STA, 18 August 2022 - Ptuj will be turning into Roman Poetovio for four days starting on Thursday as the 15th Roman Games get under way in what is Slovenia's oldest city. Nearly 800 costumed actors from six countries will represent life and customs from 2,000 years ago, when the city was a major trade and craft centre.
Gladiators, legionaries, senators, vestal virgins and other ancient Roman characters will fill the town and the Roman Camp Poetovio in the Štuki borough.
After two years with a scaled down programme and without visitors, the Roman Games are returning in full splendour, the organisers have announced.
They pointed out that around 7,000 visitors had been recorded in 2019 and spoke of the largest presentation of antiquity in this part of Europe.
Starting off things will be a space dedication ceremony and an evening party at the Poetovio Roman Camp. On Friday, there will be a children's camp with creative workshops and an evening spectacle in the Roman theatre acquired last year.
The main event will take place on Saturday in the form of a morning procession through the streets of Ptuj featuring all the participants of the games. Groups from abroad will take part and a gladiator fight is expected as well.
At noon the archaeological park Panorama will be the scene of a horse-drawn carriage race, before the action moves back to the camp, where the programme includes a demonstration of Roman crafts and a Roman dinner.
Sunday is family day and visitors will have the chance to enjoy themselves in the Roman way until 5pm, when the closing ceremony will take place with a dedication of the main pillar for the 16th Roman Games.
Poetovio, first mentioned in a written record 1,950 years ago, had more than 40,000 inhabitants, including some 10,000 soldiers. It was the biggest city in the region.
Poetovio established itself as a trade nexus due to its location along the ancient Amber Road trade route. It also prided itself on having its own mints as well as customs and tax offices.
STA, 28 June 2022 - A new documentary film on one of the bloodiest clashes of the 1991 ten-day independence war for Slovenia was screened in Slovenj Gradec on Monday. The film revisits the Holmec border crossing affair, in which Slovenian police and soldiers were accused and later cleared of shooting surrendering Yugoslav army personnel.
Entitled The Battle for Holmec - On the Other Side of Blame (Bitka za Holmec - na drugi strani krivde), the documentary by Slovenian film-maker and Boštjan Slatenšek sheds light on the clash that took place on 27 and 28 June 1991 on the Holmec border crossing with Austria which members of the Yugoslav army attempted to seize.
The film features footage of a meeting of the former adversaries 30 years after the incident that claimed two lives among Slovenian police officers defending the crossing with the assistance of the Slovenian Territorial Defence units, and three lives on the side of the Yugoslav army.
Slatenšek told the press that the Holmec clash, which resurfaced as a political scandal in 1999 amid speculations of a possible war crime that were later refuted, had already touched him during the independence war, during which he first served in the Yugoslav Armed Force to soon join the Territorial Defence.
When the war crime allegations began, he felt it "horrific how the state as such did not come to the defence of those subjected to them in a more determined fashion".
He also feels journalists had failed to present the story the way it deserved to be presented, which is why approaching it with a documentary seemed a logical step.
While the feature-length documentary includes a lot of footage of the developments, Slatenšek highlighted testimonies as the crucial element of the film, including "testimony by the opposite side, which I find the film proved to be credible".
A key moment, captured in footage by an Austrian cameraman, is the surrender of a group of Yugoslav soldiers during which shots can be heard. Commenting on it for the documentary, Husein Šabić, who was in charge on the Yugoslav side, said that none of the soldiers seen surrendering had been killed or hurt.
"Nobody shot at these people who were surrendering. And this is what matters .... nobody was wounded, nobody died. It is therefore not possible that a crime took place," said Slatenšek, whose role in the case is also among the topics of the film.
STA, 22 June 2022 - The remains of at least 529 people executed in post-WWII summary killings have been unearthed from an anti-tank trench in Mostec near Brežice, east Slovenia, according to the Military Heritage Administration (Uprava za vojaško dediščino), which is part of the Defence Ministry.
Archaeological excavation at the site was carried out due to construction of a chain of power stations on the river Sava.
The anti-tank trench, originally dug out in 1945 by the occupying Nazi forces, is around 4.6 metres wide and 3 metres deep.
Historians claimed an area of 120 metres of the trench contained remains of people of various nationalities killed immediately after WWII, and several probes carried out after 2008 confirmed the presence of human remains.
In 2020, the remains of at least 276 people were found alongside thousands of personal effects as excavation was carried out on some 20 metres of the trench.The map below shows the location of Mostec, not the grave
This year's excavation work on another 30 metres started in April and ended in June to find the remains of at least another 253 persons.
So far, the remains of 529 to 532 dead, including 25 to 46 women, have been excavated, and will be handled in line with the law, including the burial.
The Military Heritage Administration - launched a year ago to also manage activities related to war graves - says that excavation will have to continue on the rest of the anti-tank trench.
Since Slovenia gained independence in 1991, a number of mass graves containing the remains of the people executed in summary killings have been discovered.
While many Slovenians lost their lives in summary killings, the majority of the victims are believed to be Croats and Serbs, whom the allies sent back to Yugoslavia after they escaped to Austria's Carinthia as WWII was about to end.
The largest site of summary killings was discovered in March 2009 in the disused Barbara Rov coal mine, which contained the remains of over 1,400 victims.
STA, 14 June 2022 - A recently-found manuscript from the 12th century has turned out to be the second-oldest known document in Slovenian after the famous Freising Manuscripts. In a surprising twist, it was confirmed that the numerals from one to ten are written in the early Slovenian language, public broadcaster TV Slovenija reported on Sunday.
Apart from the Freising Manuscripts, which date back to the period around 1000 AD, the early forms of Slovenian have so far been documented through geographical and personal names.
The analysis has confirmed that the recently-discovered Heiligenkreutz manuscript, which is kept at the monastery of the same name in Austria, can now join the company of these documents in what was a surprise for the local linguists in Austria.
It all started last year when a Polish scientific journal published an article on numerals from one to ten written in a Slavic language that had been found in the Latin manuscript.
Slovenian linguist Matej Šekli then confirmed that the language used was early Slovenian, which was typical for the area between the eastern Alps and the Danube river at the time.
Slovenian linguist Marko Snoj told TV Slovenija that "every such finding is surprising and delightful because you can see that Slovenian was indeed once quite a big European language". At the time of Protestantism, Slovenians were 14th in Europe with a Bible translated into their language and 9th with their own grammar.
A scribe who wrote down the numerals wrote three other manuscripts at the monastery as well as manuscripts at the Rein Abbey, which had close contacts with the Stična monastery in Slovenian lands. It is for this reason that they could have been written down by a Slovenian scribe from Stična, the public broadcaster said.
The Freising Manuscripts, kept at the Bavarian State Library in Germany, remain the oldest Slovenian language text and the first Latin-script text in any Slavic language.
Taking up nine pages of a larger Church codex written in Latin, they feature three complete liturgies written in the Slovenian as spoken at the time. Two texts are translations of Old High German Confession formulas and the third is a sermon on sin and penance.
STA, 30 May 2022 - Boris Pahor, the internationally-renowned Trieste-born Slovenian writer who wrote about his own experience of Fascism and the suffering in Nazi death camps during World War II, has died at his home in Trieste, aged 108, Radio Slovenija has reported.
Pahor spent his life raising awareness of the dangers of totalitarian regimes the kind of which he had been a victim of himself. He described his experience of being interned in Nazi concentration camps in Necropolis, the award-winning novel that brought him fame across Europe.
Born into a Slovenian family in the multicultural city of Trieste in the Austro-Hungarian Empire on 26 August 1913, a year before the outbreak of World War I, Pahor witnessed the rise of Fascism in Italy as a child.
In 1920 he saw how the Fascists burnt down Narodni Dom (National Hall), the hub of the Slovenian community in the city, which the community would not get back until a hundred years later.
As a young intellectual, he associated with Slovenian anti-Fascist intellectuals and activists in Trieste. In 1940, he was drafted into the Italian army and sent to fight in Libya and was then transferred to Lombardy, where he worked as a military translator in a camp for Yugoslav POWs.
After Italy's capitulation in 1943, he joined the Slovenian resistance movement. However, in January 1944 he was captured by the Domobranci, a Slovenian pro-Nazi militia, and handed over to Germans, who sent him to several different concentration camps.
In Necropolis he revisits the Natzweiler-Struthof camp twenty years after his relocation to Dachau. Following Dachau, he was relocated three more times: to Mittelbau-Dora, Harzungen and finally to Bergen-Belsen, which was liberated in April 1945.
The novel would not bring him international acclaim until after it was translated into Italian as late as 2007, 40 years after it first came out in Slovenian in Italy. It was translated into French as early as 1990.
A committed democrat, Pahor in 1966 founded Zaliv (The Bay), a magazine in which he advocated democratic values against the Yugoslav communist regime.
In 1975 he published an interview with Edvard Kocbek (1904-1981) in which the Slovenian dissident condemned the summary killing of 11,000 Slovenian Domobranci by the Yugoslav authorities immediately after World War II.
Bringing up a taboo topic, the interview earned him a four-year ban to enter Yugoslavia, and it took until after Slovenia gained independence from Yugoslavia that his homeland's relationship with him eased.
As a result, his work was honoured with the country's top accolade for artistic achievement, the Prešeren Prize, in 1992, after which he would turn into a moral authority who Slovenians looked up to.
His books, which deal mostly with the Slovenian minority in Italy and his experience of Fascism and war, won him many accolades, including the French Legion of Honour, Austria's Cross of Honour for Science and Art and several nominations for the Nobel Prize in Literature.
He was decorated by Slovenia's president of the time, Milan Kučan, in 2000 and had been a full member of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts since 2009. On turning 102 he was named Slovenia's cultural ambassador.
A committed fighter for the rights of endangered languages and cultures, Pahor always argued that national awareness was vital to the survival of Slovenians in Italy and the survival of the world's humanity.
When National Hall was returned to the Slovenian community in Trieste in 2020, the presidents of Slovenia and Italy, Borut Pahor and Sergio Mattarella, honoured the writer with the highest state decorations.
Talking with the STA at the time, he called on the Italian authorities to publish a report compiled by historians from both countries on the period between 1880 and 1956, which he believed should found its way into textbooks. He was concerned about a return of Fascism.
In 2009 Pahor declined to accept the Trieste award for his role in culture, suffering under the Nazi occupation and opposition to the Yugoslav communist regime, saying the justification of the award failed to mention his opposition to Italian Fascism.
A year later he also declined the honorary title of a Freeman of Ljubljana, arguing the Slovenian capital had behaved as a stepmother to the western region of Primorska after World War I.
He has been immortalised in several documentaries, including the BBC's 2019 documentary The Man Who Saw Too Much, which portrayed him as the oldest still living survivor of a Nazi concentration camp. Along with Kocbek, Pahor has a life-size monument in Ljubljana's Tivoli Park.
Even in his final years, his main mission was to share his memories, of how as a young boy he was robbed of his mother tongue, of his experience of Nazism and other totalitarian regimes of the 20th century, with young people, seeing a hope for a better future in them.
At the time of refugee crisis and a series of terrorist attacks in Europe, he called for dialogue guided by reason as a way to a solution, arguing the only hope for the world was to resist wars, barbarism and desire for dominance and to respect diversity.
For as long as it stays up on YouTube, here's the BBC's 2019 documentary The Man Who Saw Too Much abovut the Slovenian writer Boris Pahor, who died today aged 108.
STA, 12 May 2022 - At its last regular session before being relegated to caretaker role, the Janez Janša government on Thursday declared 17 May the National Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Communist Violence.
The government says that it acted based on two things - on "the civilisational norm that the perpetrators of violence and evil acts be measured by the same criteria" and "in an effort to prevent the most tragic events in our history from being repeated".
Between the summer of 1941 and January 1956, communist violence in present-day Slovenia claimed tens of thousands of violent deaths of civilians and prisoners or war.
Under communist rule after WWII, communist violence affected hundreds of thousands of people in Slovenian through violations of human rights and freedoms.
First individuals and families were killed by communists in the autumn 1941, the government says.
However, 17 May was selected as remembrance day to commemorate the first mass massacre of civilians in 1942.
On that day, a Partisan unit killed 49 Roma people and four Slovenians in the Iška Gorge south of Ljubljana, among them 24 children.
The government says that "this crime was only the first in a series of crimes against humanity perpetrated by the communist partisan movement".
These crimes peaked in the spring of 1945 after WWII when more than 15,000 Slovenians, or 1% of the population, were killed in just a few weeks.
Tens of thousands of POWs and civilians of other nationalities (Croatian, Serbian, Montenegrin, Bosnian and Italian etc.) were also killed immediately after WWII.
Slovenia paid symbolic compensation to the relatives of some of the victims and rehabilitated them, while a good share of the executions have been researched and the sites marked.
However, the government says that the universal right to a grave and a memorial for all the victims of WWII and post-WWII communist terror has not yet been established.
It also says that a respectful memory of the suffering hundreds of thousands of Slovenian inhabitants endured as victims of other forms of communist violence is also not yet part of the public memory. These victims were refugees and exiles, victims of the violence of the secret police, and victims of concentration or labour camps, Stalinist trials and other forms of lawlessness.
The post lists victims of the class war against private property, the fight against religion and the Church, and those who wanted to preserve their freedom and beliefs that were not in line with the communist authorities.
Just like the EU, independent Slovenia was founded in 1991 on the foundation of condemnation of all totalitarian regimes, including communism, the government notes.
And while the victims of fascism and Nazism are remembered with respect, the awareness of the communist violence has not yet entered the collective consciousness.
As a result, the attitude towards the victims of communism is still disrespectful, the governments says on Twitter in English, adding that "even calls for a repeat of the most horrific forms of communist violence" are "increasingly loud and supported by the media".
Historian Božo Repe, chair of contemporary history at the history department of the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts, described the move as an "ideological battle with the past" designed to divert attention from current events rather than a sincere remembrance of the victims of Communism.
It should be interpreted in the context of the outgoing government's latest moves, including staffing and the sale of state-owned companies, he said, noting that holidays are officially designated by the National Assembly so this declaration is not binding on the future government or the community at large.
STA, 27 April 2022 - Slovenia observes the Day of Uprising Against the Occupation on Wednesday, remembering the day 81 years ago when the Liberation Front, an organisation that spearheaded armed resistance against the occupying forces in WWII, was established.
The main national ceremony took place already last evening on Mala Gora, a hill near Ribnica in the south where an armed clash took place on 13 May 1941 after the occupation of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia in April.
The location of the ceremony proved to be controversial already last year, when it hosted the resistance day ceremony for the first time.
This year it was questioned by several veteran organisations, the Slovenian president and the parliamentary speaker, neither of whom were in attendance.
While the organisers say it was the site of the first armed clash between the anti-fascist TIGR organisation and the occupying forces, not all veterans or historians agree.
The coordination of patriotic and veteran organisation sees it a "a deliberate attempt to undermine the historical role of the Liberation Front".
The keynote speaker, National Council President Alojz Kovšca, said the TIGR fighters had long been "robbed of their identity" and the organisation's contribution to liberation long ignored, so they deserved the attention.
A number of events will take place around the country today.
President Borut Pahor will open Presidential Palace to members of the public and address them, and lay a wreath at the Liberation Front memorial in Rožna Dolina borough.
A major event will be held on Mt Nanos in the south-west to mark 80 years of one of the first major battles of Partisans in Primorska region.
For Slovenians, WWII started on 6 April 1941, when Nazi Germany attacked the Kingdom of Yugoslavia by bombarding Belgrade.
Slovenian lands were occupied by the Germans, Italians and Hungarians, and a few settlements by the pro-Nazi Independent State of Croatia.
The Anti-Imperialist Front, as the Liberation Front was initially known, was formed on 26 April 1941 by representatives of the Communist Party of Slovenia, the Sokoli gymnastic society, the Christian Socialists and a group of intellectuals, but it soon became dominated by the Communist Party.
While its role was never questioned before Slovenia became independent in 1991, not all historian see eye to eye on it now.
While there is no doubt that it helped defeat Nazism and Fascism, the Communists committed summary killings immediate aftermath of WWII, and introduced an undemocratic political system; Slovenians had to wait until 1990 for the first post-WWII multi-party elections.
STA, 9 March 2022 - Jože Pučnik, a leading dissident under the Communist regime in Slovenia who played a key role in the country's independence, was honoured with a bust at Brdo estate on the 90th anniversary of his birth. In his address to the ceremony, Prime Minister Janez Janša drew parallels between the situation in Slovenia at the time and the war in Ukraine.
The bust carries the famous quote with which Pučnik welcomed the outcome of the 1990 independence referendum: "Yugoslavia is no more, now it is about Slovenia", the words that Janša said should be kept repeated today.
Even though Pučnik did not spend much time at Brdo pri Kranju, the estate where state functions are held, Janša said the location for the bust was picked because it was here that one of the most momentous political decisions was taken.
After the plebiscite on 23 December 1990, where Slovenians voted overwhelmingly for independence from Yugoslavia, Janša said there were many doubts about Slovenia breaking free from Yugoslavia.
Pučnik then called a meeting at Brdo of the DEMOS government, which unified over the decision for independence, said Janša who at the time served as defence minister.
He said Pučnik was not burdened by grudges or the difficulty of building consensus between the great number of parties forming the DEMOS government, but fought for the Slovenian nation's right to self-determination.
"I'm glad Slovenia's main airport carries his name and that streets and squares are named after him," said Janša, regretting that this was not the case in the capital Ljubljana.
Janša said that just before his arrival at Brdo he got a call from Australian PM Scott Morrison, who inquired about the EU's steps in the coming days and weeks. What happens in Ukraine will also determine what happens in the South Pacific and elsewhere in the world in terms of peace and respect for international law, Janša quoted Morrison.
He noted that many Ukrainians who live in various European countries are now returning home to help defend the country. "Pučnik too came from the comfort of a foreign country into the turbulence of Slovenian Spring."
Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti praised Pučnik for his fearlessness which allowed him to keep his faith in life and the future. He saw the future in Slovenia and was one of its pillars.
The bust of Pučnik was unveiled by Janša and Pučnik's son Gorazd Pučnik.
In tribute to the 90th anniversary of Pučnik's birth, a guard of honour laid a wreath at Pučnik's grave in his home village of Črešnjevec in the north-east on behalf of President Borut Pahor. One of the halls in the Presidential Palace was named after Pučnik in 2015.
Pučnik (1932-2003) was one of the most outspoken Slovenian critics of dictatorship and lack of civil liberties in Yugoslavia during the Communist regime. He was incarcerated two times in the late 1950s and 1960s because of his critical writing, after which he emigrated to Germany.
After returning to Slovenia in the late 1980s, he co-founded the Social Democratic Party of Slovenia (SDSS) in 1989 and remained its leader until 1993. From 1989 to 1991, he also headed DEMOS, a coalition of parties that won the first multi-party election in Slovenia after World War II.
In 1990 he run in the election for the president of Slovenia's collective presidency, but was defeated in the run-off by Milan Kučan. Pučnik was deputy prime minister in 1992 and in the 1992 election he was elected MP. He retired from politics in 1997. He died in Germany in 2003.
STA, 25 February 2022 - President Borut Pahor offered a formal apology on Friday to the 25,671 people who were erased from Slovenia's register of permanent residents 30 years ago. He said this had been an unconstitutional act, a violation of human rights and apologised for all the "wrongs and suffering" it had caused.
"Please accept my sincere apologies on my behalf and on behalf of the state for the unconstitutional act of erasing you from the register of permanent residents, for the violation of your human rights and for all the injustice and suffering that this act caused you and your families," Pahor said at today's ceremony at the Presidential Palace.
The president also expressed deep regret at "the losses you suffered as a result of the erasure, in your relationships with your loved ones, in your property and in the opportunities that could have turned your life around for the better".
"Today we are also taking moral responsibility for the unconstitutional act of erasure, and we are committing it to our collective historical memory," he said.
"I regret that you had to wait far too long for action to be taken to redress the wrongs done to you, even after decisions were adopted by the courts. I am aware that the measures only went so far to address the issues and that many of you are still suffering the consequences of the erasure.
"I realise that an apology will not make up for what you lost by being erased. By no means," the president said.
"However, today, we are putting an end once and for all to an era of denial and a failure to acknowledge all the suffering and all the grave, tragic consequences of the erasure that are still ongoing."
The president clearly stated that the erasure of 25,671 people, including 5,360 children, from Slovenia's register of permanent residents had been an "arbitrary and unjust act, it was illegal, unconstitutional and discriminatory, and it constituted a violation of human rights".
According to Pahor, the erasure denied people the legal basis for the right to work, the right to healthcare and social protection, the right to higher education and the right to buy a home.
Many were expelled from the country, and many families were separated. Many fell ill, and some even died prematurely without access to healthcare services, he noted.
"Because the erasure was carried out quietly, without informing those affected, in the first years following the erasure they could not understand why they were suddenly, without explanation, no longer able to support their families, go to their parents' funeral, or return to Slovenia, to their homes, after visiting relatives."
Pahor said he wished he could conclude his apology with an assurance that this would never happen again. "The erasure, as well as other events in our vicinity, show us that the rule of law and human rights cannot be taken for granted, that they must be constantly watched over and constantly fought for."
He urged all national and local authorities, as well as civil society institutions that are able to do so within the scope of their tasks and powers, to keep the memory of the erasure and the erased alive, to protect the rule of law and human rights as "our constant and shared concern is that such a thing should never happen again".
He also called on all future governments and all relevant institutions to protect and enable the independence of the judiciary, independent institutions, guardians of democracy, to respect the independence of the media, and to provide space and mechanisms for civil society to function.
Irfan Beširović, head of the Civil Initiative of Erased Activists, said today was a new day for the erased. But he warned that all injustices had not been eliminated yet and that the erased still lived without a proper status in Slovenia.
"Finally, after 30 years of agony, humiliation, we have received an apology from the state," he said, thanking the president.
He believes the apology means a recognition of the erasure and its consequences. "It is not a victory, but for me personally it is a moral victory that we have witnessed it."