STA, 16 November 2018 - The Supreme Court has reversed a decision in favour of Swiss franc borrowers, as it ordered a retrial in a case in which the Higher Court sided with the borrower's claim that he had not been forewarned about possible appreciation of the currency. The case was reported by the Bank Association of Slovenia on Friday.
This is one of the cases related to the by the Swiss central bank in 2015 to stop defending the value of the franc against the euro, which led to a surge in the value of the franc against the euro.
The affected borrowers in Slovenia have been trying to reach a systemic solution, including through the Franc Association, which is lobbying for a special law. In the meantime, courts are processing individual cases.
The particular case had been rejected by the court of first instance, while the Higher Court changed the ruling by completely upholding the claim by the borrower and finding the contract null and void.
According to the newspaper Delo, the case involves the Austrian-owned bank Banka Sparkasse.
The Bank Association of Slovenia, which advocates the case-by-case basis, argued today that the Supreme Court said the consequence of the bank failing to forewarn the borrower could not be the basis for annulling the contract.
The court added that when assessing loan contracts in Swiss francs, courts should take into account that the Slovenian consumer legislation at the time did not precisely regulate the mechanism of informed consent.
The Supreme Court added that an absence of loan calculations in any case must not be a decisive factor, according to the Bank Association.
The court has also confirmed that the central bank, Banka Slovenije, had not been able to project in its publications that the Swiss franc will appreciate, which had happened in 2011 and 2015. It is not possible to make reliable and precise forecasts regarding the period and extent of the change of currency exchange rate, it added.
While the impact of certain factors is predictable to a certain extent to experts, no expert could have predicted a unilateral measure such as that by the Swiss central bank in 2015, which had a decisive impact on the Swiss franc exchange rate, the association also quoted the court as saying.
STA, 16 November 2018 - The Ski Jumping World Cup season will start this weekend in Poland's Wisla without Slovenia's best jumper Peter Prevc, who needs additional training following his recovery from two ankle surgeries. Timi Zajc, a 18-year-old talent who stood out during the summer, is now the main hope of the Slovenian team, which has a new headcoach.
Prevc, who dominated the 2016 World Cup like no other before him, went through a slump in the last two seasons, but was still Slovenia's best jumper last year in 15th place overall.
Ankle issues cost him the entire preparation period for the new season and Prevc was only able to make his first jumps at the end of October.
Asked when he expects to return to the circuit, Prevc, whose ankle is still not at 100 percent, explained "the predictions are changing fast currently".
"Somewhere between Kuusamo (24 November) and Engelberg (15 December)... The 4-Hill tournament (31 December) is what I consider may last train for the season. I think I should have enough jumps and confidence by then.
"But my goal is not 28th or 32nd place. When my jumps allow me to be among the top 15, I will return without reservations," the 26-year-old has told the STA.
Meanwhile, the team's modest results in the last season ended a seven-year period under headcoach Goran Janus, who led Slovenian jumpers to a spectacular 46 World Cup victories.
Janus has been succeeded by Gorazd Bertoncelj, who has made some changes in the preparation period, for instance letting as many as 17 jumpers compete during the summer cup.
The only one to stand out among the Slovenians was Zajc, who made his World Cup debut in the last season, when his top result was a 12th place.
The remaining jumpers to start the season in Wisla are veteran Jernej Damjan along with Anže Semenič, Anže Lanišek, Žak Mogel, Bor Pavlovčič and Tomaž Naglič.
Bertoncelj has been very open about his goals this season: "We want one jumper among the top 6 in the final overall rankings, another one among the top 15, while we also wish to have eight podium finishes during the season."
"Meanwhile, the biggest goal is a medal at the World Championship in Seefeld and of course a podium finish at the season final at home in Planica," he announced.
STA, 20 November 2018 - Slovenia will get significantly hotter by the end of the century as greenhouse gas emissions drive climate change, and even the most optimistic scenarios show that the frequency and severity of heat waves will increase. Precipitation patterns will be upended as well, in particular in winter, the latest climate projections show.
The projections, released by the Slovenian Environment Agency on Tuesday, consider three scenarios of climate change compared to the reference years 1981-2010 - and under all of them the changes will be profound.
Average temperatures, having already increased by 2.2 degrees Celsius since pre-industrial times by 2011, are projected to rise by 1.3 degrees by the end of the century according to the most optimistic scenario and as much as 6 degrees according to the most pessimistic scenario.
The number of hot days will increase by 6-27 days depending on scenario, but even under the most optimistic scenario heat waves will be much more common and longer.
There will be at least one heat wave each year as bad or worse than the record-setting heat wave of 2003. "By the end of the century, 2003 could be considered quite fresh," Environment Agency researcher Gregor Vertačnik said.
The flip side of the warmer climate will be a significantly longer growing season, which could begin a month earlier and end a month later, without an increase in the probability of spring frost.
In the past fifty years Slovenia has been getting drier, with precipitation dropping by about a tenth and the snow cover by more than half.
But by the end of the century, the situation is likely to be completely different, especially in eastern Slovenia.
In the moderately optimistic and pessimistic scenarios precipitation is expected to increase by 20% by the end of the century, but the overall increase masks even more profound seasonal changes.
In the pessimistic scenario, winter precipitation is projected to increase by 40% by the middle of the century and up to 60% by the end of the century.
In other seasons the change will not be so profound, though projections show a significant increase in extreme weather events such as flooding in general.
The good news, according to the agency, is that Slovenia will not have a shortage of water, as the average annual replenishing of aquifers will increase by about a fifth.
But this also means waterways are more likely to spill over.
The Environment Agency said the projections show climate change will impact every facet of life and required adaptation.
"The projections are primarily a groundwork for adaptation to climate change. But they can also be used in strategic projects with a long time span which must be resilient to climate change. Everyone planning such projects needs our forecasts," according to the agency's chief climatologist Mojca Dolinar.
Barbara Simonič of the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning said resilience to climate change needed to improve. She said the national-level projections must now be followed-up by assessments for individual sectors.
While the analysis considers three scenarios, the agency also warns that there is a high degree of uncertainty, with the gravity of change depending on how much humanity manages to limit greenhouse gas emissions and how reliable the forecasting models are.
Our other stories on climate change sand Slovenia are here
The compact yet varied topography of Slovenia holds many wonders, a fact the tourism industry has long thrived on. Soon another of its geographic features could be in the spotlight, as the Classical Karst region is being nominated to join UNESCO’s Natural Heritage list. As noted by the STA, a report on the area between the Ljubljana Marshes and the Bay of Trieste has been submitted by the government to UNESCO, with the project being led by Park Škocjanske Jame, the operator of the Škocjan Cave system that is already part of the organisation’s World Heritage list, along with the Slovenia’s ancient and primeval beech forests, prehistoric pile dwellings, and mercury mines.
The Ponikve Karst Field in Dolenja Brezovica, Municipality of Brezovica, Slovenia. Photo: Wikimedia - DOREMO - CC-by-4.0
The Ribnica Valley or the Ribnica Field, a karst lowland in southern Slovenia Photo: Wikimedia - Eleassar CC-by-4.0
Udornica or collapse doline in Slovenian karst on Radensko polje near Grosuplje. Photo: Wikimedia, Tcie CC-by-4.0.jpg
A look at the original submission, made by the Permanent Delegation of Slovenia to UNESCO two years ago, goes into some detail as to why the Classic Karst (Klasicni kras) deserves greater recognition and protection.
Geographical position of Kras. Map: lter.zrc-sazu.si
For one, karst is the most widespread landscape type in Slovenia, covering around 6,400 km2or 27% of the territory, stretching from the Ljubljana Marsh (Ljubljansko barje) to the Bay of Trieste, and holding roughly 6,000 known and explored caves. These include massive systems like Postojna Cave (Postojnska jama) and the Skocjan Caves (Skocjanske jame), which have been attracting explorers and tourists since the 17th century.
Enough to render Slavoj Žižek speechless
But it’s not just the natural beauty of the rock forms or the wonder of the subterranean vistas that mark the karst region as a treasure worth preserving for future generations. It’s also one of the richest areas in Europe with regard to flora and fauna, and one recognised as a hotpot of biodiversity, with much more to this than such iconic animals as the proteus, aka “human fish”. It’s also an area with a long history of human habitation, with the earliest artefacts found so far being from the Palaeolithic.
The area has thus attracted researchers from various fields, and played an important role in the the history of research into karst and karst phenomena, also known as karstology and speleology, respectively, with such efforts being led in Slovenia by the Karst Research Institute (lnstitut za raziskovanje krasa), based in Postojna.
A more conventional video promoting Karst tourism
The submission to UNESCO goes on note five areas in particular that are of “outstanding universal value”: the Kras (Kras), the Podgrad lowland (Podrgrajsko podolje), the Postojna Karst (Postojnski kras) and the Poljes of the Classical Karst with the Rakov Skocjan valley (Kraska polja z Rakovim Skocjanom), with more details available in the document.
If you’re curious about making a day trip to the karst from Ljubljana, then consider Postojna or Predjama, with the latter having the added attraction of a castle build into the caves. If you’d like to read more about “Castles, caves and the birth of karstology”, then you can do that here.
STA, 20 November - While Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán announced last week that the country was withdrawing from the investment in the Koper-Divača rail project, Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó said on Tuesday as he paid a visit to Slovenia that the option remained open, Radio Slovenija reported.
According to the national radio, Slovenian Foreign Minister Miro Cerar has obviously convinced his Hungarian counterpart that the Slovenian government is yet to decide on the neighbour's participation in the project.
Szijjártó, who is visiting Slovenia upon an invitation from Cerar, told Radio Slovenija that the Slovenian government had not yet decided on Hungary's participation in the construction of a new rail line between the port of Koper and the Divača inland hub.
"My good friend Miro Cerar informed me that we should not understood the statements by your infrastructure ministry as the decision of the Slovenian government," the Hungarian foreign minister said.
Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek said on Monday that Hungary was interested in the project to get a piece of the Slovenian coast and that that would never happen.
"If this is the reason that [Hungary] will not be involved, then be it," she added and reiterated that Slovenia was able to build the rail on its own.
Szijjártó today labelled Bratušek's statements as discouraging. "We had achieved great progress in the time when Cerar was your prime minister," he told Radio Slovenija.
According to hum, Hungary is also looking for opportunities in other ports. In Koper, the landlocked eastern neighbour transships two million tonnes of cargo, which is 10% of total transshipment in the port.
Szijjártó is in Ljubljana today for the opening of the 34th Slovenian Book Fair, where Hungary is the guest country.
Szijjártó and Cerar had a working meeting at Strmol Castle to confirm the excellent bilateral relations and regular dialogue between the countries, following the official visit at the end of October by Hungarian President Janos Ader.
What connects the countries is the protection of ethnic minorities from both sides of the border, the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.
Szijjártó and Cerar also discussed economic cooperation, investment opportunities, cross-border infrastructural projects, including power lines and gas pipeline connections between the countries, and topical EU and international issues.
All of our stories related to Hungary can be found here
STA, 14 November 2018 - Slovenian researchers have made a tandem solar cell which transforms solar energy into electricity in the most efficient manner so far, which they see as an important step towards photovoltaics becoming more competitive in power production.
The new solar cell was developed by Marko Jošt from the Ljubljana Faculty of Electrical Engineering while on post-doctoral studies in Germany as part of a Slovenian-German project.
Jošt and several other researchers, among them fellow researchers from Ljubljana, published their findings in the prestigious journal Energy and Environmental Science.
Researchers from top-tier institutions around the globe have been competing since 2015 to develop the most efficient monolithic tandem solar cell.
Last month, Jošt, together with researchers from Germany's Helmholtz Centre and Slovenia's Ljubljana University, managed to set a new record by achieving 25.5% conversion efficiency.
The solar cell was improved with the use of a textured foil, which was produced in the lab for photovoltaics at the Slovenian faculty.
Although tandem cells are still in the R&D stage and there is a long way to go before their industrial use, lab boss Marko Topič says "such achievements prove that our goals are realistic".
The new tandem cell is according to the faculty a stone in the mosaic of knowledge and achievements which pave the way to photovoltaics being increasingly used for energy production.
Obstacles to a more wide use of solar energy are relatively low conversion efficiency of silicon solar cells, which are currently the standard in photovoltaics, and their relatively high price.
Jošt explained that silicon cells had reached their limit in conversion efficiency and low price, while the perskovite tandem cells have the potential for better conversion efficiency while increasing the price of a photovoltaic module just a bit.
Topič meanwhile believes that photovoltaics has already proved it could become "the key technology in the transformation of the energy system" and "as a low-carbon technology, the first solution to fight climate change".