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This summary is provided by the STA:
PM Janša starts visit to Israel
TEL AVIV, Israel - PM Janez Janša started a two-day visit to Israel, which his office said would be an opportunity to discuss key foreign policy issues and further cooperation in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. On Janša's agenda today were meetings with representatives of companies from the field of cybersecurity and other companies to present their potential for cooperation with Slovenian companies. He was also scheduled to have dinner with Slovenia's Honorary Consul Eival Gilady and Israel-Slovenia Chamber of Commerce representatives. Meetings will Israel's top officials are due on Tuesday.
FM Logar visits US to meet Pompeo
WASHINGTON, US - Foreign Minister Anže Logar is in Washington, DC, to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department, in what the Foreign Ministry said would be a visit designed to deepen bilateral relations between two friends, strategic partners, and NATO allies. Logar and Pompeo will, according to the ministry, exchange views on topical issues of common interest and discuss new opportunities for cooperation. Pompeo visited Slovenia in August.
Coronavirus epidemic shows no signs of easing
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded 480 new coronavirus cases on Sunday as the epidemic shows no signs of easing. 52 more Covid-19 patients died, taking the overall death toll to 1,796. With 1,751 tests performed, the test positivity rate remained a high 27.4%. The number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals and intensive care units remained broadly unchanged, at 1,301 and 196, respectively. Should hospitalisations drop below 1,200, Covid-19 spokesman Jelko Kacin said the government could partly reopen public transport and one-on-one services such as hair salons.
Slovenia's chief epidemiologist quits Covid-19 advisory team
LJUBLJANA - The National Institute of Public Health announced the head of its Centre for Communicable Diseases, Mario Fafangel, had quit the Health Ministry task force advising the government on measures to fight Covid-19. Fafangel explained his reasons to Health Minister Tomaž Gantar, but he does not intend to share them with the public. Gantar announced the possibility of restructuring the task force to reduce the number of its members and of inviting Fafangel to join it. He said he appreciated Fafangel's work. Fafangel recently said he disagreed with some of the restrictions imposed by the government, but added that overall, tough restrictions were needed.
NIJZ chief Krek says each uninfected person counts
LJUBLJANA - If people do not become more consistent in abiding by anti-coronavirus measures, the second wave of the epidemic could last until March, the director of the National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ), Milan Krek, said in an interview with the STA. This means the third wave would start immediately after the second one, which is why it is important to have as many uninfected persons as possible. "Every single one matters. Every person that remains uninfected is important," he said.
Mandatory testing of healthcare staff mostly trouble-free
LJUBLJANA/MARIBOR/CELJE - Regular testing of healthcare and care home staff using rapid tests is mandatory from Monday. The testing protocols are mostly running smoothly in hospitals and health centres since these institutions had already been screening their staff before the relevant decree. The measure has proved more challenging in care homes though. This is also due to problems regarding testing providers and pending approvals to perform rapid tests by the Health Ministry.
Government urged to open up small businesses, services sector
LJUBLJANA - The Chamber of Craft and Small Business (OZS) called on the government to open small businesses and the services sector as the closure had not resulted in an improved epidemiological situation. On the other hand, undeclared work is on the rise and distress among entrepreneurs and craftspersons is deepening, the OZS said after its executive committee's session. The OZS's members are disappointed the government did not decide to open flower shops, hair and salons salons and non-essential shops last Thursday.
GZS estimates current cost of second wave at EUR 440-600m
LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian economy suffered between EUR 440 million and EUR 600 million in damage in the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic between the end of September and end of November, according to an estimate by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS). This calculation, which puts the median number at EUR 520 million, is in line with the GZS's estimate that Slovenia's GDP will have declined 8% year-on-year in the final quarter of this year.
New law reduces financial obligations of municipalities
LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly unanimously passed a bill reducing the financial obligations of municipalities by shifting several major outlays, for example health insurance premiums for the unemployed, onto the state budget. The bill was originally tabled by the previous government in December 2019 but was then expanded to include new waivers of obligations proposed by this government, in what Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik said was a key step towards tackling problems faced by local communities. He believes the bill is an important shift in the financial independence of municipalities.
DeSUS leader Erjavec not interested in ministerial post
LJUBLJANA - While it is customary that coalition party leaders serve as ministers and deputy prime ministers, Karl Erjavec said he did not intend to become a minister in the Janaz Janša government after he was elected the leader of the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) on Saturday. He informed PM Janez Janša of this while still a candidate for a new DeSUS leader. "I haven't returned to politics to become a minister again, but mostly because I want DeSUS to remain a parliamentary party," he told the press after he met the party's senior officials and MPs. Political analysts meanwhile believe that nothing will happen quickly with Erjavec's return to DeSUS in terms of a possible new government.
Education Ministry conference focuses on Horizon Europe
LJUBLJANA - A two-day online conference hosted by the Education Ministry started to present the three pillars of the EU's emerging research and innovation programme Horizon Europe, which will next year replace Horizon 2020. European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel said in her opening address that Horizon Europe is the biggest research and innovative programme in the history of the EU, while Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek highlighted the importance of research and innovation for Slovenia.
Slovenia calls for wide data accessibility within EU
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Public Administration Ministry State Secretary Urška Ban joined an informal videoconference of EU ministers in charge of telecommunication and digitalisation discussing the proposed legislative changes on data management. Ban stressed the importance of providing a framework for wide accessibility of data within the EU. In this context, she pointed to the directive on open data, which is complementary to the proposed act on data management.
Equal Opportunities Ombudsman challenges family law
LJUBLJANA - Equal Opportunities Ombudsman Miha Lobnik has recently asked the Constitutional Court to review as a priority parts of the family law concerning matrimony and partnership as well as adoption. The ombudsman believes these provisions contain elements of discrimination based on sexual orientation. The ombudsman says that having two different types of partnership continues to unjustifiably distinguish or divide people by their sexual orientation.
Food industry reports sluggish sales as demand weakens
LJUBLJANA - Major food industry companies are reporting sluggish revenue as sales to schools, hotels and restaurants have dried up without a corresponding uptick in retail sales. Bread and pasta maker Žito says the suspension of bread supplies to schools and the hospitality industry has been compounded by lower retail sales as people visit shops less often. The meat industry has had to cut production due to lower sales to the hospitality sector and public institutions.
Slovenia sees big drop in Climate Change Performance Index
BONN, Germany - Slovenia lost seven spots in the 2021 Climate Change Performance Index, dropping from the 44th to 51st place. The report compiled by several NGOs says that "no country performs well enough in all CCPI index categories to achieve an overall very high rating". The list includes 57 countries, including the EU as a whole, which together generate 90% of greenhouse gas emissions, and none of them is on its way to meet the Paris climate agreement goals, says the report.
Entire Slovenia declared high-risk area for bird flu
LJUBLJANA - As a third case of the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain of bird flu was confirmed on Friday in a mute swan in Ljubljana, after the first two cases were detected in the coastal town of Piran in late November, the authorities declared the entire Slovenia a high-risk area and ordered poultry breeders to take protective measures.
Museum of Modern Art gets new acting director
LJUBLJANA - Robert Simonišek has been appointed acting director of the Museum of Modern Art for the period from 23 December until the end of the latest open call for the post of director, the museum, currently run by acting head Zdenka Badovinac, confirmed for the STA. The Culture Ministry published on Friday a third iteration of the public call. The latest call was published a day after the government amended the museum's articles of association, softening candidate selection criteria.
History professors want debate on independence museum plans
LJUBLJANA - Members of the history department at the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts expressed reservations about government plans to establish a museum of independence, citing a lack of public debate as their principal concern. In a public letter addressed to Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti, 19 members of the department said that contemporary historiography, museology and the very actions that the museum is supposed to be dedicated to called for such a public consultation.
Animateka Grand Prix goes to Average Happiness
LJUBLJANA - The Jury Grand Prix of the 17th Animateka international animated film festival was bestowed on Average Happiness, a short film about statistics and visualisation of data by Maja Gehrig of Switzerland, as the competitive part of the festival ended on Sunday. The audience picked Mud Chronicles by Serbian director Vuk Palibrk, while the European Young Talents award went to Ala Nunu Leszynska for Ahead, a co-production of the London Royal College of Art and Portuguese Colectivo Audiovisual.
Slovenia get World Cup runners-up Croatia in qualifiers
ZURICH, Switzerland - The Slovenian men's football team will play in the qualifying group H for the World Cup in Qatar in 2022 along with Croatia, Slovakia, Russia, Cyprus and Malta, determined a draw by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA). Croatia are the runners-up from the 2018 World Cup, while Slovenia are also expected to have a tough time against the rest of the field in the group.
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