Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Friday, 21 June 2019

By , 21 Jun 2019, 02:44 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Friday, 21 June 2019 JL Flanner

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Abanka sold for EUR 444 million

LJUBLJANA - The state's 100% stake in Abanka, Slovenia's third largest bank, has been sold to NKBM bank for EUR 444 million, Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) said after signing the sale and purchase agreement with the buyer. The transaction is to be completed by the end of the year pending regulatory approval, SSH said, adding that the deal satisfies all of the commitments given by Slovenia to the European Commission with regard to state aid. The SSH added that NKBM had been picked as the best bidder in a competitive process that attracted a wide range of potential financial and strategic investors.

Šarec unfazed as Left threatens to abandon govt

LJUBLJANA/BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prompted by the government's failure to step in to prevent the sale of Abanka, the opposition Left announced it would reassess its partnership with the Marjan Šarec minority government and decide in July whether to carry on with it. In response, Šarec rejected claims that the government was passive in preventing the privatisation of Abanka and dared the Left to bring down his government by withholding its support. The Left cited several reasons for dissatisfaction apart Abanka.

Šarec proposes distributing EU posts before talking names

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Arriving for the EU summit discussing appointments of senior EU officials, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said it would be best to first distribute the posts among the political groups and only then discuss names. "Given that there are a lot of us, each with their own agenda, the task at hand is a complicated one," said Šarec, whose party is part of the ALDE group, would not say outright whether he would vote against the EPP Spitzenkandidat Manfred Weber for European Commission president.

Slovenia countering all allegations in ECB files suit

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a position on the European Commission's lawsuit against Slovenia over the seizure of 2013 bank bailout documents, deciding to refute all the allegations made by the Commission in response to the suit. The main sticking point is the interpretation of the concept of EU or ECB archives, with the Commission alleging that Slovenia breached inviolability of ECB archives when police seized documents from the Slovenian central bank in 2016 as part of an an investigation into the causes of the late-2013 bailout of the Slovenian banking system.

C-bank asks corruption watchdog to investigate vice governor

LJUBLJANA - Banka Slovenije asked the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption to investigate Marko Bošnjak, a vice governor at Slovenia's central bank, after he was recently accused of tax evasion. Private news portal Požareport reported in May that Bošnjak had not paid tax from the rent he gets for his flat in Ljubljana, which the central bank official denied. Since it lacks powers to obtain documents from the Tax Administration, the central bank now asked the commission to investigate the case.

Army in spotlight as interpretations clash on political podium

LJUBLJANA - The situation in the Slovenian Armed Forces remained in the spotlight as the parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission continued investigating the recent dismissal of the force commander amidst accusations it was abusing its powers to undermine the defence minister. The commission talked to the director of the army's intelligence service, Dejan Matijevič, as well as the chief of the general staff, Maj-Gen Alenka Ermenc. Both were tight-lipped after the session, but the commission's deputy chair, Democrat (SDS) deputy Žan Mahnič, said the hearing confirmed the intel service had been abused.

Migrants support and integration office gets new director

LJUBLJANA - The government appointed Katarina Štrukelj new acting director of the government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants. Štrukelj, appointed as the call procedure for a new director is still ongoing, is the third head of the office since its inception in 2017. Štrukelj is replacing Dušan Lužar, who was appointed acting director six months ago after the dismissal of Mojca Špec Potočar. Štrukelj has been working at the Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants since 2007.

Social integration events marking World Refugee Day

LJUBLJANA - A number of cultural and sports events is taking place around the country to mark World Refugee Day as part of a project which strives to raise awareness about refugees, migrants and persons with international protection as well as increase the level of tolerance towards them in society. The three-year project is aimed at creating sustainable communities and tackling the issues of refugees. Some 7,450 persons have applied for asylum in Slovenia since 2015, over 1,500 of them this year.

Govt opposes latest attempt to bail out Swiss franc borrowers

LJUBLJANA - The government rejected the latest attempt to help several thousand people who took out mortgages in Swiss francs and ran into trouble when the Swiss central bank stopped protecting the value of the currency in 2015. It said the bill, drafted by the upper chamber of parliament, was not suitable. The government said existing avenues should be used to tackle the issue first, while any systemic interference in civil-law contracts should be minimal.

Airport operator ready should Adria Airways go bankrupt

LJUBLJANA - In the face of mounting problems at Adria Airways, Fraport Slovenija, the operator of Ljubljana airport, said it was ready for a potential worst-case scenario. "Although we cannot provide specific answers, Fraport Slovenija has a plan ready for replacement transport, should it lose its largest business partner," the company said. Meanwhile, the Civil Aviation Authority said it had already received 134 complaints against the carrier this year over violations of EU rules on passenger rights.

Fresh contracts awarded for works on Divača-Koper rail

LJUBLJANA - 2TDK, the company managing the construction of the new rail track between Divača and Koper has awarded several smaller contracts for design and engineering works as it gears up for the biggest contracts on the EUR 1 billion-plus project. Slovenian engineering companies ELEA iC, SŽ-Projektivno podjetje Ljubljana and IRGO Consulting won a EUR 17.5 million contract for 3D renders for the project, while Markomark Nival, Nival Invest and Ekorel will build a bridge traversing the Glinščica Valley for EUR 8 million.

A non-executive director of bad bank replaced

LJUBLJANA - The government dismissed Spaniard Juan Barba Silvela as one of the four non-executive directors of Bank Assets Management Company (BAMC) at his wish, replacing him with the Slovenian Aleksander Lozej. Lozej has been holding senior positions in several companies in the western region of Primorska, including serving nine years on the management board of the subsidiary of Italian bank Intesa Sanpaolo. He will assume the post of BAMC non-executive director on 21 June.

Slovenia's consumer confidence given a boost

LJUBLJANA - After growing pessimism among Slovenian consumers in the first few months of the year, the consumer confidence index rose in June, mainly because of upbeat expectations for savings and household finances. The sentiment index increased by two percentage points from the month before to 15 points above the long-term average. However, it was down 6 points year-on-year, the Statistics Office reported.

Changes to primary school funding pass first reading

LJUBLJANA - MPs sent the government-sponsored changes to primary schools funding into second reading in a 44:29 vote, with the debate showing that only coalition parties supported the changes, some of them under certain conditions. The controversial changes to the law on the financing of education mandate full rather than just 85% state funding, as is the case now, which the Constitutional Court found discriminatory in 2014. The MPs also voted down opposition-sponsored changes tightening asylum legislation.

Govt tweaks equal opportunities act

LJUBLJANA - The government proposed legislative changes meant to increase the number of state and local government bodies and other public entities that actually meet the desired minimum 40% representation of women. The government highlighted data showing women remain highly underrepresented in high-powered positions. The amendments to the act on equal opportunities for women and men would allow greater equality in the representation of women and men also at the local level.

Survey shows more acceptance toward LGBT persons

LJUBLJANA - Social distance toward LGBT persons in Slovenia has decreased significantly, according to a survey looking into the general attitude of the Slovenian society toward LGBT people and violence. Most people recognise that crimes against LGBT persons are unacceptable, as is exclusion from society. The survey showed that more than 40% of respondents would be comfortable living next door to LGBT persons. About 50% would probably intervene if an LGBT person was pushed and slapped on the street by a stranger.

Ex-NLB execs get suspended sentences for dubious loan

LJUBLJANA - In a retrial following an initial aquittal in 2016, the Ljubljana District Court found three former senior officials of the NLB bank guilty of abuse of office in relation to a contentious home loan to a former prime minister aide. The former chairman of Slovenia's largest bank Draško Veselinovič and former board members Matej Narat and Miran Vičič each received suspended prison sentences of six months for approving a EUR 770,000 loan to Simona Dimic, an aide to then PM Borut Pahor, in 2009.

Doctor gets suspended sentence for corruption

LJUBLJANA - Radiologist Zoran Milošević, the chief defendant in the biggest health corruption case in Slovenia's history, was found guilty in a separate bribery trial. The head of the emergency neuroradiology unit at the UKC Ljubljana hospital was sentenced to a ten month suspended sentence for accepting a EUR 7,200 bribe from medical supplier Animus in 2008. The verdict is not final yet. The case becomes statute-barred in September. The trial in the EUR 1.18m corruption case is to begin in autumn.

Slovenian Red Cross gets new president

DEBELI RTIČ - The Slovenian Red Cross, which is in significant debt and has faced a long crisis of leadership, got a new president as Vesna Mikuž, a former head of the Nova Gorica city administration, beat Mitja Bervar, former upper chamber president, in a 34:21 vote. Secretary general Cvetka Tomin expressed optimism, saying "we need to learn to say things as they are, stand by our words and respect our basic principles". Mikuž is succeeding Alojz Kovačič, who took over as an interim head after Dušan Keber resigned halfway through his term in July 2018.

Mezgec wins 2nd stage of Tour of Slovenia

CELJE - Slovenian Mitchelton-Scott rider Luka Mezgec won the second stage of Tour of Slovenia ahead of fellow countryman Grega Bole from Bahrain Merida to the delight of fans gathered at the finish line in Celje. Italian Andreo Vendrame of Androni Giocattoli - Sidermec came in third. Mezgec took the overall lead from German Pascal Ackermann. Bole is second overall, 4 seconds behind Mezgec. Tomorrow, the rides will take a 170 kilometre stage between Žalec and Idrija.

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