Prime Minister-Designate Andrej Bajuk presented his selections for the ministerial positions on Friday. The list is the same as the one that failed to gain approval last week. If the list is approved this time, Bajuk's government will lead the country until scheduled elections this fall. If the list is again revoked, parliament will then vote on each ministerial selection individually, and if more than two-thirds are approved, the government will be allowed to assume its functions. Slovenia has been led by only a care-taker government for the past two months.
When parliament votes on Bajuk's proposed government, the vote will no longer be by secret ballot. A measure proposed by the United List of Social Democrats party was passed by an overwhelming majority this week in parliament to make the vote public. MPs commented that the elimination of the secret ballot will increase transparency and bring Slovenia closer to the practices of other countries with parliamentary systems.
For the first time ever, the European Union agreed this week to grant a prospective member a grace period before it must put legislation into force. Slovenia will have two years once it becomes a Member State of the EU to enact European legislation on credit and savings cooperative banks. This sets something of a precedent for other prospective members, but the EU stressed that it will not become a common practice.
The much anticipated Law on the Global Protection of Slovenes in Italy will be taken up in the Italian parliament on 27 and 28 June, according to the parliamentary agenda released this week. Parliamentary discussion of the law has been rescheduled numerous times, and no one particularly expects it to go on as planned this time either. The Trieste (Trst) newspaper Primorski Dnevnik cited two reasons for apprehension: first, parliament can alter the agenda at any time, and second, the state of the Italian parliament is currently not conducive to resolving this issue.
Head of Parliament Janez Potočnik received a delegation from the United States Senate this week. Potočnik familiarized the guests with Slovenia's domestic political situation, and thanked them for their support in Slovenia's bid for NATO membership, anticipated in 2002. The Senators were in Slovenia for three days. The delegation also met with President Kučan.
At a press conference this week, head of Helsinki Monitor in Slovenia, Neva Miklavčič Predrag, lamented the fact that the problem of racial discrimination is not getting the attention that it deserves. Mr. Predrag went so far as to call the government's policies particularly toward the Roma "ethnic cleansing." Since independence, he said, Slovenia's Roma have not been accorded the status of permanent residents and they are not eligible for health services, pensions or humanitarian aid. Secretary of the Union of Roma of Slovenia Štefan Šarkezi said that the rights of the Roma vary from region to region around the country.
The mayors of three coastal towns are working to create a regional tourist organization. This week, the mayors of Koper, Piran and Izola established a six-member coordinating body to start the regional organization for Slovene Istria. The organization is envisioned to manage development projects in Istria, the dissemination of information and region-wide promotional campaigns.
The Society of Slovene Exiles organized a commemoration of the end of World War II at Brestanica Castle to be held on Sunday, 4 June. During the war, Brestanica's castle was used by Nazi occupiers as a concentration camp. About 63,000 Slovenes were held at that camp and similar ones in Croatia and Serbia. Survivors of the camps express disappointment at the fact that they have never been compensated for damages incurred during the war and that the Slovene government is delaying the preparation of a law that would resolve that issue. President Kučan is expected to attend.
Sixteen Slovene inventors participated in the Inpex show in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (USA). All sixteen won awards: ten gold medals, five silver and one bronze in total. Slovenia placed third among the countries represented in terms of number of awards won. A group of inventors from Celje who presented a water purifier were given a special award for achievement in environmental innovation. Two thousand inventors participated, from across the world.
Maribor University hosted a round table called Students' Perspectives on the Media this week. Of particular mention was the impact that the new law on media will have on student media. The law is currently awaiting its second reading in parliament. Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Culture Matjaž Jarec and Darinko Koresa Jacks of the Maribor-based daily newspaper Večer were among the participants. Slovenia has 52 student-run newspapers, and countless other student-managed publications. The discussion was organized by the newspaper Študentski Utrip.
There was great debate this week about the proposed reorganization of Maribor University. The proposal is to create a Philosophy Faculty and a Natural Sciences and Mathematics Faculty at the University by cutting part of the existing Pedagogical Faculty. A student round table on the issue showed that the students support the plan to establish the new faculties, but not at the expense of the Pedagogical Faculty. Pedagogical Faculty staff feel that there is not enough teachers for even that one faculty, and so it is unrealistic to create two new ones.
An exhibit called From Romans to Slavs opened on 2 June at the National Museum of Slovenia. The show is composed of archaeological finds from the present-day territory of Slovene that date from between the fifth to the tenth centuries, A.D. The exhibit traces the development of Slovenia's land and people from the time of the Roman Empire, through the eras of suzerainty under the Goths, Langobards and Avars, up to the coming of the Slavs and the establishment of the independent Duchies of Carinthia (Karatanija) and Carniola (Karniola). In the eighth century, the land was incorporated into the Frankish Kingdom. The exhibition runs from 2 June to 9 November 2000.
Ljubljana's art community is busy putting the final touches on its preparations for the major international exhibition Manifesta 3. Two of the curators arrived in Ljubljana last week, and the other two are expected soon. Artists have also begun to arrive from around world, the final total is expected to be 60. The exhibition will open on 23 June.
Brian J Požun, 2 June 2000