I only live here, I do not run the place. The answers are based solely on what I saw and see and what I heared and hear. So don`t blame me if you get robbed at the airport, raped in a cab and killed at the police station.
1. Are English people really welcome in Slovenia or is it just a crime to be unpleasant to tourists? If I brought lots of money, lots of other tourists (nice ones) and promised not to be a drain on your resources would this improve my prospects?
I don`t think that Slovene in general are unpleasant to turists. It`s my observation that people are usually friendly if others treat them the same way. We don`t bark at any sign of foreign and as far as I know, we tend to fight more between each other than we fight with the “auslanders”. I guess the biggest mistake to do is to underestimate us. For (stupid) example – HBO is having a hard time selling its subscription in Slovenia, because they underestimated the market and thought re-runs of old shows will be enough for “us”. What I am trying to say is that the attitude around here works quid pro quo.
2. Do you think that independent Slovenia will be allowed to retire from war with its 100% record intact or is there a local perception that there is something dark and unpleasant lurking around the corner?
What war? I am sorry, but I do not understand the question. If you are referring to Iraq and the coalition of the willing (sounds like a porno movie title), I don`t think there is going to be any fuss about that. I mean, as far as I know, we only sent medical supplies and some instructors to Iraq. I know it`s not nothing, but it`s also not a big thing. Even the people feel that they are not a part of the war and have no positive feelings towards it.
3. To what extent is American culture encroaching on Slovenian society and do you think there is any prospect of successfully resisting it? (I don’t want to be back to square one in 10 years time)
Tough one. The mainstream market is full of it. From culture to politics, from economy to science, we are basically following suit. But I think that you can find a lot of things “off broadway” which are still very native and “virgin” in a sense that they haven`t been touched by the americanization. However, we are not an island. We see and mime. Not everything of course, but there are traces. Back to square one in ten years? In my opinion, no. Like I said, it`s traces, small percentage of the whole cake. And if the mainstream is overflooded, you can always go live in the mountains 😉 But for now, I think it is safe to say that we are not america 2. Not even america 1/2. And nothing is indicating that we are going to take that road.
4. Is your government really that bad and if so how? We had 11 years of Mrs Thatcher and came out the other end relatively unscathed. Some people would say we’ve got her back again now. Our governments come and go, make a lot of noise, start a war or two, make and break a lot of promises and the net effect is usually 1% either side of zero. Is it that you are just not yet used to democracy where the general rule is that if a political party proposes doing something really worthwhile it has no chance of getting elected?
Politics in Slovenia are still strongly influenced by the events that happened 10+ years ago. We still have the same people running the show and there`s not much room for new faces or ideas. Although the parliament democray is in effect, we could dumb it down to two parties, battling for the seat of power. The people is also divided into two major camps, the conservatives and the liberals and other parties are present in traces. However, these other, smaller parties are vital for the majority of the vote and so the Big Two are constantly trying to pull the smaller parties from under each others noses. As for democracy, I think that for that ideal to come in effect, we first need a wider selection from which we can choose from. Because right now, as I said before, the balance of power lies solely on the two opposite parties. And others are just tagging along.
There are several problems with the current government. Number one is that the people that are running the show now have spent so much time in the opposition that now, when they are finally behind the helm, the ideas how to change things are gone. In the beginning they spent most of the time repositioning people in high places and not worry so much about the general effect these shiftings are going to have. Another problem is plain old incompetence, which is showing more and more on the fields of economy, science and social security. If you want my bet on the next election, the current government is going to lose. Big. And why did they win in the fist place? Several reasons. First, everybody were convinced that everybody else is going to vote party A. So a lot of people did not show for the election since they thought “Hey, everybody is going to vote for party A anyway, so what difference a vote makes.” and since the majority of the people thought like that, nobody showed up. And the party A lost. On the other hand, party B which has a strong background in the Church won since their voters were attending the elections in a lot bigger number.
Another bad thing about the current government is that the people in it are simply not used to all this spotlight. They are doing things their own (hillybilly) way (see this and several others examples) about how they think it`s the right way to run a country. And then tell me if they are right or wrong.
5. How widespread is racism in Slovenia? A few years ago we (Newcastle United) played Croatia Zagreb and our black players were subjected to abuse and monkey noises. Would this happen in Slovenia to the same extent? Has Merlene Ottey been accepted as a Slovene?
OK, sports are a bad example of the extend of the racism, since they are based on it. Especially if the match is international. I won`t say that Slovenia is racism free and I think there are ample examples of racism all over it. And with the “new” government, racism is on the rise since they are basing their policies also on the “WE, the Slovenes!” slogan. As for sports, if a person is running under the slovene flag, then it`s ours. Protected by the flag, it does not matter if the person is caucasian, african-american or others. We had plenty of colored athletes from Ariel McDonald, Marlene Ottey and nobody ever bothered them. At least, in my knowledge. Racism however is present, problems with gypsies are on the rise and most of the racism tends to be aimed at the people from others republic of former Yugoslavia. In my opinion, it has something to with money. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are reporting incidents in connection with the violation of the human rights and so forth. So, on scale from 1 to 10, I think the grade for the level or racism in Slovenia would be…erm…5. It`s not THAT bad, but it`s far from perfect.
6. And finally the key question … Why do all the former republics give each other 12 points in the Eurovision Song Contest?
Cause they don`t want to look like they one of them is better than the other? Pop-politics. Same background and I guess they don`t want to pour any more fuel on the national fire. So they even things out and that`s it.
If you have any more (follow-up) questions, feel free to ask.