Jančar wins Austrian State Prize for European Literature
VIENNA, Austria - Drago Jančar, arguably Slovenia's leading contemporary writer, has been awarded the Austrian State Prize for European Literature 2020. The life-time achievement award, handed out each year, comes with a check of EUR 25,000. "Taking an individual to penetratingly render understandable the delusions of our history: this is one of the big strengths of his literature," the jury wrote about the 71-year-old. Listing a number of Jančar's works that have been translated into German, the Austrian Press Agency highlights the 2017 novel And Love Itself (In Ljubezen tudi). Set in Jančar's home town of Maribor during occupation in 1943, it said it reaffirmed Jančar as "a great narrator, chronicler and humanist".
Fifth Slovenian Covid-19 victim confirmed
LJUBLJANA - A fifth coronavirus-related death in Slovenia was confirmed as another person died in the Šmarje pri Jelšah nursing home, one of the hotspots of the epidemic in the country. Health Minister Tomaž Gantar said that fifty new cases of Covid-19 infection had been confirmed since yesterday, bringing the total number to 528. According to him, 73 of the infected persons are healthcare workers. This is the largest daily increase in the number of infected persons in Slovenia, surpassing the previous record of 45 on 13 March, but a direct comparison is not possible since the methodology has changed: the cases used to be counted by 10am, now they are counted from midnight to midnight. The latest daily increase thus refers to the entire Tuesday.
Proposal to give army limited police powers on hold for now
LJUBLJANA - The government has decided to wait before it formally proposes the activation of a legislative provision that gives the military limited police powers in controlling the border. Before a formal proposal to that effect is made, parliamentary factions will be consulted, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said. The army is not currently needed in cities or on roads, but it is "badly needed on Slovenia's southern border" with Croatia. This is because a portion of the police force had to be deployed to the border with Austria, where police checks were introduced at midnight, while a segment of the force had been put on standby to step in if some officers become ill, Hojs said.
Nine EU leaders, including Janša, urge joint borrowing in Europe
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Nine EU leaders, including Slovenia's Prime Minister Janez Janša, have called for eurozone countries to jointly issue debt in order to fight the devastating impact of coronavirus on the European economies. The leaders presented their idea in a four-page letter addressed to President of the European Council Charles Michel. The leaders of Belgium, France, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, Portugal, Spain and Slovenia propose in the letter "a common debt instrument issued by a European institution to raise funds on the market on the same basis and to the benefits of all member states".
Slovenia urges expert opinion on COVID-19 transmission via food
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Discussing the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, EU agriculture ministers agreed via videoconference that the bloc was currently not faced with food supply shortages, but risks persisted, according to unofficial information. Slovenia proposed getting an expert opinion on the possibility of COVID-19 transmission via goods to prevent any supply disruption. According to Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec, further guidelines for food trade with third countries are needed. Is is key to stem any speculations about potential food supply disruption, she added.
Major shipment of protective equipment in Slovenia
LJUBLJANA - A major shipment of much needed personal protective equipment arrived in Slovenia from the Czech Republic as an increasing number of business are joining the effort to meet the needs. A plane carrying 25,200 N95 surgical masks, 500,000 other surgical masks and 5,000 protective suits landed at Ljubljana airport, the Civil Protection and Disaster Relief Administration said. "This and other shipments expected in Slovenia these days will significantly improve the material situation at Slovenian hospitals, which also means better and safer working conditions for doctors and other health staff," the Infrastructure Ministry staid on Facebook.
Slovenia not planning additional lockdown restrictions
LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs announced that it was not currently necessary to step up lockdown restrictions in Slovenia, since compliance with the existing measures had been satisfactory. While the government had been mentioning the possibility of also restricting movement to municipal borders, Hojs said that police had established relatively few violations in over 5,000 inspections carried out since gathering in public spaces was prohibited last Friday.
Govt emergency response unit dissolved
LJUBLJANA - The government's emergency response unit, set up on 13 March to help manage the response to the coronavirus crisis, was dissolved since it is no longer needed now that the ministries are fully operational. All capacities that had been attached to the unit will now be performed by the relevant ministries and their departments. The unit's medical task force, which provided guidance on public health measures, will move to the Health Ministry. Jelko Kacin, the emergency response team's spokesman, will stay on as special government spokesman for coronavirus.
First convoy of Serbs stuck in Slovenia on the way home
LJUBLJANA - The first convoy of some 200 Serbian citizens who have been stranded in Slovenia due to Serbia closing its borders to curb the coronavirus epidemic, including to its own citizens, headed for the country this afternoon. Another one, carrying another 200 stranded Serbians, is expected to leave Slovenia on Thursday. The Serbians who are presently in Slovenia are being provided for at the Ježica sports hall in the Ljubljana northern outskirts Savlje, where they are offered beds and medical assistance.
Tourism not yet affected in February, but drastic drop to follow
LJUBLJANA - Before an expected dive in March due to coronavirus, the tourism sector in Slovenia continued to do well in February, recording only a 4% year-on-year drop in arrivals to 302,000 and a 1% decrease in overnight stays to 853,000, show Statistics Office data. The figures are expected to change drastically over coronavirus in March. All tourist accommodation had to close in mid-March, air traffic has ground to a halt, and borders have been closed.
Govt submits bid for UNESCO listing of Lipizzan horses
LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian government has formally submitted to the UNESCO Secretariat in Paris the multi-national bid for placing the Lipizzan horse breeding and related practices on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The Slovenian-led bid to include the tradition in the longer of the two UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists also includes Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Hungary, Italy, Romania and Slovakia, in line with a 2003 convention.