Prime Minister-designate Andrej Bajuk presented his selections for his cabinet to the parliament this week. Analysts maintain however that early elections could still be in Slovenia’s future if parliament fails to approve the choices early next week. The coalition of SLS+SKD Slovene People’s Party and the Social Democrats, who Bajuk represents, hold 44 of the 90 seats in parliament, and even the full support of those 44 MPs is uncertain. President Milan Kučan, former Prime Minister Janez Drnovšek, and other prominent political figures have all opposed forming a new government, believing early elections are a better solution.
President Milan Kučan is making his first working visit to the European Parliament in Strassbourg this week. On Wednesday, he gave an address at a plenary session of the Parliament. The address concerned EU expansion, and Kučan expressed dissatisfaction with EU Commissioner for Enlargement Guenter Verheugen’s recent comments that expansion should be carried out by groups of countries and not by individual merit. Reuters quoted Kučan as saying "The impression is growing of a moving target which is shifting and dampening the enthusiasm of the better prepared candidates with a feeling that they will have to wait for the less prepared." During his visit, Kučan will meet with President of the EC Romano Prodi, Speaker of the European Parliament Nicole Fonatine and representatives of European political parties, among others. He will also meet with the mayor of Strassbourg, Roland Reis, who will award him the Medal of the City of Strassbourg.
Ljubljana mayor Viktorija Potočnik and a delegation from the municipal administration left on a three-day visit to Moscow on Friday. The mayor will meet with her Muscovite counterpart Jurij Lužkov to sign a protocol on friendly relations and cooperation between capitals. Similar documents have already been signed with Athens and Vienna. Potočnik will also meet with Boris Gromov, governor of the Moscow region, as well as with representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church. The visit was timed to coincide with the international symposium on Prešeren and Pushkin (see below).
A demonstration was held this past week to draw attention to the problems of refugees in Slovenia and to protest the closure of the refugee center, Vič. Non-Governmental Organizations working with refugees believe that Slovenia’s law on temporary asylum is too limited and gives refugees no chance to integrate into Slovene society. They maintain that the law is in accordance with neither international conventions nor the practice of other European states. Many of the refugees living at Vič with temporary asylum are from Republika Srpska and still cannot return to their homes.
The Ljubljana-based pharmaceutical company Lek opened a new office in Skopje last week. The official opening was attended by Metod Dragonja, head of Lek, and Ljubčo Georgievski, Macedonian Prime Minister. Dragonja stated that the new office will give Lek a foot-hold in the wider regional market. Lek entered the Macedonian market in 1991 and on its current space it has recorded a 15 percent increase in sales over the past five years.
A delegation from Kosovo was in Ljubljana this week seeking to establish economic ties to Slovenia. Recent advances in Kosovo’s banking, postal, telecom, energy and other infrastructure were discussed with representatives of the Slovene government. The Economic Council of Slovenia told the delegation of its plans to install economic representation in Priština in the middle of this year.
The first session of the Local Agenda 21 Forum will be held on 25 May in Maribor. Agenda 21 is a United Nations accord concerned with environmental issues. The Forum is charged with preparing a Local Agenda 21 for the city of Maribor. The document is to be adopted in September and will guide Maribor in its environmental policies.
The Local Agenda 21 Forum session coincides with Maribor being named Alpine City of the Year for 2000, the third city in the region to be given such an honor. Projects undertaken in Maribor in conjunction with the Alpine City 2000 project focus on energy, food and water, as well as sports and culture. The honor is bestowed in the context of an international initiative established to enact the Alpine Convention and its protocols. Slovenia signed the Alpine Convention in 1991.
From 15 to 19 May, the General Police Administration of the Ministry of Internal Affairs hosted the Criminology course of the Central European Police Academy. This year’s course started in Vienna on 6 March and will end in Budapest on 31 May. Twenty six criminologists are participating from eight countries, among them are two Slovenes. The Academy aims to increase cooperation among Central European police forces, especially in issues of trans-border crime. While in Slovenia, course participants will be introduced to the procedures, duties and organization of Slovene police forces.
"Slovenia and Austria - on the Path to Partnership in the EU," a one-day seminar, was held in Ljubljana this week. Journalists, historians and politicians from Slovenia and Austria participated. Of particular mention during the seminar was the persistence of stereotypes in each country's press.
The Slovene National Theater in Maribor premiered Zalezujoč Godot (Stalking Godot), a new dramatization of a work by Drago Jančar. The play is directed by Vinko Moederndorfer and will tour Bosnia, Austria, Yugoslavia and the United States. The text of Zalezujoč Godot will be published in Slovenia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and the United States.
The Department of Philosophy of Moscow State University hosted an international conference last week on Franc Prešeren and Aleksander Pushkin to mark the year of the 200th anniversary of each poets' birth. Prešeren and Pushkin are each the most prominent Romantic poet of their respective nations. Slavicists from Slovenia, Russia, Austria, Italy, Germany, Macedonia and Japan participated.
The conference was held in conjunction with the first exhibition about Prešeren held in Russia, at the Russian State Library in Moscow. The exhibition features important Slovene and Russian editions of his works. It was organized by the Institute for Slavic Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow State University, the Slovene Academy of Arts and Sciences, Ljubljana University and the Slovene embassy in Moscow.
Cankarjeva Založba has published the first Slovene translation of Viktor Pelevins' novel Omon Ra. Pelevin, born in 1962 in Moscow, is one of the major figures of the latest generation of Russian writers. His short story collection The Blue Lantern won the Russian Booker prize in 1994. Omon Ra was first published in 1992. The Slovene translation was done by Boris Kraševec.
Slovene films are appearing this month in film festivals around the world. Cesta Bratstva in Enotnosti (Highway of Brotherhood and Unity), a documentary by Maja Weiss, was shown earlier this month at Toronto’s Hot Docs festival, and will be shown later this month at the 37th International Festival of Documentary Films in Krakow. The short film Adrian was shown at the Festival of Women Filmmakers in Ankara earlier this month, and will be shown at a Slovene film festival in Cleveland, Ohio, later this month. The Cleveland festival will also feature Janez Burger’s V Leru (Idle Running). A festival in Seattle will also feature V Leru.
Brian J Požun, 22 May 2000