Sunday was Slovenia Day at the World's Fair Expo 2000, in Hannover, Germany. Slovene President Milan Kučan was on hand for the festivities, along with Minister of Science and Technology Lojze Marinček and numerous performers including the world-famous Slovene band Laibach. The Slovene pavilion is called the Virtualni Travnik Realnega Hrepenenja (Virtual Meadow of Real Yearning), and will be open to visitors until 31 October, when Expo 2000 closes.
Since its opening on 1 June, 25,000 people have visited the Slovene pavilion. After the 1998 World's Fair in Lisbon, this is the second time Slovenia has participated in a World's Fair as an independent state.
The national soccer team returned home from Euro 2000 on Friday to a crowd of over 1000 people at Ljubljana's Brnik airport. As part of the tournament's Group C, Slovenia lost to Spain 2:1, and tied both Yugoslavia (3:3) and Norway (0:0). Yugoslavia and Spain have advanced to the quarter finals. The Slovene team, however, are not disappointed - making it to the European championships for the first time was itself a tremendous accomplishment. President Milan Kučan attended the Slovenia-Norway match on Wednesday and hosted a reception for the team upon their return to Slovenia.
After weeks of discussion, it was announced this week that a summit of heads of state of countries once part of the Former Yugoslavia will take place sometime this fall. The idea of the summit was suggested by French President Jacques Chirac to Croatian President Stipe Mesić at the end of last month. Participants will come from Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Hercegovina, Macedonia and Montenegro. Members of Serbia's political opposition are also expected to be invited. It is expected that Zagreb will be the summit's host.
On Monday, the city of Trieste (Trst) hosted a conference called Italians and Slovenes: Two Autochthonous Ethnic Groups Serving Trieste and the Furlania-Julian Region, led by Trieste assistant mayor Roberto Damiani. The conference was another important step taken by the municipal administration of Trieste to encourage the passing of the long awaited law to protect the Slovene minority community in Italy, as well as to promote rapprochement and good relations between the local Italian and Slovene communities. Historically, there have been many serious issues between the two communities.
In total, over 200 people attended the conference including numerous important political figures from Trieste and the Furlania-Julian Regions and representatives of the local Slovene community. Trieste mayor Riccardo Illy addressed the conference, reiterating his belief that the presence of the Slovene minority should be seen as adding to the richness of the city and the region as a whole. Eugenio Ravignani, Bishop of Trieste, delivered an address to the conference in which he denounced "cleansing of memories" and encouraged both communities to recognize that in the past both have suffered and that each must have respect for the other.
Both Illy and Ravignani urged Italian parliament to pass the law protecting the Slovene minority without further delay. If all goes according to plan, the law will come before parliament at the beginning of next week.
Also in Trieste, a reception was held on Tuesday by the Consul General of Slovenia Jadranka Šturm Kocjan in conjunction with the Slovene Day of Statehood (25 June). Trieste mayor Riccardo Illy, the Furlania-Julian regional Vice-Governor Miloš Budin, and Slovene mayors from the Trieste, Goriška and Beneška Slovenija regions all attended, along with representatives of the local Slovene community, representatives of Trieste's diplomatic community and others.
Meanwhile in Austria...
This week saw the publication of the results of an opinion poll on the public observance of the 80th anniversary of the plebiscite of 10 October 1920 which awarded Carinthia to Austria. Surprisingly, a vast majority of Carinthia's German speaking population, 73.7 per cent, support a joint observance with the Slovene speaking community. Only 19.7 per cent were opposed. The poll also showed that 60 per cent of the German speaking population support the idea of staging the public observation in both German and Slovene. The festivities will go on under the title Unity in Diversity.
A conference was held in Ljubljana on Thursday concerning history, politics, education and culture of the Slovene minority in the Austrian province of Carinthia. Among the participants was Austrian Ambassador to Slovenia Gerhard Wagner, who addressed the conference in Slovene without an interpreter. Official Austrian statistics cite the number of Slovenes in Austria at 15,000 while other estimates go as high as 60,000. The conference was organized by the National Council, the Austrian Embassy in Slovenia, the Austrian Institute for Eastern and South Eastern Europe and the University of Klagenfurt (Celovec) Department of History of Eastern and South Eastern Europe.
...and in Bosnia...
In Banja Luka on Saturday, Slovene ambassador to Bosnia and Hercegovina Drago Mirošič formally opened the new premises of the Union of Slovenes in the Republika Srpska. There are more than 1000 Slovenes living in the Republika Srpska who are members of the Union. The newly opened premises will be used primarily for cultural activities. One of the Union's most successful activities is its Slovene language class, in which 40 students took part last year.
Art, books and music in Ljubljana
Friday 23 June marked the opening of the major international art exhibition Manifesta 3 in Ljubljana. This year's theme is Borderline Syndrome and focuses on the border as a defensive strategy. The exhibition is taking place at the Modern Gallery, The International Graphic Arts Center, the National Museum and Cankarjev Dom as well as various sites throughout the streets of the capital. Artists from 59 countries are participating. The first Manifesta took place in 1996 in Rotterdam and was followed two years later by Manifesta 2 in Luxembourg.
This week, Ljubljana University's Department of History and the Scientific Institute of the University's Department of Philosophy announced the publication of a book entitled Slovenes and Macedonians in Yugoslavia. The book features essays by academics of both countries, and was published in a bilingual Slovene-Macedonian format. It also includes English language summaries. Publication of the book was supported by the Ministries of Science of Slovenia and Macedonia.
Legendary Bosnian musician Goran Bregović performed on Friday, 23 June, at Križanke in Ljubljana. In his long career, Bregović has been a member of the influential Yugoslav rock band Bijelo Dugme, a successful producer and most recently worked with film director Emir Kusturica on the music for the films Dom za Vešanje (Time of the Gypsies), Arizona Dream and Podzemlje (Underground) as well as the film Princess Margot. In the near future, Bregović will release two new albums, Songbook and Music from Films. Friday's concert is the only one Bregović has planned for Slovenia this year.
Brian J Požun, 24 June 2000