Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Tuesday, 15 December 2020

By , 15 Dec 2020, 04:16 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Tuesday, 15 December 2020 pixnio CC-by-0

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This summary is provided by the STA

Janša says it was Croatia and Italy's good will to invite Slovenia for talks

LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša told parliament that it had been Italy and Croatia's "good will" to invite Slovenia for talks on their plans to declare their exclusive economic zones in the Adriatic Sea. The two countries have the right to declare the zones and it is solely because of "our reputation" and their good will that they had invited Slovenia for talks on the matter, he said during questions time in parliament.

Jurist says Croatia should implement arbitration award before economic zone

KOPER - Croatia should first come to an agreement with Slovenia on the implementation of the June 2017 border arbitration award in line with international law and only then expand its rights at sea, maritime law professor Marko Pavliha told the STA. "Croatia's exclusive economic zone - and Italy's as well - will strip Slovenian fishermen of the possibility to fish in the open seas, because there will be no open seas any more," he said. Slovenia should protest via diplomatic channels or restore talks on the implementation of the arbitration award.

431 new coronavirus cases confirmed on Sunday as 44 die

LJUBLJANA - Just over a quarter of tests came back positive on Sunday as Slovenia confirmed 431 new coronavirus cases. A total of 44 persons died, government data show. The latest figures take the total number of infections confirmed so far to 96,745. The death toll stands at 2,107. There were 1,320 Covid-19 patients in hospital yesterday, up five from the day before, and the number of persons in intensive care rose by seven to 208.

Gantar: Slovenia expects first 5,000 doses of vaccine by end-2020

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia has been promised to get some 5,000 doses of anti-coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, Health Minister Tomaž Gantar told MPs in questions time. The vaccine was developed by Pfizer and BioNTech and is expected to be green-lighted by the European Medicines Agency on 29 December. He is worried that given the strong anti-vaccination movement, Slovenia would in the long-run not achieve a 60% vaccination rate, which scientists deem necessary to guarantee herd immunity. Once the entire first batch has arrived, it is expected to suffice for 50,000-60,000 people. The first to be vaccinated will be healthcare staff and staff at care homes.

Janša predicts demanding fight with last third of epidemic

LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša told the MPs in parliament Slovenia was in for a "very demanding fight with the last third of the Covid-19 epidemic", after which time would come to eliminate the consequences. He said the EU's recent agreement on the EUR 1.8 trillion recovery package "makes the light at the end of the tunnel brighter". He said Slovenia would earmark part of the funds it is entitled to for healthcare. As for the economy, measures would be focused on improving the investment environment as well as on debureaucratisation and taxes. Solutions regarding the latter should be in parliament before the spring so that they could enter into force in 2022.

Hojs: EU members still apart on solidarity in new migration pact

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The positions of EU member states on solidarity in the new migration pact remain rather different, Slovenia's Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said after taking part in an online EU ministerial. Slovenia remains against obligatory relocation, similar to nine other members state, he said. Hojs labelled the report by the presidency on headway made as regards the pact as too optimistic. He believes matters relating to solidarity and obligatory relocations are "the key dilemma of this pact".

Logar supports EU-Latin America partnership

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar reiterated Slovenia's support for giving cooperation between the EU and Latin American and the Caribbean a fresh impetus as he took part in Monday's online informal meeting between the two regions hosted by the EU's German presidency as part of the bloc's European External Action Service. He said the Covid-19 pandemic showed the importance of close cooperation, strong resilience and good preparedness for potential catastrophes. The meeting focussed on strengthening dialogue and cooperation in green, sustainable and inclusive post-coronavirus recovery, including with the help of digitalisation.

Businesses, economy minister welcome easing of measures, health minister worried

LJUBLJANA - A temporary relaxation of some anti-coronavirus restrictions kicking in on 15 December until 23 December is a major step towards relaunching the economy, Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said, noting that rules and guidelines by medical experts should be heeded consistently. Business representatives welcomed the step and urged compliance with the rules. Health Minister Tomaž Gantar meanwhile said he was worried about limited healthcare capacity, so he advocates stepping up restrictions during the coming holidays. The government is to review the latest epidemiological developments on Thursday. Unofficial reports suggest a full lockdown could be introduced for 24 December-4 January, meaning only health institutions, pharmacies and grocers would be open.

Outdoor face mask use slightly relaxed for all regions as of Wednesday

LJUBLJANA - The government relaxed the rule under which face masks are mandatory in all outdoor public areas in regions where the two-week average number of new infections exceeds 140 per 100,000 residents. From 16 December, face masks will be mandatory in outdoor public areas only if it is not possible to keep at least a 2-metre distance. The government adopted the relaxed measure which applies to all statistical regions today, and it will be in place for seven days.

Conditional movement restriction exemption faces criticism

LJUBLJANA - The government's plan to allow movement across municipalities within regions with the best epidemiological situation only to those who have installed the Covid-19 contact tracing app on their mobile devices is raising dust, as many legal experts claim the condition is unconstitutional. Interior Minister Aleš Hojs told the press residents will be obligated to show their apps to police officers when crossing municipal borders. If they fail to do so, they will have to turn back or be fined.

Prime minister does not agree social dialogue non-existent

LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša said the government did not neglect social dialogue during the epidemic. There have been many proposals and they frequently contradict each other. The government not taking into account all of them does not mean there is no social dialogue, he added. Janša was responding to a question by opposition MP Jani Prednik, who alleged the government was not conducting an adequate social dialogue and instead engaged in activities that had nothing to do with battling the epidemic.

Anti-graft watchdog hands Vizjak case to ATVP

LJUBLJANA - The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption closed its investigation into the case of Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak's purchase of Petrol shares ahead of the full liberalisation of fuel prices after concluding that this is not within its purview. It handed the case over to the Securities Market Agency (ATVP). Vizjak had been reported to the commission after buying over 400 shares of energy group Petrol in the spring, before the government decided to fully liberalise fuel prices as of October, which significantly raised the shares' value.

Conflict about STA financing also goes to court

LJUBLJANA - The suspension of STA financing has led to criminal charges being filed by both sides. The STA's in-house trade union reported Government Communication Office (UKOM) head Uroš Urbanija to the prosecution on Friday over abuse of office, overstepping of powers and causing damage to the STA's public service. Urbanija filed charges against STA director Bojan Veselinovič, former UKOM head Kristina Plavšak Krajnc and four STA supervisors. Plavšak Kranjc was reported over suspicion of abuse of office and Veselinovič over suspicion of abuse of public funds.

Janša says government not interfering with STA

LJUBLJANA - Independent media are very important for democracy in any country, said PM Janez Janša in parliament while responding to an MP question, saying the government was not interfering with the STA. The contract it wants to be honoured was signed between the Government Communication Office (UKOM) and the STA last year during the previous government's term, he said. Just as the government is obligated to honour that contract, so is the STA. He announced the next contract to be signed with the STA will be clear in what is required by law.

RTV Slovenija approves production programme for next year

LJUBLJANA - The programming council of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija approved the programme and production plan for 2021 as the document was put to a vote for the second time. The plan is a slight upgrade of the document rejected by the programming council on 30 November. RTV Slovenija director general Igor Kadunc said it entailed the barest minimum that allows the broadcaster to still meet its legal obligations. The council did not, however, show approval for the broadcaster's financial plan, the approval of which lies in the hands of the supervisory board.

Delo poll: SDS slips but still in lead, govt gets lowest mark

LJUBLJANA - The ruling Democrats (SDS) lost almost three points in the latest public opinion poll commissioned by the newspaper Delo, but are still in lead with 16.9%. There are some changes on the centre-left, as the SocDems slid from the second to the fourth place, behind the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and the Left. The government received the lowest average mark in the Mediana poll of 2.44 on a one-to-five scale (down from 2.78 in November).

Remote schooling to continue at least until year's end

LJUBLJANA - School will continue remotely at least until the end of the year given the demanding epidemiological situation in a bid to protect the health of teachers and children, Education Minister Simona Kustec said. When the situation improves, the priority will be to open schools, first for children in the first three forms of primary school and for special-needs children. The president of the Slovenian Headmasters' Association, Gregor Pečan, said the decision was expected but expressed concern that industries with strong lobbying power might disrupt the course of restriction easing as recently laid out by the government in its five-tier strategy.

Eco Fund reduces subsidies for electric vehicles

LJUBLJANA - The Eco Fund has reduced subsidies for electric vehicles in its latest tender published in the Official Gazette. The fund decided on the move because the overall volume of subsidies had been rising in recent years as the number of subsidised vehicles almost doubled each year while the price of vehicles has been dropping. In the two public calls for application, for individuals and companies, which were published on Friday, the rules stipulate that subsidies cannot exceed 20% of the vehicle's value and thus range from EUR 300 to EUR 4,500.

Rogaška Slatina voters confirm observation tower plan

ROGAŠKA SLATINA - Voters in the municipality of Rogaška Slatina have confirmed plans by the local government to erect the tallest observation tower in Slovenia. At a cost of over two million euro, the 106-metre tower is designed to become one of the landmarks in a community best known for spa tourism. Some 56% of voters endorsed the plan on a turnout of over 40% at a referendum on Sunday, called by the opponents of the plan, who objected to the cost as well as the placement of the tower at the bottom of the valley and the perceived cost-to-benefit ratio.

Top philosopher dies

LJUBLJANA - One of Slovenia's top philosophers, Cvetka Hedžet Toth, has died, aged 72, the news portal MMC reported. Hedžet Toth was a dedicated and very popular full professor at the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts who has written seven books and a number of scientific articles. Her focus was on ontology, metaphysics, utopianism, ethics and axiology. Her work was proof that she had a highly developed sense of community, the Faculty of Arts said when her last book was published in 2018.

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