Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Wednesday, 12 May 2021

By , 12 May 2021, 04:32 AM News
Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Wednesday, 12 May 2021 CC-by-0

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This summary is provided by the STA

Janša denies reports over his non-attendance at Strasbourg ceremony

LJUBLJANA/BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prime Minister Janez Janša denied on Twitter media reports that he was being sidelined from the inauguration ceremony of the Conference on the Future of Europe in Strasbourg on Sunday. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Gašper Dovžan, speaking in Brussels told reporters in Brussels Janša could have attended the ceremony if he wanted to. The newspaper Delo reported the co-chair of the executive committee, Guy de Verhofstadt, allegedly did not want Janša to be invited, but Janša said the Council of the EU was represented at the conference by the PM of the current presiding country, Portugal, while he would co-chair the conference next time.

Minister says she's done everything to appoint EU delegated prosecutors

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Following several calls to speed up appointment of Slovenia's two delegated European prosecutors, Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlovič said she had done all in her power, while it was now on the government to act. The minister made comments as she visited Brussels as part of Slovenia's preparations for EU presidency. She said making the European Public Prosecutor's Office operational was of utmost importance for preventing corruption and money laundering across the EU. The minister will outline her view to European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders tomorrow.

Procedures to buy military aircraft to start this year

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Defence Committee discussed an amended national defence plan for 2018-2023 that would allow for the purchase of a tactical transport aircraft for the army, and two helicopters for the special forces. The procedure to purchase the plane will start this year and for the helicopters by 2023. Defence Ministry State Secretary Uroš Lampret said Slovenia needed its own capabilities due to deterioration in global security and the distance to NATO's international operations. Opposition Left criticised the planned purchases.

Pahor visits Astral Knight exercise

ČRNI KAL - President Borut Pahor as the commander-in-chief of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) visited SAF air defence unit members and their US counterparts who are taking part in the international exercise Astral Knight as part of the Defender Europe 2021 war games. Pahor, who was accompanied by the chief of the SAF general staff, Major General Robert Glavaš, said it was important SAF members were testing their capabilities with partners in international military exercises.

Coalition MPs file bill to raise funding of private primary schools

Ljubljana, 11 May - In a bid to have a Constitutional Court ruling implemented, coalition MPs tabled a bill to secure 100% state funding of private primary schools' obligatory curriculum and 85% of their optional programmes. Public primaries, which present a large majority, are fully funded from the state budget, while state covers only 85% of the obligatory and above-standard curricula at private primaries. The changed funding is to increase annual education spending by EUR 350,000.

Hojs discusses returning of migrants with EU counterparts

LISBON, Portugal - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs took part in a ministerial conference on migration organised by Portugal's EU presidency in Lisbon with EU ministers and ministers of several African countries sharing their experience with migration. The talks focussed on finding a solution to return migrants from the EU to African countries, said Hojs, who was one of the ministers attending the conference in person. He believes countries will likely stick to bilateral agreements.

EUSAIR strategy forum marks end of Slovenia's AII presidency

PORTOROŽ - As Slovenia is concluding its third presidency of the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative (AII), the Izola Declaration was adopted at the EUSAIR strategy forum in Portorož, underlining the European perspective of the Western Balkans. At the annual EU Strategy forum for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR), Slovenian Foreign Minister Anže Logar also hosted a meeting of the foreign ministers of the nine AII member countries. Slovenia will pass the presidency of the AII to Albania on Wednesday.

Podgoršek presents EU presidency priorities to Kyriakides

LJUBLJANA - Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek discussed Slovenia's EU presidency priorities concerning food safety, and animals and plants with European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides via videoconference. He said Slovenia would devote utmost attention to consumer safety and food traceability. In trade agreements with third countries that concern agriculture, the minister believes the high EU standards need to be protected, especially in veterinary medicine.

Conditions met for yellow tier

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia met the conditions to move to the yellow tier of infections as the 7-day average of new coronavirus cases fell below 600, to 549, the lowest since October, and Covid-19 hospitalisations dropped to 477. This was after 491 new cases were confirmed from 3,642 PCR tests on Monday, a 45% drop from a week ago. Three Covid-19 patients died, while 131 patients require intensive care, government figures show.

Nearly half unwilling to be vaccinated, survey finds

LJUBLJANA - Three-quarters of respondents in a survey supported by the pollster Valicon and the Covid-19 tracker community are somewhat worried about the epidemic, but almost half are still unwilling to be vaccinated. The main reason for people's reluctance to be vaccinated is fear of possible side effects, as out of those who do not want to be vaccinated, more than 80% said they were "at least somewhat" concerned. The poll was conducted on 16-23 April among 1,042 participants.

Former foreign minister tipped for top job at Book Agency

LJUBLJANA - Dimitrij Rupel, a long-serving former foreign minister, is tipped for the job of the director of the Slovenian Book Agency in an interim role after none of the candidates were picked in a call for applications issued in February. "I'm in talks with the ministry, the matter is not definitive yet, a decision has not yet been taken," Rupel told the STA. The 75-year-old served four stints as foreign minister between 1990 and 2008, and he was also a university professor, the editor of several political magazines and mayor of Ljubljana.

NLB bank more than trebles Q1 net profit

LJUBLJANA - NLB, Slovenia's largest banking group, reported a net profit of EUR 64.6 million for the first quarter of the year, about 3.5-fold the figure posted in the same period a year ago. This was as EUR 15.5 million in net impairments and provisions were released. The parent bank posted EUR 39.3 million in profit, which compares to EUR 7.5 million a year ago. While virtually all subsidiaries operated at a profit, the group's results, in particular interest income, were boosted by its latest acquisition, the Serbian group Komercijalna Banka.

Erste Group also interested in NKBM, Finance reports

LJUBLJANA - The business newspaper Finance reported, citing unofficial but reliable sources, that apart from Hungarian bank OTP, Austria's Erste Group is also interested in acquiring NKBM, the second largest bank in Slovenia. While NKBM's owner Apollo, a US private equity fund, declined to confirm the report, sources in the financial industry close to Apollo confirmed that OTP, which entered Slovenia with the acquisition of SKB Bank in 2019, is not an exclusive potential buyer of NKBM. Erste Group is present in Slovenia with its Sparkasse bank and had already sought to expand its presence.

Police officer fined over unauthorised data access

LJUBLJANA - The Koper District Court has fined a Nova Gorica police officer EUR 5,000 due to unauthorised access to police data on almost two dozen persons in 2019, including the defence minister at the time, Karl Erjavec. Officer Zdenko Kabaj accessed the data while working at the Aliens Centre in Postojna. His search triggered a red-flag warning because of Erjavec's status as a protected person, prompting an internal investigation, several media reported.

Croatian journalists express solidarity with STA

ZAGREB, Croatia - Croatian journalists issued a statement to express solidarity with journalists in Slovenia, where "the public and independent press agency STA is exposed to increasing political and financial pressures". The Croatian Journalist Association (HND) and the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists (SNH) are worried about the situation which forced the STA to seek "donations from citizens, who must be guaranteed the right to information".

Conference remembers 1821 Congress of Laibach

LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana is hosting an online conference marking the 200th anniversary of the Congress of Ljubljana, which put what was then a small provincial town in the spotlight of European diplomacy. The congress was an attempt of the monarchical powers of the Holy Alliance to address demands for more political rights in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars. Ljubljana, at the time called Laibach, was chosen due to its proximity to Austria and Italy, where unrest emerged in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

Michelin-starred chef to cook for Slovenia's EU presidency guests

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Distinguished Slovenian chef Tomaž Kavčič will be in charge of cuisine at all top-level events during the upcoming Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU, which makes Slovenia the first country to entrust such a job to a Michelin-starred chef. As announced by JGZ Brdo State Protocol Services, the aim of the cooperation with Kavčič is to combine first-class service, excellent staff and cuisine at the highest level. He will be in charge of the culinary programme at four locations - Villa Tartini, Strmol Castle, Villa Bled and the renovated Elegans Brdo hotel.

Rodent-borne haemorrhagic fever on the rise in Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - Haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome is on the rise in Slovenia as the National Institute of Public Health recorded as many as 95 cases so far this year. More than half of the cases (56) were registered in the Ljubljana area. There were only eight cases of the fever recorded in 2015, 12 cases each in 2016 and 2018, and 76 in 2017, but they peaked in 2019 at 252. The State Forests company said that the increased mice population may be due to a prolific beechnut season.

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