Ljubljana related

17 Dec 2019, 09:00 AM

STA, 16 December 2019 - Slovenian Consul General in Italy's Trieste Vojko Volk has condemned the posters on which an Italian neo-fascist movement labelled five Slovenian victims of fascism as terrorists. The provocation happened in two Italian towns on Saturday, on the eve of an event commemorating the victims.

The five patriots - Pinko Tomažič, Viktor Bobek, Simon Kos, Ivan Ivančič and Ivan Vadnal - were executed on 15 December 1941 after being sentenced to death by a fascist court in what is known as the "second Trieste trial".

On the eve of the 78th anniversary of their execution, Casa Pound put up posters in Opicina and Longera, saying they were not victims but terrorists, Primorski Dnevnik, the newspaper of the Slovenian minority in Italy, reported two days ago.

The neo-fascist campaign was immediately condemned by the Slovenian minority party - Slovenian Community (SSk) and by the Slovenian Cultural and Economic Association, an umbrella minority organisation.

Related: Ethnic Slovenes in Italy Concerned about Neo-Fascist Rally in Trieste, Saturday (Videos)

TIGR Primorska, an association cherishing the memory of the first anti-Fascist fighters in the area Italy occupied after WWI, also condemned the incident, urging Slovenian senior officials to respond.

It called on President Borut Pahor, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, Foreign Minster Miro Cerar and Consul Volk to ask Italy's officials to publicly distance themselves from such acts.

Responding to the appeal, Volk said today the provocation was meant to undermine the achieved level of cooperation and trust among the Slovenian and Italian nations.

He noted that in 2020, 100 years will have passed since the National Home in Trieste was burnt down by Fascists, on which occasion the Slovenian and Italian presidents will be in Trieste for a commemoration. Talks are also under way for the National Home to be returned to the Slovenian minority.

"These processes contribute to reconciliation and coexistence among the nations and direct us towards the future at concrete and symbolic levels", which Volk believes some far-right groups in Italy find disturbing.

"But it is up to us to respond to political provocations calmly and resolutely," he wrote in his response, noting yesterday's commemoration in Opicina was exactly such a response.

The diplomat stressed a lot of people turned out, and Trieste Mayor Roberto Dipiazza as one of the speakers strongly condemned the provocation and urged tolerance.

04 Nov 2019, 17:48 PM

On this day In 1926, Fascists occupied Trgovski dom (home of trade), a building where Slovenian trade and cultural associations in Gorica were located.

The building, designed by Max Fabiani, was built and furnished by Slovenian enterprises from the Gorica area in 1904.

trgovski dom.jpg

Besides the trade cooperative, Trgovski dom also hosted several stores and offices, a gym, a library and reading room of the National Teachers Association. It was a location where theatre performances, concerts and other cultural events took place.

In November 1926, following an assassination attempt on Benito Mussolini in Bologna earlier in October, squads of terrorising Fascist groups (Squadristi) were raging across the Julian March. On today’s date the squadrists broke into Trgovski dom in Gorica and took control of the building.

A bit later the place was renamed “Casa Littorio”, and in December 1933 an Italian liquidator formally sold it to the Fascist Party in Gorica.

After the WWII it was taken back by the Slovenian minority and renamed Ljudski dom. But in 1946 Slovenian and anti-fascist organisations already had to vacate it again. Following the annexation of Gorica to Italy, the government used the building for its offices.

trgovskidom ljudskidom.jpg

The Slovenian minority advocated for the return of the house for many decades, and only at the start of the new millennium did things start to move. The house was finally renovated and returned to the Slovenian minority in the form of a library in 2014.

trgovski dom 3.jpg
Google street view, 2017
17 Sep 2019, 18:01 PM

Numerous outlets are carrying a report from the Associated Press about armed individuals – carrying knives – now patrolling Slovenia’s border with Croatia. These are part of Andrej Šiško’s Štajerska varda (“Home Guard”), the anti-migrant movement led by the former football hooligan, presidential candidate and recent prison inmate. Šiško is quoted as saying his goal is “to train people to defend their country and help the military and police at a time of massive migrations from the African and Asian states, mostly Muslims.”

One member of the group is Blaž Židar, a “47-year-old former Slovenian army soldier, dressed in camouflage trousers with a long knife hanging from his belt” who  goes on daily patrols near his village of Radovica. The story quotes him as saying “I would prefer to enjoy my retirement peacefully, but security reasons are preventing this.” He goes on to say that his six children often join him on patrol, along with his wife, “because they have to learn how to protect their nation from intruders.”

Related: 1 in 8 Slovenians is an immigrant

The reporter, Dušan Stojanović, goes on to interview Miha Kovač, a Slovenian political analyst and professor at the University of Ljubljana, who describes such anti-migrant groups as made up of “guys with big beer bellies who don’t have much of an education, who didn’t have much of a career, who don’t know what to do with themselves in the contemporary world. They find their meaning in this kind of movement and this kind of hatred toward migrants.”

While Kovač doesn’t see the movement as an immediate danger, he says the problem would get worse if Slovenia had significant numbers of immigrants, from 20-50,000.

Meanwhile, the story claims the authorities are happy to turn a blind eye to the patrols, as long as they stay within the law. As France Bozicnik, the head of criminal police at a police station near the border, states: “People call us on the phone every day and give us information about suspicious vehicles and suspicious persons, and we sincerely thank them for this information.”

You can see the full story here, while all our stories on Andrej Šiško are here


05 Jun 2019, 15:49 PM

STA, 5 June 2019 - A municipal councillor of the Italian city of Trieste Lorenzo Giorgi marked Italy's Republic Day, observed on 2 June, by posting on his Facebook a map of Italy which reincorporated parts of Slovenia as well as Croatia's Istria and Dalmatia. The Slovenian Foreign Ministry denounced his actions on Wednesday.


"Historical revisionism opposes the basic principles of the European system, while such actions do not benefit neighbour relations and coexistence between the two nations," reads the ministry's press release.

The ministry added that Slovenia rejected and denounced territorial claims, which were indicated in the Facebook post. It also expects that Italy's political representatives will act in line with common European values and the rule of law.

A similar reaction came from Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, who noted his criticism of European Parliament President Antonio Tajani's comments about "Italian Istria, Dalmatia and Rijeka". He also noted that he did not accept Tajani's apology at the time because it was not sincere.

"All such attempts and actions must be condemned. This doesn't mean the relationship between the two countries is deteriorating. Not at all. But it needs to be said what bothers us. Such things not only bother us but are an outright stab in the heart," Šarec commented on the sidelines of the Three Seas Initiative summit.

Giorgi, a member of Berlusconi's centre-right party Forza Italia, has been in charge of European projects as a councillor since the past week. According to the regional newspaper Primorski Dnevnik, apart from including the controversial map, Giorgi also wrote "Our Italy" in the post.

The map of Italian irredentism claims parts of Slovenia, Croatia's Istria and Dalmatia, French Corsica and parts of Provence as well as Swiss canton of Ticino as parts of Italy. All those territories used to belong to Italy in the past.

Related: European Parliament President Apologises for "Long Live Italian Istria”, But Salvini Remains Defiant

The incident comes in the wake of the Basovizza controversy, a similar incident when Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament and a member of the same party as Giorgi, caused controversy in Slovenia and Croatia with his revisionist statements at the ceremony commemorating Italian victims of World War II massacres in February.

Slovenia and Croatia accused Tajani of territorial claims and World War II revisionism.

03 Apr 2019, 18:24 PM

The occupation of Ljubljana by Italian Fascists lasted from April 1941 until September 1943, and was a time of horror, with around 25,000 people from the area deported and sent to concentration camps, as well as the city itself being surrounded by barbed wire. Moreover, when the Italians left the Germans moved in.

However, this story won’t dwell on these details, but instead presents some Italian archive footage showing scenes of the occupation, with many sights and buildings that will be familiar to those who only know the city today, in happier times.

All our stories about Slovenian history are here

26 Feb 2019, 16:30 PM

STA, 26 February 2019 - Frans Timmermans, the lead candidate of the Party of European Socialists (PES) for president of the European Commission, argued in an interview with the STA that the European Commission had been "crystal clear" in its reaction to the Slovenian-Croatian border dispute. He also warned against the instrumentalisation of history by politicians.

The first vice-president of the European Commission, who is to visit Slovenia on Thursday as part of the EU election campaign, does not share the view that the European Commission allowed politics to get in the way of law in the case of Croatia's refusal to implement the border arbitration award.

"Thank you for this open and very unbiased question... First of all, this is a bilateral matter. Second, we've been very clear the award needs to be implemented," the Dutch politicians said, arguing that Slovenia and Croatia could "not discharge responsibility and say the Commission should resolve this".

"This is not our role," he added, also dismissing claims about the Commission completely ignoring the opinion of its legal service that confirmed a link between the arbitration award and EU law.

"This is an oversimplification. The link is that if you don't have clarity on the border, you have problems with EU policies, such as fisheries and other policies. This is the link with EU law. These are the consequences of the award not being implemented and the parties should start implementing the award."

"The Commission has been crystal clear about that and I really don't understand why our position is not understood."

Commenting on the state of social democracy in Europe, Timmermans said he does not "believe this doom and gloom about social democracy".

"There's a more general point that the traditional popular parties on the centre left and centre right are both no longer the huge parties they used to be. It's not just a problem of social democracy but of the European People's Party (EPP) as well. So we are not alone in that.

"I want to warn about the temptation in both, centre left and centre right, to think that you can regain your position by going to the extremes. I don't agree with that analysis because if you want to go to the extremes there's already somebody there and they are the original.

"Or you stay true to your own soul and you stay centre left and that's what we are. Looking at Europe today, the central left is staying more in the course of the lines we believe in than the central right which is courting to the extreme right everywhere," Timmermans said, adding he was constantly warning the EPP against getting its soul changed by extremes.

Tajani wrong to rewrite history

Asked in this context about the statements by European Parliament President Antonio Tajani that were understood as Italy's territorial claims against Slovenia and Croatia, Timmermans said he hates it when politicians start instrumentalising history or rewriting history.

"And this is what Tajani did. I disagree with him fundamentally. I'm not asking for his resignation but I want to make it clear that I strongly disagree with him.

"As Churchill put it, the history of Europe is written by rivers of blood and we overcame rivers of blood after the Second World War...Please, please leave history to the historians, they deserve to be writing history not the politicians."

Timmermans, who said he was aiming for the post of European Commission president and had, contrary to rumours in Brussels, "no interest whatsoever in being the EU's high representatives for foreign affairs", also elaborated on his call for a new social contract for Europe.

Tech firms must be taxed

"We're in the fourth industrial revolution, everything is changing, which means the relationship between people and states also needs to change and adopt to this new reality," he said.

People across Europe feel "that our society is not fair for many reasons", he said, listing fairer taxation as the first step towards changing this.

"It's completely inadmissible that the biggest corporations in the world would make profits here but don't pay a single euro of tax. You don't allow your local café to live like that, so why would you let Google, Facebook or Amazon do it?"

Other necessary steps listed by Timmermans include fair minimum wages in all members state, EU legislation that would secure fair job contracts for the young, and affordable housing.

17 Feb 2019, 09:59 AM

STA, 16 February 2019 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec has criticised the conduct of senior Italian politicians in the aftermath of controversial statements made by European Parliament President Antonio Tajani and Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini last week, saying that historical revisionism was "completely misguided".

"This is reminiscent of Marshal [Pietro] Badoglio, who took over the government after Mussolini and succeeded in Italy hardly being recognised as a country in which Fascism was in power. Germany has gone through profound denazification, Italy has not had such a process," Šarec told Večer in an interview published on Saturday.

"As a Slovenian, I'm sensitive to falsification of history and in such cases things have to be said clearly. The Slovenian nation has never attacked anybody, it never had territorial designs, on the contrary, we lost a lot, which is why depictions of Slovenians as occupying forces need to be forcefully resisted," he said.

Šarec was among the first Slovenian officials to respond after Tajani and Salvini addressed a ceremony in Basovizza, Italy on Sunday marking the day of remembrance for Italian victims of post WWII-executions. He called the statements "unparalleled revisionism" and said Fascism's goal had been to destroy the Slovenian nation.

While Salvini has expressed surprise at Šarec's comments and reactions in Slovenia overall, Tajani issued several apologies, after his first comments were interpreted as a textbook example of a non-apology.

Šarec told the newspaper what Tajani had initially said was "not an apology. It sounded as if you called someone a complete idiot, they demand an apology, and you say: 'Sorry, you really aren't a complete idiot.' This is just saying the same thing differently."

In Slovenia disputes over postwar history are not rare and Šarec has faced his share of criticism for several speeches he has delivered at ceremonies commemorating the victims of WWII, but he says that he is "not the one bringing up history".

"I don't raise such issues, nor does the Marjan Šarec List, other politicians do it. But I will never not react to statements that do not belong in the 21st century. Polarisation is not good, we should learn from history by acknowledging what was wrong and celebrating what was good."

Slovenia not turning foreign policy towards the US

Asked whether Slovenia's support for Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido "is a turn of Slovenian foreign policy towards the US", Šarec said it was not.

"It's not a turn in foreign policy. We always try to have good relations with all. We also don't have very close relations or too many visits with Russia."

He added he did not consider the support for Guaido as turning in the US direction "because we are Europeans".

"The whole EU has problems with the US policy of President Donald Trump," Šarec said, noting "twitter diplomacy does not suit us". As a small country, Slovenia must also pay attention to its own interests, he told the Maribor-based newspaper.

15 Feb 2019, 18:00 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, February 15, 2019

Mladina: EU election campaign to be dominated by fierce rhetoric

STA, 15 February 2019 - The magazine Mladina says the coming EU elections will be a clash, yet not a clash for a united Europe but a clash within Europe, of one nation against the other, as it comments on European Parliament President Antonio Tajani's recent revisionist statements at a foibe commemoration in Italy.

Editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says in Friday's editorial that superpowers America, Russia and China will also get involved because a weak EU is in their interest.

"These elections will be much more ground-breaking than we have hoped," Mladina says under the headline Tajani, Just a True European.

"We can he grateful to Antonio Tajani for his speech at Basovizza, since the majority of people has overlooked the fact that with a few exceptions, most European parties have started resorting to nationalist rhetoric over the past four years."

Nationalist populism has become s staple of political success in the West, even moderate politicians use it for fear of being accused no not being patriotic enough.

"This is of course a way to hell, but also the European political reality," says Repovž, recalling that in fear of losing the race against nationalists, some have gone as far as erecting razor wire on the border during the recent migration crisis.

Just before the elections to the European Parliament, Tajani showed very clearly that the election campaign will be pervaded by nationalist rhetoric. "Nobody will dare avoid it in order not to fall behind."

It adds that Tajani is no radical extremist, but a calculating politician with short-term goals in his mind who also has to adjust to the rhetoric of Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini which dominates Italy.

But his statements also show he apparently cares little about Europe currently being a fragile institution with an uncertain future where it can easily happen that European institutions themselves start using nationalist populism.

"Let us not be fooled by his apology," Repovž says, noting Tajani did not think his words would resound from a small village on the far east of Italy all the way to Brussels.

Demokracija: Vouchers could revitalise Slovenian culture and bring it closer to the people

STA, 14 February 2019 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija disputes the quality of Slovenian arts in response to the Culture Day ceremony address by Vinko Möderndorfer, the chairman of the Prešeren Fund board. It argues Slovenia should introduce a voucher system as proposed by James Heilbrun and Charles M. Gray in The Economics of Art and Culture.

"In his speech, Möderndorfer degraded and insulted Slovenians and Slovenia as few before him in a long while ... The recurring theme was the same: badmouthing the state over its stepmotherly attitude to culture despite an extra 30 million euro for culture in this year's budget.

"But it is not enough. It is never enough. Even if the Culture Ministry's budget increased by 100 or 200 million euro, they would still demand an increase in public spending; most on their own behalf," editor-in-chief Jože Biščak writes.

He agrees that Slovenian culture is in the doldrums. However, he says the reason is not underfunding but rather that "a bunch of people, self-styled artists have learnt that they can get money without trying at least a bit to justify it and satisfy the needs of culture consumers".

"Their works, whatever they are, are mostly an aim in itself, no one ever even thinks of fighting for the reader, viewer or buyer. Also because the taxpayers are forced to pay for something they are not interested in even in their nightmare," Biščak writes, offering Möderndorfer's latest film as a case in point.

He says that the only cure is market economy, but he also offers vouchers as a compromise that would suit those who believe culture should be financed from public funds and those who favour market logic.

He proposes that the roughly EUR 380m or EUR 190 per capita that is allocated for culture from the national and local budgets should be distributed among Slovenia's citizens so that everyone gets a EUR 190 voucher a year to spend it on culture of their own choice. The artists who get the vouchers would then exchange them for money from the budget.

All our posts in this series can be found here

15 Feb 2019, 16:30 PM

STA, 15 February 2019 - Slovenia's European Commissioner Violeta Bulc has invited European Parliament President Antonio Tajani to join her in paying respect to Slovenian victims of fascist and Nazi violence by visiting the former Nazi concentration camp Risiera in Trieste and the nearby village of Basovizza.

Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc issued the invitation in a letter after a Twitter exchange with Tajani in the wake of his recent contentious speech at a commemoration of Italian victims of WWII aftermath events.

While Tajani said "I'm ready" as the proposal was made by Bulc in the 11 February Twitter exchange in which the commissioner accused him of distorting historical facts, he has not yet responded to the letter.

All our stories about Facism in relations to Slovenia can be found here

Bulc is proposing they jointly lay wreaths at Risiera and at a memorial near the village of Basovizza to honour the deaths of three Slovenian and a Croatian anti-fascists at the hands of Italian soldiers in 1930. They are considered the first victims of fascism in Europe.

It was Basovizza where Tajani remembered the Italian victims of post-war executions and Italian exiles from the regions of Istria and Dalmatia last Sunday, calling out "Long live Trieste, long live the Italian Istria, long live the Italian Dalmatia" in the process. He has since apologised for these words.

In the letter, Bulc welcomes Tajani's willingness to accompany her and proposes that the gesture be made on "25 April to commemorate Italy's Liberation Day".

"In these challenging times for the EU it is more important than ever before to promote the EU as project for peace, solidarity and unity and as bringing prosperity to all our nations," Bulc wrote in the letter, which she also published on Twitter.

"History teaches us that aggressive nationalism can easily be misused for nationalistic conflicts and even fuel war. I believe that society is today ready to build its future on cooperation and respect for one another."

14 Feb 2019, 12:00 PM

STA, 13 February 2019 - The statement European Parliament President Antonio Tajani made in Italy's Basovizza on Sunday can also be understood as territorial claims, so I reject it completely, President Borut Pahor said on Wednesday. Tajani has meanwhile apologised for the statement after meeting Slovenian and Croatian MEPs over the matter.

"I expect Tajani to fully distance himself from his words," Pahor said on the sidelines of his calling the elections to the European Parliament in Slovenia.

He expects Tajani to realise his words were wrong and distance himself from them, which should be done as soon as possible to calm down the debate they have sparked off.

Pahor referred to the statement "Long live Trieste, long live Italian Istria, long live Italian Dalmatia, long live Italian exiles" Tajani made at the commemoration of the remembrance day for the Italian foibe victims.

Related: Slovenian Officials Criticise Italian "Revisionism" Over Foibe Massacres

He believes that in politics this is not an unimportant matter but a major issue which justifiably worries those to whom it refers.

Pahor added that Europe, which is built on reconciliation and mutual respect, cannot turn a blind eye to such words.

This is not the first time that senior Italian officials expressed unacceptable stances and assessments, Pahor stressed.

"But it is the first time that this happened in the context of European politics, when the European idea of integration and cooperation is weak, when there are serious signs of its crisis, when such stances are increasingly worrying."

It is due to these circumstances that Pahor expects the European Parliament president to come up with an appropriate and clear response.

Tajani met the Slovenian and Croatian MEPs from the European People's Party (EPP) group today and apologised for Sunday's statements in Basovizza after the meeting.

Tajani sorry for any offense

"I sincerely regret and I apologise for using the words which may have offended your citizens and which have been understood as a kind of a territorial claim. I assure you that this was neither my intention nor position on the matter," he said in a statement.

Tajani added that he was referring to the Italian-speaking exiles from Istria and Dalmatia, their children and grandchildren, many of whom attended the ceremony in Basovizza.

He said that his political career offered much evidence of his friendship and respect of Croatia and Slovenia, and added that all forms of totalitarianism deserved resolute condemnation.

Slovenian MEPs Franc Bogovič (EPP/SLS) and Lojze Peterle (EPP/NSi) said after the meeting that they were satisfied with the apology.

The EPP meanwhile announced that Tajani would also send a letter in a similar vein to Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar, who wrote to the European Parliament president about the matter yesterday.

Pahor addressed a letter about the incident to Italian President Sergio Mattarella already on Monday.

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