC Pohorje, and have EUR 8m of debt

Pohorje: Bankrupt and investigated by the police The mild winter of the 2013-2014 was a serious blow to the operations of many resorts which had already been struggling to survive and pay their debts. One of the hardest hit resorts last season was Mariborsko Pohorje, one of the largest in Slovenia and best known as the host of the traditional Ladies World Cup race, Zlata lisica (The Golden Fox). Its low altitude makes it even more reliant on cold and snowy winters. In October, the resort operator Sport centre (ŠC) Pohorje filed for bankruptcy with bank debt of more than EUR 50m, of which EUR 39m is owed to NKBM and the balance to

Winter Edition 2014 | The Slovenian Times


Economy Sports – Winter Sport Resorts in Slovenia 5 BIGGEST SKI RESORTS IN SLOVENIA Mariborsko Pohorje Altitude: 325 - 1.327 m Pistes: 43 KM 20 lifts BANKRUPT, FOR SALE

Krvavec 16


owed to two banks. They must repay EUR 1.3m per year, but in 2013 they couldn’t pay and so it is clear that the banks will sooner or later sell the Kranjska Gora ski lifts. The municipality "will examine all the possibilities" when the company is put up for sale. The hotel owners are aware that without lifts it will be difficult to survive and so, for now, the key player in Kranjska Gora, Hit Alpinea, can’t invest in new projects. The smaller hotel owners agree that the time is far from adequate for investment, they look to their Austrian neighbours through the Karavanke. "In Carinthia they have calculated that every euro invested in the ski lifts brings more than six euros in tourism earnings. In the last ten years they invested EUR 600m in lifts, of which the regional authorities invested EUR 120m" one of them explained.. In order to boost sales, Kranjska Gora has decided to join forces with Vogel ski resort in providing joint season tickets, in a move that signifies an increasing shift to convergence in

order to appeal to skiers. Vogel is one of the few ski resorts in the country which managed to ride out last season successfully, as its highaltitude position enabled 138 operating days. But Vogel has to rely on snowy winters: because the ski resort lies in Triglav National Park, they haven’t got the permit to build an artificial snow production system.



The successful are for sale too The smaller family oriented resort Rogla, in the Pohorje mountains, has been relatively successful in recent years, in part due to its connection with the nearby Zreče spa resort. But their owner, Unior, has decided to sell its tourism holdings as a part of a restructuring process. In addition to Rogla and Zreče spa, Unior is selling the company’s other ski resort, Krvavec, one of the biggest and most popular ski centres in the country and only 25 km from Ljubljana. Among the possible buyers is the Municipality of Cerklje na Gorenjskem. The mayor recently said that they want the tourist pearls to stay in domestic hands. Of course, support and finance by local authorities is important for every ski resort but it is no guarantee of successful operation. In another ski centre near Ljubljana, Stari vrh, the municipality of Gorenje vas – Poljane and the Municipality of Škofja Loka own 77 percent of the company. Since construction of the six-seat chairlift, STC Stari vrh has had significant debt to Hypo bank. It’s also very vulnerable in mild winters due to the resorts low altitude. In the 2012/2013 season they recorded 61,800 skiers and total revenue of EUR 812,000 but last season there were only 16,700 skiers and the company earned EUR 279,000. It doesn’t seem they will come out of the woods anytime soon.

(Too) ambitious plans in Bohinj Despite the bitter experience of almost all lower altitude ski resorts, there are big plans for the largest Slovenian ski resort in Bohinjska Bistrica (altitude 509 m). The company 2864, whose co-owner is the world’s second largest producer of cableway installations, Leitner, is


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

Altitude: 1.480 -1.971 m Pistes: 30 KM 11 lifts FOR SALE

Kanin Altitude: 1.140 - 2.300 m Pistes: 30 KM* 5 (12*) lifts NOT OPERATING**, BANKRUPT, FOR SALE *Including Sella Nevea, Italy ** Sella Nevea lifts are operating


Kranjska Gora Altitude: 810 - 1.295 m Pistes: 20 KM 17 lifts (PROBABLY SOON) FOR SALE

in its fourth year of preparations for the project. In the summer they waited for the grant approval, but the country has since changed the law on the promotion of foreign direct investment, instead of the previous 50 percent, the government now only provides 35 percent of the investment funds. As a result, the financial structure of the project now has a EUR 15m deficit and so the company is seeking another investor. The high-flying plan, near the Lake Bohinj, could be a magnet for domestic and foreign skiers, but after so many mild winters and the collapse of many ambitious projects around the country, there must also be a lot of caution. 

16-17 Ski centre Vogel; Photo: Ski centre Vogel 18 Unitur Sport Resort Rogla; Photo: Rogla Ski Resort 19 Ski centre Stari vrh; Photo: Simon Bregar

vrhunec zime peak of the winter

w w w. p o k a l - v i t r a n c . c o m

14. - 15. 3. 2015

Culture & Events Unique place and time The play takes place at four unique places – the main square, below the castle and at two venues on the lower square. The medieval atmosphere in the old city centre makes it a great place to enjoy the dramatic story. Many passion plays are performed during summer, however the Škofja Loka Passion Play is held during the original Lent and Easter period which is why it offers Christians a deeper passion experience at that time of year. There are performances during the day and in the evening when torches are used.


The unique story, place and time and the passion spirit of the volunteers make the Škofja Loka Passion play an unforgettable experience for every visitor.

Škofja Loka Passion Play;

a unique story and experience The open-air theatre event, the Škofja Loka Passion Play 2015, is set to be one of the cultural highlights of the decade in Slovenia. With around 800 actors and tens of thousands of spectators expected, the Passion Play during Lent and Easter is not to be missed. After a six year break, the Passion Play of Škofja Loka will once again be performed along the streets and squares of the medieval town. In the weeks when the play is performed, the town is surrounded by the passion spirit, which can be seen, heard, felt and tasted. The Škofja Loka Passion Play is based on the original text of Friar Romuald from 1721. It is the oldest Slovenian dramatic text and it is preserved at the Capuchin Monastery Archives and Library in Škofja Loka. From the first staging in 1721, the play was performed every year for the next thirty years before it disappeared into oblivion. In 1936 and the jubilee years of 1999 and 2000 the play was revived. Since 2009 the Škofja Loka Passion Play has been a regular event held every sixth year.

Europassion network There are many passion plays performed around the globe. The town of Škofja Loka is a member of the Europassion network which


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014

unifies over 80 passion play cities across Europe. "We think that every passion play is beautiful and we therefore help each other. However, every passion play is also different and unique and so is ours", says Matej Mohorič Peternel, the project manager of the 2015 Škofja Loka Passion Play.

Unique story The story of the Škofja Loka Passion Play begins with a scene in Eden where Adam and Eve cannot resist the temptation to bite the forbidden apple. The story continues with the arrival of Death and subsequently it takes place in Hell where sinners are punished by Lucifer. In later scenes, Jesus Christ arrives and his life is followed all the way to his crucifixion. This is how the Škofja Loka Passion Play uniquely blends the Old and New Testament. An additional feature of the play is that it is performed as a procession where about 800 actors move along the streets and squares of Škofja Loka.

Around 800 actors make the Škofja Loka Passion Play come to life. In addition, there are more than 200 people cooperating in the organisation. They are all volunteers, mostly from Škofja Loka and the nearby Selška and Poljanska valleys. "It is very nice to see and feel the passion spirit as we work together. There are not many jobs in this world where you visit volunteers who also give you also a nice cup of coffee and dessert" says project manager, Mohorič. "It is therefore important to note that without people, who cooperate in both segments of the performance, the passion play of Škofja Loka could not be realised."

Events In the weeks of the passion play, Škofja Loka offers a wide variety of events relating to the passion tradition, among which are culinary events. Special passion souvenirs will be available throughout town. Local artists are already working on all kinds of souvenirs reminiscent of Loka’s passion and medieval traditions. Restaurants in Škofja Loka will offer special passion dishes which are not normally on their menu. The passion play office is preparing workshops, exhibitions, music events and various social gatherings in order to make a visit to the Škofja Loka Passion Play a unique and unforgettable experience. 

2015 ©kofja Loka

First Saturday of the Passion 21. 3. 2015 at 20.00 First Sunday of the Passion 22. 3. 2015 at 16.00 Palm Saturday 28. 3. 2015 at 20.00 In Lent and Easter time 2015, in Škofja Loka, the town of the passion play, one can once again experience the magnificent performance, which brings the spirit of another time and the fascination of ancient days. After a six-year break, scenes and images of the oldest Slovenian drama, written upon biblical stories, will once again be moving in front of you. You are kindly invited to enjoy Škofja Loka Passion Play together with your business partners. INFO:, Contact for companies: or +386 (0)51 335 543 Tickets: and sales points of Eventim SI system

Palm Sunday 29. 3. 2015 at 16.00 Easter Monday 6. 4. 2015 at 16.00

Second Saturday of Easter 11. 4. 2015 at 20.00 Octave of Easter 12. 4. 2015 at 16.00


Street theatre performances

Photo: Miha Fras/Turizem Ljubljana

Ljubljana, Petkovšek Embakement, 26 - 30 December Young and old alike will be able to enjoy performances by street theatre troupes, circus performers and other artistes.

Festive event

Grandpa Frost processions Ljubljana, Old city centre, 26 - 30 December A few days before New Year, Grandpa Frost, the Slovenian counterpart of Santa Claus, will arrive in Ljubljana from the Far North. Riding in his carriage, drawn by genuine white Lipizzaner horses and accompanied by a procession of snowmen, bears, rabbits and other creatures from folk and fairy tales, he will visit the old city centre's Festive Fair and venues for children's events.


The Slovenian Times | Winter Edition 2014



Romeo and Juliet

Ballet of the Slovenian National Theatre Maribor Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, 29 December, Tickets EUR 13 - EUR 23 The dramatically structured neoclassical ballet remains faithful to the tragedy of William Shakespeare, constructing a compelling picture of the daring, sensual and brutal era when lifeor-death decisions were instantaneous. While the choreographer has vividly delineated the characters of the two young lovers, the masterful score ideally complements the intimate pas de deux as well as the dynamic group scenes.


Homer: The Iliad Musical

First theatrical rendering

Blossom in the fall

Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, 24 January (premiere), Subsequent performances between 26 January and 28 February, Tickets EUR 12 – EUR 23 "The Iliad is the bedrock of Europe and its primal origin. It is its genesis. Its first seed, its source. The Iliad is Europe’s first epic poem, it is the first novel, opera, the initial spectacle, the first MTV. Nevertheless, The Iliad is part of all of us. Everyone knows Zeus and Hera, Athena and Ares, the fair Helen and Paris. Why, therefore, is this mega-work so deeply embedded within European civilisation? Whence arises this fascination of contemporary man with the ancient story, from where the amazement at the ostensibly bygone heroic feats, doomed love, fatal consequences? How it is possible that this great work, of almost divine proportions, is considered a canon, a dogma, an ideal and a model for posterity when The Iliad is nothing but a brutal human slaughterhouse? Which of today’s heroes could match the ancient ones? Has not the world grown so small as to require nothing but a simple, smallscale man who does not make history but merely life? Temporary, modest, everyday life?" (Jernej Lorenci, Director)

Ljubljana, Center kulture Španski borci, 30 and 31 December, Tickets EUR 25 – EUR 49 Blossom in the fall is a story by Slovenian author, Ivan Tavčar. The story is about love between a man living in the city and a young, humble farmers daughter. It’s a story of contradictions between restless life in the town and the peace of country life. It has never before been put to stage as a musical. The libretto of the musical strictly follows the literary work, but it does not skip the opportunity to connect to present reality. Musical parts are nostalgic and romantic, interpreted by some of the most famous Slovenian singers. Photo: Dunja Wedam/Turizem Ljubljana

Photo: Dunja Wedam/Turizem Ljubljana

Photo: Cankarjev dom

Event Guide

Festive event

Shrovetide Carnival Ljubljana, City centre, 14 February Ljubljana’s traditional Shrovetide Carnival includes a procession through the streets of Ljubljana and a programme of entertainment for children and adults. The carnival procession consists of groups of traditional and other, themed, carnival figures from Slovenia and abroad.

Photo: OK Planica

Photo: Cankarjev dom

Event Guide

Festive event



Kurentovanje 2015

Cinderella Cendrillon

Planica 2015, FIS World Cup Ski Jumping Finals

Cankarjev dom, Ljubljana, 3 March, Tickets EUR 16 – EUR 28,50 One of France’s most compelling dance ensembles, The Malandain Ballet, is led by a sincere and broad-minded choreographer with a singular vision of his contemporary approach to ballet classics. Thierry Malandain has developed an idiosyncratic style that is finely balanced between history and modernity. The choreographer channels his creativity into new, original productions as well as intensely personal readings from the traditional dance repertoire. In Cinderella, Malandain remains faithful to the original scenario and the immortal score by Sergei Prokofiev, but shifts the emphasis to the subjects closer to his heart. Following the career development of a dance star, the performance paves a path full of doubt, denial, pain and ultimately enlightenment. Alternatively tragic and comic, the universal story of Cinderella is woven out of cinder as well as magic.

Planica, 19 – 22 March In March 2015 Planica will once again host the FIS World Cup Ski Jumping finals. Loyal fans of one of the most exciting sports will have the opportunity to see the best competitors in the world on the renovated brother’s Gorišek flying hill, which promises a true sporting spectacle in the valley under the Ponce Mountains. At the foot of the jumping hills, tens of thousands of visitors are expected, visitors that always ensure the continuation of this extraordinary tradition. In the hearts of Slovenians and fans from all over the world, Planica has a special place because, every year, it creates unforgettable moments. Two individual and one team event is scheduled from 19 - 22 March and every single flight on the intimidating flying hill will bring cheers from the spectators.

Ptuj, 7 February – 17 February The streets of the oldest town in Slovenia will bear the colourful seal of the Kurentovanje carnival starting with the performance of an exceptional number of autochthonous carnival masks in Central Europe. The opening ceremony will bring together carnival masks from the Ptuj region, the entire country and Europe. However, it is during the night of 2 February that the Kurents will announce the beginning of the carnival time by performing the Kurents’ jump, which means that Kurents put on their bells for the first time in a year and dance around fire thus starting their mission to chase the winter and evil away. 20131128_OGLAS_SLOVENIA_TIMES_220x280.pdf 1 28.11.2013 11:04:02


Ballet Malandain Biarritz








Open air performance


Golden fox 2015, FIS Ski World Cup, ladies Maribor, 21 February – 22 February Zlata lisica 2015 (Golden fox 2015) will be the first ladies ski race after the Alpine World Championships in Vail and Beaver Creek. The annual Golden Fox competition offers an unforgettable experience on Pohorje. The women’s World Cup race attracts over 20,000 visitors who support both Slovenian and foreign slalom and giant slalom competitors. The event organisation, which follows the strict FIS criteria, is exceptional, as confirmed by the best female skiers in the world.

Škofja Loka Passion Play Sports

Vitranc Cup 2015, FIS Ski World Cup, men Kranjska Gora, 14 March – 15 March Every year, in March, the Vitranc Cup takes place with international ski contestants. Usually the atmosphere is incredible, loud fans and an excellent slope. The Podkoren ski slope is among the toughest race courses within FIS for slalom and giant slalom competitors. After the end of the sporting part, the fun is far from over: it is followed by musical performances, concerts and entertainment at the Q Max Party.

Škofja Loka, 21 March – 12 April, Tickets EUR 8.10 – EUR 20 The performance is based on the oldest saved text in Slovene language written by capuchin, Lovrenc Marušič, called Romuald Štandreški in 1721. Beside the fact that Škofja Loka Passion Play is the oldest slovene drama text, there exsists also the oldest drama directory book in Europe. Passion Play is the biggest performance in the open air in Slovenia. Because of its origin, importance and richness of slovene language, Škofja Loka Passion Play is declared as a vivid masterpiece of state importance and is thus a candidate for registration on the list of UNESCO non-material cultural heritage. Winter Edition 2014 | The Slovenian Times


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