News

26 Mar 2019, 17:10 PM

March 26, 2019

Trubarjeva and Poljanska Roads are facing total closure till the end of this summer, but these are not the only streets that will be disrupted in the near future. Luckily, there’s a city government websiteto keep you informed of when, where and why you can’t drive – or sometimes even walk – along a certain route.

Most of the current road works in Ljubljana are due to construction of a new sewage canal system, an 88-km long project that began in 2017, is expected to end in 2021 and include the renovation of 261 streets in the city, so do bookmark that site and keep it handy for the next two years.

26 Mar 2019, 18:00 PM

If you’ve ever wondered roughly how many festivals there are in Slovenia, how they’re distributed through the year, and where the main focuses are, then you’re in luck. The good folks at Culture.si have been producing interactive infographics with just this information since 2012. The one for this year, 2019, can be seen at the top of this story, while an interactive version with details in each square, can be found on the main website.

A few things to note from this year and others. One is the dominance of musical events, accounting for 48 out of the total of 146 festivals currently on the site for 2019, followed by dance & theatre (24) and film (22) – with food and drink festivals not included in these calendars. Another is summer being the clear peak season for festivals in Slovenia, with the top month being August.

A third observation, and a surprising one, given the seemingly relentless increase in tourist numbers, and thus tourist offers, over the last decade or so, is that the number of festivals isn’t increasing. While this could be due to data collection issues, since it’s already late March, and these events will have been planned for months, it seems likely some events have been consolidated or simply disappeared over time.

nuumber of festivals in slovenia 2012 to 2019.JPG

data from culture.su

You can play around with the infographic here, while you can see a list of all 215 festivals on Culture.si here. finally, readers interested in the history of festivals in Slovenia can explore this timeline, which gives the first appearance of each of the events.

Related: What's on in Ljubljana

26 Mar 2019, 16:30 PM

STA, 26 March 2019 - Labour Minister Ksenija Klampfer announced the government was not considering relaxing dismissal rules as she attended an employer conference in Ljubljana on Tuesday.

While the employers have been urging more flexibility in hiring and firing, the minister said she was aware of their proposals to enable termination without cause.

"However, some international documents prevent it, so no changes in this direction are in the making, there being no expert basis for it."

But despite an upturn on the labour market and the economic trends, which are currently still positive, legislation should be changed to facilitate faster activation of workers and keep older workers on the labour market longer, she told the employers.

The employers presented their demands to Klampfer at the conference, primarily calling for less red tape and no additional labour costs.

They also complained about the education system, saying it did not provide the trained staff that Slovenian companies needed.

Sharing their view, Klampfer said there were "many challenges" in this respect, assuring them the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities was pushing for a change in the mindset so that workers realise life-long learning was a must.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Jernej Pikalo urged employers to help promote apprenticeship. Apprentices are initially a cost for the company but the investment pays off in the long-term, he stressed.

"That's why I'm urging you to cooperate with us, to present us your needs," he said, noting that the apprenticeship system was not functioning too well in Slovenia.

The system is working because apprenticeship is backed by EU funds, but once these funds are cut, there will be big problems, he said.

The president of the Association of Employers in Craft and Small Business, Drago Delalut, urged the employers to close ranks and state clearly they needed a stable business environment comparable with competitive countries.

He expressed concern over the supplementary budget for 2019, saying it had set expenditure much too high and had been passed with much horse trading.

The guidelines of a tax reform are also a cause for concern as they indicate measures will be taken to further burden the corporate sector, he said.

"Political decision-makers like to decide on expanding rights without calculating their consequences," he said.

Sharing some of the employers' views, the president of the upper chamber of parliament, Alojz Kovšca, criticised the government for not taking the pressure off the corporate sector.

On the contrary, the government is putting more burdens on businesses, while not talking about any measures to increase productivity, Kovšča said.

He also urged the employers to close ranks to revive social dialogue in the country, regretting it had come at a standstill.

All of our stories on employment in Slovenia are here

26 Mar 2019, 14:20 PM

STA, 25 March 2019 - Advertisers in Slovenia will increase investment into digital advertising by 25% this year, spending an average of EUR 290,000 on it, suggests a survey carried out by the digital agency Iprom and pollster Valicon.

 

Iprom said on Monday that 68% of the 214 surveyed decision-makers on the Slovenian advertising and marketing scene said they would increase the budget for digital advertising this year. 29% said they would leave it on par with last year's.

Data obtained in the AdEx international survey suggests companies and organisations in Slovenia invested EUR 47.2m in digital advertising in 2017. Simon Cetin of Iprom assessed that the figure will easily exceed EUR 60m this year.

The Slovenian survey meanwhile showed social media will be used this year as a platform by 82% of those investing in digital advertising. Search engine marketing will be used by 77%, and display advertising by 73%.

Display advertising is expected to account for the largest share of the investments, 29%, followed by search engine marketing, at 24%.

The service sector will spend the most on digital advertising, EUR 352,000 on average, followed by the retail (EUR 291,000) and tourism sectors (EUR 233,000).

26 Mar 2019, 12:47 PM

STA, 25 March 2019 - Household appliance maker Gorenje, which was taken over by China's Hisense last year, reported EUR 1.184bn in group sales revenue for 2018, a 1.7% decrease. After ending 2017 in the black, Gorenje recorded a EUR 37.3m net loss in 2018, or EUR 111.2m when factoring in one-off and extraordinary events.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) fell by 53.5% to EUR 29.6m. Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) were EUR 28.2m in the negative after a EUR 12.1m plus had still been recorded in 2017.

"In the first half of the year, performance was consistent with the budgeted dynamics; in the second half, however, it was adversely affected by uncertainty among our partners with regard to the outcome of the strategic process, and it worsened as a result," Gorenje wrote, referring to the sale to Hisense.

The largest decline was seen in industrial (OEM) deals, "as customers trod very warily when doing business with Gorenje, for reasons referred to above".

Without the decline of OEM deals, revenue in Gorenje's core activity would have grown relative to the year before, said the company which employs slightly over 11,000 people.

As to the different net loss figures, Gorenje pointed out that assumptions and methodologies of accounting estimates changed considerably, with the "adjustment upon integration into Hisense having had many one-off and extraordinary effects on Gorenje results".

Gorenje generated 91% of its revenue in its core activity of domestic appliances. It primarily grew in eastern Europe, in particular in Hungary, Ukraine, Bulgaria, and the Czech Republic where it is marketing products under the Asko brand.

Revenue on the other hand decreased in western Europe, where the company felt the effect of strong competition and labour cost pressures.

"As sales decreased, results from operations were negatively impacted by the unchanged amount of fixed costs that were impossible to adjust to the lower-than-planned sales in such a short period of time," Gorenje wrote.

The company said it continued to invest in development, earmarking 2.5% of total revenue or EUR 30m for this purpose. The same amount was invested last year into marketing.

The core company increased sales revenue by 2.2% to EUR 819.3m but recorded a EUR 126.8m net loss after being EUR 470,000 in the black in 2017.

All our stories on Gorenje can be found here

26 Mar 2019, 11:50 AM

STA, 25 March 2019 - Prices of residential properties in Slovenia rose by 18.2% last year, driven by a 19.8% growth in the prices of second-hand homes, according to a report by the Statistics Office.

 

The number of transactions decreased by 14% from the 2017 peak to 9,421 in 2018. The number of transactions in new apartments remained low for the second year running.

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In the final quarter of 2018, prices of existing family houses increased the most, by as much as 38.6% compared to the same quarter a year ago.

Prices of existing apartments in areas outside Ljubljana were up by 12.6% year-on-year, while Ljubljana saw an 8% growth.

Prices of new family houses and new flats were also up year-on-year in the final quarter of 2018, by 5.2% and 3.3%, respectively, with prices of both types of new homes rising by 3.7%.

Despite the volatility in prices of new apartments, the prices increased by 23.9% since 2015.

The final quarter saw only 38 new flats sold, which is a record low. The number of new family houses sold remained low as well, but at 24, this was the highest figure last year.

Compared to the third quarter, prices of existing homes - flats and houses - rose by 6.9% with prices of flats up by 4.1% and prices of houses increasing by 11.9%.

As many as 1,757 transactions in existing homes were recorded in the final quarter of 2018, which compares to only 632 involving newly built homes.

More detailed data can be found here, while all our real estate stories are here

26 Mar 2019, 10:19 AM

STA, 25 March 2019 - The Koper and Novo Mesto police caught 51 foreigners illegally crossing the border the past weekend. Seven migrants requested international protection.

According to the Koper police department, 23 foreigners were caught crossing the border from Croatia in the western region from Friday morning until today.

Two of them were Croatians, while the rest were citizens of Kosovo (five), Pakistan (four), Algeria (three), Somalia (three), and Afghanistan, and Iraq and Iran (two each).

The Koper police also apprehended a Slovenian citizen who transported four foreigners who had illegally crossed the border.

Seven people were already returned to Croatia and just as many are expected to be handed over today. Seven migrants requested international protection.

The Novo Mesto police, meanwhile, found an Algerian citizen hiding in the undercarriage of a train, trying to avoid border control. The man was handed over to Croatian authorities.

In the Novo Mesto area, a total of 27 foreigners were apprehended, with six of them coming from Afghanistan, just as many from Algeria and Morocco, four from Yemen, two from Iraq and just as many from Egypt, and one from Syria.

A total of 611 illegal crossings of the border were recorded in Slovenia in January and February, which is a 35% increase compared to the same period last year. Most of the foreigners came from Algeria and Morocco.

All our stories on illegal migration in Slovenia are here

26 Mar 2019, 09:05 AM

STA - Below is a roundup of major events on Monday, 25 March:

Minister nominee Šabeder to strive for accessible, quality healthcare

LJUBLJANA - The nominee for health minister, Aleš Šabeder, stressed in his presentation at the Health Committee in parliament that citizens must be provided with accessible and quality public health services. The current director of the UKC Ljubljana hospital announced a systematic approach to cut waiting times and red tape, and an overhaul of the healthcare and health insurance act. MPs had several questions for him, mostly to do with supplementary insurance and problems in primary healthcare, but due to the abundance of questions the hearing will continue on Tuesday. If appointed, Šabeder will replace Samo Fakin, who resigned at the beginning of March for health reasons.

Zajc pledges to resume work set out by Environment Ministry

LJUBLJANA - Simon Zajc pledged to complete the work set out by his predecessor at the Ministry of the Environment and Spatial Planning in his hearing on the parliamentary committee in charge of the environment. He listed updates to construction and housing laws, a reform of water law and tackling the waste management as his priorities. Zajc, who is serving as one of the two state secretaries at the ministry and was nominated to replace his boss Jure Leben as minister, told the MPs the ministry would have to keep up the pace and the manner of work set out under Leben's guide. He is expected to be appointed minister on Wednesday after being backed in a 10:5 vote in today's hearing.

PM in acrimonious exchange with MP over Strasbourg address

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly witnessed an acrimonious exchange between PM Marjan Šarec and opposition New Slovenia (NSi) MP Ljudmila Novak over his decision to pass on the invitation to address the European Parliament. While Novak, a former MEP, said that Šarec had missed an opportunity to set out his vision of the EU's future, the prime minister said he did not believe she had raised the issue in good faith, but rather as part of the campaign for the EU elections in which she stands herself as the NSi frontrunner herself. He said he did not regret his decision after Antonio Tajani's latest comments about Mussolini.

PM says real pension reform still in the making

LJUBLJANA - PM Marjan Šarec told MPs in questions time that the package of legislative changes to the pension system presented by the government recently addressed only the most burning issues, while a real reform was yet to be drawn up at a later stage. "These proposals are aimed at prolonging the years of service on the one hand and improving the social status of all those eligible for pension and disability insurance funds on the other," he said, arguing these would suffice for now.

Home minister says police managing situation on border

LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar assured MPs in questions time Slovenia was successfully managing migrations on the border with Croatia and protecting the Schengen border despite a renewed jump in illegal migrations. The latest data by police for January and February show a total of 611 illegal crossings of the border were recorded in Slovenia, up 35% compared to the same period last year. But the trend appears to have accelerated in March, with Poklukar saying 746 attempts to cross the border illegally had been recorded between 1 and 21 March. "It is true, attempts to cross the border illegally are increasing, partially due to the fact that the winter has been green ... which made it easier to cross the border."

Govt ratings down as scandals bite

LJUBLJANA - The government's approval rating appears to be eroding fast after the fourth cabinet resignation in six months. Having peaked in January at almost 63% and then dropping to 56% in February, it declined to 52.4% in the latest poll commissioned by POP TV. Over 36% said they disapproved of its performance, up four points over the previous month, while 11% were undecided, showed the poll, conducted by Mediana and released on Sunday evening. The declining approval rating was mirrored in the support for government parties, with the ruling Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) losing four percentage points to 16.6%.

Cerar meets minority reps from Austria

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar met representatives of the Slovenian minority from Austria as part of preparations for a session of the Slovenia-Carinthia Committee in Slovenia on Friday, which will also be attended by Carinthian Governor Peter Kaiser. The presidents of the umbrella minority organisations outlined the open issues which Cerar is expected to raise, pointing to the need to fully implement a memorandum from 2011 regarding bilingual place names in Carinthia. Cerar said more funding was needed for Slovenians not only in Carinthia but also Styria, chiefly for minority education and for the Slovenian weekly Novice.

Gorenje ends 2018 in the red, revenue down 1.7%

VELENJE - Household appliance maker Gorenje, which was taken over by China's Hisense last year, reported EUR 1.184bn in group sales revenue for 2018, a 1.7% drop on 2017. After ending 2017 in the black, Gorenje recorded a EUR 37.3m net loss in 2018, or EUR 111.2m when factoring in one-off and extraordinary events. EBITDA fell by 53.5% to EUR 29.6m and EBIT was EUR 28.2m in the negative after a EUR 12.1m plus had still been recorded in 2017. The company earmarked 2.5% of total revenue or EUR 30m for investment.

Slovenian, Macedonian economy ministers discuss economic ties

LJUBLJANA - Minister of Economic Development and Technology Zdravko Počivalšek and his Macedonian counterpart Kreshnik Bekteshi shared a view that bilateral economic relations were good, but called for further improving them, as they met in Ljubljana. "Trade in goods between the two countries reached EUR 307m in 2018, up 6% on 2017. The growth trend has also been recorded in services," Počivalšek was quoted as saying in his ministry's release. Bekteshi meanwhile noted that NATO's door opening for his country had brought stability and security, which facilitated a record growth in investment, topping EUR 624m.

Business sentiment flat in March, worsens y/y

LJUBLJANA - Business sentiment in Slovenia remained at 9.1 percentage points in March, level with February, but declined by 3.2 points from March 2018, the Statistics Office reported. The monthly trend was affected positively by a 0.4-point boost in the confidence indicators in manufacturing and retail. However, the overall indicator was kept down by a dampening in the services sector (-0.6 pp), among consumers (-0.2 pp) and in construction (-0.1 pp). Confidence in retail increased by one percentage point year-on-year.

Home prices in Slovenia up 18% in 2018

LJUBLJANA - Prices of residential properties in Slovenia rose by 18.2% last year, driven by a 19.8% growth in the prices of second-hand homes, according to a report by the Statistics Office. The number of transactions decreased by 14% to 9,421 from the 2017 peak. The number of transactions in new apartments remained low for the second year running. In the final quarter of 2018, prices of existing family houses increased the most, by as much as 38.6% compared to the same quarter a year ago.

Investment in digital ads expected to rise by 25% this year

LJUBLJANA - Advertisers in Slovenia will increase investment into digital advertising by 25% this year, spending an average of EUR 290,000 on it, suggests a survey carried out by the digital agency Iprom and pollster Valicon. Iprom said that 68% of the 214 surveyed decision-makers on the Slovenian advertising and marketing scene said they would increase the budget for digital advertising this year, while 29% said they would leave it on a par with last year's. The service sector will spend the most on digital advertising, EUR 352,000 on average, followed by the retail (EUR 291,000) and tourism sectors (EUR 233,000).

Petrol prices up significantly, diesel cheaper

LJUBLJANA - Regular petrol sold at service stations outside the Slovenian motorway network will be significantly more expensive on Tuesday and cost more than diesel for the first time since last October, the Economy Ministry said. Regular will cost EUR 1.295 per litre, up 2.9 cents and the highest it has been since November, whereas the price of diesel will go down by 1.1 cents to EUR 1.258.

Slovenia draw against North Macedonia in Euro 2020 qualifier

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian national football team played North Macedonia on Sunday to record the second draw in as many games in the Euro 2020 qualifiers. Like in Thursday's match against Israel, Slovenia squandered a 1:0 lead for a final score of 1:1 (1:0). Slovenia, who are playing again under one of the most successful Slovenian national team coaches, Matjaž Kek, looked a much better team again than in recent years, but individual mistakes spoiled matters a little. The next qualifiers await Slovenia on 7 and 10 June in Austria and Latvia, respectively.

Exhibition on Hiroshima and Nagasaki opens in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Pain and Courage, an exhibition dedicated to the victims of the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, opened at the National Museum of Contemporary History. The exhibition of the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Museum, put on in cooperation with the Slovenian PEN Centre ahead of the 51st International PEN meeting, is meant to raise awareness about the danger of nuclear armament. It will run until 20 April.

25 Mar 2019, 17:30 PM

Last week we posted an interview with Ralph Churches, a former Australian soldier who spent time as a prisoner of war in Slovenia, before escaping in a daring adventure known as the Raid at Ožbalt, or “the Flight of the Crow”. We first become aware of his story because of a new book published in English, a first person account of life as a Partisan solider in the Second World War, written by someone who was part of the same adventure. Curious to learn more, we got in touch with the translator, Robert Posl, and asked how he came to work on this project, and what he learned.

First of all, what’s your connection with Slovenia?

My parents originated from the former Yugoslavia. My father from near Rogatec, my mother from Croatia, near Zadar. She moved to Slovenia, where she met my father. In 1970 they moved to Germany. My father simply did not see a future staying in Yugoslavia.

I was the third child, born in August 1974. In spring of 1975, we moved to South Africa. The apartheid regime of South Africa was in full swing and was encouraging and inviting people to move to South Africa. So that's what my parents did, along with their three toddlers. I obviously don't remember any of that, since I was barely six months old.

We lived quite a decent and progressive life in South Africa. We as children had no contact with Yugoslavia. And even though my parents had brothers and sisters in Yugoslavia (Slovenia and Croatia), they too had almost no contact. The Communist way there was distinct and powerful until the 90's, when everything started to change. The war in Slovenia was short, only four days, with barely any conflict or anything.

Slovenia was then 'free' and with a promising future, quickly stepping forward to becoming a European nation. We started hearing about relatives we had never heard about before. Then in December 1991 my uncle and his wife came to visit us in South Africa. While things were looking quite promising for Slovenia, the opposite was for South Africa, as the apartheid era was coming to an end. So the obvious happened, the decision to move to Slovenia quickly grew.

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Robert Posl

And so you moved back?

Yes, and after moving from South Africa to Slovenia, to Europe, I felt that I was now properly introduced to history. Moving from a country which has bareky any history compared to that of mainland Europe. Most of the countries in Europe have also put significant efforts into maintaining and restoring their cultural heritage, so now I could see and even touch it, compared to only reading about it. Slovenia is thus dotted with numerous buildings and monuments, which clearly express its history. Especially the countless number of memorials and plaques reminding us of the Second World War.

One thing I heard about a lot about the Partisans. The most common thing I’d hear was how difficult it was and how they lived in poverty and in hunger, with ragged clothes and inadequate equipment. My reaction was obvious, “who would want anything like that? So unpleasant!

So that’s how you came to translate this story?

Yes and no, because there’s more of a family connection than just an interest in history. Some years ago my wife’s uncle, Alojz Voler, published his autobiography and experiences during the war, when he served with the Partisans. Alojz kept the publication quite quiet, mainly only sharing it with relatives and acquaintances. I paged through it a couple of times, reading some sections and admiring the photos.

Then in the spring of 2017, a car with foreign registration plates stopped in front of his house. They were from England, except for the translator who was with them. They were looking for a man who was involved in a remarkable event during The Second World War, “The Flight of the Crow”. A team were in Slovenia making a movie about this great event, something most people didn’t even know happened.

When I learnt more and that Alojz was involved in it, I right away suggested that his autobiography be translated into English and to include the details of this event. The more I thought about it, the more I saw the need for this to be done.

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Alojz Voler, with German recruits. He served in the German army for 14 months before he managed to desert them and return to Slovenia, where he then joined the partisans.

What was that like?

I got to know more of the details and specifics about Alojz and the life he lived. He was born in 1925 on a farm in the Savinja Valley in Northern Slovenia. Not only was I getting to know him, but I was also getting to know what it was like living in that period. The onset of the Second World War and the influence of the aggressors, which was long felt before the conflict even started.

The Second World War was for Yugoslavia more than just the invasion and engagements with German forces. A significant part of it was the tension and politics within the country itself. Already in primary school, Alojz would be tolfd negatuve things about the Partisans, and how they lived in hunger and poverty. Surprisingly, it was allo very to what I so often heard when I moved to Slovenia.

For Alojz to follow his heart was a journey in its self, and to join the Partisans was an almost unimaginable and treacherous step to make. I admire how Alojz expresses this idea: To go into resistance with almost bare hands, against the most elite forces of the world at that time, was an almost fantasy. But it was no fantasy, it was the cruel reality.          

Starting with this translation at first only fed fuel to the fire of my curiosity. What kind of person, and why, would want to be part of the Partisans? But by following Alojz’s life throughout his book, my questions were answered.

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Alojz on the left, with other members of the KNOJ (Korpus narodne obrambe Jugoslavije). Photo taken after the war ended.

The book obviously has many other stories, but how was Aljoz involved in the “Escape of the Crow”?

The battalion Alojz was in was based to the west of Maribor, nearby the Ožbalt work camp. Some of the Partisans were chosen to escort a group of six POWs, including Ralph Churches, away from the area ASAP. The next day they returned and managed to free the rest of the captives, and it was then that Alojz met and helped them to safety and away from Ožbalt before the Germans intensified their search for the prisoners.

Here is a photo, which is also on the cover of A Hundred Miles as the Crow Flies. The guy on the left, almost out of the picture is Franjo Gruden, the leader of the escort team. Alojz was at the back to make sure nobody fell behind.

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And here is a map I made for the book. You can see where they went, up to Gornji Grad, then another group of partisan soldiers took over to escort them further.

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And what you have learned from the book?

For me the most important things about working on this project are being able to share a part of history, but more than that, it’s about giving Alojz that feeling of pride. At 94 years old it’s quite something that his story is finally being told, and that he’s the one to tell it. And so I hope that more people will hear about him and what he did during the war.

While doing the translation, and still after, people would ask me: “Who is paying for this? How much are you being paid?” My answer – Alojz has paid me; with the truths and experiences from his heart, as seen by an ordinary, humble man. And with the knowledge, that I can now confidently say, “I know who and what the partisans really were”.

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Alojz Voler, Niel Churches & Monty Halls, Spring 2017

If you’d like to read Alojz’s story, Through the Eyes of a Partisan Soldier, then you can pick up a copy, in both paper and digital forms, from Amazon, while all our stories on World War Two are here

25 Mar 2019, 16:20 PM

STA, 22 March 2019 - Threats by dozens of general practitioners around the country to quit in the face of a recent decision to increase the number of patients GPs are expected to cover have been making headlines in recent days. Matters seem to be spiralling out of control, as medical students have also been showing no interest to pursue a career in general practice.

While tensions over increasing red tape for GPs and their general workload have been mounting for years, the situation seems to have escalated as a result of the financing and organisational plan for public healthcare in 2019.

The plan, put forward by healthcare purse manager ZZZS and confirmed by the government, raises the permitted number of patients per GP. The increase also affects health centres that have been performing above that national average, which has been scrapped as a reference point.

More Slovenian doctors start to protest

The first to protest were 21 doctors in Kranj, who already stopped accepting new patients in February. They also addressed a letter to Samo Fakin, who in the meantime resigned as health minister due to ill health, in which they threatened to quit by the end of March.

All of the 15 GPs at the Celje Health Centre issued a similar threat earlier this week, while three doctors at the Nazarje Health Centre have already resigned.

Moreover, on Thursday doctors at the Ajdovščina Health Centre, which has seen a number of retirements in the recent period, announced they would no longer perform overtime work.

Doctors' organisations are demanding solutions that will allow GPs to do their job in line with professional standards. They say that the recommended patient index is 1,500, that the currently valid ceiling is 1,895, while the actual Slovenian average stands at 2,406.

However, the ZZZS argued that enforcing the ceiling would mean 325,000 people in Slovenia remaining without primary healthcare.

A threat to the constitutional right to healthcare

"Every stakeholder in the system shares some responsibility for solving this problem together. It however cannot be solved in the way proposed by some doctors, by starting to reject patients at 1,895, since this would even violate the constitutional right to healthcare," the ZZZS said.

Solutions highlighted by the ZZZS include appropriate education policy planning, meaning securing enough GPs, and a reduction of administrative burdens. It is also looking for ways to secure more funding.

"The management of health centres also have a number of tools at their disposal and can above all use reallocation to secure a more equal distribution of burdens among doctors," the ZZZS wrote.

There are currently 950 GPs in Slovenia along with 315 GP trainees and according to February data, the workload of 42% or of 595 family and children's doctors did not exceed the Slovenian average.

The Health Ministry, which is being run temporarily by Prime Minister Miro Šarec since Fakin's resignation, says it is drawing up measures that will resolve things in a systemic manner.

It announced fewer administrative tasks, a new financial model for primary healthcare that will be stimulative, and a call for applications for 80 to 90 GP speciality training spots in this year.

Healthcare in Slovenia faces growing problems

The problem however is that interest for a career in general practice has been very modest. Only 13 application were filed for 64 spots made available in a call last spring and eight in the autumn call that offered 60 spots.

What is more, health centres did not manage to find new GP staff even though additional funding had been secured for the purpose.

The head of the family doctors' trade union Praktikum, Igor Muževič proposed the impasse could be bridged with the inclusion of foreign doctors. He however added that no dialogue exists between the union and decision makers.

The situation was meant to be discussed today by the parliamentary Healthcare Committee, but the session was cancelled because it was not certain the representatives of the Health Ministry would be able to attend.

All our stories on healthcare in Slovenia can be found here

25 Mar 2019, 14:20 PM

STA, 22 March 2019 - Slovenia's sole seaport in Koper is not concerned about the prospect of Chinese investments in the port of Trieste, its biggest rival among north Adriatic ports. It says there is plenty of scope for growth of all ports in the region.

"We've always emphasised our support for development projects of all ports in the region," port operator Luka Koper told the STA, noting that investments were the only way north Adriatic ports can compete with ports in North Europe.

The company quoted a study commissioned by the North Adriatic Port Association showing that ports from Ravenna to Rijeka have a combined potential to transship six million container units per year; in 2018 they handled 2.8 million units.

It is precisely in container transshipments that Trieste poses the biggest threat to Koper with the help of state-sponsored Chinese investors.

Koper handled 988,000 container units last year to Trieste's 725,000, but Trieste's volume was up almost a fifth over the year before while Koper registered only 8% growth in container shipments.

Overall, Trieste and the adjacent Monfalcone handled 67 million tonnes of cargo while Koper handled 24 million tonnes, both figures records for the respective ports.

Not only is it unfazed by the prospect of even stronger competition from Trieste, Luka Koper notes that all ports in the region have the same problem: poor rail connections inland.

Koper has a single track connecting it to the national rail network, Trieste faces bottlenecks within the port itself, and in Croatia's Rijeka the tracks still cut through the city.

"Rather than being concerned about what neighbouring ports are doing, it is important that Koper and Slovenia realize plans that we have adopted," the company said about the coming construction of a new track connecting the port with the inland hub Divača.

Construction of the EUR 1bn-plus track covering a distance of 27 kilometres has already started - contractors are currently building 20 kilometres of access roads - but the project is expected to take many years due to the difficult karst terrain.

Concern about Chinese plans have been raised in Slovenian media after it was announced that during Chinese President Xi Jinping's ongoing visit to Italy a memorandum of understanding on Chinese infrastructure investments would be signed.

According to plans, one of the pillar of the investment plan would be to strengthen Trieste's rail connections inland, which some see as a serious threat to Koper's competitive position.

Elen Tvrdy, the dean of the Koper Faculty of Maritime Studies and Transport, told the STA Trieste's plans required not only that the new Koper-Divača was built, but also that the port itself Koper continued investing.

"We must always be concerned about loss of market or partners. Koper must continue with investments, this is the only way it will remain competitive, regardless of whether or not the Chinese come to Trieste.

She noted that the Chinese were looking for a foothold in north Adriatic because of short transport routes to Central Europe. North Adriatic has geographic advantages, but good rail connections are critical, she said.

All our stories on logistics in Slovenia are here

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