If positive trends continue, return to normal life to accelerate
LJUBLJANA - Bojana Beović, the head of the Health Ministry's advisory task force for the coronavirus, indicated Slovenia may take bolder steps in easing restrictions if the the favourable trends regarding the Covid-19 epidemic in Slovenia continue until the end of the week. She said the epidemic was slowing down, as no more than ten new infections on a daily basis had been recorded since 30 April and the reproduction rate was below one. Government spokesman Jelko Kacin said that the cabinet would discuss an exit strategy and possibilities to relax certain measures later today.
Limited air service to Ljubljana expected in June
BRNIK - Although the ban on international air passenger transport with Slovenia was lifted as of today, passenger flights from Slovenia's airports are not expected before June. Lufthansa, Swiss and Brussels Airlines have already opened bookings on June flights. Air Serbia, EasyJet and Turkish Airlines are expected to launch flight in June as well, according to reports by several media. The Jože Pučnik Ljubljana Airport expects more action in July, but everything will depend on the epidemic-related developments in Europe and the economic recovery.
Only one person tests positive on Monday, no new deaths
LJUBLJANA - A total of 1,182 tests for Covid-19 were performed on Monday resulting in only one positive test to bring the total number of infections to 1,461. No deaths were recorded, with the death toll remaining at 102. A total of 40 patients diagnosed with Covid-19 were in hospital, nine of whom were in intensive care, show the figures released by the government.
Logar's judiciary comments spark reactions among MEPs, at home
LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar's critical comments attached to a report filed by Slovenia for the European Commission's first annual rule of law report sparked strong reactions at home and among Slovenian MEPs, most of whom see it as inappropriate Europe should be notified about domestic political issues in such a way. Criticism also came from junior coalition parties, in particular the Modern Centre Party (SMC), which said the report was based on credible and concrete data that showed the situation in the judiciary was in fact improving. Distancing herself from "letters written or signed by individuals", Pensioners' Party head Aleksandra Pivec said that if the coalition is distracted by ideological discord instead of focusing on concrete commitments, time would come for DeSUS to reflect whether it made sense continuing to cooperate in the coalition any further.
PM makes the case for confrontation with the media
LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša made the case for confrontation with the media in an essay entitled War with the Media, in which he argues that keeping silent while media wage war is not an option and has damaging effects on society. Arguing Slovenia needs more media plurality, he particularly took issue with public broadcaster RTV Slovenija as well as POP TV, writing that "the atmosphere of intolerance and hatred is created by a narrow circle of [female] editors with familial and capital ties to the pillars of the deep state and a handful of average and below-average journalists on demand who would not even make it as reporters from the produce market in a normal media outlet." For Janša, these are signs of totalitarianism. The letter drew strong criticism from several parties, including the fellow coalition SMC, which said it believes in the professionalism and independence of the media.
FM discusses pandemic, EU presidency with Dutch counterpart
LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Andraž Logar held a videoconference with his Dutch counterpart Stef Blok, discussing coordination of easing of restrictive measures designed to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. They discussed responses to the pandemic and Slovenia's upcoming EU presidency, the Foreign Ministry said. Logar said the Netherlands was an important economic and political ally to Slovenia, adding that the countries shared similar views on a number of EU-related issues. The ministers expressed the wish for the continuation of positive economic trends which have made the Netherlands the sixth largest investor in Slovenia, the ministry also said.
Committee backs amendment restricting environmental NGOs
LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Environment Committee approved changes to the nature conservation act that significantly limit the ability of NGOs to take part in administrative procedures representing public interest. The original proposal, filed by the opposition National Party (SNS) and coming after a similar change was adopted as part of construction legislation, ended up being softened a little amid warnings it would slash the number of NGOs recognised as representing public interest in conservation of natural environment from 47 to 5 and could potentially be unconstitutional. While some opposition parties spoke of an open attack on NGOs, the coalition argued investment was needed and was too often blocked by NGOs for selfish reasons. Several hundred protesters rallied against the amendment in front of parliament.
Complaint against Pahor, ministers over anti-epidemic rules rejected
LJUBLJANA - The prosecution has reportedly rejected a lawyer's criminal complaint against the president, the defence minister and the interior minister over them not wearing protective equipment and ignoring social distancing rules during a visit to the border river Kolpa, arguing that it could not be alleged that this had facilitated the spread of the coronavirus epidemic. Boštjan Verstovšek, who filed the complaint after Interior Minister Aleš Hojs urged the prosecution of street protesters during the epidemic, responded to the decision by saying it was also good news for "all others who were afraid of exercising their constitutional right to the freedom of assembly and expression because of the threats of criminal prosecution."
Chamber with several proposals for third coronavirus package
LJUBLJANA - The Chamber of Small Business (OZS) has drafted a set of proposals it wants included in the third coronavirus package of measures the government will start working on more intensively next week. The OZS would like more liquidity aid for small companies and sole proprietors, and a lower VAT for services in tourism and some other lines of small business. It would also like a solution to rent payment when a private business rents a place from a private owner after the government has recently helped those renting from the state. The OZS would moreover like the government to ease layoff conditions, and introduce measures to kick-start the construction sector.
Left expects broad support for ban on Sunday shopping
LJUBLJANA - The opposition Left has drawn up a legislative motion in a bid to keep stores closed on Sundays even after the end of the coronavirus epidemic. Considering support expressed from both sides of the political isle and part of the public, the party hopes the bill can be passed by summer. The Left drafted amendments to the trade act in response to a call by the Trade Union of Shop Assistants in its Labour Day message to keep stores closed on Sundays and public holidays beyond the epidemic. Appearing at today's press conference of the Left, the union's secretary general Ladi Rožič said that hundreds of union members wanted Sundays to be a day off for retail workers as well.
Instead of expansion, Brdo Hotel to get a facelift
BRDO PRI KRANJU - Brdo Hotel at the Brdo pri Kranju estate, where most EU presidency activities are due to take place, will not undergo a thorough renovation and expansion as initially planned, it will only get a facelift. After several rounds of bidding, the cost of renovation was declared as too high. The Government Secretariat-General told the STA on Tuesday that the hotel would only get a facelift, which is expected to be completed before Slovenia starts its presidency of the EU in the second half of 2021.
Nika Ham wins OHO Group Award
LJUBLJANA - Nika Ham, a painter who has shifted her focus to video, digital art and performance, has won the 2020 OHO Group Award for up-and-coming Slovenian artists. Ham has taken part in several group and solo exhibitions as a student, and has been the head of the graphic section of the LET'S CEE Film Festival in Vienna since 2016. She also collaborates with the band Laibach and works at Moderna Galerija, the national museum of modern and contemporary art.
Real-world exhibition explores alienation at time of isolation
LJUBLJANA - In one of the first real-world exhibitions to go on show following the reopening of Slovenian galleries, the Ravnikar Gallery Space in Ljubljana launched a solo exhibition by Nevena Aleksovski which explores alienation during coronavirus isolation and lockdown. Featuring drawings and paintings that have mostly been produced during the confinement within the four walls, the exhibition And then So Clear grapples with the questions of how human alienation is heightened by isolation.
Body of missing Polish student found in Soča
BOVEC - The body of a Polish exchange student who slipped into the Soča river on Sunday and was missing since has been recovered 100 metres downstream from the site of the accident, Nova Gorica police said. Police said the body had been found in a net near the village of Soča, where the 23-year-old went missing. The Polish national and four friends, all exchange students, had been staying at a camp site in the village of Soča, near the Great Soča Gorge, a popular destination for tourists.