May 14, 2019
The official opening of the European Song Contest begins tonight with the first of the two semi-finals, which will decide which countries will compete for the winning title in the grand finals this Saturday, May 18th.
Among the 17 entries that will compete for the top 10 that will qualify for the finals tonight are the Slovenian duo (and real life couple) Zala and Gašper. According to betting odds Slovenia is currently ranked seventh to win and eighth to qualify, with Greece, Australia, Iceland and Cyprus topping this semi-final’s betting.
Zala and Gašper offer a downbeat, moody alternative to the usual bright pop that enters Eurovision, with the UK's Popbitch noting its competition rundown that they look like "a brother and sister art collective", adding that “It’s not often that Eurovision tosses out a song that could happily sit on the soundtrack to an indie movie about a millennial’s quarter-life crisis, grappling with an estranged parent’s secret addiction to prescription pain-killers – but Slovenia have made a decent fist of it.”
The duo are not new to musical success, and last year they won the Zlata Piščal Award for best song of the summer in recognition of their debut single “Valovi” (Waves).
However, the pair upset expectations when they won the EMA contest to represent Slovenia, coming second to establishment favou rite Raiven. However, the final decision was based on a pubic vote, where they received 72% of the total, prompting an angry reaction from pop star and previous Eurovision contestant, Lea Sirk. Perhaps uncomfortably, Sirk will be watching Saturday’s final from Slovenia, reporting the county’s point to Tel Aviv
The show starts at 21:00 tonight and will be broadcast by TV SLO 2. The second semi-final will be on Thursday.
STA, 13 May 2019 - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar proposed in Brussels on Monday to his Italian counterpart Enzo Moavero Milanesi joint police patrols on the border with Italy to prevent illegal migration. He said he thus wanted to show to Italy that Slovenia wanted to strengthen mutual trust.
Ob robu današnjega zasedanja #FAC v #Bruselj sem se sestal tudi z ?? zunanjim ministrom Moaverom Milanesijem. Predlagal sem uvedbo, skupnih patrulj ob SLO-ITA meji, z namenom kreptive zaupanje med sosednjimi državami. @MZZRS pic.twitter.com/7ZUXBQrOPA— dr. Miro Cerar (@MiroCerar) May 13, 2019
Border controls within the Schengen zone are unacceptable for Slovenia, because they go against the European ideas of connectivity and freedom, so Slovenia thinks the issues of security and migration should be tackled together. Thus, border checks on the internal Schengen borders will not be necessary, the minister said.
According to him, the Italian foreign minister welcomed the initiative, which will now be presented to both countries' interior ministers, while police commissioners of both countries are expected to discuss it in a few days.
Cerar would like the joint police patrols to be set up as soon as possible, so as to send a clear signal to the "criminals who encourage the illegal migration".
The EU and its member states must strive to export stability and security or else they risk importing instability, Cerar said, noting that crucial factors were efficient control of the EU's external borders, cooperation and offering support to the countries where migrants are coming from.
Asked why Slovenia and Croatia did not set up joint police patrols, Cerar said that the Slovenian police had been cooperating with the Croatian authorities very well and that so far there had been no need for such a move.
Preventing illegal crossings of the border has become crucial, Cerar said, pointing to a recent abduction of a local in Bela Krajina by a group of migrants.
STA, 13 May 2019 - The National Assembly passed on Monday legislative changes delaying the next round of mass property appraisal for about a year. Under the government-proposed changes, the appraisal will be completed by the end of March 2020 and not the end of July 2019, as initially planned.
The delay was deemed necessary by the government to allow more time to find consensus about what sort of appraisal model to use in the future.
To allow the extension and prolong the validity of the current system, the government drafted changes to the act on mass appraisal of real estate and the real estate records act, with the National Assembly passing them today.
Slovenia introduced the real estate appraisal system in 2006. After the Constitutional Court raised an issue with parts of the legislation in 2013, it was amended at the beginning of 2018.
The changes define the system more closely and stipulate ways in which the values can be used for tax purposes. The changes also allow the public to participate in the creation of valuation models and allow appeals by owners.
Finance Ministry State Secretary Natalija Kovač Jereb told the MPs before the vote that the government wanted to reach a high level of acceptance of mass appraisal and want to dedicate more time talking to experts and municipalities.
In autumn, a trial appraisal will be conducted and appraisal models will be presented and the final models will take into account the comments from the public.
Coalition parties supported the delay, while the opposition, including the minority government's partner, the Left, expressed disagreement with the delay.
The Democrats (SDS) said that the government had not presented sufficient concrete reasons for the delay, adding that the original legislation must have been drafted poorly.
All our stories on property in Slovenia are here
STA, 13 May 2019 - Slovenian cyclist Primož Roglič has retained his pink jersey at the Giro d'Italia after yesterday and today's legs by finishing both in the leading group, after winning the first stage of the legendary race on Saturday.
The 29-year-old former ski jumper, who competes for Jumbo-Visma, is considered one of the favourites to win this year's race across Italy.
On Saturday, by taking the opening time trial, Roglič won a Giro stage for the second time in his career, the first coming in 2016.
Since switching to professional cycling, his achievements also include two victories at individual stages of Tour de France. Last year at the Tozur he also took fourth place in the overall standings.
Today's 220-km leg of the Giro, from Vinci to Orbetello in central Italy, ended with a sprint by the leading group. It was won by Columbia's Fernando Gaviria.
A schedule of all the main events involving Slovenia this week can be found here
This summary is provided by the STA:
FM Cerar proposes joint police patrols on border with Italy
BRUSSELS, Belgium - FM Miro Cerar proposed to his Italian counterpart Enzo Moavero Milanesi joint police patrols on the Slovenian-Italian border to prevent illegal migration, saying he wanted to show to Italy that Slovenia wanted to strengthen mutual trust. Cerar said border controls within the Schengen zone were unacceptable for Slovenia, because they went against the European ideas of connectivity and freedom. According to him, Milanesi welcomed the initiative, which will be presented to the two countries' interior ministers, while their police commissioners are expected to discuss it in a few days.
Mlinar says Austria's border checks undermining EU
LJUBLJANA - Angelika Mlinar, an Austrian MEP who is standing in the EU elections on the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) in Slovenia, came out strongly against an extension of police checks on the Austrian-Slovenian border, accusing Austria's government of "non-European conduct". The extension "does not resolve any problems, it creates new problems for Slovenians who work in Austria and it damages bilateral relations, in particular the Slovenian economy," she told the press. Mlinar, a vocal critic of Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, said the "utterly unwarranted checks" treated Slovenians as "second-rate citizens of Europe" and "undermine our common EU".
MPs discuss allegations about political pressure on judges
LJUBLJANA - MPs discussed the opposition Democrats' (SDS) proposal to have the National Assembly order an analysis of the allegations of abuse in and pressure on the judiciary, and draw up legislative changes. The debate had been prompted by Ljubljana District Court judge Zvjezdan Radonjić's recent statements about pressure he allegedly experienced in trying Milko Novič for the December 2013 murder of the Chemistry Institute boss. Since the SDS's proposal was rejected already by the parliamentary Justice Committee last week, the MPs did not vote on it, but coalition parties and the opposition Left swarned that discussing on-going court procedures was a form of pressure in itself.
MPs confirm delay of next round of real estate appraisal
LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed legislative changes delaying the next round of mass property appraisal for about a year. Under the government-sponsored changes, the appraisal will be completed by the end of March 2020 and not the end of July 2019. The delay is deemed necessary to allow more time to reach a consensus on an appraisal model. Slovenia introduced the real estate appraisal system in 2006. After the Constitutional Court raised an issue with parts of the legislation in 2013, it was amended at the beginning of 2018.
Motorway a must for all heavy cargo vehicles in NE Slovenia as of June
LJUBLJANA - The Infrastructure Agency announced that all heavy cargo vehicles crossing the north-eastern part of Slovenia will be obligated to take the motorway as of 1 June. The ban on the use of regional roads for heavy cargo vehicles will apply to the area between the border crossings Bistrica ob Sotli and Središče ob Dravi. Only local traffic and vehicles destined to Slovenia will be allowed to use parallel regional roads. The measure is to improve safety and the quality of living in the area, the Infrastructure Ministry said. Locals had been protesting against heavy traffic for years, claiming trucks used regional roads to avoid paying toll.
Slovenia gets equity growth investment programme
LJUBLJANA - Small and medium-sized companies in Slovenia as well as those providing for up to 3,000 full-time jobs will be able to apply for EUR 100 million in funds offered by the Slovenian Equity Growth Investment Programme (SEGIP), which is designed to help attract private investors from abroad. The European Investment Fund (EIF) and Slovenia's SID export and development bank each contributed EUR 50 million to the scheme. SID CEO Sibil Svilan said the initiative for the SEGIP had come from SID after the crisis revealed a major deficiency in private equities in Slovenia.
Four out of five Slovenians regular internet users
LJUBLJANA - Some 80% of Slovenians aged 16 to 74 regularly used the internet in the first quarter of 2018, shows data released by the Statistics Office ahead of World Telecommunication and Information Society Day. Most accessed the internet via their smartphones. The percentage of people aged 16 to 74 who have never used the internet halved in 10 years - from 33% to just 16% in 2018. In the same period, the percentage of regular internet users increased from 62% to 80%. The biggest increase was recorded among older citizens, with 47% of those aged 65 to 74 being regular users, a dramatic increase from 8% in 2009.
Roglič retains Giro pink jersey
ROME, Italy - Slovenian cyclist Primož Roglič retained his pink jersey at the Giro d'Italia after Sunday and Monday's legs by finishing both in the leading group, after winning the first stage of the legendary race on Saturday. The 29-year-old former ski jumper, who competes for Jumbo-Visma, is considered one of the favourites to win this year's race across Italy. By taking the opening time trial on Saturday, he won a Giro stage for the second time in his career, the first coming in 2016.
40th anniversary of Slovenian conquest of Mt Everest
LJUBLJANA - 40 years to the day Andrej Štremfelj and Nejc Zaplotnik made history as the first Slovenians to reach the summit of Mt Everest, the highest mountain in the world. The pair were part of a 25-strong Yugoslav expedition which featured 21 Slovenians and which was led by Slovenian mountaineer Tone Škarja. The two mountaineers reached their goal after 45 days of climbing the mountain's western ridge in extreme weather conditions and struggling with oxygen deprivation. The anniversary was marked at the Slovenian Alpine Museum in Mojstrana with a ceremony and an exhibition. The majority of the Slovenian members of the expedition and representatives of the Mountaineering Association were also received by President Borut Pahor.
Mächtig's iconic K67 kiosk unveiled in Times Square
NEW YORK, US - The iconic K67 kiosk by acclaimed Slovenian architect and designer Saša Mächtig has been featured in the Times Square Design Lab exhibition. The kiosk, currently sitting on Broadway Avenue between 45th and 46th Streets, is one of the landmarks of Slovenian industrial design. Tim Tompkins of the Times Square Alliance, responsible for improving and promoting Times Square, says their goal is to showcase the best design from around the world in the square, through which some half a million people pass every day, making it great for advertising.
Medieval burial ground discovered in Pomurje
TIŠINA - A team of archaeologists from the Pomurje Museum has discovered a medieval burial ground in Tišina, the first of its kind in the north-eastern Pomurje region. Some 50 graves were identified, although the team estimates there to be several hundred. The most important artefacts found in the graves were various types of female jewellery, mostly headdresses and rings. According to Samo Sankovič, the leader of the team, these belonged to the time of the Bijelo Brdo Culture, which inhabited the Pannonian Plain between the 10th and 12th centuries.
May 13, 2019
In March 1938 a small stream called Nevljica was being regulated and a bridge was planned to be built across it at Nevlje, near Kamnik. Mayor Nande Novak supervised the works at the construction site, when one day the workers complained that they’d hit an obstacle – tree stumps, they said.
The mayor looked at the “stumps” and recognized them as bones but had no idea what kind of creature they once belonged to. He stopped the works and sought advice from Josip Sadnikar in Kamnik.
Josip NIkolaj Sadnikar (1863-1953), a veterinarian by profession, was an enthusiastic collector of antiquities since his years in high school. In the “stumps” that were brought to him he recognized an extinct mammal, a mammoth, which had died about 20,000 years ago.
Sadnikar informed the museum workers about the finding, who immediately began with excavations. The digging lasted for about two weeks in an area of about 180 square meters, and resulted in the finding of nearly an entire skeleton of an exceptionally large male mammoth, a tusk measuring 2.7 meters in length.
The mammoth, 40 years old when it died, was most probably killed by Stone Age hunters, who also left behind some of the tools and probably broke into the skull of the animal to get at the soft tissue inside in search for food, which is why the skeleton is missing some skull bone.
Although findings of tusks and parts of mammoth bones are relatively common, whole skeletons are not. The mammoth’s bones are now exhibited in the Slovenian Museum of Natural History.
Mammoths, however, were not the oldest elephant-like creatures whose presence has been confirmed by excavations. Since the late 19 century, several findings have proven that several much older species stomped these lands, known under a common name of mastodon.
In 1871 a whole mastodon skeleton was found near Ljutomer, but it fell apart during excavation. In 1888 parts of a head and skeleton of the species called Tapirus hungaricus H. v Mayer were found in Šaleška dolina.
In 1890 a fragment of a tooth was found in Velenje, and other small fragments were also found near Radgona, and near Slovenska Bistrica in 1942. After the war, fragments of mastodon were also found near Slovenske Gorice and Čentibske Gorice, and finally, in 1964 in Škale near Velenje, where four mastodon sites were discovered.
The most interesting one consists of a skull with teeth and two tusks. The left tusk is 2.3 meters long and is completely preserved, including its root still stuck in the bone of the head.
From the findings they have identified three specimens of two different species of mastodon, who lived approximately 1.7 million years ago.
Mastodon’s lived much earlier than mammoths, they had a longer, stocky body and head and forward pointed tusks.
Mastodon remains are exhibited at Velenje Museum.
Source: Kladnik Darinka: Slovenija v zgodbah, Cankarjeva založba, Ljubljana, 2015
STA, 13 May 2019 - President Borut Pahor will host Prince Edward, Earl of Wessex, for a visit on Tuesday and Wednesday during which the pair will celebrate the first Slovenia-UK Friendship Day in the southern region of Bela Krajina.
The visit will "celebrate the history and future of the enduring friendship between the UK and Slovenia", the British Embassy in Ljubljana said ahead of the visit.
Slovenia-UK Friendship Day will be launched on 14 May near Vinica where the locals helped the surviving members of the crew of a British bomber downed by the Germans close to the end of World War II.
Ever since, the links have been leading into a strong bilateral partnership in the field of common security and defence, the British Embassy said.
With just 1 day left until the visit of HRH The Earl of Wessex to ??, here is an overview by @HMASophieHoney of things we look forward to the most over the next two days. #Excited? We know we are ?#RoyalVisitSlovenia #SloUKFriendship #SloUKFriends @RoyalFamily @BorutPahor pic.twitter.com/0WtE16LcJL— UK in Slovenia (@UKinSlovenia) May 13, 2019
On Tuesday evening, Prince Edward will take part in the annual reception hosted by the embassy at Ljubljana Castle to mark Queen Elizabeth II's 93rd birthday.
As a tribute to the long-serving monarch and the friendship between the two countries the castle will be illuminated in the colours of the Slovenian and UK flags.
On the second day of the visit, the prince and Pahor will take part in an event in Ljubljana's Tivoli Park as part of the MEPI youth programme which will see more than 200 young people participate in various workshops.
As the guests of honour, the president and the earl of Wessex will plant a tree symbolising the friendship between Slovenia and the UK.
MEPI, the Slovenian for the International Award For Young People, is a global non-formal education framework which challenges young people to spend their free time in creative ways and to explore and develop their potential.
The prince will also attend a business event at Union Hotel organised by MEPI and the British-Slovenian Chamber of Commerce in which the countries will share experience in how they educate new generations and shape the future of work.
The debate will also feature NLB bank chairman Blaž Brodnjak, Education Minister Jernej Pikalo and the head teacher of the Celje-Center Secondary School, Gregor Deleja.
The president's office expects the visit by the British prince to give an new impetus to the bilateral relationship.
The countries have had good cooperation within the EU and NATO and share similar views on preservation of peace, security and prosperity in the world, boosting democracy and the rule of law, and efficient multilateral cooperation.
Pahor invited the youngest of the four children of Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip to Slovenia during his official visit to the UK to meet the queen at the end of February.
After Slovenia, Edward will also visit Croatia.
Prince Edward visited Slovenia in 2013 along with his wife, the Countess of Wessex. He met Pahor at the time.
Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited Slovenia in 2008, Prince Charles in 1998, Prince Andrew in 2007, and Princess Anne in 1996.
We’re huge fans of the K67 kiosk, the modular unit that (as noted in our earlier feature):
was designed in 1966 by the then young Slovenian architect Saša Janez Mächtig (b. 1941, Ljubljana), a former student of Edvard Ravnikar, and put into mass production in various colours two years later. It was made of reinforced polyfibre, steel, and glass, and was intended as to be used as part of modular structures – as seen in some of these photographs – as well as for temporary events. While they stopped being produced shortly after Slovenian independence, many still remain in use around Eastern Europe, although more have disappeared, and others sit abandoned, waiting to be rediscovered by urban explorers.
Saša Janez Mächtig, the designer, in front of one of his many creations. Screenshot from the www.24ur.com report
While one of these little wonders sits in New York’s MoMA, another has is now touched down not far away in Times Square, as part of the NYC Design Pavillion, fulfilling one of its more traditional roles as an information centre. The event runs until May 22, and you can see a short video report on the K67, including an interview with the still vibrant Saša Janez Mächtig, here. The president of the Times Square Alliance, Tim Tompkins, can also be seen saying that the aim of the event was to present the best design from around the world, and joked that the K67 brought a little bit of Europe into the New World, a bit of beauty to a not-so-beautiful place, even a bit of socialism to the centre of capitalism.
K67s in the wild, courtesy of Google Image Search
You can learn more about the K67 in our earlier story, and add a little excitement to your time in Slovenia, and nearby, by then being to spot a design classic that really does deserve the title hidden gem.
All our stories on architecture in Slovenia can be found here
STA, 13 May 2019 - Employers have been pointing to their difficulties in finding qualified new employees for quite some time, but the situation has only been worsening to the point when it looks more dire than it was in 2008, before the economic crisis. Employers' organisations thus urge the authorities to take action by promoting economic migrations.
Employers have been hiring foreigners to alleviate the shortage, but the manpower pool of the former Yugoslav republics is depleting as well.
The organisations thus expect the government to speed up measures to tackle the issue and come up with a strategy for promoting economic migrations.
According to the Employment Service's data, in the past six months, almost 50% of employers were faced with the shortage, with the share standing at 70% among large companies.
The deficiency is most pronounced in the restaurant business (69%), construction (62%), social and health care (62%) and manufacturing (56%).
"Employers often encounter problems when trying to recruit employees for jobs which are paid less, physically demanding and/or come with demanding working schedules. There's also the issue of finding candidates for technical jobs requiring specific skills which are difficult to be obtained quickly by not (yet) trained and inexperienced people," said the service.
Increasing systemic discrepancies are present in the labour market, according to the service, with the number of available jobs growing, and the number of jobless decreasing.
As a result, the share of the unemployed with primary education or without it is increasing, same as the share of jobless people who are limited in finding employment and require active support.
On the other hand, the share of the unemployed disabled people is decreasing more slowly than the share of all unemployed people.
Employers are thus trying to fill in the gaps by adopting measures such as overtime or temporary increased workload, recruiting through temping agencies, encouraging the young to find jobs more quickly, discussing post-retirement work with older employees and attracting foreign employees, the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) Samo Hribar Milič has told the STA.
The Slovenian Employers' Association (ZDS) secretary general Jože Smole also said that recruiting foreign employees was one of the key ways to tackle this issue.
According to the Employment Service, the number of work permits increased from 14,811 in 2015 to 18,049 in 2018. The numbers do not include single residence-work permits, with 1,180 of them being issued in 2015 and a significantly higher number of them in 2018 - 20,889.
In the first four months of this year, 9,693 foreigners obtained permits to reside and work in Slovenia. But getting such permits does not automatically denote receiving a work permit at the administrative unit in charge.
The majority of foreign recruits are from the former Yugoslav republics. Slovenia issued 16,596 work permits to citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina last year, 1,281 to citizens of Croatia, and 140 to citizens of Serbia.
The share of single residence-work permits was highest in case of migrant workers from Serbia, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Russia.
Employers criticise the length of procedures for hiring employees from third countries. Moreover, they have been waiting a year for the ratification of the treaty on employing Serbian citizens in Slovenia.
The protocol for implementing the treaty was signed in November last year, but the ratification has not taken place yet. However, employers caution that the manpower pool in the former Yugoslavia is being drained as well.
Hribar Milič thus called for ratification of treaties which would enable employing citizens of countries such as Ukraine and Belarus. He also urged the authorities to follow Germany's example and establish offices in charge of employing third-country nationals, for example in Sarajevo, Kiev or Skopje.
"The state already promised that, but has still not delivered on it," he pointed out.
The newspaper Delo recently reported that around a third of the foreigners getting work permits in Slovenia used that opportunity as a stepping stone for migrating to another EU country.
Commenting on this, Hribar Milič said that GZS member companies had been pointing that out, having invested in foreign recruitment only to be faced with recruits moving on to other EU countries.
He denied accusations of Slovenia importing workforce to the EU at dumping prices as Slovenian labour costs are lower, which makes workers from Slovenia cheaper. He said the accusations were based on individual cases, which should be sanctioned by law.
Smole said that given the amount of labour costs in Slovenia one could not speak about dumping.
He expects the government to step up action mitigating the manpower drain, reduce red tape and come up with an operational strategy for economic migrations.
On the other hand, the GZS is pleased about its collaboration with the Employment Service since the latter is developing personalised training and further courses for the unemployed in cooperation with the organisation. However, Hribar Milič concluded that there was room for improvement in that respect as well.
All our stories about employment in Slovenia are here
Inspired by the renovation of Novo mesto’s Main Square, we took a trip the archives to pull out some postcards of the same place in years gone by, as well as the city in general.
Postcard from 1899
Postcard from 1910
Postcard from 1917
Postcard from 1918
Postcard from 1919
Postcard from 1910s
Postcard from 1919
Postcard from 1928
Postcard from 1930s
All our posts with old photos can be found here
STA, 11 May 2019 - Following a push from the Traffic Safety Agency and a number of NGOs to lower the permitted alcohol level for drivers, Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar expressed his disagreement with this proposal on Friday. He believes that the existing rules are good and that Slovenia should address alcohol-related issues as a broad social problem.
The minister was asked about his position on the proposal at the sidelines of a business conference in Portorož last night organised by the Chamber of Craft and Small Business (OZS), which has previously expressed opposition to the proposal.
The OZS believes that the initiative would damage the country's tourism industry and worsen the situation of hospitality businesses, already aggravated by several restrictive acts, including the new ban on trans fats and the tobacco act.
The alcohol limit for drivers in Slovenia is 0.05% of alcohol per litre of exhaled air, while the agency wants it to be reduced to 0.02%.
The proposal has been backed by a number of NGOs, many of which see it as the first step to gradually lowering it to 0.00%.
"Problems related to alcohol are not only limited to the roads. This is a general social problem that requires serious conversation. But I believe that current legislation is not bad," said Poklukar.
"Let's think whether this change is really necessary. I'm for 0.05%," he added, according to a press release released by his ministry today.
He also said that for the first time ever the number of road casualties dropped to below 100 last year.