30 Oct 2019, 12:15 PM

STA, 29 October 2019 - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar met Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash on day two of his working visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), discussing with him further cooperation and the situations in the Middle East and Western Balkans, the Foreign Ministry said in a press release on Tuesday.

In the afternoon, Cerar officially inaugurated in Abu Dhabi Slovenia's first embassy in a Gulf country, which has been operating since 2018.

Cerar said in his address that the embassy was an "important step forward in deepening Slovenian relations with the UAE and the region". A similar a sentiment was expressed by Gargash in their meeting earlier in the day.

"Our countries share common values and mutual interests and it is time now to unleash our full potential for cooperation." Slovenia highly values "the role of the UAE in sustainable development, modern technology, food safety, exploration of space."

"Slovenia also possesses rich experiences and extensive knowledge in many areas and is keen on sharing these with our friends and partners," said the foreign minister.

After visiting the grounds of 2020 Expo in Dubai yesterday, Cerar said at the embassy opening that the exhibition was the first major opportunity for to promote Slovenia and said that the help of some 300 Slovenians living in UAE would be very important in this respect.

Cerar's talks with Gargash meanwhile focused on the Middle East and the Western Balkans, as well as Yemen and the importance of bringing an end to the suffering of civilian population.

Cerar also presented to Gargash a project by ITF - Enhancing Human Security in Yemen. It was reported earlier in the year that the Slovenia-run fund was supported in this project with a EUR 600,000 donation from the UAE.

This morning a commission for economic cooperation brought together representatives of a number of Slovenians and UAE ministries to discuss cooperation projects in business, logistics, science and artificial intelligence.

30 Oct 2019, 10:16 AM

A reminder that this Thursday and Friday are national holidays in Slovenia - Reformation Day and All Saints Day, respectively. As such government offices, banks, museums and many stores will be closed.

Reformation Day has been celebrated since 1992, despite the fact that Slovenia is a predominantly Catholic country, due to the importance of the Protestant Movement for the Slovenian language and nation. This importance is personified in the figure of Primoz Trubar (1508-1586), the Protestant priest whose Abecedarium spelling-book and Catechism, both published in 1550, were the first printed books in Slovene. All Saints Day, on 1 November, is a day for remembering the dead, and thus you can expect increased traffic around all major cemeteries

29 Oct 2019, 21:46 PM

The two WWII bombs that have been found in Maribor this week will be disarmed at their current locations, which will also require certain evacuation procedures in the perimeter specified for each bomb according to its size.

The 250 kg bomb, found at the construction site near Europark last Saturday is going to be disarmed this Thursday, October 31st and the evacuation will take place between 8:00 and 16:00 with a perimeter of 300 metres. This includes the greater part of the Maribor University Medical Centre, which stands within the reach of its possible blast. More than a thousand patients will be moved on Thursday, all visits will be cancelled and access to the hospital limited to emergency cases.

The second bomb, found two days later during the works on the railway track by the railway bridge, weighs about 500 kg and the evacuation perimeter is set at 600 metres for all movement, while all the buildings will be evacuated in the radius of 300 metres. This bomb will be disarmed on Sunday, November 3rd.

Occupied Maribor was quite heavily bombed by the allies. The first bombing took place on January 7th, 1944, with 276 bombs dropped on the city, which killed 55 people. Bombings continued on October 13th and lasted until April 12, 1945, when the city was bombed for the last time. The worst bombing occurred on October 14, 1944, when around 560 bombs were dropped on the city, killing 76 people.

30 Oct 2019, 01:47 AM

Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also follow us on Facebook and get all the news in your feed.

A schedule of all the main events involving Slovenia this week can be found here

This summary is provided by the STA:

Šarec critical of central bank-imposed consumer lending restrictions

LJUBLJANA - PM Marjan Šarec issued a scathing criticism of the restrictions to consumer lending to be enforced by Banka Slovenije as of 1 November. Echoing the views of the Bank Association, Šarec spoke of a poorly thought through measure that would harm the people and the state. He urged a "more humane and realistic" approach. Šarec announced he would call on representatives of the Bank Association to use a meeting scheduled for 15 November with key stakeholders "to reconsider and find a better solution that will be to the benefit of all people and at the same time secure financial stability".

Bonus for social benefit recipients scrapped

LJUBLJANA - MPs in an 34:18 vote amendments scraping a bonus for social benefit recipients who work. The majority of MPs agreed that the bonus, introduced in 2012 as a corrective welfare measure and work incentive, in many cases discouraged people from taking a full-time job. Labour Minister Ksenija Klampfer reiterated during the debate that the bonus did not have the same effect as in 2012, when it was introduced, and did not encourage people to take on a job. The strongest opposition to eliminating the bonus was voiced by the opposition Left, which deems it an anti-social measure. Also added was an amendment from the SDS under which able-bodied recipients of welfare need to participate in public works, otherwise their benefit is cut in half.

Loan guarantee bill for rail, expressway passes first reading

LJUBLJANA - The bill providing state guarantees for the construction of a new rail link to the port of Koper and two sections of the Third Development Axis expressway was passed at first reading. However, the debate indicated that parties are far from supporting the bill in its current form and have announced amendments for second reading.The bill entails a maximum of EUR 417 million loan guarantee for the railway and another EUR 360 million for the two expressway sections, one in the north one in the south. Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek said that the loan guarantees could save Slovenia more than EUR 8.34 million a year for loans with maturity of between 20 and 30 years.

Cerar discusses cooperation, W Balkans, Middle East in UAE

ABU DHABI, UAE- Foreign Minister Miro Cerar met Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash on day two of his working visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE), discussing with him further cooperation and the situations in the Middle East and the Western Balkans, the Foreign Ministry said. In the afternoon, Cerar officially inaugurated in Abu Dhabi Slovenia's first embassy in a Gulf country, which has been operating since 2018.

Gorenje to be split into two companies

VELENJE/LJUBLJANA - The household appliances maker Gorenje will be split into two companies as part of group integration a year after it was taken over by Chinese conglomerate Hisense, with the management becoming a separate company. Hisense Europe will be headquartered in Ljubljana and provide corporate support services for all Hisense companies in Europe. Meanwhile Gorenje will comprise the production company in Velenje and the Gorenje group's subsidiaries. The company said in a press release that adaptation to new business environment demanded a further boosting of efficiency and streamlined organisation of the Gorenje group.

Clashing interpretations as reasons for Petrol board resignation leaked

LJUBLJANA - Days after the board of energy group Petrol surprisingly stepped down over differences in strategy with the supervisory board, a document has been leaked indicating that the board's borrowing plans for future acquisitions had exceeded limits set down in the current strategy. A leaked legal opinion that the Čeferin Law Firm made for the the Petrol supervisory board shows that the management board had repeatedly changed its estimate of how much leverage the company would have to take on to finance its continued expansion in the Balkans.

New EP resolution on totalitarianism starting to stir Slovenian politics

LJUBLJANA - Following years of disagreement on the manner in which Slovenia should acknowledge the 2009 European Parliament resolution on European conscience and totalitarianism, a new resolution to this effect adopted in Strasbourg in September this year could be headed down the same path. Slovenian MEPs from the ranks of the European People's Party (EPP) said they had called on the government and parliament to act in keeping with the resolution on the importance of European remembrance for the future of Europe. The document also calls on "all member states of the EU to make a clear and principled assessment of the crimes and acts of aggression perpetrated by the totalitarian communist regimes and the Nazi regime".

Public transport free of charge for pensioners as of mid-2020

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly unanimously endorsed legislative changes making public transportation free of charge for pensioners and persons with disabilities, among others, as of 1 July 2020. In addition to pensioners and persons possessing the EU disability card, the motion also applies to all registered athletes attending secondary schools and universities and university students with motor disabilities. It was proposed in the thurd reading today by the SMC and three other parties that unemployed independence war veterans are also eligible for the benefit. The amendment was confirmed.

AI challenges discussed at UN event co-hosted by Slovenia

NEW YORK, US - Slovenian mission to the UN, the Council of Europe (CoE) and UNESCO hosted an event discussing the challenges of artificial intelligence (AI) at the UN headquarters in New York on Monday night. In just over a fortnight, UNESCO is expected to approve Slovenia's plan to launch an AI research centre under its auspices. Dubbed Artificial Intelligence: Technology to Serve Humankind, Setting Legal Standards, the debate drew a number of participants and listeners. Many shared the view that AI offered a number of advantages but also many risks.

More meat products recalled as precaution in Austrian meat scandal

LJUBLJANA - As many as nine Slovenian meat processing companies have recalled a number of products after the Food Safety Administration warned on Friday that meat from an Austrian abattoir that failed to meet the required standards might have entered food supply chain. Meanwhile, the head of the Slovenian Food Safety Administration, Janez Posedi, said that the recalls in Slovenia were only precautionary measures. "There is no evidence that the animals ended up in the food supply chain." Posedi said that between 17 September and 22 October the abattoir from Styria had put on the market meat intended for disposal, however, the meat never reached the rendering plant.

Men outnumber women for first time ever in Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - Men outnumbered women in Slovenia in the first half of 2019 for the first time in the 160-year long history of population statistics recording in the present-day territory of Slovenia, the Statistics Office reported. In the total number of residents of Slovenia, which includes foreigners, recorded on 1 July there were 1,045,835 men and 1,043,475 women. This is due to the number of foreigners increasing by 10,000 in the first half of the year, and the number of Slovenian citizens decreasing by 1,600. Women still outnumber men when it comes to Slovenian citizens alone, their share standing at 51.2%, while the share of women among foreigners residing in Slovenia is only 33.7%.

Maritime passenger number grows the most in 2018

LJUBLJANA - The number of road and urban public transport passengers dropped in 2018 on the previous year, while the rail passenger figure stayed mostly level. Passenger traffic in the Slovenian port and air passenger transport saw an increase last year, with the number of ship passengers going up the most - by as much as 23%. In 2018, 28.5 million passengers were transported in road public transport, down 11% compared to the previous year, while in urban public transport, almost 60 million passengers were carried, a 3% drop on 2017, the Statistic Office reported.

Slovenian on-line children's magazine wins Austrian award

LJUBLJANA/VIENNA, Austria - A project presenting stories of refugee and migrant children in Slovenia carried out by the Časoris on-line magazine for children has been awarded this year's Intercultural Achievement Award (IAA) in the media category, conferred by the Austrian Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs. The award supporting intercultural projects related to education, youth, women, media, migration and integration went to the magazine for its project Stories of Children of the World among more than 200 competing projects from 31 countries.

Visiting Ljubljana? Check out what's on this week, while all our stories on Slovenia, from newest to oldest, are here

If you're learning Slovenian then you can find all our dual texts here

29 Oct 2019, 20:22 PM

One of the regular runners at the Ljubljana Marathon is the Slovenian President, Borut Pahor.

President Pahor is also a skilled social media user, regularly informing his followers about his ups and downs, realisations and achievements.

These are the president’s latest reports on his 21k last Sunday.

Translation: “I'm more than happy. This year I ran the Ljubljana Marathon just 4 seconds worse than last year. And I was supposed to be in top shape last year, and this year I tried to run only once (only once in half a year, hello!) after my injury at the Radenci Marathon. At the beginning, I was thinking about where I’m going to drop out. But the race and the adrenaline rush worked out for me. Then I remembered the Taramuhar [a tribe of ultra-running Indians from Mexico]; running is not in the legs, running is in the heart. Ah, fantastic, fishing for compliments.”

Translation: “Traditionally, with the Slovenian flag, across the finish line.”

29 Oct 2019, 19:02 PM

Ljubljana Free Tour has an eye-catching name, but what’s the business behind it, and does it really work? We sent some questions to the group, who were kind enough to answer.

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Look for the yellow umbrellas

How long has Ljubljana Free Tour been running?

Since 2009. It was a difficult start as hotels would not work with us due to their belief that if something is free, it can’t be very good. We have over the years gained an impeccable reputation for quality, and today most hotels recommend us to their guests and call us as soon as they run out of fliers. Today free tours run 365 days a year, no booking is required. The service is always available regardless of weather.

Where did you get the idea from?

The Free Tour concept began in Berlin, in 2007. We were there that year and took a free tour not knowing what to expect. We were absolutely shocked .. not by the free concept, but by the quality of tour. The tour was engaging, informative, funny, fluid and simply changed our whole perception of “tours”. The guide had to work hard to earn their tips and did a great job.

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Who are your guides?

All guides are local guides with a valid Slovene guiding license, a must in Slovenia. They are all academics and for many guiding is their second job. Our team includes university and college lecturers, academic researchers, school teachers, special education specialists, a sociologist, a historian, an archaeologist and even a street performer. They are all highly knowledgeable yet entertaining, true professionals who are able to deliver quality tours in an entertaining and fun manner. With over 3,000 reviews on TripAdviser alone, it is easy to see the great job they do.

How do they get paid?

On free tours guides earn only the tips they receive from guests. This ensures they will always do their best to deliver a great tour. The better they do the more they can earn. The sound of happy tourists applauding our guides can be heard across town on a daily basis. Contrary to belief, even though they make money by tips, all their earnings are properly declared.

You also organize paid tours – how are these different?

The idea is simple. Guests come on morning free tours, are impressed by the quality of tour they receive, and opt for a paid tour in the afternoon. At present, the only regularly running paid tour we have is the Communist Tour, which runs several times a week in season. In this case tourists arrive at the meeting point and pay €12 to participate in the tour. We know that without our reputation, no one would come. Like our free tours, no prior booking is required. We have enough guides on site to split large numbers into smaller groups. And of course, like any agency, we also offer various private tours in 10 different languages – including Russian, Chinese and Japanese. Private tours are mostly paid in advance.

Aside from the usual sights of Ljubljana, what else do you cover?

Our Classic City free tours visit the main tour sights in the centre and Old Town. However, it’s the structure, content and stories we deliver that differentiates us from other tours in town. There is so much to tell and we believe tours must give added value compared to guidebooks. Tours should be informative and fun.

In addition to the Classic City, we also offer an “Old Town & Castle” Free Tour which run several times a week in season. This tour visits further sights in the Old Town (beyond those on the classic city tour) and continues with a walk up to Ljubljana Castle, where we tour the inner courtyard and some towers.

In addition to classic city tours, we also offer niche tours such as the Communist Tour, Jewish Heritage Tour, boat tours and custom made tours for guests with specific interests.

Do you have any special plans for the winter season?

We are always checking options for adding new tours and have several tours ready in the drawer. Many consider us the best in town and we prefer to concentrate on what we do best … Ljubljana walking tours.

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Where can people learn more?

For more information our website  would be a good place to start. Elsewhere, on TripAdvisor we’ve been ranked as #1 out of 155 tours in Ljubljana for about eight years in a row. We've even gained Hall of fame status for exceptional quality. I guess we can let over 3,000 reviews speak for themselves.

tripadvisor ljubljana free tour.JPG

Anything else you’d like to say?

We believe what we do contributes greatly to the promotion of Ljubljana and Slovenia. Think of it, many of our participants are backpackers who would otherwise never go on a paid tour. Now, instead of simply wondering around town clueless or drinking away their afternoon, we take them on a historical trip of town, inject them with some local culture and infect them with a love for Ljubljana and the country as a whole. We make their visit better and they take that back home with them. It is wonderful promotion for Slovenia and assists in shaping the perception of the country abroad.

29 Oct 2019, 15:33 PM

STA, 29 October 2019 - A project presenting stories of refugee and migrant children in Slovenia carried out by the Časoris on-line magazine for children has been awarded this year's Intercultural Achievement Award (IAA) in the media category, conferred by the Austrian government.

Representatives of Zavod Časoris, the publisher of the magazine, received the award from the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs at a ceremony in Vienna on Monday.

The award supporting intercultural projects related to education, youth, women, media, migration and integration went to the magazine for its project Stories of Children of the World among more than 200 competing projects from 31 countries.

Announcing the news, the publisher said that it was the first project from Slovenia to receive the award.

As part of the project, the on-line magazine has presented since 2017 a total of 17 stories of children from various countries; their customs, culture and tradition.

This year, seven of these children were revisited to see how they have integrated in the new environment in Slovenia and what helps them the most in the integration.

The creator of the project, journalist and editor Sonja Merljak Zdovc, said on the occasion that the project wanted to give a voice to those who were otherwise not heard.

"These are children who came to Slovenia from other countries - unaccompanied, as refugees or migrants, who were fleeing from war or poverty, and dreaming about a better, safer and more decent life," she added.

You can see examples of stories from Časoris, in both Slovene and English, here

29 Oct 2019, 13:30 PM

It seems a lot of journalists and photographers, bloggers and Instagrammers visited Slovenia over the summer, with their content now coming online. Much of this is just people posing at Bled and Dragon Bridge, but the latest high-end offering is from National Geographic, presenting a 10-day road trip that takes in much of the country. While missing out on the delights of the south east, the tour takes in the following locations, and thus with any luck will help expand tourism outside the usual hotspots and inspire visitors to spend more than the usual one or two days in the country:

Day 1: Ljubljana – Paddleboarding, the Old Town, fresh water and the Castle

Day 2: Alpine Slovenia – Bovec and Hiša Franko

Day 3: Maribor – Lent and the Old Vine House

Day 4: Logar Valley and Rinka Falls

Day 5: Pannonian Slovenia – Podčetrtek and thermal spas


Source: Google Maps screenshot

Day 6: Lendava and the Vinarium Tower

Day 7: The black waters of Moravske Toplice

Day 8: Portorož and Piran

Day 9: Škocjan Caves

Day 10: The saltpans of Sečovlje Salina Nature Park and some time at the Thalasso Spa Lepa Vida

The story was produced as part of National Geographic’s series of partner content with the aid of the Slovenian Tourist Board, and you can find more of those stories here, along with some of the great pictures the publication is famous for, here. If they work as intended then they should help expand tourism outside the usual hotspots and inspire visitors to spend more than the usual one or two days in the country.

29 Oct 2019, 11:17 AM

In 1598 Ferdinand II of the Habsburgs issued a decree that all Protestant teachers and preachers had to leave Carniolan cities and squares in 14 days.

In Slovenia Protestantism was most effective and widely spread in the 16th century during the Reformation. The Protestant movement – its most popular form in Carniola was Lutheranism – supported the development of Slovenian literary language, which allowed for Slovenian literature and education to spread for the first time, and the first public library was opened. All this enabled and directed the development of Slovenia to a modern nation.

In response to all of this the Catholic Church initiated the Counter-Reformation, also called the Catholic Reformation, a period of Catholic resurgence which began with the Council of Trent (1545 – 1563) and, in greater part but not completely, ended with the conclusion of European wars of religion in 1648.

In Slovenian lands the Counter-Reformation arrived at the end of the 16th century and was led by the Habsburg Archduke Ferdinand II, who ordered the Protestant groups of of inner Austria to return to the Catholic faith or leave the country.

During the Counter-Reformation special religious commissions were established, which, accompanied by soldiers, expelled Protestant preachers, abolished Protestant schools, demolished Protestant churches and cemeteries, burned books, and expelled Protestant families who refused to renounce their religion. In Styria they were led by Bishop Martin Brener and in Carniola and Carinthia by Tomaž Hren.

Following the Counter-Reformation’s onset, publication of Slovenian books died out and Protestantism was only preserved in Prekmurje.

Currently the most famous living Protestant in Slovenia is perhaps Milan Kučan, Slovenia’s first president, who was born into a Lutheran teacher’s family in Prekmurje.

29 Oct 2019, 10:54 AM

STA, 28 October 2019 - The National Council unanimously vetoed the government-sponsored bill designed to provide legal recourse for holders of subordinated bank liabilities wiped out in the 2013 bank bailout, with the interest group proposing the suspensive veto arguing that the bill does not regulate the issue appropriately.

Following the veto from the upper chamber of parliament, the bill, which was passed in a 46:34 vote in the National Assembly last week, will now have to undergo a re-vote and get an absolute majority to be confirmed.

The National Council voted 24 votes for and none against to suspend the implementation of the bill, which aims at providing easier access to recourse for up to 100,000 potential plaintiffs, both shareholders and holders of junior bonds wiped out on instruction of the EU.

But it may take a while before the erased investors are compensated as, in addition to the opposition from the National Council, the central bank had announced a constitutional review.

The veto in the upper chamber had been proposed by the interest group representing employees, which argues that the bill does not provide effective recourse, as councillor Maja Lah reiterated at the session today.

The bill relates to the ruling of the Constitutional Court in 2016, which says that the affected subordinated creditors and shareholders did not have sufficient access to recourse under existing legislation.

Involving up to EUR 963 million, the bill has been a controversial topic.

The proponents of the veto claim the government-sponsored bill falls short of what the Constitutional Court ordered.

When it proposed its own version of the bill in April, the upper chamber said that excessive procedural costs would discourage potential plaintiffs from suing the central bank Banka Slovenije.

The National Council argues that the bill fails to address reservations regarding the exclusive jurisdiction of the Maribor District Court in procedures related to disputes under the bill, as well as the issues related to determining court fees.

It believes the bill also does not address the issues related to the protection of personal information of plaintiffs and the issue of out-of-court settlement with the payment of a lump-sum compensation to the former holders of subordinated bank liabilities.

Lah said that Banka Slovenije as the regulator who had insight into all details of the functioning of the banking system had a professional, personnel and information advantage over a typical small investor.

Such imbalance could significantly affect the realistic chances of plaintiffs to be successful in lawsuits, she said, adding that the group was also critical of the intention to incentivise plaintiffs to group themselves by lowering court fees.

"This results in an unjustified differentiation between 30 or more plaintiffs, who would file a lawsuit together and have a joint representative, and other plaintiffs who would not meet conditions to do so," the veto proposal says.

This could also constitute a violation of the right to free selection of the representative, as plaintiffs who want to reduce their costs for court fees would be forced to agree on a single, joint representative.

Arguing against the veto, Finance Ministry State Secretary Metod Dragonja said that the bill was "protecting the taxpayers and budget", noting that potential damages would have to be paid by Banka Slovenije from its reserves.

Regarding the disclosure of personal information of the former holders of subordinated bank liabilities, he said that the public interests superseded their interest, as the funds for damages would be secured from public sources.

The bill envisages lump-sum compensations of up to EUR 20,000 to uninformed investors. "This is a civilised option of out-of-court settlement for those who waive the right to use further legal remedies," Dragonja added.

National councillor Matjaž Gams meanwhile pointed to the alleged overestimation of the shortage in the state-owned banks, estimated at the time at EUR 1.5 billion.

He wondered who would be held responsible for that given the fact that this resulted in money being taken away from holders of subordinated bank liabilities.

29 Oct 2019, 09:00 AM

STA, 28 October 2019 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban called for strengthening economic cooperation between the two countries. The pair moreover urged a continuation of EU enlargement, while also discussing migration.

Hungary is Slovenia's sixth largest trade partner, with trade increasing by 9.1% in 2018 to exceed EUR 2 billion for the first time.

"I'm happy about this figure, but I'll be even happier if it will be higher," Šarec told the press after the meeting.

The pair meanwhile expressed regret that EU leaders recently failed to provide the green light for the start of accession negotiation talks with North Macedonia and Albania.

Šarec and Orban also talked about the situation of the respective minorities in Slovenia and Hungary, agreeing both needed to be secured opportunities for developing economically in the areas where they lived.

Orban dedicated a substantial part of the press conference to migration, saying that the two countries knew very well what migration was and what it meant if a large number of migrants crossed the border in an uncontrolled way.

Šarec added that the issue of migration needed to be addressed at its root. "This is the joint task of the EU," he said.

The Slovenian PM was also scheduled to meet parliamentary Speaker Laszlo Köver and Slovenians living in Hungary.

Accompanied by Economic Development and Technology Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, Šarec also attended an annual promotional event hosted by the Slovenian Tourism Board (STO).

All  our stories on Hungary and Slovenia are here

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