A schedule of all the main events involving Slovenia this week can be found here
This summary is provided by the STA:
Slovenian soldiers to be pulled out from Erbil by evening
LJUBLJANA - The six Slovenian soldiers deployed in northern Iraq in the international operation Inherent Resolve are being pulled out after Iran attacked Erbil airport in retaliation for the US assassination of Iranian general Qassem Soleimani. "The temporary withdrawal of Slovenian soldiers into the third country is expected to be carried out by evening and they should be home tomorrow," Defence Minister Karl Erjavec announced. The Foreign Ministry condemned the Iranian attacks on army bases and called on all sides to refrain from any activities that would escalate tensions in the region.
Middle East escalation seen as bad for business
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia has had minimum business presence in Iran but the latest escalation of tensions seen as bad for business in the entire Middle East. The escalation will make it more difficult to do business in the region, said Jure Stojan, a partner at the Institute of Strategic Studies. Of only two Slovenian companies that remained in Iran after sanctions were imposed, the telecommunications company Iskratel has since withdrawn, while engineering company Riko would not comment on its business in Iran.
Left wants to halt privatisation of railway cargo arm
LJUBLJANA - The opposition Left announced it would table a legislative motion to prevent the privatisation of the cargo arm of national rail operator Slovenske Železnice and its other subsidiaries. "There is no excuse why the Marjan Šarec government should not stop this privatisation procedure," Left deputy Miha Kordiš said. This was after it was reported last October that an agreement was reached to sell a minority interest in SŽ-Tovorni Promet to the Czech logistic giant EP Holding. The rail operator said it was not selling the cargo arm, but the idea was for a strategic partner to recapitalise it.
Health fund manager approves financial plan for 2020
LJUBLJANA - The health insurance institute ZZZS approved the 2020 financial plan. Expenditure is budgeted to increase by EUR 266 million compared to 2019 to EUR 3.32 billion. The institute is expected to operate at a EUR 10.4 million loss this year, which is to be covered by a surplus generated in the past. The budget approved by the ZZZS assembly is expected to see a revenue of EUR 3.309 billion this year, nearly EUR 205 million more than in 2019. The document is now pending approval by the government.
OTP bank planning to grow in Slovenia after SKB takeover
LJUBLJANA - OTP, the Hungarian banking group which acquired SBK Banka from the French group Societe Generale last year, plans to grow in the Slovenian market organically and through potential takeovers. OTP CEO Sandor Csanyi told reporters in Ljubljana that the group could attain a market share of between 25% and 30% in Slovenia. The market leader, NLB has a 23% market share, while SKB was at 8% in 2018. Csanyi said OTP had no plans on how many banks it would want to buy in Slovenia.
Biggest health corruption case goes to trial
LJUBLJANA - The biggest health corruption case in Slovenia's history came to trial, with four defendants out of six who appeared today pleading not guilty. One did not enter a plea, and one was allowed to leave the session early due to health reasons, and will enter his plea at the next session, which is expected to take place next Monday. A total of eleven defendants, who denied taking bribes last year, are standing trial alongside company Advanta. They are being believed to have caused some 1.18 million euros in loss to public funds, with the indictment accusing them of receiving kickbacks for ordering medical supplies at a certain supplier. A cut of 5% to 20% intended for the bribes had been allegedly factored in the prices of supplies.
FURS collected almost EUR 18bn tax in 2019
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's Financial Administration (FURS) collected EUR 17.6 billion in taxes and social contributions in 2019, 5.7% more than in 2018. The rising trend has been present ever since FURS was incorporated through the merger of the tax and customs administrations in 2014. Since then its tax take rose by 29%. FURS pointed out that the 2019 increase in tax revenue outstripped Slovenia's GDP growth, which in the first three quarters of last year reached 2.7%.
NSi protesting over state secretary's Christmas greeting
LJUBLJANA - Education Ministry State Secretary Jernej Štromajer's tweet "Merry Christmas Ya Filthy Animal" on Christmas Eve made some of the public, particularly Christians, go up in arms. Matej Tonin, the leader of New Slovenia - Christian Democrats (NSi), today addressed a protest letter to PM Marjan Šarec, saying that Štromajer's post was a provocative move which did not help promote tolerance, respect and inclusivity. While Tonin wonders why Štromajer is still enjoying Šarec's trust, numerous people have demanded his resignation on social networks as well.
Biggest irrigation system to get much needed overhaul
VIPAVA - Slovenia's biggest irrigation system is about to undergo a much needed renovation having functioned at reduced capacity due to a dam leak for 12 years. Located in the Vipava Valley, a key produce growing area, the Vogršček reservoir will be overhauled by the ministries of infrastructure and agriculture at the cost of EUR 10.5 million. The construction contracts were signed on Tuesday and work will start as soon as a construction permit is issued, expectedly in a month.
Female Engineer of the Year title awarded to war refugee
LJUBLJANA - The Female Engineer of the Year title for 2019 went to Aida Kamišalić Latifić, a researcher and professor at the Maribor Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Informatics, as the award ceremony was held in the Cankarjev Dom arts centre. The judging panel views the life story of the winner, who came to Slovenia as a Bosnian war refugee in 1992, "an inspiration for the young, encouraging them to follow their engineering dreams - even if the circumstances in which they dream are challenging". Her research has been recently focused on blockchain technology, and she is also an inventor and advocate for female-friendly working spaces.
Attempt launched to rehabilitate WWII collaborationist general
LJUBLJANA - The Supreme Court has annulled the death sentence of Slovenian general Leon Rupnik (1880-1946), who collaborated with the occupying forces during WWII, and sent the case to the Ljubljana District Court for retrial, the newspapers Dnevnik and Večer reported. Rupnik was court-martialed and sentenced to death for treason in 1946. One of his descendants, allegedly a grandson, had filed an appeal on a point of law, which has been granted by the Supreme Court. The court says that the verdict was not in compliance with the legal principles at the time, and that not all accusations of the acts he had been sentenced for had been supported with facts and circumstances.
Former president takes the helm of Club of Madrid
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's former President Danilo Türk took the helm of the Club of Madrid this month, an international NGO including democratically elected former presidents and prime ministers. Türk will preside over the world's largest forum of former heads of state and government until the end of 2022. He was elected the head of the organisation unanimously at the forum's general assembly in Madrid in October 2019, said Türk's office.
Lojze Spacal on show in Ljubljana
LJUBLJANA - A retrospective exhibition marking 20 years since the death of Lojze Spacal (1907-2000), one of the most acclaimed Slovenian High Modern artists, has been on show at the Ljubljana gallery Bežigrajska Galerija 2. A total of 38 art pieces are being displayed until 8 February, including paintings, statues and prints, from private and public collections. Spacal lived at the crossroads of two cultures, the Roman and Slavic, and two regions, the Mediterranean and the continental.
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