15 Apr 2022, 08:19 AM

STA, 14 April 2022 - Foreigners in Slovenia have problems because of lengthy procedures at administrative units (Upravne enote), warned participants of a round table debate hosted on Thursday by the Legal Network for Protection of Democracy, an NGO. The delays occur because of understaffed offices for foreigners, inefficient organisation, and the nature of administrative procedures.

The delays in administrative procedures involving foreigners in big cities, especially Ljubljana, go beyond what is reasonable and justifiable, said the participants.

Currently, 15,000 applications by foreigners are waiting to be processed at the Ljubljana administrative unit, which said that it would introduce special staffing measures to process them within six months.

Ukrainian refugees who have requested temporary protection have further increased the workload.

Different categories of foreigners are in a tough spot because of the lengthy procedures, including students (some 4,100 in Ljubljana and 15,000 in Maribor) as well as guest lecturers and researchers, the University in Ljubljana said.

Vice-chancellor for student affairs Ksenija Vidmar Horvat said the "system was completely out of control", as people were not notified of the phase their application was in, received false information, and the proceedings were lengthy. She reported of financial and emotional distress and the feelings of stigmatisation.

She warned that this damaged the university's reputation. "We at the university see them as our ambassadors. Sooner or later they will signal to their environment that things are not organised well here," she stressed.

Vice-chancellor for internationalisation and quality Boštjan Markoli echoed this, saying the problem was affecting the university's quality assessments and was causing it to drop in rankings and preference lists. Problems are emerging in winning and implementing projects with time restrictions, he said.

Matija Urankar from the Senica Law Firm said that many foreign investors had cancelled their projects amid administrative procedures because they were too slow and the staff unresponsive. He believes damage was being caused to Slovenia.

According to him, the general administrative procedure act is a big problem, because proceedings based on it are rigid. For example, foreigners must submit documents that do not even exist in their country, he illustrated.

Goran Lukić from Delavska Svetovalnica, an NGO specialising in the rights of migrant workers, said foreign workers waited months, even years for their applications to be processed. He said that in recent months there had been increased interest in employers in Germany, while Slovenia lacked labour force.

Andrej Šter, the head of the Foreign Ministry's consular service, admitted there were problems. "In Slovenia, a foreigner is directly and indirectly considered a security problem and is treated as such. They need to be read, their background checked. Clerks are told to do detailed investigation on them," he said.

State institutions should understand that the "situation as it is now cannot be solved". He proposes several changes, including processing of foreign parties in Slovenia rather than "sending them to be fingerprinted in Ankara". Another problem is an "unbalanced and meagre diplomatic network".

The head of the Trade Union of State Bodies, Frančišek Verk, who was in the audience, said that pay was low, state bodies understaffed and employees under pressure. He was critical of the politicians who he said had in the past ignored warnings that the situation would get worse.

14 Apr 2022, 07:50 AM

STA, 13 April 2022 - Masks will no longer be mandatory in public spaces as of Thursday under a government decision that keeps the mask mandate only in hospital and care facilities. Mask use is still recommended, especially for the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

The government advisory group for Covid-19 initially proposed that the mask mandate be lifted once the total number of Covid patients in intensive care units drops below 35 for seven consecutive days, which trends suggest would have happened in about a week.

The government has however decided to speed things along given that Covid has been in retreat for some time. ICU cases have been below 35 for two days now.

The mask mandate was the only major restriction still in place, but even that has already been loosened since it was waived for schools in early March.

The mask mandate was first introduced in March 2020 and save for a brief intermission in June the same year the restriction has been in place to varying degrees since then.

At one points masks were mandatory outdoor as well, a measure that proved hugely unpopular.

Infectious diseases specialist Bojana Beović and Milan Krek, the head of the National Institute of Public Health, said today masks have been one of the key public health measures during the pandemic.

Without masks the figures would have been far worse, especially before vaccines were available in sufficient quantities, Krek stressed.

09 Apr 2022, 17:18 PM

STA, 9 April 2022 - An adult male lynx arrived from the Carpathian Mountains in Romania to the Snežnik plateau on Friday and is adjusting to the new environment in an enclosure. It is the ninth lynx to have arrived from Romania, said partners to the LIFE Lynx project, striving to preserve the Dinaric-Alpine lynx population.

According to LIFE Lynx website, the lynx male will be cared for by hunters from the Jelen hunting area. "At this point it is important not to disturb the lynx, because this is a very timid wild animal," they said.

The location of the enclosure has not been made public and people have been urged not to approach it. The area is under video surveillance, and hunters and inspector also patrol the area.

This is the ninth lynx that has been moved from Romania to Slovenia and Croatia since the spring of 2019. Weighing 27 kilogrammes, it is also one of the largest to be moved as part of the LIFE Lynx project. It shares the first place with lynx Tris, which was moved to Slovenian Alps last year.

The new lynx does not have a name yet and is to be named in cooperation with the centre for large carnivores Dina Pivka.

08 Apr 2022, 11:29 AM

STA, 8 April 2022 - A new creative centre that is emerging from the defunct Ljubljana bicycle factory Rog will open its doors in the summer of 2023. Rog Centre will promote cultural and creative activities, especially product making, applied arts, architecture and design.

The building of the former factory, which at the end of the 19th century housed a tannery, is part of Ljubljana's key industrial heritage and will as such be preserved at the new centre, deputy head of Rog Centre Renata Zamida told the press on Thursday.

The new creative centre will feature seven production labs, including for textile, wood processing, ceramics and glass, and green and culinary labs, for which there will be a membership fee similar to a library fee.

A total of 25 production facilities will be available free of charge based on calls for applications. The use of the facilities will be limited to three to four years. The first call is to be published this autumn.

Five residential areas will be available to users from other countries, also to encourage a cultural exchange with their countries.

The centre will also have a large area for socialising and exhibitions, a library and cafes. There will also be two smaller shops where products manufactured at the labs will be sold.

The building will have four floors and a total of 8,500 square metres. Outside the building a park will stretch at 8,000 square metres.

The building will have a solar roof and will be partly energy self-sufficient. The centre will be open around the clock.

A car park will be partly used by the centre users and partly rented out to near-by residents.


How it might look. Image:

The Rog building, where the first bicycles were made in 1953, was the first reinforced concrete building in Slovenia, according to Zamida. A part of its façade with elements of Czech Cubism will be preserved.

The investment is estimated at about EUR 20 million and the project is partly funded by the EU.

Meta Štular, acting director of strategic development and programmes, said a very diverse programme would be offered at Rog. It will be open and accessible to all citizens.

Particularly young women will be invited to head the technological labs, while older users will be encouraged to share their knowledge as mentors to Rog users.

Rog Centre was founded by the Ljubljana municipality last May. The renovation started after an autonomous social and cultural community was evicted from the premises in January 2021 with the help of police.

Meta Štular regretted that a solution had not been found through dialogue at the time and expressed hope that some of the former Rog users would return to the renovated centre.

There are guided tours of the construction site every first Thursday of the month.

04 Apr 2022, 11:38 AM

STA, 1 April 2022 - Slovenia is among the five European countries with the highest recorded concentrations of the PM 2.5 fine particulate matter, shows the latest annual assessment of air quality by the European Environment Agency (EEA).

The report includes the official data for 2020 and provisional data for 2021 on concentrations of key air pollutants measured at more than 4,500 measuring stations in 37 European countries.

The report says that 96% of the population of European cities was exposed in 2020 to concentrations of the PM 2.5 fine particulate matter that exceed the annual value of five micrograms per m3 recommended by of the World Health Organization (WHO).

The highest concentrations of PM 2.5 in EU member states were observed in Italy, Greece, Bulgaria, Slovakia, Poland and Slovenia.

In Slovenia, values between 11 and 17 micrograms of PM 2.5 particulates per m3 were measured at four measuring points - in Ljubljana, Maribor, Celje and Nova Gorica.

According to the EEA, the higher concentrations of particulate matter in these countries are mainly a result of burning of solid fuels such as coal and wood for heating in households and the use of fossil fuels in industrial production.

You can explore the data for cities around the EU here

31 Mar 2022, 14:29 PM

STA, 31 March 2022 - The third season of the Netflix hit fantasy drama series The Witcher will be shot in three European countries, including Slovenia. According to the unofficial website of the series, the cast and crew have already started gathering in Slovenia, and shooting is to start soon in the Alpine resort of Kranjska Gora.

The main stars of the series, Henry Cavill and Freya Allan, have already arrived in Kranjska Gora, according to The Redanian Intelligence website and social media posts by cavill.

After the ski resort in north-west of the country, the film crew is expected to move to Postojna. While the exact location of the shooting there is not known, the website notes that Predjama Castle near Postojna will be closed on April 5.

This coincides with the shooting of The Witcher, so the website notes that this could be one of the locations for the third season of the popular series, which has not been officially confirmed yet.

The new season of the series will also reportedly be filmed in Croatia, on the island of Krk and in the vicinity of the coastal city of Pula, and in Italy, reportedly in South Tyrol.

Based on the book series of the same name by Polish writer Andrzej Sapkowski, The Witcher is created by Lauren Schmidt Hissrich, and is set in a fictional land and tells a story about monster hunters with supernatural powers.

29 Mar 2022, 17:47 PM

STA, 29 March 2022 - Firefighters are fighting a major forest fire that broke out on Monday on the slopes of the Baba hill near Preddvor, about 30 kilometres north of Ljubljana. Army helicopters have been activated and now a water bomber from Croatia is to join the effort. A near-by village has been secured, but several firefighters have been injured.

According to the major of Preddvor, Rok Roblek, the priority had been to protect the village of Potoče and prevent even more damage as it will be substantial.

A lot of wood in private forests has gone up in smoke along with several holiday facilities, as the area is a popular hiking point, while additional damage due to erosion is expected later.

Some estimates suggest around 500-700 hectares of land has been affected. Yesterday, 250 firefighters were at the side and today about 100 are fighting the fire, said the head of the intervention, Andraž Šifrer.

The site is difficult to access, stones, rocks and trees are falling on firefighters and several have been injured while vehicles have also been damaged.

Web portal reported of three injured firefighters - two reportedly sustained minor injuries and in one case the degree of injuries has not been determined yet.

Two army helicopters are currently engaged in efforts to contain the fire and another is to join in this afternoon. Defence Minister Matej Tonin said after visiting the site that four helicopters would be secured on Wednesday.

The Kranj police department said that due to the extent of the fire a Croatian water bomber had also been activated. It is to take water from Zbilje Lake, which is half-way between Ljubljana and Preddvor.

According to Matija Zupančič, a pilot of an army helicopter, said strong winds had made firefighting efforts even more difficult yesterday.

Luckily, Černava Lake is close by, so water can be lifted quicker, he said. The army choppers can take 1,100-2,400 litres of water in one lift.

Bojan Kos from the Kranj police department told the press today that information gathered so far suggested that the fire had started on Monday at around 4pm just above the village and then spread towards the top of the hill and on its other side also due to the wind.

Firefighting efforts are expected to continue at least for a day or two, while rain is also forecast in the coming days.

29 Mar 2022, 12:02 PM

STA, 29 March 2022 - Slovenia recorded 4,412 new coronavirus cases on Monday, over a tenth fewer than the figure reported the same day a week ago as the downward trend continued for the fifth day running. Just one patient with Covid-19 died, Health Ministry has reported.

A total of 186 patients were still treated for Covid-19 at hospitals this morning, two more than yesterday. The figure includes 37 in intensive care, the same figure as reported yesterday.

The National Institute of Public Health estimates there are now just below 39,000 actively infected people in the country, roughly 260 fewer than the previous day but still almost 4,000 more than estimate a week ago.

The 7-day average of new daily cases dropped to 2,710, down 77 from the previous day and down 95 compared to the figure reported a week ago.

The 14-day notification rate per 100,000 people is now at 1,844, up by 11 from a day ago and up by 187 week-on-week.

Monday's cases were picked up from 2,018 PCR tests and 17,966 rapid antigen tests.

All the latest data on COVID and Slovenia

25 Mar 2022, 14:19 PM

STA, 25 March - The prices of residential real estate jumped by 15.7% in 2021, which is the highest annual rise since 2007, when a 20.4% rise was recorded, the Statistics Office said on Friday. Up the most were the prices of new apartments, which increased by 20.2%.

The prices of second-hand apartments were 18% higher, the prices of second-hand houses went up by 11.9% and new family houses were 3.1% costlier.

The total value of all residential real estate sold last year was up by almost a third compared to 2020 to EUR 1.6 billion. A total of 13,440 houses and apartments were sold, which is about 16% more than the year before, when transactions were the lowest in the last seven years because of Covid-19.

In the last quarter of 2021, residential real estate prices were up by 4.6% compared to the previous quarter, with the prices of second-hand apartments going up by 5.3% and of used houses by 3.3%.

The prices of second-hand apartments went up the most in quarterly comparison in Maribor, by 6.8%, while in Ljubljana they increased by 4.5%.

New apartments and houses cost 12.9% more than in the third quarter, with the prices of new apartments rising by 4.9% and of new houses by 3%.

Transactions with houses and apartments in the last quarter totalled EUR 448 million, which is about 19% more than in the previous quarter and 36% more than in the final quarter of 2020. A total of 3,550 houses and apartments were sold or some 6% more than in the previous quarter and 15% more year on year.

A total of 3,500 second-hand apartments and houses were sold for EUR 430 million, which is up 17% in quarterly and 40% in annual comparisons.

In addition, 96 new houses and apartments were sold for some EUR 18 million, which is double the value of transactions in the previous quarter and down 20% compared to the final quarter of 2020.

More on this data

23 Mar 2022, 12:41 PM

STA, 23 March 2022 - Owners of hotels, hostels and self-catering tourist apartments have offered accommodation for around 600 refugees in a public call for applications issued by the Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants.

Talks with the 153 applicants are under way and it is expected agreements will be signed this week, the office told the STA.

The call for applications was published in early March and was open for providers who could offer accommodation for at least 20 persons.

As of last week there were more than 3,000 Ukrainian refugees in Slovenia. The majority are staying with relatives or friends, and there are two large groups housed at the Aliens Centre in Logatec and at Debeli Rtič, where the Interior Ministry has holiday facilities for employees.

21 Mar 2022, 13:05 PM

STA, 21 March 2022 - The municipality of Lendava in north-eastern Slovenia is working towards the restoration of a local railway service to Čakovec in Croatia, which was discussed at a recent meeting between representatives of local authorities. They plan to devise a project and are hoping to secure EU funding.

A railway link between Lendava and nearby Beltinci has been planned for some time, as has a new high-speed line between Zagreb and Čakovec in Croatia. Both sides see that as an opportunity to revive the railway service between Čakovec and Lendava.

This was discussed at a recent meeting between Lendava Mayor Janez Magyar, acting prefect of Croatia's Međimurje County Josip Grivec, and the head of the Union of Croatian Associations in Slovenia, Đanino Kutnjak.

The latter said that they will examine all the options and possibilities to re-establish a railway link between Čakovec and Lendava. He also explained that a tourist train used to run twice a week between the two towns, but the line was abolished a few years ago.

For the time being, the local authorities are considering restoring the tourist train service, which would run from Lendava to Čakovec on Wednesdays and in the opposite direction on Fridays, with additional trains available during special occasions and events in both towns.

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