10 Feb 2021, 11:51 AM

STA, 9 February -2021  Several dozen riot police entered the AKC Metelkova alternative culture centre on Monday evening, ostensibly to check whether clubs are closed, a move that prompted protests by the proprietors of Metelkova clubs and the artists and craftsmen who have studios there.

The officers entered the Metelkova compound after policing a protest at the nearby Rog centre, which has recently been vacated and partially demolished, according to media reports.

The collective body running AKC Metelkova issued a press release Tuesday condemning the action by the "fully armed riot police."

They said around 40 "robocops, accompanied by officers in uniform, flooded the Metelkova grounds, tried to enter the clubs and other premises, and intimidated passers-by."

The police did not provide a reason for their presence beyond saying they were there because a rally had finished, "which they later changed into a story about 'customary control' of bars."

The Metelkova collective described this as "inadmissible intimidation and a forecast of violence".

The Ljubljana Police Department told the STA later today that the force policed two protests in central Ljubljana on Monday - a rally scheduled for noon in Republic Square and another one at 5pm that started in Metelkova.

Since the latter had not been registered and there had been information warning of possible violation of the public order, police presence was boosted and riot police dispatched to ensure law and order was maintained, the press release reads.

The police dismissed allegations of intimidation attempts, which circulated in media and on social media, highlighting that police officers were merely professionally and within their powers doing their job.

The appearance of riot police triggered social media uproar yesterday evening, raising concerns that after the demolition of Rog, AKC Metelkova as the only remaining organised alternative culture centre in the capital was being targeted.

It came just days after a far-right group that call themselves Yellow Vests, which support the government, took a photo at AKC Metelkova with the banner "Let's Demolish Metelkova Too".

AKC Metelkova said the group "no longer conceals their neonazi ideology, tattoos, symbols and greetings" since they are "well aware that the ruling structures provide them with safety and legitimacy for the most abhorrent political ideas".

The members of the group fled from the Metelkova grounds before the arrival of the police, the press release added.

Responding to a query by the STA, the Ljubljana city municipality said that AKC Metelkova was a protected alternative culture and subculture venue and "one of the city's treasures where we nurture and respect diversity and co-exist".

The city condemned the presence of "so-called Yellow Vests, neonazi groups or any other violent groups" in Metelkova, saying that such incidents attempted to revive nazi ideology, the greatest evil of the 20th century, and did not have a place in the capital.

The municipality also said that drawing parallels between Yellow Vests' actions in Metelkova and the planned Rog renovation was inappropriate as the centre was not demolished in the name of hate but to make it accessible for everyone.

The opposition Left also responded to the developments by describing Monday's arrival of the riot police to the Metelkova grounds "without any reason or serious cause" as another scene in the series of displays of the police strength, referring to cordoning off Republic Square last year ahead of anti-government protests and Ljubljana centre during the 2020 Statehood Day ceremony.

"Police officers carrying automatic weapons without any reason" in Metelkova, "just another part of the city", should raise all the red flags, thinks Left leader Luka Mesec, who blames the Interior Ministry for this.

The Left intends to request an emergency session of the parliamentary Petitions, Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission as the party believes the developments are moving the country from a place of the democratic order to the reign of terror.

Over the years AKC Metelkova has frequently been a target of hate crime, in particular its two gay and lesbian clubs.

10 Feb 2021, 04:20 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA

Criteria met for orange tier easing of coronavirus restrictions

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia reported 357 coronavirus infections on Monday from a total of 11,253 tests and 945 patients with Covid-19 were treated in hospitals, in what continues to an improvement in the epidemiological situation. The country thus met both thresholds for entering the orange tier of restrictions - the number of hospitalisations and the seven-day average of new cases below 1,000. The government will decide on the further easing tomorrow.

All pupils through third form back at school

LJUBLJANA - Pupils in the first three years of primary school throughout the country - that is including in the last three regions - returned to face-to-face teaching in line with last week's government decree. Both parents and teachers have welcomed the move, expressing hope that the remaining students may soon follow suit. All kindergartens also reopened, but some had significant staffing issues due to sick leaves unrelated to Covid-19.

Secondary school students boycott remote learning

LJUBLJANA/VELENJE - A number of secondary school students around the country boycotted remote learning to demand in-person teaching at secondary schools. The boycott came after the Education Ministry failed to respond to the We Want School! group's call for a meeting over the issue by 8 February. A local youth organisation in Velnje also staged a protest, while Maja Kalin of the DOS organisation of secondary school students said a little less than half of all students wanted to go back to school.

Additional shops reopen much to delight of clerks and shoppers

LJUBLJANA - Additional stores reopened as the government allowed in-person shopping in all stores under 400 square metres. The shops could have opened on Saturday, but most reopened today since they had trouble testing their staff. Employer representatives meanwhile said they expected that, as agreed, that state would cover the costs of coronavirus tests. They would like the matter to be regulated as part of a new legislative stimulus package.

Troop presence in Kosovo to be reduced, but W Balkans remains priority

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia will reduce the number of its troops in the NATO-led KFOR mission in Kosovo, its biggest contingent in the Western Balkans. Its military presence in operations and missions in the region nevertheless remains one of the key priorities, but quality will be preferred over quantity, explained the head of the Defence Ministry's Defence Policy Directorate, Uroš Zorko. Part of the troops from the region will be redeployed to other operations and missions, such as the ALTHEA operation in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the EUTM mission in Mali and restructured missions in Iraq.

MEP Zver signs letter urging EU foreign policy chief to resign

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenian MEP Milan Zver (EPP/SDS) is among more than 70 MEPs who have signed a letter urging the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to resign after what the critics see as his "humiliating" visit to Russia on Friday. His party colleague Romana Tomc has not signed it, but expressed great disappointment with the visit, which she said was a diplomatic fiasco. Klemen Grošelj and Irena Joveva (both Renew/LMŠ) meanwhile said the letter was a response to "the humiliation the EU experienced" during the visit, but concealed a key problem of the EU not having a uniform foreign policy.

Slovenia's exports down 2% in 2020 as imports fall 6%, figures up in December

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia saw its goods exports fall by 2% to EUR 32.9 billion last year as imports declined by 6% to EUR 32 billion. As a result, the country recorded a surplus of EUR 900 million, the second highest in a decade, after posting a deficit in 2019, official statistics show. Releasing fresh data, the Statistics Office reported that exports had decreased mainly due to a decline in trade with EU member states (-8.8% to EUR 21.995bn), while trade with countries outside the EU increased (+15.3% to EUR 10.881bn).

Slovenia calls for cooperation in dealing with Covid fallout at 17+1 summit

LJUBLJANA - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek expressed Slovenia's willingness to work together with China and the other 16 Central and East European countries involved in the 17+1 initiative in tackling the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic, as he addressed a virtual summit of the initiative. Chinese President Xi Jinping as the host of the 9th summit focused in his address on the battle against the pandemic and the post-pandemic recovery, connectivity and green cooperation between China and the 17 CEE countries.

Macron accepts Pahor's invitation to Brdo-Brijuni summit

LJUBLJANA - French President Emmanuel Macron officially accepted an invitation to attend the Brdo-Brijuni Process summit to be hosted by the Slovenian and Croatian presidents in Slovenia this spring in a letter to Slovenian President Borut Pahor. Because of the epidemic, the exact date of the summit has not been set yet. The summit marking the 10th anniversary of this initiative for the Western Balkans has been postponed twice already due to the epidemic.

Health Inspectorate examining minister's meeting

LJUBLJANA - The Health Inspectorate is looking into an event Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek attended on Friday in the aftermath of media reports suggesting his meeting with local officials and businessmen in a restaurant may not have been held in compliance with coronavirus restrictions. Počivalšek denied the allegations, saying that business-to-business services were permitted and that the local small-business chamber had picked "a place that complied with preventive measures".

EU Commission approves aid scheme for public transport providers

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission approved Slovenia's EUR 20 million scheme to help public transport companies overcome the coronavirus pandemic, during which public transport has been either suspended completely or significantly limited. One of the conditions for the aid is that funds for an individual company do not exceed EUR 1.8 million and that they be granted no later than the end of this year.

Slovenian minority calls for spirit of reconciliation on Italian memorial day

TRIESTE, Italy - The two umbrella organisations of the Slovenian minority in Italy have written to the Slovenian and Italian presidents, Borut Pahor and Sergio Mattarella, expressing hope that the Italian National Memorial Day of the Exiles and Foibe would be observed on Wednesday in "the spirit of sincere reconciliation".

Hungarian Slovenians get recognition for helping out during pandemic

SZENTGOTTHARD, Hungary - Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch visited the Slovenian minority in Hungary to reward with with a special medal the two umbrella organisations for helping Slovenia during the coronavirus pandemic. She also meet their representatives to discuss current challenges and future plans and congratulated Porabje editor-in-chief Marijana Sukič on the upcoming 30th anniversary of the only Slovenian newspaper in Hungary.

Writers opt out of independence anniversary celebration

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Writers' Association (DSP) announced on Monday that it would not take part in the celebration of Slovenia's 30th independence anniversary following revelations that PM Janez Janša has banned some government officials from speaking to the press. President Borut Pahor, who heads the organising committee, said in a response that he would like to see the DSP continue participating in the preparations for the anniversary celebrations.

Protest after riot police enter Metelkova compound

LJUBLJANA - Several dozen riot police entered the AKC Metelkova alternative culture centre on Monday evening, ostensibly to check whether clubs are closed, a move that prompted protests by the proprietors of Metelkova clubs and the artists and craftsmen who have studios there. The officers entered the compound after policing two protests in central Ljubljana, but the police dismissed allegations of intimidation attempts. The opposition Left intends to request an emergency session of a parliamentary commission as it believes the developments are moving the country towards the reign of terror.

Screen exposure of Slovenian children more than doubled during lockdown

LJUBLJANA - During last spring's lockdown, Slovenian children spent 6.69 hours a day in front of screens on an average school day, of which schooling accounted for 3.85 hours. This is much higher than the European average for 2018 of 2.6 hours a day for all activities altogether, showed an international survey on the experience of children and youth with on-line risks during the first lockdown today to mark Safer Internet Day.

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09 Feb 2021, 15:01 PM

STA, 9 February 2021 - Slovenia reported 357 coronavirus infections on Monday from a total of 11,253 tests in what continues to be a week-on-week decline. Slovenia has met both thresholds for entering the orange tier of restrictions, an improvement that may also be a result of scaled-down testing over the long weekend. 19 Covid patients died, show fresh official data.

Of the 1,493 PCR tests conducted yesterday 204 infections were confirmed for a positivity rate of 13.7%, down from 15% the day before. An additional 9,760 rapid antigen tests were performed with 153 returning positive for a positivity rate of 1.6%.

On Monday, Culture Day, the total of PRC and rapid tests was above the number of tests usually conducted on bank holidays due to mass testing among teachers and shop assistants, however the figure was still below weekday total.

A total of 945 patients with Covid-19 were treated in hospitals yesterday, one fewer than the day before, after 41 were discharged. 162 patients were in intensive care, two more than on Sunday.

The country has reached the orange tier of restrictions with both the number of hospitalisations and the 7-day daily average of new cases below 1,000.

The latter figure stood at 842 yesterday, the government announced on Twitter. The 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents was 683, show data by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).

The orange phase envisages reopening of schools for the remaining primary school pupils and final years of secondary school as well as resumption of exams and seminars at the university level with up to ten people allowed.

Moreover, assembly of up to ten persons would be permitted and a ban on inter-municipal travel lifted.

The government will decide on the further course of restrictions on Wednesday when it is expected to review the epidemiological situation.

Health Ministry State Secretary Marija Magajne told today's press briefing that it would be sensible to soon introduce PCR confirmatory testing for positive test results produced by rapid tests, as the epidemic seems to be waning. Experts and ministry officials will soon meet to set down relevant protocols, she added.

Asked about a new call for applications for rapid tests, Magajne said it was in the works and would be published in a week. The procedure seems to be at a standstill though since she merely repeated the statement she made more than a week ago.

The supplies provided by the first call are dwindling in the meantime. Less than 20% of the tests supplied were still available last week. Magajne said there were no test shortages though as testing providers could also procure them themselves.

The state secretary said that before making a final decision on the second public call, the ministry was waiting for additional tests that are to be supplied as part of a joint EU order as well as for expert decisions on the testing strategy in the future.

Regarding the EU procurement procedure for rapid tests, she said the price was not yet made public and could not be disclosed hence, however she was able to say that 5% of the delivery would be free of charge for Slovenia.

So far 174,364 infections have been reported in Slovenia since the start of the epidemic, according to the NIJZ, which estimates 14,399 of them active. The death toll is currently at 3,654, showdata by the national tracker site

09 Feb 2021, 11:05 AM

STA, 9 February 2021 - Additional stores are expected to reopen on Tuesday following the government's recent decision to allow in-person shopping in all stores under 400 square metres. Although the decree took effect on Saturday, most stores have postponed the reopening until today since they had trouble providing the required testing for their staff.

Only between 10% and 15% of stores that could reopen on Saturday were actually able to do that, according to the Chamber of Commerce (TZS).

The government gave the green light for an extensive reopening on Friday, permitting stores and repair shops under 400 square metres to again welcome their customers in person.

The establishments were allowed to reopen on Saturday under the condition of producing negative tests of their staff. Many could not provide testing earlier though and are expected to reopen today following mass testing among staff over the past long weekend, TZS president Mariča Lah told the STA.

After experiencing issues with the organisation of the testing, businesses were helped out by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).

The institute told the TZS that retailers could organise the testing drives at community health centres or private testing providers that are either concession holders or not, also providing a list of available private facilities.

Business representatives were told last week by Prime Minister Janez Janša and Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek that the cost of staff testing will be covered by the state.

For some services, most notably beauticians, real estate agencies, tutoring and pet salons, both staff and customers must produce a negative test to conduct business.

Mass testing is expected to continue in coming days as staff testing will be obligatory from 12 February for shops and services that had been already open, such as grocery shops and food markets.

All pupils through third form to return to school

STA, 9 February 2021 - Pupils in the first three grades of primary school throughout the country will return to in-classroom instruction on Tuesday in line with last week's government decree. All kindergartens are to reopen.

On Thursday, the government decided to suspend a region-based approach to imposing or lifting coronavirus restrictions, deeming the entire country to be in tier red.

The second strictest phase envisages pupils through the third form returning to school. Moreover, kindergartens that have been closed so far are allowed to reopen today and those that have been providing day care only to parents in essential professions may now go back to full capacity.

Both parents and teachers have welcomed the move, expressing hope that the remaining students may soon follow suit.

Weekly mass testing among teachers teaching in person is still obligatory, with all of them required to have their swab taken at the start of the school week except for those who have already recovered from Covid-19.

A number of schools organised testing already yesterday, whereas the majority will test their staff today.

Rapid testing of teachers in Ajdovščina (W) has detected a high positivity rate (above 15%) among teachers of a local primary school, however subsequent PCR tests came back negative, deeming all the rapid test results fake positives.

The PCR confirmatory testing was used in the Ajdovščina municipality yesterday to confirm or dismiss 20 positive results produced by rapid tests and all of them turned out to be fake positive. Egon Stopar, the director of the Ajdovščina health centre, thinks that the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) should re-assess the quality of the rapid tests.

Slovenia could soon reach tier orange, which envisages in-classroom instruction for the remaining primary school pupils and final years of secondary school as well as resumption of exams and seminars at the university level with up to ten people allowed.

A part of secondary school students intends to boycott remote classes today out of protest against remote schooling. Parents of primary school pupils from the Maribor area have urged a 10-minute suspension of today's classes to voice support for the secondary school students.

09 Feb 2021, 10:07 AM

STA, 7 February 2021 - The Slovenian Foreign Ministry has expressed solidarity with, and support for, Belarusian citizens who have been holding peaceful anti-government protests since the presidential elections in August 2020, urging respect for democratic standards and fundamental human rights.

In a message on Day of Solidarity with Belarus, observed on Sunday, the ministry denounced as unacceptable the Belarusian authorities' responding to the protests with "disproportionate violence, illegal deprivation of liberty, and systematic disrespect and violation of fundamental human rights".

The ministry noted the citizens of Belarus, who are continuing their protests across the country, are united in the demand for President Alexander Lukashenko to resign.

The ministry "expresses solidarity with the victims of excessive post-election repression by the Belarusian authorities; with journalists, academics, cultural professionals, intellectuals, doctors, students, factory workers, and especially with the female population, who are an important driving force of the protests", reads the release.

"The only way to ensure a peaceful future and prosperity for the Belarusian people is to establish a genuine and inclusive political dialogue between all stakeholders of Belarusian society with a view to rerunning the presidential elections. Therefore, we call on the Belarusian authorities to allow the representatives of the OSCE and the Council of Europe to enter the country and to follow the recommendations of the Moscow Mechanism."

The ministry pledged to continue to support the democratic processes and civil society in Belarus.

Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya designated 7 February as Day of Solidarity with Belarus, calling on international leaders, activists and others to support the protesters in their demand for the Belarusian authorities to renounce violence and ensure accountability for all human rights violations.

09 Feb 2021, 04:20 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.

This summary is provided by the STA

Slovenia logs 304 coronavirus cases on Sunday

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia reported 304 coronavirus cases on Sunday from 3,831 tests in what was a continuation of a steady week-on-week decline and one of the lowest daily tallies since mid-October. An additional 12 Covid-19 patients died, official data showed. The PCR positivity rate stood at 15%. Hospitalisations increased by 15 to 946 on the day before, whereas the number of patients in intensive care was level at 160. The 7-day daily average of new cases decreased to 1,011, further nearing the threshold for additional easing of restrictions set at 1,000. Slovenia expects the next batch of the Covid-19 vaccine tomorrow when 17,500 doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine are scheduled to arrive, said the NIJZ.

Slovenia to reduce troop size in KFOR mission in Kosovo, Tonin says

PRISHTINA, Kosovo - Defence Minister Matej Tonin and Major General Robert Glavaš, the chief of the general staff, visited Slovenian troops that currently serve in the NATO KFOR mission in Kosovo. The pair met Major General Franco Federici, the KFOR commander. Tonin announced Slovenia will somewhat reduce the number of troops in the mission since a part of them will be moved to Bosnia-Herzegovina and other EU missions, read a press release by the Defence Ministry. "Despite that, KFOR will remain the most important and key mission for Slovenia," Tonin said. It is not yet clear how many of the Slovenian soldiers serving in KFOR will be relocated. Currently, there are slightly over 250 in Kosovo.

President calls for culture of dialogue on Culture Day

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor hosted the annual Culture Day reception in Presidential Palace, receiving this year's Prešeren Prize and Prešeren Fund Prize recipients. Pahor called for culture of dialogue, noting that politicians should be particularly aware of the importance of this concept due to their impact on public discourse. Author Feri Lainšček, one of the laureates, meanwhile highlighted the role Slovenian culture played in the country's independence efforts. Earlier, Pahor laid a wreath at the France Prešeren monument in central Ljubljana along with Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti. Slovenian Ambassador to Croatia Vojislav Šuc announced that Slovenia will put up a monument to honour Prešeren in Zagreb, Croatia's capital, in the summer.

On Culture Day PM says one would expect more constructive attitude from artists

LJUBLJANA - In his Culture Day address, Prime Minister Janez Janša said that culture was one of key foundations of Slovenia as a nation and independent country. Given the purpose of culture, one would expect a more constructive attitude from the cultural sphere as the current situation is too grave to respond to it by "street activism and threats", he said. Since the epidemic has raised important issues in culture as well, "perhaps it is now the time for culture to hold the mirror up to itself as well", he added. The address also noted that there will be opportunities to promote Slovenian culture during the country's EU presidency in the second half of this year.

Culture should not become collateral damage of epidemic, says speaker

LJUBLJANA - Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič said in his Culture Day address that culture and art "are not and should not be considered a privilege, but above all they should not become the collateral damage of the epidemic". Everyone has an option to support artists, he added. "Almost 30 years ago we realised the hundred years-long dreams of our own country through indomitable will and pluck. These dreams were co-created by our intellectuals and cultural workers," he said.

UAE donates seven tonnes of supplies to Covid fight in Slovenia

BRNIK - The United Arab Emirates donated to Slovenia seven tonnes of personal protective equipment and coronavirus tests. Accepting the donation, Foreign Ministry State Secretary Stanislav Raščan highlighted good cooperation between the two countries and the role of solidarity in the joint fight against the pandemic. Emirati Ambassador to Slovenia Ibrahim Salem Mohammed Al Mashrekh said that the donation was a reflection of his country's commitment to the fight, expressing interest on behalf of the United Arab Emirates to strengthen ties between the two countries in all areas.

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08 Feb 2021, 12:12 PM

STA, 7 February 2021 - Marko Mušič, one of the most distinguished Slovenian architects, comes from a long line of architects. He will receive the Prešeren Prize for lifetime-achievement, the country's top accolade for artistic accomplishments, after leaving a notable mark with his work in Slovenia and throughout the former Yugoslavia.

Five of Mušič's ancestors were architects, including his father Marjan Mušič, which he sees as a privilege. He told the STA in an interview that he "simply worshipped" his father, who was a "refined art connoisseur, a profound architectural theorist and historian, an excellent project manager, a classic of the Slovenian architectural drawing and of course a prolific and extraordinary writer".

Mušič (1941) graduated in 1966 under the mentorship of professor Edvard Ravnikar, who just like Mušič's father was a student of the great architect Jože Plečnik (1872-1957). He continued his studies in Denmark and the US, where he cooperated with architect and archaeologist Ejnar Dyggve and with US architect Louis Kahn, respectively.

Kahn left a deep impression on Mušič. "I was drawn to his philosophy of architecture and in particular his honouring of tradition and the culture of architectural history," he told the STA.

"The clarity of his architectural composition and the sense of symbolism have always stood out. He was unlike anybody else and his architectural designs were such as well. He designed few buildings, but they were all in line with his motto that you must give each building a soul."

Mušič considered staying in the US, where opportunities for architects were immense, but Kahn "convinced me to go to Skopje immediately and continue and finish my great and important work there," he said in a reference to his work in the Macedonian capital.

In the 1960s and 1970s, Mušič left his mark in former Yugoslavian cities from Zagreb through Belgrade to Skopje and Bitola. "That was a period of enthusiasm, faith in the architecture, youthful zeal, new opportunities and of course competitiveness," he told the STA, saying Slovenian architects had been particularly esteemed in the former Yugoslavia.

He said architecture had had full political support at the time. "Interestingly, I was never asked why I'm not a member of the League of Communists or persuaded that this was needed if I were to be the chief architect."

In the 1980s, he started focussing on Slovenia. This was a time when Postmodernism radically ended the period of Modernism and Jože Plečnik was "rehabilitated". Mušič was strongly affected by this and his architectural language started containing elements of classical architecture although using modern material and showing his own personal style.

He has a strong connection to Plečnik. "My relationship with Plečnik has in particular a creative charge. Every one of his works, designs or sketches spontaneously reveals creative saturation, which is an inexhaustible source of interest, admiration and also new creative encouragement."

Mušič's most important projects in Ljubljana are the Ljubljana railway station, the Incarnation Church in the Dravlje borough, and the New Žale Cemetery. He is also the author of the Teharje memorial park dedicated to the victims of post-war killings.

Three of his projects, including the New National and University Library, Apostolic Nunciature in Ljubljana, and the Ljubljana passenger terminal have not be realised, which he said "left a slightly bitter aftertaste".

He feels particularly close to memorial architecture, which he focussed on in the 1990s. "When designing such projects we must be aware of Wittgenstein's belief that the meaning of ethics and aesthetics is to reveal the inexpressible ... We must be aware that every part of this space has its symbolic and ritual function."

Mušič is lauded by the jury conferring the Prešeren Prize for his unique architectural path, his "particular, at times controversial perspective standing against the 'flow of the time' and architectural trends, and which still aspires to 'architecture for all times'", something Plečnik had set high standards for.

Active in architecture in Slovenia and the broader Balkan region for almost 60 years, Mušič has a special place in this space and has been considered a wunderkind, the Prešeren Prize jury said. He has received several awards, including the Prešeren Fund Prize for outstanding achievements, and the Plečnik and Valvasor awards.

The latest international recognition of his work was the inclusion of his works in the big exhibition of Yugoslavian architecture in MoMA in New York in 2018.

He is a full member of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (SAZU) and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts (EASA) and a corresponding member of the academies of sciences and arts of Republika Srpska, Montenegro, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

"All awards are pleasant companions, but the Prešeren Prize of course has a special significance and ring to it. On the one hand it is a recognition for past achievements, but it is also an encouragement for the future, as even those of us who have walked a long way already are optimistic about the future and new challenges," he said.

08 Feb 2021, 12:06 PM

STA, 7 February 2021 - Feri Lainšček, a writer, poet, playwright and screenwriter from north-eastern Slovenia, who will receive the Prešeren Prize for lifetime-achievement, sees his work not as a job but as a way of life. He believes literary heroes are spiritual beings with lives of their own. 

Born in the hilly part of the Prekmurje region near the Hungarian border in 1959, Lainšček spoke and listened to nothing but dialect until primary school. In his first book from a trilogy about his life, Kurji Pastir (The Chicken Shepherd), which was published last year, he writes about the poverty he was born into and the immense love of his parents.

"I've always thought my mother and father have managed to build a kind of invisible bridge that I used to get out of that and somehow made it into a normal life," Lainšček told the STA. "While writing this novel, I finally realised this bridge was actually made of love."

He believes he has had "a kind of different childhood which taught me early on how to defy despair". After finishing secondary school in Murska Sobota, he wanted to study art in Ljubljana but failed to get accepted at the Academy of Fine Arts, so he opted for what is today the Faculty of Social Sciences.

He came to the capital "with nothing, like many others probably, at the time" and "had to start from scratch". "I had no acquaintances, relatives, godfathers. I actually got the most help from older writers I slowly got to know and started spending time with."

He described this period of his life in the novel Peronarji, with which he entered the literary world in 1982. During that time, he worked for Radio Ljubljana, and wrote poems and novels in his spare time.

He has written more than 100 books, including 30 novels. Many of his works have been translated into several foreign languages, and some have been also made into films. As author, Lainšček also cooperates with Slovenian musicians, most notably with young singer-songwriter Ditka.

"I must admit that things have just happened for me and Ditka and we never wondered whom we should thank for that ... No matter what it was, it is important that, spontaneously, we were on the same page, got closer in a creative way but also gave each other all the freedom. I believe the listeners sense that."

Lainšček has received many awards for his work, including the Prešeren Fund Prize for his novel Ki Jo Je Megla Prinesla (She Who Was Brought by Fog) and the Kresnik award for the best novel of the year for Namesto Koga Roža Cveti (Instead of Whom Does the Flower Bloom).

Six of his books were made into films, including the 2007 blockbuster Petelinji Zajtrk (Rooster's Breakfast), directed by Marko Naberšnik. "Luckily I learned early enough that the literary and film languages are very different. I realised that directors do not come to me because they wish to 'translate' my work but because they want to create something of their own."

He also publishes his poems on social media, so he did not have to move online when the epidemic started. "I have been there all the time. I've always been interested in new media and different carriers of message. I've been among the first ones to try a lot of things and I sometimes also used them conceptually, so I must say I don't see this as an emergency exit."

Lainšček receives the Prešeren Prize for his novels, poetry collections, short stories, books for children and youth, screenplays and radio plays. "Lainšček's literary achievements with their high artistic value have been significantly enriching the treasury of Slovenian culture for almost 40 years," the jury said.

He is lauded as the "leading poet and writer of Panonian Slovenia, whose works portray the lives of ordinary people from the margins of society in a very sensitive manner". By showing the "lyrical Gypsy soul", he is expressing respect to those who are different, the jury said.

His poetry is described as a mixture of Panonian melancholy and a personal vision of love. His works in Prekmurje dialect have significantly contributed to the building of bridges between Slovenia and the Slovenian community living in Hungary.

Lainšček is known to empathise deeply with his literary characters. "I hope this doesn't sound too mystical but I believe that literary heroes are in fact spiritual beings. We the writers create them and then they live their own lives, often outside their books. For example, Martin Krpan has never lived, he was created by (Fran) Levstik, yet he is still around and we all know him."

He sees the whole creative process as a dialogue where literary heroes have free will, "so I usually don't know until the end how the story will unfold".

In the case of Muriša, a young woman who is the main character of Lainšček's namesake book, the author says he tried very hard to save her but in the end she died anyway because she followed her beliefs and ideals blindly.

"I remember winning Kresnik for that novel. The award ceremony was at Rožnik Hill more than a year after I finished the novel but a single thought occurred to me there. Muriša did not die in vain after all. Everyone expected me to be happy about the prize, but I was so moved I nearly cried."

The Prešeren Prize will, however, be different. "I am very happy to win it and I accept it with respect. I have won it for the work that I have been devoted to with my body and soul since youth. It has become my way of life and in a way affected everything I have ever done."

08 Feb 2021, 10:34 AM

STA, 7 February 2021 - Culture Day, which celebrates art and culture on 8 February by remembering the acclaimed Slovenian poet France Prešeren, will try to inspire hope despite being largely observed remotely. Writer Feri Lainšček and architect Marko Mušič will receive the Prešeren Prizes, the top national lifetime achievement accolade.

As usual, this year's national ceremony will be held on the eve of the public holiday, yet it has been pre-recorded and will be broadcast on TV in the evening.

Its main motto is Summons Hope!, said Jožef Muhovič, who heads the board of the Prešeren Fund, which gives out the Prešeren Prizes and produces the ceremony.

It is to highlight that human creativity, culture and art are what we can lean on at a time of ordeals and what we can be proud of on the 30th anniversary of statehood, he explained in a statement for the STA.

"Summons Hope" comes from Prešeren's Zdavljica (Toast), a poem from the mid-19th century whose seventh stanza has become the lyrics of Slovenia's national anthem.

Apart from Lainšček and Mušič, the recipients of six Prešeren Fund Prizes for achievements over the past three years are poet Brane Senegačnik, violinist Lana Trotovšek, theatre director Tomi Janežič, film director Matjaž Ivanišin, painter Sandi (Aleksander) Červek, and architects Blaž Budja, Rok Jereb and Nina Majoranc.

Culture Day, a bank holiday, is usually packed with cultural events and it will be no different this year, it is just that the majority of the events will be online.

Prešeren's poems traditionally recited in front of the monument to the poet in the centre of Ljubljana will be broadcast live on national public radio.

Thirty actors and actresses will interpret them in Radio Slovenija's studios accompanied by live music. What is more, the poems will resound, with the help of sound systems, in the streets of Ljubljana, Koper, Celje, Maribor and Nova Gorica.

Many museums, galleries, libraries and theatres will make available online various events and productions, with the Kranj Theatre, which bears Prešeren's name, broadcasting a talk with this year's Prešeren Prize laureates.

Cankarjev Dom, the country's largest cultural house, will offer most of its recorded productions made since the first lockdown last spring, including concerts.

The Slovenian Cinematheque will honour director Matjaž Ivanišin with the online screening of his short films and a talk with him.

Feri Lainšček, who comes from the Prekmurje region, will be honoured with a performance of literature and music at the regional Murska Sobota Library.

Folk-rock singer-songwriter Vlado Kreslin, who was also born in Prekmurje, will give an online concert from a venue in Ljubljana which will be revealed on the day of the concert.

08 Feb 2021, 04:08 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA

Slovenia honours its best artists

LJUBLJANA - Feri Lainšček, a writer, poet, playwright and screenwriter who has immortalised ordinary people from the Panonian Slovenia, and Marko Mušič, one of the most distinguished Slovenian architects, will be honoured with the Prešeren Prizes for lifetime-achievement, the country's top accolade in the arts, at a pre-recorded ceremony to be broadcast by TV Slovenija on the eve of Culture Day. Prešeren Fund Prizes for individual achievements will go to poet Brane Senegačnik, violinist Lana Trotovšek, theatre director Tomi Janežič, film director Matjaž Ivanišin, painter Sandi (Aleksander) Červek, and architects Blaž Budja, Rok Jereb and Nina Majoranc.

Slovenia expresses solidarity with Belarus protesters

LJUBLJANA - On Day of Solidarity with Belarus, the Slovenian Foreign Ministry expressed solidarity with, and support for, Belarusian citizens who have been holding peaceful anti-government protests since the presidential elections in August 2020, urging respect for democratic standards and fundamental human rights. The ministry denounced the Belarusian authorities' attempt to crack down on the protests with disproportionate violence, illegal deprivation of liberty, and systematic disrespect and violation of fundamental human rights as unacceptable, urging them to allow OSCE and Council of Europe representatives into the country.

Daily coronavirus count below 500, eleven deaths on Saturday

LJUBLJANA - A total of 498 people tested positive for coronavirus Slovenia on Saturday, the sixth straight day of a week-on-week decline in cases. Meanwhile, eleven Covid-19 patients lost their lives, fresh government data show. The number of patients in hospital rose by five to 931 after 51 patients were newly admitted and 37 were discharged yesterday. A total of 160 were treated in intensive care units. The seven-day daily average of confirmed cases dropped to 1,018.

Military stepping in to help in teacher testing

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) will deploy eight medical technicians to help the Ljubljana Community Health Centre in the weekly screening of teachers and other school and kindergarten staff for coronavirus. In an announcement of its Twitter profile, the SAF said it would deploy the technicians at the testing point at the Ljubljana fairgrounds from Tuesday at the request of the Ljubljana Community Health Centre. The weekly testing of school and kindergarten staff will be held before pupils up to the third form of primary school return to their classrooms and kindergartens reopen throughout the country on Tuesday.

Actress working on complaint as alleged harasser named in media

LJUBLJANA - Nearly a week after actress Mia Skrbinac publicly accused an unnamed actor and drama teacher of sexually harassing her while she was a student, the Ljubljana Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television said it expected their former student would file a complaint shortly. The academy said it could not confirm any names yet after asked to comment on media reports naming the alleged harasser as Matjaž Tribušon, a 57-year-old award-winning film and theatre actor with the SNG Drama Ljubljana.

Slovenian short takes Grand Prix at Clermont-Ferrand festival

CLERMONT-FERRAND, France - Sisters, a short film by the Slovenian director Katarina Rešek - Kukle, has won the top prize at the Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival, the biggest international film festival dedicated to shorts. Sisters (Sestre), a film about three tomboy friends in their early 20s, was picked for the Grand Prix in the festival's international competition among 78 films in the running for the awards. The 43rd iteration of the festival was held online from 29 January to 6 February.

Victory for Slovenia in women's Cross Country World Cup team sprint

ULRICEHAMN, Sweden - Slovenian cross-country skiers Eva Urevc and Anamarija Lampič won the women's World Cup team sprint event in Ulricehamn, in Sweden in their biggest feat ever after finishing third in the same discipline in Dresden in December. The Slovenian pair beat Sweden's team featuring Saturday's sprint event winner Maja Dahlqvist and the top sprinter of the past season Linn Svahn, by 18 hundredths of a second. Swiss skiers Laurien van der Graaf and Nadine Fähndrich came in third.

New double podium feats for Slovenian ski jumpers

HINZENBACH, Austria/KLINGENTHAL, Germany - Slovenia's ski jumpers made it to the podium for the third day running as Nika Križnar and Bor Pavlovčič both finished as runners-up in their respective women's and men's World Cup events. Križnar placed second at the World Cup meet in Austria's Hinzenbach for the second straight day after winning Friday's event at the same venue, to enhance her position as the runner-up in the overall World Cup standings. Meanwhile, Pavlovčič was second at the event in Klingenthal, Germany, to follow up on third place at the same venue in what was his first-ever World Cup podium.

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


07 Feb 2021, 15:32 PM

STA, 7 February 2021 - Slovenian cross-country skiers Eva Urevc and Anamarija Lampič won the women's World Cup team sprint event in Ulricehamn, in Sweden on Sunday in their biggest feat ever after finishing third in the same discipline in Dresden in December.

The Slovenian pair beat Sweden's team featuring Saturday's sprint event winner Maja Dahlqvist and the top sprinter of the past season Linn Svahn, by 18 hundredths of a second.

Swiss skiers Laurien van der Graaf and Nadine Fähndrich came in third.

Urevc and Lampič were in third and forth position for most of the final heat, but Lampič powered on in the final meters of the race to cross the finish line first, 0.21 seconds ahead of Svahn, 0.28 seconds clear of Fähndrich and 0.34 seconds ahead of Jessie Diggins of the US.

This was after the Slovenian pair placed third in the semi-finals behind the Swedish and US teams.

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