If you're not in town for the week of this guide (3 - 9 February, 2020) then you can see all the editions here, and if there's event or activity you want to promote in a future edition of What's on in Ljubljana please get in touch with me at flanner(at)total-slovenia-news.com or try and find me on Facebook. If you want something a little different and easy to print, then a comprehensive PDF of events for the next seven days, as prepared by Ljubljana Tourism, is here. If you're in town and want to follow the news then check out our regular morning headlines for Slovenia here.
Saturday, 8 February, is Prešeren Day, when Slovenia celebrates its national poet with free entry to city- and state-owned museums and galleries. Supermarkets and some other stores may be closed, so check ahead if needed.
The focus of this week’s pop, rock, indie, electronic and other shows is Kino Šiška, which hosts the latest edition of the MENT festival, 5 – 7 February, winner of awards for Europe’s best indoor festival and best small festival. Learn more about that here. Tuesday Kino Komuna is hosting the Outdoor Film Festival, with the trailer for that shown below.
A new book is coming out this week that tells some of the stories of Trubarjeva cesta – you can learn more about it here.
Tuesday, 4 February, Cankarjev dom has a show from Fed Horses. Wednesday SNG Opera and Ballet is performing Tchaikovsky’s Joan of Arc.
Friday night is jazz night at the Castle, and this week, 20:00 you can see and hear the Zvjezdan Ružić Sextet. Over at Klub K4, the klub 4 kool kids, there’s a MENT event with the Dekmantel Soundsystem, 23:00 to 06:00, featuring Dekmantel Soundsystem, DJ Brka, Dulash Der DJ, Maja Pa (bRAVE), Terranigma, and Nulla.
There are two shows this week that are part of the Winter Festival at the Slovenian Philharmonic, with the Orchestra exploring Beethoven alongside various pianists. On Tuesday the soloists are Leonel Morales (Spain) and Tatjana Ognjanović (Slovenia), while on Thursday it’s Aleksander Gadžijev. In between, on Wednesday, there’s Today and in the Past, part of the baroque festival; a vocal concert with music from Claudio Monteverdi, Marko Ozbič and Morton Feldman, with the latter piece being Rothko Chapel, shown below.
Saturday Festival Strings Lucerne are at Cankarjev dom, playing Mozart, Elgar, Britten and Dvořák, including the piece shown above.
Still open until 5 March, 2020, Magic Ice-rink Lumpi Park offers 600 m2 of the covered ice surface and 180 m of ice-skating paths which enable you to skate through the Sports park Savsko naselje, at Kranjčeva ulica 24. Details here.
New or new-ish movies in town this week include the following:
In town and looking for a gift or souvenir? Take a look at Cook Eat Slovenia - the book.
How much do tourists spend in Slovenia? Find out here
You may have heard about Free Tour Ljubljana, the tour company that’s #1 on TripAdvisor for the city and gives away its main product. What’s the deal with that? Find out here.
While the Old Town is quaint, and full of music, where does Ljubljana really shop? One popular answer is BTC City, a vast complex of malls, entertainment facilities and more, including more than 70 different food vendors, offering everything from Slovenian to Thai, Indian to Italian, Mexican to Chinese. Check out my recent visit here.
Looking for something different to eat? Trubajeva cesta, running right by Dragon Bridge, has the greatest concentration of "ethnic food" places in Ljubljana, and thus perhaps the country. Check out our walk through guide as of June 2019.
In warmer days than you'll see this week. Photo: JL Flanner
You're in the town of Slavoj Žižek, but do you find yourself lost when conversation turns to the philosopher? If so, check out our collection of quotes and clips to learn more.
Screenshot from YouTube
You can read about all the cinemas in town here, while a selection of what’s playing this week is below, and note that kids' movies tend to be shown in dubbed versions, while non-English language movies for older viewers will have Slovenian subtitles.Parents should also pay attention to Kinobalon, which is Kinodvor's regular weekend series of film screenings and events for children, from babies on up, with special parent/child events, "first time in a cinema" screenings, and babysitting. Learn more about it here, and see the current schedule here.
Note - most children's films will be dubbed (sinhronizirano) - for subtitles look for 'podnapisi'.
Kinodvor –This is an arts cinema, not far from the train station, that shows new features as well as hosting the occassional festival.
Kinoteka – And not far from Kinodvor you can find this revival cinema, which shows art house classics along with some deep dives in the archives.
Kino Bežigrad - A relatively small theatre, but one which usually has the biggest of the new releases.
Kolosej -The multiplex out at BTC City Mall shows all the big movies, with well over a dozen titles on the schedule, although note that there are far more movies than screens, so some of the older ones mayonly be playing once or twice a week.
Komuna – The cinema in a basement behind Nama department store shows two or three different features a week, usually including the biggest titles.
Looking for a souvenir you'll really enjoy? Take a look at Broken Bones Gin, the first gin made in Ljubljana (learn more here, and try it at the Central Market or selected downtown bars).
Photo: Genius loci d.o.o.
Know that big triangular building behind the train station? Learn what's inside here.
Compared to some European capitals it can seem that nightlife in Ljubljana ends rather early, especially along the river, but there are still bars that stay open late and clubs were you can dance until dawn, and perhaps the best place to stumble across something interesting is the legendary Metelkova. Be aware it's a grungy kind of place and not for all tastes, but also that there's considerable variety to found within the various clubs there, from death metal to electropop, gay cabaret to art noise. You can read "the rules" of the place here. And if you're curious about how the place started then read our story, and look at some pictures, about last year's 25th anniversary.
Božidar - DJ events aren't too common here, but when they happen they often have a big name.
Channel Zero – DJs shows here include regular dub nights as well as electronic music.
Gala Hala – Another Metelkova venue, you can sometimes hear bhangra and Bollywood here, but more often funk, hip hop, breakbeat and so on.
Klub Cirkus – The more commercial end of clubland, and a venue that aims to serve the student party scene. Expect house, anthems, and bangers.
Klub K4 – The home of techno, old and new, along with various other electronic genres,
Koncertna Dvorana Rog– There are irregular DJ sets at this underground (not literally) venue at the far end of Trubarjeva cesta, and they range from techno to goa to drum'n'bass.
Orto Bar– 80s and 90s throwback nights can often be found here, along with rock-based DJ sets.
Balassi Institute – Free Hungarian music, when available, from the Hungarian cultural institute just a short walk downriver from Dragon Bridge.
Cankerjev dom – The main arts venue in the country hosts classical, opera jazz, folk and occassinally pop.
Cvetličarna – Regional pop and rock concerts can be found here.
Channel Zero – This Metelkova venue sees live shows from punk and rock bands, as well as others.
Gala Hala – Another Metelkova venue with indie bands of various styles.
Kino Šiška – One of the top live venues in the city, with a varied programme that include indie, rock, pop, experimental, hip hop, and so on.
Klub Gromka – Live music is often metal, from sludge to stoner, death to thrash, while punk bands also appear, as do others.
Križanke – The venue that hosts the Ljubljana Festival often has classical music, and some rock, in the open air.
Orto Bar– The home of live rock, metal, punk and other guitar-based genres.
Pinelina dnevna soba – LIve music is rare here, but it does happen.
Slovenska filharmonija– Classical music in the centre of town.
SNG Opera and Ballet - As the name suggests, here you'll find the best of opera and ballet in the country.
Španski borci - While dance is more common here, they also have some contemporary and experimental music shows.
Slovenska cesta, 1959. Wikimedia. See more pictures of Old Ljubljana here
Cankerjev dom- The main arts venue in the country always has something of interest going on.
Gledališče IGLU - IGLU Theatre – Saturday night this group is usually putting on an English improv show somewhere in town, but it’s generally promoted after this is written, so check the Facebook before putting on your shoes.
Kino Šiška – One of the top live venues in the city also hosts some dance performance, often of the more experimental variety.
Ljubljana Puppet Theatre - Puppetry has a long and noble tradition in Slovenia, and you can see performances for children and adults (including non-puppet shows) drawing from the Theatre's rich repetoire as well as new productons.
SNG Opera and Ballet - As the name suggests, here you'll find the best of opera and ballet in the country.
Španski borci - The home ofcontemporary dance(and the EnKnapGroup) in Slovenia.
Drogart is an organization that aims to minimise harm on the party scene, and offers drug-testing services and reports on their webpage. It’s in Slovene, but you can Google translate it or work things out yourself, and our story on the group is here.You can find the latest warnings on fake drugs and high strength pills and powders (in Slovene) here. However, be aware that all the usual drugs are illegal in Slovenia.
Photo: Igor Andjelič. See more of his work here
You can find our Top 12 list of things to do with kids in Ljubljana here. If want to read more about the philosophy behind the wonderful House of Experiments look here, while our trip to the Museum of Illusions is documented here, and there’s always riverside walks, pizza and ice cream. With regard to the latter, take a look at our guide to six places that serve good ice cream in winter, and thus are serious about the dessert.
If you're looking for more general links on "gay Slovenia", including a history of the scene and various projects, then you can find that here, while our stories about the community can be found here.
Klub Monokel – This lesbian bar in Metelkova is open every Friday, although sometimes there are other events
Klub Tiffany –And the gay bar next door is also open on Fridays. Other things coulds also be planned, so click on the name to find out.
Pritličje – This seems to be the only "always open" LGBT-friendly cafe / bar / events space in town, and perhaps the country, so it's a good thing it's such a good one, open from morning to night, and with fliers and posters letting you know what's happening outside the narrow confines of, say, a general interest online what's on... guide.
Screenshot from Google Maps, showing the location of the Castle vineyard
The city’s main attraction is said to be the top tourist draw in the country overall, and to my mind it earns a spot near the top just for the history and views. But beyond that the current owners, the City of Ljubljana, have laid out a varied, interesting and enjoyable programme of events, one that rewards regular revisits.
On all 2020 is an Exhibition of Slovenian History, included in the price of a Castle ticket, that takes you through prehistory and the Romans, the Middle and early Modern Ages, the 19th century and WWI, the Kingdom of Yugoslavia and WWII, Yugoslavia, independence and after. On until 22 March 2020 you can enjoy an inflatable spatial installation from Nina Koželj (free to enter).
At one of Castle hill there's a many walking and jogging paths, with good views of the city. At the other end, where the Castle sits, there’s a lot more than fresh air on offer. There are guided tours, restaurants, a café, Castle museum, puppet museum, a Watchtower you can climb to the highest point in the city, art shows, dances, live music, movies under the stars, festival days and more – enough to reward multiple trips up the hill through the year. All of these activities and events can be found on the Castle website, while on TSN you can see “25 things to know about Ljubljana Castle” here, and “Ten Ways to Enjoy Ljubljana Castle” here.
Most public galleries and museums are closed on Mondays, although not the National Museum.
Bežigrajska galerija 2 – Take a trip to Vodovodna cesta 3 and until 8 February 2020 you can see Lojze Spacal (1907–2000): From the Littoral and the Karst Region.
Plečnik's desk. Photo: JL Flanner
Plečnik’s House is worth a visit if you want to learn more about the architect who gave Ljubljana much of its character, and it's also in a really nice part of town, Trnovo, just a short walk or cycle upriver. Read about our guided tour here. Until 10 May you can see History of the Future. Archetypes of Plečnik's architecture – summarising the ideas of selected Plečnik works.
City Gallery – On until 5 April there’s a show from Vlado Martek, called Exhibition with Many Titles, the second part of a retrospective exhibition by the Croatian conceptual artist.
City Museum – The Museum in French Revolution Square an interesting permanent exhibition on the history of Ljubljana, from prehistoric times to the present day, with many artefacts, models and so on that bring the story alive.You can read about my visit here. On until August 2020 there’s Book. Reason. Knowledge. From Protestantism to Enlightenment (1500–1800), which presents the processes and events that encouraged and fostered the cultural and spiritual development in Ljubljana from the end of the 15th to the beginning of the 19th century – from humanism and Protestantism to the Enlightenment. More on that here.
The Faces of Ljubljana in the City Museum. Photo: JL Flanner
Drink like a pro - find gallery openings. Photo: JL Flanner
Galerija Vžigalica – Until 15 March you can enjoy Counter:Movement / Gegen:Bewegung, an exhibition of contemporary artistic positions in Carinthia, selected by the Klagenfurt University Cultural Centre – the Universitätskulturzentrum UNIKUM.
International Centre of Graphic Arts – A show of works by Helena Tahir.
MAO – The Museum of Architecture and Design has much of what you'd expect, along with some temporary shows and a good cafe. BIO 26: Common Knowledge is on until 9 February, looking at information, fake news and citizenship, with details here. On until 31 January 2021 is An Object and a Collection, showing part of the museum’s valuable and extensive collection of objects related to architecture, design, and photography of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Moderna galerija – The main branch of this gallery, to be found near the entrance to Tivoli Park, has a good collection of modern art, as well a nice café in the basement.
Alan Ford was recently at the National Gallery - read more about this comic book here.
National Gallery – The country’s main gallery has “the best” of what’s on offer from the Middle Ages to non-contemporary modern visual arts, and is in a great location for exploring other areas, just by Tivoli Park and opposite the main branch of the Moderna galerija. You can read about our visit to the room containing sacred art from the Middle Ages
The real Robba Fountain can be found in the entrance to the National Gallery - the one you see in the Old Town is a genuine fake, as seen below and reported here.
Photo: JL Flanner
National Museum of Slovenia – There’s plenty to see in the permanent collection here, from Roman times, Egypt and more. Meanwhile, the museum's Metelkova branch, located between one branch of the Moderna galerija and the Ethnographic Museum has some rooms on Church art, furniture and weapons, with the latter including more guns than you'll see anywhere else in town, and quite a thrill if coming from a nation where such objects are not household items. A Millennia of Metallurgy in Slovenia is on until 3 May 2020.
A fragment of a Coptic textile; 5th–6th cent.: Upper Egypt; linen, wool; National Museum of Slovenia. Photo: Tomaž Lauko
Until 24 May 2020 you can see Coptic Textiles from the Collection of the National Museum of Slovenia at the branch in the Metelkova museum quarter, by the Ethnographic Museum and the Museum of Contemporary Art. Details.
Natural History Museum – Until 18 June 2020 there’s Enlightened Natural Sciences: Scopoli and Zois, looking at the lives and legacies of two pioneering naturalists, on the both Slovene and global scales, Sigismondo (Žiga) Zois and Giovanni Antonio Scopoli.
National Museum of Contemporary History - Tucked away in park Tivoli, you can see a permanent exhibition on Slovenians in the 20th century.
Slovene Ethnographic Museum – The museum has two permanent exhibitions. One of these is called Between Nature and Culture, and has a great collection of objects from Slovenia and around the world, well worth the trip up to the third floor to see it (as recounted here). Nani in Ljubljana is on until 1 March 2020, in which Nani Poljanec, the folk creator and author of the exhibition, reveals fragments of his life, his roles and his mission. Until the same date there’s also a show on “Ravenski pust”, a Shrovetide custom which, according to village elders, represents an ancient pagan wedding and has been performed for more than a hundred years.
Union Experience – The Ljubljana-based brewer has a museum showing the history of the company, with the ticket also including access to part of the factory and a few samples of the product. You can read about our visit here.
It's not a formal museum, but if you're interested in "Yugo-stalgia" then you'll enjoy a trip to Verba, a small, privately run space that's crammed with objects and pop culture items from the era, and is conveniently located at the start of one of the short walks to the castle. It's also a great place to take pictures, if you leave a donation, and you can read more about it here.
Verba. Photo: JL Flanner
Alternative Ljubljana isn't a museum or gallery, as such, but instead turns the city streets into a museum and gallery. Learn more about their tours of street art, history and LGBT Ljubljana here.
Photo: JL Flanner
Learn more about Ljubljana with "25 things to know about Slovenia's green city of dragons", or take a look at our guide to spending from four to 48 hours here.
If you like the city's architecture then check out this great book, Let’s See the City - Ljubljana: Architectural Walks & Tours, with our review here and a page from the book shown above. We took a walk with one of the authors who showed us how much there is to learn and enjoy if you slow down and pay attention - read about that here.
Ljubljana has some beautiful buildings from the early 20th century, in the Secessionist style, like the one below. Learn where to find them here.
Photo: Neža Loštrek
For something a little more brual, check out Republika trg / Republic Square, in the heart of the political quarter.
Photo: JL Flanner
Photo: JL Flanner
Some view of the city you can only get from the river. If you'd like to take a boat ride then read about my experience here. If you'd like to spend an evening painting with others, then take a look at Design with Wine, which organises painting parties on Trubarjeva cesta,
If you want to see some antiques, then check out the wonderful Antika Carniola, as discussed here. The man behind it, Jaka Prijatelj, has a fine eye for life on this street, as you can see on his Facebook account.
Photo: JL Flanner
If you’re in town and want to go jogging or walking in nature, why not take another look at the Castle, with a brief guide to the trails here. If you want something bigger, head to Tivoli Park.
And if you're bored with the Old Town, why not take a walk, cycle or boat ride to nearby Špica and enjoy the riverside life. Learn more about that here.
Prefer to have someone else stretch you? The check out the totally legit massages you can get from Sense Wellness - either in one of their spas or in you home, office or hotel. (And - to repeat - these are legit and non-sexual in nature)
There are some golf courses near Ljubljana, but even ones further away are not far, as seen in our list of all the golf courses in Slovenia, which usually run until the first snow.
Photo: maxpixel.net, public domain
Most of Slovenia is only a few hours from Ljubljana, and you can easily visit Lake Bled, Lipica Stud Farm, Postojna Cave, Predjama Castle, the coast and other locations, while if you'd like to take a photo of from that bench in Bled, then you can learn how to get there here. If you’re looking for something more ambitious, then check out our recent guide to the 17 members of the Association of Historical Towns of Slovenia. We've also written guides on spending from four to 48 hours in Bled and Piran.
Photo: Google Image Search
If you want to get a Ljubljana Tourist Card, which gives you travel on the city buses and entry to a lot of attractions, then you can read more about that here, and if you want to use the bike share system, as useful for visitors as it is for residents, then you can learn more by clicking this. Visitors with reduced mobility will be pleased to find that downtown Ljubljana is generally rated as good with regard to accessibility, and that there’s a free, city-sponsored app called Ljubljana by Wheelchair highlighting cafés, attractions and so on with ramps, disabled bathrooms and Eurokey facilities, which you can read about and download here. Manual wheelchair users can also borrow, for free, an attachment that will motorise their equipment, as reported here.
Screenshot from a Twitter video
If you’re driving into town and don’t know where to park, our guide to how to park in Ljubljana is here.
Ljubljana is a small and relatively safe city, but if need to contact the police then there’s a special number for foreigners, and that’s 113.
Photo: JL Flanner
There aren't many places to eat after midnight, and most of them are by the train station, as reported here.
Want / need cigarettes but the stores have closed? Here's an incomplete list of bars downtown that will satisfy your craving for the demon weed. While if you’re having trouble with the ATMs then here’s a guide to the Slovene you’ll see on screen. If you get a hangover then find out where to get paracetamol (and prescription drugs) in Ljubljana here, while details on emergency birth control can be found here.
The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 31 January 2020
Mladina: Rejection of health insurance changes disgraceful
STA, 31 January 2020 – The left-wing weekly Mladina says in its latest commentary that the rejection of the proposal to abolish top-up health insurance in parliament was a disgrace, and that the result of the vote should be saved for future reference. What is even more problematic is that the vote has automatically become the foundation for a possible new coalition.
In the commentary headlined Someone Said Corruption?, editor-in-chief of the left-leaning weekly Grega Repovž notes that once it had become clear that a majority in parliament supported the bill, commercial insurers had launched a wide lobbying campaign.
Although it is not clear whether a new government will be formed, it is clear that one of the "largest lobbying campaigns in modern Slovenia has taken place in front of our eyes, and the formation of a new and the collapse of the current government is closely connected with this campaign."
Commenting on the vote, Repovž notes that the Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) have been advocates of private health insurers for years, and the National Party (SNS) too, although not as openly.
"This week, the interest of private insurers was also publicly supported by three more parties: the Modern Centre Party (SMC), the party which relies on ethics, the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), which fights for common people, and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), which fights for pensioners. This says it all."
The result of the vote should thus be put up on the wall because it is a list of people who voted that taxpayer money is transferred every month to some accounts, that someone there take their cut, and then transfer the money forward.
"The vote on the abolition of top-up health insurance has automatically become the foundation for the formation of a potential new government. This is what has brought them together. A good start. And it's only the beginning!"
Demokracija: Šarec alone to blame for coalition problems
STA, 30 January 2020 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija says in its commentary on Thursday that it was clear from the beginning that the government of Prime Minister Marjan Šarec would not last a full term, and that the fault is Šarec's alone, although he pretends to be the victim, blaming coalition partners for the coalition's problems.
Under the headline The Slovenian Patient, Demokracija says that Šarec was the one who let himself be drawn into a game of exclusions even before the election of 2018, he was the one who (officially) put together the coalition, approved the ministers and was responsible for the government's work.
What is more, Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj, who resigned shortly before Šarec, and Health Minister Aleš Šabeder, who was also set to resign at any moment, were both "from the same nest".
"Šarec did not have problems only with coalition partners, but also with ministers nominated by [his own party] LMŠ. But above all, he had problems with himself, his narcissism and his tongue, which he used to create a smokescreen and hide his incompetence."
While he failed to do anything reform-wise, he was very brutal in political staffing, fighting ideological opponents, abusing power and spending budget funds, the paper says, liking the 16 months Šarec was in power to a long, dark winter.
During this time, the state has been worn out in the face of programmed social justice, socialist mythology and threats to people who think differently, as well as political correctness.
All of this was dictated by progressive activists who always found the right "partners" for Šarec, who was interested only in preserving the status quo and protecting his position.
As a result, ordinary people, patriots who work for a living and fear for safety, have been "covered with a layer of radioactive contempt".
"They say that bad governments are chosen by good people who do not vote," the weekly says, expressing hope that people will not be fooled by "leftist frauds" and fall for "stand-up comedians from the transition left's closet", ahead of the likely snap election.
All our posts in this series are here
STA, 31 January 2020 - The Croatian police have caught a couple of marijuana smugglers from Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina near the border with Slovenia. The pair was transporting almost 500 kilos of marijuana, estimated at between EUR 675,000 and EUR 945,000.
The 41-year-old Slovenian and 29-year-old citizen of Bosnia-Herzegovina were apprehended on Thursday in Croatia's Radakovo near Brežice in eastern Slovenia, the Croatian Interior Ministry announced on Friday.
The alleged smugglers were transporting 481 kilos of marijuana. They had procured the supplies together, but it is still unclear how they managed to get such a large quantity of the drug.
The pair have been charged with drug trafficking and put in detention.
All our stories on drug trafficking in Slovenia are here
STA, 31 January 2020 - Representatives of the Slovenian companies that have offices or facilities in China told the STA on Friday they had no problems because of the coronavirus yet but they do fear the negative consequences that might follow after the New Year holidays in China are over. Fifteen Slovenian companies operate in China, according to Sloexport data.
Tool maker group Unior, which employs some 460 people in China, told the STA its facility was closed for the holidays at the moment and was expected to open again on 10 February.
The company does not feel any consequences of the epidemic yet and was maintaining business contacts via e-mail and WeChat.
Similarly, pharma company Krka, which operates in Ningbu, has suspended trips to China, as business partners there prolonged their New Year holidays.
Work in all of its business units was running smoothly because they had made enough stock before the holidays.
In the future, business contacts will be made via conference calls and e-mails.
Electronics group Iskra has a store with three employees in Hong Kong, which is operating without disturbances despite the fact that a part of its suppliers comes from China.
"We expect one- to two-week delay on the Chinese side," Iskra representatives told the STA, adding that problems would start if production halt would expand or be extended.
Andrej Boštjančič, the head of Softnet, a specialist in advanced communication technologies and services, which has four employees at its office in Shanghai, thinks the economic impact of the virus would be massive. "Production, transport will definitely be affected."
Today the Hong Kong postal operator announced it was temporarily halting a part of its postal service, he said. "It will all depend on how long all this will last," he said.
Its office will also be closed until 10 February and then they will do business via e-mail and phone.
Le-Tehnika's two companies in Suzhou, some 100 kilometres from Shanghai, employing a dozen people, producing phones and selling the company's Slovenian-made products, are also still closed for the holidays.
CEO Drago Lemut expects some delays in the supply of some materials.
The Chinese-owned household appliances maker Gorenje has not been affected by the epidemics but it did introduce some preventive measures. All employees who return from China will have to stay home for 14 days before coming to work again, the company said.
STA, 31 January 2020 - Janez Stanovnik, one of the most notable Slovenian politicians in the period leading up to independence and the face of the Slovenian WWII Veterans' Association after 2003, has died aged 97.
Stanovnik, who was among the first who joined the Partisan liberation movement during the war, was the last president of the Slovenian presidency under the former Yugoslavia between 1988 and 1990 after he served as a member from 1984 to 1988.
After World War II he worked in the federal Yugoslav government and in Yugoslav diplomacy, while he briefly also served as the dean of the Ljubljana Faculty of Economics. He was the executive secretary of the UN's economic commission for Europe from 1968 to 1982.
Between 2003 and 2013 Stanovnik served as the president of Slovenian WWII Veterans' Association and after that he was its honorary president.
Stanovnik was the recipient of a number of honours and was also named an honorary citizen of Ljubljana.
Condolences are already starting to pour in, including from Slovenian President Borut Pahor, who described Stanovnik as an important personality of his era.
Pahor said Slovenians would remember Stanovnik as a Partisan, as strong-charactered, true to his convictions, as somebody with an open spirit and heart.
Parliamentary Speaker and SocDems president Dejan Židan wrote that Stanovnik had been the president of the Slovenian presidency during the pinnacle of democratic change and that he had promoted the values of the liberation movement throughout his life, seeing them "as a key part of our national identity".
A schedule of all the main events involving Slovenia this week can be found here
This summary is provided by the STA:
EU Court of Justice rules Slovenia's lawsuit against Croatia inadmissible
LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - The EU Court of Justice decided that a lawsuit Slovenia brought against Croatia over its refusal to implement the 2017 border arbitration award is inadmissible, but it said that both countries nevertheless had to endeavour to resolve this dispute in accordance with international law. The decision did not come as a surprise to international law experts, who say that that legal avenues in the EU are now exhausted, but Slovenia has not lost anything in legal terms and the decision will have no bearing on implementation of the border arbitration decision. Moreover, Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said the ruling showed the court saw the border arbitration award as "valid and binding," which was an important goal.
MPs propose scrapping electoral districts
LJUBLJANA - A group of MPs filed in parliamentary procedure amendments to the National Assembly election act that would abolish electoral districts and introduce a relative preferential vote. The proposed changes come after the Constitutional Court declared the size of electoral districts for general election unconstitutional at the end of 2018. The amendments were proposed by 59 MPs of the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD), Modern Centre Party (SMC), Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), New Slovenia (NSi), National Party (SNS) and the Left as well as the two minority MPs. In order to be passed, the motion needs the support of at least 60 MPs in the 90-member legislature.
Pahor, Šarec call for strong, united EU at diplomatic corps reception
BRDO PRI KRANJU - President Borut Pahor and outgoing Prime Minister Marjan Šarec stressed the importance of a strong and united EU in the face of Brexit at the annual reception for the diplomatic corps. They also touched on the political situation in Slovenia, and relations with Croatia. Pahor expressed sadness and said the EU had a lot in common with the UK but obviously the differences had prevailed. Šarec said that "in the transitional period we won't have a lot of time to reach an ambitious agreement on our future relations that will enable us to cooperate to our mutual benefit in the future". Foreign Minister Miro Cerar meanwhile regretted the UK's departures from the EU in a separate statement.
Pahor: Slovenia needs government with strong majority
BRDO PRI KRANJU - President Borut Pahor commented on the resignation of Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, saying Slovenia needed a government with a convincing political majority and a convincing programme, be it in this term or after an early election. He believes that will send a clear signal to the public that coalition parties are in the government to implement their joint programme and not because they are afraid of election. In the last three decades, Slovenia has developed a strong democratic political system, which is why the government's resignation and a short period of somewhat lower political stability until the appointment of a new government should not have major consequences on further economic and social progress of the country, the president said.
SMC interested in new govt coalition
LJUBLJANA - Modern Centre Party (SMC) leader Zdravko Počivalšek said he was interested in a new coalition being formed after PM Marjan Šarec's resignation. Šarec, who however favours an early election, has said he would not mind the SMC joining a right-leaning coalition and himself becoming an opposition MP. Speaking a current political affairs show of public broadcaster TV Slovenija Thursday evening, Počivalšek said he had met most party leaders on Monday, including Janez Janša of the opposition Democrats (SDS). Šarec and Počivalšek met on Friday to discuss ways forward, with the SMC saying after the meeting that "our views on the exit from the current situation differ somewhat".
Slovenia's budget surplus down to 0.5% of GDP in 2019
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia posted a budget surplus of EUR 224.6 million, or 0.5% of GDP, in 2019 compared to a surplus of 1.1% in 2018, show preliminary figures released by the Finance Ministry. Budget revenue rose by 1.4% to EUR 10.14 billion from 2018, and expenditure increased by 4.7% to EUR 9.91 billion. However, the ministry pointed out the 2018 surplus was a result of two major one-off events. Over EUR 270 million came into the 2018 budget from NLB bank dividends and EUR 207 million from delayed EU payments from the 2007-2013 multi-year budget.
Prominent WWII veteran Janez Stanovnik dies
LJUBLJANA - Janez Stanovnik, one of the most notable Slovenian politicians in the period leading up to independence and the face of the Slovenian WWII Veterans' Association after 2003, has died aged 97. Stanovnik, who was among the first who joined the Partisan liberation movement, was the last president of the Slovenian presidency under the former Yugoslavia between 1988 and 1990. After World War II he worked in the federal Yugoslav government and in Yugoslav diplomacy. He was the executive secretary of the UN's economic commission for Europe from 1968 to 1982. Expressing his condolences, Slovenian President Borut Pahor said Slovenians would remember Stanovnik as a Partisan, as strong-charactered, true to his convictions, as somebody with an open spirit and heart.
Finger pointing as baby dies in Roma village
RIBNICA/LJUBLJANA - A two-month-old baby died of pneumonia a month ago in Goriča Vas, a Roma village which lacks basic infrastructure such as electricity and water, near Ribnica, south, triggering finger-pointing between institutions and severe criticism by Amnesty International (AI) Slovenia. The family with three children had lived in great poverty in a shack, sleeping on blankets on the floor and the other children have since been placed in a crisis centre, the newspaper Dnevnik reported on Thursday. There are several illegal Roma villages with inhumane living conditions in the Dolenjska region. While national authorities claim local authorities should be more proactive, the latter believe the state should do more.
Chamber of Industry tears apart national energy plan
LJUBLJANA - The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) issued a strong criticism of the recently adopted draft National Energy and Climate Plan, labelling the goals unrealistic, in particular for giving up on new hydro plants along the middle course of the river Sava. The GZS, which listed its grievances in a letter sent to the Environment and Infrastructure Ministry and the PM's office, argues that implementing the plan would increase energy prices, undermining energy-intensive industry and increase energy poverty. The chamber wants to see the plan - which for instance envisages a 30% reduction of coal consumption by 2030, phases out subsidies for fossil fuels and postpones a decision on a potential new Krško nuclear plant reactor to 2027 - rejected.
Small businesses lament youths not interested in civil engineering
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's construction sector has been seeing a shortage of young workforce, heard a debate held by the Chamber of Trade Crafts and Small Business (OZS). There is a lack of apprentices, while construction companies are struggling with lengthy procedures in getting work permits for foreign workers. The number of youths enrolled in civil engineering courses is rapidly decreasing - six years ago, there were 610 civil engineering students, while this year, merely some 170 are enrolled in such courses. In the past three years, the number of permits for workers from Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina tripled, but this labour pool will be eventually depleted as well, said OZS head Branko Meh at the debate.
Slovenia attracted 6.2 million tourists in 2019
LJUBLJANA - Some 6.2 million tourists visited Slovenia last year, a 5% increase compared to 2018. The number of overnight stays grew 0.6% to roughly 15.8 million, shows Statistics Office data. The number of Slovenian tourists increased by 1.3% to 1.5 million, while the number of foreign tourists grew by 6.3% to 4.7 million. The bulk of the foreign tourists came from Italy, Germany and Austria, but while Austrians opted more often for holidays in Slovenia (up 10.7%), Italians were less likely to visit the country (down 8.5%).
Impol group profit down in 2019
SLOVENSKA BISTRICA - The aluminium producer Impol generated EUR 50.4 million in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) last year and EUR 27.3 million in profit before tax. The production and sales volume in 2019 were on par with the previous year, shows an unaudited report released. Meanwhile, the group's EBITDA and profit before tax were reduced by 15% and 17%, respectively, in 2019 year-on-year due to growth slowdown in Germany and pressure of the Chinese suppliers exerted on the EU market in the wake of the US-China trade war and Brexit.
Central bank says Brexit effect on Slovenian economy indirect
LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian economy will mostly experience an indirect effect of Brexit, felt in particular through the cooperation with key trade partners whose share of exports to the UK is considerably greater than the Slovenia's, said Banka Slovenije, adding that the eventual consequences of Brexit will be clear after a transition period ends. The immediate direct effect on the country's economy will be marginal due to a modest share of exports to the UK (2% of all Slovenia's exports).
LMŠ and SDS sharing lead in Nova24TV poll
LJUBLJANA - In the wake of Prime Minister Marjan šarec's resignation, a public opinion poll commissioned by Nova24TV shows that the Democrats (SDS) and the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) would garner most support if a snap election was held on Sunday. The two parties are tied in the top spot, polling at 17.4% and 17.3%, respectively. The Left ranks third, polling at 6.7%, followed by the Social Democrats (SD) at 4.6% and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) and National Party (SNS), both polling at 3.7%.
If you're learning Slovenian then you can find all our dual texts here
What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.
FRIDAY, 24 January
ZAGREB, Croatia - Attending an informal meeting of EU home ministers in Zagreb, Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar said that "mounting fully functioning Frontex operations in the Western Balkans as soon as possible and signing status agreements with the region's countries" was necessary for the effective management of migrations.
LJUBLJANA - The opposition-led parliamentary Commission for Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services released a report finding that an acquaintance of PM Marjan Šarec was given special treatment when she was hired by the intelligence agency SOVA. The commission also found systemic flaws in SOVA staffing.
LJUBLJANA - A group of NGOs, including Amnesty International Slovenija and the Legal and Information Centre, said that by handing asylum seekers over to the Croatian authorities, Slovenia was aggravating one of the most severe humanitarian crises in Europe and contravening the law.
LJUBLJANA - In its first reaction to the controversy about the Supreme Court's decision to quash the 1946 conviction of collaborationist official Leon Rupnik, the Justice Ministry said that court decisions in appeals over post-war judgements were not denying the abject nature of concrete cases, nor did they rehabilitate perpetrators.
NEW YORK, US - Luka Dončić was selected as a Western Conference starter for the 2020 NBA All-Star Game, becoming the youngest European and the first Slovenian ever to be selected directly to play in the prestigious exhibition game.
SATURDAY, 25 January
LJUBLJANA - Rajko Kozmelj, director of Slovenia's intelligence and security agency SOVA, told Delo he would insist the agency be given new powers to fight violent extremism as had been envisaged in the draft resolution on the national security strategy, which was however later amended to scrap the new powers that many found problematic.
LJUBLJANA - Culture Minister Zoran Poznič said in an interview with Delo that Mladinska Knjiga, the country's No.1 publisher, would be transferred from the bad bank to Slovenian Sovereign Holding and labelled a strategic investment.
MARIBOR - A statement encouraging people to seek role models in themselves won physician and humanitarian worker Ninna Kozorog the Spade of the Year award, presented by Večer for the statement that its readership believe best captured the zeitgeist of last year.
SUNDAY, 26 January
POKLJUKA - France's Quentin Fillon Maillet won the men's 15km mass start event of the Biathlon World Cup meet at Pokljuka, finishing the the race ahead of Benedikt Doll of Germany and Norwegian Johannes Thingnes Boe. Hanna Oeberg of Sweden won the women's 12.5km mass start, ahead of Italian Lisa Vittozzi and France's Anais Bescond. The best Slovenian competitor was Jakov Fak, who finished 21st.
MONDAY, 27 January
LJUBLJANA - PM Marjan Šarec announced his resignation after Finance Minister Andrej Bertoncelj stepped down, to some extend due to differences regarding a bill scrapping top-up health insurance. Šarec said he could not achieve what he had set out to do with the current minority coalition and called for snap election. Most parties agreed this would be the best scenario but indicated that all options were open, including the formation of a new coalition.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's coordination group for monitoring and managing contagious diseases discussed the coronavirus outbreak in China, announcing Slovenia was prepared for a potential outbreak.
LJUBLJANA - The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) protested against what it perceives as the state opening the door wide to builders from third countries. This brings disloyal competition to Slovenian companies and results in fewer jobs and lower wages for Slovenian workers, the GZS said.
OSWIECIM, Poland/LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor, accompanied by Slovenian internment camp survivors, attended a memorial marking the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi concentration camp.
LJUBLJANA - Business sentiment in Slovenia stood at 4.1 percentage points in January, up 1.1 percentage points on December but eight percentage points below the January 2019 level. The second consecutive monthly increase comes after the sentiment index fell to 2.4 points in November, the lowest since late 2014, in what was the fourth consecutive month of decline.
TUESDAY, 28 January
BRDO PRI KRANJU - A day after resigning as prime minister, Marjan Šarec denied the reason behind the move was that his own team was falling apart. But he admitted that to continue successfully as prime minister he would have had to carry out a broader government reshuffle, which would be "too risky" at the moment.
LJUBLJANA - A poll conducted by Ninamedia for Dnevnik suggested that more than 60% of Slovenians want a new election after the resignation of PM Marjan Šarec. Šarec's arguments convinced more than half of the respondents.
LONDON, UK - The British Home Office said that roughly half of some 5,000 Slovenians living in the UK had applied for settled or pre-settled status ahead of Brexit. Slovenian Ambassador to the UK Tadej Rupel said he expected the number of Slovenians in the UK to "drop somewhat, but not drastically".
LJUBLJANA - Environment Minister Simon Zajc and Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek assured the public that the National Energy and Climate Plan, which sets out energy and climate change mitigation measures until 2030, would be adopted by the government by the end of February, despite PM Marjan Šarec's surprise resignation.
LOGATEC - Lonstroff, the Swiss subsidiary of Sumitomo Rubber Industries, announced it had launched elastomer production in Logatec this month. Currently, the facility employs almost 40 people, with the company planning to expand capacity and workforce over the course of two months.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenian police reported busting an international drug ring in cooperation with police forces from Croatia and several other European countries, seizing 120 kilos of amphetamine and arresting 20 people in nearly 50 raids. The investigation uncovered the biggest synthetic drugs lab in Slovenia to date.
WEDNESDAY, 29 January
LJUBLJANA - The government formally ended its term as the National Assembly took note of PM Marjan Šarec's resignation, relegating the cabinet to caretaker status. The end of the government term kicks off formal talks that will lead either to a new coalition or a snap election.
LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly failed to pass amendments that would abolish supplementary health insurance, a motion which had split the coalition and was one of the reasons why PM Marjan Šarec stepped down. The legislation was rejected in a 51:32 vote.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia expressed reservations about a Middle East peace plan proposed by US President Donald Trump, stressing that lasting peace and stability were only possible as a result of "direct, equal and comprehensive negotiations between Israel and Palestine".
BRUSSELS, Belgium - After Brexit agreement was ratified in the European Parliament, Tanja Fajon (S&D/SD) and Franc Bogovič EPP/SLS) expressed hope that London and Brussels would reach a good agreement on future relations, while Romana Tomc (EPP/SDS) said the consequences of Brexit would be felt both in the EU and in the UK.
LJUBLJANA - UK Ambassador to Slovenia Sophie Honey told the STA that the rights of the estimated 800 UK nationals living in Slovenia were protected under the December EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, which also protected Slovenians in the UK. Arrangements for British people coming to live permanently in Slovenia after 2020 and vice-versa are yet to be decided.
ROGAŠKA SLATINA - Glassworks Steklarna Rogaška announced it would lay off up to 200 of its 830 workers to increase efficiency in the face of constant changes in consumer habits and in the business environment.
THURSDAY, 30 January
LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Armed Forces announced Slovenia had sent six army instructors back to Iraq as part of the international operation Inherent Resolve in Erbil to train Iraqi security forces, after the previous contingent was evacuated following Iran's missile attacks on Iraqi bases hosting US and coalition troops.
LJUBLJANA - The Democrats (SDS), Social Democrats (SD) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) initiated preparations for a snap election after the Marjan Šarec government collapsed. While the SDS said it had already shortlisted the candidates, it said all options remained open, including talks on a new coalition, a position also reiterated by SD and DeSUS.
NOVO MESTO - The group around the Novo Mesto-based drug maker Krka generated EUR 1.49 billion in sales revenue in 2019, or 12% more than in the year before, while net profit was up 39% to EUR 242 million, according to an estimate released by the management board. Krka also announced that an internal inquiry had into suspected bribery at the company's Romanian subsidiary had shown that the allegations were unjustified as regards Krka Romania employees.
LJUBLJANA - Radio Slovenija reported that NATO inspectors checking Slovenia's compliance with the alliances' targets at the end of last week concluded that Slovenia was becoming an increasingly heavy burden for the alliance, having for years now failed to meet the promises given. The Defence Ministry said the findings of such inspections were not public and that the final report would be drawn up for the June NATO ministerial.
LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor picked Robert Šumi, a teacher at the police academy, as the next head of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption. Šumi was one of four candidates short-listed for the job by a vetting commission to replace Boris Štefanec, who was also among the candidates.
LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar met UK Ambassador Sophie Honey a day before the UK leaves the EU. Tweeting after the meeting, Cerar said effective approach to implementation of the divorce agreement was necessary on both sides. Honey thanked Slovenia for being constructive and helping ensure UK citizens' rights in Slovenia.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's national motorway company DARS and Turkish builder Cengiz signed the master agreement on the construction of the second tube of the Karavanke motorway tunnel, a step that comes more than two years after the original tender was published. Works could start in March, weather permitting.
All our posts in this series are here
I lived on Ljubljana’s Trubarjeva cesta for my first few years in Slovenia. I left because the rent was too high and the space too small, moving 30 minutes out of the city to a large place I’ve hardly left except for supplies since moving last December. It’s a nice place, a lot better than my apartment on Turbarjeva, but no one will ever write a book about the street it’s on.
Graffiti is a big part of the street, especially in the second half. Photo: Manca Juvan (and if you're on the street around now you'll see some of her photos from the book on the walls)
Trubarjeva is perhaps the most diverse place in Slovenia. Split between the fancier end that runs from Prešeren to Resljeva cesta, the road with Dragon Bridge, and the more graffiti-covered, falling down and rapidly gentrifying dirty end. The former starts with the Emporium top brand store, while the latter ends with the Rog squat, a what now seems to have been a failed attempt to establish an autonomous zone in a former bicycle factory, a space that’s set for glossy redevelopment.
With sketches by Blaž Budja, this one showing Emporium
And it’s not just Rog. Starting last year the street has been undergoing extensive renovation work, as befits its status as one of the more trafficked parts of downtown, by tourists and residents who want something different, and it’s rising profile in the city (the book this article will eventually get to was supported in part by the City of Ljubljana).
The book features interviews with local residents and business owners - in Slovene and English for maximum educational potential. if you need a photo, go to Foto Pauli and see Gordana. I trusted her with my passport photo / author picture / Facebook profile.
Tourism and Airbnb, among other reasons, are why property prices are rising fast in Ljubljana, and with them the rents. This is changing the character of the people who can afford to live there, and the businesses that can afford to operate. But Trubarjeva is still not the Old Town, and there are many businesses used by locals for necessities and minor indulgences.
What draws most is the variety of restaurants, from cheap to more expensive, with the mix at the time of writing including Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian, Bangladeshi, Thai, Italian, Lebanese, Turkish, Vegan and Slovenian, without even going into Skuhna and its rotating menu of dishes from Africa, South America and beyond, along with a great spice shop and Asian store.
There are also some good cafés and bars, with Trubar alone seeing more of my income than anyone other than my landlady in my time on the street, although in some months it was close.
That umbrella repair store? You can see a documentary on it here
Beyond restaurants and bars, on Trubarjeva you can buy buttons and beads, get your watch or shoe repaired, try a fur coat and second-hand clothes, antiques and art, bread and burek, sex toys and vaporisers. Have your photograph taken or get your hair cut, choose a skateboard or new pair of glasses, a book or umbrella, ride off with a bicycle, equip your home for growing marijuana or stock your fridge with craft beer, purchase health food or handmade chocolates, go to a rave, work with some refugees, attend the "Sigmud Freud University" or watch some graffiti get made. Something for almost everyone.
You can read our story on Antika Carniola here
Which is to say I’m the ideal reader for a new book, Trubarjeva, Expressions of A Street in Transition, which is being launched next week but can currently be viewed entire online and a paper copy ordered here.
With texts by Jeff Bickert, in Slovene and English - so great for learning the language, sketches of the street by Blaž Budja, photographs by Manca Juvan and design by Sava Kosmač, it’s a 144-page look Trubarjeva with a variety, colour and cool that are worthy of the street itself. Structured around interviews with people who live and work on Trubarjeva, with faces familiar to anyone who hangs out there a lot, you’ll learn how the street was, how it is, and some of the hopes and fears for the future. Trubarjeva is a unique part of Slovenia that’s changing fast, one that may not survive in its current form for many more years, so it’s good this book is here to document a time of transition.
All our stories on Trubarjeva can be found here
A police investigation took place yesterday morning at one of the Derby warehouses of the "banana king", real estate developer and more recently Adria Airways’ flying permit owner, Izet Rastoder.
According to the surprised bystanders, at about 10 o'clock members of the special police unit arrived. The entrance was guarded by police officers who did not let anyone into the warehouse.
In a press release later in the day the Rastoder Company stated that some employees started unloading the container in the early morning hours and noticed irregularities in some boxes. They were filled with packages of stationery paper and not just bananas. They informed customs authorities about the finding, and a few minutes later an armed police unit entered the warehouse, forced everyone to lie on the ground and some phones were taken away.
Izet Rastoder, who is currently in Dubai, initially told reporters from Dnevnik in a phone conversation that he knew nothing about the event. Later he told Dnevnik that he had learned from his employees that a container of bananas from Colombia had arrived at the warehouse with a one week delay, because it got stuck on its stop in Italy. When the container was opened the employees noticed there was more than simply bananas inside, with paper as well. The employees, in line with the procedural rules, called the customs office and the police.
However, in its press release the police have a slightly different story to tell. Drago Menegalija, a spokesman of the criminal investigators, said that their investigative activities at the address of Letališka street in Ljubljana were the result of a criminal investigation conducted by the National Investigation Bureau for some time, and were conducted in accordance with the guidelines of the state prosecutor's office. The investigators carried out urgent investigative actions based on the prosecutors and court orders in connection with the suspicion of committing the criminal offense of illicit production and trafficking in narcotics. Yesterday’s proceedings were therefore not the result of calls by citizens to the emergency number 113, but of something deeper and more organised.
However, the police refused to confirm or deny whether the banana storage house action was part of the two-year investigation into drug-related organised crime, which concluded a few days ago.
STA, 31 January 2020 - The EU Court of Justice has decided that a lawsuit Slovenia has brought against Croatia over its refusal to implement the 2017 border arbitration award is inadmissible, but it said in a decision issued on Friday that both countries nevertheless had to endeavour to resolve this dispute in accordance with international law.
The decision is not surprising given that in December the court's Advocate General Priit Pikamäe proposed that the suit be ruled inadmissible. While his opinion was not binding on the court, it was seen as a strong indication of the court's course of action.
Slovenia had built its case around the argument that Croatia infringes several articles of EU law by refusing to implement the award of a border arbitration tribunal that both countries had pledged would be binding.
The advocate general however argued that "the infringements of EU law of which Slovenia accuses Croatia are ancillary to the issue of determining the boundary between those two states, which is a matter of public international law".
The court's Grand Chamber used exactly the same argument in its decision. It said the arbitration tribunal was founded on the basis of international law, whereby "neither the arbitration agreement nor the arbitration award formed an integral part of EU law".
While it is true that the Act of Accession of Croatia to the EU makes a reference to the arbitration award, which Slovenia has interpreted as a strong argument in favour of its position that the court should take on the dispute, the judges did not see that as making the arbitration award a part of EU law.
They said the reference to the arbitration agreement "could not be interpreted as incorporating into EU law the international commitments made by both member states within the framework of the arbitration agreement".
Despite the inadmissibility, the court indicated that both sides needed to respect the arbitration agreement. It said both countries were required by the EU Treaty to "strive sincerely to bring about a definitive legal solution to the dispute consistent with international law, in order to ensure the effective and unhindered application of EU law in the areas concerned".
In order to achieve this, they may use other means of settling their dispute, including a submission to the Court under a special agreement pursuant to Article 273 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, which gives the court jurisdiction in any dispute between member states "if the dispute is submitted to it under a special agreement between the parties"
Slovenia had brought the case under Article 259 of the EU Treaty.
Mojca Menard, Slovenia's agent in the case, described the decision as a "dangerous precedent" that is not in line with the court's case law and potentially paves the way for violations of EU law by member states by invoking "allegedly open international issues".
She said it raised the question of how the court may act in the event of violations of fisheries regulations or the Schengen Code by Slovenia of Croatia in the border area. "Which country will then be considered an infringer by the EU Commission," she wondered.
The court's decision is final and cannot be appealed. Menard said it "changes nothing" with regard to the arbitration award or for the border line that the arbitration award determines.
STA, 31 January 2020 - While the EU Court of Justice did not admit Slovenia's lawsuit against Croatia over its refusal to implement the award handed down by the border arbitration tribunal, Slovenia feels vindicated. Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said the ruling showed the court saw the border arbitration award as "valid and binding," which was an important goal.
The decision is "not a legal victory for Croatia," which will be "reminded every week that it must respect the arbitration award," he told the press on Friday after the court handed down its decision.
The court said the border between Slovenia and Croatia is determined with the arbitration award, "yet another proof that Slovenia has been right all along - that Croatia must implement the arbitration award as well," said Cerar.
"No antics by the Croatian side can change this fact, which is finally written down black on white in the [court's] statement," said Cerar, who was confident Croatia would gradually recognise it needs to behave more constructively and in line with the law.
"Slovenia must be patient. The law is on our side. The border has been determined and we have signed it into law. There is no reason for any excitement or rushing, but we have to persistently exert legal pressure."
Cerar, a jurist by profession, also expressed disappointment at the court not having had the courage to decide the matter on substance. "This is a defensive stance about the rule of law, the European legal order as well as international law," he said.
If the judges decided to delve into the substance of the matter, they would be bound to decide that Croatia is violating EU law, he said.
Marko Vrevc, a senior Foreign Ministry official who has worked on the border arbitration brief for years, sees the decision as a confirmation that "implementation of the law as interpreted and implemented by Slovenia is fine, and Slovenia will continue to pursue it."
He was particularly pleased with the court's appeal that the two countries should endeavour to bring about a legal solution to the dispute. "We're now counting on Croatia realising in a foreseeable time that this dialogue is needed on this basis."
The court today announced that it was not within its purview to hear the case, but it nevertheless urged both sides to "strive sincerely to bring about a definitive legal solution to the dispute consistent with international law".
Croatia, on the other hand, interprets the decision as a victory of its arguments. Prime Minister Andrej Plenković thus reiterated Croatia's long-held stance that the dispute should be resolved in bilateral talks and urged Slovenia to engage in "dialogue and bilateral negotiations".
STA, 30 January 2020 - Slovenia's national motorway company DARS and Turkish builder Cengiz signed on Thursday the master agreement on the construction of the second tube of the Karavanke motorway tunnel, a step that comes more than two years after the original tender was published. Works could start in March, weather permitting.
"We're glad that after five rounds of appeals to the National Review Commission, we have finally signed the contract," DARS chairman Tomaž Vidic said.
Under the contract, Cengiz has 20 business days to submit a EUR 12 million bank guarantee, whereupon it will be able to start work.
Preliminary activities on the border tunnel - Austria has already made significant progress on its portion of the second tube - are to be initiated next week as DARS and Austrian motorway operator Asfinag meet to discuss the timeline.
Vidic said this was a five-year endeavour and problems may appear on either side of the border, which is why he would not venture to speculate whether Cengiz could catch up with the builder working on the Austrian section, which started works in September 2018.
"We think the problems are manageable. We have a skilled builder with a wealth of experience, which is key," he said.
Cengiz board member Asim Cengiz said Slovenian companies would be involved in the construction works. Talks with potential partners are already under way.
The contract is worth EUR 98.6 million VAT excluded and covers construction of 3,546 metres of tunnel on the Slovenian side of the border. The Austrian section is almost a kilometre longer.
Once the second tube is completed, the original tunnel, which entered service in 1991, will be closed for approximately two years for significant renovation and upgrade works.
Karavanke tunnel is one of the main transport routes between Slovenia and Austria. It is a key artery for cargo and one of the main entry points for millions of north European tourists en route to the Adriatic Sea.