On Saturday 6 May, no less than 5000 people gathered at a demonstration in St Anthony Square in the center of Trieste (Trst), to push for the preparation of the Comprehensive Protective Law for Slovenes in Italy. The event was organized by the two umbrella organizations for the Italian Slovene minority, the Slovene Cultural and Economic Union and the Council of Slovene Organizations. A cultural program was organized to coincide with the demonstration, and 50 institutions, organizations and societies participated. This was the largest demonstration of Italian Slovenes since 1984, when Travnik pri Gorci hosted a demonstration for the respect of human rights in Italy.
Trieste's municipal organization fully supported the demonstration. Mayor Riccardo Illy addressed the crowd, stressing that the Slovene minority is a cultural wealth that must be defended. The demonstration had some success, as it was announced on 12 May that the law will be on the Italian Parliament's agenda for the beginning of July.
Head of Serbia's Civil Alliance Goran Svilanović met with President Milan Kučan this week. The two discussed the current situation in the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia as well as in Serbia. Svilanović praised Slovenia's accomplishments since leaving Yugoslavia and expressed interest in the normalization of relations between Yugoslavia and Slovenia. The Civil Alliance, a prominent Serbian opposition group, is pushing for free elections in Serbia.
There was a demonstration on 10 May in Ljubljana for Slovene neutrality. The demonstration was timed to coincide with NATO Secretary General George Robertson's visit. It was organized by the Neutrino Group, an informal organization that supports the neutrality and independence of Slovenia. Neutrino is opposed to Slovenia's bid for NATO membership and EU accession. About a dozen people participated, carrying signs, such as "NATO: Nočemo Analne Terapije za Ovce" (NATO: We Don't Want Anal Therapy for Sheep).
Slovenia's new Permanent Representative at the United Nations, Ernest Petrič, arrived in New York last week. Petrič will present his credentials to Secretary General Kofi Annan on 17 May and, thereby, assume his position. He replaces Danilo Turk, who was named the Secretary General's Special Representative for Political Affairs by Annan this January. Turk's accomplishments as Permanent Representative include leading Slovene membership in the Security Council from 1998 to 1999. Petrič was the first ambassador to the United States. Slovenia became the 176th member of the UN on 22 May 1992.
On 20 May, the new Slovene ambassador to the United States, Davorin Kračun, will arrive in Washington. The Slovene Embassy in Washington has been without an ambassador since January, when Dimitrij Rupel was recalled to Ljubljana to take the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs.
On 9 May, Europe Day was celebrated throughout Slovenia. Among the events planned was the launching of the first trip of the EuroBus across the country. The EuroBus is outfitted to be a traveling library and information office and will visit 36 towns between 8 May and 16 June. An international conference on the EU, NATO and South Eastern Europe in the 21st century was also planned. The events were sponsored by the Delegation of the EC in Slovenia and the governmental Office for Europe Day Information, together with a number of other organizations. Europe Day commemorates the signing of the Schuman Declaration, which marked the beginning of European integration.
9 May also was also the 55th anniversary of the liberation of Ljubljana. Events were organized throughout the city, including the 44th annual Expedition Ljubljana 2000. Over 7000 people participated in the race around the city. Ljubljana mayor Viktorija Potočnik also delivered a public address. The events commemorated the occupation of Ljubljana from 1942 to 1945. At that time, many were sent to the camps, and the city was surrounded for more than 1000 days by barbed wire and bunkers.
Comments by Macedonian Financial Minister Nikola Gruevski have stirred up further controversy concerning Ljubljanska Banka in Macedonia. Gruevski stated that the Macedonian government should file a complaint with the Council of Europe. Lawyers, however, maintain that Macedonia can only lodge complaints with the Republic of Slovenia, and that international organizations have no jurisdiction. Problems associated with Ljubljanska Banka remain unresolved throughout the former Yugoslavia, though they are slightly different with regard to Macedonia, where the Ljubljanska Banka branch had become a full-fledged bank before the collapse of the old state. This had not been the situation with the Croatian and Bosnian branches.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs, with the help of the cities of Novo Mesto, Ljubljana and Kranj, released information this week concerning forged SIT (Slovenian Tolar) 5000 banknotes. The forged bills were prepared using computer technology. They were printed by color printers on commercial paper and had no security elements that real SIT banknotes would have. The forgeries were accepted at various sites in the three cities.
Slovene Railways has announced that it will begin using state-of-the-art trains between Ljubljana and Maribor in September. The new trains will be 30 percent faster than those currently in use. The trip between the two cities will be cut down to one hour and 45 minutes and will include stops in Celje and Pragersko.
The renovation of Ljubljana Castle are virtually finished. This summer, the project will be completed and given over to the administration of Festival Ljubljana, which, together with the city administration, will run the castle. Miha Kerin is the architect of the renovations.
Ljubljana University's Department of Philosophy hosted a two-day scientific conference called "Yugoslavia in the Cold War," from 8 to 9 May. The conference was divided into two parts. The first concerned Yugoslav relations with the Super Powers in the second half of the 1940s and the 1950s, Yugoslavia's inclusion in international organizations and Yugoslavia's position towards the crises in neighboring states (eg, the 1956 Soviet invasion of Hungary and the 1968 Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia). The second part dealt with the internal development of Yugoslavia within the constraints of the Cold War. The event was organized by the Institute for Modern History, the Scientific Institute of the Department of Philosophy, the University of Toronto and the Russian Academy of Sciences. A collection of papers presented at the conference will be published later this year.
The fifth New Technologies conference began on 8 May in Portorož. Marko Voljč of Nova Ljubljanska Banka delivered the key-note speech on working with the Internet. He said that the Internet was either an opportunity or a threat to modern banking, as it could make local banks, such as Nova Ljubljanska Banka, obsolete. Microsoft Slovenija, Compaq Slovenija and 940 people from more than 500 other Slovene companies participated.
The Austrian province of Carinthia marked Prešeren Year last week, with a conference in Klagenfurt (Celovec) on the work of the important Slovene poet called "Prešeren in Carinthia." Klagenfurt University Professor Klaus Detlef Olof, who has translated Prešeren into, spoke on Prešeren's place in German literature. Prešeren either wrote or translated 43 poems in German and translated two works by Mickiewicz. Also, as a citizen of the Austrian Empire, Prešeren was heavily influenced by German and Austrian culture.
The Slovene translation of Mediterranean: A Cultural Landscape, by Croatian writer Predrag Matvejević, was announced, at the 33rd International PEN conference in Bled. The book, first published in 1987, has been widely published in various languages around the world, but this will be the first translation into Slovene. Matvejević is a professor of Serbo-Croatian at La Sapienza in Rome, having left Croatia in protest of the Tuđman regime. The book will be translated by Vasja Bratina and will be published by Cankarjev Založba.
The Internet art group INTIMA will participate in "Pro-Contra - Machinomachina," an international exhibition of on-line art in Moscow from 11 to 14 May. The group will present their project "Zvrst.3" at Moscow's Guelman Gallery. "Zvrst.3" took home first prize in last year's "Trash-Art" on-line art festival in Moscow. Artists, theoreticians and curators from Russia, Europe, the United States and Japan will also participate in the exhibition.
Brian J Požun, 15 May 2000