Logar tells MPs Slovenia's strategy on W Balkans unchanged
LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar told the Foreign Policy Committee that Slovenia's strategy on the Western Balkans had not changed as he responded to a question about an alleged non paper on the Western Balkans that PM Janez Janša was supposed to have sent to Brussels. He said recent developments in relations between Slovenia and Bosnia-Herzegovina benefited no one and said summoning the Slovenian ambassador in Sarajevo over a single article published by the media in Bosnia-Herzegovina was a "diplomatic faux pas".
Pahor and Mattarella urge full return of National Hall to minority ASAP
ROME, Italy - President Borut Pahor and his Italian counterpart Sergio Mattarella called for wrapping up the process of returning National Home, a Slovenian centre in Trieste, to the Slovenian minority in Italy as soon as possible as Pahor visited Mattarella in Rome. The pair said they intended to visit the border cities Gorizia and Nova Gorica in autumn. Pahor described the meeting as very useful. "We reached decisions that will have a positive impact on relations between Italy and Slovenia," he said as quoted by his office.
Logar to host Croatia and Italy counterparts over Adriatic
LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar will host his Croatian and Italian counterparts, Gordan Grlić Radman and Luigi di Maio, in Slovenia on Wednesday, 21 April, so they will sign a joint statement on cooperation in the Northern Adriatic. Announcing the meeting at the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee, Logar said he would like the committee discuss the issue at a closed-door session before the meeting. The three ministers were supposed to sign the statement in December.
Slovenia says Covid certificate must not lead to more restrictions
LJUBLJANA - The EU member states reached an agreement at the ambassadorial level on a joint position on Covid certificates, with Slovenia emphasising that such a certificate must not lead to additional restrictions and that it must be available to all citizens. The joint position will serve as a basis for the member states to negotiate with the European Parliament, and the goal is that the certificate that would make it easier to Europeans to travel is to be ready by summer.
Počivalšek and Reynders discuss consumer protection
LJUBLJANA - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek met European Commissioner for Justice and Consumer Protection Didier Reynders to discuss the priorities of Slovenia's coming presidency of the Council of the EU in terms of consumer protection. Slovenia supports an ambitious take on the bloc's consumer policy, said Počivalšek. Slovenia will strive "to set up a well-oiled internal market that would ensure a high level of security in light of speedy development and modern technologies, and strengthen consumer trust".
Slovenia pledges commitment to climate goals in EU-Brazil event
LJUBLJANA - Foreign Ministry State Secretary Stanislav Raščan pledged Slovenia's commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions in line with the EU's commitment to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, as he took part in a virtual EU-Brazil event on climate change, biodiversity and sustainable development. Raščan represented the EU along with Portuguese Minister of Environment and Energy Transition Joao Pedro Matos Fernandes and European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Virginijus Sinkevičius.
Outdoor hospitality to open in eight regions Monday
BRDO PRI KRANJU - Conducting its weekly review of coronavirus restrictions, the government allowed hospitality establishments in eight of Slovenia's twelve statistical regions to serve guests at outdoor tables from 7am to 7pm for a week starting from Monday. Beer gardens and restaurant and cafe terraces will be allowed to reopen in the Goriška, Gorenjska, Obalno-Kraška, Pomurska, Posavska, Podravska, Koroška and Zasavska regions between 19 and 25 April.
Over 1,230 new coronavirus cases, five deaths confirmed on Tuesday
LJUBLJANA - 1,233 new cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Slovenia on Tuesday from 5,306 PCR tests. Five people died. The number of Covid patients in hospitals is 622, up 5 from yesterday and 41 from Tuesday last week. 154 are in intensive care, up from 131 a week ago. The rolling 7-day average of new daily cases is at 1,021, up from 1,014 on Monday and up from 889 a week ago. The 14-day cumulative incidence per 100,000 residents dropped from yesterday's 652.5 to 637.
Self-testing at secondary schools postponed
LJUBLJANA - The Health Ministry postponed the launch of voluntary self-testing for secondary school pupils for coronavirus planned for Friday due to a delay in the supply of test kits. Slovenia has ordered 300,000 rapid antigen test kits as part of an EU bulk buy. It is not clear yet when self-testing cold start. Meanwhile, several civil initiatives have collected over 21,000 signatures in support of a petition against self-testing.
Referendum on budget act declared inadmissible
LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly voted 46:31 on Tuesday night to declare as inadmissible a referendum on amendments to the budget implementation act that exempt the military from certain budget constraints. The vote came after the opposition Left launched a referendum initiative, prompting the government to seek a parliamentary vote under constitutional provisions that make certain issues off limits to referendum votes. The Left is to challenge the decision at the Constitutional Court.
Left drafts bill to exclude foreign capital from rail project
LJUBLJANA - The opposition Left tabled a bill to exclude potential foreign partners from construction of the rail track between Divača and the port of Koper. The party believes Slovenia should have full control of this strategic infrastructure, while Hungary's participation would have many negative consequences. MP Matej T. Vatovec said a foreign country entering 2TDK, the state-owned company managing the project, would be harmful to the project, and to Slovenia's public finances and strategic interests.
Unaffiliated MPs voted out of parliamentary working bodies
LJUBLJANA - The college of deputy group leaders voted against making four newly unaffiliated MPs, including the speaker, members of parliamentary bodies in a victory for what is formally a minority ruling coalition. Voting against involving the quartet of defectors from the SMC and DeSUS in the work of parliamentary committees and commissions were the coalition Democratic Party (SDS), New Slovenia (NSi) and Modern Centre Party (SMC) along with the opposition National Party (SNS) and Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) and one minority MP.
Centre-left opposition in new attempt to oust education minister
LJUBLJANA - After failing to muster support in parliament to oust Education Minister Simona Kustec in mid-March, the four centre-left opposition parties are mounting a new attempt to have the minister either resign or be replaced, arguing she had let down her brief and the groups she is responsible for. The LMŠ, SocDems, Left and SAB want the parliamentary Education Committee call on Kustec to resign. Failing that, they are willing to consider a new ouster motion against her.
MPs told most hospitals relied on themselves in PPE supply
LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary commission investigating procurement of protective personal equipment (PPE) concluded two days of hearings of hospital directors. They all reported that hospitals found themselves in a bind at the beginning of the Covid-19 epidemic, most of them resorting to their own devices in ordering PPE. Some of them relied on help from the state, which started jumping in in mid-March when the current government took over.
Pension insurer also opposes contributions cap
LJUBLJANA - After the public health insurer expressed opposition to a cap on social security contributions planned by the government, director general of the Pension and Disability Insurance Institute (ZPIZ) Marijan Papež followed suit, saying this would cost the pension purse around EUR 70-100 million less in revenue a year. Speaking for the STA, Papež said that a cap on contributions for salaries exceeding EUR 6,000 gross was a partial solution that undermined the existing system.
Velenje city council says EUR 235m not enough for coal phaseout
VELENJE - Velenje city councillors said EUR 235 million in funds planned for the energy transition of Slovenia's two coal regions was almost five times too low as they discussed a draft national strategy to phase out coal and restructure both coal regions on Tuesday. The municipality believes EUR 1.1 billion will be needed to finance various projects to restructure Savinja-Šalek and Zasavje in line with fair transition principles.
Safilo workers to get higher severance as plant shuts down
ORMOŽ - The Italian group Safilo reached an agreement with the workers of its Ormož eyewear production plant on higher severance pay, annual leave allowances and other bonuses as the plant is slated for shut-down in June at the expense of almost 560 jobs. The company said the agreement also envisaged long-service bonuses for workers who would otherwise be eligible for them only at the end of 2021. The worker's trade union assessed the deal as successful.
Book documents refugee experiences in Slovenia
LJUBLJANA - A book delivering stories, recollections and literary works by refugees from various countries who now reside in Slovenia was launched with a reading in a Ljubljana park. The book, titled Tukaj Smo (Here We Are), saw the light of day due to efforts by the Slovenian refugee community. The book was published by the Ambasada Rog community centre, a local collective run by activists, refugees, squatters and artists.