Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Wednesday, 18 November 2020

By , 18 Nov 2020, 04:34 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Wednesday, 18 November 2020 Vaikunda Raja CC-by-SA-4.0

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This summary is provided by the STA

Record 45 Covid-19 patients died in Slovenia on Monday

LJUBLJANA - A record number of Covid-19 patients died in Slovenia on Monday, 45, bringing the death toll to 876. A total of 1,388 new infections were confirmed in 5,326 tests and 1,275 people needed hospitalisation, up 11 from the day before. 208 patients needed intensive care, up one from the day before. The share of positive tests dropped to 26%. Coronavirus infections have been detected in 85% of Slovenia's nursing homes, government spokesman Jelko Kacin said. There are currently 1,962 active infections among a total of 19,000 residents, and 797 active cases among nearly 12,300 members of staff.

PM says some measures likely to last until Christmas, may not be as strict

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša indicated that some of the restrictive measures may remain in place until Christmas, but he was hopeful they will not have to be as strict. "It is already certain that notwithstanding the speed of production of vaccines, immunisation will not make enough of a difference by the end of the year to allow us to relax all measures. Some of the measures will definitely be in place then. We hope they will not be as strict," he said in an interview for Planet TV.

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Janša says no blockade of EU budget-and-recovery package occurred yet

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša rejected during a budget debate in parliament reports that a blockade by Poland and Hungary had occurred with respect to the new EU budget and Covid recovery fund. The situation is not what the media are portraying it to be. While Hungary and Poland blocked two key segments of the EUR 1.82 trillion budget-and-recovery package during a meeting of EU ambassadors on Monday due to a clause tying funding with adherence to the rule of law, Janša argued no decision on a blockade had yet been taken by the European Parliament, EU Council or any national parliament.

Slovenia not currently part of US force realignment

LJUBLJANA - The US Embassy said Slovenia was not currently a part of the US's "force posture realignment", after Prime Minister Janez Janša indicated in parliament that Slovenia was open to hosting a US rotation unit. "Discussions with host nations on force posture changes announced in July are ongoing and are expected to continue for many months. US Forces welcome every opportunity to train in Slovenia with their counterparts from the Slovenian Armed Forces, but the country is not part of the current force posture realignment at this time," the embassy said.

Slovenian EU presidency expected to continue rule of law dialogue

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The German EU presidency and the European Commission expressed the expectation that the dialogue on the rule of law in the bloc would be continued under future presidencies, including Slovenia's. This comes after Germany hosted a second debate on the rule of law on Tuesday. Gašper Dovžan, state secretary at the Foreign Ministry, underlined today the importance of an objective and non-discriminatory approach based on independent data, and equal treatment of all member states.

FM Logar says EU-US free-trade agreement needed

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar said a free-trade agreement between the EU and US should be concluded as soon as possible as he discussed on Tuesday the future of transatlantic relations with his Swedish and Lithuanian counterparts in an online ministerial panel. Logar noted that there had not been an EU-US summit since 2014, adding that in 2021 it was a matter of urgency to organise such an event. He said that the US turning away from Europe in recent years had freed up space for other global players "who do not necessarily share the same democratic values with us".

Govt hails record high investment, opposition worried by budget deficits

LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša and Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj highlighted the record investment spending as parliament began its debate on the 2021 and 2022 budgets. Šircelj said the budgets had been drawn up in uncertain conditions caused by the pandemic. Janša stressed that it was nonetheless easier to plan revenue and expenditure more realistically now than in the spring when the first wave of the epidemic began. Opposition parties claimed the budgets had no clear strategy and came without a plan on how to stabilise public finances.

Next stimulus package to continue focusing on job preservation

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša indicated the next stimulus package would continue to focus on job preservation. "We think it is cheaper to preserve employment that to have an affected economy," he told Planet TV. The measures will be targeted at those who have not benefited from previous rounds of stimulus, including sports, hotels and retail.

Supreme Court orders retrial of SDS's Patria damages suit

LJUBLJANA - The Supreme Court has annulled a ruling upholding the dismissal of a damages claim by the now ruling Slovenian Democratic Party (SDS) against the state over the Patria defence corruption trial, returning the case to the Maribor Higher Court for a retrial, Nova24TV reported. The party claimed EUR 886,000 in pecuniary damages because its leader Janez Janša was sentenced to prison ahead of the 2014 general election over a 2006 defence procurement deal. His and co-defendants' convictions were overturned by the Constitutional Court in 2015.

Court reportedly says Muženič still NBI head, appointment of successor halted

LJUBLJANA - In the latest development following the May dismissal of Darko Muženič as the head of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), the Labour Court reportedly altered its original ruling to assert that Muženič remains the NBI head and that the appointment procedure for his successor must be halted, several media reported. The Higher Court argued that following the Administrative Court's annulment of the dismissal decree "the matter is returned to the state prior to its issuing".

New Church guidelines strengthen cooperation with state in sexual abuse cases

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Catholic Church updated its guidelines for the protection of minors and vulnerable individuals against sexual abuse, explicitly ordering all who work for the Church, clergy and lay volunteers, to report any suspicion of sexual abuse to the authorities. The new document says, for the first time, that "a religious worker is obligated to report to the Social Services, the police or the State Prosecution any suspicion, allegation or information of sexual abuse ... at the earliest possible time". The Church's own investigation cannot be launched before a report to state authorities.

Tonin only candidate for NSi president

LJUBLJANA - Matej Tonin, the incumbent leader of the coalition New Slovenia (NSi), is the only candidate for the position ahead of the party's election congress on Saturday. The congress will take place online and delegates will vote by mail. Members of the executive committee, the supervisory board and the party tribunal will also be elected. Ballots are already being sent, with the results expected next week.

EUR 200m available to Slovenia from Tuesday

LJUBLJANA - The European Commission disbursed EUR 200 million to Slovenia in the form of loans under favourable terms as part of the SURE instrument out of the total of EUR 1.1 billion in support approved to the country to mitigate unemployment risks in an emergency. The Commission disbursed EUR 14 billion to nine EU countries in what is the second instalment of financial support to member states under the SURE instrument. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced this in an interview with the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija last night.

EU funds secured for modernisation of Karavanke tunnel

LJUBLJANA - The Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy has approved co-funding of the security and technical upgrading of the the Karavanke railway tunnel from EU cohesion funds. The EU should contribute EUR 49.2 million to the EUR 79.3 million project from its 2014-2020 operative programme. The project includes upgrading 6.1 kilometre of the railway tunnel and track on the main railway connecting Ljubljana to the Austrian border through Jesenice between Jesenice and the border.

EU Commission clears Slovenian aviation subsidy scheme

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The EU Commission has cleared Slovenia's subsidy scheme for airlines operating flights to the country. The aid is not to exceed EUR 800,000 per company and will be available until 30 June 2021, according to the Commission, which said this was "necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy."

Škrlec elected Eurojust vice-president

LJUBLJANA - Boštjan Škrlec, the national member for Slovenia at the EU Agency for Criminal Justice Cooperation or (Eurojust), was elected Eurojust vice-president. Škrlec, who has served as Eurojust national member for Slovenia since August 2017, thanked his colleagues for the trust expressed and added that he took "this honour humbly and with a sense of huge responsibility".

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