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20 May 2019, 18:26 PM

STA, 20 May 2019 - The peak cruise ship season has started at the Slovenian seaside, with some 2,500 cruise passengers sailing into the Koper harbour last Saturday and almost 5,000 being expected this week.

 

MS Mein Schiff 6, which is part of the TUI Cruises' fleet and carries more than 1,000 crew members in addition to the passengers, arrived in Slovenia's only sea port for the first time on Saturday.

Being almost 300 metres long and over 40 metres wide, Mein Schiff 6 is one of the biggest ships the harbour has ever welcomed, said the Koper municipality.

To mark the occasion, the municipality's representatives as well as representatives of the port operator Luka Koper met with the ship's captain.

The ship is one of the fleet's new vessels, being launched in January 2017, and it embarked on its maiden voyage in June 2017.

It offers mid-priced cruises, accessible to a wider range of customers, with a few suites designed for more high-end passengers.

Koper expects to welcome three cruise ships this week, including MSC Musica on Tuesday, Marella Discovery on Wednesday and Viking Star on Friday.

MSC Musica, carrying some 2,000 passengers, will sail from Venice and later continue its journey to Zadar in Croatia.

Marella Discovery visited Koper already at the beginning of May and will make a stop in the Slovenian harbour again during its voyage to Venice, carrying some 1,800 passengers.

Viking Star, on the other hand, is a luxury cruise ship, having space for almost 1,000 passengers.

20 May 2019, 15:46 PM

STA, 20 May 2019 - Marine Carobbio Guscetti, the speaker of the lower chamber of the Swiss National Assembly, met her counterpart Dejan Židan during her official visit to Slovenia on Monday with the pair lauding good bilateral cooperation and efficient use of Swiss contribution to cohesion funds in Slovenia.

Židan described Slovenia and Switzerland as two nations in an amicable relationship which cooperated well and ever more. Last year, bilateral trade topped EUR 2 billion, EUR 1.5 billion of which was in goods and EUR 0.5 billion in services, Židan noted, adding that trade was quite balanced.

He also welcomed growing numbers of Swiss visitors to Slovenia. Their number rose by 12% and the number of the nights they spent in Slovenia rose by 16% last year.

Židan said that he and Carobbio Guscetti also talked about Switzerland's contribution to EU cohesion funds, "which has been spent efficiently in several fields" in Slovenia.

On Sunday they visited the Josip Plemelj Primary School in Bled whose heating system had been overhauled under the REAAL (Renewable Energy Across the Alpine Land) project with the help of Swiss funds.

Židan also noted Switzerland's cooperation in the development of the oncology centre at the UKC Maribor hospital. The country has donated the centre two radiation devices and enables training of experts.

Carobbio Guscetti finds it "important to see the results of Swiss contributions in Slovenia". She too noted the good relationship between the two countries, and remarked that Switzerland ranks third in terms of foreign direct investment.

The speakers also discussed political developments, not only in Slovenia and Switzerland, but also in the EU and the Western Balkans.

They also talked about World Bee Day with Carobbio Guscetti commenting that she was happy to be in Slovenia on this day initiated by Slovenia, an initiative that Switzerland supported.

Židan and Carobbio Guscetti also took part in a round-table debate at the Slovenian National Assembly marking World Bee Day.

In the afternoon, the speaker of the Swiss National Council is due to meet President Borut Pahor, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec and Alojz Kovšca, the head of the upper chamber of Slovenia's parliament, and members of the parliamentary committees on foreign policy and EU affairs.

Carobbio Guscetti will also visit Maribor, Slovenia's second city, on Tuesday.

20 May 2019, 13:12 PM

STA, 20 May 2019 - The government has not yet presented the priorities for Slovenia's presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2021, but the parties running for seats in the European Parliament have some ideas, although quite different ones, about the topics that should be prioritised.

The ruling Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) says it is too early to discuss priorities as these have to be set by all three countries from what is termed the presidency trio.

This is why Slovenia has already entered dialogue with Germany and Portugal, which will chair the Council 12 months before Slovenia.

A similar view is held by the opposition Democrats (SDS), which were in power when Slovenia presided over the EU for the first time in 2008.

The SDS says Slovenia, Germany and Portugal will jointly set long-term goals and produce a common programme of topics to be discussed from July 2020 to December 2021.

Nevertheless, security, defence and the protection of citizens, alongside demographic trends and the environment should top the list of the trio's priorities, says the SDS, which has a joint list of candidates with the non-parliamentary People's Party (SLS).

The coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) would like topics such as a stronger social union, the rule of law, innovations, sustainable development and security challenges to be at the forefront.

Security and the related issue of illegal migrations was also highlighted as the first priority by the non-parliamentary Homeland League (DOM).

Prosperity should be the next on the list, says DOM, which also notes the EU's cohesion policy has not bridged the development gap between various EU regions.

Meanwhile, consistent respect for the EU and international law, protection of human rights and dignity, the establishment of a fully-fledged European Social Union and a fresh impetus for EU enlargement, remain key topics for Slovenia for the coalition Social Democrats (SD).

Climate change, poverty eradication and sustainable agriculture should also be prioritised, the party says.

Similarly, the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) believes Slovenia should provide for a fresh impetus to EU enlargement towards the Balkans.

It also believes the country should promote the good practices from home, such as solid environmental protection and enhanced solidarity.

The opposition Left believes EU presidency will be an opportunity to focus on reforms to make the EU more democratic, fight against tax havens, implement climate goals from the Paris Agreement by 2030, and to produce a green New Deal.

Slovenia could also promote some of its successful policies, such as the constitutional protection of drinking water and a minimum wage that is by 20% higher than the minimum costs of living.

The non-parliamentary Good State says Slovenia as the presiding EU country should highlight the respect for EU citizens and for the rule of law.

The Let's Connect list believes the four priorities should be "a green, safe, socially just and clean Europe".

The non-parliamentary Greens of Slovenia say Slovenia should focus on the CAP, environment, competition and technology.

Meanwhile, the coalition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) says Slovenia should highlight all EU advantages, but also do its best to enhance its own influence in the EU.

For the opposition New Slovenia (NSi), it would be good for Slovenia to build on the reputation of a leader in healthcare and in fighting cancer it earned during the 2008 EU presidency.

But environmental issues, including the protection of pollinators, as well as the development of agriculture and SMEs should also be in the focus.

The non-parliamentary United Slovenia believes the only priority should be "consistent efforts for overhauling the EU into a union of sovereign and free nations".

This would require a thorough reform of the EU's foundations, but the party believes interests of multinationals and capital should no longer be at the forefront.

The opposition National Party (SNS) doubts Slovenia has enough qualified staff to produce a good programme for EU presidency in the first place.

Still, it believes the country should bring up a number of problems during the presidency which have resulted from poor decisions taken by previous governments.

All our stories on the European Union are here

20 May 2019, 12:46 PM

STA, 16 May 2019 - Members of parliament have urged the government to help Venezuelans of Slovenian origin leave the country by immediately starting repatriation procedures as permitted by law.

The appeal came at a session of the parliamentary Commission for Slovenians Abroad in the midst of mounting media reports that many of the several hundred Venezuelans of Slovenian origin would like help from Slovenia to escape the hardship.

Minister for Slovenians Abroad Peter Jožef Česnik said he had already received several requests from people in Venezuela and urged immediate action to help them.

Since repatriation is a complex procedure, he said an interdepartmental task force should be formed to facilitate the procedure, while the government should provide immediate assistance in cash and medicines.

Interior Ministry data suggest 323 Slovenian citizens live in Venezuela, but the Office for Slovenians Abroad estimates there could be as many as 1,000 together with their families.

Dejan Valentinčič, an official at the Office for Slovenians Abroad, said the authorities needed to be flexible, as some documents, for example police clearance certificates, were very difficult to obtain.

Repatriation requires a government decree under article 72 of the act on relations with Slovenians abroad.

Slovenia plans to hold consular days in Caracas this month to provide advice to those who want to leave Venezuela.

Ambassador to Brazil Alain Brian Bergant will try to help them get the necessary documents if they want to leave the country, and collect information which will assist the government, the Foreign Policy Committee was told yesterday.

Delo reported today (May 16) that at least 17 people have already formally requested repatriation.

The plight of ethnic Slovenians in Venezuela has received significant media coverage in recent days and revived memories of the early 2000s, when many ethnic Slovenians returned from Argentina at the peak of a severe economic crisis there.

Related: How “Brazilian Fever” Led Many Slovenes to South America

20 May 2019, 10:00 AM

The weekend saw another IFSC competition event, this time bouldering in Munich, with five Slovenian women in the top 8, and two Slovenian men in the same.

As usual, the women’s event was won by Janja Garnbret, with second and tird places going to Fanny Gibert (France) and Mia Krampl (Slovenia). The other Slovenes in the top 8 were Katja Kadić (6th), Vota Lukan (7th) and Lučka Rakovec (8th).

Turning to the men’s event, this was won by Austria’s Jakob Schubert, followed by Adam Ondra (Czech Republic) and Jan Hojer (Germany).The Slovene’s in the top 8 were Anže Perharc (5th) and Gregor Vezonik (8th).

If you’re in Ljubljana and want to see the world’s best sports climbers in action, then note that on Saturday Kongresni trg will see Janja Garnbret and others in a free event, Triglav the Rock, with details here.

20 May 2019, 09:00 AM

STA, 19 May 2019 - Slovenian cyclist Primož Roglič won stage nine of the Giro d'Italia by finishing first in today's 34.8-kilometre time trial that ended in San Marino. His second victory in time trial earned Roglič second place overall. "My goal is to have the (pink) jersey in Verona," Roglič told the press.

Roglič, who already won the opening time trial, finished today's race on wet roads that ended with a 12-kilometre ascent to San Marino, in 51 minutes and 52 seconds.

Belgian Victor Campenaerts, the European champion who broke the hour record last month, came 11 seconds behind him, followed by Dutch Bauke Mollema, who was a minute behind.

Italian Valerio Conti has retained his pink jersey, but Roglič is now only a minute and 50 seconds behind in second place.

"Everything worked out for me today. It was a shame that the rain started just before the start and it stayed rainy until the end. I tried to minimise the risks in the turn, and make up for the difference in the difficult parts," Roglič told the press.

The third and decisive time trial will be held on the last day of the race in Verona. "My goal is to have the (pink) jersey in Verona. I'm not sorry that I don't have it now," said Roglič, smiling.

He was hinting to the media obligations that the pink jersey brings. Cyclists will have a day off on Monday, and since the Tuesday and Wednesday races will be more or less flat, he is planning on saving his strength.

After wearing the pink jersey for the first five days of the legendary race, Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) lost the overall lead to Conti (UAE Emirates) on Thursday and dropped to 11th place.

20 May 2019, 02:35 AM

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A schedule of all the main events involving Slovenia this week can be found here

Visiting Ljubljana? Check out what's on this week, while all our stories on Slovenia, from newest to oldest, are here

This summary is provided by the STA:

Cerar says far-right parties are threat to democracy

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar commented on the political scandal in Austria by tweeting that far-right parties were a threat to European democracy. He called on citizens to say no to such parties in the upcoming EU election. In contrast, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec would not comment on the situation. It is an internal political issue which Austrian politicians and voters must solve, his office told the STA. It added that the political crisis in Austria would have no major effect on the Slovenian-Austrian relations.

Židan hosts Swiss speaker

BLED, RADOVLJICA - Parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan hosted his Swiss counterpart Marina Carobbio Guscetti as she started her official three-day visit to Slovenia. The pair discussed bilateral relations and cooperation as well as EU-Swiss relations. Židan and Carobbio Guscetti spent the first day of the visit in Bled and Radovljica in north-western Slovenia, where they stopped at the Beekeeping Museum.

Slovenia's energy and climate plan ranked worst in EU

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia has the worst draft energy and climate plan among all EU member states, according to a report by NGOs that highlights lack of ambition and credibility and absence of a clear path to carbon neutrality by 2050. In the report Planning for Net Zero: Assessing the draft National Energy and Climate Plans, the European Climate Foundation looked at how credible national goals are, how comprehensive and detailed policy proposals are, and how good the drafting process was.

Ljubljana fairgrounds growing, expanding congress business

LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana fairgrounds, which annually hosts around 20 fairs, has been boosting its congress-hosting business lately, with the share of its revenue gained from this activity increasing from 25% in 2010 to 44% last year. Its operator believes that the venue will continue to grow and record another successful year in 2019. Presenting the figures for the STA, Iztok Bricl, the director of Gospodarsko Razstavišče, stressed that the fairgrounds operator's total revenue was up by 10% last year, with the goal being to grow at an annual rate of 5%.

Roglič wins stage nine at Giro d'Italia

SAN MARINO, San Marino - Slovenian cyclist Primož Roglič won stage nine of the Giro d'Italia by finishing first in today's 34.8-kilometre time trial that ended in San Marino. His second victory in time trial earned Roglič second place overall. Roglič, who already won the opening time trial, finished today's race on wet roads that ended with a 12-kilometre ascent to San Marino, in 51 minutes and 52 seconds. Belgian Victor Campenaerts came 11 seconds behind him, followed by Dutch Bauke Mollema, who was a minute behind.

19 May 2019, 17:31 PM

May 19, 2019

While staying awake to the end of the Eurovision Song Contest is too much of a challenge for some, others gain in excitement as the show progresses, with casting votes and adding the points being the highlight they’ve been waiting for.

Although the Eurovision Song Contest was established as an entertainment and politics-free event that would bring Europe together, it has never avoided being heavily influenced by regional geopolitical factors throughout the voting or even in songs themselves. In 2016, for example, two years after Russian annexation of Crimea, Ukraine won the contest with a song about the deportation of Crimean Tatars by Stalin’s Soviet Union, sparking protests from Russia. This year, on the other hand, the Icelandic group Hatari displayed Palestinian flags in Tel Aviv during the popular vote announcements, sparking anger from the production staff, who demanded the flags be handed over to them as objects of political statement are not allowed on the premises of the competition.

eurosong.jpg

Even if we move past these singular events, it has been observed that countries of particular regions, for example the Balkans or Scandinavia, tend to exchange votes for songs among themselves – as do Greece and Cyprus, Belarus and Ukraine – unless something really spectacular is put on stage, such as this year’s Australian princess Elsa “flying” on a long stick. But since the songs tend to address as big an audience as possible, Eurosong acts are quite bland in general, which allows political divides to show.

So how did Slovenia vote this year?

Since voting is divided between the jury, which gives 50% of the vote, and popular audience, who gives it the other 50%, the results come in two separate columns:

eurovision.jpg

Source: Eurovision.tv

Although some of the middle range of the countries chosen by the jury and the popular vote look similar, the top two suggest that the popular vote decided for some regional bonding, while the jury seems to have had things other than Yugoslav friendship in mind when deciding which song to award with 12 and 10 points. Also, we can see that the jury might have been playing safe and conservative when deciding whom to award points. Most notably we can see the jurors skipped goth-techno band Hatari from Iceland, but also Australia, whose performance was also quite unique, although perhaps meant for a different age group than Iceland’s bondage spectacular. Both of these countries were nevertheless awarded with points from the popular vote and so was Norwegian dance banger.  

19 May 2019, 10:33 AM

Mladina: Slovenia has short-sighted migration policy

STA, 17 May 2019 - Commenting on the migration situation, the weekly Mladina says in Friday's editorial that the government of Marjan Šarec is continuing the short-sighted policy of the previous government of Miro Cerar by increasing the number of police officers and soldiers on the border, setting up more fence an preventing asylum requests.

"However, it does not have the courage to set up reception centres and face the migration flow, process these people and determine who meets the conditions [to stay in the country] and who does not, help them integrate or return them to their countries if they are not danger zones - in short, what this country was actually doing before the 2015 refugee wave," says editor-in-chief Grega Repovž.

The number of crossings of the border and asylum requests has not risen so much. "We have seen all this before and dealt with it for decades - but now we have closed the borders and thus turned refugees into illegal migrants and pushed them to city streets, outskirts of villages and forests."

We have no idea how many of them are moving illegally across the country or waiting for transport out of the country in Ljubljana, Repovž says.

We also have no idea how many people are illegally transporting refugees or provide them with shelters in exchange for money, or how many supply them with food. That is the reality, according to Repovž.

As soon as a country starts breaking the law, it has a hard time demanding from others to respect international law.

"And that is what is our biggest mistake. We know that refugees in Croatia have no rights. That they are being illegally transported to Bosnia-Herzegovina. By copying these patterns, we are losing the opportunity to demand the respect of European asylum rules from our neighbour," Repovž says under the headline More Fences, More Soldiers, More Cops.

Demokracija: Critical of govt's inaction after abduction

STA, 16 May 2019 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija is critical of the government after an elderly man was abducted by a group of illegal migrants who stole his car to reach the border with Italy.

"Pro-migrant activists and the agitprop of mainstream media launched a theory that Moravec was not abducted, that the abduction had been staged for the purpose of EU election campaign."

It is horrifying how far some politicians, pro-migrant mouthpieces and agitprop Bolsheviks have gone.

Instead of condemning the abduction and promising to do anything in their power to prevent something like this from happening again, the left has decided to criminalise the victims.

What is more, they labelled the protest in which locals expressed their concern a rally of intolerance and hate speech. It is incomprehensible that people even have to take to the streets for the government to start following the rules.

"We need to make it clear: It's been enough! If the government fails to guarantee security and respect for its own laws, the people have the right to protect their property and lives themselves!" the weekly says under the headline Hostage and Soros's Devil's Advocates.

19 May 2019, 09:52 AM

STA, 19 May 2019 - The Slovenian duo Zala Kralj and Gašper Šantl have won 13th place at the Eurovision song contest, the best result for the country since Maja Keuc in 2011.

 

Their downtempo song Sebi (To Yourself) collected a combined 105 points from spectators and juries to finish in the middle of the 26-strong field.

The Netherlands secured their first win after 1975 with Duncan Laurence's Arcade. Italy finished second and Russia was third.

The Slovenian entrants said that they were overjoyed with the result - they were projected to finish around 20th place - but most importantly, that they managed to bring their music close to the people.

"We're glad and proud about the performance and the rehearsals, but we also learned a lot about other things. We're looking forward to coming home, but this was one of the best experiences in out lives," Kralj said.

The real-life couple stood out in the crowded field with a static, minimalist performance. Dressed in all-white, they simply stood opposite each other for a starry-eyed-lovers routine that earned them praise as well as ridicule.

But they stayed true to their form until the end. They wrapped up their Tel Aviv trip with an Instagram post with a picture of Gašper carrying Zala on his back on a sandy beach captioned "Thank you very much for this experience, we are going home to cuddle now."

19 May 2019, 02:35 AM

Bookmark this link and find the headlines faster each morning, or follow us on Facebook

A schedule of all the main events involving Slovenia this week can be found here

Visiting Ljubljana? Check out what's on this week, while all our stories on Slovenia, from newest to oldest, are here

This summary is provided by the STA:

Poll has SDS + SLS, SD and LMŠ within 1.5 p.p. ahead of EU vote

LJUBLJANA - The latest Mediana poll, published by Delo, projects an EU elections victory for the joint list of the opposition Democrats (SDS) and the non-parliamentary People's Party (SLS). SDS + SLS got 12.2% in the poll, followed by the junior coalition SocDems at 11.1% and senior coalition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) at 10.7%. Support dropped a little for the SDS and for the LMŠ, while it increased for the National Party (SNS), which got 8.1% in fourth place, and New Slovenia (NSi), which got 7.3%. Support also decreased for the Left, which polled at 6.4% and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), which got 3.5%. Meanwhile, the ratings of the government and of parliament remain on the decline.

PM's aide Urlep believes demographic fund will need to invest abroad too

LJUBLJANA - Vojmir Urlep, a top aid to PM Marjan Šarec, told Dnevnik that the planned demographic fund will not be able to relieve the state budget of its burdens and fully cover the fast rising pension system costs. Additional measures will be needed, including an overhaul of the state asset management strategy. Asked whether the fund should also partly operate as a state fund, meaning also invest in foreign securities and holdings and manage such an investment portfolio, Urlep said no coalition agreement had been reached on this so far. He personally feels this will necessary and "will only be possible with a smart investment policy that will need to go beyond the scope of the domestic environment".

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