News

07 Aug 2019, 02:03 AM

Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also ollow 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

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

This summary is provided by the STA:

Civil initiative says conditions at asylum centre unbearable

LJUBLJANA - A civil initiative providing advocacy for asylum seekers warned about allegedly unbearable conditions at Ljubljana's Vič Asylum Centre, accusing some security guards of intimidation and even alleging some of them are involved in organised smuggling of asylum seekers. Members of the Fight for Freedom initiative said that asylum seekers were accommodated in small, cramped rooms, get only the most basic medical services and have practically no access to public transportation. They also criticised lengthy procedures to get asylum or a work permit granted.

Two passenger train cars derail at Rimske Toplice

RIMSKE TOPLICE - Two passenger train cars derailed at the Rimske Toplice train station in the morning. There were no injuries, but the railway line between Zidani Most and Maribor, a major artery for international passenger and cargo traffic, was closed until the evening. The accident came just days after construction works started on and around the station. It is unclear at this point whether the construction works had anything to do with the derailing. Unofficial sources say that the accident could have been caused by a train car malfunction.

Businessman sought by Interpol willing to return home

LJUBLJANA - Sergej Racman, an erstwhile successful businessman who is wanted in Slovenia under an Interpol Red Notice alert for his alleged role in a prostitution ring, has expressed willingness to make himself available for proceedings running against him, provided he is allowed to preserve his dignity. "Racman is not on the run or avoiding criminal procedure to avoid his accountability in any way," his lawyer Nataša Pirc Musar said. She added that Racman did not report to law enforcement authorities because he had been living abroad since 2010, and that the European arrest warrant and the Interpol Red Notice were unnecessary.

Decision on TEŠ coal imports impact study to be re-examined

LJUBLJANA - The Environment Agency will have to examine again whether the Šoštanj power station (TEŠ) requires an environmental impact study for importing coal, after it decided it did need one. According to the newspaper Večer, the Environment Ministry has annulled the agency's initial decision in response to an appeal by environmental NGOs Focus, Greenpeace Slovenija, PIC and Umanotera. The NGOs disagreed with the the agency's decision that it was unnecessary to examine the impact of the imported coal on the environment.

Ljubljana pharmacies shut down by computer system failure

LJUBLJANA - Lekarna Ljubljana, Slovenia's largest pharmacy chain, has been forced to close down all of its shops for the day due to computer system problems. The city-owned chain would not explicate on the details of the failure, but they expect the pharmacies to remain closed until the end of opening hours on Tuesday. They hope to be able to open at least the round-the-clock unit situated next to the emergency department of the UKC Ljubljana hospital by around 8pm.

Government picks Expo 2020 pavilion constructor

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's pavilion at the global show Expo 2020 in Dubai will be constructed by the Riko engineering company and the KTNK architectural design firm. The project's value is estimated at EUR 2.45 million excluding value-added tax, according to the government's public procurement web portal. The government's call for applications set the upper limit for the contract at EUR 2.49 million. Riko and KTNK were the only ones to submit their offer before the deadline. They will have to design and construct the 15-metre-high pavilion in line with the chosen thematic concept. The Ljubljana-based Riko, managed by Janez Škrabec, will cooperate with architect Andrej Kotnik.

EU survey: Slovenians euro's strongest supporters

BRUSSELS, Belgium - The latest Eurobarometer survey has shown Slovenians are the strongest supporters of the euro is the entire EU, with as many as 88% of those polled favouring it. Slovenia is followed by Estonia and Portugal (both 85%) and by Finland and Ireland (both 84%), while support by 81% of respondents was recorded in Germany. The single currency enjoys the support of 62% of all EU citizens, the same as last autumn and the highest level since spring 2007.

Slovenia part of European e-mobility project

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's national grid operator ELES is involved in an EU-subsidised project designed to test how various innovative electric mobility solutions function in practice. The project is led by the French car maker Renault, while ELES is a coordinator in the part of the project concerning the electricity transmission system, ELES has said.Partners from eight countries will test seven solutions in five demonstration areas in the urban, peri-urban and rural environments.

Maribor and Pohorje increasingly popular tourist destination

MARIBOR - Maribor, Slovenia's second largest city, and the nearby Pohorje hills have not been at the top of tourists' to-do lists, but this seems to be slowly changing. In the first half of the year, more than 125,000 people visited the area, a 17% increase over the same period last year, the Maribor Pohorje Tourism Institute said. The results surpass the growth recorded on national level by 11 percentage points. The number of tourists who visited the city went up somewhat less than in the Maribor and Pohorje destination on the whole, by 7%.

New milestone set in Slovenian golfing

LJUBLJANA/LONDON, UK - Katja Pogačar, the best Slovenian golfer, has become the first Slovenian to make it to one of the five major golf tournaments in the world. In what is her third year as a pro, Pogačar appeared at the British Open last week. She ended two strokes short of the cut but is feeling upbeat about future prospects, including for the Olympics. The 24-year-old made it to the prestigious tournament, which reserved EUR 2.7 million in prize money for the female golfers this year, on account of placing 27th in the European tour rankings.

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

06 Aug 2019, 19:42 PM

I was given a bag of coffee the other week by a friend, and was surprised not only by its quality, but by the fact that it was roasted, ground and packed by an Italian man living in Logatec. Always curious to learn more about other foreigners and their lives and businesses here, I sent Rodolfo Di Giamberardino, of Rudy’s Quality Coffee, some questions, which he was kind of enough to answer…

Where do you come from, and why did you move to Slovenia?

I come from Luco dei Marsi, a small town in the region of Abruzzo, about 90 km from Rome.

After I finished high school I moved to Rome to study Economics. I stayed in Rome for eight years and then found job in Parma. After that I was offered a job in Milan in a financial company.

While I was there I met my wife, who is Slovenian. We become a couple and had long distance relationship for two years. One weekend I came to Slovenia and other she went to Milan, but because that kind of relationship is very stressful and it takes a lot of energy we decided to make a step forward.

As I was already a “nomad”, used to living in different cities while she had lived in her hometown all her life. I asked my company to transfer me closer to the Slovenian border, aiming for Trieste, but they gave me opportunity to work in Castefranco Veneto, in the region of Veneto, which I took.

Our relationship became easier, but the distance was still too long. We lived like this for over two years, but then we ran out of energy and so I quit my job and moved to Logatec. That was four years ago now.

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What’s your business, and how long have you been running it?

After a period of living here and deciding what to do, and knowing that I could not do the same work as in Italy, I came across a man who was importing a brand of Italian coffee in Slovenia. That gave the idea, and I started research everything about coffee.

I went to a coffee academy in Florence where I took courses in a traditional Italian roasting company, in order to learn the steps of coffee roasting and blending following the different roasting profiles, brewing, with different coffee types, different temperatures and different methods, the cupping technique used for professional of coffee tasting, especially in the world of specialty coffees, and with all that the world of coffee opened up for me.

On the way back to Slovenia I decided that I wanted to be in this business, so I bought my first roasting machine. I started to roast green coffee, and almost two years ago I opened my own micro roastery and online shop, called Rudy´s Quality Coffee.

I buy green coffee, just high quality specialty coffee and blends, then I roast it, pack it and finally sell it. Every Saturday you can also find me in local market in Logatec, as for me is very important to have contact with people so I can explain the different types and profiles of coffee. It gives me a great satisfaction when a person who their whole life has drunk industrial coffee changes to Rudy’s Quality Coffee.

What was your experience of starting a business here?

My experience of opening the business here is positive, for sure I had some problems, but I think that in Italy would be more difficult. Now my plans are to grow sales and have opportunity to let people wake up with my coffee.

What were your first impressions of Slovenia, and how do they compare with what you think now?

I first came here 10 years ago in winter time, when there was really a lot of snow. In fact it was snowing two days in a row so my wife gave me shovel and I had to clean the snow all around the house. Quite an experience. I had backache the whole week. So my first impression was not really nice, luckily the winter ended and the second impression was much nicer – I noticed how clean the country was.

I think Slovenia changed in the last 10 years and is becoming better known, so now I think there are already too many tourists. I hope it doesn’t lose its charm.

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What has been your experience of culture shock in Slovenia?

Not so much culture shock. I would say the main difference is how the people take coffee. Here was the first time I drank Turkish coffee, which for me was a completely new thing. Also in bars in Italy we are used to drinking coffee quickly, and here people in bars take their time, they sit for a half an hour or more… Another thing that I noticed was that in pizzerias the waiter brings ketchup and sometimes also mayonnaise with the pizza, which for an Italian is incredible. And after pizza/ lunch/dinner they order also cappuccino.

Have you learned learn Slovenian?

I took classes in the Slovenian language but it’s really very difficult, and also I am not very talented at languages. The problem is that my wife speaks good Italian, so we continued to speak in Italian, and that was a big mistake. I still try to speak Slovenian with Slovenes, although I know I make a lot of mistakes, but I speak anyway.

Where are some of your favourite places to visit here?

Slovenia has a lot of beautiful places, but I really like Bohinj, Kranjska Gora, Posočje, Goriška brda, Kras, and the river of Nadiža. These are places that really impress you.

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How do you feel about Slovenian food and drink?

Slovenian wines are very, very  good, my favourite is Rebula. The beer is also excellent. As I come from Italy, where  everything is all about food, I can also say that that Slovenian food is not bad, except kislo zelje and štruklji, but I like all sorts of soups, krvavice, žlikrofi, golaž.

What things frustrate you about life in Slovenia?

The people are not very welcoming. The relations are more impersonal and people are very serious. They don’t smile and are sometimes unfriendly.

What things delight you?

Nature, beautiful scenery, the tranquillity, and also the position of Slovenia is perfect for travelling around Europe.

Do you think you’ll stay in Slovenia for the rest of your life?

Well, I want to die in Italy. But as my wife is very static and doesn’t want to move from Slovenia, for now I see myself here.

Would you advise a friend to move to Slovenia?

Absolutely.

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You can learn more about Rudy’s coffee and order online. His coffee is also available every Saturday at the market in Logatec.

06 Aug 2019, 18:50 PM

STA, 6 August 2019 - A civil initiative providing advocacy for asylum seekers has warned about allegedly unbearable conditions at Ljubljana's Vič Asylum Centre, accusing some security guards of intimidation and even involvement in organised smuggling of asylum seekers. Security firm Varovanje Galekom denies all the accusations.

The Fight for Freedom/La Lutte de la Liberte group gave a news conference on Tuesday in front of the asylum centre, located in the south-west in Cesta v Gorice Street, after a recent fight between asylum seekers and security guards which involved a knife.

The initiative suspects some of the Galekom security guards are involved in organised smuggling of asylum seekers.

The Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants, responding to the news conference, said an asylum seeker had notified it of the alleged smuggling last month, which was then reported to the police.

The Ljubljana Police Department confirmed for the STA several persons were being investigated, but provided no details as the investigation is in the preliminary stage.

According to the civil initiative, the asylum seeker who had reported the suspicion of human smuggling was intimidated by some other security guards, who also denied him medication.

The foreigner's medical conditions eventually worsened, as a result of which he was involved in three fights, including the most massive one on 25 July, which also involved the police, the initiative said.

The police detained two foreigners involved in the incident. One of them was sent to the Centre for Foreigners in Postojna, south-west, which he cannot leave, so he started a hunger strike.

The initiative believes the asylum seeker was moved to Postojna because he had complained about the smuggling of people, and was deprived of freedom for what he had seen.

This was denied by Katarina Štrukelj, the acting head of the government office. She said the two things were not related, explaining the asylum seeker was moved to Postojna because of inappropriate conduct and violent behaviour.

She said the 25 July incident took place after the foreigner came to the reception desk complaining he could not sleep, and lied on the floor with a knife wrapped in a towel.

When the security guards tried to take his knife, he got violent, so the police were called in, and did its job, Štrukelj said in a press release.

She said the cooperation between the asylum centre and the security firm was good, adding three security guards deemed unfit for the job had been replaced.

Galekom confirmed this, saying some security guards were evaluated as acting outside the set rules already in June, so the security firm took action against them.

It strongly rejected the allegation its staff acted brutally, explaining they had certain measures at disposal but resorted to them only when really necessary.

This was also the case with pepper spray in the 25 July incident, Galekom said, adding its staff "acted professionally with a focus on understanding and humanity".

It said the firm and security guard heads at the asylum centre's facilities took great care in carrying out their duties to avoid any abuse of security measures.

"No security guard yells at people at the asylum centre, abuses them or treats them inappropriately."

Galekom added asylum seekers were aware no sharp objects were allowed on the premises, so it intends to file a criminal report against the asylum seeker.

Štrukelj also said some asylum seekers suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder, so events such as these did happen, "but not very often at the annual level".

Meanwhile, Jošt Žagar of the civil initiative said the asylum seekers with whom they were in touch could not appear at today's press conference.

"The boys ... are not allowed to leave the asylum centre today. Something is apparently being covered up."

Reading their statement in Arabic, English and Slovenian, members of the initiative also said asylum seekers were accommodated in small, cramped rooms, get only the most basic medical services and have practically no access to public transportation. They also criticised lengthy procedures to get asylum or a work permit granted.

But apart from the criticism, the initiative also stressed not all security guards were violent.

It praised some for "doing their job in a very humane manner", and lauded the situation at the asylum centre's department for families.

The latest data from the office for migrants shows there were 313 asylum seekers in Slovenia yesterday, of whom the most at the asylum centre in Cesta v Gorice Street.

While this facility can accommodate 203 persons, there were 167 there on 5 August.

06 Aug 2019, 13:28 PM

August 6, 2019

On the last day of the Caribbean Cup and a day before the beginning of the World Championship on the island of Roatan in Honduras, the Italian freediver Alessia Zecchini dived to 112 metres in a constant weight category monofin dive on Monday.

Only one day earlier the Slovenian Alenka Artnik successfully reached a depth of 111 metres, taking the previous world record of 107 away from Zecchini.

The world record contest, however, seems to be far from over.

After last year’s unsuccessful attempt at 107 metres by Hanako Hirose of Japan, which ended with a blackout 15 metres under the surface, the world record battle seems to be turning into a duel between Artnik and Zecchini.

Nevertheless, following the incident with the Japanese diver Artnik expressed some concerns about her colleague’s wellbeing, and told the media that she would not take part in any world record attempts based on announcements of greater and greater depths at a single event. Artnik’s dive to 105 metres last year appeared to leave the athlete with several metres in her reserves, but she decided not to raise her goals to set a new record. She has announced that she will attempt to a dive to 113 metres in the upcoming World Championship, also held in Roatan, Honduras. According to the Championship’s current schedule, this dive should take place on August 8, 2019.

06 Aug 2019, 12:16 PM

Update: The railway is expected to reopen at 17:00 today (Tuesday, 06 August, 2019)

Two or three (reports differ) passenger train cars derailed at the Rimske Toplice train station at around 10:00 Tuesday morning, closing the railway line between Zidani Most and Maribor, a major transport link for both international passenger and cargo traffic. Around 200 people are said to have been on the international train, which was traveling towards Celje, although no injuries have been reported. A shuttle bus service is now being offered to replace the scheduled trains.

Updates to this story may be posted on the railway operator’s twitter account.

06 Aug 2019, 12:02 PM

STA, 5 August 2019 - The Jurišče village near Pivka in south-western Slovenia saw a mass wolf attack on sheep on Sunday. The Slovenian Farmers' Trade Union has announced a protest to draw attention to the issue of such attacks becoming more frequent, saying Slovenia could not cope with the current number of wild animals.

Between 15 and 20 wolves slaughtered 12 sheep during the night and injured another 10 despite protective measures, including fencing and shepherd dogs.

A number of injured sheep will have to be put down, and one of shepherd dogs was also hurt during the attack.

Without the dogs, the attack could have been even more deadly, Florjan Peternelj of the Farmers' Trade Union told the STA on Monday.

He pointed out that Slovenia could not handle so many wild animals as there are currently in the country, highlighting the recent spike in wolf and bear attacks.

According to studies, Slovenia can cope with some 100 bears and two wolf packs at most, he said, adding that any extra animals could not survive because of a lack of food.

There are some 100 wolves in Slovenia, and the attacks have been on the rise because Administrative Court orders on culling had not been carried out due to appeals by NGOs.

An emergency bill authorising hunters to shoot 175 bears and 11 wolves was passed in parliament in June. Some bears have already been culled, but no wolves.

In the wake of these attacks becoming increasingly frequent, the trade union will organise a protest in Velike Lašče, south of Ljubljana, on Saturday.

It invites, according to Peternelj, all affected farmers and people who would like to fight for a safer countryside.

All our stories about wolves are here, and bears are here

06 Aug 2019, 11:30 AM

STA, 5 August 2019 - Slovenia's 10-year bonds have recently traded at sub-zero rates on the secondary market for the first time ever, whereas the country had a hard time selling its bonds at a 7% rate during the financial crisis in 2013.

The yield on Slovenia's 10-year bond dropped below zero on Friday, dropping further to minus 0.06% today, the business daily Finance reported, quoting Bloomberg.

The drop to the negative territory is part of a broader trend of falling yields for euro-denominated state bonds witnessed over the past days.

It comes after the European Central Bank said it would further ease its monetary policy and amid raised uncertainties in the European and world economies, while investors are looking for returns elsewhere.

According to the MTS Bonds.com platform, the 10-year bond issued on 14 March and further expanded on 8 July trades at minus 0.01%.

When Slovenia secured another EUR 350 million in July to expand the original 10-year bond issue, which is due in March 2029, the bond had a yield of 0.157%.

If investors buy it on the secondary market now, they find it acceptable to get a lower return then they would pay for it today.

Nevertheless, this does not necessarily mean that a newly issued Slovenian long-term bond would also have a negative rate.

While sub-zero rates are new for Slovenia's long-term debt, its short-term bonds have traded at sub-zero yields for several years.

06 Aug 2019, 09:45 AM

STA, 5 August 2019 - Opposition New Slovenia (Nova Slovenija - NSi) head Matej Tonin presented on Monday the party's plans for the autumn congress, announcing an "overhauled and fresh" platform, and noting that the party was still willing to cooperate with the minority government. The party wants to position itself in the centre as it feels this is where it belongs.

Speaking at a press conference which also marked the 19th anniversary of the party, Tonin again expressed the readiness of the right-leaning conservative party to cooperate in projects with the ruling minority coalition.

The party is expected to confirm an overhauled platform in November. "The change will be directed towards positioning the NSi in the centre," Tonin said, adding that it would refer to the European system of content-based positioning of parties.

According to him, the party advocates centrist views both in terms of the economy and ideologically. "Of course, we are aware that our power depends on our roots," he said in reference to local committees of the party.

Touching on the programme, Tonin said it was inspired by the wish to create a new Slovenia, in which rules will be the same for all and where people will be able to live a decent life.

The 36-year-old, who took over at the helm of the party from Ljudmila Novak in January 2018, reiterated that the NSi was a connective party ready to cooperate. "But we will also accept the government coalition continuing with the set course."

Tonin said that he was in touch with the office of the prime minister, and that him and Prime Minister Šarec communicated when it came to major things in parliament.

The party, which was briefly in talks with the minority coalition before withdrawing to see the role of the coalition supporter assumed by the Left, sees possibilities for cooperation with the government on "a one law at time and one project at a time" basis.

"We don't want to sign any agreement, because the current coalition partners and the Left have the problem of the signed agreements not being implemented. Even the coalition MPs speak openly about this in parliament," Tonin said.

He assessed that the current cooperation between the government and the Left does not enable structural reforms and a development breakthrough. The NSi want reforms and cooperation mostly in healthcare, labour market and state investments.

Tonin would like to see a kind of a "partnership for development", which means that the opposition would be able to see and comment on proposed laws before they enter the formal procedure.

He nevertheless thinks that the Marjan Šarec government will be able to finish the term without major problems. "You can see that despite all the tensions, everybody is going forward peacefully and diligently," he added.

Tonin also said at the press conference that the NSi had prepared an interpellation motion against Education Minister Jernej Pikalo over the government-sponsored legislative changes cutting funds for private primary schools.

The changes stipulating that the state-approved curricula in private schools be 100% state-funded, while additional activities and services would get no state funding whatsoever, failed to get enough support in a re-vote in parliament in mid-July after being vetoed in the National Council.

Tonin said that the motion was shelved for the time being and said he had proposed to the minister to get back to talks with parties on how to implement the 2014 Constitutional Court decision ordering that funding be equalised with that for public schools.

While he said that the NSi would invite Pikalo for talks, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sport told the STA that the "minister is not acquainted with the content [of the interpellation motion], so he cannot comment on it."

When the changes to the act on organisation and financing of education failed to pass the re-vote, Pikalo said he would mount a new attempt at achieving consensus. But he thinks it will be difficult to get a majority in this parliament.

Tonin said today that if the talks were not successful, the NSi would file a legislative motion of their own. "Perhaps things will change now, because this is a new circumstance," he said in reference to the failed re-vote.

Keep up with Slovenian politics here

06 Aug 2019, 02:28 AM

Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also ollow 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

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

This summary is provided by the STA:

NSi wants a new Slovenia, to position itself in the centre

LJUBLJANA - Opposition New Slovenia (NSi) leader Matej Tonin presented the party's plans for the autumn congress, announcing an "overhauled and fresh" platform, and noting that the party was still willing to cooperate with the minority government. The party wants to position itself in the centre as it feels this is where it belongs. Speaking at a press conference, which also marked the NSi's 19th anniversary, Tonin again expressed the readiness of the right-leaning conservative party to cooperate in projects with the ruling minority coalition. Tonin also said the NSi had drawn up a potential interpellation motion against Education Minister Jernej Pikalo over the legislative changes cutting funds for private primary schools.

End of fixed-term jobs pushes up unemployment total in July

LJUBLJANA - The number of jobless registered with the Slovenian Employment Service rose by 1.6% in July to 71,850, mostly because their fixed-term contracts expired. The figure was still down 5.5% year on year. A total of 6,210 were registered as freshly unemployed in July, 50.4% more than in June, but 3.9% fewer than in July 2018. Employers posted 13,990 vacancies in July, 15.8% more than in June but 3.9% fewer than a year ago. The demand was highest for manual workers in manufacturing and for pre-school and primary school teachers.

Four human smugglers get 11 years in jail

KOPER - Four men from Koper have been sentenced to a total of more than 11 years in jail for transporting illegal migrants who crossed into Slovenia from Croatia in the south, a regional newspaper reported. According to Primorske Novice, the group went into the business of smuggling migrants early in 2018, joinig forces with a Croat who got in touch with a Koper man, now aged 29. The latter recruited three more men from the area, aged between 28 and 35. The group did their business as part of a criminal ring, whose other members gathered illegal migrants in the Zagreb area and organised their transport to the border with Slovenia.

Gen Energija management board gets second member

LJUBLJANA - The management board of Gen Energija, the state-owned energy utility that owns the Slovenian half of the Krško Nuclear Power Plant, has been expanded by a member, as director general Martin Novšak was joined by Danijel Levičar at the beginning of August. Levičar, a management board member at subsidiary Gen-I, was appointed business director by the supervisors in July. Gen Energija had had a single management board member in Novšak for 14 years, while state assets custodian Slovenia Sovereign Holding has been striving for at least two-member boards in state-owned companies.

Yield on Slovenia's long-term bonds drops below zero

LJUBLJANA/LONDON, UK - Slovenia's 10-year bonds have recently traded at sub-zero rates on the secondary market for the first time ever, whereas the country had a hard time selling its bonds at as high a rate as 7% during the financial crisis in 2013. The yield on Slovenia's 10-year bond dropped below zero on Friday, dropping further to minus 0.06% today, the business daily Finance reported, quoting Bloomberg. The drop to the negative territory is part of a broader trend of falling yields for euro-denominated state bonds witnessed over the past days.

SKB Group profit up 40% in H1

LJUBLJANA - The banking SKB Group generated EUR 34.2 million in net profit in the first half of 2019, which is 40% more than in the same period last year. This is due to good operating results and the easing of provisions and impairments. The group, comprising the bank and leasing arms SKB Leasing and SKB Leasing Select and about to be sold by the French group Societe Generale to the Hungarian OTP Bank Group, saw its operating profit rise by 18% to EUR 31.3 million. SKB Banka kept a 10% market share in the segment of loans.

Jure Cekuta, painter-cum-arms deal middleman, has died

LJUBLJANA - Jure Cekuta, a painter best known as one of the few individuals convicted of corruption in one of the biggest arms scandals in Slovenia, has died aged 67. Sentenced to four years and four months in prison in 2014, Cekuta spent the last years of his life in jail. He was temporarily released on health grounds last month. He was one of two persons in the Patria scandal to ever be found guilty in Slovenia, with several other trials, including the main trial involving opposition leader Janez Janša, either struck down or becoming statute-barred.

Freediver Artnik reaches new milestone

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras - Slovenian freediver Alenka Artnik has reached a new milestone. Plunging 111 meters into the Caribbean with a monofin, she beat the world record in the discipline by four metres to become the first woman to descend bellow 110 metres. Artnik made the dive in the warm-up for the World Freediving Championship taking place on the Island of Roatan in Honduras. Artnik is the main contender for gold, followed closely by Italy's Alessia Zechinni, the previous record-holder.

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

05 Aug 2019, 18:33 PM

Figures from Eurostat and the Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia (SURS) give slightly different results with regard to the number of Slovenes able to take a one-week vacation away from home in 2018, although both find that the figure is above the EU average.

SURS reports that 73% of Slovenian households could afford a one-week vacation away form home for all family members in 2018, the highest since such data started being collected (in 2005), and up one percentage point on 2017. More households in the Osrednjeslovenska statistical region (81%) were able to take a trip, while the lowest proportion was found for the Pomurska statistical region (61%).

The most common time for taking such a trip was the summer, July and August accounting for 18% of the total. The most common destination was Croatia (61% of all private trips made abroad), followed by Italy (7%), Austria (6%), and Bosnia and Herzegovina (5%).

Eurostat has also released data on the size of the EU population aged 16 or over could afford a one-week annual holiday away from home in 2018. Overall, the figure is 71.7%, an improvement on 2013, when just 60.5% of the population could afford a summer vacation. In contrast, Eurostat data finds that 78.2% of Slovenians were able to pay for a 7-day vacation

The countries with the most citizens able to travel were Sweden (90.3%), Luxembourg (89.1%) and Denmark (87.8%). At the other end of the scale, with the fewest individuals going on vacation away from home in 2018, were Romania (41.1%), Croatia (48.7%,), Greece and Cyprus (both 49%). The complete Eurostat dataset can be found here.

05 Aug 2019, 15:37 PM

STA, 5 August 2019 - Four men from Koper have been sentenced to a total of more than 11 years in jail for transporting illegal migrants who crossed into Slovenia from Croatia in the south, a regional newspaper reports.

According to Primorske Novice, the group went into the business of smuggling migrants early in 2018, after a Croat crashed a vehicle full of migrants into a Slovenian police patrol car before fleeing home.

The Croat allegedly got in touch with a Koper man, now aged 29, who recruited three more men from Koper and its vicinity. They are now aged 30, 35 and 28.

The group did their business as part of a criminal ring, other members of which gathered illegal migrants in the Zagreb area and organised their transport to the border with Slovenia.

The migrants crossed the border on foot with the help of guides, and two of the four Koper men then organised their transport ahead, performed by the other two defendants.

Facing the charges at the Koper District Court in the spring this year, two of the four pleaded guilty, the 29-year-old and the 28-year-old.

The latter was given a year and 8 months for transporting migrants twice. He will serve the sentence by performing 1,200 hours of community work. He was also slapped with a EUR 2,000 fine.

The 29-year-old was sentenced to eight and a half years for smuggling of migrants, reckless driving and abandoning an injured person in an accident, all of which happened during his arrest.

The other two pleaded not guilty. They were sentenced to three and a half and three years in prison and fines of EUR 1,000 and 2,000. The sentences are not yet final, Primorske Novice writes.

The four were involved in the illegal business between February and May 2018 in the areas of Ilirska Bistrica and Mlini in Istria.

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