With a vote of 45:45, acting Prime Minister Andrej Bajuk failed to have his ministerial selections approved by parliament on Tuesday. Bajuk can forward selections twice more before a new Prime Minister must be found or early elections will be called. The country has been left with only a care-taker government since April, when Prime Minister Janez Drnovšek's governing coalition collapsed.
Representatives of the European Union spoke out following the vote, concerned that the continuing governmental crisis is damaging Slovenia's bid for EU membership. The first draft of the EU's annual progress report on Slovenia will not be able to show much activity, which could be a huge problem: there is the possibility that the progress report will be used to determine the target date of Slovenia's final accession. Parliament must pass 67 more laws this year to stay on track with its plan for EU accession in 2003.
Acting Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel participated in the meeting of the Peace Implementation Council for Bosnia and Hercegovina held this week in Brussels. At the meeting, Rupel expressed Slovenia's concerns towards the many open questions concerning the succession of the Soviet Federative Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRJ), saying that relations among the five successor states cannot begin to be normalized until these issues are resolved. Rupel expressed his belief that the major hindrance is the stance of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia that it is the sole legal successor to the SFRJ.
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The role of national minorities in bi-lateral relations was explored at a two-day seminar held last week in Brdo pri Kranj. Participants from eight Central European countries attended, including representatives of national governments and local administrations, minority organizations and several international organizations. Of particular mention was the role of minorities in cross-border cooperation, cultural exchange and the protection of minorities in bi- and multi-lateral treaties. Seminar participants also toured the Slovene coast, where they were familiarized with the situation of Slovenia's Italian minority. The seminar was organized by the Council of Europe and the Bureau for Slovenes Abroad.
The Ljubljana City Council passed a decree this week on the organization of the city's administration. The decree defines the institutions and services of the municipal administration as well as the scope of their activities. According to the decree, Ljubljana's administration will be divided among 13 administrative departments, four services and two independent organs.
Ljubljana mayor Viktorija Potočnik and Moscow mayor Yuri Luzhkov signed a Protocol on Friendly Relations and Cooperation between their two cities this week. The protocol concerns primarily economic, cultural, sports, educational, and environmental activities. Cooperation could also come in the areas of the use of modern technology, urbanism, traffic, infrastructure development, social services and trade. A delegation accompanying Potočnik presented concrete economic projects to their Muscovite hosts. Ljubljana has signed similar protocols with Vienna and Athens.
A proposal to make Maribor the seat of the newly created Agency for Energy was struck down this week in favor of Ljubljana. The decision was met with great disappointment in Maribor, which has been very vocal about its desire to host a governmental agency. The Ministry of Economic Activities decided that Maribor did not have enough technical support for the new agency.
Maribor mayor Boris Sovič denounced the excuse, saying that Maribor is home to one of the country's most important energy companies, Dravske Elektrarne, major electricity distributor Elektro Maribor, and one of Slovenia's two universities. Moreover, Maribor was the seat of the Agency's predecessor, the Directorate of Energy Provision. A more reasonable explanation is the fact that the an agency of this importance will require large amounts of funding, money that Ljubljana wants to keep in its own local economy.
Maribor also got good news this week when the government formally supported Maribor's bid to be the site of German car manufacturer BMW's new Central European plant. The city of Maribor has offered BMW the premises of the former auto maker TAM, while the government has offered tax breaks and the advice and assistance of the Slovene Development Corporation. BMW is also reviewing sites in the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary, countries with much more experience attracting foreign investment, and will render its decision some time next year.
Sovič has high hopes for the plant, as it would restore the automotive industry to the city and create almost 10,000 new jobs in the region. Sovič has stressed that Maribor has much to offer BMW, including a near-by airport, highly developed rail and road infrastructure, a highly educated workforce and a tradition in automotive production. The wide-spread knowledge of German in the region would also help lessen the language barrier.
A light-rail system was proposed by the mayors of three coastal towns this past week. A commentator for the daily newspaper Delo sharply criticized the plan, giving a full list of transportation projects that the country needs much more, including better rail links between the Bay of Koper and the hinterland, a coastal highway and docking capacities for cruise ships. As presented, the system is envisioned to span Slovenia's coastal region and be linked to either Italian Trieste (Trst) or Croatian Istria.
The cornerstone-laying ceremony for the new Mercator shopping center in Sarajevo happened on Monday. The honor of laying the stone was given to Bosnia's Premier, Edhern Bičakčić, and the head of Mercator, Zoran Jankovič. Mercator entered the Bosnian market last year, sharing space in Sarajevo's Tržni Centar. The new shopping center will open in December.
The documentary Med Štirimi Stenami (Between Four Walls) by Zemira Alajbegovič and Neven Korda will be shown later this month in Poland as part of the Human Rights Watch traveling film festival. The festival began traveling last year, starting in the United States.
A book called Half Pa Pu, (Half and Half), documenting the use of the Slovene language in the United States, was published this week. The book was written by Dr. Nada Šabec of the Department of English and American Studies of the Maribor Pedagogical Faculty. According to Šabec, the first generation of Slovene immigrants to the US in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries were not well educated and did not speak literary Slovene. They adopted many everyday English words in Slovene form such as njuspapir, štor, and hauza. The second generation was either fully bilingual or almost completely assimilated into the English language, and the third generation has lost Slovene entirely.
The exhibit "Slovenia - Numismatics and History" opened this week at the Royal Numismatic Museum in Stockholm. The exhibit includes 3100 objects tracing the evolution of money in Slovenia from a Neanderthal whistle dated from 43,000 B.C., to Slovene independence in 1991. "Slovenia - Numismatics and History" was organized by the National Museum of Slovenia, and will travel to Barcelona, Seville, Koln, Munich and Luxembourg.
On 25 May, an exhibit of the Emona mosaics opened at the Maribor Regional Museum. The mosaics date from the Roman era, when Ljubljana was called Emona. The exhibit comes from the collection of the National Museum of Slovenia. On 30 May there will be a round table discussion about the mosaics organized by the Slovene Society of Restorationists.
27 May marked the start of the Sixth Festival of Computer Art in Maribor. The theme this year is the relation of the body to art. Thirty Artists from eleven countries, including the United States, Australia, Macedonia and Yugoslavia are participating. The festival features exhibits, performances, showings and installations, and was organized by Maribor's Youth Cultural Center. Visit the official website
Brian J Požun, 27 May 2000
Slovenia Business Weekly
Maribor's Youth Cultural Center