Not enough Slovene translators in Brussels
The European Commission has yet to hire enough translators to cover all of the new official EU languages since expansion on 1 May of this year. The number of languages rose from 11 to 20, but only 189 of the required 455 translators have been hired, according to the European Voice [SB / 15.11.04 / EU Needs Translators, Recruitment Campaign to Be Launched].
It seems that it is hardest to find translators for Lithuanian, Latvian, Maltese and Slovene, since there are only 13 to 18 translators for these languages, while the required number is 50 to 55. There are 90 to 150 translators for each of the previous 11 official languages.
A recruitment campaign will soon be launched to try to make up the difference, aimed particularly at Lithuania, Latvia, Malta and Slovenia. The goal is to recruit the necessary translators by 1 January 2005.
The missing translators could mean delays in the translation of new legislation, and so freelancers will be hired to help out temporarily. The Slovene government is also planning to send ten of its translators to Brussels [SB / 15.11.04 / Slovenia Rushes to Compensate for Shortage of Translators].
Neither Ljubljana nor Maribor attractive to business
A report published in the Austrian weekly Format showed that Ljubljana and Maribor rank near the bottom among new EU cities and soon-to-be EU cities attractive to foreign businesses. Of the 28 cities covered, Ljubljana ranked 20th and Maribor 23rd. The report was conducted by the Capgemini consulting firm.
Cities were ranked according to scores in five categories: quality and cost of labor, quality of infrastructure, access to international suppliers, and living standards for foreigners.
Maribor mayor Boris Sovič told Finance that his city ranked well in the labor and international suppliers categories, and he believed it did well with regard to expatriates’ living standards even tough Maribor does not have an international primary school.
Finance had difficulties finding someone to speak on record from the Ljubljana city administration, and a representative of the city council said simply that they were not familiar with the report. Ljubljana scored fourth place with regard to quality of infrastructure (behind Budapest, Zagreb and Prague) and fifth in living standards (behind Budapest, Warsaw, Prague and Sofija) [Finance / 17.10.04 / Ljubljana and Maribor Not Attractive to Foreign Business and Ljubljana in Maribor za tujce neprivlačna].
Eastern European Cities Most Attractive To Business
VERY ATTRACTIVE CITIES
1. Budapest, Hungary
2. Krakow, Poland
3. Warsaw, Poland
4. Poznan, Poland
5. Prague, Czech Republic
6. Wroclaw, Poland
7. Ostrava, Czech Republic
8. Brno, Czech Republic
9. Varna, Bulgaria
10. Košice, Slovakia
11. Sofija, Bulgaria
12. Miškolc, Hungary
13. Lodz, Poland
14. Banska Bystrica, Slovakia
15. Trnava, Slovakia
LESS ATTRACTIVE CITIES
16. Gyor, Hungary
17. Plzen, Czech Republic
18. Olszlyn, Poland
19. Debrecen, Hungary
20. Ljubljana, Slovenia
27. Sarajevo, Bosnia and Hercegovina
21. Bratislava, Slovakia
22. Bucharest, Romania
23. Maribor, Slovenia
24. Zagreb, Croatia
25. Kyiv, Ukraine
26. Odessa, Ukraine
28. Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro
Glass falling from Ljubljana’s Nama
A second glass panel fell from the façade of the Nama department store building in downtown Ljubljana during the night of 9 October. Just like with the first one, the cause has not been determined. Fortunately, no one was injured.
One theory is that vibrations from Global, the night club on the top floor of the building, literally shook the panels off of the building. Another theory suggests the glass panels were defective. Vandalism has also not been ruled out, and in fact another building not far away was vandalized the same night.
The panels are made of safety glass, which means that the broken glass on the sidewalk below was minimal. However, the fact that safety glass does not shatter means that it would have the same impact as fifty kilograms of sand dropped from the same height [Žurnal / 15.10.04 / Nam(a)le steklo].
Reality TV show to join former Yugoslavs
Slovenia’s Prva TV (the new name of TV 3, as of 1 November), will premier a new reality TV show on 15 November called "To sem jaz" (That’s Me) [Finance / 02.11.04 / Na Prvi TV tudi resničnostni šov].
The show will be broadcast across the former Yugoslavia to a potential audience of 25 million, five nights per week. The show itself will only last 10 to 15 minutes, while a longer (60-70 minute) program hosted by a moderator will feature guests and viewers discussing the goings-on in the house.
Cast members come from across the former Yugoslavia, one male and one female from each of the six former republics. They will spend 90 days in a house in the elite Vodno district of Skopje isolated from the outside world. The three-story, 400 quadratic meter house has been fitted with 21 cameras and more than 40 microphones. Every twenty days, viewers will vote by telephone to evict one male and one female from the house. The last left will win a prize worth more than EUR 10,000.
The goal of "To sem jaz" is to show what happens when a group of young people who speak different languages, come from different countries and follow different religions must live together. Given the wars that have raged throughout the region since 1991, the experiment is certainly worthy of wide attention.
Urška Cerče, head of Prva TV, told the press that "Prva TV is very happy to have been invited to participate in this first-of-its-kind international reality TV sow. Reality TV programs are a world hit right now, which is demonstrated by high ratings around the world. We are certain that Slovene viewers will be interested in this show and that events in the house will be the topic of a number of conversations."
The show is part of TV 3’s transformation into Prva TV, which officially took place on 1 November. The station has also moved to a new site and invested more than USD 1,000,000 in new equipment [Siol.Net / 29.10.04 / Resnicnosti sov na Prvi TV].
Sarajevo’s Prešeren Park disputed
Prešeren Park in the center of Sarajevo has caused a heated arguement between local Slovenes and Muslim activists in the Bosnian capital. Though work on the park was to be completed by the end of November, everything is now on hold.
Sarajevo's Slovene community of about 2000 people, led by the Cankar Society, convinced the local authorities to name an illegal parkinig lot near the National Theatre in downtown Sarajevo "Prešeren Park" in 1994, as a symbol of Slovene/Bosnian friendship.
A sign was put up in 1996 but renovations have only just begun now. Extensive construction valued at EUR 100,000 began in early October to create a more proper green space. The project also calls for lines from Prešeren poems to be inscribed on a wall at the park’s entrance.
Work began on 18 October with a ceremony attended by leading Sarajevo politicians and Slovene Ambassador to Bosnia Tadej Labernik [Delo / 19.10.04 / Prešeren Park v Sarajevu].
However, a Muslim religious group launched a protest shortly after work began, claiming that the land belongs to their religious community and demanding its return. The group is protesting by using the park for daily prayers, prohbiting the construction crew from working. The group is not protesting the local Slovenes, but rather the local authorities in Sarajevo.
The protest is being led by the Vakufska Direkcija, which manages the Muslim religious community’s property throughout Bosnia. The site of the new park held a 15th century mosque and cemetery, but was nationalized in 1945 and two years later the mosque and cemetery were destroyed. Now the local Muslims want the land back [Delo / 05.11.04 / Ustavili dela v Prešernovem parku].
Cankar Society head Stanislav Koblar issued a press release in which he gave assurances that care has been taken to preserve anything that might be left of the mosque. He also commented that in the past 57 years since the mosque was destroyed, no one has shown any public interest in the site aside from the local Slovenes.
Festival of Slovene Film
The seventh-annual Festival of Slovene Film (FSF) was held from 7 to 10 November in Ljubljana. A total of five feature films competed for top honors: Desperado Tonic (Varja Močnik, Hanna A.W. Slak, Boris Petkovič, Zoran Zivulovič), Fantom (Fantom; Ema Kugler), Norega se metek ogne (Bullets Miss the Fool; Mitja Novljan), Predmestje (Suburbs; Vinko Moederndorfer) and Ruševine (The Ruins; Janez Burger). They were joined by two feature-length documentaries also in competition: Mesto na travniku (The City on the Meadow; Anja Medved, Nadja Velušček) and Over the Sun, Under the Moon (Peter Braatza).
Two more features were shown out of the competitive program: Kako sem ubil svetnika (How I Killed a Saint; Teona Strugar Mitevska) and Sivi kamion rdeče barve (Red-Colored Grey Truck; Srđan Koljević). Both were coproductions between Slovenia and other countries: Macedonia in the former and Serbia and Montenegro in the latter. Two more Slovene features were also shown outside of competition: Goveja Postrv (Beef Trout; Štjepan Drača) and The Making of Varuh Meje (The Making of Guardian of the Frontier; Peter Braatz).
When the awards were announced on 10 November, Ruševine came out on top, taking away nearly all of the awards. It won Vesna awards for: best feature film, direction, lead actor, lead actress, supporting actor, supporting actress, music and photography. The film also won all four awards bestowed by Stop Magazine: best actor, actress, supporting actor and supporting actress.
The Society of Slovene Film Critics Award for best feature film, however, went to Predmestje. Desperado Tonic also walked away with the final two Vesnas, for scenography and sound.
A total of 38 films – including features, documentaries, shorts and television productions – were shown during the festival.
More at www.fsf.si and www.film-sklad.si.
Serbs to become official minority?
According to a report in the daily Večer, the Serbian Ministry of the Diaspora has formally requested that Slovenia name its Serbian community as an official national minority [Večer / 25.09.04 / Srbi v Sloveniji bi bili manjšina]. Serbs represent one of the most numerous minority groups in the country but currently are accorded no special rights; the same goes for Croats and Bosniaks.
Italians and Hungarians – whose numbers are far below those of the Serbs – currently enjoy the widest minority rights in Slovenia, followed by the Roma. All three are named official national minorities in the Constitution. A German minority is also recognized, on the basis of a cultural agreement with Austria.
Just about a month later, the Coordinating Union of Cultural Societies of the Constituative Nations and Nationalities of the Former Socialist Federative Republic of Yugoslavia in the Republic of Slovenia issued a press release published in the weekly news magazine Mladina drawing attention to their program entitled "The Public Initiative of Albanians, Bosniacs, Croats, Macedonians and Serbs Living in the Republic of Slovenia."
The program, in English and Slovene, was presented to the Council of Europe’s European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance in Ljubljana on 14 October 2003. The document calls for former Yugoslav nations and nationalities represented by the Union to be declared national minorities in the Slovene constitution and for this status to be legally regulated to ensure its enforcement.
Though it was also presented to various Slovene officials including the Ombudsman for Human Rights, the Union claims they have received no response.
According to the press release, the Union has been operating for about one year, and is led by Dr. Ilija Dimitrievski. It represents nearly 60 cultural associations serving the Albanian, Bosniac, Croatian, Macedonian and Serbian communities in Slovenia [Mladina / 18.10.04 / Široki javnosti naše države – Republike Slovenije].
New episode of Slovenian Magazine
The English-language television program Slovenian Magazine premiered its 267th show on 6 November. The show presents viewers with an overview of the town of Kranj, the Firefighters’ Museum in Metlika, artist Mojca Osojnik, the Budnar House Museum near Kamnik and baritone Juan Vasle.
The show can be downloaded from http://www.rtvslo.si/slovenianmagazine/archive.php?op=read&id=33.
Eurail expands into Slovenia
Tourists using the Eurail pass will soon be able to use it in several more countries, among them Slovenia. As of 2005, the Selectpass program will integrate Slovenia, Croatia, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro into the scheme.
Slovenia will also figure into the newly reconfigured Regional Pass, as part of an Austria/Slovenia/Croatia pass as well as a Hungar/Slovenia/Croatia pass.
More information on Eurail can be found at www.eurail.com.
[NewRatings.com / 28.10.04 / Eurail Adds New Countries, New Selectpasses and New Regional Passes That Multiply Rail Itineraries in 2005].
Tourism numbers exploding since 1997
A study released by the European Cities Tourism Network shows that the number of overnight stays in Ljubljana rose by 42.4 percent between 1997 and 2003. The increase is the largest among the 35 major European cities included in the study.
In second place was Berlin with a 41.8 percent increase, followed by Reykjavik with 40 [SW / 05.11.04 / Ljubljana Sees Number of Tourists Soar from 1997
…while another new hotel still has no operating license
The new hotel Emonec, on Wolfova street in the center of Ljubljana opened at the beginning of October but still has no license. Despite being ordered to close, Delo reports that it is still accepting reservations. If it is allowed to remain open, the hotel could be a good option for many tourists, as its rates are lower than most hotels in the center.
ADDENDUM: On 16 November, Delo reported that even though Emonec is still without an operating permit, it apparently will stay open until it does get one [Delo / 16.11.04 / Garni hotel Emonec ostaja odprt].
New 4-star hotel opens in Ljubljana…
A brand-new four-star hotel called Hotel Mons opened in Ljubljana at the end of October. The hotel is located in the far northwest of the city, and offers free transportation to the city center to offset the out-of-the-way location. The hotel, while Slovene-owned, is part of the Austrian Stegenberger chain.
Hotel Mons has 111 double-bed rooms and three suits, along with a state-of-the-art conference facilty that can accommodate more than 4000 people [SW / 21.10.04 / Ljubljana Gets New Four-Star Hotel]. Ljubljana Gets New Four-Star Hotel].
On 3 October, as elections were underway, many of the country’s journalists declared their first-ever strike, demanding better working conditions. This meant that only the most essential information about the election results was published in much of the local media, and saw the leading daily, Delo, miss its first day of publication since the paper was founded nearly 60 years ago.
The crux of the problem is a contract dispute between many of the country’s journalists and their employers. The journalists are being led by the Union of Slovene Journalists, while the employers in question are the Publishing, Printing and Media Association of the Slovene Chamber of Commerce and Industry along with the Association of Local and Regoinal Radio Stations of Slovenia [SW / 06.10.04 / Election Day Strike Brings Negotiations for Journalists].
Not all of the major media, however, participated in the strike. Commercial television station Pop TV and the daily Finance both opted out, as did journalists at various local radio stations. The information blackout, therefore, was not nearly as all-encompasing as strike leaders might have hoped. Journalists at these outlets generally are satisfied with their internal contracts and saw no point to striking. However, journalists at Delo, Radio Television Slovenia and several other outlets are also satisfied with their contracts but joined the strike in solidarity nevertheless. One observer pointed out that Pop TV and Finance journalists are the best-paid in Slovenia [MediaOnline.ba / 19.10.04 / Strike in Slovenia: What the Journalists Wanted].
The strike lasted for three days, until the Strike Committee of the Union of Slovene Journalists put it on hold pending the results of new negotiations [ST / 11.04 / Slovenia’s Journalists on Strike]. The talks are still on-going.
New parliament meets under PM-designate Janša
The first session of the newly-elected parliament was held on 22 October [SW / 13.10.04 / Drnovsek Calls Maiden Session of Parliament for 22 October]. France Cukjati (SDS) was elected Speaker of Parliament, with a vote of 58:26 [SW / 22.10.04 / Parliament Inaugurated].
However, the big story surrounding the inaugural session of parliament was about the seating arrangements. Three days of negotiation were required before the seven blocs could agree on where to sit.
SDS Leader Janez Janša was named Prime-Minister-Designate, and is currently putting together a proposed list of ministers to form his government. This will be the country's eighth government since multi-party elections were first held in 1990, and its first since joining the EU in May [SW / 09.11.04 / SDS Leader Jansa Receives Mandate to Form Govt].
Among the new government’s first decisions has been to eliminate the Ministry of Information Society. Its duties will be transferred to the Economics Ministry and to a proposed Ministry of Public Administration. Another proposed change is the division of the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport into a Ministry of Education and Sport, and a Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology. There is also a proposal to transfer authority over energy from the Ministry of the Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy to the Ministry of the Economy [SW / 04.11.04 / SDS Announces Changes to Government Cabinet].
Elections bring new government
On 3 October, Slovenes went to the polls to elect a new parliament, and with it a new government. The left-leaning Liberal Democracy of Slovenia (LDS), which has been in power nearly continuously since Slovene independence in 1991, has found itself leading the parliamentary opposition, while the right-leaning Slovene Democratic Party (SDS) has for the first time taken the driver’s seat.
Five other parties won seats in parliament: New Slovenia (NSi), the Slovene People’s Party (SLS), the United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD), the Slovene Nationalist Party (SNS) and the Pensioner’s Party (DeSUS).
The breakdown of the results looks like this:
SDS - 29.0% - 29 seats
LDS - 22.8% - 23 seats
ZLSD - 10.2% - 10 seats
NSi - 8.9% - 9 seats
SLS - 6.8% - 7 seats
SNS - 6.3% - 6 seats
DeSUS - 4.1% - 4 seats
A new governing coalition will be formed around the SDS. They will be joined by their ideological cousins, the right-leaning NSi and SLS. However, the three parties together hold only 45 seats, i.e., one seat less than a simple majority. Talks are underway to try to include DeSUS in the coalition, in order to secure a comfortable majority.
The Slovene Youth Party (SMS), which held four seats in the last parliament, won less than four percent of the vote, and therefore won no seats this time around. A total of 23 parties participated in the election.
Turn out was around 60 percent, the lowest recorded for a parliamentary election in the country. Turn out during the last election, in 2000, was 70.37 percent [SW / 03.10.04 / Slovene Democratic Party Victorious].
[See also: ICE / 08.10.04 / Centre-right Slovenian Democrats sweep to victory at Slovenia's parliamentary elections, ST / 11.04 / Parliamentary Shake-up, TOL / 08.11.04 / The Comeback of Janez Jansa.]