Made in Slovenia

26 Sep 2021, 09:01 AM

STA, 25 September 2021 - Slovenia will become the world's first country to issue its own non-fungible tokens (NFT) to promote the achievements of its businesses and its tourism destinations. The tokens will be gifted to visitors to Slovenia's pavilion at the Expo show in Dubai opening on 1 October.

The pioneering project, which is to boost Slovenia's Expo showcase, is the product of cooperation between the Slovenian Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, the public agency for the promotion of entrepreneurship and investment SPIRIT and the Ljubljana Technology Park.

Announcing the project at the European Blockchain Week, State Secretary Simon Zajc said it would put Slovenia on the map of the most advanced digital countries who understood development of blockchain as a technology of the future.

The NFTs will represent a collection of unique digital 3D exhibits and exclusive 360 degree panoramic high definition photographs. The tokens will be distributed to visitors to the Slovenian Expo pavilion as a gift in the form of a promotional card carrying instructions and a unique eight-digit number that will allow them to access the digital wallet to "claim" their non-non fungible.

"Slovenia is thus being presented at EXPO Dubai 2020 as an innovative, digital and smart destination whose pavilion is certainly worth a visit for its distinctive leafy facade, interesting content, new business opportunities and the NFTs," said Zajc earlier this week.

He noted that the NFTs would also provide an opportunity for the development of digital competences of individuals and companies as every visitor will be able to create their own digital wallet based on Slovenian blockchain technology.

Learn more about Slovenia’s pavilion

23 Sep 2021, 14:15 PM

STA, 23 September 2021 - Chef Ana Roš of Hiša Franko has kept her two stars in the new edition of the Michelin Guide Slovenia and all five one-starred restaurants kept theirs as Gostišče Grič in Horjul, led by chef Luka Košir, won its first.

The coveted stars, which denote the best dining establishments discovered by Michelin inspectors, were awarded to Slovenian restaurants for the first time last year.

Ana Roš Named Among World's Top 10 Chefs, Maša Salopek World’s Best Pastry Chef

All the winners have kept their ratings; apart from Roš, who kept two stars, five other restaurants kept one each: Vila Podvin (Uroš Štefelin, Mošnje), Hiša Denk (Gregor Vračko, Zgornja Kungota), Atelje (Jorg Zupan, Ljubljana), Pri Lojzetu (Tomaž Kavčič, Vipava) and Dam (Uroš Fakuč, Nova Gorica).

Gostišče Grič became the latest addition with one star, the Slovenian Tourist Board has announced.

In addition, Michelin inspectors have given seven restaurants Bib Gourmand nods for exceptionally good food at modest prices, and 39 establishments have won the Plate Michelin, a designation for fresh ingredients and carefully prepared meals.

In all 53 restaurants have made it to the second edition of the Michelin Guide Slovenia, one more than in last year's edition.

The Bib Gourmand designated restaurants are Gostilna na Gradu, Gostilna Repovž, Jožef, Mahorčič, Rajh and Ruj, which already won the accolade last year, plus TaBar.

The Plate Michelin emblem has been kept by 37 establishments (AS, B-Restaurant, Calypso, Cubo, Dvor Jezeršek, Etna, Galerija Okusov, Gostilna Danilo, Gostilna Francl, Gostilna za Gradom, Gostilna Krištof, Gostilna Vovko, Gredič, Harfa, Hiša Krasna, Hiša Torkla, JB, Kendov Dvorec, Julijana, MAK, Marina, Maxim, Monstera Bistro, Ošterija Debeluh, Otočec Castle, Pavus, Pikol, Rizibizi, Sedem, Separé, Shambala, Sophia, Stara Gostilna, Strelec, Sushimama, Valvas'or, Vander), plus Landerik and Vila Planinka as new additions.

On declaring the winners, Gwendal Poullennec, international director of Michelin Guides, noted the impact of the Covid pandemic on the industry, saying that despite repeated lockdowns Slovenian chefs proved their resilience, determination and inexhaustible talent.

"The selection of restaurants we present today reflects a local culinary scene that is particularly committed to sustainable gastronomy and keeps developing," he said.

Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said Michelin inspectors must have had a difficult job picking among Slovenia's top chefs.

13 Sep 2021, 12:09 PM

STA, 13 September 2021 - Cavers from the Ljubljana Cave Exploration Association surpassed a depth of 1000 metres in a cave under the highland glacial karst area on the Kanin mountains. The newly discovered cave is one of the 100 deepest caves in the world, said Matic Di Batista, president of the association.

The newly discovered cave in a cave system called the "Abyss of the Sleeping Dinosaur" (Brezno spečega dinozavra )is also the tenth in Slovenia with a depth of more than 1000 metres.

Cavers started exploring the Abyss in 2007, but abandoned the exploration because they could not find a way forward at a depth of 300 metres.

They said that advanced lighting has now enabled them to go further. In the four expeditions undertaken earlier this year, the cavers have reached a depth of 730 metres.

Their exploration continued last weekend, as they discovered that the cave goes even deeper, eventually leading them to a chamber at a depth of 1040 metres.

"The cave is about two kilometres long. It is also interesting because from a depth of 350 metres onwards, we were accompanied by a rather large amount of water, which disappeared several times and then reappeared at a lower depth."

"During the latest operation, we explored and measured a total of 580 metres of new underground tunnels," the cavers said in their report.

12 Sep 2021, 08:13 AM

STA, 11 September 2021 - The main ceremony remembering the return of the western Primorska region to the homeland was held in Idrija, west of Ljubljana, on Saturday. The event also marked 74 years since the implementation of the Paris Peace Treaty under which Primorska was reunited with Slovenia after being under Italian rule since the end of WWI.

The keynote speaker at the ceremony ahead of the 15 September holiday was a young scientist from Idrija who lives in the US, Nina Leskovec.

Idrija Mayor Tomaž Vencelj said it was important this year's ceremony was held in Idrija, which has been an important part of Primorska for half a century and made the region richer with its natural beauty, heritage and successful economy.

The cultural programme in Idrija's central square presented the life and work of Črtomir Šinkovec (1914-1983), a partisan, poet, journalist and editor from Vojsko pri Idriji, and concluded with Primorska Rising, the region's informal anthem.

President Borut Pahor told the press after the show that this song was what connected the region's people in rebellion, and connected them in standing up to occupying forces in WWII.

"Perhaps other people in Slovenia find it difficult to understand that almost all people of Primorska perceive the red star differently. At the time it was a symbol of resistance. After the war crimes did occur under it, but this symbol of resistance cannot be taken away from the people of Primorska," he said.

The president said it was necessary to live together in harmony and understand each other. "I think there is enough space for everyone to live together, but this era being what it is, we have to make an effort."

While all Slovenian people were part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until World War One, the western region of Primorska became part of Italy after the war.

The Paris peace conference ended in 1919 with no solution to the border issue between Italy and the newly-emerged Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovens, Yugoslavia's predecessor.

Then, under the 1920 Rapallo Treaty, Italy got what is roughly referred to as Primorska, including the cities of Trieste and Gorizia, Vipava and Soča Valleys, Kras, Istria and parts of the Notranjska region.

The area remained under Italy, or under Nazi Germany after its 1943 capitulation, until the end of WWII, when Istria and Trieste were occupied by Yugoslav Partisans, while the western part of Primorska was taken by the allies.

The allies made the Partisans retreat in June 1945, dividing the area into two zones, one under the allied command and the other under the Yugoslav military administration.

The 1947 Paris Peace Treaty brought a compromise, giving Yugoslavia a large part of the areas it wanted to have under its administration, including around Gorizia and Trieste.

As a result, the majority of Primorska people were brought under Yugoslavia after suffering under Fascism for more than 20 years and then briefly under Nazi Germany.

Nevertheless, an estimated 140,000 Slovenians remained outside Yugoslavia's borders, as the peace treaty gave Italy Gorizia, Resia, Benečija and Val Canale.

Day of Return of Primorska to the Motherland, evoking the implementation of the Paris Peace Treaty, has been celebrated since 2005, being introduced under the Janez Janša government, although not as a work-free day.

09 Sep 2021, 11:23 AM

STA, 9 September 2021 -  Another seven stumbling stones or Stolpersteine were laid in Ljubljana on Thursday to honour the memory of the city's Jewish citizens who were torn from their homes during WWII and taken to concentration camps in Europe. After that, an exhibition on the story of a Ljubljana Jewish family was opened.

The latest Stolpersteine commemorative plaques bring the total of stumbling stones in Ljubljana to 68, and they are located at 24 different locations.

Ljubljana Jewish Cultural Centre data shows the Slovenian capital has the largest number of such stones in Europe relative to the percentage of Jews that lived there and died as Holocaust victims.

The project is part of a wider initiative first launched by German artist Gunter Demnig in 1992 that aims to commemorate persons at their last known place of residence before they fell victim to Nazi terror.

The brass stones feature inscriptions displaying the victim's name, date of birth and fate. There are now more than 75,000 of them installed in more than 1,200 cities across Europe and Russia, making this the world's largest decentralised memorial.

In Slovenia, such memorial blocks have been laid in Ljubljana, Maribor and the north-east of the country, Lendava and Murska Sobota, where most of Slovenian Jews lived before WWII.

Today's stone-laying ceremonies were organised by the Ljubljana Jewish Cultural Centre, the Maribor Synagogue, and the Ljubljana municipality.

The first two out of the seven stumbling stones were laid at Križevniška 5 to commemorate Theodor Kron and Angelo Hajmann. Memorial blocks were also installed to honour the memory of Ivan Roth (Vegova 8) and Artur Silberstein, Pavla Silberstein, Stevan Savić and Đuro Savić (Korytkova 22).

Stolpersteine are "an artwork, individual and collective memory, which aims to rouse our lulled souls", the head of the Jewish Cultural Centre, Robert Waltl, said on the occasion.

The centre also prepared the exhibition titled Holocaust in Ljubljana - the Silberstein-Savić Family at the Mini Theatre venue, which was opened by Estera Savić Bizjak, a descendant of the family.

The stone-laying ceremony was meanwhile also attended by President Borut Pahor, an honorary sponsor of this project in Slovenia.

Pahor laid the first stumbling stone on 6 August 2018 together with the author of the project, German artist Demnig at Cankarjevo Nabrežje in Ljubljana, his office said in a release.

Related: "Undeleted” Remembers Jewish Residents of Ljubljana Killed in Holocaust

26 Aug 2021, 10:49 AM

STA, 25 August 2021 - Efforts to rejuvenate the lynx population in the north-western Gorenjska region have proved successful as the first kittens have been born after five lynx were released into the wild there under the Life Lynx project. This comes after a successful rejuvenation of the lynx population in the south of the country.

The female Aida, who arrived in Slovenia in April alongside the male Zois, seems to have adjusted to the new environment as she has given birth to three kittens, the Life Lynx team said.

Two local hikers spotted Aida and her litter near a forest trail in the Jelovica Plateau area in mid-August. Given data collected with the help of Aida's GPS collar, the kittens were born some month ago.

Lynx sightings in the wild, particularly of lynx families, are very rare. Experts advise that if one comes across a lynx family in the wild, they should not disturb the animals as the first months after giving birth are key for the survival of the litter.

The female lynx often move their litters between different dens to reduce the risk of potential predators finding them. The mortality rate of kittens in the wild in their first year is 50%.

Life Lynx will keep monitoring the developments regarding the lynx population in Slovenia, including by camera trap sites. This will help the team find out if other two female lynx in Gorenjska, Julija and Lenka, have also mated and reproduced this season.

The main aim of Life Lynx is to salvage and rejuvenate the Dinaric-Alpine lynx population, which had been severely inbred and on the verge of extinction not long ago.

The project includes eleven institutions or organisations from Slovenia, Croatia, Italy, Slovakia and Romania and is led by the Slovenia Forest Service.

06 Aug 2021, 13:25 PM

STA, 5 August 2021 - The first ever public demonstration of fully encrypted quantum communication between Italy, Slovenia and Croatia took place during the meeting of G20 digital economy ministers in Trieste on Thursday.

It was the first time in history that fully quantum encrypted communication was made possible by means of optical fibres connecting three nodes, in Trieste, Ljubljana and Rijeka.

In Ljubljana, the event was held at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics (FMF), whose dean Anton Ramšak noted that quantum communication would allow what have so far been unattainable levels of communication security.

"Comparing the security of encryption methods established so far and quantum communication is like comparing bows and arrows with guns," Ramšak illustrated.

The technology uses quantum keys, sequences of random numbers established remotely through exchange of individual photons of light.

The exchange protocol is based on quantum mechanics and if anyone tried to intercept the key, they would leave behind a trace that would alert those involved in communication and allow them to respond immediately.

In all other established technologies of information transfer, a copy of the key may be intercepted and copied without leaving a trace.

The quantum communication was tested by FMF physicists Rainer Kaltenbaek and Anton Ramšak in cooperation with their colleagues at the University of Trieste's Department of Physics and the National Research Council of Italy and Croatian physicists from the Ruđer Bošković Institute.

In his address, Kaltenbaek noted that Europe pioneered the field as early as 2012, but since the relevant institutions had not been willing to provide sufficient financial support, it was larger countries, mainly China which later took the initiative in implementing the technology.

Today's demonstration was also important in the context of the future European quantum communication infrastructure (EuroQCI), which is being promoted by the 27 EU member countries and the European Commission with the support of the European Space Agency.

The event depended on technical support of the link between Trieste and the FMF in Ljubljana via Postojna that was made possible by the telecommunications provider Telekom Slovenije through its modern network of optical links by means of dark fibres.

The test was the first ever application of quantum laws of nature outside science labs with the purpose of establishing fully secure communication.

After addresses by keynote speakers, a short concert was performed by musicians from the Giuseppe Tartini State Conservatory of Trieste and the academies of music in Ljubljana and Zagreb using the breakthrough quantum communication technology.

04 Aug 2021, 12:33 PM

STA, 3 August 2021 - Slovenian archaeologists have discovered several finds along the river Ljubljanica during the renovation Zlata Ladjica house, including the foundations of the Butcher's Bridge, which has since the Middle Ages been replaced by the current Shoemaker's Bridge. 

The find did not come as a surprise because the Butcher's Bridge in what is now Jurčič Square was known from historical records, yet it is the first material evidence to prove its existence, Martin Horvat, an archaeologist at the Ljubljana Museum and Galleries (MGML), told the STA on Tuesday.

The Butcher's Bridge was first indirectly mentioned around 1280, when a piece of information appeared about an Old Bridge, located where the Triple Bridge stands now. The mention of the Old Bridge meant a new bridge - the Butcher's Bridge - must have been built by then where the Shoemaker's Bridge is now.

"At first it was very probably fully made of wood, including the foundations on both river banks," said Horvat.

Still, the newly discovered foundations are from sometime later, probably the 14th century. They are made of a kind of bricks, while the bridge itself was probably made of wood.

In the second half of the 19th century, the bridge was replaced by an iron bridge and renamed after Mayor Johann Nepomuk Hradecky, while in the 1930s, the current Shoemaker's Bridge was build there, designed by architect Jože Plečnik.

The bridge names reflected the business being done there: butcher's shops on the Butcher's Bridge were mentioned in the 16th century, but were banned from it at the start of the 17th century for the smell and water pollution. The bridge was then occupied by other craftsmen, increasingly by shoe makers, hence the name the Shoemaker's Bridge.

The excavations in Jurčič Square have also led to the discovery of the remains of Roman and Medieval riverbanks, while a bit earlier, archaeologists were surprised to discover finds related to a blacksmith's shop from the 12th century. Another interesting find is a giant sewage pipe from the end of the 17th or early 18th century.

The archaeologists started working in Jurčič Square around two months ago to supervise the start of construction work.

While the excavations have been completed there, they have moved to the other side of the Zlata Ladjica (Golden Ship) house, where they expect to come across more finds related to the blacksmith's shops as well as more of the riverbanks from the Middle Ages and later.

In the Middle Ages, one to three metres of the riverbank was "acquired" by way of using various materials to narrow the river, Horvat explained.

He also highlighted that this area - known as Breg - used to be Ljubljana's main port for all goods transported on the Ljubljanica, with all the needed facilities such as warehouses or customs offices, some of whose foundations Horvat hopes will be found.

28 Jul 2021, 14:53 PM

STA, 28 July 2021 - Ljubljana's landmarks designed by architect Jože Plečnik (1872-1957), including the Triple Bridge, Congress Square and Žale Cemetery, have been included in UNESCO's World Heritage List in line with a decision adopted by the World Heritage Committee on Wednesday.

Slovenia submitted the bid in January 2020 after an earlier joint bid with the Czech Republic was abandoned. All of Plečnik's major works in Ljubljana are thus included in the world heritage list, except for the dilapidated Bežigrad Stadium.

The country's bid Ljubljana: The Timeless, Human Capital Designed by Jože Plečnik, covered the works that Slovenia's most acclaimed architect completed during both world wars.

The decision of the World Heritage Committee comes after the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) positively assessed Slovenia's bid on 4 June.

ICOMOS recognised Plečnik's works in Ljubljana as an exceptional example of urban space design in accordance with the architect's deeply human vision that transformed a former provincial town into a symbolic national capital.

According to ICOMOS, Plečnik's approach is based on the reformist architectural movements of the early 20th century that is currently under-represented in the World Heritage List.

Špela Spanžel from the Ministry of Culture, who headed the task force preparing the nomination, said that the process that had led to this recognition had gradually started ten years ago, initially as a reflection on the value of Plečnik's heritage.

"We believe that Plečnik's Ljubljana illustrates in an exemplary way an approach to heritage that honours the achievements of the past and conceives the future tailored to the people, which means it very much reflects modern notions such as quality architecture and built environment, management, sustainability, beauty and a sense of space," Spanžel said.

Slovenia's bid was prepared by a group of experts in protection, preservation and management of cultural heritage in cooperation with the owners and managers of Plečnik's landmarks. The process was led by the Ministry of Culture and coordinated by the Museum of Architecture and Design (MAO).

Slovenia already has four entries in the World Heritage List - heritage of mercury in Idrija, prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps, and ancient and primeval beech forests, and the Škocjan Caves.

07 Jul 2021, 15:20 PM

STA, 7 July 2021 - Thirty years to the day, the Brijuni [sometimes written Brioni] Declaration was adopted, ending hostilities between Yugoslav and Slovenian forces in the ten-day independence war and suspending Slovenia's independence activities for three months. It was the first international agreement between Slovenia and the EU's predecessor, the European Economic Community (EEC).

Following diplomatic efforts that began after the outbreak of independence war in Slovenia, the declaration was signed on the Brijuni Islands in Croatia on 7 July 1991 after 15 hours of negotiations. The agreement was endorsed by the Slovenian Assembly on 10 July.

The parties to the declaration were the representatives of Slovenia, Croatia, Serbia, the Yugoslav federal authorities and the trio representing the EEC, made up of the foreign ministers of Luxembourg, Portugal and the Netherlands.

The representatives from Slovenia were the president of the Slovenian presidency Milan Kučan, Prime Minister Lojze Peterle, Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel, the Slovenian representative in the Yugoslav Presidency Janez Drnovšek, and the Speaker of the Slovenian Assembly, France Bučar.

The Yugoslav delegation featured Prime Minister Ante Marković, Interior Minister Petar Gračanin, Foreign Minister Budimir Lončar, Deputy Defence Minister Stane Brovet and other members of the Presidency of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). Croatia was represented by President Franjo Tuđman.

In the declaration, the parties agreed that in order to resolve the situation peacefully, several principles must be strictly respected, including that only the peoples of Yugoslavia can decide their own future, and that negotiations should start immediately, and no later than 1 August 1991.

The European Community pledged to offer assistance in finding peaceful and lasting solutions, provided that all obligations are strictly respected.

In an annex to the declaration, it was agreed that Slovenian police would control Slovenian border crossings in accordance with Yugoslav federal regulations.

The parties agreed on the unblocking of all units and facilities of the Yugoslav People's Army (JNA), the unconditional withdrawal of JNA troops to barracks, the removal of all road barricades, the return of all JNA assets and equipment, and the deactivation of all Slovenian Territorial Defence units.

The Brijuni Declaration did not fully satisfy any of the parties involved in the Yugoslav crisis. For Slovenia, the most contentious provision was the three-month suspension of independence activities, which was seen by some as a temporary renunciation of independence, the unblocking of JNA barracks, and the return of JNA assets and equipment.

The declaration was met with mixed reactions in the country - some considered it necessary to stop the war at all cost, while others felt that the Slovenian delegation at Brijuni gave up what had been gained with the Declaration of Independence and during the ten-day war.

But even though Slovenia committed to a three-month suspension of the independence process, the process was actually accelerated.

The Yugoslav leadership realised that it would not be able to stop Slovenian independence and decided to withdraw its troops from Slovenia within three months on 18 July 1991. The last JNA troops left the port of Koper on 25 October.

Later that summer, on 27 August 1991, the EEC set up an arbitration commission to resolve legal issues related to the break-up of Yugoslavia. The commission's conclusions paved the way for the international recognition of Slovenia.

As historian Božo Repe pointed out for the STA in April, the Brijuni Declaration was the first international document that recognised Slovenia as an international subject. With it, Slovenia passed the maturity test in entering international relations and saved itself from war, he said.

Prime Minister Janez Janša also spoke about the declaration and the negotiations in Brijuni when he presented the priorities of the Slovenian EU presidency to the European Parliament on Tuesday.

He said that the Brijuni negotiations had restored Slovenia's hope in Europe, which had been striving to preserve Yugoslavia until the start of the war in Slovenia.

30 Jun 2021, 10:53 AM

STA, 28 June 2021 - Researchers of the biospeleology group of the Ljubljana Biotechnical Faculty have published in the Nature Communications journal an article which, according to the principal author Špela Borko, shows for the first time that "descendants of the ancient explosions of evolution may also be found in Europe, if you look in the right spot - underground".

In the article titled Subterranean adaptive radiation of amphipods in Europe, the researchers of the Department of Biology at the faculty reconstructed the course of evolution of 45 million-year-old subterranean amphipod genus.

The faculty said on its website, as it announced the article, that old groups of blind crustaceans from the genus Niphargus had dispersed from West Europe via interstitial and shallow subterranean water systems to South-Eastern Europe.

With the uplift of carbonate massifs in South-Eastern Europe from the Paratethys sea 15 million years ago, they took the opportunity to inhabit many newly-created subterranean habitats, from underground rivers and lakes to fissures just below the surface.

Today, hundreds of morphologically and ecologically diverse species live in groundwaters from Ireland to Iran, and the greatest diversity of the underground life is found precisely in South-Eastern Europe as there were several simultaneous explosions of evolution while people populated the newly-created karst of the present-day south-eastern Alps and the Dinaric Alps.

Although sudden evolutional events, when many ecologically very diverse species are created from the common ancestor in a very short time, are frequently connected with exotic places, such events were occurring in Europe several million years ago, when the continent was still similar to today's tropics.

"Fossil evidence shows the blossoming of species diversity in Europe at the time. Later geological and climate changes resulted in the extinction of a majority of groups and today the conviction is that Europe is a rather boring continent in terms of biodiversity," the website says.

However, as biospeleologists from the faculty believe, biodiversity in Europe should perhaps be sought underground. The head of the research Cene Fišer noted that "it [biodiversity] was especially lively precisely in the area of present-day Slovenia".

The article, available at here, is also signed by Peter Trontelj and Ajda Moškrič, who are also members of the biospeleology group, and Ole Seehausen of the University of Bern.

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