Slovenian, Croatian FMs discuss border reopening, offer no details yet
PIRAN - The Slovenian and Croatian foreign ministers, Anže Logar and Gordan Grlić Radman, met to discuss the opening of the countries' shared border which has been closed, with some exceptions, as the countries are battling the coronavirus pandemic. They could however not yet provide an answer to when the border would reopen for everybody. In what was the ministers' first meeting in person, they expressed satisfaction that the epidemiological situation in the two countries is very similar. "This will undoubtedly contribute to an agreement on easier crossing of the border," Grlić Radman said. Logar said that Slovenia was "playing with an open hand" in talks about border opening. However, the health of Slovenians must be protected and unnecessary risks avoided, he added.
FM official: Austria rather inflexible about reopening border
LJUBLJANA - Austria remains rather inflexible about reopening its border with Slovenia, although Slovenia's epidemiological situation is the same or even better than Austria's, Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksander Geržina told the STA. "Apparently the wish to keep tourists in Austria is so strong that we are unable to move in a positive direction," said Geržina. The countries are in contact about this issue and Slovenia expects Austria to change its position soon. Meanwhile, PM Janez Janša tweeted: "With two doors at the border crossing, the crossing can be closed with one while it can only be open with both doors."
Pahor and Nauseda agree that French-German recovery plan is good development
LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor and his Lithuanian counterpart Gitanas Nauseda highlighted the role of a joint European response to the economic fallout of the coronavirus pandemic in the EU. The French-German proposal to relaunch the economy is a step in the right direction, said the pair. The presidents also exchanged views on the Western Balkans situation and the Eastern Partnership, highlighting that the EU should devote enough attention to the bloc's enlargement.
Cycling protests continue, signatures collected for govt resignation
LJUBLJANA - The cycling protests against the government's actions and policies continued for the fifth Friday running, with several thousands protesters reported again in Ljubljana. Signatures for the resignation of the government started to get collected, while one group also expressed support to the government. PM Janša meanwhile lashed out against the protesters by comparing them to the self-styled paramilitary units or nationalist home guards that recently made headlines, arguing both were extremely offensive to the police.
Official says gatherings of up to 500 people might be reality in mid-June
LJUBLJANA - In mid-June a decree on public gatherings could be amended to allow gatherings of up to 500 people, the head of the Health Ministry advisory task force for coronavirus Bojana Beović told the STA. The likelihood of any bigger gatherings is currently hard to forecast, she added. In the past weeks a number of lockdown restrictions have been lifted, however any gatherings involving more than 50 people are still banned.
PM speaks to BBC about Slovenia's efforts to be safe holiday destination
LJUBLJANA/LONDON, UK - Speaking to the BBC on Thursday, Slovenian PM Janez Janša pointed out that tourism was the mainstay of Slovenia's economy and announced that the season would kick off on 1 June, and assured that holidaying in Slovenia would be safe in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, adding the country strived for lifting border restrictions. Janša told the BBC News show that Slovenia was striving to ensure all the tourism facilities would be safe. He pointed out that all the guests would be treated in line with public health guidelines. "The epidemic in Slovenia is now under total control," he said in a conversation shared on Twitter on Friday.
Petrol group's revenue down 15%, net profit up 20% in Q1
LJUBLJANA - The energy group Petrol saw its sales revenue drop by 15% year on year to EUR 916 million in the first quarter, due to lower prices and a drop in the sale of petroleum products. Still, net profit of the group was up 20% to EUR 21.8 million. The report also shows that gross profit stood at EUR 105.3 million, which is on a par with the first three months of 2019. Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were up 26% to EUR 46.5 million. Because of the epidemic, the group's targets for 2020 will not be met and Petrol has prepared different scenarios for until the end of the year, depending on its severity.
Infrastructure minister says decision on new N-reactor by 2027
KRŠKO - Visiting Slovenia's only nuclear power plant on Friday, Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec announced that a decision about whether to build a second nuclear generator in Krško would be made by 2027 at the latest. But first economic and expert studies must be performed to help Slovenia make this decision. Vrtovec said that he was in favour of nuclear energy, also adding that any bias could be dangerous and irresponsible before all issues are addressed and safety is guaranteed.
No new coronavirus infections, Covid-19 deaths on Thursday
LJUBLJANA - No new coronavirus infections or Covid-19 deaths were recorded in Slovenia on Thursday after another 882 tests were conducted. A total of 21 Covid-19 patients were still in hospital, four of them in intensive care, government data show. So far, 1,468 people have tested positive for the virus, 648 men and 820 women, while the death toll remains at 106. A total of 278 patients have been discharged from hospital. The number of tests conducted so far stands at 73,742.
Prisoners returning to their cells after epidemic
LJUBLJANA - As Slovenia has managed to flatten the curve of new coronavirus infections and declared the epidemic over, prisoners whose sentences were temporarily suspended are returning to their cells. A total of 214 prisoners have been urged to return to prison, and so far 22 have done so, Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlovič told the press. As of this Monday, visits are allowed again in prisons but they are limited to one person. Prisoners have also already been called back to work after 79 persons were granted leave during the epidemic. Kozlovič also announced that courts will start processing all cases again as of June.
Banks to consider corona crisis in loan procedures
LJUBLJANA - The central bank has amended the rules for calculating creditworthiness, allowing banks to exclude the months with temporary lower income of their clients from creditworthiness calculations. The new rules will allow banks to exclude the months of epidemic from the annual income calculations of clients if they were lower than before the epidemic. Banks can use this option when they have at least one document on the client's income showing that the impact of the epidemic on their income has ceased. The new rules will step into force in June, Banka Slovenije said.
Commerce Chamber expects third package to include rent subsidies
LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Chamber of Commerce (TZS) urged the government to grant rent subsidies in the third stimulus package for businesses which had to restrict their services or close shop due to the coronavirus lockdown. The organisation estimates that EUR 6 million would have to be set aside for the measure. The sum of individual subsidies would be calculated based on the loss of income incurred during the Covid-19 epidemic, said the TZS, adding that the boost would help preserve jobs.
Culture workers feel left out from latest stimulus package
LJUBLJANA - Representatives of employees in culture have been warning that the government's third stimulus package, adopted on Wednesday, brought no concrete measures or encouragements for culture, which is one of the most affected sectors. The association therefore wants the state to make decisive steps to "protect the essence of what we really are". It has prepared some suggestions, such as vouchers for culture like the ones introduced in tourism, and incentives for creativity.
Ministry highlights epidemic achievements on Diplomacy Day
LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry marked Slovenian Diplomacy Day by pointing to the many achievements of diplomacy during the epidemic, from easing of cross-border transport to the organising repatriation of Slovenian citizens. Currently, the country's diplomatic efforts are focused on reopening of borders for tourists. "Today, Slovenia sits at all important multilateral tables, is a responsible ally and a constructive partner" the ministry wrote on its website. Slovenia observes Diplomacy Day on 22 May to commemorate the day when the country joined the UN in 1992, thus entering the global diplomatic arena. This was soon upgraded with EU and NATO accessions.
Poll shows Slovenians against contact-tracing apps
LJUBLJANA - As many as 66% of those polled by market research agency Aragon are against coronavirus contact-tracing apps, labelling them a harsh encroachment on privacy and a violation of human rights. Some 31% meanwhile consider them a necessary measure to contain the spread of the virus. The Covid-19 Insight survey also shows that 64% of those polled would not want to install such an app on their mobile phone, whereas 30% would be willing to do so. As for various types of such apps, the respondents are more in favour of their features which only enable providing information rather than tracing, said Aragon, which polled 1,023 persons between 15 and 18 May.