News

06 Sep 2019, 11:15 AM

STA, 5 September 2019 - The government adopted on Thursday a first draft of Slovenia's priorities during its stint at the helm of the EU in the second half of 2021. The priorities are divided into three groups, focussing on a safe and sustainable EU which is based on the rule of law, State Secretary Igor Mally told the press.

 The priorities take into account Europe's key challenges, said Mally from the prime minister's office, adding the preparations for the presidency were in full swing.

Each of the three groups is further specified, explained Mally, the architect of the Marjan Šarec government's EU policy.

Security and international affairs will give a certain focus on the Western Balkans and on migration.

Efforts regarding the Western Balkans will focus on the region's development and economic progress as well as on its EU integration.

The second group will try to enhance the rule of law and the EU's basic values by modernising judiciary and improving cooperation between the judiciary and internal affairs organisations.

Asked whether the stalled implementation of the border arbitration decision on the part of Croatia would also be part of efforts related to the rule of law, Mally said he hoped "the arbitration matter" would be resolved before Slovenia assumed EU presidency.

The third set of priorities will give much focus to challenges of sustainable development, said Mally, pointing to the challenges of climate change and energy.

In this respect Slovenia will put great emphasis on social convergence, development of green technologies, digitalisation, circular economy and sustainable agriculture.

Mally said that depending on the situation in the EU, the draft priorities would be improved and changed until Slovenia assumes the six-month presidency on 1 July 2021.

Improvements and changes could be made due to Brexit, talks on the EU's next financial period, and due to the priorities to be set by the new European Commission.

In determining Slovenia's priorities, the government had in mind that a certain topic is of priority at EU level, that an area is important from Slovenia's aspect, and that its administration has the required know-how for it, he explained.

Mally said it was Slovenia's aim to get more active in the priority areas in the period leading to the presidency to raise its profile both in Brussels and elsewhere.

He added Slovenia was in intensive talks with Germany and Portugal, the other two countries forming a trio of EU presiding countries.

The fact is that some 80% of the presidency's agenda is inherited from previous presiding countries, so there is only a 20% leverage to stir the work of the Council of the EU and leave a mark, Mally said.

The government will brief parliament on the priorities and take into account its possible recommendations.

Slovenia's presidency is estimated to cost EUR 80 million.

06 Sep 2019, 09:30 AM

STA, 5 September 2019 - Slovenia is among the top EU member states in reducing the share of uncollected value added tax (VAT) revenue, or VAT gap, according to a study for 2017 released by the European Commission on Thursday.

Slovenia is among the seven EU countries which reduced their VAT gaps by two to four percentage points, with the country bringing it down by around three percentage points to 3.5%.

The most successful country in this respect was Malta, which reduced its VAT gap by seven percentage points, followed by Poland (six points) and Cyprus (four points).

In 2017, the biggest VAT gaps were registered in Romania (36%), Greece (34%) and Lithuania (25%), and the smallest in Sweden, Luxembourg and Cyprus, where the shares stood around 1%.

The study shows that the EU member states lost a total of EUR 137.5 billion in uncollected value added tax in 2017, which is EUR 8 billion less than in the year before in nominal terms.

That year, the amount represented 11.2% of total VAT revenue in the entire EU, which is one percentage points down compared to 2016, the European Commission said.

The trend of the decreasing VAT gap was observed for the fifth year in a row in 2017, and a preliminary estimate for last year suggests that the gap is to decrease further and drop below EUR 130 billion or 10% of the expected VAT revenue.

06 Sep 2019, 01:58 AM

Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also follow us on Facebook and get all the news in your feed.

A schedule of all the main events involving Slovenia this week can be found here

This summary is provided by the STA:

Slovenia's EU presidency priorities: Safe, sustainable bloc ruled by law

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a first draft of Slovenia's priorities during its stint as the presidency of the EU in the second half of 2021. The priorities are divided into three sets, focussing on a safe and sustainable EU which is based on the rule of law. Security and international affairs will give a certain focus on the Western Balkans and migration. Apart from measures to enhance the rule of law and basic EU values Slovenia will focus on dealing with challenges of sustainable development.

Minister reiterates police in control of migration

LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar is known for saying the Slovenian police are fully in control of migration. "If this was not the case, we would have more illegal migrants in the country, at railway stations, cities and abandoned buildings," he told the STA in an interview. "Slovenia being a safe country is a fact confirmed by international comparisons and many countries envy us on this," Poklukar said. He also praised police cooperation with Croatia and Italy.

EU asylum agency calls for faster procedures

BLED - The executive director of the European Asylum Support Office, Slovenian Nina Gregori, told the STA on the sidelines of the Bled Strategic Forum that asylum procedures should be made more efficient and swifter, and member states' standards for granting the asylum status should be unified. Gregori, who took over as the EASO head in June, said that the EU receives 50,000 requests for international protection per month on average. Last year's total exceeded 600,000.

Govt adopts amendments for effective legal remedy in public contracting

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted legislative amendments to provide effective legal remedy against infringements in public contracting procedures and boost the independence of the National Review Commission. The amendments will make it possible to challenge decisions by the National Review Commission in the Administrative Court. Candidates for commission members will be selected by a vetting commission appointed by the Judicial Council and endorsed by parliament.

Court of Audit rubbishes emergency departments project

LJUBLJANA - The Court of Audit lambasted the Health Ministry for poor planning of ten emergency departments around Slovenia, an EU-subsidised investment valued at around EUR 76 million. The project was not based on fact analysis, disregarded the geographical needs for new casualty departments, and was planned in such a way the departments could not be completed in time or within the budget. The court's report said that only 64% of all funds spent on the new departments (EUR 48.7 million) were by the book.

Conductor Zubin Mehta receives presidential decoration

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Borut Pahor conferred the Golden Order of Merit on the world-renowned Indian conductor Zubin Mehta, who was recognised for his contribution to music and the inspiring effort to connect people and nations with this form of art. The ceremony came ahead of a concert by the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Mehta, which wrapped up the 67th Ljubljana Festival.

Filmmaker Andrej Zdravič wins Badjura Award

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian independent filmmaker and sound artist Andrej Zdravič will be honoured with the Badjura Award at the opening of the 22nd Slovenian Film Festival in Portorož on 17 September. Despite focussing on different subjects, resorting to different approaches and using different technologies, Zdravič's films are "an integral whole". Zdravič, 67, has made almost 40 films, as well as several video installations, which explore life and nature in relation to human and his or her spirituality.

Slovenia among top EU countries in reducing VAT gap

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia is among the top EU member states in reducing the share of uncollected value added tax (VAT) revenue, or VAT gap, according to a study for 2017 released by the European Commission. Slovenia reduced its VAT gap by around three percentage points to 3.5%. The most successful country was Malta, which reduced the gap by seven percentage points. The trend of the decreasing VAT gap was observed for the fifth year in a row in 2017, and is estimated to have decreased further in 2018.

Postal operator cleared to acquire logistics company Intereuropa

LJUBLJANA - Pošta Slovenije, the state-owned postal operator, received clearance from the Competition Protection Agency to acquire logistics company Intereuropa. The postal company acquired a 72% stake in Intereuropa from six banks in May and is now expected to publish a takeover bid for the outstanding stock. The value of the deal has not been disclosed, but the business daily Finance has reported the transaction being in EUR 40 million range, or EUR 100 million together with debt.

Visiting Ljubljana? Check out what's on this week, while all our stories on Slovenia, from newest to oldest, are here

If you're learning Slovenian then you can find all our dual texts here

05 Sep 2019, 16:52 PM

September 5, 2019

Every second Sunday in September, hikers from the three countries at the north-western triple border (Tromeja) of Slovenia, Italy and Austria, gather at the top of the 1508m high Peč hill above Rateče and celebrate life with goodwill, polka, food and stunning views.

 

This year the event has been postponed for a week due to the bad weather forecast. The 40th meeting at Tromeja will therefore take place on Sunday, September 15.

On the Slovenian side of the border the event begins at 08:00, when hikers gather in front of Šurc Guesthouse in Rateče from where they then hike to Tromeja, where food and drinks will be on offer from 09:00, music will be playing and a traditional meeting of mayors from all the three countries will take place. The programme will conclude at 17:00.

 The event is organized by the Rateče - Planica, Podklošter and Trbiž Tourist Associations.

 

05 Sep 2019, 13:22 PM

STA, 5 September 2019 - Interior Minister Boštjan Poklukar is known for saying the Slovenian police are fully in control of migration. "If this was not the case, we would have more illegal migrants in the country, at railway stations, cities and abandoned buildings," he told the STA. He said the country was cooperating well with Croatia and Italy.

 "Slovenia being a safe country is a fact confirmed by international comparisons and many countries envy us on this," Poklukar said in an interview with the STA.

He believes that the statistics on the foreigners apprehended prove that police are on top of things.

Slovenia has apprehended more than 9,600 people this year and some 460 persons have been returned to Slovenia from Austria, Italy and Hungary. Poklukar believes this shows that only few people avoid being caught.

He pointed to the beefed up security measures such as additional fences on the border and high resolution systems of video- and thermal cameras.

According to the minister, police are also successfully preventing migrant smuggling by individuals and criminal rings mostly from the Balkans and Slovenia.

Investigators have formed special task forces to deal with this and police are cooperating well with Frontex, Europol and Interpol.

Poklukar also praised cooperation with other countries. Cooperation with Croatia has improved significantly since the 2015 and 2016 mass migrations, he said.

Slovenian police officers are cooperating in mixed patrols with Croatian and Italian counterparts. The deal on the mixed patrols with Italy envisages such cooperation until the end of September.

"We are evaluating the situation on a daily basis and I have found them to be successfully preventing illegal human trafficking," Poklukar said about the patrols.

He is confident that the success of Slovenian police will be recognised by Italy. He reiterated Slovenia opposed a fence on the Slovenian-Italian border for historical reasons and because it would disturb the lives of locals.

The country is also bothered by the fact that Austria continues to conduct controls on its border with Slovenia, an issue Poklukar plans to discuss with his Austrian counterpart in Ljubljana next Monday.

According to the minister, Slovenian police are also monitoring the migration flow in Balkan countries, in particular in Bosnia-Herzegovina, and are helping protect the borders in Serbia and North Macedonia.

Four new police attaches are to be deployed to Skopje, Rome, Zagreb and Vienna shortly.

Asked whether the mass influx of migrants such as the one Europe witnessed a few years ago could happen again, Poklukar said that there was some fear that the migration flow would enhance every autumn due to upcoming winter but not in the scope as in 2015 and 2016.

He said Slovenia was ready for a potential influx and expected Croatia to protect the EU's external border as efficiently as Slovenia is protecting the Schengen border.

05 Sep 2019, 11:41 AM

UPDATE: Due to bad weather, Open Kitchen will be cancelled in Ljubljana Koper this week (September 6 and 7, 2019)

Open Kitchen (Odprta kuhna) is a regular Friday event in Ljubljana during the warmer months, giving people the chance to sample the delights of dozens of restaurants in the open air, with a lively atmosphere that brings together locals and visitors from an early lunch to late dinner. This year it’s also visited Celje, Nova Gorica, Ptuj and Novo Mesto, and this Saturday, 7 September, it comes to Koper.

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From 11:00 to 21:00 in Carpacciov trg visitors can enjoy a remarkable variety of food and drink, with dishes from Slovenia and beyond, including Turkey, China, Mexico, and Thailand. In addition to the savoury snacks and meals there will also be desserts and drinks, including a wide selection of craft beers and wines.

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If you’ve been to another Open Kitchen event then you’ll know the variety offers something for everyone, and that half the fun is walking around and seeing what’s available, the other in eating outside with others, enjoying the sights, sounds and aromas of a lively food market. If you’re in Koper this Saturday, then be sure to take a look and go hungry – you won’t be disappointed.

Related: An interview with Lior Kochavy, co-founder of Open Kitchen

05 Sep 2019, 09:27 AM

STA, 4 September 2019 - President Borut Pahor has addressed a renewed appeal to Croatia to accept the final ruling of the arbitration tribunal on the Slovenian-Croatian border, indicating that this would affect the Slovenian government's decision on its membership of the Schengen zone.

Croatia must foremost meet all technical criteria to join the Schengen zone, but the Slovenian government will "sooner or later have to accept a decision on that after the European Commission has assessed that Croatia is close to meeting all the conditions," he told the press after a meeting with the Croatian and Austrian presidents in Croatia on Wednesday.

He said that dialogue would be necessary at that point, but Slovenia's decision would be made easier if Croatia fulfilled its obligations with regard to the border. "This is perhaps an invitation to our Croatian friends to think about that in the coming months," Pahor said.

Asked to comment on the statement, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said she was confident about the support of all member states when it came to Schengen zone membership, since this was in the interest of everyone. She reiterated Croatia's position that Slovenia and Croatia are friendly countries capable of overcoming open issues.

President Pahor was also quizzed about why Slovenia is erecting additional fencing on the border with Croatia. While he said it was his "great and sincere wish that ... the Slovenian government can remove the technical obstacles from the Slovenian-Croatian border," he noted that in the absence of a European policy, each country was resorting to tackling illegal migrations independently.

The statements came after the traditional annual meeting of the Austrian, Croatian and Slovenian presidents, which focused on the future of the EU and enlargement of the bloc, Croatia's EU presidency in 2020, the Three Seas Initiative and climate change.

Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen expressed the belief that in October the EU will okay the start of membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia. As for Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, he said they were having more problems.

All our stories on the border dispute are here

05 Sep 2019, 01:25 AM

Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also follow us on Facebook and get all the news in your feed.

A schedule of all the main events involving Slovenia this week can be found here

This summary is provided by the STA:

Pahor urges Croatia to accept arbitration to facilitate Schengen membership

ŠIBENIK, Croatia - President Borut Pahor has addressed a renewed appeal to Croatia to accept the final ruling of the arbitration tribunal on the Slovenian-Croatian border, indicating that this would affect the Slovenian government's decision on its membership of the Schengen zone. Croatia must foremost meet all technical criteria to join the Schengen zone, but the Slovenian government will "sooner or later have to accept a decision on that after the European Commission has assessed that Croatia is close to meeting all the conditions," he told the press after a meeting with the Croatian and Austrian presidents.

Draft energy and climate plan improved

LJUBLJANA - The Infrastructure Ministry released an improved draft of the National Energy and Climate Plan, a key document setting the course of action for ten years until 2030, which should be sent to Brussels by the end of the year. The new draft sets down various scenarios serving as a basis for an environment impact assessment to which it will be subjected before being sent into public consultation. What is new is the country's goal to increase the share of renewables to "at least" 27% by 2030, as opposed to "a 27% share" in the first draft.

Activists accuse Slovenia of violating asylum law

LJUBLJANA - A group of activists helping asylum seekers accused Slovenian police of systematic infringement of international conventions by pushing illegal migrants back to Croatia and preventing them from filing asylum applications. Asylum Taskforce claims that refugee camps in Bosnia and Herzegovina are full of people who had been pushed back across the border, often in very violent ways. It claims Slovenia and Croatia have established a peculiar system of refoulement circumventing EU law.

Iran official rules out negotiation with US until sanctions are lifted

BLED - Iran does not see a chance of negotiation with the US until the US returns to the Iran nuclear deal and until it lifts sanctions, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi has told the STA. He believes it is still possible to save the historic 2015 deal, but it will not be easy. The Iranian diplomat, who talked to the STA on the sidelines of the Bled Strategic Forum, said that saving the deal would require real determination on the part of the remaining signatories.

Coalition and Left closer on health insurance issue

LLJUBLJANA - The ruling coalition and the opposition Left, which has been threatening to withdraw support for the minority government, have brought closer together their views on the Left's proposal to abolish top-up health insurance by folding it into mandatory health insurance as of 2021. The opposition party wants to reform voluntary health insurance, which is paid as a flat-rate contribution of slightly EUR 30-plus a month regardless of one's income. Detailed calculations are yet to be made taking into account long-term macroeconomic and demographic projections, Health Minister Aleš Šabeder said after today's meeting. Talks will be resumed next week.

Abanka Group profit down 32% in first half of 2019

LJUBLJANA - Abanka generated EUR 26.3 million in group net profit in the first six months of the year, 32.3% less than in the same period last year. Net interest revenue was down by 0.5% and net non-interest income by 19.5%. Group total assets amounted to EUR 3.76 billion, after standing at EUR 3.73 billion at the end of December. The bank's supervisory board got acquainted with the results on Tuesday.

Slovenia's tourism up in global competitiveness ranking

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia is up five spots in the latest biannual global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, standing at 36th place among 140 countries surveyed by the World Economic Forum (WEF). In the 2019 survey, Slovenia scored an average of 4.3 out of seven points based on assessments in 14 elements of competitiveness in four key categories. Slovenia fared the best in environmental sustainability, placing 8th. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek commented by saying that Slovenia was on the right track in the field of tourism.

Two Slovenian researchers get prestigious ECR grants

LJUBLJANA - Two Slovenian researchers are among the 408 recipients of the latest round of starting grants awarded by the European Research Council (ERC) to early-stage researchers. Nejc Hodnik from the Chemistry Institute has received EUR 1.5 million for a five-year project called 123STABLE, which focuses on the development of very stable nanostructure electrocatalysts. Matjaž Human from the Jožef Stefan Institute will get EUR 1.5 million for a five-year project that will explore whether it is possible to successfully integrate lasers into living cells.

Show on govt art collection from 1930s to open in Ljubljana

LJUBLJANA - Works of art made in the 1930s in Dravska Banovina, a province covering some two-thirds of Slovenian lands in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, will open tonight at the National Gallery. Over 70 paintings, sculptures and drawings by Slovenian realists and impressionists from the decade preceding World Word II will be on show. Art for New Days. Dravska Banovina's Collection is the fourth in a series of exhibitions from the Government's Art Collection, which the gallery has kept since 1986.

Slovenia's jobless total down 5.8% at annual level in August

LJUBLJANA - After ticking up in July, Slovenia's jobless total declined to 71,544 in August, a drop of 0.4% over the month before. Year-on-year, the figure declined by 5.8%, show Employment Service figures. Almost 4,300 registered as newly unemployed in August, a significant drop from July and a tenth less than in August. While roughly 3,000 previously registered as unemployed got jobs, this is about a tenth less than in July or August 2018.

Visiting Ljubljana? Check out what's on this week, while all our stories on Slovenia, from newest to oldest, are here

If you're learning Slovenian then you can find all our dual texts here

04 Sep 2019, 18:38 PM

We got in touch with the woman behind the travel blog, and she was kind enough to answer some questions…

Where are from, originally, and why did you come to Slovenia?

I am originally from Pennsylvania, USA but I was traveling and living in various places and countries until I met my husband at a friend's wedding in Slovenia in 2016. I was living in England at the time.

What are some of the challenges you faced when you arrived here?

The language is definitely a challenge, so focusing on learning it as quickly as possible is the best advice I can give anyone moving here. I attended two courses and received private lessons, which definitely helped with the process.

Also, as a traveler, the connections for flights and trains in Ljubljana quickly changed my travel style. I now opt for more local sights or locations I can reach by car.

When did you start your blog, and why?

I started a travel blog back in 2015 but had a different name and content, it has since transformed into the Wandering Helene blog that exists today. When I first left Pennsylvania, my friends and family wanted to see what I was getting up to so I was posting lots of photos with short captions privately on Facebook, eventually I thought why not make this into a blog? I've always loved blogs and wanted one of my own so it was a natural fit.

How do get ideas for content?

I write about experiences I have had personally. I don't usually go into a trip thinking I want to write about this specific topic. I keep an open mind, observe and take notes, and when I return home I reflect on my experience and that is what I write about.

What is the goal of your blog?

I want to inspire people to travel and not just to tick off a list, but to really learn about a new place, try the foods, speak to people, and fully experience it, not just use it as a backdrop for photos. I also want people to reconsider local travel as an option, there is so much to see in our own backyards. Especially in Slovenia!

 What’s your day job, and how does it affect your blog?

I work in freelance so my job changes day to day, from writing to consulting to video editing. It is a really great fit with as I am always learning new things that can be applied to my blog. The only downside is that it does take time away from it.

What are some posts that your particularly proud of?

A Snow Day in Pokljuka, Slovenia is one of my favorite posts. It also happened to be award-nominated this year for the photography. This was a very unexpected last minute trip that ended up being one of the most beautiful days I've ever spent in Slovenia.

Participating in Food Rituals in Bologna, Italy is also another favorite of mine, but this might be because the trip was focused all around food. It was a really wonderful trip and I'm really happy with how the article turned out.

What are some locations you recommend in Slovenia, outside of Ljubljana and Bled?

If a friend asked me about visiting Slovenia and wanted something most travelers seem to skip I would suggest spending a day eating and wine tasting in Goriška Brda, hiking to the Triglav Lakes, and Velika Planina, although it is more and more popular – it is just so beautiful!

Where do you live, and what do you recommend there?

I live in Ljubljana and there are a lot of things I recommend. I even wrote a Wandering Ljubljana Guide that’s perfect for the first-time visitors.

Would you advise a friend to move to Slovenia?

If they really wanted to, sure. There are many pluses living here such as healthcare, safety, abundance of fresh food and clean water. Bu, moving to a new country is not as easy as many think, and it definitely won't solve your problems, so the decision should not be made lightly.

Do you think you’ll live here the rest of your life?

Who knows! I am not usually one to stay in one place for very long but so far I have no intentions of leaving.

Can you recommend another blog on the Slovenian scene, or some groups people might be interested in?

Let's Go Slovenia is a great resource and Marijana runs a Slovenia Travel Forum Facebook group that is great for discovering new places to visit. And Adele in Slovenia is great for reading about hikes around Slovenia.

I also run a small group called Ljubljana Ladies Create for women interested in content creation (blogging, Instagram, YouTube, photography, etc) and we meet at least once a month to chat about our current projects.  Another group that has been amazing for meeting new people has been Girl Gone International. I've been a  part of this group for years in different countries and we have an amazing chapter in Ljubljana with regular events.

You can keep up with Helene on her blog or on Facebook, and if you’d like to share your story with our readers please get in touch at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

04 Sep 2019, 17:40 PM

STA, 4 September 2019 - Slovenia is up five spots in the latest biannual global Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report, standing at 36th place among the 140 countries surveyed by the World Economic Forum (WEF). Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek commented on the improvement by saying that Slovenia was on the right track in the field of tourism.

In the 2019 survey, Slovenia scored an average of 4.3 out of seven points based on assessments in 14 elements of competitiveness in four key categories - enabling environment, tourism policy and enabling conditions, infrastructure and natural and cultural resources; two years ago, it placed 41st among 136 countries, down two spots from the 2015 survey, scoring an average of 4.18 points.

Slovenia fared the best in environmental sustainability, placing 8th, while standing in 15th place in terms of security. In infrastructure of road and maritime transport, the country is 20th, in natural resources in 26th, in tourism infrastructure in 27th and in importance of tourism in 33rd place.

In the field of tourism policy and the state of conditions for development, Slovenia placed 18th, which the Slovenian Tourism Board (STO) mostly attributes to the growth in importance of tourism.

Minister Počivalšek said as he commented on the report, released on Monday, that it proved Slovenia was on the right track. "We have an adequate strategy, good tourist services and rich natural and cultural heritage, which facilitates a successful sustainable development of tourism," he was quoted as saying by the STO.

The minister is the most proud of the report noting that Slovenia "remains the most competitive economy in the subregion".

Spain, France and Germany remain on the top of the travel and tourism competitiveness rankings, followed by Japan, the US, the UK, Australia, Italy, Canada and Switzerland.

The full report can be found here

04 Sep 2019, 15:55 PM

STA, 4 September 2019 - Iran does not see a chance of negotiation with the United States until the US returns to the Iran nuclear deal and until it lifts sanctions against Iran, Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi has told the STA. He believes it is still possible to save the historic 2015 deal, but it will not be easy.

The Iranian diplomat, who talked to the STA on the sidelines of the Bled Strategic Forum, said that saving the deal would require real determination on the part of the remaining signatories to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the deal is officially called.

He explained that when the US decided to leave the JCPOA 18 months ago, the three European signatories - France, Germany and the UK - asked Iran to stay in the deal and they will find practical solutions in order to compensate for the absence of the US and let Iran benefit from the lifting of sanctions.

"There are joint statements at the ministerial level between Iran and foreign ministers of the remaining participants in the JCPOA in which they committed themselves to find those practical solutions in eleven different areas, like banking, trade insurance, transportation, investment.

"But as a matter of fact they have failed to do that in the past 18 months, they have not been able to create even a single banking channel for their own companies to do business with Iran. I don't want to say they don't want it, but they are certainly not able to do that."

Araghchi notes that every deal is based on a balance between takes and gives. "Iran's gives are exactly the same, but Iran's takes are now next to zero because of the reimposition of US sanctions."

He says that a deal like that cannot last. "We need to restore a balance. What we expect from Europeans is to restore the balance ... create an atmosphere and mechanisms to let Iran enjoy from the benefits of the deal."

"Since that has not happened, we have started to reduce our commitments in order to restore the balance from the other way. We gave Europeans a whole year before we did that and we gave them enough chance, we gave diplomacy enough chance but it didn't work.

Iran is now reducing its commitments, but it does that "step by step, two months between each step, so there are still windows for diplomacy. I hope Europeans can use those windows to save the deal."

Araghchi welcomed the latest initiative from French President Emmanuel Macron to solve the situation, which he says has been developed in communication between Macron and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

"Now we have a better understanding of each other, we have made good progress but there are still some differences that we have to overcome," he said, adding that France too still needed to overcome differences with their own partners in and outside Europe.

The Iranian official does not see a possibility for Iran to sit down with the US at the moment, noting that Iran negotiated with the US, Russia, China and the three European countries in good faith.

"We concluded the deal in good faith and we implemented the deal in good faith and there more than 15 reports by the IAEA confirming Iran's full compliance to the deal."

"So what was the result - the US withdrawal from the deal, reimposition of sanctions and the policy of maximum pressure. So why should we negotiate with them any more? Our trust and confidence have been totally lost."

Iran would be willing to re-enter negotiation with the US if the US lifted the sanctions, especially oil and banking sanctions. "If Iran were able to sell its oil and take the money back, then we go back to the full implementation of the JCPOA."

Araghchi does not see a chance of a meeting between President Rouhani and US President Donald Trump as long as the maximum policy pressure is in place and as long as the US is out of the deal.

Commenting on relations with Slovenia, Araghchi said: "Slovenia and Iran enjoy a very good relationship based on mutual interest and mutual respect ... We have good economic relations, they could have been much much better if there were no US sanctions."

He noted untapped opportunities, adding that all channels between the two countries were open and active. He said that President Borut Pahor's successful visit to Tehran in 2016 helped the expansion of relations.

The Iranian official is having bilateral consultation at the Foreign Ministry in Ljubljana today.

In Bled? See our guide on how to spend from 4 to 48 hours there

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