Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Wednesday, 1 July 2020

By , 01 Jul 2020, 03:52 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Wednesday, 1 July 2020 Flickr - Niccolò Caranti, CC BY-SA 2.0

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Probe into ventilator procurement triggers resignation of interior minister

LJUBLJANA - Police conducted house searches over suspected abuse of office in the procurement of medical ventilators. The probe, which also targeted Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, prompted the resignation of Police Commissioner Anton Travner as well as Interior Minister Aleš Hojs, who, like PM Janez Janša, claims the investigation is politically motivated. The news portal nezenzurirano.si broke the story in the morning, reporting that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) was investigating the EUR 8.8 million deal with Geneplanet at 11 locations. While coalition parties were rather reserved in their reactions, the opposition called for the entire government to resign.

Slovenia keeps Croatia on list of Covid-19 safe countries

LJUBLJANA - Contrary to expectations, Slovenia decided not to de-list Croatia as a Covid-19 safe country. Jelko Kacin, the government spokesman, said Slovenia believed Croatia would succeed in slowing down and eventually stopping the spread of infections in the coming days. "Based on an agreement between the countries' national [public health] institutes and a talk between both prime ministers, the Croatian government decided to adopt Slovenian action patterns and close night clubs as well as cancel such (massive) events," said Kacin. Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said the reason for the decision was because placing Croatia on the yellow list would only entail quarantine for Croatian not Slovenian citizens.

15 new coronavirus reposted amid new outbreak at Maribor hospital

LJUBLJANA/MARIBOR - Slovenia recorded 15 new coronavirus cases from 1,085 tests on Monday, the highest since 24 April, with the number of active cases hitting 101 and the total case count 1,600. Government data show eight patients remain hospitalised. Officials at UKC Maribor hospital said that seven Community Health Centre doctors, members of the emergency team that also operates at the hospital emergency department, tested positive until this morning, up from initial three reported yesterday, with further tests still ongoing. They possibly caught the virus during a visit to Montenegro.

Slovenia donates EUR 70,000 to Syria, Turkey

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia allocated EUR 70,000 to support programmes of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Syria and Turkey this year and the next. The donation was made as part of a virtual donor conference, which raised a total of EUR 6.9 billion for displaced Syrians in Syria and Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries. Foreign Minister Anže Logar, who represented Slovenia at the conference, expressed disappointment over the slow progress in the political process of solving the Syrian crisis, and upheld the call by the UN secretary general for a permanent ceasefire on the entire Syrian territory.

Slovenian ambassador to Switzerland steps down

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Ambassador to Switzerland Marta Kos has stepped down, the Foreign Ministry confirmed. The reason for her leaving the post is not known yet, but media portal Portal Plus wrote on Twitter it was being speculated that she disagreed with Slovenia's new foreign policy. Kos reportedly tendered her resignation to the Foreign Ministry on Monday and it took effect today. Kos was appointed ambassador to Switzerland in September 2017 and her term would expire at the end of July 2021.

FM calls for closer ties within Three Seas Initiative

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar took part in a videoconference of the Three Seas Initiative, calling for closer cooperation in the wider region of central and eastern Europe. He stressed the importance of the initiative as a forum of the countries' presidents and the increasingly important role of national governments in the operationalisation of integration in the region. He said Slovenia supported further cooperation between institutions of the countries from the initiative and closer cooperation in the wider region of central and eastern Europe.

Pahor deems fences on Statehood Day disproportionate

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor told an interview with the TV show Studio City on Monday that fencing off the Statehood Day official ceremony was a disproportionate measure, however the relevant authorities were responsible for such decisions. This was as he reiterated his praise for the government's response to the coronavirus crisis. Commenting on the border arbitration award declared three years ago, Pahor rejected the suggestion that Croatia had capitalised on the agreement, insiting that the award would be fully implemented one day.

Personal data watchdog reserved about contact tracing app

LJUBLJANA - The state body in charge of protecting personal data has voiced reservations about government plans for a coronavirus contact tracing app for mobile devices, in particular the requirement that app use would be mandatory for those with confirmed infections. The Office of the Information Commissioner had warned before that only voluntary use of the app would be acceptable, but the latest government plans indicate those who have been infected would be obligated to use it or risk a fine. The Information Commissioner said in a statement it saw this as "disproportionate and not contributing to the objectives set out by the legislative branch".

House of opposition party leader defaced

LJUBLJANA - The house of Zmago Jelinčič, the leader of the opposition National Party (SNS), was defaced on Monday evening as unknown perpetrators pelleted it with several bottles of a fluid believed to be spent motor oil. The incident comes just a day after Jelinčič was put in the spotlight in a video, widely shared in the media and on social media, in which he said that "The people are crazy. It was a mistake to give money to the people," a reference to government stimulus payments to individuals.

General government deficit at 6.6% of GDP in Q1

LJUBLJANA - Faced with the coronavirus crisis, Slovenia recorded a general government deficit of EUR 739 million or 6.6% of GDP in the first quarter. The figure exceeds last year's quarter one deficit by EUR 647 million, show data released by the Statistics Office. The last time the general government generated this amount of deficit was in the fourth quarter of 2014, at 9.1% of GDP Meanwhile, the Finance Ministry released data showing budget revenue fell by 15.8% year-on-year to EUR 3.56 billion in Jan-May as expenditure rose by 18.7% to EUR 4.83 billion, creating a deficit of EUR 1.27 billion.

Planet TV reportedly getting Hungarian owner

LJUBLJANA - The state-owned telcoms company Telekom Slovenije has reportedly sold its troubled subsidiary Planet TV to the Hungarian free-to-air channel TV2, owned by Jozsef Vida, whom media associate with the business network of the Hungarian ruling party Fidesz. The unofficial news was broken by the editor of the news portal Požareport, Bojan Požar, who said that Planet TV, which produces the eponymous TV channel, had been sold for EUR 5 million, with the transaction still pending.

Gen Energija posts lower sales, higher profit

KRŠKO - Gen Energija, a power utility that manages Slovenia's half of the Krško nuclear power station, saw group net profit rise by almost 20% to EUR 48.5 million even as sales declined by 5.5% to EUR 2.25 billion, according to the annual report. The output of the group's production units stood at 3,672 gigawatt hours, down slightly from last year but above plans. The Krško plant accounted for 81% of total production, with hydro plants on the Sava river adding 18% and the Brestanica gas-fired plant, which acts as a backup, 0.8%.

Slovenia records 0.3% annual deflation in June

LJUBLJANA - Consumer prices in Slovenia decreased by 0.3% in June year-on-year despite a 1.3% rise compared to the previous month. The annual deflation has been primarily a result of lower prices of petroleum derivatives, show Statistics Office data. Additionally, the annual deflation was triggered by lower prices of clothing as prices of food and miscellaneous goods and services went up. Measured with the harmonised index of consumer prices, an EU gauge, Slovenia saw 0.8% deflation in June.

Agricultural exhibition Agra cancelled due to coronavirus

GORNJA RADGONA - The 58th international agriculture and food fair Agra that was supposed to take place in late August was cancelled due to coronavirus concerns. International Agra gradings will be carried out though, said the organisers. Since the organisers cannot vouch that the fair will actually take place and do not want to put exhibitors as well as visitors at risk of coronavirus contagion, the fair programme council decided yesterday to cancel the event. The cancellation has come in the wake of the recent government's decision to cap public gatherings at 50 persons.

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