Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Thursday, 13 June 2019

By , 13 Jun 2019, 02:54 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Thursday, 13 June 2019 JL Flanner

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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:

Slovenia makes case for ECHR admitting lawsuit against Croatia over LB bank

STRASBOURG, France - The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) held an oral hearing in Slovenia's case against Croatia over Croatian companies' debt to the defunct bank Ljubljanska Banka (LB). Slovenia, whose claim to just satisfaction amounts to EUR 429.5 million, presented the lawsuit as substantiated and admissible, arguing Croatia violated the European Convention on Human Rights by systematically preventing LB from recovering debts incurred by Croatian companies in the 1990s. Ana Polak Petrič, Slovenia's high representative for succession, said the Convention "guarantees rights to all natural and legal persons", including state-owned.

EU Court to hear Slovenia's case against Croatia on 8 July

LJUBLJANA - The EU Court of Justice scheduled an oral hearing for 8 July in a case that Slovenia had brought against Croatia due to its failure to implement the award of the border arbitration tribunal. Slovenia alleges that Croatia is breaching several provisions of EU treaties and regulations by refusing to implement the final award of an arbitration tribunal that the two countries appointed to resolve their long-standing border dispute.

Central bank slightly downgrades GDP growth forecast for 2019

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's central bank forecasts that the economy will expand by 3.2% this year, a slight downgrade from the 3.4% growth rate it projected in December. In 2020 and 2021 GDP is expected to grow by 2.9%. "The more moderate GDP growth will be the consequence slightly lower growth of foreign demand and the gradual transition to a more mature period of the economic cycle," the central bank said, adding that downside risks were now "more pronounced" due to non-domestic factors.

Fiscal Council: Time for structural measures running out

LJUBLJANA - The Fiscal Council called on the government to adopt measures to ensure sustainability of public finances in the long term, warning that the growing risks related to negative demographic trends mean the time for taking the needed measures is running out. In its assessment of compliance of the general government budget implementation with fiscal rules in 2018, the body noted that even now, at a time of growth, transfers from the national budget to the pension fund amount to about 2% of GDP. Unless measures are taken to secure long-term sustainability, this will have much bigger impact on public finances than the failure to comply with the fiscal rule in a single year.

Bratušek meets Chinese counterpart in Beijing

BEIJING, China - Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek met Chinese Transport Minister Li Xiaopeng on the final day of her visit to China to talk about Slovenia's geostrategic advantages in light of China's plans to upgrade links to Europe. According to a press release from the Infrastructure Ministry, Bratušek also met the management of Cosco, one of the world's biggest shipping companies which has stakes in several European ports, including a 100% stake in the container terminal of the Piraeus port in Greece, and is also a major partner for Slovenia's sole maritime port, Koper. Bratušek put in her word for boosting that cooperation, and presented plans to build a second track connecting the port inland.

Cerar urges EU enlargement at CEI ministerial

TRIESTE, Italy - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar urged for the EU to launch accession talks with the candidate countries which have met EU membership conditions, as he addressed a ministerial meeting of the Central European Initiative (CEI). He also highlighted the role of regional cooperation as the right way to strengthen trust among EU members and EU aspirants at a time of changed geopolitical conditions. The CEI, which has 17 members, should focus on EU states passing their experience on to the countries which have started accession talks or are still waiting to do so, Cerar said.

Slovenia remains committed to Iran nuclear deal

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Ministry State Secretary Simona Leskovar reiterated Slovenia continues to support the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal and regrets the US's withdrawal. Talking at a session of the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee, she also called on Iran to continue honouring the deal. "We call on all sides to refrain from moves and rhetoric that could lead to more tensions and deterioration of the security situation," she said as she answered an MP's question about the fate of the deal.

Čeferin says human rights law should be adjusted to social changes

LJUBLJANA - Human rights law should be adjusted to social changes, or else it loses touch with reality and becomes an inefficient tool to address social issues, Rok Čeferin, the nominee for a Constitutional Court judge, said as he presented his bid at the Presidential Palace. This is why protecting human rights amid fast digital technology development will be one of the Court's future challenges. Responding to criticism he advocates exaggerated restrictions to freedom of expression, Čeferin labelled this freedom a key human right and a fundamental prerequisite for democracy, but added that inciting intolerance towards underprivileged groups can be dangerous. Parliament is expected to vote on Čeferin's appointment this month.

Climate Mirror: Slovenia on track to meet 2020 climate target

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia reduced greenhouse gas emissions by 2.8% in 2017 and is likely to achieve the 2020 emission reduction target set by the EU 2020 climate and energy package, shows the latest Climate Mirror report. The central national document monitoring climate crisis action, presented by the Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS) in cooperation with the Environment Ministry, highlights high transport emission levels as the biggest outstanding issue - transport emission levels are the highest and should not increase any further, with immediate action necessary.

Coalition, NSi would like to put off uniform cigarette packages

LJUBLJANA - The coalition parties and two MPs of the opposition New Slovenia (NSi) have proposed putting off obligatory standardised packaging for tobacco products until 2023. Under the current law, the uniform packaging would be introduced in 2020. The group of 38 MPs - six short of an absolute majority - find uniform packaging a too extreme measure that would cut revenue from excise duties and boost the sale of tobacco products on the black market. NGOs as well as the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) immediately protested the move, describing the uniform packages as one of the most cost-efficient measures to reduce the burden of chronic non-contagious diseases.

PM meets archbishop meets, announces trip to the Vatican

LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana Archbishop Stanislav Zore paid a visit to Prime Minister Marjan Šarec to discuss relations between the Roman Catholic Church in Slovenia and the government, foremost open issues and future cooperation. The Church expects the government to reach new agreements with the Holy See and not to deteriorate the status of children in private schools, Zore told Šarec. Šarec, on the other hand, presented to Zore the political situation in the country and his view on reconciliation regarding post-WWII divisions and summary killings. The visit was a part of preparation for Šarec's visit to the Holy See on 27 June, where he is expected to meet Pope Francis.

Ministry confirms Environment Agency decision on Petišovci gas

LJUBLJANA - The Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning has confirmed the decision of the Environment Agency on the controversial gas extraction project in Petišovci (NE), thus rejecting an appeal by UK investor Ascent Resources. In line with the decision, a separate permit procedure will be needed for hydraulic fracturing. The agency granted the investor the permit for a planned gas processing plant but demanded a separate environmental impact assessment to determine whether the UK company can step up extraction via hydraulic fracturing, which is crucial for the refinery that would be allowed to process 280,000 cubic metres of natural gas and a tonne of oil per day.

Industry facing new challenges

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Slovenian businesses debated challenges ahead for industry as the government seeks inputs for how to frame an industrial policy. Innovations and improving uptake of digital technology were highlighted as major challenges. Statistical data indicates the industrial sector employs over 200,000 people in Slovenia, almost a quarter of the workforce, and accounts for half of Slovenian exports. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said it was because of industry and associated services that Slovenia's economy expanded at a rate of 4.5% last year, but he also stressed that it had to adapt by digitising and deploying robots more widely.

Parliamentary inquiry initiated into prosecution of ex-Maribor mayor

LJUBLJANA - The upper chamber of parliament voted unanimously to initiate a parliamentary inquiry into political responsibility for what it sees as targeted prosecution of Franc Kangler, the former Maribor mayor who now serves as a member of the National Council. The National Assembly, the lower chamber, will now need to launch the inquiry. Kangler faced a series of allegations of wrongdoing while serving as Maribor mayor between 2006 and December 2012. He was forced out of office half-way into his second term amid mass protests.

Govt adopts bill to reduce bear and wolf population

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted an emergency bill ordering the culling of overgrown bear and wolf populations. The move comes after a decree with the same order was successfully challenged by an environmental NGO in Administrative Court, leading to a steep increase in wolf and bear attacks on farm animals this year. The bill stipulates the "removal" of 200 bears, of which 175 are to be culled, while the rest is expected to perish naturally or in car accidents or other incidents. Moreover, 11 wolves are to be culled.

New Slovenian consulate opens its doors in Greece

THESSALONIKI, Greece - Slovenia officially opened a consulate in Thessaloniki on Tuesday, the first Slovenian consulate in Greece that has jurisdiction over the entire north of the country. The opening ceremony was also attended by David Brozina, the director general for EU affairs at the Slovenian Foreign Ministry, and Slovenian Ambassador to Greece Anita Pipan. Pipan handed over the exequatur to Honorary Consul Nikolaos Takas, saying that she believed his efforts would significantly contribute to strengthening economic cooperation between the countries.

Massive hail causes damage in south Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - Storms with massive hail the size of oranges hit parts of south Slovenia late on Tuesday afternoon, damaging dozens of houses. Almost 90 local firefighting brigades were deployed to help locals. The National Emergency Centre reported significant hail damage in the municipalities Kočevje and Črnomelj. About 130 buildings were affected in Kočevje municipality where the large hail crushed roof tiles. The hailstorms come almost exactly a year after the region suffered massive hail damage, but preliminary estimates suggest the damage is not as bad as it was last year.

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