Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Wednesday May 27, 2020

By , 27 May 2020, 07:04 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Wednesday May 27, 2020 pxfuel CC-by-0

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Slovenia opens border to EU tourists

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian government added new exemptions to the quarantine requirement for EU and Schengen zone citizens that in effect allow citizens from across the EU to enter the country as tourists, as long as they have a confirmation of booking. The same applies to owners of property in Slovenia. Under the latest rules, there are 17 exemptions from quarantine for EU and Schengen zone citizens, mostly for business purposes, healthcare and education. The exemptions are a stop-gap measure as EU countries gradually reopen borders based on bilateral or multilateral agreements. The Slovenian and Italian foreign ministers are expected to meet later this week to discuss how to proceed with the opening of the border, government spokesman Jelko Kacin said.

Ambassador: Slovenia closely watching development of EU recovery fund

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia's Ambassador to the EU Iztok Jarc said he expected the level of development of member states, their unemployment rates, drop in exports and the openness of their economies to be among the key criteria in the distribution of funds from the European Commission-proposed new recovery and resilience tool. Jarc, who represented Slovenia in a videocall of EU affairs ministers on the topic, said Slovenia was closely watching the developments and explained that more would only be known on Wednesday as the Commission unveils the proposal along with adjustments to the new financial framework.

Additional easing of restrictions expected next week

LJUBLJANA - Government coronavirus spokesperson Jelko Kacin announced that an additional easing of some of the remaining restrictions could be expected on Monday. He singled out the opening of hotels irrespective of size. Efforts are under way to open fitness and wellness centres, while swimming pools and similar facilities remain an open issue. He explained that individual departments were processing the guidelines and recommendations issued by the National Institute of Public Health to see what was possible within the given limitations. A decision on whether all primary and secondary school children return to school before the end of the academic year or not is meanwhile expected to be taken by the government on Thursday, said the head of the Association of School Headmasters, Gregor Pečan, after today's meeting on the matter at the Education Ministry.

Janša could change taxes, media financing

LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša announced potential changes to tax legislation and media funding as he gave a weekly interview with the private broadcaster Nova24TV on Monday evening. He said the group led by tax expert Ivan Simič would examine the possibilities for changes, "but some fast tax cuts could not be expected in this [coronavirus] situation". Asked what the government could do about the compulsory payment of licence fee for public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, he said the Culture Ministry was already working on some legislative changes. "The least that could be done is distribute this enormous amount of money in a more just way."

No new coronavirus infections, one Covid-19 death

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's coronavirus case count remains at 1,469 after no new infections were confirmed on Monday after 754 tests were conducted. One new Covid-19 fatality was reported, rising the death toll to 108, the latest official data show. Only nine Covid-19 patients remain in hospital. The figure of hospitalised Covid-19 patients dropped by six on the day before. Two were in intensive care, one fewer than on Sunday.

Slovenia pledges EUR 10,000 at donors conference for Venezuelan refugees

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia pledged a humanitarian contribution of EUR 10,000 as part of today's international donors conference in solidarity with Venezuelan refugees and migrants in countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. At the conference, organised by the European Commission together with the Spanish government, the international community raised EUR 2.54 billion, EUR 595 million of which in grants. Slovenia was represented at the virtual donors conference by Foreign Ministry State Secretary Tone Kajzer, who announced Slovenia's contribution would be provided through International Red Cross to Venezuelan refugees in the Brazilian cities of Boa Vista and Manaus, the Foreign Ministry said. Slovenia provided EUR 50,000 in aid to people in Venezuela in 2019.

Parliamentary debate shows extra powers for army not likely soon

LJUBLJANA - Coalition and opposition MPs remained on opposite banks in a parliamentary debate on whether to activate Article 37.a of the defence act to give limited police powers to the army to enhance border protection; the proposal ended its way through parliament with today's debate after it failed to muster the required two-thirds majority on the parliamentary Defence Committee in April. Today's debate was held after being postponed on 7 April, when the coalition MPs indicated they would check whether the National Assembly could still vote on the proposal despite it failing to get past the committee a few days earlier.

Illegal crossings of border drop by a quarter in first four months

LJUBLJANA - In the first four months of 2020, the Slovenian police recorded 2,394 illegal crossings of the border, which is almost 25% less than in the same period last year. The decline is at least partially a consequence of the coronavirus pandemic and the related stricter measures on the border. Like in the same period last year, citizens of Pakistan accounted for the largest number of illegal crossings of the border (654), followed by citizens of Morocco (523) and Afghanistan (340).

European NGOs urge govt to uphold environmental standards

LJUBLJANA - The government received a letter from the Green 10, a coalition of ten of the largest environmental NGOs in Europe, which expresses concern over recently adopted and pending legal provisions limiting the involvement of NGOs in environmental permit procedures. "The measures that are already adopted in the anti-corona legislation and are to be now extended until the end of 2021 are, according to our assessment, against European environmental standards," reads the letter. Several Slovenian environmental NGOs meanwhile staged a sit-down in front of the Environment Ministry to protest against the legislation which would limit their involvement in administrative and court proceedings.

Nova24TV poll shows SDS, LMŠ, DeSUS, SMC gaining ground

LJUBLJANA - Three coalition parties and the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) gained ground among decided voters in the latest poll commissioned by the private broadcaster Nova24TV. Among decided voters, the ruling Democrats (SDS) went from 30.6% in mid-May to 34.1%. The LMŠ saw its ratings rise even more, going from 17.9% to 23.6%. The opposition Social Democrats (SD) ranked third, their rating dropping from 12.8% to 10.5%. The opposition Left remained flat at 9.5%.

Small businesses appeal for a fourth stimulus package

LJUBLJANA - The Chamber of Small Business (OZS) called on the government to start working on a fourth stimulus package to help the industries that have not been covered in the third stimulus package, which is currently in parliamentary procedure. The appeal was made by the OZS management board as it discussed the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on its members, most of whom are grappling with slack or no business. The third package brings a subsidised short-time work scheme and measures to help catering and tourism. It also extends by a month, until the end of June, the furlough scheme, the centrepiece of the first stimulus package.

Culture workers rally in protest against ministry's inaction

LJUBLJANA - Culture workers covered the front of the building housing the Ministry of Culture with hundreds of pieces of paper with appeals for action to help the sector hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic as part of a protest targeting what the organisers described as the ministry's silence and inaction. The protest, initiated by the Working Group of Culture Workers, attracted around 1,000 participants by the group's estimates. Petja Grafenauer, an art critic and art historian, said the protest sought to draw attention to the fact that unlike other countries, Slovenia only took urgent social measures to help the creativity sector.

Diversification to make it easier for Kolektor to survive crisis

LJUBLJANA - Stojan Petrič, the chief supervisor of Kolektor, believes the industrial conglomerate will emerge from the coronavirus crisis easier than its car industry competition because it has diversified to energy and construction. He told the newspaper Delo the two industries currently brought adequate return on investment, while the automotive industry segment was shrinking significantly. The company plans to reassign some of its workers to meet the demand for energy products and move production from expensive locations such as Germany to lower-cost countries.

Maribor-based power distributor gets EUR 31m loan from EIB

MARIBOR - The European Investment Bank (EIB) has granted a EUR 31 million loan to the electricity distributor Elektro Maribor aimed at financing maintenance and improvements in the reliability and in quality standards of electricity supply in north-eastern Slovenia. The EIB and Elektro Maribor said the loan supports the company's EUR 81.2 million investment in reconstruction and development of its electricity distribution network in order to minimise power blackouts and blackout-related damage to property and environment.

Slovenia ranks seventh in latest KidsRights Index

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia placed seventh according to the 2020 KidsRights Index, released by the KidsRights Foundation, an international children's aid and advocacy NGO. The country received 0.897 points overall, chalking up the highest score in protection and the lowest in the child rights environment category. The index score is determined by how much effort countries dedicate to children's rights, including protection, health and education, life expectancy, maternal mortality ratio and adolescent birth rate.

Satellite emergency departments to be crated country-wide

LJUBLJANA - The government decided on Monday to set up nine hospital-satellite emergency departments around the country at community health centres to complement the existing network of hospital emergency departments. The Health Ministry told the STA on Tuesday the new departments in the so-called grey areas where emergency medical services are not as readily available would be introduced in several stages, meaning other areas would get them in the coming years. The creation of satellite EDs dates back to the term of Health Minister Milojka Kolar Celarc (2014-18), when the plan was to establish ten emergency departments across the country and several satellite emergency departments. Due to the opposition by local communities and some politicians, only new hospital emergency departments were created.

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