23 Dec 2021, 12:25 PM

STA, 23 December 2021 - Another 1,124 people tested positive for coronavirus in Slovenia on Wednesday, down 16.5% from the same day a week ago as well as 2.5% fewer than the day before. Ten more Covid-19 patients died, follows from official data.

Government data shows the number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals declined further to 624, including 203 in intensive care. This marks a decline of 25 and three, respectively, from yesterday.

With ten more deaths yesterday, the death toll from Covid-19 has increased to 5,958, according to data released by the Health Ministry.

The National Institute of Public Health estimates 16,700 people are still actively infected in the country, down 556 from the estimate on the previous day.

The 7-day average of new daily cases fell to 1,114, down 31 from the day before, and the cumulative 14-day incidence per 100,000 people is at 791, down by 27.

Of the 4,929 PCR tests performed yesterday, almost 23% were positive.

Vaccination data shows only boosters take-up is proceeding apace with 426,527 now getting additional shots.

Meanwhile, 1,245,897 have got their first jab and 1,183,969 have been fully vaccinated, representing 56% and 59% of the population, respectively.

22 Dec 2021, 13:48 PM

STA, 22 December 2021 - Police have filed criminal complaints against five men from the Gorenjska region and Ljubljana area over cheating in vaccination. One of the men allegedly took the shots for the others to get the Covid pass. The man was remanded in custody, the Kranj Police Department said on Wednesday.

A police investigation has revealed that the suspect got vaccinated at a vaccination centre several times in the last two months, showing the IDs of the four men, who subsequently got the Covid pass.

He had received one shot for each of three men before he was arrested and had appointments for the second shots. For the fourth man, he had received both shots already.

Together with the two shots he has received in his own name, he has been vaccinated seven times and was apprehended as he was about to receive the eighth shot.

The man was not paid much for the service that may have consequences for his health, which is why police suspect the four took advantage of the man's distress and personal circumstances for their own benefit.

Taking jabs in somebody else's name or presenting fake Covid certificates carries a sentence of up to three years in prison, police said.

Primož Donoša, head of the Kranj crime investigators, said all five persons were suspected of the same crime, i.e. certification of untrue contents. All five suspects are Slovenian citizens, with the four who did not get vaccinated aged between 30 and 50.

"Inquiries so far show we have never handled such a case before, definitely not in Gorenjska and I don't think in Slovenia either," said Donoša.

The police concluded their investigation last week before referring the case to the prosecution. It was opened based on a tip-off and was conducted in cooperation with the vaccination centre where the man got the jabs and which prevented him getting his eighth.

Lilijana Gantar Žura, the head of the Kranj health community centre, which performs vaccinations at the Kranj army barracks, confirmed they cooperated with the police in the investigation.

She said ID and health insurance cards were being strictly checked at the vaccination point, but they may have missed something when the vaccination centre was very busy.

Gantar Žura said she personally was not blaming the man who got vaccinated, but those who abused the man's distress and she believed they should be punished more severely.

Radio Slovenija has reported that the man who got the jabs for other people was allegedly a drug addict.

21 Dec 2021, 13:36 PM

STA, 21 December 2021 - Plans to build up to 30 wind turbines next to a sole one already standing on a plateau that is part of the iconic Kras region in south-western Slovenia have met with opposition from the locals with both municipalities involved set to veto the project.

"The municipality has not given its opinion yet, but it will certainly follow the will of the people living in the area," Sežana Mayor David Škabar told the STA on Monday as the plans for a wind farm on Griško Polje were presented to the locals.

The investors, AAE Gamit and AAE Ventur, are planning to build 14 wind turbines in four wind fields measuring a total of 698 hectares, each with a rated capacity of 4.2 MW or a combined 58.8 MW. Each unit is to comprise a tower measuring between 150 and 200 metres in height, and a rotor with a diameter of between 115 and 1805 metres.

However, this is only part of the project that extends into the Sežana municipality, with further turbines planned in the section of the area that is part of the neighbouring Divača municipality.

The regional newspaper Primorske Novice reported just days ago that the two investors, none of which has any employees, planned to build 25 wind turbines on Griško Polje in a project valued at more than EUR 140 million.

According to the report, the Environment Ministry has already published a notice on a public initiative to draw up a national zoning plan for the two wind fields on Griško Polje one near Veliko Polje and one near Dolenja Vas. Construction was to start in the summer of 2025, and by the end of the year the farm was to be connected to the grid.

However, the presentation of the plan yesterday showed the local community opposes the project with Sežana Mayor saying wind turbines were not planned in the local zoning act as major new projects such as wind or solar plants could "devalue" the Kras region.

A woman living close to the solitary wind turbine on Griško Polje, which can be seen from the A1 motorway to the coast, said the noise was so bad her family could not sleep and had health issues. "If the noise of a single turbine is so disturbing what would 30 such mean that they plan to erect," she wondered.

Members of farming communities where the wind farm would be located do not oppose the project, thus the local community fears the project could divide the population.

Environment and infrastructure ministry officials told the meeting the main reason to build new wind power plants was to increase the share of renewables in Slovenia's energy mix in line with the commitment made to the EU.

As part of the procedure to adopt the national zoning plan for the project, guidelines will also be provided by the Divača municipality. These are set to be negative as the community already decided back in 2004 it was against wind farms on its territory. The residents of Senožeče have also voted no in a local referendum.

18 Dec 2021, 08:42 AM

STA, 17 December 2021 - Ten years after ski lifts came to a halt on Kobla in the Julian Alps, skiing was re-launched last weekend on Kozji Hrbet ski slopes with one ski lift, in what is the first step in the planned revival and expansion of the Kobla ski centre. 

With this year's abundant snow, skiers can now ski on a 440-metre trail above the Alpine resort of Bohinjska Bistrica, unfar from Lake Bohinj.

Last weekend's turnout, when ski passes were free of charge, was exceptional, Boštjan Mencinger, head of the Bohinj Tourism Association, told the press on Friday.

There were many locals from Bohinj as well as others who remembered how they used to learn to ski on Kobla decades ago, he said at the official opening.

Once a very popular ski centre, Kobla was last open in the season 2010/2011, as its operator at the time, Kobla ŽTG, ended in receivership.

Efforts to revive and expand it under the name 2864 - the altitude of the country's tallest peak, Mt Triglav - started ten years ago.

Franc Alain Furlani, director and owner of Furlani, one of the partners behind the project, said they plan to have two new cable cars and three ski lifts to 2864.

He is confident the EUR 30 million project will be fully implemented, saying it enjoyed local support, while he complained it was taking rather long to obtain all the permits.

Planed are activities for winter and summer months, including hospitality, skiing school, rental services for skis and bicycles.

Mencinger said that the ski centre was an important addition to Bohinj's winter season, which largely depends on skiing options in the area.

Bohinj's reputation as a skiing destination has suffered in recent years, which reflects in a downward trend in tourist nights in winter.

17 Dec 2021, 15:22 PM

STA, 17 December 2021 - The police apprehended a 34-year-old Bosnian man on Wednesday, who is suspected of smuggling 13 Pakistani nationals into Slovenia in August, for a fee and in conditions unworthy of human life, before leaving them stranded on a motorway shoulder near Celje in a broken-down car.

The Celje police had been notified on 30 August about a broken-down car stranded on a motorway shoulder near Celje. They found 13 Pakistani nationals crammed in the back of the vehicle, while the driver had escaped before the police arrived.

The migrants were in poor health due to transportation in inhumane conditions, and one of them was assisted by paramedics on the spot, before being taken to a hospital in Celje for treatment.

The Pakistani nationals were destined for Italy, and were brought to Slovenia from Croatia illegally. They were taken to an asylum centre in Ljubljana, while the police collected information on the runaway driver, who was subsequently found and detained on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old Bosnian man will be brought before an investigating judge today. He faces between three and 15 years in prison and a fine.

16 Dec 2021, 17:06 PM

STA, 16 December - A school in the lakeside town of Bled has been closed mid school year, hence leaving 33 pupils without classes. They are now home-schooled. The school was operating without approval and did not meet the required conditions, the web portal has reported. It also promoted itself as a Waldorf school despite not getting Waldorf certified.

The plan for the school, named Radost Življenja (Joy of Life), had been long time in the making and in early 2020 it started to materialise. After facilities and staff were already secured and pupils enrolled, it transpired that the school had problems in obtaining approval to actually operate.

Its application to be accredited was denied by the Education Ministry, as the school was not in compliance with state standards, the ministry said.

The school was also beset with financial problems as unpaid bills had been piling up. It was shut down on 19 November, said on Wednesday.

Parents who enrolled their children in the school knew that the educational institution was not yet approved at the time, the ministry added. The parents had been granted a home-schooling status, under which parents may either educate their child at home themselves or are helped at this activity by someone else.

The latter is not required to meet any conditions, however the home-schooled children must pass an assessment carried out by the primary school in which they are enrolled. If they fail to do that, they are no longer allowed to be home schooled.

Seeking assistance after being denied state approval, the Bled school's head teacher Valentina Erznožnik contacted the Livada primary school in Ljubljana, which was willing to enrol the former's pupils.

Goran Popović, the head teacher of the Ljubljana school, explained that Joy of Life had not been the only school under which children were enrolled in Livada and home schooled at the same time. Such pupils have their exams at the end of the school year, he added.

The Bled school promoted itself as a Waldorf school, however it seems that it did not obtain a relevant certificate to do so.

Iztok Kordiš, the director of the Ljubljana Waldorf School, does not consider the Bled school to be worthy of Waldorf status. The Joy of Life school had called itself a Waldorf institution before it was actually opened without even familiarising itself with the procedures needed to be implemented to become such a school, he said.

"We have to look after quality and the Waldorf name. Not everyone can just think of it and become a Waldorf school," he told, adding that the Bled school had been doing everything its own way and acting as if it had it all sorted out.

14 Dec 2021, 16:00 PM

STA, 14 December 2021 - The city of Ljubljana has its New Year's Eve celebration programme in Congress Square ready, but is still waiting for the health authorities to say in what format, or if at all, it can go ahead with it, Mayor Zoran Janković told the press on Tuesday.

As Ljubljana's 31 December outdoor celebrations always draw thousands of people, the mayor has asked National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) director Milan Krek two weeks ago whether the celebrations could go ahead.

According to Janković, Krek said yes, telling the mayor the format could be similar to the Ljubljana Festival last summer when there had to be space between chairs.

But since one cannot sit still in winter at -7 degrees Celsius, Janković suggested NIJZ approved a free concert and told the city how many vaccinated and reconvalescent people could attend it, but received no reply.

Janković was also critical of the recent government decision to close stalls serving food and drink at Christmas markets, saying it was a senseless measure.

He also believes there is no legal basis for it, and said that one of the Ljubljana public utilities had already filed a lawsuit against the government.

He moreover criticised Prime Minister Janez Janša for posting an "offensive" tweet in which he accused Janković of working hard for as many people as possible to fall ill and for schools, kindergartens and shops to close, as he posted a video of people walking around the stalls by the river Ljubljanica.

Janković said that Ljubljana had many visitors, who were now crowding in a smaller area than before, when the stalls had been still open. He believes it would be "more normal" to send out a positive message along the lines "light is coming, let's get vaccinated".

He thus urged all unvaccinated Ljubljana residents to get a jab, arguing some 10% of the city's population is preventing the rest to live normally.

Quoting NIJZ data, he said Ljubljana has the highest vaccination rate (59%) in central Slovenia, the region with the highest vaccination rate in the country (57.5%), while another 18% of Ljubljana residents are reconvalescents.

"If we add the number of vaccinated to the number of reconvalescents, we get 77%, and if we add another 40,000 school and kindergarten kids, who account for 13% of our residents, we are at 90%," the mayor said.

14 Dec 2021, 12:43 PM

STA, 14 December 2021 - Immigration to Slovenia is accelerating and as of 1 January this year one in seven residents, or 13.9% of the entire population, were born abroad. This compares to 8.5% ten years ago, show Statistics Office data.

Almost two-thirds of foreign-born residents immigrated after Slovenia's independence and one in five arrived between 2018 and 2020. In 2020 a record 23,383 immigrants were recorded.

Former Yugoslav republics are by far the biggest source of immigration. Of the more than 292,000 foreign-born residents, 133,000 came from Bosnia-Herzegovina, 43,000 from Croatia and 30,000 from Serbia.

But a significant share also come from non-Balkan countries, most notably from Germany (7,600), Italy (4,600) and Russia (4,000), but also China (1,200) and the United States (900).

Some 46% of foreign-born residents have Slovenian citizenship, some of whom have had Slovenian citizenship since birth because they were born to Slovenian parents.

The Statistics Office released the data set to mark International Migrants Day.

More on this data

10 Dec 2021, 11:06 AM

STA, 10 December 2021 - Financial inspectors have closed down food and drink stalls at Ljubljana's marketplace in Pogačar Square, according to media reports on Thursday, after having previously issued a warning to the stall vendors.

The inspectors visited the stalls on Wednesday, warned the vendors about breaching the anti-epidemic regulations, and announced that they would return the next day and issue fines to the owners of any stalls found to be reopened.

The inspectors' threats were carried out and all four food stalls were closed, according to media reports, while Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek told Radio Slovenia that the government had done everything to allow food stall vendors to operate normally.

Restaurants can still serve food and drinks to guests who are seated, said Počivalšek, adding that the government had done a lot to "keep the main part of the business alive". He also called on people to respect the decrees adopted by the government.

The government imposed a ban last Friday on the serving of food and drinks at outdoor stalls, but the city of Ljubljana initially appeared to have found a loophole, arguing that the ban affected hospitality at fairs rather than markets.

Andrej Orač, director of the utility operating the Ljubljana open-air markets, said on Wednesday that market activity in Pogačar Square was allowed, including hospitality.

He added the ban on sale at Ljubljana's open-air markets was incomprehensible as the goods involved were sold there throughout the year, which included the food court and stalls selling garments.

08 Dec 2021, 14:50 PM

STA, 8 December 2021 - Equal Opportunities Ombudsman Miha Lobnik has noted that the permanent ban on blood donations for all homosexual men is discriminatory, as they are excluded from taking part in this important philanthropic activity despite the fact that the safety of blood donations is also ensured by additional testing for viruses.

Although HIV and other blood-borne viruses are also transmitted during heterosexual sex, blood donation is only prohibited in advance and permanently for homosexual and bisexual men, the office of the Advocate of the Principle of Equality said on Wednesday.

According to Lobnik, the Health Ministry and the Blood Transfusion Centre are responsible for this, and the ombudsman already warned them in 2018 about the potential inadequacy of the current regulation.

Meanwhile, the centre said that Slovenia was due to change regulations in 2022, under which only temporary bans on blood donations will remain, while donors will be selected on the basis of the riskiness of their sexual behaviour, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.

Lobnik found that the general permanent ban on blood donations for men who have sexual relations with other men in Slovenia was originally meant to ensure that the donated blood was safe, as these men were generally more prone to HIV infection risks, according to statistical data.

But the data by the National Institute of Public Health for the period between 2009 and 2018 show that newly diagnosed HIV infections were not only detected among men who have sexual relations with other men, as around 16% of newly infected persons got the virus through heterosexual sex.

A permanent ban on blood donation only for homosexual and bisexual men is therefore not an appropriate means of ensuring the safety of donated blood, as the risk of contracting HIV or other blood-borne viruses depends primarily on sexual behaviour, Lobnik said.

In addition, all donated blood has been tested for the presence of certain viruses for many years, which further confirms the assessment that the currently established system is not the only possible way to ensure the safety of donated blood, he said.

In his assessment of the proportionality of the blood donation ban, Lobnik also noted that this measure perpetuated and spread prejudice against same-sex relationships as such and reinforced the stigmatisation of homosexuality.

The measure causes more harm to society and individuals than it brings benefits, as it infringes on the rights of individuals and unnecessarily denies their blood while spreading stigma. In Lobnik's view, the regulation is therefore not in line with the principle of proportionality.

Few countries in the EU permanently ban all men who have sexual relations with other men from donating blood. In addition to Slovenia, only Croatia, Greece and Lithuania have such regulations.

In other EU countries, there is no such permanent ban on blood donation, or it is only temporary and depends on whether the potential donor has had risky sex within a certain period of time before donating blood.

Interested in giving blood in Slovenia? Learn more here, in English

05 Dec 2021, 15:31 PM

A few years back, I embarked on a road trip. The plan was to eat our way around Slovenia, following a trail of 20 ingredients, most of them indigenous, that Janez Bratovž, one of Slovenia’s most famous chefs, use as key building blocks in his acclaimed restaurant, JB.

You may have seen JB around, if you’ve not yet eaten at his restaurant. He’s a celebrity both here and abroad—he’s cooked for Ferran Adria and the pope and his Ljubljana restaurant has been listed in the top ten in Europe. If you shop at Hofer, you might have also seen his face on a range of products made from his recipes. He’s been described as the godfather of Slovenian fine dining and provided inspiration for our best chefs, like Michelin-starred Ana Roš and Luka Košir, whom he mentored.

Janez Bratovž and Noah Charney. Photo: Restavracija JB's Facebook

So when he and I discussed writing a cookbook together, I was excited (and hungry) to begin. The result was a beautiful, luxury book that was published in Slovenia in an edition designed by Zare Kerin (winner of more than 200 international design awards), and with photographs by Manca Jevšček (of food) and Matjaž Tančič (of everything else). JB wrote the recipes and is the protagonist. I wrote essays about JB, our adventures and profiles of each ingredient and producer of them who we visited over a fun summer. The result is a travelogue love affair with Slovenia through its food, which happens to have recipes in it. The original edition won five international awards, including a prestigious Gourmand Award. Now a new edition, entitled Slovenian Cuisine: From the Alps to the Adriatic in 20 Ingredients, has been published by the American publisher, Skyhorse. And at only $35, it’s a great holiday gift for anyone with a love for Slovenia and food. You can order a copy on Amazon.

This essay is an excerpt from one of the 20 chapters.

First, let it be said that they are huge. Monster trout, twice the size of their more common cousins, and with a gorgeous, mottled leopard-spot design on their scales. The reason that they very nearly went extinct, as the locals describe it, was due to a single piece of technology put to improper use over just a two-year period. From 1915-1917, the Isonzo Front, a territory along the Italy/Slovenia border near the Soča River, was the scene of some of the most casualty-heavy fighting of the First World War, with an estimated 1,492,209 killed there in just two years. The setting for Ernest Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms, it is also a place of immense natural beauty, the Soča River named by the Huffington Post as “the most beautiful river in the world.” During the war, hungry soldiers resorted to whatever measures they could to gather up a meal. Fishing took time and left you open to the enemy. It was far faster, and more efficient, to “fish” with grenades. Soldiers would lob bombs into the Soča River. When they blew up, they killed everything beneath the emerald-colored water, and scores of fish would float to the surface, to be retrieved and eaten. It was far too efficient. This method, in this narrow period, almost completely wiped out a species of trout that only exists in this one river and its tributaries, in the mountains of Slovenia.

Sometimes called a “marble trout,” this is one of the largest in the trout family, with a world-record fish having weighed in at an astounding 55.1 pounds. It is also considered the most subtle and delicious of the species, and indeed among all freshwater fish, worldwide.

Related: A Brief Guide to Fishing in Slovenia

To rescue this remarkable species and bring it back from extinction, while still allowing a selection of top chefs to serve it at their restaurants, a team set up the Faronika Fish Farm in Tolmin, not far from the restaurant that is best-known for serving Soča River Trout, Hiša Franko, run by the 2017 World’s Best Female Chef, Ana Roš. Just opened in 2016, Faronika Fish Farm has the capacity to raise 40-45 tons of trout per year, most of which are more common varieties (with 35 tons of Rainbow Trout), but they still hope to raise some 3-4 tons of Soča River Trout per annum—and the fish often weigh around 20 kilos.


According to Dušan Jesenšek, a marine biologist specializing in Soča River Trout and director of the Faronika Fish Farm, the fish are particularly slow to grow. “As a result of this slow growth, their flesh has a particular texture and flavor that is different from fish who have a more intense and rapid growth period. The flesh is more subtle and easier to digest, and so is often served raw, carpaccio, to experience the full flavor.” Dušan and his colleagues were able to bring back the Soča River Trout from the brink of extinction because their DNA was similar enough to other breeds of sea trout (for Soča River Trout can live in salt or fresh water) that they could cross-breed. While there are now Soča River Trout in the wild, their populations can vary dramatically. In a tributary of the Soča, Dušan said that his team counted 270 fish during one round of monitoring. But just a few weeks later, with reduced rainfall, it was down to 12.

Tolmin and its surrounding towns, like Bovec and Kobarid, are not so far off the beaten track when you look at a map, but they are difficult to get to from the rest of Slovenia. To date, there are only local, very windy roads, and it is actually faster to drive to Italy on the highway and access these border towns from the Italian side. Kobarid has an award-winning museum of the First World War, and the Narnia films had scenes shot here, as the terrain looks suitably for some fantasy realm, particularly the almost artificial-looking turquoise of the Soča River. It is a place that feels far-flung, but that is part of its charm. You can’t stumble upon it but must make a pilgrimage. And its pilgrims are rewarded.


Thanks to the efforts of folks like Dušan, the Soča River Trout is no longer officially an endangered species, but as he says, “It doesn’t mean that we can relax.” Responsible sport fishermen always catch and release Soča River Trout (after taking a selfie), which means that the only such trout you can eat come from Faronika Fish Farm. At least, that’s what’s supposed to happen. There’s a danger in being so wildly delicious.

And there is hot competition for the limited number of Soča Trout raised here. When I visited the farm, I was accompanied by Janez Bratovž, known to all as JB and dubbed by Ana Roš as the godfather of Slovenian fine dining. Before Ana, he was certainly the most famous chef in the region. And yet he was told that, at least on the day we went, there was no Soča Trout to be purchased—the stocks had already been reserved for Roš and a handful of other super-local chefs (as in, within a short drive of Tolmin). That is how rare the fish remains, a tough “catch” even for industry stars and insiders. This makes it that much more important to travel to the source, in order to taste this remarkable fish. Ana Roš likes to serve it as a carpaccio, while Bratovž likes to feature it with artichoke and trout caviar, or as ceviche. The bottom line is that you have to travel to Slovenia to taste this indigenous delicacy, whether at Ana Roš’ Hisa Franko or Janez Bratovž’s JB. When he can get them.


If you'd like to read more, and perhaps order a gift for yourself or a loved on, you can get the book on Amazon, along with Charney's ever popular and personal look at the delights and idiosyncracies of life in Slovenia - Slovenology.


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