Central Europe Review: politics, society and culture in Central and Eastern Europe
Vol 2, No 10
13 March 2000

Slovenian News Review C E N T R A L   E U R O P E A N    N E W S:
News Round-up for Slovenia
News from Slovenia since 3 March 2000

Brian Požun

Kurentovanje, the traditional Slovene pre-Lenten carnival, was held this week all over the country. A major site of the festivities was Ptuj, which hosted its 40th annual Kurentovanje. Participating in the event were 60 groups of elaborately costumed revelers and more than 40,000 visitors. "Kurentovanje" comes from a folktale about the Kurent, or Korent, a being who chases away winter and ushers in spring. During Kurentovanje, young men dress up in elaborate leather masks with horns, big noses and long tongues, and sheepskin costumes with cow bells hanging from their belts. Ptuj is the home of the oldest documented depictions of Kurent masks in Slovenia, which can be seen on the facades of two eighteenth-century houses in the city. The festivities at Ptuj were sponsored this year by Minister of Small Business and Tourism Janko Razgoršek.

A meeting Thursday of representatives of the community of Lendava, the local council of Hotiža and Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel provided a forum for residents of the Slovene-Croatian border region to air their grievances, heightened by an incident last weekend at Hotiža on the Slovene side of the border with Croatia. Three Slovene citizens were arrested and their passports confiscated by Croatian police for illegally crossing the border. Reinforcements of about 20 Croatian officers were called. The Slovene Ministry for Internal Affairs protested the handling of the incident, denouncing the amount of force used and the fact that in transporting the apprehended Slovene citizens to Croatia proper, the police themselves illegally crossed Slovene territory. Since the independence of both Slovenia and Croatia from Yugoslavia in 1991, the border has never been officially delineated. The incident at Hotiža caused a diplomatic flurry between the two governments for more than a week.

Dimitrij Rupel made his first official visit to Rome this week since his reappointment as foreign minister. Rupel and his Italian counterpart, Lamberto Dini, signed two important agreements: one on cooperation in the fields of culture and education, which primarily concerns the Slovene minority in Italy and the Italian minority in Slovenia; the other on the promotion and protection of investments. The one-day visit coincided with concern surrounding the proposed Law on the Global Protection of Slovenes in Italy, which is to be debated in the Italian Parliament next month and which has been the object of much anxiety among the Slovene minority in Italy, centered in Trieste.

At a press conference this week, Minister of Employment, Family and Social Affairs Anton Rop announced a new governmental initiative entitled "One Thousand New Opportunities." The program is aimed at increasing the employment of the chronically unemployed, people over 45 years of age and the handicapped. By utilizing new approaches to employment, the program hopes to curb unemployment in the focus groups, give new opportunities to the underprivledged as well as build up sectors of the economy in which performance has been lacking. Rop stated that at the end of last year, there were 114,348 unemployed persons in Slovenia, of which 24.8 percent were between the ages of 40 and 50, and 25.9 percent were older than 50; 28,352 young people and 14,878 handicapped people were also among the unemployed.

A new national housing program was announced on Thursday at a meeting of the Parliamentary Committee for Infrastructure. The plan aims to steadily increase the building of new housing units to no less than 10,000 annually by 2009, the pre-independence level of new housing construction. The plan is being well received, given the high demands and low availability of the current housing market.

Minister of Transport Anton Bergauer and Minister of Small Business and Tourism Janko Razgoršek, together with the head of Adria Airways, Peter Grašek, announced on Friday that regular flights between Maribor, Slovenia, and Munich, Germany, would commence on 3 April 2000.

The third international film festival of Skopje, Macedonia will be held from 10 to 19 March. Slovene director Janez Burger's first film, V Leru (Idle Running), will be shown as part of the Regional Films section of the festival. V Leru, a comic drama about the lives of several students, was released last year and won six awards at the Portorož film festival in Slovenia.

Brian Požun, 10 March 2000


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