Last Week in Slovenia: 7–13 February, 2020

By , 15 Feb 2020, 10:23 AM Lifestyle
Last Week in Slovenia: 7–13 February, 2020

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What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.

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FRIDAY, 7 February
        LJUBLJANA - The Democrats (SDS), the largest party in parliament, started formal talks in a bid to form coalition with the Modern Centre Party (SMC) and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), both junior partners in the outgoing coalition, and opposition New Slovenia (NSi).
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia posted a trade gap of EUR 564 million in 2019 as growth in goods imports outpaced growth in exports. Exports rose by 8.5% to EUR 33.47 billion and imports increased by 10.9% to EUR 34.04 billion, the Statistics Office said.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Outgoing PM Marjan Šarec was adamant that Slovenia would insist on its position that drastic cuts to cohesion funds planned under the Finnish proposal for the EU's next long-term budget were unacceptable, as he discussed the issue with EU Council President Charles Michel.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - PM Marjan Šarec expressed "moderate realism" about the arbitration implementation impasse with Croatia, saying that if both countries had elections the same year, there would be more time to reflect on the issue in a more relaxed manner.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian police released data showing a total of 16,099 illegal crossings of the border for 2019, almost 74% more than in 2018. Citizens of Pakistan were involved in a total of 4,101 illegal crossings, followed by citizens of Algeria (1,892) and Afghanistan (1,733).
        LJUBLJANA- The Prešeren Prizes, the top national accolades in arts and culture, were conferred on the eve of Culture Day. The two lifetime achievement prizes went to photographer Stojan Kerbler and choreographer and dancer Milko Šparemblek.
        LJUBLJANA - A day after DeSUS head Aleksandra Pivec received death threats warning her not to join an SDS-led coalition, the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) said a package containing an unknown powder had been sent to the party headquarters. The powder turned out to be harmless.
        LJUBLJANA - The newly opened Ljubljana mosque hosted the first prayer. With 3,000-4,000 Muslim worshippers attending, some had to be put up in a number of other venues apart from the prayer hall.
        WASHINGTON, US - Foreign Ministry State Secretary Dobran Božič concluded a working visit to Washington where met Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Keith Krach and Assistant Secretary of European Affairs Phil Reeker.
        LJUBLJANA - Health officials warned that flu season was in full swing and that the disease was widespread, with some deeming the situation unprecedented and borderline extreme. The majority of patients are children aged up to 14.

SATURDAY, 8 February
        LJUBLJANA - Poems by France Prešeren were read at several events on Culture Day, as Slovenia paid tribute to its most celebrated poet. A number of museums and galleries were open free of charge.
        BELGRADE - MEP Tanja Fajon (S&D/SD), the chair of the European Parliament's Delegation to Serbia, vowed that the bloc would continue assisting the country in ensuring a fair election in April, as she paid a visit to Serbia together with European Commissioner for Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi and Rapporteur for Serbia Vladimir Bilčik (EPP).

SUNDAY, 9 February
        VALENCIA, Spain - Tadej Pogačar (UAE Team Emirates) the Tour of Valencia 2020, having won stages two and four of the race earlier this week.

MONDAY, 10 February
        ANKARA, Turkey - Outgoing Foreign Minister Miro Cerar called for a strengthening of trust between the EU and Turkey, including in the fight against illegal migration, as he met his counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu in Ankara at the outset of a two-day official visit to the country. The next day he attended a business conference in Istanbul.
        LJUBLJANA - Ksenija Klampfer, the outgoing labour minister, announced she was quitting the SMC in protest against the party entering coalition talks with the SDS. Moreover, Miro Cerar, the former leader of the SMC, ruled out being part of a government led by SDS leader Janez Janša.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Foreign Ministry condemned a smear campaign in which the Italian neo-Fascist movement CasaPound put up banners describing World War II Partisans as assassins, issuing a protest following a recent attempt to deny the suffering of Slovenians at the hands of Fascists.
        SKOPJE, Macedonia - Speaker Dejan Židan started a two-day visit to North Macedonia by meeting his host and counterpart Talat Xhaferi. The pair confirmed excellent bilateral relations and expressed support for closer economic cooperation.
        LJUBLJANA - The SDS threatened outgoing PM Marjan Šarec with a lawsuit unless he apologised for stating last month on public TV Slovenija that the SDS "being financed by Hungary".
        LJUBLJANA - After the appointment of Nada Drobne Popovič as the CEO of energy group Petrol in January, the supervisory board filled the remaining two vacancies on the management board by appointing Matija Bitenc and Jože Bajuk board members effective on 11 March.
        LJUBLJANA - Strong winds, in particular in the east of the country, toppled trees, damaged roofs and disrupted power supply 9 and 10 February. A motorist was killed when a tree fell on his car.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Bureau of Investigation arrested five police officers operating at the Gruškovje and Zavrč border crossings with Croatia suspected of having accepted bribes for stamping the passports of third-country Schengen zone residents to allow them to prolong their stay beyond the permitted 90-day period.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's industrial output increased by 3% last year, the sixth consecutive year of growth. The growth was driven by a 3.4% growth in manufacturing, while the electricity, gas, steam and air conditioning supply industries and mining slowed down.

TUESDAY, 11 February
        SKOPJE, North Macedonia - Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan addressed the North Macedonian parliament as it ratified the country's NATO accession protocol. In his speech, Židan reiterated that Slovenia supported North Macedonia's accession to both NATO and the EU.
        LJUBLJANA - The public broadcaster TV Slovenija reported that the National Bureau of Investigation is investigating the funding of some media outlets close to the Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS). Web portal reported on 10 February that the media had received EUR 1.5 million from Hungarians with ties to Hungarian PM Viktor Orban.
        LJUBLJANA - Women remain under-represented in STEM, especially at senior levels. Unconscious bias, double standards and gender stereotypes are some of the reasons why headway towards gender equality in this field remains sluggish. The University of Ljubljana, Slovenia's largest, has been dominated by men since it was established a century ago.
        LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Delo reported that Semenarna, the biggest seed producer in the country, had been sold for EUR 5.5 million to the Serbian Dušan Mojsilović businessman and his Agromarket company, which will make the latter one of the biggest seed producers and sellers in the region.

WEDNESDAY, 12 February
        LJUBLJANA - The executive committee of NSi decided to give its head Matej Tonin and his team full support in the SDS-led negotiations on a new government. Tonin now has the mandate to negotiate on the programme and staffing decisions of the potential new government.
        LJUBLJANA - The SMC deputy group head Igor Zorčič indicated that a snap election-entailing alliance proposed the LMŠ looked increasingly unlikely, while coalition talks with the SDS were going as expected. He also indicated that staffing questions were open not only about ministry distribution but also about the potential prime minister.
        LJUBLJANA - The SDS accused the LMŠ of leaking classified information to journalists about Hungarian financing of media outlets with close ties to the party.
        LJUBLJANA - TV Slovenija reported that a criminal complaint had been filed against chief market inspector Andrejka Grlić by tax inspectors over her interference in their cases, including stopping inspections to protect selected individuals.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee unanimously postponed a Left-sponsored proposal to declare support to the protection of political and civil liberties in Spain. The MPs agreed that dialogue on tackling the Catalan issue between the governments in Barcelona and Madrid should be given time.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor said after a farewell meeting with Croatian counterpart Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović that her picking Slovenia for her last visit had not been a coincidence, since Slovenia and Croatia were neighbouring and friendly countries.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian companies wondering about the future relationship with their UK partners after Brexit were assured at an event held by the British Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and the British Embassy that Britons wanted to preserve the close business ties.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Environment Committee unanimously endorsed the proposed national environmental protection programme by 2030, despite criticism of the lack of concrete measures therein.
        LJUBLJANA - Environmental NGOs labelled the draft National Energy and Climate Plan not ambitious enough. Carbon neutrality by 2050 is too far off, Slovenia should aim for 2040 and should strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than only 40% by 2030.
        LJUBLJANA - Staš Ravter, who was the director of the Slovenian Cinematheque between 2005 and 2010, was appointed director of the SNG Opera and Ballet theatre in Ljubljana, ending a leadership hiatus that lasted for almost two years.

THURSDAY, 13 February
        LJUBLJANA - SDS head Janez Janša, who is trying to build a coalition, said that in terms of content, a coalition able of tackling current issues and some delays is possible. Moreover, MPs of the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) were wooed by SMC head Zdravko Počivalšek to support the Janša coalition.
        LJUBLJANA - The Journalists' Association (DNS) condemned in the strongest terms "intensive attacks" on journalists reporting about alleged funding for the publishers of media close to the SDS from the circles of Hungarian PM Viktor Orban.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian bishops issued a pastoral letter, calling on believers to demonstrate their patriotic duty and responsibility for the common good by casting their vote come the election or voting time.
        LJUBLJANA - Motorway company DARS signed a EUR 90 million 22-year loan agreement with the European Investment Bank (EIB) for the construction of a second tube of the Karavanke tunnel. The loan represents roughly half of the investment value of the entire project.
        LJUBLJANA - A tie-up between the cargo division of state-owned rail operator Slovenske Železnice and the Czech energy and industrial group EPH is expected to be wrapped up in the first quarter of the year, Slovenske Železnice director Dušan Mes told Dnevnik.
        LJUBLJANA- The government decided for Slovenia to send over 1.2 million face masks to China to help it contain the coronavirus outbreak.
        LJUBLJANA - In its winter economic forecast, the EU Commission has kept Slovenia's economic forecast unchanged at 2.7% for 2020 and 2021, more than double the eurozone average.

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