Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Wednesday, 15 July 2020

By , 15 Jul 2020, 04:11 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Wednesday, 15 July 2020 JL Flanner

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Parliamentary inquiry into PPE procurement initiated

LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly formally initiated a parliamentary inquiry into the procurement of medical and personal protective equipment before and during the coronavirus epidemic in Slovenia. The move comes at the request of the coalition, which wants to determine political responsibility of public office holders as of 1 February, which also includes the last month and a half of the previous government's term. The commission is to investigate potentially illegal use of public funds and suspected failure to take appropriate measures to reign in the epidemic.

Coalition agrees to extend public debate on media changes

LJUBLJANA - Coalition parties agreed to extend the week-long public consultation period for a media reform until the end of August, although the final decision is in the hands of the Culture Ministry, which has drafted the changes to the media law, the law on public broadcaster RTV Slovenija and the law on the STA. However, its official Ivan Oven confirmed for public radio station Radio Slovenija the period would be extended. The changes will be debated Wednesday by the parliamentary Culture Committee, with opposition SD leader Tanja Fajon saying they would propose for the media package be removed from legislative procedure. She said the SD, which led the Culture Ministry in the previous government, had drawn up its own media bill which "addresses all the key challenges of the media landscape".

Culture Ministry says media changes to modernise legislation

LJUBLJANA - The head of the Culture Ministry media directorate Ivan Oven defended the media reform in a Radio Slovenija discussion, arguing the goals are "to modernise the legislation, given the radical technological developments in the media industry" and to harmonise Slovenia's legal standards with Europe's. He said the proposals simplify cost cutting procedures, while the focus is on expanding the rights of users, increasing the transparency of funding, securing independent permanent and transparent sources of funding, all of which leads to synergy effects. Most other participants were critical, saying modern technological challenges were definitely not being addressed, while they also disagreed with the transparency and stability of funding point.

EBU concerned about future of public media in Slovenia

GENEVA, Switzerland/LJUBLJANA - The European Broadcasting Union (EBU) addressed a letter to the Slovenian authorities expressing concern over the future of Slovenian public service media. It urged the government to enable proper time for discussion on the proposed media reform in line with EU standards. The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) and South East Europe Media Organisation (SEEMO) joined the warnings saying that they were most concerned about the proposed changes to the funding of public service media in Slovenia and the extremely short period of five days for public discussion.

ZNP expresses support for planned media legislation changes

LJUBLJANA - The Association of Journalists and Commentators (ZNP) expressed support for the government-sponsored changes to the media legislation, including a planned distribution of the public broadcaster licence fee among other media and the change of STA supervisory board appointment powers from the National Assembly to the government. The ZNP, the smaller of the two national associations of journalists, said it did not matter whether the supervisors of the STA were appointed by the government or the National Assembly. But it believes the changes should also limit the supervisors and the general manager to two terms.

Ten new coronavirus infections confirmed

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia saw ten new coronavirus infections confirmed on Monday after conducting 1,218 tests. The numbers of those hospitalised with Covid-19 as well as Covid-19 patients in intensive care remained unchanged at 17 and one, respectively, show the latest government data. Three persons were discharged from hospital, and there were no Covid-19 related fatalities, leaving the death toll at 111.

Committees urge govt to provide nursing hospitals, adequate care homes

LJUBLJANA - Wrapping up a discussion on the situation in Slovenian care homes during the Covid-19 epidemic, the parliamentary committees on health and social affairs urged the government to provide nursing hospitals and improve conditions at care homes. The committees dismissed all the proposals tabled by the opposition Left which would proclaim that Slovenia did not successfully protect care home residents during the epidemic and that the ministries should amend the strategy on fighting the coronavirus in these facilities. But it backed motions by the coalition which state that the previous government had not provided protective equipment or imposed preventive measures in care homes in time.

Central5 ministers discuss border opening

BUDAPEST, Hungary - Foreign ministers from Austria, Czechia, Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia, known as the Central5, held talks in Budapest focusing on the opening of borders with third countries in the light of the coronavirus pandemic. The EU's recovery instrument, its multi-annual budgetary framework, and the role of state subsidies in investments and regional economic cooperation was also on the agenda, the Slovenian Foreign Ministry said.

Environment minister highlights digital tech's role in green transition

LJUBLJANA - Development and digital technologies could play a significant role in the EU's green transition, Slovenia's Environment and Spatial Planning Minister Andrej Vizjak has said in a videoconferenced EU ministerial focusing on recovery post-pandemic and the role of digitalisation in environmental protection. The ministerial started on Monday with small-group debates, with Vizjak moderating a panel on digitalisation, in light of Slovenia's upcoming EU presidency in 2021, the ministry said in today's press release.

President Pahor congratulates Poland's Duda on re-election

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor congratulated Polish President Andrzej Duda on his re-election in a phone conversation that touched on current affairs and bilateral relations. Pahor's office said the presidents also talked about the need for world leaders to start meeting in person again in order to tackle complex international relations.

Slovenia, Croatia confirm revised Krško decommissioning programme

ZAGREB, Croatia - Slovenia and Croatia confirmed revised programmes for the decommissioning of the Krško nuclear power station and the storage of radwaste, as the ministers in charge of energy chaired a session of the intergovernmental commission on the management of the jointly-owned power station. The revised programmes had previously been confirmed by the Slovenian government and the Croatian parliament, and reflect the decision to extend the plant's operation by 20 years beyond its originally planned shutdown in 2023, and the decision that each country will build its own radwaste repository.

Simič and Emeršič join SSH supervisory board

LJUBLJANA - Parliament appointed tax expert Ivan Simič and former long-serving chairman of insurer Grawe Božo Emeršič as supervisors of Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH), the custodian of state assets. The pair will join the other three members of the supervisory board for five years after the terms of Duško Kos and Damjan Belič expires on 17 July. The MPs of the left-leaning opposition parties voted against, arguing Simič lacked personal integrity and business ethics. The SSH supervisory board also features chief supervisor Karmen Dietner, whose term runs out at the end of 2023, as well as Igor Kržan and Janez Vipotnik.

Hisense Gorenje decides against layoffs in production segment

VELENJE - Home appliances maker Hisense Gorenje will not lay off production workers as initially planned. The Chinese-owned company will instead employ soft methods to reduce the workforce, since orders have grown in recent weeks and June was the first profitable month this year. The previous plan was to lay off roughly 300 workers in the production unit Gorenje in Velenje, the group having already let go of 46 employees at the back-office unit Hisense Gorenje Europe in June. The in-house trade union welcomed the latest development.

Human rights ombudsman concerned with irresponsiveness of state bodies

LJUBLJANA - Human Rights Ombudsman Peter Svetina handed his office's annual report for 2019 to PM Janez Janša and Speaker Igor Zorčič, urging politicians to take action so that the ombudsman's recommendations are implemented. The report makes nearly 160 concrete recommendations to a variety of state bodies and expresse concern that as many as 200 recommendations made by Svetina's predecessors are yet to be implemented, with one dating back as far as 2013. Janša urged implementing the overdue recommendations from the past as soon as possible. The National Assembly is to expected to debate the report in the autumn.

Slovenians reserved about contact tracing app, shows survey

LJUBLJANA - A majority of Slovenians do not support the introduction of a contact tracing app to stem the coronavirus spread because they see it as invasion of privacy or an inefficient strategy to trace infections, shows a recent Mediana survey. While 54% oppose the app, the measure enjoys the support of 38% of the respondents, whereas another 2% would support it if the rules were less strict. The survey was conducted before it was decided that the app will be completely voluntary.

Valicon poll shows pessimism growing in face of coronavirus

LJUBLJANA - People are becoming increasingly pessimistic as they come to realise that coronavirus will persist for a while, the most recent Valicon poll shows. For the first time since the pollster started gauging the people's attitude toward life in the face of coronavirus, more than half of respondents said this week that their experience was negative. "It seems that we are only now coming to terms with the fact that the virus and everything it brings with it ... was not just a short episode this spring but something more permanent," Andraž Zorko from Valicon commented on the results.

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