Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Tuesday, 26 May 2020

By , 26 May 2020, 04:42 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Tuesday, 26 May 2020 Gordana Grlič

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Active efforts continue to reopen borders

LJUBLJANA - As Slovenia continued the diplomatic efforts to reopen its borders with the neighbouring countries, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs discussed the issue over the phone with his Austrian counterpart Karl Nehammer. The latter expressed reservations by saying that Austria was worried that Italians and illegal migrants would enter Austria via Slovenia and Croatia, while Hojs assured him Slovenia had restrictive measures in place on the border with Italy. According to government spokesman Jelko Kacin, Slovenia is in the process of finalising a technical agreement with Croatia to lift restrictions in place for Slovenian citizens there.

PM tells MPs not all Covid-19 crisis losses can be covered

LJUBLJANA - In his first questions time in parliament since taking office in March, Prime Minister Janez Janša told MPs there was not enough money in the budget to compensate for all losses incurred by the coronavirus pandemic, but that the government could mitigate the consequences to the greatest extent possible. He said no major cuts into people's income was planned. He pointed to a bill to facilitate major investments as one of the key measures for Slovenia to preserve the potential for future growth.

Pahor calls for legislative changes to prevent paramilitary activities

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor told commercial broadcaster POP TV late on Sunday that self-styled uniformed village guards or militias should not be allowed in Slovenia. He thinks such activities should be banned by law. "Slovenia is a safe country, we have competent authorities protecting the public order, there's no need for village guards of any kind." Turning to the work of the government, the president assessed that the cabinet was doing a good job in fighting off the looming recession. "But I do think it could be a big problem if political spirits continue to drift apart."

Opposition files bill to thwart paramilitary activity

LJUBLJANA - Three centre-left opposition parties filed legislative amendments to crack down on activities by self-styled militias or home guards after uniformed members of one such group made a visit to a police station in the north-east of the country over a week ago. The proposal submitted by the Social Democrats (SD), Marjan šarec List (LMŠ) and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) is the same as that filed by the previous minority government under their guide, but which was defeated in parliament shortly before the change of government in March.

Army denies stopping Slovenian-Italian citizen near border

LJUBLJANA/TRIESTE, Italy - The Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) denied its member being involved in an incident near the border with Italy in early May after the Trieste-based newspaper Primorski Dnevnik reported that a dual Slovenian-Italian citizen had been stopped at gunpoint by a man in a military uniform in the Hrpelje-Kozina community. The army said no SAF member had been in the area on the day of the incident. An MP for the Italian Democratic Party, Debora Serracchiani, notified the Italian Foreign Ministry of the incident, while Defence Minister Matej Tonin indicated it could be fake news.

Hojs expects action against organisers of anti-government protests

LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs has told the weekly Reporter that he expects the authorities to take action against the organisers of the mass anti-government protests on bicycles. He believes this is illegal during the coronavirus epidemic and the organisers of unregistered protests must cover the costs of security provided by the police. The minister also said the border with Italy would not be fully opened until the epidemiological situation there was comparable to Slovenia's.

Minister Tonin protests over criminal complaint filed against him

LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Matej Tonin condemned the criminal complaint filed against him over alleged abuse of office because he ordered oversight of the military intelligence service when he served as the chair of the parliamentary Intelligence Oversight Commission over a year ago. Tonin, the leader of New Slovenia (NSi), learnt about the charge when he was called in for questioning by the police last Thursday. Tonin said the complaint against him was politically-motivated.

Govt rating down in POP TV poll, SDS remains dominant party

LJUBLJANA - The government's approval rating declined in the latest monthly poll run by POP TV. The share of those who support the government slipped by over five percentage points to 40.2% as 49% voiced disapproval with its work. The ruling Democrats (SDS) slipped almost a percentage point to 18.5%, but they are still far ahead of the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), which gained almost three points to 14%. President Borut Pahor remains the most popular politician. Health Minister Tomaž Gantar climbed to second, pushing Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec into third place.

One new coronavirus infection confirmed on Sunday

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian health authorities reported one new coronavirus infection on Sunday, bringing the total so far to 1,469. The death toll remained unchanged at 107. There were 16 Covid-19 patients in hospital yesterday as two were discharged, with three of them in intensive care. The number of tests conducted stood at just 256, the lowest daily number since 7 March.

Ministers deny charges over Covid-19 care home deaths

LJUBLJANA - Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj and Health Minister Tomaž Gantar defended action to contain the spread of coronavirus at care homes in parliament as the opposition sought answers about the high proportion of Covid-19 fatalities at care homes and about media reports that care home residents had allegedly been listed as to who should get hospital treatment and who not if infected. While Gantar denied the existence of such lists, Cigler Kralj said 90% of care homes were infection free. He said a plan was in the making to control infections at care homes in a potential new wave.

Sacked NBI head Muženič goes to court

LJUBLJANA - The lawyer of the former director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) confirmed Darko Muženič had decided to challenge his 6 May dismissal at the Administrative Court. He also asked the court to stay the appointment of his successor pending the ruling. Muženič claims the no-fault dismissal procedure used for him in line with the act on public servants only applied to political office holders.

Tourism virtually dead in April

LJUBLJANA - The Covid-19 lockdown meant Slovenia recorded no tourist arrivals in April, while the number of recorded overnight stays was 11,000. This is 99% less that in April 2019 and was mostly accounted for by ongoing student exchange programmes. The January-April period saw slightly over 660,000 tourist arrivals, a 52% decrease year-on-year, show Statistics Office data.

Rise in unemployment brought to halt last week

LJUBLJANA - A sharp increase in Slovenia's registered unemployment total caused by the coronavirus crisis was brought to a halt last week with the weekly figure rising only by 59 to 90,272 compared to the previous week, show interim data from the Employment Service. The number even dropped in the span of two days. During the week before, the total rose by almost 580, while in the first half of April, the figure surged by as much as thousands per week.

Business sentiment improves in May after a drastic drop

LJUBLJANA - After plummeting by an unprecedented 35.8 percentage points in April, business sentiment in Slovenia improved somewhat in May, with the relevant index standing at -33.1 percentage points, or 6.5 points higher than in April, mostly due to an improvement in confidence in manufacturing. Nevertheless, the index is 40.8 percentage points lower year-on-year.

Govt does not support ban on Sunday shopping

LJUBLJANA - The government does not support a legislative proposal to keep shops closed on Sundays and work-free days even after the end of the coronavirus epidemic. After a correspondence session, the government said the bill, tabled by the opposition Left, was currently not appropriate to be discussed in parliament due to the economic fallout of the Covid-19 crisis. This is despite PM Janez Janša initially endorsing the idea to keep stores closed on Sundays.

Electricity consumption down 15% in April

LJUBLJANA - Electricity consumption in Slovenia declined by 15% year-on-year in April and by 19% compared to March, an indication of a sharp decline in economic activity, fresh Statistics Office data show. April was the first full month of coronavirus lockdown.

FoI report finds state bodies increasingly unresponsive

LJUBLJANA - The Information Commissioner's report for 2019 shows an increase in the number of complaints about unresponsiveness by institutions bound by the freedom of information (FoI). The commissioner processed 540 complaints in 2019, of which 305 were related to access to public information being denied. As many as 235 or 44% of all complaints were related to institutions' unresponsiveness, or silence, to provide the required piece of information.

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