STA, 12 July - Slovenia's capital has placed 279th among 344 European cities in the European city air quality viewer with its air quality categorised as poor. Maribor ranks 207th having moderately clean air.
The ranking, released on the website of the European Environment Agency, classifies cities from the cleanest to the most polluted on the basis of average levels of fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, over the past two calendar years.
The list is topped by Umea, Sweden, followed by Faro and Funchal in Portugal, with all other cities whose air quality is categorised as good located in North Europe. The annual mean concentration of fine particulate matter in those cities does not exceed the annual guideline value of the World Health Organisation of 5 micrograms per cubic metre.
Ranked lower down on the list are cities whose air quality is categorised as fair (up to 10 micrograms/m3), moderate (up to 15 micrograms/m3), poor (up to 25 micrograms/m3) and finally very poor, the cities whose levels are at or above the EU limit value of 25 micrograms/m3.
Placing 279th, Ljubljana ranks slightly above its Croatian counterpart Zagreb, in 282nd, but below the Hungarian capital of Budapest, in 268th, or the Croatian port city of Rijeka, in 155th, for example.
The cities with the poorest air quality are Italy's Padua and Cremona and Nowy Sazc in Poland. Venice places 341st, which makes it the lowest ranked city among those whose air quality is categorised as poor rather than very poor.
STA, 11 July 2022 - A total of 5,194 final-year secondary school students or some 95% passed the national school-leaving exam, known as the matura exam, which is close to last year's 97%. Eighteen students scored all points and three students passed the international matura without losing a single point.
Secondary school students were also joined in the exams by those who attended the matura exam courses and some adults, so in total 5,288 candidates passed the tests or 94.4% of all who took it for the first time. Last year the share was 96%, show data released by the National Examinations Centre on Monday.
A total of 302 students passed the matura exams with flying colours, the same as last year, while the number of candidates that scored all points is up by three compared to last year.
The international version of the matura exam was organised at three schools in the country, with a total of 66 Slovenian students and 29 foreigners taking it. 52 students passed it with flying colours and three Slovenians scored all points. Last year, ten Slovenians scored the maximum number of points.
Meanwhile, the national school-leaving exam for vocational students was passed by 7,116 or just over 91% of students, which is slightly down from last year's 94%. A total of 296 students passed it with flying colours, while last year the number was 552. This year 93 candidates scored all points, while last year this number was higher as well, at 179.
The matura exam is a test that serves as an admission to higher education. The autumn exams will take place between 24 August and 3 September.
STA, 5 July 2022 - Similar to many parts of Europe, Slovenia is facing a drought which has become severe in the regions of Goriška, Gorenjska, Dolenjska and the greater Ljubljana area, according to the Environment Agency. Wildfire risks are still high, and many water supply companies have issued water use restrictions.
Many communities in the regions where the drought is most severe have been prohibited from using drinking water for watering of plants, washing cars and filling their pools.
The drought map as of 30 June 2022, which should be updated here
The most recent water use restriction was imposed on the cost on Tuesday, with local mayors warning in a joint statement that the possibility of further water use restrictions is high.
While residents are prohibited from washing their cars, filling pools and watering plants from the public water system, the local utilities shut off watering systems in public parks, public beach showers, water fountains and even drinking fountains.
While the eastern-most part of the country does not face low water levels for now, the Environment Agency has said that moderate drought has also taken a toll on underground aquifers around Kranjska Gora, Bovec, the coast, the regions of Notranjska, Savinjska, Spodnjesavska and Podravska.
STA, 4 July 2022 - The eastern-most Slovenian town of Lendava and the Jewish Association of Slovenia have signed an agreement under which the association, only recently established and recognised as a congregation by the state, will use the only fully preserved Jewish cemetery in the country. The move is understood as a unique symbol of reviving Jewish tradition.
Located in the village Dolga Vas near Lendava, the cemetery (Židovsko pokopališče v Dolgi Vasi) has been neatly maintained through the years, even though burials there were rare after World War II. Since then, only a few Holocaust survivors have been laid to rest there, the last one in 1997.
Lendava's acting Mayor Ivan Koncut said that up until 1944, Prekmurje was home to three well-organised Jewish communities that were of great importance to the region. In Lendava, the community was an integral part of a varied and heterogeneous population, he said.
However, the community was nearly wiped out at the end of World War II, when a large part of the community was interned by the Nazis, while others fled. Only few survivors returned.
Koncut noted that it took decades of silence before the first attempts to revive the Jewish heritage in the area started in the 1990s.
"Dedicated exhibitions, the permanent museum collection, the remodelled synagogue, memorial events, cooperation with Jewish communities and organisations dedicated to preservation of Jewish heritage ... Stolpersteine, these are acts that gradually but persistently strengthen the awareness about the importance of the Jewish community that we lost," Koncut said.
Elie Rosen, the head of the Austrian Jewish community in Graz, as well as of the newly formed Slovenian Jewish Association, said today was a good day for the Jewish community and a sign that it was still alive in this part of Slovenia.
He warned that symbolic actions, such as laying of Stolpersteine, brass cubes in memory of Holocaust victims, was not enough. More is needed to improve the lives of Jews and everybody else in Slovenia. He believes the agreement he and Koncut signed today is one such step toward a better future.
Rosen said it was the wish for continuity that led him and other community members to persuade Rabbi Ariel Yitzhak Haddad, who has been active in Slovenia for over two decades, to take over as the head rabbi of the community, which was officially recognised a congregation in May. In November 2021, the community opened its only current place of worship in a residential building in Ljubljana.
Before the agreement was signed today, Stolpersteine were laid in Lendava in front of the former homes of three Jewish families. A concert will take place in the former Lendava synagogue, now a museum, in the evening.
STA, 22 June 2022 - The remains of at least 529 people executed in post-WWII summary killings have been unearthed from an anti-tank trench in Mostec near Brežice, east Slovenia, according to the Military Heritage Administration (Uprava za vojaško dediščino), which is part of the Defence Ministry.
Archaeological excavation at the site was carried out due to construction of a chain of power stations on the river Sava.
The anti-tank trench, originally dug out in 1945 by the occupying Nazi forces, is around 4.6 metres wide and 3 metres deep.
Historians claimed an area of 120 metres of the trench contained remains of people of various nationalities killed immediately after WWII, and several probes carried out after 2008 confirmed the presence of human remains.
In 2020, the remains of at least 276 people were found alongside thousands of personal effects as excavation was carried out on some 20 metres of the trench.The map below shows the location of Mostec, not the grave
This year's excavation work on another 30 metres started in April and ended in June to find the remains of at least another 253 persons.
So far, the remains of 529 to 532 dead, including 25 to 46 women, have been excavated, and will be handled in line with the law, including the burial.
The Military Heritage Administration - launched a year ago to also manage activities related to war graves - says that excavation will have to continue on the rest of the anti-tank trench.
Since Slovenia gained independence in 1991, a number of mass graves containing the remains of the people executed in summary killings have been discovered.
While many Slovenians lost their lives in summary killings, the majority of the victims are believed to be Croats and Serbs, whom the allies sent back to Yugoslavia after they escaped to Austria's Carinthia as WWII was about to end.
The largest site of summary killings was discovered in March 2009 in the disused Barbara Rov coal mine, which contained the remains of over 1,400 victims.
STA, 21 June 2022 - The 70th Ljubljana Festival, one of the most high-profile festivals in the country, will open in Congress Square with tonight's tribute to the Slovenian poets who have contributed lyrics for some of the most memorable Slovenian pop songs, especially in the 1960s and 1970s.
The Summer Night concert coincides with the 60th anniversary of Slovenian Pop Song, a festival that has produced some of the best Slovenian Golden Oldies.
Twenty-three songs will be sung by 13 singers, including Lado Leskovar, 80, who won his first award at the Slovenian Pop Song festival in 1963 with Malokdaj Se Srečava (We Rarely Meet).
The singers will be accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra and the Big Band of RTV Slovenija under the baton of conductor Patrik Greblo.
The concert is dedicated to acclaimed poets, such as Gregor Strniša, Miroslav Košuta, Svetlana Makarovič, Frane Milčinski Ježk, Ciril Zlobec, Milan Dekleva, Milan Jesih, Elza Buda and Dušan Velkaverh.
The concert goers will get a chance to hear V Ljubljano (To Ljubljana), a song Marjana Deržaj (1936-2005) sang in 1965 whose lyrics were penned by Makarovič.
Another classic, Leti Leti Lastovka (Fly Fly Swallow), will also be sung; the 1973 song was originally sung by Edvin Fliser with lyrics written by Strniša (1930-1987).
The Ljubljana Festival brings over 80 classical music concerts, opera and ballet performances until 8 September, when it closes with a Vienna Philharmonic concert.
One of the highlights will be Verdi's Requiem, as well as concerts by established sopranos and tenors, including Anna Netrebko, Yusif Eyvazov and Placido Domingo.
The London Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will also give a concert, while US actor John Malkovich will play the theatre piece The Music Critic.
Orchestras from more far-away countries will also be featured, including the Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra, and as practically every year, Slovenian singer Vlado Kreslin will give a concert, and so will the band Laibach.
STA, 16 June 2022 - The state-run motorway company DARS is warning about unauthorised websites that offer e-vignettes, noting that e-vignettes needed on Slovenian motorways and expressways can be purchased officially and in line with the law only via the official DARS website.
DARS notes that a number of unofficial websites have appeared on the internet where various providers are selling Slovenian e-vignettes in an unauthorised manner and charging a high commission for the purchase.
Customers have no guarantee that e-vignettes on these websites are actually valid, so they may end up paying a fine, DARS said.
In the period from the start of December 2021 and the end of April 2022, DARS sold 2.46 million vignettes 2022, which is more than in the same period last year and the year before, the company's data shows.
STA, 14 June 2022 - The Ljubljana Jazz Festival will see its 63rd iteration between 15 and 18 June, bringing a total of 30 concerts, including the first appearance by Tunisian oud player and composer Anouar Brahem. The highlights also include American percussionist Hamid Drake and the Big Band of the Slovenian Armed Forces.
Bogdan Benigar, the festival's programme manager, said that some of the performers were a "debt" from 2020, when the festival was held in a hybrid form due to the Covid-19 pandemic, and some of the performers had also been hosted last year.
The festival will be opened by Hamid Drake, who is returning to Ljubljana with a tribute to Alice Coltrane after the show premiered in Paris in February.
Another big name, Anouar Brahem, will present his mastery on the oud, who has been putting the ancient tradition of Arabic music in various contexts for four decades.
The Big Band of the Slovenian Armed Forces, under the baton of Izidor Leitinger, will perform his suite called Ushai, written precisely for the occasion of the Jazz Festival Ljubljana.
The concerts will take place in various venues in and around the Cankarjev Dom arts centre, including on the platform in front of it and two stages in the nearby Council of Europe Park. Most concerts will be free of charge.
Benigar said that some of the concerts will be a blend of jazz and other art forms, like the Red Rocket project by Maja Osojnik and Matija Schellander and a new music and dance project by Kristijan and Žigan Krajnčan.
Pianist Miha Gantar, the artist in residence who has recently recorded five albums, will perform three concerts - as a soloist, with singer Marta Arpini and as part of a quartet.
In addition to numerous Slovenian musicians, the festival will feature some more international appearances, including by Irreversible Entanglements of the US with guitar player Ava Mendoza, Bosnian pianist Adis Sirbubalo, Norwegian and Belgian guitar players Kim Myhr and Bert Dockx, the French-Italian trio Abacaxi and the Austrian quintet Chuffdrone.
The festival will be accompanied by a jazz fair, a concert for children by Boštjan Gombač and Sašo Vollmaier and performances by various groups from the Ljubljana Conservatory of Music.
Learn more at the official website
registered formal civil unions. August was the most popular month for a wedding, data from the Statistics Office shows.
Compared to the year before, the number of couples who got married increased by 13% to 5,916 whereas the number of those who got a divorce rose by nearly a third (31%) to 2,322.
Most couples got married in Gorenjska and Central Slovenia (three per 1,000 of the population) and the fewest in Goriška in the west (two per 1,000).
Most couples tied the knot on 21 August; as many as 209, which compares to 16 on an average day. August was also the only month to see more than a thousand couples get marry (1,030).
July, June and September are also quite popular to get married, against January, which is the least popular with only 149 couples picking the month to get marry.
Saturday is the most popular wedding day of the week with 59% of all couples wedded on that day last year.
Bridegrooms were on average 36.8 years old and brides 34.3, but those who got married for the first time were a bit younger, at 32.6 and 30.7, respectively.
For 89% of the brides and as many bridegrooms it was their first marriage and for 82% of all couples it was the first time for both of them.
In 78% of the marriages both the bride and the bridegroom were Slovenian citizens; in 9% the bride was a foreigner and in almost as many the bridegroom came from abroad. In both cases the foreign partner most often came from Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 4% of the cases both couples were foreign nationals.
Same-sex civil unions were registered by 58 couples, of which 31 were male and 27 were female unions.
Of the couples that got divorced last year, 53% had 1,999 dependent children. Most of the children were assigned to the mother (59%), 6% to the father and 32% to both.
STA, 11 June 2022 - Nearly half of incorporated places in Slovenia have fewer than 100 residents and about a quarter of those number fewer than 50 people, shows data recently released by the Statistics Office. The most densely populated settlement is the coastal town of Piran.
Slovenia has just over 6,000 cities, towns and villages, of which 54 are without residents. Most of the deserted villages are in the Kočevje municipality in the south-east.
Piran, famous for its narrow Mediterranean streets, is the most densely-populated place with almost 5,500 residents per square kilometre.
On the other hand, excluding places without any residents, the most sparsely populated place is the village of Podstenice 20 km north-east of Kočevje, which used to be inhabited by Gottschee Germans until WWII. Now it has one resident per twelve square kilometres.
There are only two cities with a population of more than 50,000 - the capital Ljubljana has 284,000 residents, and Maribor around 96,000. People living in the two largest cities account for some 18% of the total population.
The largest share of localities, more than 1,400 or 24%, number between 100 and 199 citizens.
At the beginning of this year, four villages with at least 30 inhabitants had no children, meaning no inhabitants under the age of 15.
STA, 11 June 2022 - This year's Pride Parade festival culminated in Ljubljana Pride on Saturday in what was a parade celebrating difference and equality. Members of the LGBTIQ+ community called for peace in Ukraine, and several senior officials participated in Pride and addressed them at the end of the parade.
LGBTIQ+ organisations put up Pride Village in Congress Square prior to Pride. Visitors were able to learn about what they do, get creative in the arts and crafts corner or get their face painted for the parade.
Held under the slogan Time for the Rainbow Voice, Ljubljana Pride or the Pride march was dedicated to calls for visibility, equality and respect for everyone, as well as to calls for an end to the war in Ukraine.
The Rainbow Voice helped the community to turn out in record numbers and have a say in the outcome of the April election, said Katja Štefanec from the Pride Parade Association in her speech. "We demand that your pre-election promises and goodwill are put into practice!" she told the new government.
In Congress Square, where the march ended, the participants were also addressed by Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković and Simon Maljevac, Labour Ministry state secretary who is expected to become the minister in charge of labour, family, social affairs and equal opportunities after the planned government reshuffle in the coming months.
When this happens, he will become Slovenia's first openly gay minister.
Maljevac argued that the rainbow did not mean much if it did not become an active part of politics as a symbol of diversity and respect for human rights for all. "It is time to make our beautiful words that no one should be overlooked reality," he said.
The event was also addressed by Beograd Pride representative Filip Vulović and Lambda Warsaw representative Krzysztof Kliszczynski, and attended by, among others, Labour Minister Luka Mesec, Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan, Culture Minister Asta Vrečko and MEP Milan Brglez, the organisers said.
Several ministries also flew the rainbow flag to mark the Pride day.
The Interior Ministry wrote that "discrimination, ridicule or intimidation have no place in a modern and inclusive society". They added that the Constitution clearly states that Slovenia is a country of all its citizens.
"Diversity does not impoverish society, but enriches it and makes it more meaningful," the ministry said, announcing that the police would ensure the safety of all participants today.
There were no reports of any incidents during Pride, however in the run-up to it a number of LGBTIQ+ posters in the capital had been vandalised.
The Pride Parade festival, which started on 3 June, focused on the integration of local LGBTIQ+ communities and the needs of rural LGBTIQ+ people as well as the impact of local and national elections on their rights. Other focus areas included solidarity towards LGBTIQ+ refugees from Ukraine, housing issues of LGBTIQ+ people and freedom of expression.
The highlights were also Koroška Pride in the northern town of Slovenj Gradec and a spoken word performance by British poet Joelle Taylor, the latest winner of the prestigious T.S. Eliot Prize.