Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Saturday, 16 May 2020

By , 16 May 2020, 04:23 AM News
A civic-minded newspaper vendor in Tamil Nadu, India, wearing safety gloves, mask and safety screen A civic-minded newspaper vendor in Tamil Nadu, India, wearing safety gloves, mask and safety screen Vaikunda Raja CC-by-SA-4.0

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Public gatherings of up to 50 persons allowed as of Monday

LJUBLJANA - The government issued after a correspondence session a decree allowing gatherings in public places of up to 50 persons as of next Monday, but only if the safety distance recommended by the health authorities can be ensured. The decree eases public assembly restrictions that have been in place since mid-March, but concerts, parties and other public gatherings where safety distance cannot be maintained remain banned. Organisers of events must ensure that those attending will be able to keep a safety distance of 1.5 metres. The press release from the government also says that gatherings in night clubs remain banned, as well as events taking place in water. Moreover, spectators are still not allowed at sports events.

New regime in place on Slovenian borders

LJUBLJANA - EU residents are free to cross into Slovenia from Austria, Italy and Hungary at pre-determined checkpoints while most non-EU nationals will have to undergo a mandatory 14-day quarantine, in what is a major step for the country as it accelerates the easing of restrictions. Under the government decree adopted late on Thursday, there will be 19 checkpoints on the border with Austria, nine on the border with Italy and five on the border with Hungary. Slovenians who own real estate in Croatia meanwhile rushed to the border as quarantine upon return to Slovenia has been abolished. Waiting times on border crossings were reported to stand up to four hours and a half.

Third stimulus bill brings EUR 1bn in part-time work subsidies

LJUBLJANA - Subsidies worth between EUR 0.5-1 billion to help employers cover pay checks of workers working part-time will be the centrepiece of a third legislative package in Slovenia aiming to help businesses and people overcome the coronavirus crisis. As anounced by Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Minister Janez Cigler Kralj to the Economic and Social Council (ESS), the idea is for the state to use EU funds to fund up to half of working hours of individual workers until the end of the year. The measure is to be available to all industries and is said to cover all the needs of the economy and the labour market.

Opposition says decision to declare end of epidemic financial, unions concerned

LJUBLJANA - The opposition heaped criticism on the government over its late night decision on Thursday to declare the coronavirus epidemic in Slovenia over, saying that the move was motivated by finances and as confusing the population about how to behave. Employers welcomed the formally declared end of the Covid-19 epidemic in Slovenia, while warning measures to mitigate the crisis and kick-start the economy will be needed for some time to come. Trade unionists on the other hand expressed concern the government's decision was based on economic reasons at the expense of people's health.

Slovenian, Croatian presidents praise cooperation in fighting Covid-19

PTUJ - President Borut Pahor and his Croatian counterpart Zoran Milanović met to praise what they labelled as excellent cooperation between the countries in their response to the coronavirus pandemic, which resulted in the restrictive measures being eased and the countries' opening doors to each other. "This enables Slovenians to visit Croatia and vice-versa," said Pahor, while Milanović added that "now it is time to open up" and that "we are doing this in Croatia very courageously and quickly and perhaps this is the only way." He noted that many Slovenians owned real estate in Croatia and that it was thus logical that the countries were the first to relax mutual communication.

One new infection, no new Covid-19 deaths

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded just one new coronavirus infection for the second straight day on Thursday as the number of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 dropped to 29. No new deaths have been reported. The latest figures released by the government bring the tally of confirmed coronavirus cases since the first Sars-CoV-2 infection was confirmed in the country on 4 March to 1,465. A total of 103 patients with Covid-19 have died so far, a vast majority of them elderly from care homes.

Slovenia advocates reviving Middle East peace process

BRUSSELS, Belgium/LJUBLJANA - Just like a majority of EU members, Slovenia supports reviving the peace process in the Middle East, the Foreign Ministry said after the EU foreign ministers discussed the stalled process before the new Israeli government is sworn on Sunday amid fears it would annex Israeli settlements. Minister Anže Logar "called for strengthening the EU's dialogue with all key players, Israel, Palestine, the US and relevant Arab countries, to implement the common interest of lasting peace and stability in the Middle East". he ministry also said in a release that the majority of EU members, including Slovenia, urged the EU's unity and credibility regarding the peace process.

Počivalšek joins EU calls to boost industry, urges special attention for auto sector

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek urged a new industrial strategy and a greater competitiveness of European industry as crucial for the EU's recovery as he participated in a videoconference featuring EU ministers responsible for the common market and industry. He joined calls for the auto sector to get special attention in recovery plans. With the ministers urging a quick plan for recovery and coordinated measures and highlighting the European Commission's proposals, Počivašek welcomed the March recovery package, but argued individual priorities would need to adapt to new circumstances.

Pahor discusses coronavirus response with Greek counterpart

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor held a videoconference with his Greek counterpart Katerina Sakellaropoulou to discuss measures to fight the coronavirus epidemic in Slovenia and Greece. The Greek president congratulated Slovenia on its good results and declaring of the end of the epidemic. The presidents agreed that a lot of wisdom and skill would be required to tackle the epidemic-related economic and social challenges ahead. They also stressed the importance of the EU's unity.

Logar talks bilateral ties, Covid-19 crisis with Danish counterpart

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar held a meeting with his Danish counterpart Jeppe Kofod by videolink for talks on bilateral relations, response to the crisis provoked by the coronavirus pandemic and EU affairs. The Foreign Ministry said the pair noted the excellent bilateral relationship and called for enhancing bilateral cooperation further, in particular in green economy. The ministers also spoke about the functioning of the Schengen area, EU enlargement and migration.

Officials praise force on Slovenia Army Day

LJUBLJANA - Marking Slovenian Army Day in memory of the 29th anniversary since training of first Slovenian soldiers started, President Borut Pahor as the supreme commander stressed the importance of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF), in particular in the face of a changing world. Defence Minster Matej Tonin announced efforts to secure more funding, while the army launched a special media campaign in en effort have more people enlist. In his written address on the occasion, PM Janez Janša congratulated SAF members, and expressed gratitude to those who served in the formations preceding SAF for their courage and sacrifice. He moreover blamed former governments for the army's problems.

Slovenia notes importance of Austria independence treaty

LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry marked the 65th anniversary of the Austrian State Treaty by underscoring that Slovenia is an indisputable signatory to the treaty as a successor to the former Yugoslavia, one of the original signatories. In a letter to his Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg, FM Anže Logar called for full implementation of Article 7, which deals with the rights of the Slovenian minority. The Office for Slovenians Abroad also stressed that Slovenia was a legal successor to the treaty and that it would continue to make utmost efforts for Austria to fully implement Article 7.

Migrant workers welcome EU action v Austria

LJUBLJANA - The trade union of Slovenian migrant workers welcomed the European Commission's decision to file a lawsuit against Austria at the Court of Justice of the EU over child benefits. The trade union's head, Mario Fekonja, is convinced the EU will succeed to prove Austria is discriminatory in this field. EU citizens who work in Austria but whose children do not live in the country receive lower child benefits than those whose children reside in Austria.

Coalition MP joins deputy faction of ex-PM

LJUBLJANA - MP Jani Möderndorfer quit the junior coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) and its faction in parliament to join the deputy group of the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), the party of the former PM. Möderndorfer noted that he had been opposed to the SMC joining the government led by Janez Janša from the start, something that he said was fateful not only for the party but also for the country. His defection has not jeopardised the ruling coalition's majority in parliament though.

Slovenia to try Japanese drug on Covid-19 patients

LJUBLJANA - The government decided Thursday night to close an agreement with the UN Office for Project Services on the delivery of the Japanese anti-influenza medicine called favipiravir for clinical trials in treatment of Covid-19 patients. The Japanese government made the donation of the medicine in response to Slovenia's appeal. Slovenia has thus become one of the first countries worldwide to get the medicine, known commercially as Avigan, which is not available on the market yet.

Expert: Predicting second Covid-19 wave pure guesswork

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's health system is getting ready for a potential second wave of coronavirus infections, however any forecasts about when another phase might hit are pure speculation. Tatjana Lejko Zupanc, the head of the UKC Ljubljana hospital's Department of Infectious Diseases, the main facility treating Covid-19 patients in the country, told the STA in an interview that securing enough healthcare staff would be the main challenge should Covid-19 come back, possibly as early as summer.

5G test network set up at Iskratel

KRANJ - A test network featuring 5G technology has been set up at a production facility of telecoms equipment maker Iskratel in Kranj in cooperation with Telekom Slovenije to explore new business models. Electromagnetic field measurements conducted as part of the project have shown values well below risk thresholds. Iskratel said the 5G core was a product of the company's own knowledge and development that was combined into a comprehensive solution together with partners.

Thousands ride bikes in anti-govt protests again

LJUBLJANA - Despite poor weather and the ban on public gathering which has been in place for two months due to the coronavirus epidemic, several thousand protesters took to the streets of Slovenian cities once again, expressing dissatisfaction with the government's conduct. As has become customary during the coronavirus epidemic lockdown, most protesters were riding their bikes, some were on scooters, while other walked through the streets of city centres. For the fourth consecutive week, protesters were making noise and shouting paroles like "thieves" and "we won't give up freedom".

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