This week, the unification of the Slovene People's Party (SLS) and the Slovene Christian Democrats (SKD) was finally decided at a congress at the Festival Palace in Ljubljana. Franc Zagožen was elected as the head of the new conservative right-centre party, now known as SLS+SKD Slovene People's Party.
SLS+SKD Slovene People's Party failed to win approval for its candidate for Prime Minister, Andrej Bajuk, on Thursday. Of the 90 members of parliament, 44 voted for and 33 voted against. The voting was by secret ballot, though it bears mention that the SLS+SKD Slovene People's Party holds 44 seats in parliament.
A new candidate must be named either by parliamentary parties or President Milan Kučan before Sunday or Kučan must call early elections. Kučan and all parties, except SLS+SKD Slovene People's Party, have spoken out in support of early elections.
The ninth meeting of Parliamentary Speakers from European Union candidate countries met on 18 and 19 April in Ljubljana. The meeting was headed by the Speaker of the European Parliament, Nicole Fontaine. The agenda concerned a review of the EU expansion process, methods of bringing legislation closer to citizens and the preservation of national identity within the EU. Fontaine expressed her belief that the first round of expansion would be completed in time for the new Member Countries to participate in the 2004 elections of the European Parliament. The president of the Turkish Parliament participated in the meeting for the first time.
The twice-annual Eurobarometer, a public opinion poll conducted among citizens of the EU, was released this week. Respondents gave Slovene accession a 34 percent approval rating, which placed the country above only Romania and Turkey.
At its meeting last week in Washington, DC, the World Bank decided that Slovenia's per capita income was too high to qualify for funds for development projects. Slovenia has now been reclassified as a loan-granting country.
On Wednesday, the Bank of Slovenia issued a new SIT (Slovenian Tolar) ten coin, which bears the image of a Lipizzaner horse. The coin also bears the Braille symbol for its value. Mirjenko Licul and Janez Boljka designed the new coin. The SIT ten bill will remain in circulation.
An earthquake shook parts of Slovenia on 16 April. Measuring 3.2 on the Richter scale, the quake was centered about 70 km from Ljubljana, near Raka na Dolenjskem. The earthquake did nothing to affect the stability of the nuclear power plant at Krško (JEK), and instruments at JEK did not even register the quake.
The results of a public opinion poll concerning residents' attitudes towards Ljubljana were released this week. The 1000 respondents were generally satisfied with the city's cultural life and shopping, but saw major problems with traffic, parking, crowds and crime. Only 27 percent said they generally do not feel safe in parts of the city after dark, and 30 percent specifically mentioned the Fružine neighborhood. Respondents were sharply critical of the city's administration. A question asking respondents what they think most concerns the city administration was most frequently answered with "with themselves" or "with their salaries." The poll also showed people believe the city should be spending money on social issues, employment, regulating traffic and constructing social housing.
The mayor of Piran, Vojka Štular, and the mayor of Škofija Loka, Igor Draksler, signed an agreement this week announcing their intention to establish an association of historic cities of Slovenia. The agreement will also be signed in the coming days by the mayor of Ptuj, Miroslav Luci, and the three towns will form a working group to prepare the necessary documents to found the new organization. All Slovene cities possessing an historic center and organizations working to preserve them will be invited to join. The new association will work on a national and international level and will seek ties with similar societies abroad.
Daily newspaper Večer organized a round-table discussion this week in Maribor called "Green Maribor," to discuss green spaces in Slovenia's second largest city. Participants included, among others, representatives of the Institute for the Protection of the Natural and the Cultural Heritage of Maribor, the Maribor Institute for Urbanism, the Horticultural Society of Maribor. Satisfaction was expressed with the current state of green spaces in Maribor, but the future seems questionable, as many laws and regulations governing green spaces are frequently not respected.
The mayor of the Italian town of Dolina, Boris Pangere, and the mayor of the Slovene town of Hrpelje-Kozina, Vojko Mahnič, signed an agreement on friendly relations between the two border communities. The two towns will cooperate in the fields of culture, sport and economy. The project hopes to serve as an example for future cross-border initiatives.
Representatives of the Yugoslav Ministry of Foreign Affairs met with a delegation of Serbs from Slovenia this week. The delegation expressed its wish that Belgrade create an information and employment center in Slovenia and assist in maintaining the spiritual and cultural identity of Serbs in Slovenia. The delegation also met with the head of the Economic Council of Serbia, Milan Njegomir, who called for stronger ties with Serbian-owned enterprises in Slovenia.
Bosnian President Alija Izetbegović met with Slovenia's ambassador to Bosnia, Drago Mirošič, this week. The two discussed the recent local elections in Bosnia. Izetbegović noted he was satisfied with the levels of cooperation between his country and Slovenia as well as the work of the Slovene International Fund for Removal of Land Mines and Assistance to Victims of Land Mines in Bosnia and Hercegovina and the participation of Slovene troops in SFOR.
The weekly newspaper Kmečki Glas sponsored an exhibition of Pirhi, distinctve Slovene Easter eggs, in Ljubljana this week. There were 59 participants, competing for six prizes. Slovene Pirhi are similar to their more famous cousins, Ukrainian Pysanky.
The Plečnik Prizes for Architecture were awarded this week by the head of the council of the Plečnik Foundation, Ljubljana's mayor Viktorija Potočnik. The Plečnik Prize went to Nandet Korpnik for his Acman House in Grižah pri žalcu, and the Plečnik Medal went to Peter Paškulin for his office complex and shopping center on Dunajska street in Ljubljana. The award for student work was given to Jaka Bežan and Božo Kozman for a project done for Ljubljana University's Department of Architecture. The awards are named for world-renowned Slovene architect Jože Plečnik.
Students from the Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television (AGRFT) will participate in the FAMU 2000 film festival taking place in Prague from 27 to 29 April. The AGRFT students' films will be shown on Saturday 29 April. This is the first major international non-competitive showing of AGRFT student films, since last year's Rotterdam festival.
The Yugoslav film Nebeška Udica (Sky Hook) premiered in Celje and Maribor to full houses this week. Members of the Union-Olympic basketball team attended the premier in Maribor. The film deals with young people in Belgrade, basketball and the NATO bombings. It was directed by Ljubiša Samardžić, and the score was done by Vlatek Stefanovski of the Macedonian band Leb i Sol.
Festival Karavan Sarajevo 2000 was hosted by the Ljubljana performance venue Metelkova on 21 and 22 April. The Festival schedule included many exhibits and concerts over the two-day period. The goal of the festival is to promote cultural exchanges and a renewal of civil society among the republics of the former Yugoslavia.
The Society for the Promotion of Volunteer Work in Novo Mesto sponsored a concert by Đorđe Balašević, an important Yugoslav musician and performer, on 22 April. Proceeds went to the Society's work, especially in the fields of social work, education and culture.
Brian J Požun, 21 April 2000