Over at singletracks.com Brian Gerow has written a great account of a mountain biking trip to Slovenia based at Ecohotel Koroš in Jamnica, the first Mountain Bike Hotel in the country.
The story is in two parts, over and underground, with the latter taking place along a 2.5km track in an abandoned lead mine (Mežica Mine), an adventure that’s only for the most confident mountain bikers.
Above ground Ecohotel Koroš has many less challenging tracks to explore, and the site is slowly gaining a place on the international circuit, having been part of the Enduro World Series in 2018 and hosting the event again in 2020.
STA, 19 August 2019 - Nearly 220 cases of haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome (HFRS), a potentially lethal acute contagious disease spread by rodents, have been recorded in Slovenia so far this year. The number has already surpassed that of the most recent outbreak, when 182 people got sick in 2012.
Among those infected were 66 women and 152 men, as the latter are more likely to work in jobs such as logging, where the risk of infection is higher.
According to the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), there are two hotspots: 82 cases were confirmed in southeastern Slovenia and 72 in the Podravje region.
HFRS death rate in Slovenia is very low, as 15 deaths have been recorded over the past 35 years, none in the recent years, with the virus occurring in cycles of three to five years.
In May, NIJZ held a press conference advising caution because data had indicated an outbreak was likely this year.
Slovenia is one of the most at-risk areas for HFRS because it is endemic to three hantaviruses causing the disease: the Puumala virus, the Dobrava virus and the Dobrava-Kurkino virus.
The disease has an incubation period of two to four weeks. A person gets infected when breathing in viruses that are excreted by rodents carrying the virus.
When cleaning out spaces that might be infected by rodents, one should air the rooms thoroughly, after which the surfaces should be sprayed with a 10% chlorine solution and left for 10-30 minutes. To prevent infection, the cleaner should also wear a protective mask and gloves.
The related Wikipedia page is here
STA, 16 August 2019 - The number of compulsory car insurance policies has been showing an upward trend in the past few years due to the improved economic situation and the growth of the number of registered vehicles, with revenue from premiums being on the rise for the past three years.
Meanwhile, an analysis by the Slovenian Insurance Association indicates that in general, the value of premiums has seen a downward trend in the past decade.
Slovenian insurers dealing in compulsory car insurance sold 1,914.134 such policies last year, a 4.6% increase compared to the previous year and a record number so far, according to the Insurance Association.
Eight Slovenian insurers were selling third-party liability insurance policies in 2018. They sold a total of EUR 244.2 million premiums, up 6.6% on 2017, shows the association's data.
Stronger competition in the insurance market has resulted in lower premiums. Despite the upward trend of sold policies, the premiums have been getting cheaper in the past decade - by 2.8% per year on average.
However, the past three years saw a rise in the prices, as well as an increase in paying out damage compensation - in 2018, an increase in compensation payouts was more substantial than an increase in charged premiums.
Payouts in 2018 amounted to EUR 159 million, up 10.4% on 2017.
At the beginning of the 1990s car insurance policies accounted for the majority of Slovenia's insurance market, but since then they have been giving way to life and health insurance.
Last year car insurance policies were thus accounting for only 10% of the association members' service portfolio, representing third place among non-life insurance policies.
Motorisation has been on the rise in most EU countries since 2008, amounting to record 466 cars per 1,000 EU citizens on average in 2017.
Slovenia is placed 12th among EU countries according to its motorisation rate and above the EU average, recording record 553 cars per 1,000 Slovenians in 2018.
An average Slovenian spent more than EUR 230 in 2017 for car insurance expenses, which is above the EU average of some EUR 228 - a record figure so far.
Since Slovenia's independence the number of registered vehicles has more than doubled due to the increasing purchasing power. Almost 75% of registered motor vehicles are cars, a trend which has resulted in a decline of public transport.
This summary is provided by the STA:
EU to demand NLB sell its life insurance business
LJUBLJANA - Unofficial information indicates the European Commission expects NLB, Slovenia's largest bank, to sell half of its life insurance business NLB Vita, which it co-owns with KBC Insurance. The business newspaper Finance reported the Commission would notify NLB of its decision soon, estimating the insurer could be sold for EUR 20-30 million. NLB will have to sell its share in NLB Vita because the state failed to privatise its agreed stake in NLB - 75% minus one share - by the end of last year. The privatisation process was completed as late as this June. NLB declined to comment on the unofficial information. NLB Vita posted a record EUR 8.3 million in net profit in 2018 on gross premiums of EUR 76.9 million, up 9% from 2017.
New ambassador wants to make US and Slovenia stronger partners
BRNIK - Lynda Blanchard, the new US ambassador to Slovenia, said she was looking forward to working with the Slovenian government to make the US and Slovenia stronger partners, as she arrived in the country. Blanchard, an entrepreneur and humanitarian activist, succeeds Brent Hartley, a career diplomat who served in Ljubljana between February 2015 and July 2018. Speaking to reporters at Ljubljana airport, she said she was "excited to be here on the sunny side of the Alps" and looking forward to "engaging with everyone and our partnerships". She is expected to present her credentials to the Slovenia president on 29 August.
Speaker wraps up visit to Austria
SALZBURG, Austria - Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan wrapped up a two-day visit to Salzburg after working meetings with his Austrian counterpart Wolfgang Sobotka. The pair discussed the Western Balkans, the future of the EU, climate change and a possible joint project with historians from both countries examining the nations' shared history. Accepting the idea, Židan said that Austria had already carried out such a project with the Czech Republic and Sobotka wanted to see whether Slovenia would be interested in doing the same, as the project helped Austrians and Czechs understand each other better.
Foreign Ministry issues travel alert for Hong Kong
LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry advised Slovenian citizens travelling to Hong Kong to be extra cautious as street protests are being held in China's special administrative region, some of which ended in clashes with the police. The ministry advises those travelling to Hong Kong to completely avoid the locations where protests are being held since late March, consistently follow the instructions of the local security authorities, and follow the situation through the local media.
Solutions being found for toxic waste disposal
LJUBLJANA - Environment Minister Simon Zajc met hazardous waste treatment companies to find a solution after a major company in the business, Kemis, had to stop accepting waste after being ordered to remove the facilities rebuilt after a devastating fire in 2017. Zajc told reporters that Kemis's counterparts could step in, providing services for 14,000-15,000 tonnes of toxic waste. The minister urged speeding up waste transport permit procedures and ordered Kemis's appeal to be handled as a priority.
Army trade unionist found guilty of breach of military discipline
LJUBLJANA - The head of the Trade Union of Soldiers (SVS) Gvido Novak has severely violated military discipline, a Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) disciplinary panel found. It thus formally terminated his employment, a measure which will however not be implemented if Novak commits no breach of discipline in a year's time, the 24ur portal reported. Novak came under fire for having publicly criticised the SAF leadership this spring when Brigadier General Miha Škerbinc was sacked as the force commander. Novak and the SVS came out strong against Maj Gen Alenka Ermenc, the chief of the general staff, who had requested Škerbinc's dismissal, and Defence Minister Karl Erjavec.
Kolektor Etra wins EUR 20m deal in Finland
LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana-based energy equipment maker, Kolektor Etra, announced it had won a deal to produce, supply and install seven power transformers to the Finnish national electricity transmission grid operator Fingrid. The deal is worth EUR 20 million, which makes it the largest in the company's history. The company, a part of the industrial conglomerate Kolektor, is also supplying low-voltage transformers for wind farms under construction on the south-western coast of Finland.
Koper-Divača bridge tender annulment headed for revision
LJUBLJANA - The consortium which had won the public tender for the first of several bridges on the new rail track between the port of Koper and Divača, only to see the tender annulled by the company managing the project, announced an appeal against the decision. In an interview with the weekly Reporter, Aleksander Schara, a representative of the consortium led by Markomark Nival, also rejected the allegations that it had forged its prior experience. He expects the matter to be investigated by police.
Another accolade for Jančar's I Saw Her That Night
BUDVA, Montenegro - One of the most celebrated novels by Slovenia's leading author Drago Jančar, I Saw Her That Night (To Noč Sem Jo Videl), won the Stefan Mitrov Ljubiša Award at the Grad Teatar Festival in Budva, Montenegro, which features various artistic practices, with a focus on theatre. The 2010 novel has also won Jančar the Kresnik Prize for the best novel of the year, presented by the Slovenian newspaper publisher Delo, and the French critics and publishers' association's award for best foreign book.
FeKK festival of short films opens
LJUBLJANA - The 5th FeKK festival of short film got under way with the premiere of Slovenian omnibus Kratki Rezi (Short Deeds) in the Kinodvor cinema and a selection of films from an international documentary workshop in Krško at the Slovenian Cinematheque. Until Saturday, the festival will feature a selection of almost 60 competing short films from Slovenia, former Yugoslavia and other countries, as well as many side programmes and accompanying events.
Top-seed Bedene wins Slovenia Open
PORTOROŽ - Slovenia's best tennis player, Aljaž Bedene, won the ATP Challenger Zavarovalnica Sava Slovenia Open on Sunday, beating Norwegian Viktor Durasovic, 7:5 and 6:3. This is the 16th Challenger series title for the 30-year-old, who climbed ten spots to 80th in ATP world rankings. Bedene is the third Slovenian player to have won Slovenia Open, following Grega Žemlja (2013) and Blaž Kavčič (2014). Last year the title went to French Constant Lestienne.
A schedule of all the main events involving Slovenia this week can be found here
If you're learning Slovenian then you can find all our dual texts here
STA, 19 August - Lynda Blanchard, the new US ambassador to Slovenia, said she was looking forward to working with the Slovenian government to make the US and Slovenia stronger partners, as she arrived in Slovenia with her family on Monday.
Blanchard, an entrepreneur and humanitarian activist, came to Slovenia more than a year after she was nominated by US President Donald Trump, since her appointment was held up by procedural obstacles related to the election of the new US Congress.
She is succeeding Brent Hartley, a career diplomat who served in Ljubljana between February 2015 and July 2018.
Speaking to the press at Ljubljana airport today, she said she was "excited to be here on the sunny side of the Alps" and she looked forward to "engaging with everyone and our partnerships".
Noting that she met First Lady Melania Trump on Saturday, the new ambassador said the first lady, who is Slovenian, wished her well.
"I look forward to working with her and the government of Slovenia and thus make us as parters stronger," said Blanchard, who is expected to present her credentials to President Borut Pahor on 29 August.
Blanchard believes she will get by easily as ambassador, having worked on the Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, for six years, and in 15 different countries with their governments. "I'm familiar with working with governments," she replied to a reporter's question about her not being a career diplomat.
Her nomination was endorsed in mid-July in a 54:40 vote, with Amy Klobuchar, a Democratic senator of Slovenian descent from Minnesota, voting against.
In her hearing on the Senate committee on foreign relations last August, she described Slovenia as "a reliable US partner" and "a regional leader in implementing democratic reforms" in the Balkans.
She pledged to encourage privatisation, noting that 50% of the Slovenian economy was "under state ownership or control", which entailed "opportunities for increased private investment".
The nominee also argued that US-Slovenian relations needed to continue to improve "through direct outreach and engagement with Slovenian people".
STA, 19 August 2019 - Slovenian authorities have charged more than 100 people, mostly Italians, involved in a scheme that helped lorry drivers bypass red tape and expenses involved in acquiring vocational qualification certificates in Italy, by allowing them to get one in Slovenia. Fines have been issued to nearly 40 people so far.
The Koper-based Primorske Novice reports on Monday that fictitious residence in Slovenia and fictitious labour contracts with Slovenia-based companies enabled the drivers to obtain vocational qualification certificates in Slovenia.
The Koper Administrative Unit became suspicious after more than 100 people moved their official residence to a single house in the small village of Gračišče in 2014 and 2015. None of the persons actually resided in the house.
Six people running the scheme, among them one Slovenian and nationals of Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, are suspected of hiring Italian drivers under fictitious labour contracts.
An employee at a local driving school is suspected of helping them pass the relevant test, Primorske Novice said.
The Koper prosecution has charged 109 people with certifying and helping to certify false declarations. So far, the court has issued 36 punitive order verdicts to Italian drivers and is planning to issue 70 more.
In all these cases, the court has followed the proposal of the prosecution to issue punitive order verdicts, meaning that there will be no trial, unless the suspects appeal against the decision.
Arraignments have been scheduled only for the six people running the scheme. So far two have taken place, with the defendants pleading not guilty to hiring Italian drivers and helping them obtain the vocational certificates.
All our stories on Italy are here
STA, 19 August 2019 - The best Slovenian tennis player, Aljaž Bedene, won the ATP Challenger Zavarovalnica Sava Slovenia Open, the biggest international tennis tournament in the country, on Sunday, beating Norwegian Viktor Durasovic, 7:5 and 6:3, in the finals, which lasted an hour and 38 minutes. This is the 16th Challenger series title for the 30-year-old.
The win counts as Bedene's 25th consecutive victory at tournaments at this level. He clinched victory at the last five Challenger tournaments he participated in, not being outmatched at them since March 2017.
Bedene is the third Slovenian player to have won the Slovenia Open, following Grega Žemlja (winning in 2013) and Blaž Kavčič (2014). Last year the title went to French Constant Lestienne.
The Ljubljana-born player received EUR 6,190 along with the tournament's prize and 80 ATP points, which have raised him ten places to 80th in ATP world rankings.
"It's nice to raise the cup, particularly knowing that I haven't played my best. Many times I kept saving points, but I showed character and fought throughout the match. Luckily, such tournaments allow for more mistakes. At an ATP tournament I would have lost quickly had I played this way," said Bedene after the match.
His opponent in the finals was placed almost 350 places below him in ATP world rankings before Sunday's match, but according to Bedene, Durasovic played better than his ranking would have indicated and will probably make headlines in the future.
Durasovic got in the lead in the second set by 3:0, but then Bedene raised his game to win the next six games and rejoiced in victory in front of the home crowd.
"I knew I needed to step up my game because I didn't want to play a third set once more. I sped up and snatched the well-deserved win," said the most recent winner of the Slovenia Open.
The highlight of the tournament though was not the finals but the semi-final face-off between the two best Slovenian players, Bedene and third-seeded Blaž Rola.
The crowd saw the 30-year-old winning over his two years younger rival, who still rose by some 15 places to 127th after the tournament.
The Slovenia Open's champion used the tournament to prepare for the US Open, which started today, and its hard court surface.
"I've done my task. I played the maximum number of matches and I think that my coaching team and I have come closer to a level of playing I need to continue the season.
"As a result I'm quite tired, I've been playing five days back-to-back and some rest will be welcome," said the 30-year-old.
August 19, 2019
In 1934 a balloon with two Belgian stratospheric pilots, professor Max Cosyns and his assistant Nere van Elst landed in the little Slovenian village of Želivlje.
The pilots took off at 6:00am from Hour-Havenne airport in Belgium and reached the altitude of 16,000 metres several hours later. On their descent strong winds carried them across Austria until after a 14-hour flight they finally landed in Ženavlje. Their flight was reported live to various radio stations and media outlets across Europe and the USA from the radio connection in the balloon’s gondola.
Some of the older citizens of the remote region of Goričko had seen a balloon 40 years before, so they knew what it was and helped with the landing. The event became quite a sensation, with about 6,000 people were attracted to the site, among them many reporters.
For a few days the Mura river region became the centre of international media attention and the domestic and foreign press for the first time described an area that had until then been ignored. A journalist from Ljubljana wrote for Jutro newspaper: “This is not Siberia, it is a land of kind local people, whom the pilots will remember for a long time to come.”
After some rest, Cosyns and van Elst headed towards Ljubljana, and from Ljubljana they took a plane to Zagreb, where they received king Alexander’s medal of honour, the newest map of the Slovenian lands and Doctor Slavič’s 1919 book Prekmurje.
August 18 became an important day in the history of Goričko, and in 1997 a memorial with a bronze statue, the work of Mirko Bratuša, has been placed in the spot of the balloon’s landing.
STA, 16 August 2019 - Home appliances maker Gorenje, which terminated the contracts of 60 workers as part of reorganisation last month, has told the STA it was looking for about 100 new workers in production to meet increased demand.
Gorenje representative Denis Oštir said that the new workers would start already in September, would get fixed-term contracts and were needed in all of the company's production facilities in Velenje, mostly in the production of washing machines and driers.
Gorenje, which was taken over by China's Hisense last year, initially expected 270 workers would be made redundant at its parent company in Velenje, but ended up terminating a total of 60 contracts of employees working in back office jobs tied to production, such as storers and quality controllers.
Oštir told the STA that all had been offered employment in production, but only some of them accepted.
As part of reorganisational changes, which have been under way for some time, Gorenje has offered new contracts to a total of 1,393 back office employees, preserving existing wages and other rights.
Gorenje, which employs over 4,000 workers in Slovenia and abroad, recently announced that restructuring would not only be limited to the parent company and would also affect all subsidiaries and business units abroad.
The company has also announced it will build a new TV manufacturing plant that will employ 1,000 workers.
Keep up on business in Slovenia here
A 70% stake in Slovevenia’s biggest eyewear chain, the 26-branch Optika Clarus, has been purchased by Fielmann AG, a German firm that integrates design, manufacturing and retail, and is responsible for around half the spectacles sold in its home market.
Optika Clarus was founded in 1989 by Tihomir Krstič, who will keep a 30% share of the business and remain involved in its management, and there are plans to open more stores in the near future.
STA, 18 August - Nearly two thirds of Slovenians believe that the government is doing a good job, suggests the August Vox Populi, while the senior coalition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) remains at the top of party rankings.
Commissioned by public broadcaster TV Slovenija and the newspaper Dnevnik on a monthly basis, the survey shows that 59.2% of the 700 people who were surveyed believe the government is doing a good job. The figure is 1.3 percentage points lower than in July.
On the other hand, 35.2% believe the opposite, with the share up three percentage points compared to previous month. Nonetheless, the LMŠ remains at the top of the party rankings with a support of 22.2% of respondents. The opposition Democrats (SDS) are in second place with 15.5%.
The Social Democrats (SD) are third with 10%, followed by the Left with 6.2%. The rest of the parties all remain under the 4% threshold of the National Assembly.
Despite the high support for the LMŠ and the government, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec has been dethroned in the politicians' popularity ranking by President Borut Pahor. MEP Tanja Fajon is in place three, followed by MEP Ljudmila Novak.
The survey also asked respondents about what they believe would be the best measures by the EU to help countries cope with the migration crisis. 67.7% said the EU should help source countries address problems that force people to leave.
Just over 36% believe that the EU should provide incentives to countries that would hold migrants back from the bloc, in Turkey, the Western Balkans and North Africa.
Another 33.1% believe the EU should beef up the control of its external borders and 17.7% believe that migrants should be given the option to request a work permit before even setting foot in the EU.
Nearly 14% believe that the EU should increase control on its internal borders, while 8.7% said that they should be able to request asylum in the EU before arriving here.
Assessing the work of the police, 41.8% said the force was doing a good job, 44.8% said the police were partly successful and 8.4% said they were doing a poor job.
Nearly half of the respondent (49.6%) believe that incentives to establish ad hoc militias to protect the border were unwarranted and 44.2% believe the opposite.
All our stories on Slovenian politics are here