Late this week, the Parliamentary Commission on Culture, Education, Youth and Sport approved a proposal to introduce changes to the existing Law on Intellectual Property. The amendments will harmonize the law with EU legislation, and deal primarily with the Internet.
According to the proposed changes, authors will have to decide themselves whether they will allow their work to be put on the internet. The law also deals with combating piracy of intellectual property.
The proposal will be submitted to Parliament early next week, and it will be recommended that it is reviewed by Parliament according to the "accelerated procedure." The time period for review of a bill in Parliament is quite long, since each one must be debated three times before it is passed. The much quicker accelerated procedure has been used in the review of the majority of legislation intended to harmonize Slovene laws with those of the EU.
Battle for Slovenia's Youth
The Slovene Youth Party (SMS) is once again making news. After managing to get four of its members into Parliament back in October, the party has faced several scandals, all of which blew over quickly. However, one of the scandals may have major repercussions next week.
Last fall, one of the four SMS MPs came under fire for alleged mismanagement of funds while he was the head of the Student Organization of the University of Maribor. Nothing concrete came of the charges other than several assaults in the media.
Political parties are now beginning to manoeuver for control of the National Office of Youth Affairs and the scandal may cost the SNS its chance to lead that Office.
During the formation of the current coalition, Prime Minister Janez Drnovšek tried to lure the SMS into his corner with promises that the SMS would be in control of the Office. When the SMS signed an agreement of support for the coalition (without actually joining it), the office was again a bargaining chip. So it is not surprising that the SMS wants to have the leadership positions in that Office filled by its members.
In light of the accusations of mismanagement of funds, the parties in the governing coalition, the Liberal Democrats (LDS), the United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD), the SLS+SKD Slovene People's Party and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) are reportedly nervous about giving the SMS control over the office and its budget.
The LDS, ZLSD and SLS+SKD all have youth organizations. Each of the parties would much prefer the Office of Youth Affairs to be in the hands of their own people, culled from these youth organizations.
According to the daily Delo, the leading contenders are Mirko Vaupotič of the LDS, who has led the Office in the past; Brane Golubovič of the Young Liberal Democrats (MLD); and Simon Zore of the SMS, who is currently the head of the Student Organization of the University of Ljubljana.
It is expected that the new leadership of the Office will be named by Parliament at its session next Thursday.
Italian foreign minister bears no news
Italy's Foreign Minister Umberto Ranieri made a one-day visit to the capital on Wednesday. Ostensibly, Ranieri came to attend the opening of the new premises of the Italian cultural center in downtown Ljubljana, but the visit was not all pleasure.
Throughout the day he had several high-level meetings. Among others, he met with his Slovene counterpart Dimitrij Rupel and gave his assurances that Italy strongly supports Slovene membership in both NATO and the European Union. Ranieri also commended the Slovene government's work with the Stability Pact.
The question on everyone's mind, however, was when the Italian Senate will pass the long-awaited Law on the Global Protection of the Slovene Minority in Italy. There is much speculation that this could occur as soon as next Tuesday. Ranieri could only comment that the Italian government was eager to put the law in force and recognized its importance to Italian-Slovene relations.
With a population of less that two million, a strong birthrate is essential to Slovenia. It appears that in 2000, things have taken a turn for the better. In 2000, 17,533 children were born in Slovenia. Of those, 9049 were boys, and 8484 were girls.
In Ljubljana, there were 5710 newborns last year, which is 371, or seven per cent, more than in 1999. In Maribor, 2000 children were born, which is 152 more than the previous year. Most other towns around the country registered improvements over 1999, but some, such as the coastal town of Izola, recorded a slight drop. However, the number of births in 2000 was only nine less than in 1999 in that town.
Maribor airport closed
Aerodrom Maribor, which runs the airport at Maribor was forced to shut down the facility this week due to financial problems. The matter has been turned over to the state, and it is expected that Parliament will issue a formal decision on what is to be done early next week.
In the middle of this week, there were predictions that the airport could be reopened as soon as 15 January, but since there has been no word as of yet from Parliament, this seems unlikely.
Last year, a mere 12,000 people used the airport. More than 700,000 people used the airport in nearby Graz (Gradec), Austria, in the same period.
Of the fifty people who work at the airport, most have been laid off. Only a skeleton crew has been kept on for security and maintenance reasons. The last time Aerodrom Maribor was able to issue a pay check for any of its employees was in October.
An analyst for the daily Večer wrote that the airport was severely hurt by the loss of the market of the former Yugoslavia. Currently, it maintains no regular connections to major cities within the former state, which made up a large part of its former business.
On Friday, Večer reported that many letters of support for the continued operation of the airport had been received, coming mainly from abroad. One such letter, from a pilot-training school in Austria which has worked with the Maribor airport, suggested that EU membership in the coming years could improve the airport's financial situation considerably.
Preparations are underway for this year's Rock Otoček festival, to be held in Novo Mesto from 5 to 8 July. The annual festival is a showcase for new talent, and not only do fans choose the bands which participate, but they choose the festival's winner as well.
Until 30 January, music fans can visit several clubs across Slovenia and vote for the bands they want to see at the event. Eleven bands will be chosen to participate in the event, and Dr. Martens is sponsoring the grand prize.
Tinkara Kovač released a new single this week, called In sta šla (And so the two of them went). The song comes from her forthcoming album, due in stores at the end of February. Last year, Kovač together with the rock band Siddharta dominated the annual Zlate Petele awards of the Slovene music industry, and the new album is eagerly awaited.
The band Psycho-Path was the first Slovene band to participated in annual Eurosonic festival in Groningen, the Netherlands, on 5 January. The band's song Recognition was also included on the official Eurosonic compilation CD. The European music industry keeps a close eye on the festival, which is a showcase for up-and-coming acts. Radio stations affiliated with the European Broadcasting Union broadcast the festival live to millions of listeners across the continent.
Brian J Požun, 12 January 2001
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