Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Tuesday, 19 January 2021

By , 19 Jan 2021, 04:01 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Tuesday, 19 January 2021 pikrepo CC-by-0

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This summary is provided by the STA

Erjavec mulling temporary withdrawal of no-confidence motion due to Covid

LJUBLJANA - DeSUS leader Karl Erjavec will decide by midday tomorrow whether to temporarily withdraw his consent to the bid to become a prime minister-designate because several MPs have been infected with coronavirus and could not vote in person. He believes it would be right to continue with the no-confidence motion once all MPs can vote. Under the parliamentary rules of procedure, MPs must be present in parliament in person for a secret ballot. The college of deputy group leaders meets tomorrow to decide when to hold the session. Wednesday has been mentioned as a possible date.

Slovenia supportive of vaccine travel certificate

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia expressed support for a vaccine travel certificate as the EU's Europe ministers launched a debate on the issue. Gašper Dovžan, Foreign Ministry state secretary for European affairs, "supported the idea of European vaccination certificates, which could strengthen the four European freedoms in accordance with the principles of EU law," the Foreign Ministry said. The office of Prime Minister Janez Janša said Janša had "already made it clear that he thinks this will sooner or later come to be".

Daily coronavirus case count hits three-month low

LJUBLJANA - In another sign that the second epidemic wave in Slovenia is gradually ebbing, 293 new coronavirus infections were confirmed from 1,769 tests on Sunday, a three-month low. 26 Covid-19 patients died, bringing the death toll to 3,206. Government data also show Covid-19 hospitalisations rising by 17 to 1,237 as the number of intensive care cases dropped by four to 184. National Institute of Public Health data put the 7-day average of cases at 1,350, the threshold value for one of the criteria to start easing restrictions.

Tests used for mass testing meet standards, says official

LJUBLJANA - After questions were raised about rapid antigen tests used for mass screening and their efficacy, Health Ministry State Secretary Marija Magajne told reporters the ministry's inquiry into the matter showed the test kits complied with relevant national guidelines and WHO standards regarding their sensitivity and specificity. Wile detailed findings about the quality of the tests will be released later, Magajne said the result of positive tests was almost 100% accurate and negative were 80-90% accurate.

SD deputy group leader Han catches coronavirus

LJUBLJANA - A rapid antigen test showed today that Matjaž Han, the leader of the deputy group of the opposition Social Democrats (SD), is infected with coronavirus, after an expert working for the deputy group tested positive Saturday. Another SD deputy, MP Matjaž Nemec is still waiting for the test result, after he was in contact with SOVA intelligence agency director Janez Stušek, who tested positive over the weekend.

Foreign Ministry calls for immediate release of Navalny

LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry called for "immediate release" of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. "Unhindered activities of opposition politicians are the foundation of a free democratic world," the ministry said in a post on its Twitter account on Sunday. After spending several months in Germany to be treated for Novichok poisoning, Navalny returned to Russia on Sunday and was detained by police soon after his flight landed at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport.

Speakers Zorčič and Bečić discuss closer cooperation

LJUBLJANA - Speaker Igor Zorčič and his Montenegrin counterpart Aleksa Bečić discussed in a video call Slovenia's support for Montenegro's EU bid, ways of strengthening bilateral cooperation, and the epidemiological situation in their countries. The officials expressed satisfaction with the excellent bilateral relations, and lauded the cooperation and close ties at the top parliamentary level and at the level of parliamentary bodies, the National Assembly said. The pair called for strengthening economic cooperation.

Bilingual signposts in Austrian Carinthia vandalised

BLEIBURG, Austria/LJUBLJANA - Unknown perpetrators spray-painted the Slovenian names of bilingual signposts in Pliberk/Bleiburg and Škocjan v Podjuni/Sankt Kanzian am Klopeiner See in the state of Carinthia, Austria on Saturday night. Police think the cases might be related. Minister for Slovenians Abroad Helena Jaklitsch strongly condemned the incident. She expects the perpetrators to come forward and publicly apologise, and the Austrian authorities to condemn the incident and prosecute the perpetrators.

Water diplomacy in focus of Slovenia-EU conference

BRUSSELS, Belgium - A four-day online conference organised by Slovenia and the European Commission Directorate-General for International Partnerships kicked off under the title Water and Beyond: EU Transformative Approaches for International Partnerships. The event focuses on water diplomacy, one of the priorities for Slovenia's upcoming EU presidency. Water must be inserted systemically and comprehensively into all aspects and forms of the EU's external action, said Stanislav Raščan, a state secretary at Slovenia's Foreign Ministry.

Vox Populi poll shows half support Erjavec as PM-designate

LJUBLJANA - The latest Vox Populi poll, commissioned by the newspapers Dnevnik and Večer, sees the ruling Democrats (SDS) as the most popular party at 19.9%, followed by the opposition Social Democrats (SD) at 12.6%. Almost half of the respondents (48.8%) support the vote of no confidence in the government, and slightly more than half (50.6%) would endorse DeSUS leader Karl Erjavec as PM-designate. President Borut Pahor remains the most popular politician head of by MEP Ljudmila Novak.

Negative staffing trend in army reversed

LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Matej Tonin said the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) have managed to reverse the negative staffing trend in 2020, as the SAF hired 222 members of the permanent force and 73 members of the contractual reserve. Among the main reasons for the improvement, the minister mentioned the elimination of red tape, as well as reports about the army in the positive light and about its modernisation.

Higher court upholds fine for Agrokor in Costella takeover

LJUBLJANA - Croatia's Agrokor will have to pay a fine of EUR 1 million for failing to notify Slovenia's competition regulator of concentration following the 2017 takeover of Slovenian-based water-bottling company Costella. The Agency for the Protection of Competition said the Higher Court in Ljubljana has rejected Agrokor's appeal against a first-instance ruling, which means that the agency's decision on the fine is now final, and Agrokor will also have to pay the costs of the procedure.

Slovenia redeems EUR 1.5bn ten-year bond

LJUBLJANA - The treasury redeemed a EUR 1.5 billion eurobond issued by Slovenia ten years ago at an interest rate of 4.375%. This represents 40% of the central government budget debt that is due this year, the Finance Ministry announced. The total amount of the central government budget debt that is due in 2021 is EUR 3.7 billion, and Slovenia has already secured re-financing of these liabilities as part of long-term borrowing the treasury carried out earlier this month.

NGO warns mining act changes allow fracking in Petišovci

LJUBLJANA - The environmental NGO Focus is critical of the government-sponsored amendments to the mining act, arguing they would open the door to hydraulic fracturing or fracking in Slovenia's Petišovci and, consequently, to public health and environmental hazards in the local environment. Under the amendments, high-volume fracking would be prohibited in Slovenia, while low-volume fracking would be allowed under certain conditions. Focus said fracking should be completely banned.

TEB power station launches new gas unit

BRESTANICA - TEB, a Brestanica-based natural gas power station, has launched its seventh gas unit after its construction started in July 2019. Together with unit six, PB7 will replace the first three gas units from 1974. As part of the trial launch the turbine was turned on on Friday after TEB completed in December cold tests AND obtained all the required certificates. PB7 is to start supplying power to the grid at the end of the month.

Hiša Denk and its chef top new Gault & Millau guide

LJUBLJANA - The new Gault & Millau culinary guide has further cemented the position of three restaurants, Hiša Denk, Hiša Franko and Pri Lojzetu, as top culinary destinations in Slovenia, after the three had already received excellent scores in the country's first Michelin guide in 2020. Gregor Vračko of Hiša Denk in Zgornja Kungota was named chef of the year 2021 by Gault & Millau, while his restaurant received four toques, the highest possible score in the Gault & Milau guide. Hiša Denk and Pri Lojzetu each have two Michelin stars, while Hiša Franko became the first and only restaurant in Slovenia to get the highest Michelin score of three stars in June.

Star cyclist Tadej Pogačar becomes tourism ambassador

LJUBLJANA - Cyclist Tadej Pogačar, winner of the Tour de France, is the latest in line of top athletes to become an ambassador of Slovenia promoting the country as a tourist destination. The athlete will join forces with the Tourism Board (STO) to call attention to what he considers perfect spots across the country for cycling and leisure activities. Pogačar said Slovenia had been gaining on its popularity among foreigners. He believes cyclists and athletes in general have put Slovenia on the map with their accomplishments.

Slovenia earn important win against Belarus at handball worlds

ALEXANDRIA, Egypt - Slovenia wrapped up the preliminary round at the World Men's Handball Championship with an important 29:25 win against Belarus to earn second place in Group H and take a good position entering the main round. Slovenia are taking two points from the win against Belarus to the main round, where they will play against North Macedonia, Sweden and the hosts Egypt in Group IV.

Cervical Cancer Prevention Week focusses on efforts during epidemic

LJUBLJANA - The 15th European Cervical Cancer Prevention Week stresses the importance of vaccination against the Human papillomavirus (HPV) and the importance of regular checks also during the epidemic. In Slovenia, 19% less precancerous conditions were detected in women until the end of September compared to the average of the last three years as the screenings were suspended during the spring wave of coronavirus. Meanwhile, the immunisation against HPV has not been affected by the epidemic.

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