Morning Headlines for Slovenia: Wednesday, 20 October 2021

By , 20 Oct 2021, 04:11 AM News
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This summary is provided by the STA

Minister Vizjak under fire over leaked 2007 discussion with spa boss

LJUBLJANA - The commercial broadcaster POP TV released a recording on Monday of Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak, the then economy minister, urging businessman Bojan Petan in 2007 to avoid paying taxes in relation to spa Terme Čatež during the first Janez Janša government. Vizjak also offered Petan cooperation by the state and the supervisory board if he agreed to his terms. The recording dates back to 2007, a time of a battle for privatisation of spa operator Terme Čatež. Denying saying those things, Vizjak called the recording "a collage" and manipulation, which he attributed to "garbage mafia". Junior coalition partners called on Vizjak to provide explanations, while the centre-left opposition said both Vizjak and the whole government should resign.

Top court nominee denies migrant shooting statement claim

LJUBLJANA - Rok Svetlič, a nominee for a Constitutional Court judge, denied the allegation that he talked of shooting migrants at a debate on migration in the summer of 2020, telling a presentation of his bid at the Presidential Palace that he instead called against such a scenario rather than legitimising it as suggested by Saša Zagorc, a professor at the Ljubljana Faculty of Law on Twitter recently. Svetlič also said that no party, guild or university department was behind his bid.

Justice minister faces formal investigation over tax evasion

LJUBLJANA - The web portal of the commercial broadcaster POP TV reported that the Murska Sobota District Court had opened a formal investigation against Justice Minister Marjan Dikaučič over suspicion of tax evasion and document falsification in his previous job. The District State Prosecution asked the court to open a formal investigation in August 2020, after a criminal complaint against Dikaučič had been filed there by the Financial Administration in August 2017. Dikaučič has been denying any wrongdoing.

Slovenia hopes EU Commission, Poland will bridge differences

LUXEMBOURG, Luxembourg - Foreign Ministry State Secretary Gašper Dovžan chaired a session of the General Affairs Council which discussed the rule of law, including the primacy of the EU law, after the recent decision of the Polish constitutional court. Dovžan said Slovenia hoped for "constructive dialogue" between the EU Commission and Poland to bridge the differences. Asked whether Slovenia supported the position of Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen on the matter, Dovžan said Slovenia as the presiding country could not express its position on the matters it presided over.

Positivity rate tops 30% in major Covid uptick

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia logged 1,669 new coronavirus infections on Monday in what is a major week-on-week increase. The test positivity rate was at nearly 32%, the highest since early January. Another four Covid-19 patients died. A total of 421 patients are in hospital, of whom 124 need intensive care. The 14-day incidence per 100,000 residents surged by 32 to 617, while the rolling seven-day average of new daily cases increased by 95 on the day before to 1,067, show official data.

Covid task force proposes voluntary lockdown over school break

LJUBLJANA - Mateja Logar, the head of the Health Ministry's Covid advisory group, proposed a voluntary short-term lockdown over the autumn school break to slow down the epidemic. The proposal includes restricting socialising to family members and limiting large gatherings. Speaking on Monday, Logar also called for limiting traditional 1 November cemetery visits to family members. "We still believe that the recovered-vaccinated-tested (PCT) requirement is effective as long as people comply with it and as long as inspections are carried out," Logar said.

Slovenia partly successful in drawing EU funds in 2014-2020

LJUBLJANA - The Court of Audit found that Slovenia was partly successful in drawing EU cohesion funds in the 2014-2020 period. The actual revenue of the state budget from EU cohesion policy was much lower than planned. The government and the Government Office for Development and European Cohesion Policy had adopted all key documents for drawing the funds but the office did not prepare a plan of activities that would list all the documents that need to be prepared before the drawing of funds and the timeline.

Supreme Court president stresses importance of independence of judiciary

BLED - A two-day Conference of Chief Justices of Central and Eastern Europe focused on the independence of judiciary at the institutional level and the level of judges. Supreme Court president Damijan Florjančič said on Monday new situations challenging this independence were emerging all the time. The judicial branch of power is a key and ultimate defender of the rule of law, he was quoted as saying on the web site of the court.

SAB proposes ALDE kick out SMC in light of Janša's tweets

LJUBLJANA - The centre-left opposition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) acted on its announcement that it would propose that the coalition Modern Centre Party (SMC) be expelled from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE). The SAB sent a letter to ALDE proposing to initiate proceedings to expel the SMC, the opposition party said after its secretary general Jernej Pavlič announced the step last Friday after Prime Minister Janez Janša posted a controversial tweet about "Soros's puppets".

Minority org worried about major shift to right in Trieste

TRIESTE - The Slovenian Cultural and Economic Association (SKGZ) in Italy expressed concern over a substantial shift to the right in the local elections in Trieste as centre-right Mayor Roberto Dipiazza was re-elected and the far-right Brothers of Italy became the second strongest party. SKGZ head Ksenija Dobrila told the STA on Monday that Brothers of Italy would undoubtedly have quite some room for manoeuvring in local government. She said Trieste had confirmed its extremely conservative essence.

Panel discusses law rectifying communist injustices

LJUBLJANA - A panel debate held by the Study Centre for National Reconciliation in Ljubljana on Monday discussed the role of a 1996 law on correcting the injustices the communist regime committed against individuals after WWII, agreeing the law and a commission established under it were a milestone in efforts towards reconciliation. More than EUR 127 million had been allocated for damages until the end of last year, with EUR 146 allocated for a month of prison, said Rok Janez Šteblaj, former head of the Justice Ministry sector for redressing the injustices.

Slovenian consumers claim EUR 27.5 million from Apple

LJUBLJANA - Kolektiv 99, an NGO protecting consumer and workers' rights, announced it had filed a class-action lawsuit with the Ljubljana District Court to claim EUR 27.5 million from US multinational corporation Apple for damages it allegedly caused to Slovenian consumers by deliberately slowing down and reducing the functionality of certain iPhone models. "We believe the lawsuit will also send an important signal to all potential infringers that illegal practices do not pay off in Slovenia," said Sašo Stojanovič Lenčič, the director of Kolektiv 99.

National campaign to promote fish and fishing launched

IZOLA - The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food launched a national campaign to promote local fisheries in a bid to raise awareness among consumers about the positive aspects of fish and mussel as food and about local fisheries traditions and heritage. The campaign was presented by Minister Jože Podgoršek at the sea town Izola as part of the government's visit to the coastal region. The campaign is to cost just over half a million euro, with 75% coming from the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund.

Titus starts building EUR 6m facility

DEKANI - The foundation stone for a new production facility of the furniture hardware maker Titus was laid in Dekani (SE) with Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek attending. The EUR 6 million investment in the automated production and assembly of components for dampers is expected to be finalised by next summer. The UK-owned company in Dekani is the largest in the group, accounting for as much as 80% of all manufactured products.

Exhibition on Slovenia's first currency opens in central bank

LJUBLJANA - An exhibition on Slovenia's first currency, the tolar, was launched at the headquarters of the central bank as one of the events marking the 30th anniversary of Banka Slovenije. Visitors will be able to learn about the process of the planning and design of the currency, and see original portraits of figures featured on tolar banknotes. Addressing the opening, Banka Slovenije Governor Boštjan Vasle said the tolar had significantly contributed to the national identity at the time.

25th Ljubljana Marathon to be held on Sunday

LJUBLJANA - The 25th Volkswagen Ljubljana Marathon will take place in the Slovenian capital on Sunday, after it was cancelled due to the pandemic last year. This year's edition was slightly altered as well - all the races will be taking place on the same day, with runners testing their abilities on courses of 10 km, 21 km and 42 km. Up until the Ljubljana Marathon presentation event on Tuesday, 5,000 runners had signed up, with almost a third coming from foreign countries. Participants can still register.

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