Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Friday, 4 December 2020

By , 04 Dec 2020, 03:56 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Friday, 4 December 2020 pxhere - CC0 Public Domain

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This summary is provided by the STA

Govt adopts five-tier strategy for easing of restrictions

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a five-tier strategy for the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions based on a proposal by the Health Ministry and the coronavirus task force. The relaxation of measures will hinge on the seven-day rolling average of daily infections and the number of Covid-patients in hospital. At pre-determined thresholds restrictions will be lifted, starting with limited reopening of public transport and the opening of institutions such as galleries and libraries. In the next phase, services activities, stores, kindergartens and the first three grades of primary school would reopen. Details

Slovenia expects to get 50,000 shots of vaccine in first round

LJUBLJANA - The Health Ministry revealed details of the Covid-19 vaccination plan under which vaccination will be free of charge and available to all residents regardless of their health insurance status. Vaccines for around 50,000 residents are expected to be available in the first phase. Doroteja Novak Gosarič of the Health Ministry told the press that residents and employees of care homes and healthcare workers would be the first to be vaccinated. Twenty vaccination centres are planned in the first phase and then a gradual expansion of capacity when more vaccines become available.

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Mass testing expected to start before end of 2020

LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Tomaž Gantar announced plans to launch mass testing before the end of the year. His ministry is purchasing half a million rapid antigen tests with another million to follow. To obtain the tests as quickly as possible, expectedly by 11 December, the ministry has published a shortened tender setting the price at EUR 5, VAT included, but hopes to lower it due the scale of the purchase. Another million rapid tests would then be purchased in a regular, longer, tender procedure.

Top court abrogates govt decisions on distance learning

LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court established that the temporary measures banning the gathering of people at educational establishments were extended with invalid government decisions, after having deliberated on a petition from two parents of special-needs children. It said the epidemiological situation in the country might require that reopening schools could require certain guidelines and organisations adjustments, which is why its decision would enter into force three days after being published in the Official Gazette.

KUL proposes own coronavirus exit strategy

LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Arch Coalition's (KUL), which features the opposition LMŠ, SD, Left and SAB, presented its plan to fight the epidemic. It proposes a gradual reopening of businesses and heftier aid, as well as relaxation of restrictions in outdoor public areas, arguing that the government is too heavily focussed on outdoor restrictions such as the closure of municipal borders and compulsory face masks. The measures to help businesses would cost the state an additional EUR 600 million in the next three months, economist Jože P. Damijan said.

1,772 new infections confirmed, 45 people die of Covid-19

LJUBLJANA - A total of 6,604 tests for the new coronavirus were conducted in Slovenia on Wednesday, resulting in 1,772 new positive cases. The number of cases is down by 657 compared to Tuesday, and the positivity rate dropped by seven percentage points to 26.8%. A total of 45 persons died of Covid-19 on Wednesday, which is 12 fewer than the day before. Hospitalisations are meanwhile up by four patients to 1,289, of which 198 required intensive therapy (one fewer than on Tuesday).

PM Janša paying official visit to Israel on 7-8 December

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša will start an official two-day visit to Israel on 7 December. He is expected to hold talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, the prime minister's office said. The visit represents "a confirmation of good and traditionally friendly relations between the two countries, and an opportunity to exchange views and discuss key foreign policy issues (Syria, Iraq, Iran, Middle East peace process)."

Foreign Minister Logar to visit the US next week

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar announced that he will pay a visit to the United States on 7 December. A meeting with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is planned. He made the announcement at a joint session of the parliamentary EU affairs and foreign policy committees which debated the foreign policy actions of Prime Minister Janez Janša.

Opposition and coalition clash over Hungary's involvement in rail project

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Public Finance Oversight Commission saw a heated debate over whether Hungary should be let into the EUR 1 billion-plus project to build a second railway connecting the port town of Koper with the inland hub of Divača. The centre-left opposition parties see Hungary's involvement as a threat to strategic infrastructure. By contrast, the coalition and Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec argued that without the involvement of countries served by the port there would be no development for Luka Koper and no need for the second track.

Biometric identity cards coming

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia will roll out biometric identity cards in line with amendments adopted by the government that implement an EU requirement under which all member states should start issuing biometric identity cards by August 2021. The new card will have a chip containing images of two fingerprints and a photo of the holder. The biometric data on the chip can only be used to verify the authenticity of the card, or the identity of the holder when they cross the border.

Legislation adopted to crack down on fictitious residence registrations

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted legislation designed to crack down on fictitious registrations of residence, a widespread practice uncovered in recent months. The amendments to the residence registration act will crack down on fictitious registrations at addresses that are not residential, or residential addresses where the size of the living quarters clearly precludes the registration of a large number of people.

Prešeren Prizes go to author Feri Lainšček, architect Marko Mušič

LJUBLJANA - Feri Lainšček, a writer and poet from Slovenia's north-easternmost region, and Marko Mušič, an architect who has made a name for himself in Slovenia and throughout the former Yugoslavia, are the winners of the Prešeren Prizes for lifetime-achievement for 2021. The country's top accolades for artistic accomplishments will be presented on 7 February.

Slovenia pays tribute to Giscard d'Estaing

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor and the Foreign Ministry paid tribute to Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, the former French president, on his death by describing him as a great European and statesman. Pahor said on Twitter he had sent his condolences to French President Emmanuel Macron saying that France and Europe had lost a great European and statesman. The ministry said his strong and passionate commitment as the first Chairman of the Convention on the future of Europe encouraged us to continue to work together for a united EU.

Jourova urges EU countries to refrain from pressure on media

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission is closely monitoring the developments regarding the suspension of financing of the STA, Commission Vice President for Values and Transparency Vera Jourova said. She highlighted the role of public media and urged member states to refrain from attempts to exert pressure on them. She added that media independence should be enabled across the EU for it was the core of media pluralism.

UKOM says it wants to constructively resolve funding issue with STA

LJUBLJANA - The Government Communication Office (UKOM) elaborated on the financing issue with the STA by saying that it actually could have rescinded the contract as STA director Bojan Veselinovič had not disclosed information he had been asked to provide. Instead, it has "only rejected a monthly invoice in the desire to resolve the problem constructively". It warned about the "immense damage that Veselinovič is causing to the STA by concealing information and violating the contract".

STA management urges UKOM to stop jeopardising agency's work

LJUBLJANA - The STA management responded to the Government Communication Office's (UKOM) latest statements on financing by saying that the agency had no reservations about UKOM's documentation requests as long as they were in line with the law. It urged UKOM to end actions that threaten its work, stressing that the representative of the agency's owner was solely the government and not UKOM, as UKOM director Uroš Urbanija claims. Only the government has the right to a comprehensive access to information on STA operations.

Govt approves EUR 5 million in state aid to Fraport Slovenija

LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed state aid worth EUR 5 million to Ljubljana airport operator Fraport Slovenija pending EU approval. The amount corresponds to about a third of the estimated damage the operator expects to suffer due to the pandemic. The funds will go into providing liquidity and covering running costs, and for urgent investments. Due to the pandemic and its devastating impact on air travel, Fraport Slovenija will suffer damage totalling some EUR 15.26 million this year.

Joblessness inches higher in November

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's registered jobless total inched up by a further 0.6% in November as the country tightened lockdown restrictions to hit 84,139, 16.2% above the figure at the end of the same month a year ago. A total of 7,356 newly unemployed people registered with the Employment Service in November, a decrease of 17.6% from the month before but 21.9% more than the year ago.

Validity of holiday vouchers extended until end of 2021

LJUBLJANA - The government extended the validity of tourism vouchers until the end of 2021 to help the tourism sector, which has been badly hit by the epidemic. Tourism vouchers were introduced as part of the third stimulus package, which was passed in parliament in late May. Financial Administration (FURS) data show that by 1 October vouchers worth EUR 113.74 million were redeemed, under a third of the total.

Slovenia joins GLOBE science and education programme

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia joined the Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) programme, as part of which citizen scientists and students help scientists collect data for better understanding of the environment. The agreement was signed by Education Minister Simona Kustec and US Ambassador Lynda Blanchard. Kustec said the programme provided a new opportunity for youth to attain new global collaborations, while furthering the long-standing and excellent scientific collaboration between Slovenia and the US.

Over 100 money mules caught, EUR 2.1m loss prevented in latest sting

LJUBLJANA - As part of the latest effort to crack down on money mule schemes in Europe, a total of 81 cases have been investigated in Slovenia, in which 102 money mules have been identified. A total loss by legal entities and individuals of EUR 2.1 million has been prevented, the Bank Association of Slovenia announced. The sixth European Money Mule Action (EMMA6), coordinated by Europol and involving law enforcement authorities from 26 countries, was conducted between 15 September and 30 November.

Slovenian and Croatian farmers partner to protect traditional Istrian beef

KOPER - The Koper farmers cooperative has partnered with Croatian breeders to set in motion a procedure to obtain protected designation of origin, an EU emblem, for the beef from the traditional Istrian cattle called boškarin. Boškarin, a breed of the Podolian cattle indigenous to the Istrian peninsula, used to serve as a working animal. It has also been useful in preventing the overgrowing of cultivated land in high-lying parts of Istria.

Gen-I to supply only zero-carbon electricity as of 2021

LJUBLJANA - Gen-I announced that as of 2021, it would be able to offer customers electricity produced solely from environmentally friendly and zero-carbon sources, in an effort with which the power producer intends to reduce the carbon footprint of Slovenian households by 1.65 million tonnes of CO2 compared to 2019. Gen-I customers will be able to choose between the "energy of the Sun, energy of wind and nuclear energy".

Roglič first Slovenian cyclist ever to win Vélo d'Or

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian cyclist Primož Roglič has won the 2020 Vélo d'Or award by the French cycling magazine Vélo Magazine, given annually to the rider considered to have performed the best over the year. The 31-year-old, who currently competes for the Dutch Team Jumbo-Visma, is the first Slovenian ever to win the Golden Bicycle award since its introduction in 1992.

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