Morning Headlines for Sloveniia: Tuesday, 2 February 2021

By , 02 Feb 2021, 07:29 AM News
Morning Headlines for Sloveniia: Tuesday, 2 February 2021 Flickr - Thomas Hawk CC-by-2.0

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This summary is provided by the STA

First batch of AstraZeneca vaccine expected within a week

LJUBLJANA - The National Institute of Public Health says Slovenia will receive the first batch of the newly approved AstraZeneca vaccine, amounting to 15,000 doses, at the end of this week or the beginning of the next. Some 17,500 doses of the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine are due to arrive today, to be used for second jabs. Some 52,000 people in the country have been inoculated once and more than 23,000 twice. The vaccination of the elderly who have not yet received a jab will continue next week.

Daily coronavirus case count up 19% from week ago

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded 353 coronavirus cases from 4,684 tests on Sunday, an increase of 19% from a week ago. A further 19 patients with Covid-19 died, while hospitalisations rose by 13 from the day before to 1,066, including 169 intensive care patients. Both hospitalisations and fatalities have been decreasing for a while. Official data put the 7-day average of daily cases at 1,213. Over 166,000 infections have been confirmed and 3,522 deaths. An estimated 17,167 are active infections.

UK strain of coronavirus confirmed in December sample

LJUBLJANA - The National Laboratory of Health, Environment, and Food confirmed the sample taken in December which most likely contained the UK strain of coronavirus indeed contained the variant. Using a different way of sequencing, the lab managed to read the entire genome sequence of the virus after initially reading only a part. This means the first confirmed case of the new strain in Slovenia was brought to the country by a person who came from England last December.

Pahor talks climate change, Covid-19 with Van der Bellen

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor had a video talk with his Austrian counterpart Alexander Van der Bellen to discuss topical international issues and agree closer cooperation in fighting climate change. The presidents also talked about the Covid-19 pandemic and the Slovenian minority in Austria, welcoming a law providing a donation to Carinthia. They agreed to meet in Maribor with experts as soon as the situation allows to exchange views and best examples of how to cope with climate change.

MPs debating eighth economic stimulus bill

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Labour Committee is discussing the eighth economic stimulus bill, worth around EUR 320 million. Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj said that with the bill, the government wanted to find the middle ground with social partners by taking into account their proposals as much as possible. The opposition was critical that the invitation to trade unions to today's session had been sent out last minute, so they did not attend it. The head of the OZS chamber of small business, Branko Meh, meanwhile said the state aid was welcome but business people would foremost like to be able to work again.

Committee urges Court of Audit boss to step down

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Home Affairs Committee discussed the conduct by Court of Audit president Tomaž Vesel in the wake of alleged conflict of interest caused by his work at FIFA. The session was boycotted by four opposition parties and ended with two proposals, one of them being for Vesel to resign. Vesel denied the allegations, saying he would submit all the necessary documents to the anti-graft watchdog, which has launched the preliminary inquiry into the matter.

Austrian plebiscite donation law published in Slovenian

VIENNA, Austria - A law providing EUR 4 million to the Austrian province of Carinthia as promised by the federal government on the centenary of the Carinthian plebiscite last year was published in German and Slovenian in what is the first such instance in Austria's second republic. The money will support the Slovenian-speaking population in the province and projects aimed at "harmonious coexistence, cultural diversity and economic and infrastructural development in the municipalities". Slovenia welcomed the step.

Janša nominates missionary Pedro Opeka for Nobel Peace Prize

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša has nominated Slovenian Madagascar-based missionary Pedro Opeka and his humanitarian organisation Akamasoa for this year's Nobel Peace Prize. Announcing the move on Sunday evening, the PM's office said Janša noted Opeka's comprehensive approach to the development of society and humanitarianism, saying his and his organisation's activities personified the UN goals. Janša first nominated Opeka for the prize in 2013 and PM Miro Cerar did in 2015.

Pahor invites party heads for talks on key topics

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor has expanded his initiative for cooperation among political parties with a call for a meeting of leaders of all parliamentary parties. He would like to measure support for his proposal that parties reach a consensus on focusing on the fight against the epidemic, on post-pandemic recovery and Slovenia's EU presidency. Tanja Fajon of the opposition Social Democrats (SD) accepted the invitation, however both she and Marjan Šarec of his eponymous LMŠ party were also critical of Pahor. PM Janez Janša described the invitation as well-intended and neutral, while also dismissing Šarec and Fajon's responses.

Slovenian army in for a busy year

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian army is planning a number of activities this year after many could not be implemented in 2020 due to the epidemic. It will increase its volume, adjust its structure and overhaul military education. International missions and cooperation with the police remain among the key tasks, senior military staff said. One of the biggest achievements last year was addressing the status of soldiers after they turn 45 and must retire from active service, which was followed by better results in recruiting new soldiers, said Major General Robert Glavaš, the chief of the general staff.

Beauty parlours appeal to top court over restrictions

LJUBLJANA - Owners of beauty parlours have asked the Constitutional Court to review all of the government's decrees restricting the sale of goods and services due to coronavirus because they deem them unfair. Under the currently valid relevant decree, beauty parlours are closed, with the exception of those providing medical manicure or pedicure to individuals who need professional assistance in these procedures. Hair salons, for example, have been allowed to operate.

Efforts to reopen schools continue

LJUBLJANA - Calls for reopening of schools from a several stakeholders continued after protests calling against closure of schools in black-tiered regions were held in a number of towns this weekend. The Headteachers' Association president Gregor Pečan intends to urge the government to reopen schools in the entire country if today's rapid testing among teachers shows no significant increase in confirmed cases compared to a week ago. The Health Ministry's data showed that there had been no such uptick week-on-week.

Left proposes scrapping govt approval to uni application process

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Left, backed by three opposition parties, proposed changes to the eighth stimulus package that would temporary remove the provision saying that the government must okay the call for applications to enrol in university courses. This comes after the government did not give its consent to the release of the call and a number of organisations and members of the academia protested against what they see as the government's interfering with higher education and science. The senior coalition Democrats (SDS) meanwhile think the government's step is sensible also in terms of assessing youth employability.

Slovenia with 5th-highest rate of Covid-19 vaccine utilisation

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia has used 83.5% of the Covid-19 vaccine vials it has received so far, which puts it in the fifth place among the 15 European countries for which preliminary data are available in the relevant tracker launched by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC). In Slovenia, 3% of adults have received their first shots, which ranks the country fourth among the 18 countries that have provided the data.

RTV Slovenija boss to challenge successor's appointment in court

LJUBLJANA - Public broadcaster RTV Slovenija director general Igor Kadunc announced that he would appeal against the appointment of Andrej Grah Whatmough as his successor. He told the STA that laws should be observed the way they had been written, noting that Grah Whatmough did not meet formal criteria for the post and lacked leadership experience.

Iskratel appalled by DARS picking Skytoll for car e-tolling

KRANJ - Iskratel said it was appalled by the decision of the state-run motorway company DARS to award car e-tolling contract to Slovakia's Skytoll, announcing it would certainly appeal the decision. The Kranj-based telecoms equipment maker said that "participation of Slovenian companies and their competences are apparently an exclusionary factor in public tenders in Slovenia". It noted that it was seriously thinking about moving the seat of the company abroad.

Mlinotest reports slightly higher revenue and profit

AJDOVŠČINA - Bread and pasta company Mlinotest saw its revenue and profit increase slightly last year to EUR 60 million and EUR 1.9 million. Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, revenue from freshly-baked products, such as bread and confectionery, dropped significantly, which was offset by increased sales of flour and pasta, Mlinotest chairman Danilo Kobal told the STA. Despite uncertainties, the Ajdovčina-based company plans to modernise and increase production capacity for pasta this year.

Bled to get contemporary museum

BLED - The lakeside town of Bled can look forward to a museum of contemporary art. Designed by the renowned David Chipperfield, the museum will be located at the foot of the castle hill, along the the main road leading up to the castle. Construction work is to begin in the spring. The museum will feature works by world-renowned artists, above all those from the private collection of Igor and Mojca Lah, one of the wealthiest Slovenian families. It will be named Lah Contemporary Museum.

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