LJUBLJANA - Party leaders appear to have reached a tentative agreement on electoral system reform, with the majority in favour of a solution that would bring the electoral system for general elections much closer to how members of the European Parliament are elected. The majority of parties are in favour of abolishing electoral districts, leaving only electoral units in which MPs would be elected with relative preferential votes, the president's office said after President Borut Pahor hosted the third round of consultations with parliamentary parties.
Fire at insulation plant near Cerknica, local advised to caution
RAKEK - A fire broke out at an insulation facility near the town of Cerknica in south-western Slovenia Thursday evening, but a group of workers and a massive effort by firefighters prevented major damage and loss of life. The fire was brought under control within an hour and preliminary tests show that life-threatening substances had not been released in the air. PM Marjan Šarec visited the site of the fire this morning, saying that the key thing at this point was that the locals were safe.
Petišovci gas field developer to sue government
LONDON, UK - Ascent Resources, the UK developer of the Petišovci gas field in eastern Slovenia, plans to take multi-pronged legal action against Slovenia after it was ordered to get a separate permit for hydraulic fracturing. Ascent will submit a "robust response to this manifestly wrong decision contrary to EU law," the company said in a permitting update posted on the website www.investegate.co.uk. The statement comes after the Environment Ministry upheld a decision of the Environment Agency on the controversial gas extraction project in Petišovci.
Back and forth over army officer sacking continues
LJUBLJANA - Standing accused of lying about the reasons for the dismissal of Miha Škerbinc as the force commander of the Slovenian army, Defence Minister Erjavec said that the Commission for the Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services had again been abused for political purposes. Erjavec rejected the claims of the parliamentary commission's deputy chair Žan Mahnič that the minister's explanations about the April dismissal had been dismantled by Škerbinc's testimony for the commission on Thursday, saying the information provided by the ministry's sources did not match Škerbinc's claims. PM Marjan Šarec meanwhile expects additional explanations from Erjavec.
Slovenia expanding business with Russia
BLED - The Slovenia-Russia commission for trade and scientific cooperation detected opportunities to expand cooperation at a session in Bled, in particular in IT, transport, research and agriculture. Addressing reporters at the conclusion of the session, Foreign Minister Miro Cerar and Russian Minister of Digital Development, Communications and Mass Media Konstantin Noskov said that the commission was producing concrete results and projects. The volume of bilateral merchandise trade has been increasing since 2017, amounting to EUR 1.16 billion last year, which Cerar said was encouraging, adding that he expected trade would increase further.
Decision on Abanka sale expected on Monday
LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) is expected to take a decision on the sale of the country's third largest bank, Abanka, on Monday, with unofficial information suggesting three bidders value the bank at close to EUR 500 million. According to Delo, bids have been submitted by the Maribor-based bank NKBM, which is owned by the US fund Apollo, and the Hungarian bank OTP. The commercial broadcaster POP TV reported last night that apart from the two, a bid had also been submitted by the Serbian bank AIK, which already owns the Kranj-based bank Gorenjska Banka.
Slovenia appoints new ambassador to UN Geneva office
LJUBLJANA/GENEVA, Switzerland - Sabina R. Stadler (46), currently serving as director general for multilateral affairs, development cooperation and international law at the Foreign Ministry, has been appointed the new Slovenian ambassador to the United Nations. The new leader of the Slovenian permanent mission to the UN office and other international organisations in Geneva has a BA in economics from the Ljubljana University and an MA in international relations from the CERIS diplomatic school of Brussels.
Anti-graft body investigating tobacco industry lobbying
LJUBLJANA - The Commission for Corruption Prevention is looking into possible wrongdoings in the lobbying of the tobacco industry regarding the legislation introducing standardised packaging for tobacco products. The commission said it had decided for the move after learning that the initiators of the legislative proposal that would put off obligatory standardised packaging for tobacco products for another three years had been in contact with tobacco industry representatives. Detecting "certain risks and suspicion of irregularities", the anti-graft body assessed that an inquiry would be in place.
Ministry working on Maribor-Ljubljana express trains
LJUBLJANA - Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek said she was working on the idea to connect Maribor and Ljubljana with express trains, a demand presented by a civil initiative earlier this week. Bratušek said she would push for connecting several European cities with fast trains to be one of Slovenia's priorities during the EU presidency. "I believe Slovenia should be the initiator of express trains between Vienna, Ljubljana and Venice," she said. The initiative would like to cut the commuting time between the two cities to 50 minutes from 2-3 hours at present.
More new buildings last year, similar number of homes y/y
LJUBLJANA - Almost 8,000 new buildings were completed in Slovenia last year, a 20% increase compared to 2017. The number of new homes constructed in 2018 was almost identical to the one of the previous year, with most of them being completed in Ljubljana, the Statistics Office reported. A total of 3,037 homes were constructed last year, which is only seven fewer than in 2017. The capital saw the addition of 269 new dwellings, while Maribor, the second largest Slovenian city, lagged behind the capital with 93 new ones.
Ljubljana, Zagreb stock exchanges to float new index
LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana Stock Exchange and its owner, the Zagreb Stock Exchange, will launch on 19 June their first joint index. Called ADRIAprime, it will feature prime market shares from both countries. ADRIAprime is a free float market capitalisation weighted total return index and it will take into account dividends, the Ljubljana Stock Exchange said. The weight of each constituent share will be capped at 15%. The base level will be set at 1,000.00 points as of 30 April. The Slovenian drug maker Krka and the energy group Petrol will be the biggest shares.
Idrija celebrates its lace making heritage
IDRIJA - The annual Festival of Idrija Bobbin Lace will kick off in the evening with an opening ceremony in the western Slovenian town, paying tribute to its unique lace making tradition. The three-day celebration of one of the most famous Slovenian crafts will feature more than 40 various events for all ages. This year's festival will highlight the importance of sharing lace making know-how between generations in the town famous for its special lace making technique, with the local lace makers using special wooden sticks or bobbins.