Ljubljana related

19 Aug 2019, 15:07 PM

August 19, 2019

In 1934 a balloon with two Belgian stratospheric pilots, professor Max Cosyns and his assistant Nere van Elst landed in the little Slovenian village of Želivlje. 

The pilots took off at 6:00am from Hour-Havenne airport in Belgium and reached the altitude of 16,000 metres several hours later. On their descent strong winds carried them across Austria until after a 14-hour flight they finally landed in Ženavlje. Their flight was reported live to various radio stations and media outlets across Europe and the USA from the radio connection in the balloon’s gondola. 

Some of the older citizens of the remote region of Goričko had seen a balloon 40 years before, so they knew what it was and helped with the landing. The event became quite a sensation, with about 6,000 people were attracted to the site, among them many reporters.

For a few days the Mura river region became the centre of international media attention and the domestic and foreign press for the first time described an area that had until then been ignored. A journalist from Ljubljana wrote for Jutro newspaper: “This is not Siberia, it is a land of kind local people, whom the pilots will remember for a long time to come.”

After some rest, Cosyns and van Elst headed towards Ljubljana, and from Ljubljana they took a plane to Zagreb, where they received king Alexander’s medal of honour, the newest map of the Slovenian lands and Doctor Slavič’s 1919 book Prekmurje

August 18 became an important day in the history of Goričko, and in 1997 a memorial with a bronze statue, the work of Mirko Bratuša, has been placed in the spot of the balloon’s landing.

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17 Aug 2019, 07:00 AM

STA, 14 August 2019 - Slovenia is observing 100 years since its northeastern-most region of Prekmurje was united with the rest of the nation after World War I and the collapse of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Located east of the river Mura, Prekmurje was the only territory the Slovenian nation gained at the 1919 Paris Peace Conference.

For nearly a thousand years, Prekmurje was a part of the Kingdom of Hungary, while the remaining Slovenian lands were under Austrian rule.

When the Hapsburg family, the rulers of Austria, took over Hungary in the 16th century, Prekmurje still remained under the Hungarian part of the monarchy, separate from the rest of what is now Slovenia, the Mura etching out a sharp border between the lands up until after World War I.

The peace conference that followed World War I decided that Prekmurje become a part of the then Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes on 17 August 1919.

Five days before the date, the royal military occupied the region, handing over the region to the kingdom's civil authorities on the date agreed at the peace talks.

The border between Hungary and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was drawn along a demarcation line proposed by Douglas W. Johnson, a cartographer teaching at Columbia University who was a member of the US delegation at the Paris Peace Conference.

He proposed that the border line run north of the Mura, based on statistics provided by Matija Slavič, a member of the Yugoslavian delegation at the conference.

The break-away of Prekmurje from Hungary would not have been possible without a strong national awareness of the people of Prekmurje and the region's well-nourished dialect, according to linguist Klaudija Sedlar, specialising in the region's cultural and historic heritage.

This national fight was also fought along religious lines, with Catholic priests playing a key role against aggressive assimilation launched by Hungary with the help of the Protestant Church in an attempt to preserve its western-most region.

Among other things, catholic priests from the region of Prlekija, just across the Mura, smuggled Slovenian books in barrels across the river in the 19th century, getting some 20,000 books to people living in very modest conditions but nurturing an impressive reading culture.

The Trianon Peace Treaty, which saw Hungary lose two thirds of its territory, also left a part of the Slovenian population in Hungary. A century later, the community living along the Raba river is in no mood to celebrate.

Although recognised as a national minority by Hungary, the community was cut off from its nation and forgotten by Hungary, Andrea Kovacs, the president of the Association of Slovenians in Hungary, has told the STA.

Overnight, the community found itself in a completely different situation, losing writers, teachers, priests, professors and clerks, as Hungarian clerks, teachers and other state staff were sent to the villages along the Raba, launching assimilation that continues today, she said.

"Although they were left to their own devices, our forefathers were very stubborn and this stubbornness helped that we still live in Monošter [Szentgotthard] and seven surrounding villages today," she said.

On the other hand, there was also a Hungarian community left on the Slovenian side of the border, which has consistently refused to celebrate Prekmurje Reunification Day.

This year, however, the minority's MP Ferenc Horvath has accepted the invitation of Slovenia's Prime Minister Marjan Šarec to be a part of a special state committee that prepared the celebrations for the centenary.

He also spoke openly about the sensitive aspects of the anniversary, underlining at the same time that Prekmurje must remain as diverse as it is today at least for the next 100 years.

Recognising that this is a sensitive issue for the Hungarian minority, those preparing the many celebrations have repeatedly said that the celebrations are not designed in opposition to anybody.

Just like a century ago, the biggest events will all take place in Beltinci, a small town south of the region's biggest city, Murska Sobota.

On 17 August 1919, after Sunday mass, the square outside the Beltinci church became the venue of a massive rally that saw more than 20,000 people celebrate the region's unification with the Slovenian nation.

The main event will be the state ceremony on Saturday, which is to be addressed by the prime minister. President Borut Pahor is to address a ceremony organised by the Municipality of Beltinci the night before, as the community has made the reunification also its municipal holiday.

Moreover, the Archbishop of Ljubljana Stanislav Zore will offer mass in Beltinci on Saturday. The mass will likely be the most multicultural event of all, featuring representatives of the Protestant Church and the Hungarian Catholic Church, among others.

On Monday, a new square named after the region will be inaugurated in Ljubljana, while the central bank has issued collectable coins marking the centenary last week.

More than 77,000 people live in Prekmurje on a surface area of nearly 950 square kilometres of what is mainly flat agricultural land dotted with villages.

However, the region's population seems to be shrinking. While the entire country has seen a decrease in the number of newborns, elsewhere the negative population trend has been kept at bay by people moving to Slovenia.

However, Prekmurje, often considered one of the least developed parts of the country, does not make for an attractive destination for many. Statistics show that just over 280 people moved to the region in 2017, while nearly 19,000 people moved to Slovenia that year.

Thus, before the holiday, its native MP Jožef Horvat, proposed to Šarec that a strategic development partnership be set up to create an attractive business environment in which the young would like to work and set up businesses.

29 Jul 2019, 11:40 AM

Spend some time on YouTube and you can find countless of hours of people on vacation in Slovenia, their trips covered from all angles, with more than enough material for future historians to go over and get an idea of what life was like here for the casual visitor in the second decade of the 21st century.

But go back to a time before smartphones and GoPros and the record is much sparser, and thus three short films shown before are more valuable than they seem. The first shows Ljubljana in 1952, with a focus on the intersection of Slovenska and Čopova, between Nama, the Hotel Slon and the Post office. The second the entrance to Postojan cave in 1967, and the third Lake Bled in 1973.

26 Jul 2019, 13:59 PM

STA, 23 July 2019 - This year's traditional memorial ceremony at the Russian Chapel (Ruska kapela) under the Vršič Pass, which honours Russian POWs killed during WWI, will be focused on the post-war period. It is expected to be attended by several thousand people, including high-profile guests from Russia, the organisers have announced.

Taking place on Saturday, the ceremony marking the 103rd anniversary of the construction of the Russian Orthodox chapel will see the keynote address by parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan as the honorary sponsor of the event.

Addressing the ceremony in front of the chapel built by Russian POWs engaged in forced labour in the area during WWI will also be Ljubljana University Chancellor Igor Papič, as this year's event is connected with the 100th anniversary of the university.

It was Russian immigrants who helped establish the university one hundred years ago, the organisers noted at a press conference in Ljubljana on Tuesday.

The ceremony will be attended by official delegations of the Russian government and the Russian Orthodox Church, the former headed by Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media Konstantin Noskov.

The memorial mass will meanwhile be celebrated by Bishop Siluan, the rector of the Saint Petersburg Theological Academy.

The organisers announced that the road between Kranjska Gora and the chapel under the highest pass in Slovenia will be closed, with free bus rides organised for visitors.

After the ceremony, which will start at 10am, a traditional meeting of members of the Slovenia-Russia Association will be held in Kranjska Gora, and several other events will be held, including in Ljubljana.

On Friday, a concert of the Russian jazz band Vadim Eilenkrig Quartet will be held in Ljubljana's Congress Square, while the mixed choir of the Saint Petersburg Theological Academy will perform in the Franciscan Church of the Annunciation on Sunday.

Urban Ocvirk of the Slovenia-Russia Association said that they wanted to give this year's ceremony a positive note and focus on the post-war period.

"The emphasis is on putting all the accumulated hatred, suffering and conflicts aside and transforming it into remembrance, reverence, into a possibility of creating something new in the dialogue between cultures, nations, people."

According to Ocvirk, the post-war period was ground-breaking time for people who needed to again find humaneness in themselves, which is why the ceremony should not only mark the tragedy of Russian soldiers.

"In more than 100 years, the chapel has developed into a legend, being transformed from a symbol of war and victims of injustices into a symbol of peace and the friendly relations between the Russian and Slovenian nations," added the association's president Ivan Geržina.

Russian Ambassador Doku Zavgayev said at the conference that the Slovenian-Russian relations had been progressing in various fields.

Zavgayev noted that Russia had recently donated to Slovenia a monument honouring Slovenian translator Davorin Hostnik, who compiled the first Russian-Slovenian dictionary. It was unveiled in his native Šmarje pri Jelšah at the end of May.

27 Jun 2019, 12:30 PM

June 27, 2019

On June 27, 1991, at 01:15, the Anti-Aircraft Regiment based in Karlovac, Croatia, crossed the Slovenian border and at 02:40 a column of tanks left the barracks in Vrhnika, heading for the airport at Brnik. At 14:30 the first shot was fired by an officer of the Yugoslav Army in Divača, beginning the ten-day military conflict between Slovenian Territorial Defence (Territorialna Obramba) and the Yugoslav People's Army (Jugoslovanska ljudska armada), which followed Slovenia’s declaration of independence on June 25. The conflict is hence also known as the Ten-Day War, or the Slovenian Independence War (Slovenska osamosvojitvena vojna).

A significant number of the YPA soldiers consisted of mandatory servicemen from all parts of Yugoslavia, while Slovenian sovereign troops consisted of the local police and Territorial Defence (TD), which was established in 1968 as the federation’s response to Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia: in case of the YPA’s defeat and eventual invasion, the TD would continue resistance against the occupying Soviet forces.  

Ironically, the TD eventually clashed with the YPA in the Slovenian fight for independence.

After Tito's death in 1980, the YPA became an important decision-maker at the centre of political power in Belgrade, while the country started to crumble under both increasing economic pressure and the various competing nationalisms.

Of course, the Slovenian TD was no match for the Yugoslav army, who eventually abandoned its pan-Yugoslavism in favour of a Serbian nationalism that saw little benefit in carrying out a total bombardment of a place outside the planned borders of Greater Serbia. Nevertheless, the army did seem surprised by the scope of popular resistance in the first several days of the conflict.

On 26 of December, 1990 a plebiscite was held in Slovenia, where 88.5% of all voters (94.8% of those participating), expressed their preference for Slovenia to become an independent sovereign state.

On June 25, 1991 Slovenia’s independence was declared and Yugoslavian signs and flags were removed at the border crossings and replaced with Slovenian ones.

Change of flags at the Republic Square, Ljubljana, June 25, 1991:

The federal executive council met the same night in Belgrade, adopting a decision about the “protection of the federal borders in Slovenia”, which granted a legal support for the military intervention in the republic. The operation’s first goal was to gain control over the border crossings and Brnik international airport (near Ljubljana).

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For a larger resolution of the map, click here
 
 

On its way to their final destinations, the Yugoslav Army encountered unarmed barricades and spontaneous, sometimes very determined reaction of the civilians.

Documentation of the events that took place at the border crossing in Gornja Radgona (the eastern border crossing with Austria):

 

The events that took place by Trzin, where tanks headed from Vrhnika to Brnik airport were stopped:

Rožna dolina border crossing (the border with Italy, Nova Gorica):

The ten-day war ended on 7 July, 1991, when Brioni Accords were signed. Altogether 76 people lost their lives, among them 12 foreign citizens, and 326 people were wounded. The last YPA soldiers left Slovenia on 25 of October 1991.

25 Jun 2019, 12:27 PM

June 25, 2019

In 1478 marauding Turkish akinji cavalry destroyed Slovenia’s first independent peasant territory, which was established after the first Slovenian peasant revolt in Carinthia several months earlier.

The revolting peasants of Carinthia managed to gain control over their farming territories for several months earlier that year, meaning they stopped paying duties to the landowning nobility of the Holy Roman Empire and transferred some of these taxes to their peasant association instead. During the revolt, the influential Simetinger farming family was chosen as its leadership, peasants established their own courts and claimed control over the church through public election of the priests.

The so-called simetingers also gained the full support of the miners and countryside artisans. Citizens of Beljak (GER: Villach) and glassworkers of Hüettenberg helped them buy military equipment.

On June 1st the Holy Roman Imperial army began preparations to subdue the rebelling peasants, however their counterattack was overtaken by the invasion of Turkish plundering cavalry on June 25, 1478.

The northward expansion of the Ottoman Empire started with the 1371 takeover of Macedonia, continued with the defeat of the Serbian army in Kosovo Polje in 1389, then with conquering Bulgaria in 1396, and following the fall of Constantinople in 1453 Turkish troops advanced northweast, reaching the borders of the Holy Roman Empire in 1469.

The nobility and clergy locked themselves into their castles while the Turks looted and killed across Carinthia. Turkish raids were conducted by akinji, irregular and unpaid Turkish troops whose main goal was partially gathering information but mostly to demoralize the locals by pillage and destruction. Because these raids became quite common, people started to build fortresses known as tabor. A tabor was usually a church built at the top of a steep hill surrounded by a wall. Some of these simple fortresses were later transformed into castles (such as Pobrežje by Kolpa). People also organised guards on the hillsides, who lit bonfires when Turks were approaching, thereby spreading word of the danger.

However, the rebel peasant army of about 500 people didn’t stand a chance against some 20,000 akinji troops in 1478. After slaying the rebelling peasants, the Turks proceeded to loot across Upper Carinthia. After the withdrawal of the Turkish troops the authorities under the Holy Roman Empire put the remainder of the  peasant rebel on trial and sentenced them to death for treason.

22 May 2019, 20:00 PM

May 22, 2019

With the European parliamentary elections approaching it is perhaps appropriate to look back in time at the polity that used to rule these lands in the late Middle Ages, when “nations” didn’t exist, and the rising Ottoman Empire was the main external threat to the ruling families of the Holy Roman Empire.

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The ruins of the Old Castle in Celje   Photo: Mihael Simonič, Wikipedia, CC-BY-3.0
 

One of the most successful feudal families that emerged in the present-day Slovenia and seriously challenged the dominance of the Habsburgs were Counts of Celje (GER: Grafen von Cilli), who were elevated to the rank of Princes in 1436, following a successful series of military campaigns and the marriage policies of Hermann II.

Hermann II, who is mostly known to Slovenian historic memory as the person who killed his daughter-in-law Veronica of Desenice, managed to establish a relationship of trust with King and later Emperor Sigismund of Luxemburg, expand his family’s territories from Styria deep into the Balkan and set the stage for his grandchild Ulric II to attempt to take the Hungarian throne. With Ulric’s death, however, the male line of the Counts of Celje was extinct and their estates went to the House of Hapsburgs, who were in a mutual inheritance contract with the House of Celje.

Hermann II and his political ambitions

In 1388 Hermann II arranged the marriage of his first born son Frederick III with Elisabeth of the Frankopans, both babies at the time. Hermann’s goal was to establish a principality – a political entity subservient directly and only to the King. The marriage with the Frankopans, a Croat noble family,  would help ease resistance in Slavonia that started to build up against the House of Celje due to its expansion into the Balkans. He also managed to secure a generous dowry that Elisabeth brought into the family, which included several estates in Kvarner on the Adriatic coast.

While the engaged were growing up, each with their own families, Hermann II made a smart move by joining King Sigismund of Luxemburg in his 1396 Crusade of Nicopolis, which was to save Constantinople and Byzantine Empire from the Ottoman Turks. During the campaign he saved Sigismund’s life and the King promised him to marry his daughter Barbara in return. Through this marriage, Barbara, once old enough, became the Empress of the Holy Roman Empire after Sigismund was elected Emperor in 1433.

Frederick II of Celje and Veronika of Desenice

The plans Hermann II had for oldest son, Frederick II, however, didn’t go as he envisioned. When Elisabeth and Frederick were finally married in 1404 or 1405, they did not get along very well. Elisabeth gave birth to two boys, Ulric II and Frederick III, the latter dying in early childhood. The couple lived separately from 1415 until Elisabeth’s suspicious death in 1422. How and where Elisabeth died is not very clear. According to one of the stories, especially popular among Frankopans who wanted Elisabeth’s dowry back, Frederick II strangled her so that he could get married with his mistress, Veronika of Desenice.

Before Elisabeth’s death, Frederick met a girl from a lower class in the village of Desenice and fell in love with her. In 1424 or 1425 Veronica of Desenice and Frederick II of Celje got married, and Frederick built a Friedrichstein castle above Kočevje, where they would presumably live happily ever after.

With this marriage he fell out of favour not only with the Frankopans, who took back control of the territories that had been included in Elisabeth’s dowry, but also his father Hermann II, whose political achievements he wasted, and the Hungarian court under King Sigismund, who felt obligated to his father. 

Frederic_II._of_Cilli Hermann II.jpg
Hermann II and Frederick II or the other way around
 

In 1425 Frederick II applied for asylum in Venice, claiming that his father and the Hungarian court were attempting to kill he and his wife, but the senate of the city state turned him down. Somehow King Sigismund managed to lure Frederick to his court where he was captured and handed over to his father, who threw him in jail and demolished Friedrichstein Castel.

Veronica was hiding in monasteries and forests until she was captured as well. In order to clear his son’s name in front of other noble families, Hermann headed to court accusing Veronica of witchcraft. He failed, the court found her not guilty. Hermann II then jailed Veronica in Ojstrica castle where she was drowned in a tub by Hermann’s guard on October 14, 1425.

Frederick, however, didn’t stay in prison for very long. In 1426 his only remaining brother Hermann III died. The only heirs of the Counts of Celje now were Frederick II and his son Ulric II, so Hermann II released his son from jail.

Principality of Celje

The relationship between Hermann II and Frederick II smoothed a little, but the two remained rivals. Hermann II was now reluctant to entrust Frederick with management of the family estates. In 1429 Frederick was given the title Count of Zagorje by King Sigismund of Hungary, something Hermann probably opposed. In 1435 Frederick II rebelled against his father by demanding concessions from the Hungarian King, now also the Holy Roman Emperor, , placing Sigismund in the middle of the dispute he had with his father. These trouble stopped with Hermann’s death. On November 30, 1436, Frederick II and Ulric II were elevated to the ranks of Princes, which came with power granted to them over jurisdiction, currency production and mining.

The Princes of Celje now became legal contesters for the Empire’s crown, which endangered the unity of the Habsburg estates. Between the years of 1436 and 1443 a war ensued between the two families. Although the House of Celje proved stronger in the battlefield, they had to accept the ceasefire as by then Frederick III of the Habsburgs was already crowned a King. In 1443 a mutual inheritance contract was signed by the two families in case of dynastic extinction.

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House of Celje Pincipality and its feudal estates after Ulric II gained back his mother's dowry from the Frankopans
 

Meanwhile, Sigismund died in 1437, which triggered the succession crisis for the Hungarian crown. Ulric II entered the intrigues that followed, and Frederick II helped by engaging in diplomatic missions,  mobilizing the family’s vast connections abroad. Frederick II died in 1454, and a year later second Ulric’s son died as well, rendering Urlic II the sole surviving heir of the House of Celje.

The end of the House of Celje

In 1456 Ulric II was assassinated by the rival House of Hunyadis from Transylvania, while accompanying Hungarian King Ladislav to Belgrade. This meant that the House of Celje was extinct and according to the mutual inheritance contract, Habsburgs became legal heirs of their estates, setting the stage for the Austrian Empire. 

ULRIK ii NARODNI MUZEJ SLOVENIJE.jpg
Skull based reconstruction of Ulric's portrait  Source: National Museum of Slovenia
 
For more on Counts of Celje, visit Celje Regional Museum.
13 May 2019, 15:56 PM

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.

mastodon's tusks at skale.jpg
Photo: I. Ozebek
 

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

08 May 2019, 07:34 AM

STA, 7 May 2019 - President Borut Pahor highlighted the "unforgettable symbolic and actual role" the May Declaration played for Slovenia's independence, as he hosted a reception to mark 30 years since the document calling for the country's sovereignty was read out at a mass rally in Ljubljana's Congress Square.

Since the declaration paved the way to Slovenia's independence, it deserves to have a permanent place in our collective memory, he said at the Presidential Palace on Tuesday.

"Its greatest value is linking democracy, sovereignty and Slovenia's place in an overhauled Europe, which also makes it important for the future."

Admitting that Slovenia would need to keep working on the three goals, he said "all three elements need our encouragement, criticism and debates, but also due cooperation and consensus".

"We decide on our own state and its democracy on our own, and on European future together with other nations," he said at the first-ever state-level event marking an anniversary of the reading of the 1989 declaration.

"Also today, 30 years on, it is clear that the sovereign Slovenian state, democratic and integrated into Europe, is the basic tool of our existence and development."

He recalled that the public legitimation of the idea about the sovereignty of the Slovenian nation had only been possible during the political spring in the late 1980s. "Before that, it was considered illegitimate."

Just like Dimitrij Rupel, a co-author of the declaration, Pahor stressed the 1989 events had led to the first democratic elections, a referendum on independence, decisions on Slovenia's independence and to the country's international recognition.

Outlining the conditions under which it was written, Rupel said the declaration came into being in his office at the Faculty of Sociology, Political Sciences and Journalism in April 1989.

Writer Tone Pavček was asked to read it "because the Slovenian Writers' Association was the first organisation signed under the declaration and because we did not want it to be interpreted as a manifesto belonging to any of the four [political] parties," said Rupel.

The declaration was also signed by the Slovenian Democratic Union (SDZ), the Slovenian Farmer's Union (SKZ), the Slovenian Christian and Social Movement (SKSG), the Socialdemocratic Union (SDZS), the university conference of the Socialist Youth League of Slovenia (ZSMS) and the Slovenian Composers' Association.

Its name was taken from the 1917 declaration in which Slovenian, Croatian and Serbian deputies demanded living in an autonomous unit within the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The document was read in the Vienna parliament on 30 May 1917 by Slovenian deputy Anton Korošec.

The declaration reading led to independence, but the document would have been overlooked had it not become part of the Committee for the Protection of Human Rights' campaign for the release of all four dissidents from the JBTZ military trial, said Jožef Školč, the then president of the ZSMS.

Since neither the committee nor the ZSMS had a permit for the rally, the declaration was read at what was formally termed an open session of the ZSMS in Congress Square, Školč, who hosted an event on the occasion at the Museum of Contemporary History, told the STA.

"We simply took the risk of holding a session of the sociopolitical organisation and waited if anyone would dare ban it," said Školč, noting they had tried to express their frustration at the second arrest of Janez Janša, now the leader of the opposition Democrats (SDS).

Igor Bavčar, who led the committee, said, as he addressed the event at the museum, the events from 30 years ago were a reminder of what could be achieved with perseverance.

"That was a time full of emotions and unpredictability, of some realistic but often also imaginary dangers and disinformation.

"It became clear what we had avoided only after certain documents were discovered later on," he said, adding a new wave of arrests had been planned but had probably not taken place because of their activity.

Bavčar said the late 1980s and early 1990s had been a time of incredible enthusiasm which brought together people of different ideologies, which he sees as a special value.

Bavčar, who soon became interior minister and later led the Istrabenz conglomerate, is happy with the legacy of the May Declaration.

He is however less happy "with everything that has befallen me, and I'm still fighting against it," he said in reference to his serving a prison sentence for money laundering.

03 May 2019, 13:00 PM

This week saw the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death, with both scholarly and popular interest in the man and his work showing no sign of abating half a millennium after his passing. Among the many articles marking this occasion was one published by RTV Slovenia, in conjunction with a documentary shown by the national broadcaster, which added some local interest to the story of one of the original Renaissance men.

According to Alessandro Vezzosi, an Italian researcher, da Vinci visited the lands that eventually became known as Slovenia in 1500, when Venetians ruled what today is Slovenian Istria, the Posočje region between Bovec and Tolmin, as well as the area of ​​Idrija. He was sent as a military engineer by the Venetian Republic to consider how to prevent an attack by the Turks through the Vipava Valley into the lowlands of northern Italy.

Da Vinci thus devised a plan that would prevent Turkish invasions of the Venetian Republic by using a system of dams and allowing the flooding of certain valleys, as well as designing a movable artillery defensive system in the Posočje region, and sketching a picture of the bridge over the Vipava River.

However, while the Atlantic Codex reveals that da Vinci undoubtedly visited and studied the confluence of the Vipava and Soča rivers, ​​present-day Gorica, and surrounding areas, his plans for the building of a Venetian defensive line remained, like so many of his ideas and inventions, unrealised.

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