Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Thursday, 28 May 2020

By , 28 May 2020, 04:03 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Thursday, 28 May 2020 pxhere CC-by-0

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Officials say elderly received appropriate care during epidemic

LJUBLJANA - Government officials expressed regret over doubts that were being expressed in the public lately regarding the treatment of the elderly in the face of the epidemic. Health Minister Tomaž Gantar called such criticism "completely unjustified" and "very unfair to medical staff". The statements come in response to criticism that many elderly with Covid-19 were not hospitalised during the epidemic, which would prevent the spread of the disease in the most vulnerable population. Gantar noted that only 1.7% of the 18,800 residents of Slovenian care homes had gotten infected, which was an "excellent result".

Slovenia eligible for EUR 5.1 billion under EU recovery plan

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia will be eligible to receive EUR 5.071 billion from the EU's coronavirus recovery plan, according to European Commission documents. It will be able to receive EUR 2.579 billion in grants and EUR 2.492 billion in loans. Slovenia will be able to draw the EUR 2.579 billion in grants from various instruments, not just the new recovery and resilience fund. To receive the money from the recovery and resilience fund, a member state will have to draft a reform and investment plan. PM Janez Janša said the plan was a step in the right direction.

Environmental protection act changed to limit involvement of NGOs

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly passed a set of changes, which include provisions limiting the involvement of NGOs in administrative and court proceedings. The final version, adopted in a 50:30 vote, softens the initially proposed restrictions somewhat, but environmentalists continue to cry foul. In line with the new conditions, public interest status will be recognised only for groups with at least 50 members, at least EUR 10,000 of assets, at least two fully employed persons who have tertiary education level degrees and two years of experience in environmental protection.

Optimistic trend in employment recorded in May

LJUBLJANA - The Employment Service has recorded a significant drop in the number of persons who were registered as unemployed in May in comparison with April, saying that the trend inspires a certain degree of optimism regarding employment as the coronavirus epidemic is officially ending. Between 1 and 26 May, a total of 7,089 persons were registered as jobless, which is less than half of the number for April (14,419). The national employment agency said the fact that 5,384 people were struck out of the unemployment records in May, of whom 4,462 had found a job, was also encouraging.

Počivalšek expects border with Croatia to fully open for tourists on Monday

MURSKO SREDIŠĆE, Croatia - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said, after meeting his Croatian counterpart Darko Horvat, that he expected the border with Croatia to be fully opened for tourists on 1 June. The pair meanwhile highlighted the wish for cooperation and a prompt return of the two countries' economies to pre-crisis tracks. They also praised the record trade recorded between the two countries last year and hailed neighbourly cooperation.

Hojs tells Maltese minister Slovenia's migrant capacities full

LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs held a phone conversation Tuesday with his Maltese counterpart Byron Camilleri focusing on migrations. Camilleri urged Slovenia to help with the relocation of migrants rescued at sea, but Hojs said Slovenia's capacities were full and it could not do that at present, the Interior Ministry said. Hojs described the migrant situation in Slovenia and said there was a renewed increase in the number of illegal crossings of the border under way after the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.

Foreign Ministry not commenting on new Trieste remembrance day

LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry would not comment on a new remembrance day declared by the Trieste city council. The ministry "does not comment on history-related dates as new holidays," it said. The Slovenian Cultural and Economic Association (SKGZ), one of the central organisations of the Slovenian ethnic minority in Italy, said the newly declared Trieste holiday was divisive and was "reviving old conflicts". The ministry said that Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio will visit Ljubljana on 6 June for talks on all topical issues.

Logar talks Slovenia's Adriatic-Ionian Initiative presidency

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar took part in a videoconference of the foreign ministers of the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative and of the EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, presenting the priorities of Slovenia's chairmanship of both platforms, which the country is to assume on 1 June. He said Slovenia would strive for the "recovery from Covid-19 to also be a green recovery", the Foreign Ministry said in a press release.

Tonin talks cooperation, EU presidency with German counterpart

LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Matej Tonin spoke with his German counterpart Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer via videolink to express satisfaction with the countries' cooperation in defence and look for opportunities to strengthen it further. The ministers also talked about the countries' upcoming EU presidencies and confirmed the success of the joint participation in international operations and missions and in joint exercises and training, primarily as part of the leading country concept under Germany's leadership.

Two new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, no Covid-19 fatality

LJUBLJANA - A total of 809 tests for coronavirus were conducted in Slovenia on Tuesday, with two tests coming back positive which is the highest daily case count after two weeks of zero or one infections per day. No Covid-19 deaths were recorded, with the national death toll remaining at 108, show the latest government data. So far, 1,471 coronavirus infections have been recorded in Slovenia and 76,579 tests have been performed.

MPs only confirm Klemen Podobnik as candidate for EU General Court judge

LJUBLJANA - Parliament confirmed Klemen Podobnik as the candidate for one of two Slovenian judges at the EU's General Court in Luxembourg. The remaining two nominees, Jure Vidmar and Nina Savin Bossiere, failed to secure the absolute majority required, which means the call for applications for the second spot will have to be repeated. Podobnik, a professor of commercial and EU law at the Ljubljana Faculty of Law and a visiting professor at a school of law in Latvia, now still faces Committee 255, the vetting body in Brussels.

Motion to close shops Sundays okayed at first reading, reservations voiced

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly okayed at first reading the opposition Left's proposal to keep stores closed Sundays also after the end of the epidemic, but calls were heard for social dialogue, meaning coordination among social partners is expected to follow. The motion, announced ahead of Labour Day by the Left together with the Trade Union of Shop Assistants, was rendered fit for further reading in a 65:12 vote.

Central bank vice governor Bošnjak tenders resignation

LJUBLJANA - Marko Bošnjak, one of the five vice-governors of Slovenia's central bank, tendered his resignation in the aftermath of accusations that he evaded taxes on rental income. The move comes almost a year after the central bank asked the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption to investigate claims that Bošnjak failed to pay taxes on rental income from an apartment in Ljubljana. Unofficial information suggests the governing board was close to completing the procedure and was set to reach a decision next week, but Bošnjak tendered his resignation before that.

Responding to ouster motion, minister wonders whether opposition has nothing more to contribute

LJUBLJANA - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek has responded to the ouster motion against him by setting out what he says proves decisions on the procurement of vital equipment were optimal given the circumstances of the health emergency, wondering whether the motion is all the opposition is capable of contributing at this difficult time. The minister attributed the responsibility for the situation to everyone involved in decision-making on the matter until 14 March, when the new government took over.

MPs leave it to ministry to draft electoral law changes

LJUBLJANA - Heads of the parliamentary deputy groups and parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič discussed reforming the electoral law, with a majority agreeing that the relevant ministry should be tasked with drafting proposals for redefining the electoral districts. The meeting came after a bill which sought to abolish electoral districts and introduce a preference vote at the level of the existing eight electoral units fell three votes short of the needed two-thirds majority in the National Assembly at the beginning of March.

Issues surrounding govt loan guarantees yet to be clarified

LJUBLJANA - The banking system and the Finance Ministry are yet to settle all the issues surrounding state guarantees for bank loans designed to secure liquidity to businesses impacted by the coronavirus epidemic. Earlier this month, the Finance Ministry issued the rules for lending under the emergency legislation passed as part of the first two government stimulus packages. However, the Bank Association has asked for further consultation over technical issues that are still open. Issues have also been raised by the European Central Bank with respect to collateral.

Akrapovič planning workforce cuts due to Covid-19 crisis

IVANČNA GORICA/ČRNOMELJ - Exhaust systems maker Akrapovič, which employs more than 1,000 workers, is planning redundancies in the wake of the coronavirus crisis and its economic fallout. The company has not disclosed any details as to the number of layoffs beyond saying that it was striving to keep the number of redundancies to a minimum, however workforce cuts were needed due to the precarious situation in the market. The company hopes the situation will soon go back to normal.

Minority points to inequality in reopening of Austrian border

KLAGENFURT, Austria - An organisation of the Slovenian minority in Austria addressed a letter to Austrian Interior Minister Karl Nehammer warning about Austria's unequal treatment of Slovenia in regard to the easing border restrictions. Manuel Jug, the head of the Association of Slovenian Organisations (ZSO), said that Austria had lifted restrictions on the border with Germany and Switzerland without any complications and urged Nehammer to ensure Austria treated all its neighbouring countries equally.

Poll shows Slovenians generally happy with govt's tackling of epidemic

LJUBLJANA - Slovenians have given the government's efforts to fight the coronavirus a generally positive mark, shows a poll carried out by market research agency Mediana. Over 43% are satisfied with the government's measures designed to fight the virus and their relaxation, whereas almost 34% are unsatisfied with them. Of these, 15.5% are completely satisfied and 15% completely unsatisfied with the measures, respectively, which Mediana interprets as the measures being received quite well.

Slovenian Caritas helping battle Covid-19 in Serbia, Lebanon, Rwanda

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian chapter of the Catholic charity Caritas has been helping in the battle against Covid-19 with projects co-funded by the Slovenian Foreign Ministry in Serbia, Lebanon and Rwanda. More than EUR 31,000 will allocated for this purpose to the three countries. This year Caritas Slovenia launched two projects of international development cooperation and humanitarian aid focussing on the most vulnerable groups of women in Lebanon and Serbia. In Rwanda, the main goal of the project is to make the use of local resources more efficient and sustainable.

April retail sales lowest since 2006

LJUBLJANA - Retail sales plunged by 22.6% year-on-year in April to the lowest level since 2006, show fresh Statistics Office data. At the monthly level the decline was 8.8%, following a 12% contraction in March. All segments of retail contracted as most outlets except for grocery stores, petrol stations and pharmacies were closed down due to the coronavirus epidemic.

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