07 Jun 2020, 11:54 AM

STA, 6 June 2020 - Slovenia will open its border with Italy very soon, Foreign Minister Anže Logar said on Saturday as he hosted his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio in Ljubljana. Though not naming a date, Logar repeated several times that he looked forward to 15 June with optimism.

Logar said that Slovenia followed the situation in Italy on a daily basis and that it would open its border as soon as the health situation there allows it.

He said that the situation in Italy was improving very fast, infection-wise. There were, however, differences between regions, but all have made significant progress, said Logar.

He added that the opening of the border will have to be green-lighted by the National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ) before this decision is made by the government.

"I'm looking forward to 15 June with optimism," he said several times during the joint statement with Di Maio.

Di Maio meanwhile thanked his host for showing optimism and underlined that the border opening for tourism was vital for the economies of both countries.

The Italian minister also said that a high level of caution will be needed in the next 10 days to prevent the number of coronavirus infections from increasing once again.

Logar said that Italy was a very important neighbouring country for Slovenia and a key economic partner, while bilateral relations are at a high level.

Turning to EU issues, Di Maio said Europe needed to become a place that unites, not divided. It has to become more united to cope with the problems ahead, both economic and health issues, he said.

The pair also discussed the forthcoming return of National Hall in Trieste to the Slovenian minority there, en event that Logar described as a landmark. "This will be an important landmark that will lift bilateral relations to a new level."

Di Maio added that as Italy changed electoral legislation, the Slovenian minority must be secured a place in parliament.

He also met Slovenian President Borut Pahor, with the latter pointing to regular contacts with his counterpart Sergio Mattarella. The presidents will attend the ceremony to mark the 100th anniversary of National Hall arson by Fascists together.

Pahor's office also said in a press release that cooperation between the Italian government and local authorities will be key so that everything is ready for the return of the National Hall to the Slovenian community on 13 July.

07 Jun 2020, 04:30 AM

Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also follow us on Facebook and get all the news in your feed.

This summary is provided by the STA:

Slovenian, Italian FMs indicate shared border may open on 15 June

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia will open its border with Italy very soon, Foreign Minister Anže Logar said on Saturday as he hosted his Italian counterpart Luigi Di Maio in Ljubljana. Though not naming a date, Logar repeated several times that he looked forward to 15 June with optimism. He said that the opening of the border will have to be green-lighted by the National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ) before this decision is made by the government. Di Maio said that a high level of caution will be needed in the next 10 days to prevent the number of coronavirus infections from increasing once again.

Victims of post-war summary executions remembered

KOČEVSKI ROG - Victims of summary executions conducted after WWII were remembered with a ceremony in Kočevski Rog, an area in south Slovenia where multiple mass graves have been discovered. Seventy-five years after the executions, national reconciliation remains elusive and statements by senior officials indicate it is still a remote prospect. Prime Minister Janez Janša, delivering the keynote alongside President Borut Pahor, recalled the horrors of war and the post-war era experienced by his father, who fought for one of the anti-communist movements, the Domobranci. "The truth was so horrible we initially could not believe fragments of it." In reference to ongoing anti-government protests and their main slogan "death to Janšism", Janša said those who are making death threats in Ljubljana needed to be told loud and clear: "We will not let you plunge Slovenians once again into fratricidal savagery. This blind hatred already caused too much sorrow and we're going to to everything it takes to prevent you from succeeding."

Five new coronavirus infections confirmed on Friday, no deaths

LJUBLJANA - A total of 715 coronavirus tests were performed in Slovenia on Friday, with five coming back positive, the most recent government data shows. This brings the tally of confirmed infections to 1,484, while the number of deaths remains at 109. Four of the five new infections were confirmed in Jesenice, where a nurse at the local hospital and her child became infected. Their contacts were subsequently tested. Six patients were in hospital on Friday, none in intensive care. There are currently 16 active cases in the country, according to the National Institute of Public Health.

Eyewear maker Safilo increases revenue in 2019, profit down

ORMOŽ - Eyewear maker Safilo, owned by the Italian Safilo group, exceeded its production and sales targets in 2019. The company generated more than EUR 32 million in revenue, an increase of some EUR 2.5 million on 2018 and almost EUR 7 million above plans. Profit however dropped to EUR 800,000 from EUR 1.25 million. The biggest company in Ormož sold 2.5 million pairs of glasses last year, mostly within the group. The share of Made in Slovenia models decreased in 2019, but the company says it strived to remain competitive by developing more economical concepts. Last year, it developed 50 new products. This year's development plans have been hindered by the Covid-19 epidemic. The company has seen supply disruption, decreased demand and reduced production.

If you're learning Slovenian then you can find all our dual texts here

06 Jun 2020, 14:21 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 5 June 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Šarec's comeback

STA, 5 June 2020 – The left-wing weekly Mladina takes a look on Friday at the latest Slovenian Public Opinion survey, which is to be released next week, but which the weekly says shows former Prime Minister Marjan Šarec's LMŠ has climbed back to the top of party rankings, overtaking the ruling Democrats (SDS). It wonders what potential consequences this shift could bring.

"Slovenian Public Opinion, one of the oldest opinion polls in Slovenia, brings extremely interesting results, which were already signalled in polls by Ninamedia and Mediana - that Janez Janša and his government of the SDS, SMC, NSi and DeSUS has failed to convince voters, losing their support since assuming power on 13 March."

Editor-in-chief Grega Repovž says the reasons for this are well known: Janša has abused Covid-19 for a political and ideological pogrom and for giving medical equipment deals to friends' companies. "Slovenians, including those who have otherwise no ideological reservations towards him, will never forgive him especially the latter."

However, the survey, which is released once a year by Ljubljana's Faculty of Social Sciences, is even more interesting from the aspect of Šarec, showing that two months after the change of government, the parties of Janša and Šarec are equally popular.

Mladina says "Šarec has managed to return to the first party league ... incredibly fast, while it seemed highly unlikely even in mid-April that he could at all make such a comeback". The LMŠ has managed to get back to the No. 1 spot even if people blamed him for the emergence of Janša's government coalition due to his resignation.

"What is more, he is returning to the top despite a very brutal campaign launched by the entire government coalition, the Hungarian-owned media and the media subjected to the SDS ( which tried to portray him as the one who took wrong decisions and was responsible for the lack of medical equipment at the outbreak of the epidemic."

The survey has also shown the LMŠ, the Social Democrats (SD) and the Left would win an outright majority if an election was held now, Mladina says under the headline Šarec's Comeback. Noting the survey was carried out before Tanja Fajon took over as SD leader, Repovž believes her leadership could even further strengthen the trio.

Mladina says that voters seem to have very quickly forgiven Šarec for pushing them into distress by resigning as prime minister at the end of January, which however does not mean an early election is anywhere near.

This is also why it is too early to speculate whether it would be better if some other party than his, for instance, the Left or SD, should take the leading position. It however means that Janša's coalition partners will change their behaviour, with some MPs perhaps considering defecting to opposition parties.

Demokracija: Anti-govt protests

STA, 4 June 2020 - The right-wing magazine Demokracija takes stock of Friday's bicycle protests in the latest editorial, finding that while everyone has a right to protest, police will have to demand the organisers acquire the permission to hold protests in order to protect those who do not protest.

Under the headline Dinner with Cyclists, editor-in-chief Jože Biščak writes that one of those spotted at the protests was Rajko Kenda, the former medical director of the UKC Ljubljana Paediatric Clinic, whom he sees as "caricature and pathetic cry of fighters for democracy".

"The man who ruined paediatrics and child surgery and who (...) knows about everything should have been pedalling an exercise bike at Dob [prison]."

Still, Biščak says that anyone has a right to protest against anything as protest is one of the forms of the freedom of speech.

"The problem is in understanding human freedoms. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has done much damage. There is much that has been thrown in there, including the right to prosperity. As a result the concepts of rights and freedoms have become totally mixed up."

The editor notes that as a result human rights are now also a right to housing, artistic expression, positive rights that pertain to an individual, while collective rights do not exist.

"Cyclists come to the protest as individuals. As a group, regardless of their numbers, they do not have any special freedoms (or rights).

"The first problem is the permission for the protest. They do not have one. They come and protest. This is wrong understanding of the rule of law. The permission for a protest rally is not designed for the authorities to check the content but so they know who provides the security and where and when the rally will be held (...)

"Consider what happened if ten of us gathered and we protested by driving in the middle of Slovenska Street. We would be captured like rabbits because we were only ten. That would mean the law of the stronger (...) It is unequal treatment before the law."

Noting that the protests held in support of Janez Janša in front of the Ljubljana court house in 2014 were held with the authorities' permission and in accordance with traffic regulations, Biščak says that while police now wisely let Friday cyclists their way, sooner or alter they will have to demand the organisers get the permission.

"Do not let them worry, they will get one, there is no dictatorship in Slovenia that would prevent anyone from protesting or expressing their views. However, in that way responsibility will be personalised and locations determined, which they will have to respect. So they do not disrupt life in the capital and those 99% of Ljubljana people who are not at the protest."

All our posts in this series are here

06 Jun 2020, 10:26 AM

STA, 5 June 2020 - Despite the stormy weather, anti-government protesters on bicycles hit the streets of several Slovenian towns for the seventh consecutive Friday, the biggest crowd rallying in the capital Ljubljana.

Even before the protest, a dozen gathered in rain in the square in front of the parliament building in Ljubljana to draw slogans on the ground with chalks.

This has become a new form of protest after a group of protesters were subject to a misdemeanour procedure a week ago for drawing a slogan on the pavement and face fines.

In a public letter signed by more than 100 individuals, the Forum for Democracy condemned what they described as "growing police repression" targeting "citizens and their constitutional right to a freedom of expression".

Despite the police taking steps against individuals drawing slogans last week, the streets in the centre of Ljubljana were today covered in new chalk slogans such as Stop corruption, Nature is not yours, and calls for PM Janez Janša and his government to resign.

Protest organisers called on participants to draw on the streets and pavements exclusively rather than on the walls or facades of buildings.

As every Friday, the protesters doing rounds of the streets surrounding the parliament and government buildings shouted slogans and clanked their bicycle rings, played music or made some other noise.

Coinciding with World Environment Day, the protest also heard loud opposition to the efforts to exclude environmental organisations from investment approval procedures.

The protests are being organised by several groups and initiatives, who have been inviting people to join in the cycling via social networks.

At an assembly on Wednesday, several of the initiatives decided that the demonstrations next Friday will be held on foot rather than on bicycles to allow everyone to take part in a protest against authoritarian politics.

06 Jun 2020, 09:53 AM

STA, 5 June 2020 - After Slovenia banned a concert by Marko Perković - Thompson, a Croatian nationalist singer, three years ago, recently a second attempt was made at organising it but the Maribor Administrative Unit again blocked the initiative. However, this time the Interior Ministry annulled the decision in a move that has caused quite a stir.

The ministry told the STA the decision to grant the appeal against what is the second banning of the concert had been made in line with a ruling of the Administrative Court and valid legislation.

The Maribor Administrative Unit was the first to block the controversial concert in 2017 as well, but more than two years after the concert was scheduled to take place the Maribor Administrative Court lifted the ban last June.

Marko Perković participated in the Croatian War of Independence (1991–95), during which he started his career with the patriotic song "Bojna Čavoglave".

Although the Maribor Administrative Unit stands behind the decision it made on 4 May, the procedure to ban the concert initiated by police is now stopped. According to the paper, the singer can now either stage the concert or claim compensation from Slovenia.

The head of the Maribor Administrative Unit, Srečko Đurov, told the STA today he believed the decision to ban the concert was correct but he was obligated to respect the ministry's decision.

"Promoting the Ustaše movement at a public event is a severe violation of human dignity. This is especially so in the case of Maribor, which was subject to horrible terror during the Second World War."

He said the administrative unit had granted the police's request to ban the concert "to protect the fundamentals of our constitutional order, which is the rule of law, human dignity and pluralism".

Thompson's speeches at his concerts are a "direct attack on the fundamental values of the European Convention on Human Rights and the Slovenian Constitution", Đurov said.

The Maribor Administrative Unit did not ban the planned concert because of the views and ideology of the organiser and signer, as the organiser claims, but because promoting the Ustaše movement and inciting hatred is not allowed at a public event in Slovenia, he stressed.

The concert organiser, Milan Trol, who initially wanted to organise the concert on 20 May 2017, told Radio Maribor that the concert would be carried out. "You will be notified of all the details when the time is right," he added.

The ministry's decision triggered a wave of criticism on Twitter, mainly among opposition parties but also from the head of the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC), Zdravko Počivalšek.

"Thompson's concert, which comes with promoting contempt of other nationalities, is not and must not be welcome in Slovenia. Any kind of incitement of national, racial, religious or any other intolerance is an insult to our values and a violation of our Constitution," he tweeted.

Marjan Šarec of the namesake LMŠ party said the government was "rehabilitating the Ustaše movement" and that the annulment of the concert ban was a "slap in the face to all those who suffered and bled including because of collaboration".

"The decision tramples on human dignity and gives recognition to the Ustaše regime. The fact that Thompson supports the Ustahsa is not a problem. The problem is that our government does," said the interim head of the Social Democrats (SD), Tanja Fajon.

Matej T. Vatovec of the Left said that while many countries were rejecting Thompson and banning his concerts, the Janez Janša government was doing everything for him to have a concert in Slovenia and "thus open the door to promotion of the Ustaše movement and Fascism".

President Borut Pahor's office also responded. "Based on the many questions the president has been receiving regarding a Thompson concert in Slovenia, we highlight that the president's view is the same as in 2017: It is not a matter of politics to allow or ban concerts but a matter of the organiser or relevant institutions to make sure the event is organised in line with the law and that public law and order is protected," the office said on Twitter.

"The president is not familiar with Marko Perković Thompson's music. However, he is familiar with his political views and he rejects them," the office added.

Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič said such a concert had no place in Slovenia. He noted though that media had reported that the Administrative Court had lifted the ban on the first concert. "If that is the reason for the ministry's decision, then I will understand it, although I absolutely do not support this concert," he told reporters.

Thompson - his nickname he took from the gun he had used in Croatia's war of independence - has often been accused of extremist nationalist views due to some of the lyrics of his songs and due to the fact that youth wear Ustaše and Nazi symbols at his concerts.

06 Jun 2020, 03:53 AM

Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also follow us on Facebook and get all the news in your feed.

This summary is provided by the STA:

Another school class quarantined as pupil tests positive

LJUBLJANA - A Jesenice primary school year-two class was placed under quarantine for two weeks after one of the pupils tested positive for the novel coronavirus. The pupil was tested after her mum, a nurse at the Jesenice general hospital tested positive on Thursday. None of her workmates or the patients she had been in contact with have so far tested positive, but six staff were quarantined. The nurse was one of the two new cases confirmed on Thursday, bringing the total of cases to 1,479. Six Covid-19 patients are treated in hospitals, none requiring intensive care. Out of some 500 self-pay tests performed in May, none came back positive.

Slovenia against mandatory migrant quotas for EU countries

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Seven EU members, including Slovenia, addressed a letter to the European Commission expressing their resolute opposition to compulsory redistribution of migrants among EU countries. Apart from Slovenia, the letter was signed by the Visegrad four - Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, and Estonia and Latvia. Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said the idea was to clearly say in advance a compulsory redistribution was unacceptable, so a different solution had to be sought.

Slovenia finds epidemiological situation should be criteria for opening EU borders

BRUSSELS, Belgium - A videoconference of the EU's Justice and Home Affairs Council dedicated to control of internal borders heard that there must be no discrimination based on citizenship when the bloc's borders reopen, but Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said Slovenia thinks the epidemiological situation of third countries and reciprocity must be taken into account to the largest possible extent. Slovenia is keen to open borders to citizens from the Western Balkans.

US ambassador: Those responsible for George Floyd's death will face justice

LJUBLJANA - Commenting on current mass protests and widespread unrest in the US, US Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda C. Blanchard said that those responsible for the death of George Floyd would be held accountable. "None are above the law, and those responsible for this tragedy will face justice," Blanchard was quoted as saying in a press release. "I join Americans across our nation as we grieve the senseless, tragic death of George Floyd. The United States believes that those charged with ensuring the security of their communities should always be held accountable when they violate that trust," the ambassador said.

Controversy as ban lifted on Croatia nationalist singer's concert

LJUBLJANA/MARIBOR - The Interior Ministry's decision to annul the Maribor administrative unit's ban on a concert by Marko Perković - Thompson, a Croatian nationalist singer, raised controversy with all centre-left parties, including those that make part of the ruling coalition asserting that Thompson as a person inciting intolerance should not be welcome in Slovenia. Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said the ministry had assessed that the concert was organised to make money not commit crime.

Slovenian minority reps in Ljubljana on the eve of Di Maio visit

LJUBLJANA - Several representatives of the Slovenian ethnic minority in Italy visited Ljubljanabefore Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio's visit to discuss open issues with President Borut Pahor, Foreign Minister Anže Logar and Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch. The expected restitution of National Hall topped the agenda. Italy is expected to return the minority's former commercial and cultural centre in Trieste by the end of this year.

Ministry orders oversight at care homes during epidemic

LJUBLJANA - The Health Ministry ordered "extraordinary systemic oversight" at eleven care homes around the country to establish whether the elderly there received adequate medical treatment during the Covid-19 epidemic. The oversight will be carried out by the Medical Chamber and the Chamber of Nurses and Midwives. The Medical Chamber had proposed oversight after media reports alleging lists of the elderly were being compiled to establish which one of them was to be sent to hospital if they fell ill with the coronavirus and which not.

Over 140 illegal migrants apprehended since Tuesday

LJUBLJANA - Police identified 144 persons who crossed into Slovenia from Croatia illegally from Tuesday until Friday - during a four-day enhanced policing of the southern border. Interior Minister Aleš Hojs already announced that such surveillance will continue. Over 1,000 additional police officers were sent to the border with Croatia for the four days to let smugglers and migrants know the border is tightly secured.

Cycle protests continue in bad weather

LJUBLJANA - Despite the stormy weather, anti-government protesters on bicycles hit the streets of several Slovenian towns for the seventh consecutive Friday, the biggest crowd rallying in the capital Ljubljana. The initiatives organising the protests decided that next Friday the protest will be held on foot rather than on bicycles to allow everyone to take part in a demonstration against authoritarian politics.

Fiscal Council's estimate of 3rd package much lower than govt's

LJUBLJANA - While the government has estimated that the third stimulus package to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus fallout will cost the budget around one billion euro, the Fiscal Council said its first estimate was only EUR 561 million or 1.2% of Slovenia's GDP. The package, whose main measures are subsidies for short-time work and tourism vouchers, had been initially estimated at EUR 1 billion, and later changes were made in the parliamentary procedure which could have additional impact on the budget.

C-bank head confident ECB measures are helping economy recovery

LJUBLJANA - As the European Central Bank (ECB) almost doubled its Pandemic Emergency Purchase Programme to EUR 1,350 billion, Banka Slovenije governor Boštjan Vasle assessed that, barring new complications in healthcare, the economic situation in the EU is expected to improve, including because of the ECB's measures. "Pandemic programme is intended for crisis situations, is of temporary nature and is a very flexible instrument. We are all trying to set up measures so that we weather the storm in these few months, which are very problematic, and then we will try to go back to normal life as much as possible," Vasle said, adding that this would not be very easy.

Telekom Slovenije to pay out EUR 23m in dividends

LJUBLJANA - The shareholders of telecoms incumbent Telekom Slovenije endorsed the decision to pay out EUR 22.77 million in dividends (EUR 3.50 gross per share). The management had proposed the entire EUR 30.16 million in distributable profit for 2019 be retained due to uncertainties stemming from the Covid-19 crisis, but the meeting backed a counter-proposal of Slovenian Sovereign Holding. Former Health Minister Aleš Šabeder was appointed a new member of the Telekom supervisory board.

Top court rejects Agrokor's appeal over Mercator share seizure

LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court rejected an appeal by Agrokor, the Croatian group owning the retailer Mercator, against the Ljubljana District Court's decision to uphold the competition watchdog's decision to temporarily seize Mercator shares. The agency seized 70% of Mercator shares from Agrokor to ensure the insolvent Croatian group pay a EUR 53.9 million fine for failing to notify it of the 2016 takeover of Slovenian-based water bottling company Costella.

Former AKOS boss Simonič acquitted in Tušmobil trial

LJUBLJANA - Tomaž Simonič, former director of the Agency for Communication Networks and Services (AKOS), has been acquitted of charges of abuse of office by the Ljubljana District Court in a Tušmobil bribery trial, the newspaper Delo reported. The prosecution has appealed against the verdict. Simonič had been charged with abuse of office for giving a portion of wireless spectrum to telecoms Tušmobil in 2008 in exchange for an apartment provided by Mirko Tuš, at the time the owner of the company.

Ex-Trimo boss investigated over management buyout

NOVO MESTO - Police reported three managers and a company to the Specialised State Prosecution due to suspicion of abuse of office in a management buyout. According to an unofficial report by news portal Dolenjski List, the former long-serving chairman of Trimo, Tatjana Fink, is among the suspects. Fink led the prefabricated construction materials company from the town of Trebnje for more than 20 years.
until February 2014. In late 2015 creditor banks sold Trimo to Polish equity fund Innova.

E-conference told plastics management should be smart

LJUBLJANA - An e-conference marking World Environment Day and held by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry discussed smart management of plastics. The panellists highlighted that single-use plastics should be reduced and stressed the role of an effective system of collecting and recycling or reusing waste. The coronavirus crisis has shown that single-use plastics are indispensable in medicine and public health efforts, but the attitude to such products needs to evolve.

Slovenia exports most waste to Serbia and Bosnia

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia exported almost two thirds of waste to Bosnia-Herzegovina and Serbia in 2019, most notably refuse derived fuel, plastic waste and metal waste. The latter two were exported to Asian countries as well, however the export to China was brought to a halt, shows a study by the Environment and Spatial Planning Inspectorate. The number of declared exports of waste in Slovenia last year increased by 4% year-on-year to some 3,000 exports customs declarations.

Kocijančič posthumously awarded Silver Olympic Order

LJUBLJANA - Janez Kocijančič, the former long-serving president of the Slovenian Olympic Committee, was posthumously awarded the Silver Olympic Order by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), only a third Slovenian to win the accolade after artistic gymnastics legends Miroslav Cerar and Leon Štukelj. In honour of the most recent head of the European Olympic Committees, the Olympic flag at the IOC headquarters in Switzerland's Lausanne will he flown at half-mast for three days from Monday.

Premier football league restarts

LJUBLJANA - The national football championship resumed after being on hold for almost three months due to the coronavirus outbreak, albeit without spectators. All first league players had tested negative for Covid-19, but it is expected that they will need a game or two to return to top form.

If you're learning Slovenian then you can find all our dual texts here

05 Jun 2020, 19:45 PM

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

If you’d like to keep up on the daily headlines then follow those here, or get all our stories in your feed on Facebook.

FRIDAY, 29 May
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed the third economic stimulus package, valued at roughly a billion euro. The legislation brings a subsidised short-time work scheme until the end of the year and a one-month extension of the existing furlough scheme until the end of June for all employers. All Slovenian permanent residents will also get vouchers to spend on tourist accommodation in Slovenia.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed an emergency law aimed at accelerating major investments to help the economy. The government will draw up a list of 50-odd investments which will be handled as a matter of priority in granting construction permits and other approvals.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed legislation under which Slovenia will support the EU SURE instrument to mitigate unemployment risks across the EU with up to EUR 88.1 million in loan guarantees. The scheme is designed to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic's massive negative impact on the European job market.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's GDP decreased by a slower-than-expected 2.3% in the first three months of 2020 year-on-year due to a slowdown in domestic consumption and external demand. Seasonally- and working days-adjusted GDP contracted by 4.5% compared to the last quarter of 2019 and by 3.4% year-on-year, the Statistics Office said.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor proposed that the National Assembly take a vote on Barbara Zobec and Andraž Teršek for one vacancy on the Constitutional Court, as the nine-year term of Dunja Jadek Pensa runs out on 14 July. Statements by parliamentary factions suggest Teršek enjoys broader support, since Zobec was unequivocally endorsed only by the ruling Democrats (SDS).
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar underlined good relations between Slovenia and Norway in a phone conversation with his Norwegian counterpart Ine Eriksen Soreide as well as Slovenia's interest in further strengthening economic cooperation with Norway.
        LJUBLJANA - Several thousand people flooded the streets of the capital Ljubljana for what is the sixth Friday in a row that protesters, most of them on bicycles, expressed opposition to government policies. Smaller crowds also gathered in other cities around the country. After a minor altercation with police, six persons were fined.
        LJUBLJANA - After two months and a half of severe air traffic restrictions due to the Covid-19 pandemic, regular passenger transport services resumed at Ljubljana airport. The first flight was operated by Air Serbia. More airlines are expected to start operating Ljubljana flights from mid-June.

        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry amended a decree on quarantine requirement for people coming to Slovenia from third countries by adding new exemptions, including Slovenian citizens and foreigners with a permanent or temporary residence in Slovenia, persons attending a relative's funeral, those coming for a medical procedure, and those transiting Slovenia.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor expressed concern in an interview with the weekly Nedelo that the growing economic and social crisis will increase people's distress and that the anti-government protests will intensify as a result. This is why he believes the government should hear the protesters' messages and restore cooperation with the opposition.

SUNDAY, 31 May
        AJDOVŠČINA - Slovenian ultralight aircraft maker Pipistrel announced a special version of its plane had have joined the US Special Operations Command's (SOCOM) fleet as low-cost, high-endurance unmanned aerial vehicles. The company said its airframes were being equipped with sensors to collect video and signals intelligence.

MONDAY, 1 June
        LJUBLJANA - Most lockdown measures were relaxed as the Covid-19 epidemic was declared officially over. Large accommodation facilities, spas, gyms and pools were allowed to reopen, although most large hotels said they would do so gradually. Public gatherings of up to 200 persons were permitted, and primary school pupils from grade four started returning to classrooms.
        LJUBLJANA - Due to an increased number of migrants heading west on the Balkan migration route, acting Police Commissioner Anton Travner ordered expanded surveillance of the border with Croatia. The beefed up border policing will be in force between 2-5 June, involving an additional 1,000 police officers.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia assumed the one-year chairmanship of the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative and of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region. The main focus of the country's chairmanship of both forums will be green cooperation, the Western Balkans and EU enlargement.
        LJUBLJANA - The government extended by three months the 15-month period in which persons of Slovenian descent brought from Venezuela have the status of a repatriated person. The extension, which is part of the latest legislative package to mitigate the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, applies to those Venezuelan Slovenians who arrived in Slovenia between 13 November 2019 and 12 March this year.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša announced a major digitalisation effort that would accompany the cutting of red tape in the public administration, telling Nova24TV that the first major steps should be taken this year. "Modern technologies make it possible to speed up procedures," he said.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian frontline staff got an unprecedented thank you for their work during the coronavirus epidemic as military planes and US fighter jets conducted a flypast of the entire country, the first day after the formal end of the epidemic.
        LJUBLJANA - Janez Kocijančič, the long-serving Slovenian sports official who was also active in politics and business, died at the age of 78. He had headed the European Olympic Committees since 2017 and served as the head of the Slovenian Olympic Committee between 1991 and 2014.

        MARIBOR - It was revealed that a pupil at the Ludvik Pliberšek Primary School in Maribor tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 in what was the first positive case among children after they started returning to school on 18 May. The 17 classmates of the infected third-grader, who was asymptomatic, and their teacher were sent into a two-week quarantine, while the remaining pupils at the school were allowed to continue going to class.
        LJUBLJANA - The Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) rejected the offer for a partnership agreement on key legislation proposed by PM Janez Janša, joining the other left-leaning opposition parties in opposing the proposal which is now seems to be supported only by the National Party (SNS). Janša said the government had extended an offer of cooperation of the kind his party never received while in opposition.
        LJUBLJANA - The government dismissed Tomaž Besek and Mitja Križaj as non-executive directors on the management board of the Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC) and appointed Alenka Urnaut Ropoša and Boris Novak to replace them, serving from 3 June until the end of 2022. The government provided no explanation for the replacements.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia purchased EUR 54.4 million worth of protective equipment through the national Agency for Commodity Reserves during the epidemic. Between 14 March and 31 May, the agency signed 64 contracts worth EUR 184 million, which includes contracts that were subsequently annulled or not realised, shows data released by the agency.
        RIYADH, Saudi Arabia - Slovenia pledged EUR 20,000 in an online donor conference for Yemen, launched by the Saudi Arabia and the UN. The conference aims to get pledges for US$2.4 billion to ensure humanitarian aid to the war-torn country in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
        LJUBLJANA - The Hungarian channel TV2, whose owner is associated with the Fidesz party, and Croatian entrepreneur Ivan Ćaleta are bidding to purchase Planet TV, the troubled subsidiary of telecoms incumbent Telekom Slovenije which produces the eponymous TV channel, reported web portal Necenzurirano, citing an unofficial source.
        LJUBLJANA - The Administrative Court upheld the decision of the Slovenian Environment Agency that an environmental impact assessment is needed before any permits can be issued for hydraulic fracturing planned by British company Ascent Resources at the Petišovci gas field in the north-east of Slovenia, the company said.


        LJUBLJANA - Italy opened its borders to all EU citizens, and Austria announced the opening of its borders for 4 June, decisions that mean Slovenians are now allowed to travel to all neighbouring countries. Slovenia welcomed the development.
        LJUBLJANA - After a significant uptick in joblessness in March and April due to the Covid-19 crisis, the trend slowed down in May, as the jobless total was up by only 2% on the monthly level to 90,415. Compared to May 2019, the figure was meanwhile up by 18,403 or 25.6%, the Employment Service said.
        LOŠKA DOLINA - Defence Minister Matej Tonin set out a plan to invest EUR 780 million in defence over the next six years as he joined President Borut Pahor for the viewing of a military exercise dubbed Leap 2020 in Babno Polje in the south of the country.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Justice Committee endorsed changes to the penal code, raising the penalties for migrant smugglers and those involved in illegal migration. The penalty for migrant smugglers would thus increase from five years to three to ten years in prison.
        LJUBLJANA - The Statistics Council asked the Constitutional Court to review the controversial dismissal of Bojan Nastav as the general director of the national Statistics Office. Nastav was dismissed under the public sector employees act, but some jurists believe this is unlawful since the Statistics Office is governed by a special act.
        LJUBLJANA - The four centre-left opposition parties urged Milan Krek to resign as director of the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) after he failed to provide an answer at a government press briefing as to whether face masks are mandatory at shopping malls. The parties also urged action from Health Minister Tomaž Gantar.

        LJUBLJANA - The government put Austria on a list of countries whose citizens are free to enter Slovenia without restrictions from midnight, a move that comes after Austria opened its borders for all neighbours bar Italy. Government coronavirus spokesman Jelko Kacin said the National Institute of Public Health is keeping a close eye on the situation and analysing when restrictions might be lifted.
        LJUBLJANA - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek confirmed that his State Secretary Aleš Cantarutti is leaving the ministry. Cantarutti intended to leave before the change of government but was willing to stay on until the end of the Covid-19 epidemic, Počivalšek said.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor's entire advisory committee on climate change resigned in protest against Pahor's lack of response to recent legislative measures restricting the involvement of NGOs in environmental assessment and building permits procedures.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Bureau of Investigation conducted house searches in connection to the bankruptcy of the air carrier Adria Airways. Unofficially, police were looking into suspected abuse of office and business fraud.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary foreign policy and EU affairs committees rejected the opposition's criticism of Foreign Minister Anže Logar's disparaging comments on the judiciary that he had attached to Slovenia's report for the European Commission's first annual rule of law report. The coalition majority instead condemned a letter sent to the Commission by the MEPs of the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) which accused Logar of promoting the ruling party's views.
        LJUBLJANA - The government appointed former criminal police officer Anton Olaj a new state secretary at the Interior Ministry as on 8 June. Olaj served in the police force from 1981, when he joined a police station in Ljubljana, to 2012, when he finished his police career as Novo Mesto Police Department director.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Composers' Association presented the Kozina Award for 2020 to Bor Turel, one of the pioneers of electroacoustic and experimental music in Slovenia. Turel was honoured for his all-round oeuvre of electroacoustic music.
        LJUBLJANA - Ding Dong Zgodbe (Ding Dong Stories) by Jana Bauer, illustrated by Bojana Dimitrovski, has won the Desetnica Prize for the best children's and youth book of the last three years. The book was published in 2018.

All our posts in this series are here

05 Jun 2020, 14:25 PM

RTV Slovenia, the national broadcaster, reports that Rogaška Crystal, Fraport (Ljubljana International Airport) and Hoedlmayr Logistics (based in Logatec) have all announced layoffs which will occur in the near future.

Rogaška Crystal (Steklarna Rogaška), which was facing a lack of orders even before the crisis and mostly relies on exports to the United States, where the industry has been hit severely by the recent events of social unrest, first announced that 200 workers would lose their jobs, but managed to reduce the number to 138 layoffs. Eighty-one of its workers will lose their jobs by the end of this week, and 56 will have to leave the company in September.

Job losses have also been announced in Fraport (Ljubljana International Airport), which is expected to lay off 120 people, which amounts to around a quarter of all of the airport’s employees, according to unofficial information.

Since cars sales almost completely halted during the lockdown, Hoedlmayr Logistics, a car transportation company, also announced plans to lay off 113 of their 166 employees. Most of these are foreign workers, with just 22 Slovenian citizens.

Already in April Hisense, the Chinese owner of Gorenje, a major European manufacturer of home appliances with its main production facility located in Velenje, announced that about 1,000 of its staff would lose their jobs. Later on in May, Revoz, the Renault subsidiary located in Novo mesto, also announced layoffs for 400 of its workers.

Data from the Employment Service of Slovenia suggest that about 13,000 people lost their jobs during coronavirus shutdown, with the number of people currently looking for employment standing at about 90,000.

The lowest number of registered unemployed in Slovenia since 2004 was 59,303 job seekers in September 2008, and the highest 129,843 job seekers in January 2014, according to the Statistics Office database.

05 Jun 2020, 13:29 PM

STA, 5 June 2020 - The first comprehensive national analysis of the culture and creative sector was presented in Ljubljana on Thursday, showing the industry employs almost 52,000 workers or 7% of Slovenia's workforce, and generates almost 3% of GDP. The study is to help culture stakeholders to plan new policies.

The analysis had been commissioned by Centre for Creativity at the Museum of Architecture and Design from Ljubljana's Institute for Economic Research.

It shows that in 2017, the industry generated almost EUR 3 billion in sales revenue or 2.7% of Slovenia's GDP, more than for instance the chemical industry.

It also shows the sector is comparable to the EU's - it generates 3.5% of gross value added (3.9% in the EU) and 8.4% of all Slovenian companies come from it (8.3%).

The researchers agree that the analysis clearly shows the significance and development potential of the culture and creative sector.

But in order to boost it, understaffing, lack of skills and financial instability will have to be addressed and a support systems for internationalisation set up.

Although well developed, the sector faces similar problems like elsewhere in Europe: it is fragmented, lacks investment, and operates at the level of micro companies and the self-employed.

State Secretary at the Culture Ministry Ignacija Fridl Jarc said this was the first national study which showed the value of the sector and its significance.

It moreover helps reflect on its potential, thus putting its creators and companies on an equal footing with employees in other sectors, she noted.

Fridl Jarc is confident that the analysis will serve as a basis for further studies as well as for recommendations for policies in the field.

The analysis had studied over 35,200 individuals working in creative jobs and almost 24,100 registered organisational units in the sector.

Nika Murovec, one of its three authors, said the analysis was a great challenge because data that had to be collected and analysed is very heterogeneous.

The sector is very diversified, ranging from extremes such as art which is hard to survive on the market without support to software development and video games as a pure profit-making segment, she added.

05 Jun 2020, 13:20 PM

STA, 5 June 2020 - The national football championship will resume on Friday after being on hold for almost three months due to the coronavirus outbreak, albeit without spectators. All first league players have tested negative for Covid-19 and are ready to go, but it is expected that they will need a game or two to return to top form.

Entering the pitch first today will be players of Aluminij and Mura, and this match will be followed by a Celje-Rudar encounter in the evening.

The national championship was halted in mid-March after 25 out of the 36 scheduled matches played. Olimpija Ljubljana leads the standings with 50 points, ahead of Celje and Aluminij (45 each). The defending champions Maribor are fourth at 43 points.

Olimpija's Ante Vukušić, who is tied at the top of the scorer standings this season, has told the STA that the team is getting back in shape and that it would need a game or two to get to the top of its game.

The Croatian believes that Celje is the top contender for the title. "They have played well, and the coach has constructed the team very well. They are difficult to play," he said, adding that the other competitors were close as well.

"Maribor has gotten an injection of fresh blood with the new coach and director of football and will be very motivated. But all is up to us and I think there will be no major problems," Vukušić believes.

"We have shown the most so far. We have the best starting line-up in the country. I don't underestimate anyone but we know that we have the quality to win it all," he added.

The schedule is complete and matches in the first league are expected to conclude on 22 July, followed by the play-off matches for the survival in the elite division and/or advancement from the second division.

The national cup competition will resume next week. The cup semi-finals will be played on 9 and 10 June, and the final on 24 June, all of them on the neutral pitch of the National Football Centre in Brdo pri Kranju, also without spectators.

The second league for men and the first league for women had been ended in mid-May.

To be promoted from the second league is Koper, the club which topped the standings before the epidemic. The second-placed Gorica will enter play-offs with the club which finishes ninth in the premier league.

The women's premier league ended without the official champion declared. The decision on which club will represent Slovenia in European competitions in the next season will be based on past results.

05 Jun 2020, 08:42 AM

STA, 4 June 2020 - Slovenia has implemented two thirds of GRECO's recommendations pertaining to preventing corruption among MPs, judges and prosecutors, which puts it among the top ten countries in terms of implementation, shows a report released by the Council of Europe's (CoE) Group of States against Corruption (GRECO).

GRECO's annual report for 2019 says that by 31 December, Slovenia fully implemented 14 out of a total of 21 recommendations made by the CoE's anti-corruption body.

Another five were partly implemented and two were not.

As a result, Slovenia emerged one of the 14 countries covered by the report which did not implement all GRECO recommendations by the end of 2019.

The report, released on Wednesday, also shows that only Finland and Norway implemented all GRECO recommendations for MPs, judges and prosecutors.

Slovenia was among the countries which implemented the greatest share of recommendations for prosecutors - 89%.

While Finland, Norway and Sweden fully implemented all recommendations for judges, Slovenia's share in this segment amounted to 75%.

However, Slovenia was one of the 14 countries which did not fully implement a single recommendation for prevention of corruption among MPs.

The country which had received the largest number of recommendations from GRECO was Turkey (37), followed by Greece and North Macedonia (each 25).

Faring slightly better than Slovenia had been Austria (20) as well as Belgium, Bulgaria and Estonia (each 19).

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