21 Oct 2021, 04:12 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

Government reintroduces regulation of heating oil prices

LJUBLJANA - Acting on growing energy prices, the government reintroduced administered pricing of heating oil by issuing a regulation on the pricing of petroleum products. The distributors' margin was limited to a maximum of six cents per litre of heating oil. Pricing will be based on the prescribed methodology as the average 14-day price of the current period.

Second no-confidence motion filed against Minister Hojs

LJUBLJANA - Four-centre left opposition parties and the deputy group of unaffiliated MPs tabled a motion of no-confidence in Interior Minister Aleš Hojs. The parties hold him responsible for the state of emergency in the country, police violence at protests, and for a demeaning attitude towards members of the general public and experts who dare express different views than the government's. The motion was penned by the Left and joined by the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD), Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) and unaffiliated MPs. They do not have the needed 46 votes needed to dismiss the minister.

Key defence resolution on hold as Left demands referendum

LJUBLJANA - The passage in parliament of a long-term programme for the development of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) until 2035 has been put on hold as the Left has submitted a proposal for a consultative referendum. The National Assembly was supposed to vote on the draft resolution on today, but will now need to decide on the referendum request first. The Left said the document pursued wrong goals policy- and priority-wise, increased general militarisation of society, and planned huge expenditure that should be earmarked for welfare instead.

Covid case count hits nine-month high as death toll passes 5,000

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia logged 2,145 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the highest daily number of confirmed infections since 12 January. The share of positive tests stood at 29.1%. Another nine patients with Covid-19 died, which pushed the death toll since the start of the epidemic to 5,004, according to government data. The 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents surged by 47 to 664. A total of 427 patients are in hospital, six more than yesterday, of whom 122 need intensive care, down by two.

Janša calls for cooperation at Tripartite Summit

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša discussed the significance of social dialogue, cooperation, green and digital transition, lifelong learning and sustainable work as he addressed a virtual Tripartite Social Summit ahead of the EU summit. On behalf of the Slovenian presidency he highlighted the importance of the European Pillar of Social Rights and its implementation as a fundamental element of the post-pandemic recovery.

Janša talks EU digital transformation framework with Apple CEO

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša had a video call with Apple CEO Tim Cook with a release from the Government Communication Office saying they talked about legislative acts that are being coordinated in the EU in the field of digital transformation, and about the importance of cybersecurity in digitalisation services. Janša also acquainted Cook with Slovenia's competitive advantages for investments in IT and development of artificial intelligence.

Jewish community upset by Janša's anti-Semitic allegations

LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana Jewish Cultural Centre expressed its dismay at a tweet by Slovenian PM Janez Janša last Thursday which depicted Jewish billionaire George Soros's alleged links to several MEPs claiming Soros was "their puppet-master". The president of the European Jewish Congress (EJC) Viatcheslav Moshe Kantor said "the EJC hopes that PM Janša will apologise for his allegations and ensure that any anti-Semitic motives have no place in the Slovenian political and diplomatic debate".

Recovery and resilience fund set up

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed amendments to the act on the implementation of the 2021 and 2022 budgets that set up a special budget fund, where the money from the recovery and resilient mechanism will be collected. The fund will be managed by the Office for Recovery and Resilience, which will be led by Janet Mravljak as acting head. The legislative changes were passed by 49 votes in favour and 37 against.

MPs pass law on police work and organisation

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed amendments to the act governing the organisation and work of the police force. The changes pertain to the status and autonomy of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), placing it under the Criminal Police Directorate. The centre-left opposition argued the amendments would lead to the complete political subjugation of the NBI and the police in general, saying that the interior minister would now be able to direct police investigations.

De-bureaucratisation bill passed at first reading

LJUBLJANA - An omnibus de-bureaucratisation bill passed first reading in a 45:40 vote. While coalition MPs welcomed it as a good start towards less red tape in the public administration, opposition MPs were more reserved, with the centre-left MPs voting against, arguing the bill has practically nothing to do with de-bureaucratisation. The bill changes 14 laws and annuls over 200 laws and bylaws, while the original plan to introduce a cap on social contributions has been eliminated due to a lack of support.

Tax reliefs for businesses being expanded

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed amendments to the corporate income tax act which upgrade existing reliefs and add some new. The bill was put forward by the government as part of a package designed to stimulate the post-pandemic recovery. Part of the amendments concern measures dealing with the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and part transpose relevant EU directives. The loss of budget revenue as a result of the changes is estimated at around EUR 27 million.

Parliament amends pharmacy practice act

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly voted 47 in favour and 37 against to endorse a bill amending the pharmacy practice act which lifts the ban on vertical integration of pharmacies and drug wholesalers in cases when the wholesaler is incorporated by a public pharmacy or municipality. The bill tabled by the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) initially also a highly controversial proposal to change the criteria to define the pharmacy network, which was removed on the committee.

Pahor hosts equality ombudsmen from SE Europe

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor hosted a reception for equality ombudsmen from SE Europe to mark the start of their fifth regional conference, which is held in Slovenia this year. The president highlighted the importance of public dialogue during the Covid-19 pandemic, Pahor's office said.This is the first time Slovenia hosts such a conference.

Two nurses busted issuing fake vaccination certificates

ŽALEC - Two nurses at the Želec Community Health Centre have been caught issuing fake vaccination certificates in exchange for money. The practice was discovered after irregularities were detected in the entry of data on vaccination into the electronic registry of vaccinated persons. This prompted the director of the community health centre to launch an internal inquiry. The pair were removed from their posts and face termination proceedings. The Celje police are also investigating the case.

Slovenia sending PPE to Kosovo

LJUBLJANA - The government decided for Slovenia to send a shipment of personal protective equipment to Kosovo through the EU civil protection mechanism in response to the country request for aid to cope with a coronavirus outbreak. The aid is valued at EUR 116,000, including transport costs, reads a press release issued after the government session.

Unior to launch new production line with SID bank loan

ZREČE - Unior, a Zreče-based group specialising in forged steel and tools, has signed a contract with the SID development and export bank on a EUR 5.7 million loan for the financing of a new line of aluminium products. The company is starting to develop the new line of aluminium products in response to the rapid development of electric and hybrid vehicles, and demand for aluminium products from big car companies. The investment is valued at EUR 13.5 million. Production is slated to start in 2023.

Renewables produce a third of Slovenia's electricity

LJUBLJANA - A third of Slovenia's electricity output was generated with renewables last year, as renewable electricity generation rose in both the EU and Slovenia, the Statistics Office said. The bulk of Slovenia's electricity was generated by its only nuclear plant (37%), followed by thermal power stations (30.5%) and hydro power stations (30.4%). A mere 2.2% came from sun and wind, although the share of electricity from photovoltaic systems and wind farms is increasing.

Slovenia had highest increase in electricity price in EU in H1

LUXEMBOURG - Average electricity prices for households increased slightly in the first half of the year at the EU level compared to the same period in 2020 to EUR 21.9 per 100 kilowatt hours, with the largest increase recorded in Slovenia, Eurostat reported. The electricity prices for households increased in 16 member states, topped by Slovenia with a 15% rise, followed by Poland (8%) and Romania (7%).

EU Commission approves Slovenia's aid for rail freight transport

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission approved a EUR 15 million Slovenian state aid scheme to support rail freight transport. The European Commission Representation in Slovenia said the measures will support single carriage transport and combined transport. Support under the scheme will be available in the form of direct grants to railway companies until 31 December 2023.

Another protest against Covid pass mandate held in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - Protesters against Covid pass mandate and other coronavirus-related restrictions gathered for the sixth consecutive rally in Ljubljana, urging an early election. The protest was addressed by the head of the (Truth) party Zoran Stevanović, who is considered one of the main initiators of the weekly rallies. According to initial estimates, a few thousand protesters gathered before rhe rally was dispersed by the police.

Court finds doctor who invoked conscientious objections to abortion discriminated against

LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana Local Court has ruled that a candidate for specialisation in gynaecology was discriminated against by the Medical Chamber after she voiced her conscientious objections to abortion and intrauterine contraception (IUD). She expressed the desire for working at a gynaecological clinic, where abortions are not performed, and said she would propose other forms of contraception to patients who would express the wish for a IUDs or refer them to another gynaecologist. The ruling is final.

20 Oct 2021, 14:07 PM

STA, 20 October 2021 - Two nurses at the Želec Community Health Centre have been caught issuing fake vaccination certificates in exchange for money. According to unofficial information obtained by the newspaper Delo, the certificates cost up to 400 euros.

The practice was discovered after irregularities were detected in the entry of data on vaccination into the electronic registry of vaccinated persons

This prompted the director of the community health centre, Hana Šuster Erjavec, to launch an internal inquiry, which confirmed violations by two members of the nursing staff.

The pair were removed from their posts and face termination proceedings. The Celje police are also investigating the case, the Celje police station told the STA.

The Health Ministry and the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) have been informed of the inquiry.

The NIJZ told Delo that it had informed the police and the health inspectorate of suspected illegal practices by health institutions in relation to vaccination this summer based on social media posts about such practices.

The NJIZ added that while it was the manager of the electronic registry of vaccinated persons could not enter, change or correct data on vaccinated persons that had been entered into the registry by vaccination providers.

20 Oct 2021, 14:01 PM

STA, 20 October 2021 - The average electricity prices for households increased slightly in the first half of the year at the EU level compared to the same period in 2020 to EUR 21.9 per 100 kilowatt hours, with the largest increase recorded in Slovenia, Eurostat has reported.

The electricity prices for households increased in 16 member states, topped by Slovenia with a 15% rise, followed by Poland (8%) and Romania (7%).

On the other hand, the largest decreases were observed in the Netherlands (-10%), Cyprus (-7%) and Lithuania (-6%).

The household electricity prices in the first half of 2021 were the lowest in Hungary (EUR 10 per 100 kWh), and the highest in Germany (EUR 31.9). In Slovenia, it was EUR 16.62.

The average natural gas prices meanwhile registered a slight drop to EUR 6.4 per 100 kWh in the first half of 2021, as they fell in 20 of the 23 EU member states that report gas prices in the household sector. Slovenia recorded a drop of 7%.

The prices were the lowest in Lithuania (EUR 2.8 per 100 kWh) and the highest in the Netherlands (EUR 9.6). For comparison, the average gas price in Slovenia in the first half of the year was EUR 5.47 per 100 kWh.

20 Oct 2021, 12:11 PM

STA, 20 October 2021 - The newspaper Finance suggests in Wednesday's editorial that Slovenia is ill prepared for the crisis that the world has entered into because the government has failed to deliver on its promise that it will lay the foundations for a good business environment.

The piece headlined Promises, Taxes and Electricity (Obljube, davki in elektrika) notes that Slovenia is to hold a general election in half a year and parties are making all kinds of promises, but the question is how realistic those are considering the looming global crisis.

"The world is in crisis. Like it was between 2008 and 2013. Slovenia is no exception. However, will we walk the crisis side by side with the eurozone or will we - like in the above-mentioned crisis - emerge from it worse off than most of Europe?"

"The government has namely failed to lay the foundations for a good business environment in the long term. We have not got either tax or anti-bureaucratic changes. Nothing. Why?"

"Because the government does not have support. It has distributed Covid bonuses without any oversight, given us a curfew, restricted our movement to the small Slovenian municipalities, flexed its muscles too often during protests (including Friday's) instead of promoting and organising vaccination better, while PM Janša still prefers to tweet and provoke scandals," writes the paper.

"It is thus no wonder it has not got sufficient support even for the laws that would benefit all. We are unlikely to get higher general tax credits and thus higher net pay to increase or at least maintain our standard, which would also make it easier for the economy to live, invest, grow, create jobs and pay taxes.

"It appears we will not even get slightly more stimulating taxes to rent real estate or invest in shares. The government has been unfit to get through parliament even the simplest amendments to the VAT that would eliminate the need for retailers to issue paper receipts except at the buyer's demand."

20 Oct 2021, 11:28 AM

STA, 20 October 2021 - Slovenia logged 2,145 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, the highest daily number of confirmed infections since 12 January, according to data by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ). The share of positive tests stood at 29.1%, and another nine patients with Covid-19 died.

The 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents surged by 47 to 664, while the rolling seven-day average of new daily cases stood at 1,198, up by 131 on the day before.

The NIJZ estimates there are currently 14,029 active cases in the country, an increase of almost 1,000 on the day before.

A total of 1,180,046 people or 56% of the population have so far received one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, while 1,103,994 or 52% are fully inoculated.

A total of 427 patients are in hospital today, six more than yesterday, of whom 122 need intensive care, down by two, show the latest government data.

All the latest data on COVID and Slovenia is here

20 Oct 2021, 04:11 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

Minister Vizjak under fire over leaked 2007 discussion with spa boss

LJUBLJANA - The commercial broadcaster POP TV released a recording on Monday of Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak, the then economy minister, urging businessman Bojan Petan in 2007 to avoid paying taxes in relation to spa Terme Čatež during the first Janez Janša government. Vizjak also offered Petan cooperation by the state and the supervisory board if he agreed to his terms. The recording dates back to 2007, a time of a battle for privatisation of spa operator Terme Čatež. Denying saying those things, Vizjak called the recording "a collage" and manipulation, which he attributed to "garbage mafia". Junior coalition partners called on Vizjak to provide explanations, while the centre-left opposition said both Vizjak and the whole government should resign.

Top court nominee denies migrant shooting statement claim

LJUBLJANA - Rok Svetlič, a nominee for a Constitutional Court judge, denied the allegation that he talked of shooting migrants at a debate on migration in the summer of 2020, telling a presentation of his bid at the Presidential Palace that he instead called against such a scenario rather than legitimising it as suggested by Saša Zagorc, a professor at the Ljubljana Faculty of Law on Twitter recently. Svetlič also said that no party, guild or university department was behind his bid.

Justice minister faces formal investigation over tax evasion

LJUBLJANA - The web portal of the commercial broadcaster POP TV reported that the Murska Sobota District Court had opened a formal investigation against Justice Minister Marjan Dikaučič over suspicion of tax evasion and document falsification in his previous job. The District State Prosecution asked the court to open a formal investigation in August 2020, after a criminal complaint against Dikaučič had been filed there by the Financial Administration in August 2017. Dikaučič has been denying any wrongdoing.

Slovenia hopes EU Commission, Poland will bridge differences

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Foreign Ministry State Secretary Gašper Dovžan chaired a session of the General Affairs Council which discussed the rule of law, including the primacy of the EU law, after the recent decision of the Polish constitutional court. Dovžan said Slovenia hoped for "constructive dialogue" between the EU Commission and Poland to bridge the differences. Asked whether Slovenia supported the position of Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen on the matter, Dovžan said Slovenia as the presiding country could not express its position on the matters it presided over.

Positivity rate tops 30% in major Covid uptick

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia logged 1,669 new coronavirus infections on Monday in what is a major week-on-week increase. The test positivity rate was at nearly 32%, the highest since early January. Another four Covid-19 patients died. A total of 421 patients are in hospital, of whom 124 need intensive care. The 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents surged by 32 to 617, while the rolling seven-day average of new daily cases increased by 95 on the day before to 1,067, show official data.

Covid task force proposes voluntary lockdown over school break

LJUBLJANA - Mateja Logar, the head of the Health Ministry's Covid advisory group, proposed a voluntary short-term lockdown over the autumn school break to slow down the epidemic. The proposal includes restricting socialising to family members and limiting large gatherings. Speaking on Monday, Logar also called for limiting traditional 1 November cemetery visits to family members. "We still believe that the recovered-vaccinated-tested (PCT) requirement is effective as long as people comply with it and as long as inspections are carried out," Logar said.

Slovenia partly successful in drawing EU funds in 2014-2020

LJUBLJANA - The Court of Audit found that Slovenia was partly successful in drawing EU cohesion funds in the 2014-2020 period. The actual revenue of the state budget from EU cohesion policy was much lower than planned. The government and the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy had adopted all key documents for drawing the funds but the office did not prepare a plan of activities that would list all the documents that need to be prepared before the drawing of funds and the timeline.

Supreme Court president stresses importance of independence of judiciary

BLED - A two-day Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe focused on the independence of judiciary at the institutional level and the level of judges. Supreme Court president Damijan Florjančič said on Monday new situations challenging this independence were emerging all the time. The judicial branch of power is a key and ultimate defender of the rule of law, he was quoted as saying on the web site of the court.

SAB proposes ALDE kick out SMC in light of Janša's tweets

LJUBLJANA - The centre-left opposition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) acted on its announcement that it would propose that the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) be expelled from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). The SAB sent a letter to ALDE proposing to initiate proceedings to expel the SMC, the opposition party said after its secretary general Jernej Pavlič announced the step last Friday after Prime Minister Janez Janša posted a controversial tweet about "Soros's puppets".

Minority org worried about major shift to right in Trieste

TRIESTE - The Slovenian Cultural and Economic Association (SKGZ) in Italy expressed concern over a substantial shift to the right in the local elections in Trieste as centre-right Mayor Roberto Dipiazza was re-elected and the far-right Brothers of Italy became the second strongest party. SKGZ head Ksenija Dobrila told the STA on Monday that Brothers of Italy would undoubtedly have quite some room for manoeuvring in local government. She said Trieste had confirmed its extremely conservative essence.

Panel discusses law rectifying communist injustices

LJUBLJANA - A panel debate held by the Study Centre for National Reconciliation in Ljubljana on Monday discussed the role of a 1996 law on correcting the injustices the communist regime committed against individuals after WWII, agreeing the law and a commission established under it were a milestone in efforts towards reconciliation. More than EUR 127 million had been allocated for damages until the end of last year, with EUR 146 allocated for a month of prison, said Rok Janez Šteblaj, former head of the Justice Ministry sector for redressing the injustices.

Slovenian consumers claim EUR 27.5 million from Apple

LJUBLJANA - Kolektiv 99, an NGO protecting consumer and workers' rights, announced it had filed a class-action lawsuit with the Ljubljana District Court to claim EUR 27.5 million from US multinational corporation Apple for damages it allegedly caused to Slovenian consumers by deliberately slowing down and reducing the functionality of certain iPhone models. "We believe the lawsuit will also send an important signal to all potential infringers that illegal practices do not pay off in Slovenia," said Sašo Stojanovič Lenčič, the director of Kolektiv 99.

National campaign to promote fish and fishing launched

IZOLA - The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food launched a national campaign to promote local fisheries in a bid to raise awareness among consumers about the positive aspects of fish and mussel as food and about local fisheries traditions and heritage. The campaign was presented by Minister Jože Podgoršek at the sea town Izola as part of the government's visit to the coastal region. The campaign is to cost just over half a million euro, with 75% coming from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

Titus starts building EUR 6m facility

DEKANI - The foundation stone for a new production facility of the furniture hardware maker Titus was laid in Dekani (SE) with Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek attending. The EUR 6 million investment in the automated production and assembly of components for dampers is expected to be finalised by next summer. The UK-owned company in Dekani is the largest in the group, accounting for as much as 80% of all manufactured products.

Exhibition on Slovenia's first currency opens in central bank

LJUBLJANA - An exhibition on Slovenia's first currency, the tolar, was launched at the headquarters of the central bank as one of the events marking the 30th anniversary of Banka Slovenije. Visitors will be able to learn about the process of the planning and design of the currency, and see original portraits of figures featured on tolar banknotes. Addressing the opening, Banka Slovenije Governor Boštjan Vasle said the tolar had significantly contributed to the national identity at the time.

25th Ljubljana Marathon to be held on Sunday

LJUBLJANA - The 25th Volkswagen Ljubljana Marathon will take place in the Slovenian capital on Sunday, after it was cancelled due to the pandemic last year. This year's edition was slightly altered as well - all the races will be taking place on the same day, with runners testing their abilities on courses of 10 km, 21 km and 42 km. Up until the Ljubljana Marathon presentation event on Tuesday, 5,000 runners had signed up, with almost a third coming from foreign countries. Participants can still register.

19 Oct 2021, 17:45 PM

STA, 19 October 2021 - The Murska Sobota District Court has opened a formal investigation against Justice Minister Marjan Dikaučič over suspicion of tax evasion and document falsification, the web portal of the commercial broadcaster POP TV has reported. The minister has denied all allegations.

The District State Prosecution in Murska Sobota asked the court to open a formal investigation in August 2020, while a criminal complaint against Dikaučič had been filed there by the Financial Administration (FURS) back in August 2017.

The case relates to the time when Dikaučič, who was appointed justice minister in mid-June, was the liable person in the company BGA and the company Prevozi Žižek in receivership, based in Gornja Bistrica, south-east of Murska Sobota.

Preliminary inquiries allegedly established that Prevozi Žižek avoided paying value added tax (VAT) when selling goods to BGA under fictitious contracts, which were allegedly signed by Dikaučič.

The plan was to sell cargo vehicles through two companies in Croatia and Germany to avoid paying EUR 52,000 in VAT, the portal 24ur said on Tuesday.

The district state prosecution confirmed at the beginning of September for the portal it had received the relevant criminal complaint from the FURS in August 2017 over the listed suspicions.

It said that two years later it had sought legal assistance from the Bosnian authorities. Having received a reply in February 2020, the prosecution said it had filed for a formal investigation with the Murska Sobota District Court on 24 August 2020.

At the time, Minister Dikaučič denied the allegations for the portal. "I handed the entire documentation for the alleged act to the police in 2019 and was heard by the court in 2019. Since my signature on the documents was obviously falsified, I proposed to the court for a graphologist to verify the authenticity of the signature," he said.

The minister added that he had "nothing to hide, all the documents are with the relevant authorities, which I trust will do their job correctly".

Allegations against Dikaučič have been circulating in public ever since he was put forward as the candidate for justice minister earlier this year, suggesting he worked with shell companies in his previous job. He has denied any wrongdoing.

Two complaints filed against him in 2015 and 2016 over alleged violation of worker rights were set aside because the prosecution found no reasonable ground suggesting Dikaučič committed the suspected act.

The minister is facing a vote of no confidence in parliament, requested by the centre-left opposition parties over the government's failure to appoint delegated European prosecutors.

LMŠ leader Marjan Šarec said this charge had not been included in the motion but nevertheless proved that the opposition's attempt to oust him was correct.

19 Oct 2021, 17:34 PM

STA, 19 October 2021 - Andrej Vizjak, environment minister, has denied having urged businessman Bojan Petan to avoid taxes in relation to spa Terme Čatež in 2007. He said on Tuesday the recording aired on Monday by POP TV was "a collage". He labelled it manipulation, which he attributed to businessman Martin Odlazek's "garbage mafia".

"From where I stand, there is reasonable suspicion that the recordings are not authentic. It's my assessment it's a kind of collage with sound-manipulation to discredit me. These are grave accusations which I regret," Vizjak, who served as economy minister in 2004-2008, said on the sidelines of the government's visit to the coast.

The commercial TV station broadcast a 14-year-old recording in which Vizjak is trying to persuade Petan to agree to his terms in the Terme Čatež privatisation story, also by suggesting he should avoid paying taxes and offering him the state and the supervisory board's cooperation.

Vizjak said he suspected the recording was the result of a collaboration of media baron Odlazek and "his business empire, which is also in waste management business".

He said "a collage of several statements" was aired when his ministry sent a bill on environmental protection, which also enjoys the support of NGOs, to the government.

"I cannot explain this to myself other than being an attempt to liquidate me from this post in relation to waste management. The 'garbage mafia' has so far liquidated all ministers when they put forward something that didn't suit them," said Vizjak, adding the bill "means the end to big profits of this garbage mafia".

He also denied ever discussing or negotiating on any interest, cooperation, business or anything else with Petan. "These are really severe accusations. There have also been no results of the acts I'm accused of," he said, adding that he wanted "the truth to come out".

Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said on Twitter he had been notified of the old wiretapped recording a while ago, while at the same time being warned it would be broadcast "at an appropriate time to undermine him and the government".

Hojs said the operation had been managed by Odlazek. "If we read their portals, radio stations and newspapers, everything is clear," he said on Twitter. During the government visit, he added the recording was either a wiretap or a manipulated recording as suggested by Vizjak.

Asked whether he will report it, Hojs said he will after "something happens" with his report against the health minister from 2012. "I've been minister for a year and a half and I have no information what they did with that report."

The opposition Social Democrats (SD) and Left responded to Hojs's tweet, saying it proved Hojs had known about the recording but had not reported it to protect his SDS. Based on the tweet, the opposition will thus supplement the ouster motion against Hojs that it announced last week and is to file it tomorrow.

The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption (KPK) meanwhile has no powers to investigate the conversation between Vizjak and Petan because it took so many years ago. However, it believes the government, which has adopted a code of ethics for public office holders, should discuss it.

"If the recordings are authentic, then such action by a public office holder is absolutely unacceptable," KPK said, regretting that persons who possess such recordings or data suggesting breach of law do not hand them to law enforcement or the public immediately or within a period when relevant institutions could still deal with them.

The leaders of the Democrats' (SDS) junior coalition partners meanwhile expect Vizjak to provide "explanations" before deciding how to proceed.

SMC leader Zdravko Počivalšek, economy minister, said that judging by his own experience, "not everything that is broadcast on TV is necessarily true". "I'm used to media murders of one kind or another, so let's wait," he said on the sidelines of the government visit.

Similarly, NSi leader Matej Tonin, defence minister, said the NSi was awaiting "clear and detailed" explanations on the basis of which it will take concrete decisions. "As a citizen I'm obliged to pay taxes, which I do. I'll tell my and the NSi's opinion once we've got the minister's explanations," he said.

19 Oct 2021, 13:15 PM

STA, 19 October 2021 - Mateja Logar, the head of the Health Ministry's Covid advisory group, has proposed a voluntary short-term lockdown over the autumn school break. "This would affect the development of the epidemic in November," she said. The proposal includes restricting socialising to family members and limiting large gatherings.

Presenting the proposal on Monday, Logar also warned that it would be wise to limit traditional 1 November cemetery visits to family members as well. School is out in the last week of October and many people will be on holiday, she said, noting that such a short-term lockdown could ensure the epidemiological situation does not deteriorate in November.

"It is not possible to achieve any significant tightening with the current measures, but we still believe that the recovered-vaccinated-tested (PCT) requirement is effective as long as people comply with it and as long as inspections are carried out," Logar said.

She pointed out that following the introduction of the PCT requirement, the number of coronavirus infections started to decline, but then the efficiency of the PCT control was reduced and the number started to increase again, also due to other factors.

Logar also highlighted that the recent Constitutional Court ruling warning about lack of a legal basis for fines due to non-compliance with mandatory mask-wearing should not be interpreted as proof that masks are not necessary.

Asked if recent protests against the PCT requirement could have also led to an increase in infections, Logar replied that one of the factors contributing to the spread of infections could be larger gatherings, not only on Wednesdays, when protesters against the Covid pass mandate usually gather.

According to Logar, about 87% of infected people treated in hospitals are under the age of 50. "This is a group that is less likely to need hospital treatment," she said.

In the over-50 age group, the vaccination rate is high - this means the vaccine is effective, as it is mainly individuals from age groups with low vaccination coverage who are getting sick, she said.

Yesterday marked a year since the government declared the epidemic for the second time.

Get all the latest data on covid and Slovenia

19 Oct 2021, 11:32 AM

STA, 18 October - Supervision at the General Police Administration carried out by the parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission (KNOVS) has confirmed the leadership of the Interior Ministry was present in two operational centres of the police during the 5 October protest, KNOVS chair Matjaž Nemec said on Monday, labelling it "rather unusual".

The supervision carried out by five KNOVS members has established that Minister Aleš Hojs, Interior Ministry State Secretary Franc Kangler, national security state secretary in the prime minister's office Žan Mahnič and Police Commissioner Anton Olaj visited the two operational centres during the protest.

While the presence of Olaj was justified, this cannot be said for the other three officials, Nemec told the press in Ljubljana on Monday, adding that in the past, ministers had usually visited operational centres after a campaign had been concluded.

Asked whether Božo Predalič, another state secretary at the Interior Ministry, was present in the centres, Nemec, the MP of the opposition Social Democrats (SD), said that Olaj did not want to answer this question.

Nemec said that the commission had not been able to determine whether some of the politicians present had been giving direct orders to the police how to handle the protest in Ljubljana, during which a water cannon and tear gas were used.

Olaj was not able to tell whether the situation in the operational centres was recorded, and said he would need to check this and report about it, he said.

According to Nemec, KNOVS did not get answers as to who gave orders to the police officers to use all means available against the protesters "at the moment when protests had not turned violent yet".

Minister Hojs said on Twitter last Friday that he was in Budapest on 5 October, and that he had arrived at Ljubljana airport only at 6:17pm. Nemec said the minister had arrived in one of the operational centres "in the early evening hours".

Hojs told the press today on the sidelines of a National Assembly plenary session that he had arrived at the operational centre around 7:15pm and that he had not been giving any instructions.

The minister said that he had come to the centre to congratulate everybody who had managed the campaign from the centre, and to ask about some details of the campaign, which had already been concluded by that time.

On Twitter, Hojs questioned Nemec's truthfulness, noting that he had told the public broadcaster that "the police ordered the use of a water cannon and tear gas already at 3:30pm", while according to the minister this happened a few minutes before 5pm.

Similarly, Mahnič said in a tweet that the supervision by KNOVS had rejected the "untruthful claims by the media and Nemec" that he and Hojs had been in the centre until around 6pm during the protest.

He said that he had arrived there only around 7:15pm, when the protest had largely been over, and that he had come there to get acquainted with the centre's work and the security situation, while giving no instructions.

KNOVS analysed today a total of eleven protests that took place in Ljubljana in recent months, including the conduct of the police during the 26 June protest in Prešeren Square, when members of the so-called Yellow Jackets far-right movement were forcefully removed.

Olaj, who had ordered internal supervision of the police conduct at the protest, met with the task force before and after the supervision, which he confirmed himself today, Nemec said.

"This sheds bad light in a way on the objectivity of the task force," he said, adding that what also caught the eye was Olaj admitting today that he "intervened in the work of supervisors, in the final report" at least in one case.

Nemec finds this unusual, as the police commissioner is supposed to provide conditions for independent work of the supervisory task force.

The KNOVS chair also noted that the police had used by far the most coercive means in its history at the 5 October protest.

Due to these and other reservations, the commission has asked the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman to examine compliance of the police conduct at protests from the aspect of human rights, Nemec said.

Olaj said today that the police respected parliamentary oversight and KNOVS, which was why he had answered the questions he had received today although the topics covered had exceeded KNOVS's powers.

He said in a press release published on Twitter they were used to oversights and inquiries by the Human Rights Ombudsman and denied any interfering in the contents of the final reports after the protests.

Olaj told KNOVS that two commissions had been set up to check the decisions of police at the protests on 15 September and 5 October. He expects the first report, which will be presented to the public, in the first half of November.

Asked about visits to the operational centres on 5 October, Olaj said he had been at the Centre for Protection at 7:25pm and at the Ljubljana Police Administration at 7:35pm. He said nobody had given instruction to police officers.

19 Oct 2021, 10:35 AM

STA, 18 October 2021 - Around 60% of Slovenians do not approve of Slovenia's foreign policy pivoting towards the Visegrad Group. Most would prefer to see closer alignment with Germany, Austria, France and Italy, shows the latest Vox Populi poll carried out for the newspapers Dnevnik and Večer.

The country's foreign policy strategy used to be primarily oriented towards the West. After entering the EU, Slovenia also started looking slightly more towards the south and fostered good relations with Russia, the paper says.

But under the third government of Janez Janša, Central and Eastern Europe has come to the fore. Janša has aligned Slovenia more closely to the Visegrad Four, especially Hungary.

Asked whether they agreed that Slovenia should represent within the EU positions close to those of Hungary and Poland, 60% of respondents disagreed, 31% agreed, while around 10% were undecided.

Interestingly, Dnevnik says, younger respondents were keener to agree with closer alignment with Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia, while older respondents strongly disagreed.

The pollster Ninamedia also asked the respondents to spontaneously list three EU member states that Slovenia should coordinate and cooperate with in the international political sphere.

The majority has listed Germany (63.4%) and Austria (57.4%), followed by France (34%), Italy (26.3%) and Croatia (13.3%).

Ninamedia polled 700 persons between 12 and 14 October.

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