Andrew Anžur Clement is a Slovene-American who lives in Ljubljana and is a prolific author, having published eight books in the last 18 months. His latest has just been released, Tito’s Lost Children, and so we made good use of the short time between one project finishing and another starting in earnest to find out more about the work…
For those who might take the title literally - is this really a book about the "missing" children of Tito?
No. While inspired by the breakup of Yugoslavia, Tito’s Lost Children is a work of fiction. The main characters’ actions are set amid real historical events. They meet real historical figures including Milan Kučan, the first president of independent Slovenia. However, the main characters are not based on real people. Tito’s Lost Children is a ‘What if?’ alternative history where the main character discovers that she is Tito’s daughter and chosen successor, meant to have been raised and trained in secret. The problem is that she was discovered late and never trained. It is now up to her to stop the breakup of Yugoslavia and keep it from being turned into Greater Serbia.
The book is set during the 1990s – what drew you to that period, and what research did you do?
I was drawn to the idea that a story like this could have happened within our lifetimes, in ‘our’ world -- and if you live in Slovenia or the region, maybe just a few blocks down the street!
A lot of the research consisted of watching old footage of things like the Yugoslav Youth relay, and the Slovenian independence ceremony. I travelled to many of the locations in the novel. There are also a number of works that have greatly shaped Tito’s Lost Children (Book One) and the forthcoming books in the series. The highlights are below:
The Death of Yugoslavia by Laura Silber and Allan Little is basically my ‘bible.’ A well-thumbed copy sits next to my computer at all times while I’m writing. It is perhaps the seminal work written in English on the wars and provides a detailed overview.
Slovenia 1945: Memories of Death and Survival after World War Two by John Corsellis was indispensable to my understanding of the conflict between the partisans and the domobranci in Slovenia during WWII. I read it by chance while cat-sitting for a friend in Bled; I was glad I did. The plot of Tito’s Lost Children would not have been the same without it.
Related: An interview with John Corsellis
Logavina Street by Barbara Demick provides an enthralling and informative account of what it was like to live through the wars, specifically during the siege of Sarajevo. It has been helpful not only for that, but also for providing details about what it was like to live in the region at the time.
To End a War by Richard Holbrooke is a memoir penned by the man who negotiated the Dayton peace accords, bringing an end to the war in Bosnia. It provides an inside account of the negotiating process and has been helpful as a look into what some of the main political leaders in the region, such as presidents Tudjman, Izetbegović and Milošević, were like in person. My characters will encounter them in the coming two books.
Tito and the Rise and Fall of Yugoslavia by Richard West is by far the best historical overview about the origins of ethnic/religious tensions in the region.
Currently, I am reading The Hotel Tito by Ivana Bodrožić. It’s an autobiographical, first person novel about an internally displaced girl during the wars. It is great character research for one of my protagonists, who has a similar backstory; I’ll leave you guessing as to which one.
Did you do much traveling to the other parts of ex-Yugoslavia?
Yes, but most of it not specifically to research these books. I live in Ljubljana and have been travelling to the region of the former Yugoslavia for over ten years, so it’s more like my travels were the inspiration for the books. I got the explicit idea to write Tito’s Lost Children while on a family vacation in Montenegro and southern Croatia in the summer of 2017. The inspiration for it struck while I was standing on the dais behind Montenegrin King Njegoš’s tomb. I spent the rest of the trip creating the characters and envisioning them inhabiting places like Dubrovnik, the Sveti Stefan resort island and the cliffside Ostrog Monastery. Since then, I traveled back to Sarajevo and Pale in January specifically to do research for the books. I am planning a research trip back to Serbia later this month.
I should mention that the city of Ljubljana figures prominently in Book (War) One. It’s sometimes funny for me to walk around town now. I have associations with what my characters ‘did’ in some places. Cankarjevo Nabrežje? That’s where Hristijan was awestruck when arriving in Ljubljana for the first time. Shoemaker’s Bridge? That’s where Mojca was when the helicopter got shot down during the Ten-Day War. Prešeren Square? Well, I’d tell you, but then I’d have to give a major spoiler…
Aside from the places that mentioned above, many other locations in Ljubljana figure in the second half of the novel once the characters make it to Slovenia – which is a lot harder than it sounds, believe me! They include: the river walk in Trnovo, Congress and Republic squares, and Metelkova when it was still an Army barracks.
I was lucky enough to get a peek inside of the Slovenian Presidential palace when President Pahor opened it to the public on December 26th. It figures as a prominent location during the Ten-Day War.
Outside of Ljubljana, some of the plot is set during the conflict over the Holmec border crossing in the north of Slovenia. The summit of Mount Triglav provides the setting for the climax.
Andrew inside the Presidential Palace. Source: Andrew Anžur Clement
Your earlier works had magic and fantasy, are there any elements of those in Tito’s…?
Nope. No magic or fantasy. Just a lot of hard-core identity politicking among the Yugoslav peoples. Don’t worry, I make it entertaining, if I do say so myself.
This book is subtitled “A Tale of the Yugoslav Wars. War One: Slovenia” – how many books are planned for the series?
Three, one ‘war’ (book) for each of the main conflicts that occurred during the breakup of Yugoslavia in the early 1990s. I currently have a draft of ‘War’ Two, Croatia, which centres on the Sieges of Dubrovnik and Vukovar. I can’t wait to start writing ‘War’ three Bosnia, which centres on the Siege of Sarajevo and the Srebrenica massacre.
I should mention that I also have an idea for a sequel series to Tito’s Lost Children, set in the former Yugoslavia and Brussels during the mid- 2010s. The working title is Daughter of the Federation and it draws heavily on my PhD student days in the EU’s capital city during that time.
How much of the series do you have plotted out, and how much of an outline typically makes it to the final book?
In a general sense the series is plotted out all the way through to the end. In other words, I know how the characters will develop and what happens to them. I tend to deal with their specific internal monologue and how exactly they react to certain events on the fly. As a general rule, I usually know I’m ready to begin writing a new series when I have enough plotted out to know the first and last sentences.
Usually, I whack out 30% of a complete first draft. There are sometimes things in earlier drafts that were only in there because I first had to explain what happened to myself before I can ‘show’ it to the reader. This is just part of the process.
Do you envision a Slovenian edition of the book?
I currently sell the book on mainly Amazon and am focused on the English-speaking market. I wrote these books with the assumption that many people picking it up in the English speaking world might not have extensive knowledge of the region or its history. So, if I’ve done my job, someone should be able to read it without first knowing, say, the difference between a Slovene and a Serb, enjoy the adventure story, and maybe learn a thing or two.
That said, I don’t think that means the book is unenjoyable to Slovene audiences; since the book launched, I’ve been surprised by the amount of interest coming from Slovenes. Someone even messaged Marjan Šarec and Miro Cerar about the book on Twitter! Maybe having a Slovene translation of it would make sense.
Do you think self-publishing like this is a viable way for authors in Slovenia, who are a long way from traditional publishing centres, to produce, market and sell their work?
If we’re talking about self-publishing on an online platform like Amazon, I would say it’s the best way out there if we’re talking about the international market. It bypasses the London and New York-based agents and publishers and gets your ideas out there right away.
If we’re talking about sales in Slovenia, where ebooks aren’t so popular, I have heard that self-publishing print books with what in the US would be called a ‘vanity press’ and then selling them through online advertising is much more viable because of the smaller size of the market.
Anything else you’d like to add?
As an indie author I live and die by reviews; while I’ve sold plenty of books hardly anyone seems to leave them. Tito’s Lost Children: War One is available for less than the cost of a couple of rides on the Ljubljana bus system. I’d appreciate it if readers could get in touch by leaving a review on Amazon, even if it’s just a sentence or two to let me know their thoughts.
STA, 6 May 2019 - A series of regional military exercises are getting under way in Slovenia on Monday involving the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) and troops from 25 NATO and partner countries. The goal is to make them better prepared to provide security and preserve peace in the region.
Running until 22 June, the exercises will get under way with the tactical exercise dubbed Immediate Response, held under the leadership of United States Army Europe and Slovenian and Croatian armed forces. This will feature close to 3,000 troops from Slovenia, Montenegro, Croatia, Italy, Germany, North Macedonia and Poland.
Slovenia will also host Adriatic Strike, Astral Knight and Immediate Response exercise, designed to build more effective and responsive forces to provide security and maintain peace.
The exercises will also provide an opportunity to build personal, professional, technical and tactical links, the SAF said in a press release.
During the exercises, increased traffic of military vehicles, aircraft and vessels is expected en route to and in the vicinity of the Cerklje ob Krki airbase, the airstrips in Divača and Rakičan, at the SAF's main training grounds in Poček near Postojna, and in and around the Maribor and Ankaran army barracks.
Military convoys will move to the locations mostly by motorways, from border crossings with Italy, Austria, Hungary and Croatia, in a way to cause the least possible disruption to traffic, the SAF said.
All our stories on Slovenia and NATO are here
STA, 6 May 2019 - The newspaper Delo noted in Monday's editorial that it is commendable that Slovenia is the third most popular destination for workers from the Balkans, but also warns against overpopulating the country with foreigners, wondering "whether Slovenia should leave the door fully open for all".
Young people are leaving Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia and Kosovo as they are demoralised, they do not see any future at home, the paper says under the headline Our Own Ground Under Our Feet.
People are also leaving Croatia en masse, although the country is doing much better than its neighbours. What contributes to this is also the overall globalisation, with young people emigrating all over the world.
Slovenia is the third most popular destination for people from the Balkans for life and work, after Switzerland and Germany, which is actually commendable for the country. It means that life is good in Slovenia, the paper notes.
If Slovenia needs foreign labour force, citizens of the former Yugoslav republics are certainly the most favourable immigrants. Slovenians have many things in common with them, but there are also differences, because of which the former state disintegrated in the first place.
Delo says that the current increase in immigration should be analysed. "If it continues, in ten years a quarter of Slovenia's population will be foreigners," it says, adding that mechanisms for the integration of every foreigner individually should be established.
STA, 6 May 2019 - A team that also featured five Slovenian researches has published a ground-breaking cell differentiation paper that can potentially help revolutionise personalised regenerative medicine, Slovenia's Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS) has reported.
Contributing to the paper, published in the journal Molecular Cell, were London-based researchers Miha Modic and Jernej Ule, Gregor Rot of the University of Zurich, Tjaša Lepko from the Helmholtz Centre in Munich and Boris Roglej of IJS.
The researchers described the regulatory network explaining the starting events leading to an effective differentiation of stem cells and the development of an embryo. The findings are considered groundbreaking for the understanding of cell differentiation processes.
The researches were examining the molecular mechanism of the differentiation of pluripotent cells, which differ from adult stem cells in that they are capable of differentiation into any cell of the human body.
Induced pluripotent cells can then reprogramme any cell of a person's body into induced stem cells. These can in turn be differentiated into all cell types, for instance also the patient's own beta cells that produce insulin, meaning they have the potential to revolutionise personalised regenerative medicine.
A complex series of studies allowed the researchers to discover in what way paraspeckles, irregularly shaped compartments of the cell that do not exist in the nuclei of pluripotent cells, are formed during the differentiation of stem cells and what role is played by RNA (Ribonucleic acid)-networks and RNA-binding proteins.
According to IJS, paraspeckles are the new "rising stars" in the field of cellular biology that can potentially help explain a number of conditions in the human body but are poorly researched.
Along with the utility for regenerative drugs, the understanding of these regulatory networks could also shed new light on various conditions, including cancer and neurodegenerative diseases.
The paper, titled Cross-Regulation between TDP-43 and Paraspeckles Promotes Pluripotency-Differentiation Transition, can be read here (PDF).
STA, 6 May 2019 - Slovenian Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec and Massimiliano Fedriga, president of the Italian region Friuli Venezia-Giulia, urged cooperation in efforts to jointly protect the Rebula wine from the cross-border area, as they met in Slovenia's Brda on Monday.
The proposal for the protected designation of origin under the name Rebula Brda - Collio implies establishing an 800-hectare wine-growing area covering Slovenia's Brda as well as Italy's areas of Collio and Colli Orientali, according to the minister.
"Our proposal, which is based on the meetings with Rebula growers, envisages two possible scenarios," Pivec told the press after meeting Fedriga.
The first one is a cross-border designation "Rebula-Ribolla Gialla Brda - Collio", which implies a procedure in line with EU market rules and which would result in a uniform area of Rebula wine and vine production.
The other scenario is registering a collective trademark, which implies registration with the European Union Intellectual Property Office, said Pivec.
She stressed it was possible to pursue one of the two options or both at the same time.
Pivec also announced that by June, a cross-border task force would be set up featuring representatives of Rebula wine growers and politicians.
Pivec also visited Brda in January to discuss with local farmers their efforts to protect Rebula together with Rebula growers on the Italian side of Brda.
The Slovenian winegrowers had launched a debate with their colleagues from the Italian side of Brda to protect Rebula a few years ago.
The reason was Italian farmers also growing this vine in the Padua Valley, where it is easier to grow and where it produces a different taste.
Pivec and Fedriga also discussed today the drafting of documents to have the exceptional terraced landscape rich in historical, cultural and natural heritage placed on UNESCO's world heritage list. It is their view that all procedures should be finalised as soon as possible.
STA, 6 May 2019 - A soldiers' trade union has urged MPs to file an ouster motion against Defence Minister Karl Erjavec for his recent dismissal of the army's force commander and his unacceptable attitude to the army. PM Marjan Šarec, on the other hand, expects Erjavec to produce a report on related abuse of the military intelligence service.
In late April, the parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission found Erjavec had abused the Defence Ministry's Intelligence and Security Service (OVS) to spy on Brigadier General Miha Škerbinc, the force commander, before sacking him.
Erjavec had asked the OVS to spy on the officer after hearing rumours he had spoken ill of the health of the chief of the general staff, Maj Gen Alenka Ermenc.
The OVS then on 3 April talked to 25 troops only to find out Škerbinc had not gossiped about Ermenc, but the commission said the OVS had no legal basis to do so.
The prime minister's office told the STA on Monday Šarec expected Erjavec to produce a report on the commission's findings and Škerbinc's 5 April replacement.
Commenting for the STA, Erjavec said he would send a report to Šarec and President Borut Pahor as the supreme commander of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) tomorrow or on Wednesday.
He reiterated Škerbinc's dismissal was lawful and the right decision, saying he had dismissed him upon Ermenc's proposal after the brigadier general had lost her trust.
Erjavec added the late-night shooting at the Poček training area which upset the Postojna local community in late March and the alleged gossiping had probably been among the reasons for the dismissal.
He is also convinced he did the right thing to ask the OVS to interview the soldiers about the alleged gossiping about the chief of the general staff's health.
A similar view was expressed by Marjan Miklavčič, a former OVS director, who believes Erjavec did not abuse his powers in the OVS case.
He told private broadcaster POP TV that slandering Ermenc as the chief of the general staff was not innocent gossiping but should be seen as slandering an institution within the SAF.
Erjavec was today again accused of having unlawfully dismissed Škerbinc by the soldiers' trade union, which said in a press release Erjavec had lost their trust.
The union also urged the chair of the parliamentary Defence Committee to call an emergency session to take a stance on Erjavec's "unacceptable conduct".
It would like the committee to engage in a serious debate on the situation in the SAF to avert the negative staffing trends.
Although the union has been pointing to the unbearable conditions in the SAF for several years, there has been no change for the better, it said.
When more funds for the SAF are approved, politics always first thinks about new military equipment, whereas the union believes "it is high time for SAF troops to be put first, alongside a systemic solution to the situation and relationships in the defence system".
Even if Erjavec had identified understaffing as the SAF's most serious problem when he presented his ministerial bid in parliament, "this acute situation has severely deteriorated since he was appointed", the union added.
It labelled Erjavec's actions and attitude detrimental to Slovenia, adding that not even the Slovenian president had responded adequately to the union's warnings.
The union thus expects the committee to condemn Erjavec's conduct and adopt the resolutions it has proposed to improve the government's approach to the defence system.
Meanwhile, Erjavec, who believes he enjoys the trust of Šarec and the coalition, expressed surprise at the union's appeal, saying it went beyond its powers.
All our stories about the military in Slovenia are here
A schedule of all the main events involving Slovenia this week can be found here
This summary is provided by the STA:
Erjavec under fire over force commender dismissal
LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Karl Erjavec is facing a barrage of criticism following the allegation that he abused the army intelligence service (OVS) to dismiss Brigadier General Miha Škerbinc as the army's force commander. PM Marjan Šarec demanded a report from him to clear up the allegation, made last month by the parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission. Erjavec announced he would send the report to Šarec and President Borut Pahor as the supreme commander tomorrow or on Wednesday. Meanwhile, the Trade Union of Soldiers urged MPs to file an ouster motion against Erjavec over Škerbinc's dismissal and his attitude to the army.
Pivec meet Italian official to discuss Rebula cross-border protection
BRDA - Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec and Massimiliano Fedriga, president of the Italian region Friuli Venezia-Giulia, urged cooperation in efforts to jointly protect the Rebula wine grown in the cross-border area, as they met in the hilly Brda. The proposal for the protected designation of origin implies establishing an 800-hectare wine-growing area covering Slovenia's Brda plus Italy's wine-growing areas Collio and Colli Orientali. Pivec announced a cross-border task force would be set up by June featuring representatives of Rebula wine growers and politicians.
Equal opportunities ombudsman presents 2018 report
LJUBLJANA - Equal Opportunities Ombudsman Miha Lobnik presented his annual report to Speaker Dejan Židan, saying the anti-discrimination office had processed five cases of possible discrimination in 2018 but confirmed prejudicial treatment in only one case. However, he said the report's results did not reflect the actual situation, noting discrimination was more prevalent, but people were not inclined to report it for various reasons. Židan urged Lobnik to put forward a proposal to adopt legislation enabling his office to more efficiently help individuals encountering unjust treatment.
Some 140 migrants apprehended at the weekend
LJUBLJANA/KOPER/NOVO MESTO - The Novo Mesto, Koper and Ljubljana police departments registered more than 140 instances of migrants crossing the border illegally at the weekend. Two foreigners were hiding in the chassis of a train engine and a Pakistani citizen wanted to smuggle ten migrants into Slovenia in his car. The biggest number of illegal migrants, 64, were processed by the Koper Police Department since Friday. So far, 15 have applied for international protection, but most are to be returned to Croatia.
Slovenia hosting regional military exercises
CERKLJE OB KRKI/POSTOJNA - A series of regional military exercises got under way in Slovenia, involving the Slovenian Armed Forces and troops from 25 allied and partner countries. The goal is to make them better prepared to provide security and preserve peace in the region. Running until 22 June, the exercises started with the tactical exercise dubbed Immediate Response, held under the leadership of US Army Europe and Slovenian and Croatian armed forces. It features almost 3,000 troops.
MEP Vajgl to receive second highest decoration of Catalonia
LJUBLJANA - The government of Catalonia will decorate Slovenian MEP Ivo Vajgl (ALDE/DeSUS), the head of the EU-Catalonia Dialogue Platform group of MEPs, with St George's Cross, the second highest civil distinction awarded in Catalonia. The MEP's office has recently announced that Vajgl would receive Creu de Sant Jordi for his contribution in Catalonia's independence efforts, adding that the MEP had expressed his sincere gratitude for the acknowledgement.
Ex-ombudsman named advisor to President Pahor
LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor named Vlasta Nussdorfer, the former human rights ombudsman, his advisor for human rights, charitable activities and social policies. As a non-paid official Nussdorfer is joining Pahor's other three advisers France Arhar, the first governor of Slovenia's central bank, Ernest Petrič, the former Constitutional Court president, and Boštjan Žekš, the former president of the Slovenian Academy of Science and Arts. They all perform their services for free.
Slovenian-born foreman of Watergate grand jury dies
WASHINGTON, US - The Slovenian-born foreman of Watergate grand jury, Vladimir Pregelj, died on Saturday, a day before turning 92. The long-serving Library of Congress researcher helped Slovenia immensely during independence efforts in the late 1980s. Foreign Minister Miro Cerar expressed his condolences to Pregelj's family, describing Pregelj as an "intellectual and a great Slovenian who helped Slovenian diplomats to open Congressmen's doors". He is expected to be buried at Žale cemetery in Ljubljana.
Fuel prices to rise to autumn 2018 levels
LJUBLJANA - The administrated prices of regular petrol and diesel will increase at midnight. Regular will be 0.6 cents more expensive at EUR 1,355 a litre, a record high since last October, while the price of diesel will go up by 1.3 cents to EUR 1,292, the highest since November, according to the Economy Ministry.
Slovenian researchers publish major paper on cell differentiation
LJUBLJANA - A team that also featured five Slovenian researches has published a groundbreaking cell differentiation paper that can potentially help revolutionise personalised regenerative medicine. Contributing to the paper, published in the Molecular Cell magazine, were London-based researchers Miha Modic and Jernej Ule, Gregor Rot of the University of Zurich, Tjaša Lepko from the Helmholtz Centre in Munich and Boris Roglej of the Jožef Stefan Institute. The researchers described the regulatory network explaining the starting events leading to an effective differentiation of stem cells and the development of an embryo.
Drama festival to showcase contemporary European theatre
LJUBLJANA - The 6th Drama festival will get under way at the SNG Drama Ljubljana theatre on 25 May, featuring some of the best contemporary European plays until 31 May. Seven productions, including those by Croatian, Serbian, Montenegrin and Czech theatres, will be in the running for the audience's award for best production, named after the late actor Jernej Šugman. The festival will open with Michelangelo, based on the play by Croatian author Miroslav Krleža and directed by Slovenian Sebastijan Horvat.
STA, 6 May 2019 - The newspaper Finance writes about the booming property market in Slovenia's capital in Monday's editorial, finding that nothing can hurt the demand or growing property prices.
Under the headline “Ljubljana Realtors in a Hurry”, the paper quotes real estate agents, property developers and individuals selling flats, all of whom report brisk trading.
One of them says that many new apartments will hit the market next year, which could bring down the prices.
"The prices of those flats are mostly not known yet. The price list of one of the projects, aiming for average purchasing power buyers, indicates that a rationally designed apartment will cost between EUR 3,100 and 3,500 per square metre, including the appertaining parking lots and pantry space (...)”
"High-end apartments in best locations will come at much over five grand. The sale of such apartments is not questionable today. At the moment it appears that by the end of the year, the average home price per square metre will exceed last year's average of EUR 2,770.
"The demand, transactions and price growth cannot be hurt either by projections of an economic downturn or by the increased supply that will hit the market next year," writes the paper.
STA, 6 May 2019 - The Novo Mesto, Koper and Ljubljana police have recorded more than 140 illegal crossings of the border the past weekend. Two foreigners were hiding in the chassis of a train engine and a Pakistani citizen wanted to smuggle ten persons into Slovenia in his car.
In the Novo Mesto area, 27 foreigners were apprehended illegally crossing the border with Croatia in the south-east. Police proceedings against the 16 Algerians, five Syrians, and the citizens of Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Egypt, Tunisia and Libya are still under way.
Another two foreigners were discovered at the Dobova border crossing during a border check of a train transporting grain from Serbia.
A Moroccan and a Libyan were hiding in the chassis of the engine. The pair have already been handed over to Croatian authorities.
The Ljubljana police have registered 48 migrants in the last 72 hours. The citizens of Turkey, Syria, Egypt, Eritrea, Sudan, Morocco, Afghanistan, Algeria and Iran were apprehended in the area of Kočevje, Ribnica and Ljubljana.
The Koper police department processed 64 people for illegally crossing the border from Friday until this morning, of whom 30 were from Pakistan, 11 from Algeria, 10 from Turkey, four from Albania and two each from Afghanistan, Iraq, Tunisia and Slovenia, and one from Kosovo.
So far, 15 persons have applied for international protection, eight have been returned to Croatian authorities, and 37 are yet to be returned to Croatia.
Three persons have been released after it was determined that they reside in the EU and one was transported to the Centre for Foreigners.
Two Italians and two Pakistanis, residents of Italy and Slovenia, respectively, are being processed for illegally crossing the border.
On Friday evening, a 40-year-old Pakistani citizen residing in Slovenia was caught transporting 10 persons in a car with Slovenian licence plates. All passengers have applied for asylum, while the driver was remanded in custody.
This morning a van was pulled over in the village of Podgorje near Koper in which an Italian driver and a Pakistani guide were smuggling 16 Pakistanis
STA, 6 May 2019 - The Slovenian-born foreman of Watergate grand jury, Vladimir Pregelj, died on Saturday, a day before turning 92. The long-serving Library of Congress researcher helped Slovenia immensely during independence efforts.
Pregelj was born in Murska Sobota in 1927 and later moved to Ljubljana. After the Second World War, he came to the US as a refugee in 1945.
After graduating from Saint Joseph's College in Indiana, he served in the US army and then obtained US citizenship. He got a master's degree from the Fordham University in New York.
In 1957, he got a job at the Library of Congress as a specialist for international trade.
As the foreman of Watergate grand jury No. 1, he wrote a letter to US President Richard Nixon on 30 January 1974, summoning him to testify in person before his fellow citizens.
The hearing did not take place, because Nixon resigned in August 1974 after it became clear that the Congress would impeach him.
During Slovenia's independence efforts in the late 1980s, Pregelj helped Slovenian politicians and diplomats get in touch with US congressmen and other influential people in Washington.
Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar has already expressed his condolences to Pregelj's family. In a tweet on Sunday, he said that Pregelj was an "intellectual and a great Slovenian who helped open congressmen's doors to Slovenian diplomats."
He noted he had met him this February at a Culture Day reception in Washington.
The memorial service is expected to be held at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, the largest Catholic church in the United States and in North America.
Pregelj's ashes are later to be buried at the Ljubljana Žale cemetery. But the decision on this will be made by his 72-year-old wife Lea Plut Pregelj.
The Washington Post interviewed Pregelj in mid-April as the foreman of Watergate grand jury. While he was tight-lipped about President Donald Trump, he did say that the information on Russia's interfering with the 2016 US election gathered by special counsel Robert S. Mueller should be made public.
Pregelj told the paper he had been disappointed that justice did not run its course with Nixon, because there had been enough cause for indicting him.
Pregelj's wife said her husband had always been very secretive about his work on the Nixon case and that he only talked about his time on the Watergate panel four years after their wedding in 1980.
Azer News has the view from Azerbaijan on closer links with Slovenia, in a story called “Slovenia offers its Koper port to Azerbaijani companies.”
e-flux previewed the 33rd Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts, which opens 7 June, in a story simply titled “The International Centre of Graphic Arts (MGLC)”, the name of hte venue where the show will take place.
Eurovision is coming, and with it increased interest in Slovenia’s entry, Zala Kralj & Gašper Šantl. The duo were in Tel Aviv rehearsing, as reported, with videos, in ESC Today's "It’s Slovenia’s turn for rehearsal".
Food & Drink
Fortune looks at wine from “Eastern Europe”, with Slovenia featured alongside Georgia and Hungary, in “These Eastern European Countries Are Home to Some of the Most Dynamic Winemakers Right Now”.
Violeta Tomic, the European Left candidate for European Commission President, gave an interview to Euro News: “’With neo-liberal capitalism you cannot change climate goals,' says EU top job hopeful Tomic”. In a second article, the same organisation has another interview with Tomic, including a video, with the title "EU is 'built on anti-fascism' not Christian values, says EU top job hopeful Violeta Tomic"
The UK's Guardian took a trip to Bohinj for mountains, flowers and Ana Roš, in "Meadow larks: orchids and alpine views in Slovenia".
National Geographic continued its recent series on the country with “Here is Europe's most sustainable country in 20 pictures”
Outlook India visits Bled and Ljubljana in “Live Out Your Childhood Dreams In Slovenia”
The new Julian Alps Hiking Trail got covered on Travel + Leisure, in “This Gorgeous New 186-mile Trail Takes Hikers Through the Best of the Alps”