Slovenia gets its sixth government
For the fourth time, Janez Drnovšek was confirmed last week as Slovenia's Prime Minister. Late this week, he secured parliamentary approval for his ministerial candidates by 66 votes to 20. The governing Liberal Democrats (LDS), United List of Social Democrats (ZLSD), SLS+SKD Slovene People's Party and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) coalition holds 58 of the 90 seats in the National Assembly. The new government should officially assume power on Monday.
The most recognizable of the new (old) names include Dimitrij Rupel, who is now foreign minister for the third time, and Igor Bavčar, who is the minister of European Affairs for the second time. Drnovšek's LDS hold eight of the 14 ministerial posts, while the ZLSD and SLS+SKD each hold three. DeSUS, with only four seats in the Assembly, were not accorded any ministerial posts.
Austria still unsatisfied with Krško
The European Commission's PHARE program released a study this week which shows that the nuclear power plant in the city of Krško (Jederska Elektrarna Krško, JEK) is sitting on geologically stable land.
However, the Austrian government is still not satisfied, saying the PHARE report is valuable only for "informational purposes," and further study is necessary.
The daily Dnevnik pointed out that there is a double standard in Austrian policies. Slovenia and the Czech Republic, both of which border Austria, are being held to higher standards than other countries. Both Hungary and Slovakia have nuclear power plants that are Russian-designed and of poorer quality than the American-built JEK, but Austria has made no demands for the closure of those plants.
Maribor's declining demographics
The Maribor-based daily Večer ran a serial article this week detailing the problems related to the demographic situation in that city and its region. Until relatively recently, the municipality of Maribor was a much larger unit. According to reforms passed shortly after independence, however, the municipality was split into several smaller units.
Even while demographic trends were generally on the increase in Slovenia as a whole, in the Maribor region, they were in decline. In the period from 1961 to 1986, the annual rate of population growth in the former municipality of Maribor fell from 1.17 per cent to 0.78 per cent.
In 1986, the permanent population of the former municipality of Maribor was 190,165 people. In 1998, the population for the corresponding territory had fallen to 184,150. Within the current territory of the city of Maribor, in 1986 there were 106,113 people, and by 1988 it had fallen to 100,200.
Meanwhile, the overall population of Slovenia in 1986 was 1,891,864, and by 1998 it had risen to 1,980,700. The overall population continues to rise, while the population of Maribor and the Styrian region continues to fall.
The major reasons for the decline include the poor employment and housing situation in the area, which is significantly worse than in other regions of the country. Also, the article pointed out that Maribor and Styria are former Austrian regions, and suffer from an Austrian shame of pregnancy. In the Mediterranean Primorska region, pregnancy is celebrated and well respected; accordingly, the birthrate is substantially higher.
The article suggests that the government must revamp its policies towards population development. Programs are already in place, but they are clearly not fully effective. The government also should offer more assistance to young people, and especially young families, particularly in the fields of employment and housing. Tax breaks could also be introduced to make young people's living situations more conducive to having children.
The major Slovene department store chain Mercator will open two stores abroad this weekend. On 1 December, a Mercator super-store will open in Sarajevo, BiH. Two days later, a smaller store will open in Pula, Croatia.
An entire delegation of Slovene political and business figures will attend the Sarajevo store opening. President Milan Kučan will meet with the president of the presidency of Bosnia, Živko Radišić, while Ljubljana mayor Viktorija Potočnik will meet with the mayor of Sarajevo, Muhidin Hamamdžić. Zoran Janković, the head of the Mercator corporation, will meet with representatives of numerous Bosnian businesses.
The Sarajevo super-store will feature more than 30,000 products, 40 per cent of which will be Bosnian-made. The store will employ about 350 people.
The opening in Pula will not be such a spectacle. It is expected that Janković will be the most prominent personality there. The Pula store is just the first of a wave of Mercator stores that will sweep across Croatia in the near future. Mercator stores are planned for Rijeka and Split, and two for Zagreb.
Slovenia observes World AIDS Day
On 1 December, Slovenia will join the world in celebrating World AIDS day. The Slovene Society of Medical Students, SloMSIC, along with the Student Organization of the University of Ljubljana are planning numerous events for the occasion. This is the third year they have done so.
The groups will set up information stations at 11 sites around Ljubljana where they will distribute information, red and white ribbons and condoms. In the evening, there will be a concert on Congress Square.
According to the Institute for Health, in the period 1 January to 20 November 2000, five new cases of AIDS were reported in Slovenia. Of those five, one has already died. There were seven newly registered cases of HIV reported in the same period.
Since 1 January 1986, a total of 89 cases of AIDS have been reported in Slovenia. Today, there are 28 cases of AIDS in Slovenia, and 99 cases of HIV (including those with AIDS). However, people in Slovenia get tested for HIV/AIDS much less frequently than in other European countries, so the actual number of people with the virus could be significantly higher.
And in other news...
- The International Press Institute released the results of a report this week which show that of the 55 member states of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), only 11 did not violate press freedom in 1999 and 2000. Slovenia was among the 11, along with Andorra, Denmark, the Vatican, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Norway, Portugal, San Marino and Switzerland. In the same period, 1999 and 2000, no less than 27 journalists were killed in OSCE countries. Also, 67 were imprisoned and more than 160 were attacked.
- The daily Večer reported unconfirmed rumors this week that President Kučan will become the ambassador to the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia upon retiring from his present post in 2002. The paper also reiterated the common prediction that Prime Minister Janez Drnovšek will be the favorite to become Slovenia's second president since independence in 1991.
- Dnevnik 1950, the sixth installment of Edvard Kocbek's diaries kept around the time of World War II, was published this week by Cankarjeva Založba in Ljubljana. Kocbek (1904-1981) is Slovenia's preeminent modern poet. He served a short career as a member of the Communist government of Yugoslavia immediately after the war. Not long after, however, he was forced out of the government and became a vocal critic of Tito's purges of the anti-Communists.
- Eight students enrolled this year into Moscow State University's Slovene-language program, according to the daily Delo. The program is under the Philological Faculty and was introduced in the 1969 to 1970 school year. In the 1971 to 1972 school year, it became possible to major in Slovene language, but due to staff and space constraints, students are only able to enroll in the program once every five years. This is the seventh generation of Slovene students at the university.
Brian J Požun, 1 December 2000
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