News

23 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 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:

PM Šarec urges all-out effort to build second nuclear reactor

KRŠKO - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec visited Slovenia's sole nuclear power plant, calling for "investing all our efforts to build a second reactor" to replace the current one beyond 2043. "We need to invest all our efforts in this and set out to build a second reactor because in the future we will need ever more electric power, in particular if we want to be a development-oriented country," he said as he visited to the Krško Nuclear Power Plant. The existing reactor is slated for closure in 2043, by roughly which time the Šoštanj coal-fired power station TEŠ will have ceased to operate, so Šarec believes Slovenia needs to decide what energy policy it will pursue.

Insurance group Sava sees 60% rise in H1 net profit to EUR 22.6m

LJUBLJANA - The Sava Insurance Group, Slovenia's second largest, generated EUR 22.6 million in net profit in the first half of the year, a 59.3% year-on-year increase coming as gross premiums written were up 9.1% to EUR 336.8 million. In a regulatory filing with the Ljubljana Stock Exchange, the core company Sava Re said the profit growth was driven by high growth in premiums, higher cost effectiveness, higher returns of financial investment and benign claims developments in Slovenia. The increase in gross premiums is attributed to growth in non-life insurance in Slovenia (9.5%), non-life insurance abroad (18.2%), reinsurance (6.6%) and life insurance in Slovenia (1.5%).

EU to chip in EUR 101m for Maribor-Šentilj rail link upgrade

LUBLJANA - The European Commission confirmed that the EU Cohesion Fund is to contribute EUR 101 million for the renovation of the 16-kilometre rail section between Maribor and Šentilj on the border without Austria, the project worth a total of EUR 254 million. The Commission wrote it had taken into account the projected increase in traffic on the Baltic-Adriatic corridor that the section is a part of. The upgrade, which will also have positive economic effects, will increase the daily capacity of the section from 67 to 84 trains. EU Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc expressed the "hope this will convince people to leave their car home an opt for a greener transport option".

PM defends decision to buy four expensive armoured cars

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Marjan Šared defended the government's decision to purchase highly expensive armoured cars, which has raised some controversy in the media. He explained that the vehicles are intended for foreign delegations, and also pointed to the upcoming Slovenian presidency of the EU, which requires adequate protective measures. Šarec's comments came after the business paper Finance reported that the government had purchased last year four brand-new armoured cars, with two Mercedes S600, costing more than a million euro combined, standing out.

Slovenia still needs to realise Communism was bad, conference hears

LJUBLJANA - The Study Centre for National Reconciliation marked the European Day of Remembrance for Victims of Totalitarian Regimes with a conference at the Ljubljana cathedral. In her address, the centre's head, Andreja Valič Zver, said that Slovenia still needed to realise that all totalitarian regimes were bad. Slovenians did a much better job dealing with the consequences of Fascism and Nazism than with consequences of Communism, she said, adding that no member of the former establishment has been held accountable for their crimes.

Consumer confidence dampened by job outlook

LUBLJANA - Slovenia's consumer confidence deteriorated in August, mainly due to lower employment expectations. The index is two percentage points down on the month before and three points lower year-on-year, but still 12 points above long-term average. After a significant drop in the second half of last year, consumer confidence increased slightly at the beginning of 2019, remaining broadly flat since February, the Statistics Office said. The monthly decline in August was driven by a six percentage-point deterioration in consumers' expectations about jobs. "After two upbeat years, this year a majority of consumers expect an increase in unemployment in the next 12 months."

Good and bad news for aircraft maker Pipistrel

AJDOVŠČINA - Pipistrel, the Ajdovščina-based aircraft maker, posted a new success as the first woman ever crossed the Atlantic and Pacific solo on its ultralight aircraft. Aarohi Pandit, a 23-year-old from Mumbai, made history on Wednesday as she landed safely in Russia's Far East region of Chukotka, having flown from Alaska's Unalakleet city across the Pacific Ocean's Bering Sea. This happened however after one of Pipistel's two-seater all-electric planes was forced to crash land into a lake in Norway last week. Fortunately, no one was injured in the incident.

Kras wildfire put out

MIREN - The fire that broke out yesterday south of Nova Gorica and destroyed some 100 hectares of woodland has been put out, reported the Primorska Civil Protection, adding that some 30 firefighters remained at the site to make sure that the fire does not reignite. While 130 firefighters were battling the flames yesterday afternoon, 190 were in the site today, Primorska Civil Protection chief Samo Kosmač said. The firefighters, who worked on demanding terrain, had support from two helicopters. The damage caused by the fire is to be estimated in the coming days.

Tartini Festival kicks off at the seaside

PIRAN - The annual Tartini Festival, dedicated to the Piran-born Italian Baroque composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini, got under way with a performance by international ensemble Il Terzo Suono at the Piran St. George's Parish Church in the evening. The opening performance will include musical compositions by maestros such as Antonio Vivaldi, Giuseppe Tartini and Baldassare Galuppi. This year, the international music festival will be held in Piran and Koper until 8 September, with its final performance being hosted in Padua on 12 September.

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

22 Aug 2019, 17:26 PM

STA, 22 August 2019 - Prime Minister Marjan Šarec visited Slovenia's sole nuclear power plant in Krško on Thursday, calling for "investing all our efforts to build a second reactor" to replace the current one beyond 2043.

 "We need to invest all our efforts in this and set out to build a second reactor because in the future we will need ever more electric power, in particular if we want to be a development-oriented country," Šarec said during a visit to the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK).

"In light of the changes in the field of energy and a rethink about the future sources of energy, a decision will have to be made soon what direction Slovenia wants to take," Šarec said.

"With the power station's management we have established that Slovenia is definitely a nuclear country considering that NEK generates a significant portion of our electricity, and we'd soon feel its loss," the prime minister added.

The existing reactor is slated for closure in 2043, by roughly which time the Šoštanj coal-fired power station TEŠ will have ceased to operate, so Šarec believes Slovenia needs to decide what energy policy it will pursue.

"If we don't want wind farms or thermal plants and other sources of energy, we'll soon find that there's nowhere we can get energy from," said Šarec, calling for more effort to attain energy self-sufficiency.

The rate of unscheduled outages of NEK since 1983 has been reduced to virtually zero and the power station has been performing successfully, Šarec said. "Since becoming operational, the amount of energy it supplies has increased equal to an output of almost ten hydro power plants."

Šarec spoke to reporters after meeting NEK CEO Stane Rožman and Martin Novšak, the CEO of Gen Energija, the state-owned company that owns the Slovenian half of NEK. The pair were happy with the talks.

"I believe we have many opportunities to build a bright carbon-low future," Novšak commented, with Rožman adding that they had asked Šarec for his support in principle for their plans.

They also discussed the national climate and energy plan whose draft does not discuss nuclear energy, although the prime minister believes it should.

"I expect professionals to decide in the end because decision-making is too often left to those who are driven by emotions rather than by expertise," said Šarec, who sees positive effects of nuclear energy outweighing negative ones.

A decision on potential construction of a new reactor should be taken as soon as possible because it would take at least a decade from the time the decision is taken to when the reactor is built.

Gen Energija has conducted a number of studies to prove that the location and technology is right, while permits are still pending, and so is the project's zoning.

"There's also tenders, development permits, [planning] operation and decommissioning," said Novšak, who would like the national climate and energy plan to state clearly that the country would keep nuclear energy in the future.

Šarec also faced questions about the difficulties surrounding major infrastructure projects in Slovenia, admitting that TEŠ 6 generator was a "sad story", but would not speculate on who was responsible.

The biggest problem is the spatial planning of such projects, and there is the question of legislation. "Once we don't have a referendum on each thing because of everyone who has five minutes to spare, things will go in the right direction," he said.

The prime minister has not yet tested coalition support for a second nuclear reactor and would not speculate whether other countries could be involved in its construction and financing. "I will make the effort though that Slovenia remain independent energy-wise," he said.

Owned jointly by Slovenia and Croatia, the plant began operating at full capacity in August 1982, launching commercial operation in January 1983.

The foundation stone for the plant was laid in 1974 and construction started a year later. After the first phase of trial operation in May 1981, the plant transmitted first kilowatts of power into the national grid in October that year.

22 Aug 2019, 15:02 PM

STA, 22 August 2019 - The EU Cohesion Fund is to contribute EUR 101 million for the renovation of the 16-kilometre rail section between Maribor and Šentilj on the border without Austria, the European Commission confirmed on Thursday. The entire upgrade is valued at EUR 254 million.

The Commission wrote it had taken into account the projected increase in traffic on the Baltic-Adriatic corridor that the section is a part of. The upgrade, which will also have positive economic effects, will increase the daily capacity of the section from 67 to 84 trains.

The renovation will also increase safety and Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc expressed the "hope this will convince people to leave their car home an opt for a greener transport option".

Contractors for some of segments of the project have already been picked and some of the works are already nearing completion, while the deadlines for the renovation of two rail stations on the route and for the construction of noise barriers are set in 2020 and the end of 2021 respectively.

The Maribor-Šentilj rail link runs across the hilly terrain of Slovenske Gorice and through two tunnels. It was already built in 1846 as part of the Southern Railway between Vienna and Trieste.

The link however only has one set of rails and plans exist for a second one. The Slovenian Infrastructure Agency has told the STA the decision on this will be taken depending on the transport needs and will also have to taken in Austria, where one segment also only allows for a single train. The agency expects another set of rails will be needed by 2039 at the latest.

22 Aug 2019, 12:32 PM

STA, 22 August 2019 - Pipistrel, the Ajdovščina-based aircraft maker, has posted a new success as the first woman ever crossed the Atlantic and Pacific solo on its ultralight aircraft. This was after one of its planes crash landed in Norway.

Aarohi Pandit, a 23-year-old from Mumbai, made history on Wednesday as she landed safely in Russia's Far East region of Chukotka, having flown from Alaska's Unalakleet city across the Pacific Ocean's Bering Sea.

RELATED: Pipistrel Plane Makes Slovene Stop in 1st All-Female Flight Around the World

Aarohi, who is on a global flight in Pipistrel's single-engine Sinus 912 aircraft, had earlier already become the first woman in the world to cross the Atlantic Ocean and Greenland solo in a light sports plane.

Initially, the young pilot flew with her friend across India's Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Serbia, Slovenia, Germany, France and Britain.

However, since the tiny cockpit had to be equipped with a life-raft, oxygen system and other safety gadgets for the trans-oceanic flights, Aarohi undertook the remaining expedition solo.

Apart from good news, the Slovenian aircraft maker also had bad news after its two-seater all-electric plane was forced to crash land into a lake in Norway last week. No one was injured in the incident.

According to a report by Forbes, the plane, owned by Norway's airport operator Avinor, was being used to showcase the opportunities of electric power in aviation. It was piloted by Avinor CEO Dag Falk-Petersen with State Secretary Aase Marthe J. Horrigmo on board.

The plane took off from Arendal airport, some 285 kilometres south-west of Oslo. Whilst in the air, there was a signal that something was wrong with the engine power, whereupon the engine power weakened and disappeared completely, said the pilot, who landed the aircraft onto a pond.

Forbes commented that the incident would come as a setback to Norway's electric aircraft plans. However, the setback may not be as big because Norway's authorities have ordered two more same-model aircraft from Pipistrel despite the incident.

The Slovenian company confirmed it was made aware of the incident involving its Experimental class Alpha Electro in Norway on 14 August, saying it had activated its team of experts and offered assistance to the investigation authorities to investigate and determine the causes which led to the accident.

"Initial reports indicate loss of power which resulted in a forced landing. There were no human injuries and that safety mechanisms built into the design of the airplane and its systems acted nominally. There was no high voltage shock to the crew when the aircraft and crew were in water," reads the company's release.

This was the third incident involving the model, according to Aviation Safety Network; Pipistrel has so far supplied more than 60 Alpha Electros. In January an aircraft in Switzerland had to make an emergency landing because of loss of engine power and in October last year a crash claimed a human life in the Netherlands in unknown circumstances.

22 Aug 2019, 11:24 AM

STA, 22 August 2019 - The annual Tartini Festival, dedicated to the Piran-born Italian Baroque composer and violinist Giuseppe Tartini, will get under way with a performance by international ensemble Il Terzo Suono at the Piran St. George's Parish Church on Thursday evening.

This year, the international music festival will be held in Piran and Koper until 8 September, with its final performance being hosted in Padua on 12 September.

The opening performance will include musical compositions by maestros such as Antonio Vivaldi, Giuseppe Tartini and Baldassare Galuppi.

Il Terzo Suono will give another performance next week, being joined on stage by Mario Brunello, an Italian cellist who is the first and only Italian so far to have won the prestigious International Tchaikovsky Competition.

He has worked with numerous acclaimed orchestral conductors and ensembles.

One of the festival's highlights will also be a performance by French pianist Pierre-Laurent Boucharlat, bringing the music of Camille de Saint-Saens and Claude Debussy to Tartini House, the birthplace of the renowned violinist and composer, in Tartini Square.

The popular Italian chamber orchestra, I Solisti Veneti, the festival's regular guest, will perform at the Piran Minorite Monastery.

RELATED: How to Spend Four to 48 Hours in Piran

The orchestra has given more than 6,000 concerts in over 90 countries and has participated in the most acclaimed international festivals.

The monastery will also see a duo performance by Slovenian violinist Lana Trotovšek and Japanese harpsichordist Masumi Yamamoto as well as a performance by the Salzburger Mozart Consort.

The festival, honouring Tartini as well as composers inspired by his art, will also present young talent at Tartini Junior concerts.

More details on the festival can be found here

22 Aug 2019, 10:01 AM

STA, 21 August 2019 - Slovenia has started erecting another 40 kilometres of fence along the border with Croatia, commercial broadcaster POP TV reported on Wednesday. Works are currently underway on a 4-kilometre segment between the villages of Zilje and Žuniči, southeast of Črnomelj.

In July, the contractor, Serbia-based Legi-SGS, was chosen for the job by the Public Administration Ministry, but it the department would not reveal where the additional 40 kilometres of fencing would be erected, saying the locations had been specified in a confidential document.

It did say, however, that additional fence would be erected in places where this is required to prevent illegal migration and protect locals and their assets. In some places, the new fence is needed because the old one is damaged.

Once the EUR 4.8 million project is complete, expected in a few weeks' time, more than 200 kilometres of Slovenia's 670-kilometre border with Croatia will be fenced in.

22 Aug 2019, 02:59 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

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:

Insurance executive named new SSH chairman

LJUBLJANA - Gabrijel Škof, chief executive of insurer Adriatic Slovenica, was appointed new chairman of Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH), the state asset manager, by the supervisory board. He expressed satisfaction that he was selected but was reluctant to discuss his vision of state asset management, because he first needs to become familiar with "matters that are not known to the general and expert public". The supervisors will soon be looking for a new management board member, as Andrej Božič handed in his resignation today. He will leave the job on 1 December.

Farmers suspend protest activities over wolf attacks issue

LJUBLJANA - The Trade Union of Farmers announced it is suspending its protest activities over ineffective government measures against wolf attacks on farm animals. The union, which met PM Marjan Šarec on Tuesday, will thus not hold the rally planned for this Saturday and is also withdrawing its demand for the resignation of Environment Minister Simon Zajc. The union, which already staged a protest in early August, confirmed on that its decision was based on the meeting with Šarec, saying it expected "that those responsible will ... address the issue of wild animals as a matter of urgency in line with the commitments and start with the culling of wolves immediately."

Oman laid to rest with state honours

ŠKOFJA LOKA - Several hundred people came to the funeral of Ivan Oman, one of the key people of Slovenia's independence efforts. The co-founder of the Farmers' Association and a member of Slovenia's first parliament was laid to rest with state honours. President Borut Pahor addressed the mourners, saying that Oman understood the time and the people at the start of Slovenia's political spring. He described Oman as a tolerant and patient man, who understood other people's doubts and diverging views and these abilities only deepened the trust of the people.

DSP head decries state of book publishing, points finger at Culture Ministry

LJUBLJANA - The president of the Slovenian Writers' Association (DSP) Dušan Merc has decried in a public letter to Culture Minister Zoran Poznič the state of Slovenian book publishing. Noting a marked drop in funding, Merc says Slovenia is not ready for the fairs in Bologna and Frankfurt where it will be the guest of honour in 2021 and 2022, respectively. The fairs "are a major opportunity, but - this is not only a bad feeling - we are not ready", wrote Merc, also speaking of a "lack of vision and lethargic attitude of bureaucrats in charge of your ministry". The ministry responded by saying it was aware of the importance of Slovenian books and publishing, while adding it "will meanwhile not respond to ill-defined accusations."

Market to build access points for half of 100,000 households without broadband

LJUBLJANA - Ten telecommunications operators have announced they will provide around 47,500 more households in rural areas with access to broadband in the coming three years. This leaves around 50,000 more households in so-called white areas, where funding of infrastructure will have to be provided by the state. The operators responded to a Public Administration Ministry query about plans for broadband infrastructure investment sent out last autumn. Allowing the state to determine where it will need to fund broadband infrastructure on its own due to a lack of market interest, the operators committed to financing the construction of access points within three years.

Wildfire raging on border with Italy

NOVA GORICA - A wildfire broke out around noon near the Cerje World War II memorial just south of Nova Gorica. Progressing quickly due to the bora wind, it destroyed some 100 hectares of forest, according to unofficial information, and spread across the border to Italy by late afternoon. Some 130 firefighters from the broader region are battling the flames on demanding terrain of thick pine and deciduous woodland with the support from four helicopters, two Slovenian and two Italian. Also at the site is a special unit for the handling of live explosive devices, as the area witnessed heavy fighting during World War II.

Coast fighting off sewage pollution

KOPER - Two of the four coastal municipalities have had problems with sewage pollution of the sea, an issue which has caught much media attention as a popular beach near Koper had to close for ten days in the midst of the tourist season. Bathing in Žusterna in Koper was spoiled at the end of July due to an uncontrolled discharge of sewage into the sea, with closure of the beach prompting a group of concerned locals to report the municipal public utility to police. Public utilities say it sewage pollution is usually a result of buildings not being properly connected to the sewage system.

Slovenia erecting another 40 kilometres of border fence

ČRNOMELJ - Slovenia has started erecting another 40 kilometres of fence along the border with Croatia, commercial broadcaster POP TV reported. Works are currently underway on a 4-kilometre segment between the villages of Zilje and Žuniči, southeast of Črnomelj. In July, the contractor, Serbia-based Legi-SGS, was chosen for the job by the Public Administration Ministry, but it the department would not reveal where the additional 40 kilometres of fencing would be erected, saying the locations had been specified in a confidential document.

Police record more than 3,000 speeding cases in a week

LJUBLJANA - The police detected more than 3,000 speed limit violations last week during a national road safety campaign. Most violations occurred in villages and towns, the General Police Administration told the STA. Between 12 and 18 August police officers recorded 3,048 speed limit violations and gave out 207 warnings as well. A majority of those violations (almost 2,500) took place in urban areas, while some 330 occurred outside villages or towns and some 220 on highways and expressways.

Kids to gather in Slovenia for European IT Olympics

MARIBOR - The city of Maribor will soon host a competition in which some 90 primary school children from 24 countries will try to prove they are the best programmers in Europe. The European Junior Olympiad in Informatics, to be held for the third year from 23 to 29 August, is meant to encourage interest in computer science among the young. The Slovenian organisers - the Association for Technical Culture (ZOTKS) and the Ministry of Education and Science - also see it as an opportunity for promoting IT and coding in general, as well as for promoting Slovenia in general.

Ukrainian and Belarusian children getting therapy in Slovenia

DEBELI RTIČ - A group of children affected by the armed conflict in eastern Ukraine and Belarusian children who still feel the effects of the radiation from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster are on holiday at Slovenia's seaside until the end of this week to receive psychosocial and medical rehabilitation. The 64 Ukrainian and 30 Belarusian children arrived at the Debeli Rtič resort on 14 August as part of a project organised by the Slovenian-run organisation ITF Enhancing Human Security in cooperation with the resort operated by the Slovenian Red Cross.

21 Aug 2019, 17:14 PM

People living in Slovenia will now be able to use UPS Worldwide Express Freight and UPS Worldwide Express Freight Midday, giving greater access to the firm’s smart global logistics network for urgent shipments weighing over 70kg. As Daniel Carrera, President UPS East Europe, said in the related press release:

Our customers come to UPS because they know that we can offer the service they need to ship products to their customers worldwide, whether it fits in an envelope or on a pallet. Businesses that export tend to be more profitable, and this enhancement will offer companies of all sizes more options to reach their customers wherever they are. UPS’s smart global logistics network moves 3% of the world’s GDP every day, and this latest enhancement in Slovenia is part of the company’s commitment to providing our customers with the tools they need to grow.

UPS Worldwide Express Freight provides international delivery of palletized loads weighing over 70kg within one to three business days, depending on destination, to around 50 nations (see more here). For shipments that need more speed, UPS Worldwide Express Freight Midday promises delivery by noon of 14:00 to certain areas in over 30 countries and territories (details).

All our stories on logistics in Slovenia are here

21 Aug 2019, 15:17 PM

STA, 21 August 2019 - Two of the four coastal municipalities have had problems with sewage pollution of the sea, an issue which has caught much media attention as a popular beach near Koper had to close for ten days in the midst of the tourist season. Public utilities say it is usually a result of buildings not being properly connected to the sewage system.

An uncontrolled discharge of sewage into the sea spoiled bathing in Žusterna in the Koper municipality at the end of July.

The closure of the Žusterna beach has prompted a group of concerned locals to report the municipal public utility Marjetica Koper to police.

They suspect it of crimes related to environmental pollution, negligence, and failure to prevent risks to public health, according to the paper Primorske Novice.

While Marjetica Koper has found no flaws on the sewage system, it has managed to contain the damage by pumping runoff water to prevent a further spillage in Žusterna.

The results of the checks of the drainage system for storm waters are meanwhile expected within a week, the company has told the STA.

Piran has also had problems with sewage pollution, whereas no problems have been reported from Izola and Ankaran.

According to the director of public utility Okolje Piran, Gašpar Gašpar Mišič, Lucija Hotel was connected to the drainage system, which has already been dealt with.

Another problematic area was around the Faculty for Tourism Studies - Turistica where some homes were connected to the sewage system incorrectly, so faeces spilled into the runoff water system and then further into the sea.

Gašpar Mišič said this area had the same problems in the summer of 2017 as Žusterna this year, but they have been addressed by runoff water pumping.

His company has already called on home owners to check how they are connected to the public sewage system.

The company receives requests for checks from owners or neighbours on a daily basis, and plans to check all connections free of charge.

Several dozen flawed connections have already been discovered and repaired, while there are also some cases where property owners are dragging their feet for years.

"If as part of preventive checks we find buildings which discharge sewage illegally, we'll seal them immediately," he announced.

"Let them take us to court then," he said, admitting he was not sure this would be lawful, but he deems it important bathing is safe and tourism prospers.

An issue are also the homes whose basements have been turned into rooms for tourists, but the owners connected them onto the runoff water system instead of the sewage system.

Gašpar Mišič was rather critical of legislation under which an owner can obtain a permit to use a facility without it being first inspected to meet the standards.

21 Aug 2019, 12:34 PM

STA, 21 August 2019 - Telecommunications operators have announced they will provide around 47,500 more households in rural areas with access to broadband in the coming three years. This leaves around 50,000 more households in so-called white areas, where funding of infrastructure will have to be provided by the state.

Ten operators - Elta, KTV Dravograd, KTV Ravne, RUNE-SI, Sanmix, Dostop Komunikacije, Studio Proteus, Telekom Slovenije, Telemach, and Milan Trnovec - responded to a Public Administration Ministry query about plans for broadband infrastructure investment sent out last autumn.

Allowing the state to determine where it will need to fund broadband infrastructure on its own due to a lack of market interest, the operators committed to financing the construction of access points for 46,000 households within three years.

Another operator, whose name will be disclosed after the contract is signed, responded to a second call that closed this August, announcing it would build 1,500 access points.

The state meanwhile plans to fund the infrastructure in some of the areas for which commercial operators have not expressed interest. The call for bids is expected to be published this autumn.

The ministry wrote that these households are located in sparsely populated and unfavourably positioned areas where building infrastructure is very demanding, which makes them problematic in terms of business model sustainability.

The state has around EUR 38 million in EU funds available for broadband infrastructure projects. The ministry expects that the call to be published in the autumn will allow it to cover roughly half of the 50,000 households located in white areas.

21 Aug 2019, 12:00 PM

STA, 20 August 2019 - The group around insurer Zavarovalnica Triglav reported on Tuesday a EUR 34.7 million net profit for the first half of 2019, a 16% year-on-year increase. Consolidated gross premiums were up 10% to EUR 630 million and net premium income by 6% to EUR 491.8 million.

Triglav said premium growth was recorded on most of the group's markets and at levels mostly above the growth of the whole market.

In Slovenia, where Triglav Group collects 76% of consolidated premiums, average premium growth stood at 8% (market growth was 7%), while it was 10% in the markets outside of Slovenia.

Premium growth was recorded in all three insurance segments; the non-life insurance segment grew by 10%, the health insurance segment by 21% and the life and pension insurance segment by less than 1%.

Gross claims paid by the group amounted to EUR 335 million, 2% more year-on-year, while major disaster events are estimated at EUR 4.9 million. The combined ratio of the group was at 93.2%, which Triglav said was a favourable value attributable mostly to the improved claims ratio.

The Triglav group posted a pre-tax profit of EUR 41.7 million in the first half of the year, or 17% more than in the same period last year. The company attributes this to the higher growth of net premiums earned compared to the growth of net claims incurred in non-life insurance and to the higher realised return on financial investments.

The group's investment portfolio is worth EUR 3.2 billion. Triglav says "investments are managed relatively conservatively and with the aim of maintaining a high overall credit rating".

Returns on financial investments, excluding unit-linked life insurance contract investments, totalled EUR 51.4 million in the first six months of 2019. Compared to 2018, returns on financial investments were higher mostly as a result of higher net gains on the sale of financial assets and higher net income from changes in the fair value, the company said.

On the other hand, net interest income continued to decrease due to the low interest rate environment. Due to a further reduction in interest rates, additional insurance technical provisions for life insurance were made in the amount of EUR 8.6 million as a result of the liability adequacy test.

On 30 June, the group, including its subsidiaries Triglav Skladi and ALTA Skladi (acquired in 2019), held a 34.3% and thereby leading share in the Slovenian mutual fund market.

As at the reporting date, the group managed net assets worth EUR 947.8 million in mutual funds or 12% more than at the 2018 year-end. Discretionary mandate assets equalled to EUR 73.7 million, a 47% increase (index 147).

Commenting on the results, chairman Andrej Slapar said the group, employing over 5,000 in the region, "maintains a strong position and pursues its growth and development strategy".

"We are pleased with the results achieved. Taking into account the business conditions anticipated until the end of the year, we confirm our annual profit guidance," the report quotes Slapar.

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