Protestant chaplains join army
Late this week, an agreement was approved between the Slovene Evangelical Church and the government which will introduce Protestant chaplains into the Slovene Army. A similar controversial agreement was signed at the end of September with the Catholic Church. At the time, the government was sharply criticised for showing religious preference.
The current agreement came just a few days after President Milan Kučan met with Geza Erniša, head of the Slovene Evangelical Church. The chaplain agreement controversy was on the agenda at the meeting. Kučan, who is no fan of the current right-center government and who is also not interested in giving the Vatican influence over domestic affairs, clearly had a sympathetic ear for the Protestant Church.
The controversy began on 22 September when an agreement was signed by the Commission for Outstanding Questions with the Catholic Church and the Slovene Bishops' Conference on Relations with the State that would introduce Catholic chaplains into the Slovene Army. The right-center coalition which has led Slovenia since June is often criticized for its close relationship with the Catholic Church.
A commentator for the weekly Mladina wrote that "the question now is, when will Slovenia also get Orthodox chaplains?" The Orthodox Church is the country's second largest, even though the Protestant Church has significantly deeper historic roots.
Minority law in the Italian senate
In Rome on Tuesday two members of the Italian Senate, Luigi Biscardi and Felice Besostri, met with representatives of the Slovene minority in Italy. On the agenda was the Law on the Global Protection of the Slovene Minority, which is currently under review in the Senate. After the meeting, the head of the Council of Slovene Organizations, Sergij Pahor, and the head of the Slovene Cultural-Economic Union, Rudi Pavšič told the press that the minority expects the law to be passed by November.
Pahor stressed that no one is particularly happy with the law, but, for now, it is an acceptable compromise that can be renegotiated in the future.
Several MPs from the political right have demanded more than 1000 alterations to the text. More that 1500 were proposed in the bill's reading in the lower house of Parliament. The law was passed on 12 July by the lower house of Parliament, and now only the Senate must pass it before it becomes accepted as law.
Potočnik visits Prague
Also this week, Ljubljana mayor Viktorija Potočnik made a two-day official visit to the Czech capital, Prague. Potočnik met with Prague mayor Jan Kasl, and the two discussed opportunities for cooperation in the fields of culture, local government and tourism. She also formally invited Kasl to a meeting of mayors of Central and Southeast European cities to be held next year in Ljubljana. The two also discussed the century-long tradition of cultural cooperation between their cities.
The rector of Ljubljana University, Peter Fister, accompanied the mayor and met with the rector of Charles University, Jirij Kraus. The pair discussed their universities' experiences with student and professor exchange programs and student housing. They also finalized an agreement to introduce Czech language post-graduate study to the Philosophy Faculty of Ljubljana University, and to increase cooperation in the field of biomedicine.
Potočnik has been very active in meeting her counterparts in other European countries. So far this year, she has played host to the mayors of Brussels and Stockholm, and made an official visit to the mayor of Zagreb, the first since the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia. She has also visited Vienna, Athens and Moscow this year and signed cooperation agreements between Ljubljana and those three cities.
Youth and the Internet
The results of research on Internet usage among young people were published this week in Mladina. The research was conducted among 1508 school children by the Ljubljana firm, Aragon.
The findings show that 86.1 per cent of Slovene school children are familiar with the Internet. On average, Slovene children who have access to the Internet use it 12.8 hours per month.
When asked what form of media they spend the most time using, 38.6 per cent said television, 28.8 per cent said radio, 10.9 said daily newspapers, 10.7 said weekly and monthly periodicals and only nine per cent said the Internet. Of those children who have Internet access, 46.9 per cent use it to find information, 34.7 use it for programming and 33.4 for communication.
Interestingly, 27.4 per cent of the respondents said their parents forbid them from using the Internet. More than 19 per cent have been punished by their parents for spending too much time on the Internet, and more than eight per cent have been punished because their parents objected to how they were using it.
One fifth of the respondents said their parents have no idea what the Internet even is.
The 35th annual Borštnikovo Srečanje theatre festival is taking place in Maribor and around Slovenia from 13 to 29 October.
The festival's highlight so far is the performance by the Belgrade theatre troupe, Atelje 212. This was the troupe's first performance in Slovenia since the dissolution of the former Yugoslavia. They are performing a French play, Roberto Zucco, directed by a young Macedonian, Aleksandr Popovski.
The prominent Slovene band, Šukar, also performed this week as part of the Borštnikovo Srečanje festival. The band performed its trademark gypsy-influenced music with special guests. Šukar recently celebrated its tenth anniversary at Cankarjev Dom in Ljubljana.
And in other cultural news...
- World-renowned author and poet Aleš Debeljak gave a lecture this week at Cankarjev Dom in Ljubljana called "Heretical Lecture: Kocbek, Rožanc, Kermauner and the Search for God." The talk focused on those three prominent Slovene poets, all of whom rejected the Catholic faith but then returned to try to discover God through their own free will. All three wanted to find God in their own way, not in the way the Church dictates. [See Aleš Debeljak's articles "Ljubljana University: Between hopes and anxieties" and "The Pursuit of Unhappiness" in CER]
- Director Damjan Kozole's Porno Film made its premier in wide distribution around Slovenia this week. The production team and actors were on hand at premiers in Ljubljana, Portorož, Maribor, Celja, Novo Mesto, and several other towns. The film will officially open on 26 October throughout the country. The film premiered at this spring's Portorož Festival of Slovene Film, where it won six prizes. It has been well received on the film festival circuit all year.
- Plans are underway for next spring's fourth annual Portorož Festival of Slovene Film. The past year has been quite active for Slovene film, and as many as 12 feature films could be included. Last year, only four new features were premiered at the festival. The latest film by director Janez Burger of V Leru (Idle Running) fame is expected to be on the festival's schedule, along with Zvenenje v Glavi (Ringing in the Head), the latest film by director Andrej Košak based on a play by Drago Jančar.
Brian J Požun, 21 October 2000
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