News

06 Jun 2019, 14:50 PM

STA, 6 June 2019 - Slovenia has so far welcomed almost 300 refugees based on EU solidarity schemes, some from other EU members and others from third countries, government data shows.

As part of the relocation scheme, Slovenian had pledged to accept 567 applicants for international protection from Greece and Italy, but eventually accepted 253 during the scheme's duration in 2016-2018.

As for the resettlement programme for migrants residing in non-EU countries, Slovenia had pledged to accept 60 people, but eventually accepted only 34, all from Turkey.

Of the 253 foreigners relocated from Greece and Italy, 152 were Syrian citizens, 77 Eritrean, 17 Iraqi and one Yemeni citizen, whereas six were without citizenship.

A total of 234 foreigners were granted the refugee status and eleven subsidiary protection, the Interior Ministry said.

Five foreigners were denied international protection, one person was stripped of the refugee status, and the procedure was aborted in three cases, it added.

The majority of relocated refugees reside in the areas of Maribor and Ljubljana, whereas 47 left Slovenia after receiving the status, data from the Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants show.

Six Syrian families came to live in Slovenia as part of the resettlement scheme, which was carried out under the UN wing. All of them live in Maribor's integration centre.

All refugees accepted as part of the two schemes have taken part in a special three-month programme designed to facilitate their living.

As part of "the orientation programme", refugees learn the basics of Slovenian language, get to know various social systems in the country and get assistance in finding housing.

Although both schemes ended in 2018, Slovenia still occasionally expresses solidarity to share the burden of refugees with other EU countries.

Just recently the government has decided to accept up to five asylum seekers who meet the requirements for international protection from Italy.

In February, it decided to accept five asylum seekers from Malta, but they are yet to arrive here, while it accepted eight refugees from this island country in 2010.

06 Jun 2019, 12:49 PM

June 6, 2019

According to the police, one person died in a traffic accident, which occurred on Wednesday, June 5 at about 8:30am on a motorway near Domžale.

The accident happened when the driver of a freight vehicle in the left lane of the motorway collided with a minibus that had stopped due to a traffic jam.

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Following the collision, the minibus hit the metal safety fence where it flipped over on its side and then collided  with a second truck that stood in the line. A 52-year-old passenger in the minibus was hurt so badly that she died at the scene of the crash. Four other passengers and the driver suffered minor injuries.

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According to  the Slovenian media, the minivan carried two Slovenian and four British citizens. The 52-year old woman who died is reported to have been a British national.   

06 Jun 2019, 12:24 PM

This Friday, 7 June (2019) sees the start of the 33rd Ljubljana Biennial of Graphic Arts, which runs until 29 September. This edition is curated by the art collective Slavs and Tatars and is going out under the title Crack Up - Crack Down, with a focus on satire in the region. The Biennial takes place at the International Centre of Graphic Arts (Mednarodni grafični likovni center, MGLC), in Tivoli Mansion, the building shown in the image at the top of this story. To mark the event, which has been running since 1955, we thus went to the archive (aka Wikimedia) and returned with these images of the Mansion, and other parts of the park, in first half of the 20th century.

Other posts in this series can be found here

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The fish pond, 1898

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The fish pond, 1902

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The fish pond, 1912

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Tivoli Mansion, 1907

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Tivoli Mansion, 1916

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Tivoli Mansion, undated

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Tivoli Mansion, undated

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Tivoli Mansion, undated

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Tivoli Mansion, undated

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Tivoli Mansion, 1933

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Jakopič Promenade, 1930s

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Hotel Tivoli / Švicarija - undated

06 Jun 2019, 10:58 AM

STA, 5 June 2019 - Montenegro's EU integration and the situation in the Western Balkans featured high on the agenda as Speaker Ivan Brajović began an official two-day visit to Slovenia by meeting his counterpart Dejan Židan in Ljubljana on Wednesday. The pair sees the visit as a means of strengthening the excellent relations.

Židan congratulated Brajović on Montenegro's progress towards the EU, hoping the integration process would be completed as soon as possible.

He is convinced this will contribute to stability in the region and give hope to some other countries aspiring to join the EU.

"Montenegro can count on Slovenia's support," Židan was quoted as saying in a press release from the National Assembly.

Brajović said Slovenia understood the situation in the Western Balkans very well, and was able to see the progress Montenegro had made since independence.

He also said that as NATO's contact point for Montenegro in 2011-2014, Slovenia had contributed significantly to the country's NATO membership.

He also pointed out that Slovenia still provided a lot of assistance to Montenegro on its path towards the EU.

Having closely followed the recent EU elections, Montenegro also hopes Slovenia's MEPs will be its supporters and allies who understand EU consolidation is a process parallel to the EU enlargement, Brajović was quoted as saying.

"We also believe they will contribute their share so that enlargement becomes a priority of the European Commission and the European Parliament."

Brajović said Montenegro counted on becoming the first new EU member when the EU expands.

The two speakers also discussed economic cooperation, with Židan noting bilateral trade was growing.

What is more, the two countries are also political allies "because we understand that the Western Balkans must have better prospects", he said.

Both speakers are convinced bilateral relations should be nurtured, which is why they agreed on today's visit as they met in March at a conference of speakers from countries of the Adriatic-Ionian Initiative in Montenegro's Budva.

Practically the same topics were also discussed as Brajović was received by Foreign Minister Miro Cerar.

Both officials noted Slovenia and Montenegro were interested in further expanding the positive and diversified cooperation, according to the Foreign Ministry.

Development cooperation was also highlighted as an area of common interest, with the ministry saying Montenegro remained a priority in this respect.

Brajović thanked Slovenia for the support it provided to his country on its way towards membership of Euro-Atlantic organisations, and Cerar pledged further support.

06 Jun 2019, 08:30 AM

Panel recommends diversification of energy sources

STA, 5 June 2019 - A high-profile panel on energy was held on Wednesday as part of the Three Seas Initiative Summit, with the participants pointing out to diversification of sources, decreasing dependence on one source of energy and investments in expansion of renewable energy as the most important measures in the field.

The panel was opened by Slovenian Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek, who said that this year would be important as the country was adopting national energy and climate plans that will determine decarbonisation and energy efficiency policies.

Discussing the challenges in energy infrastructure, she said that "one can opt for more renewables, for more or less nuclear power, no coal and oil or natural gas," but the fact was that the supply would remain diverse due to a number of factors.

US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry was open about his country's interests, saying that the US would share its energy knowledge with the Three Seas Initiative countries to strengthen their energy security and increase their energy diversity.

You should not be "restricted to just one energy source, bound to just one nation for your energy needs", he said, stressing that the US was a competitive alternative to Russia when it came to liquefied natural gas (LNG), supporting multiple routes to deliver energy across Europe.

"We oppose using energy to coerce any country, we believe that obtaining energy from US is a highly attractive choice," said Perry, who also believes that it is essential that Europe prioritise its own energy projects.

As fro LNG, Croatian Minister of Environment and Energy Tomislav Ćorić said that the decision to build a terminal on the island of Krk was the right one, adding that the country was fully oriented towards a low-carbon economy and renewables.

"We are fully devoted to the production coming from wind, solar and hydro power," he said, adding that diversification was a very important tool for achieving energy independence of the twelve countries of the Three Seas Initiative, and one of the most important agendas of the EU.

Piotr Naimski, the Polish government's representative for energy infrastructure, noted that Poland was "still almost totally dependent on one monopolistic company which provides us with gas, but we are on the way to change this."

According to him, Poland needs more security, diversity and reliability of networks, and it plans to get connected to with Norway and to build a floating terminal in 2025 to gain supply from different sources and routes and start a competitive gas market.

Miguel Berger of the German Federal Foreign Office noted that Germany was cooperating with the US, as it would have two LNG terminals in Germany, adding that LNG was welcome in Europe, but stressing that it "has to be market driven".

"We reject sanctions in energy relations with Russia. There is a serious and real demand for energy and we want to develop our energy relations with Russia," he said, dismissing the notion that Russia was the only supplier for Germany since it accounts for only 40% of supplies.

Martin Novšak of the Slovenian power company GEN Energija discussed nuclear energy, stressing that the joint Slovenian-Croatian plant NEK had a low-carbon production, operated successfully and was stable, which was an important factor.

The company will also be investing in hydro power plants and in photovoltaic energy, as well as in a second unit of NEK, he said, while pointing to the importance of the price of capital, noting that Chinese capital was free, and European very expensive.

Robert Krklec of HEP said that the Croatian national power company would be investing heavily in electrification, energy efficiency and renewable sources, including hydro power plants, photovoltaics and wind power plants.

"HEP is going to get to 50% of renewables in the next three years," Krklec said, while also pointing to consumers, who will have an active role in the future in determining trends and selling auxiliary services to power companies.

Representing the Slovenian national power grid operator ELES, Uroš Salobir said that the 2050 targets were very challenging, adding that as "coal is slowly vanishing from the table, we will have a huge problem of flexibility."

The options are natural gas, dispersed action of consumers, distributed generation, platforms linked across the borders and decentralised solutions, but this requires good cooperation between the political and technical level, he concluded.

Three Seas initiative panel stresses importance of innovation, infrastructure

STA, 5 June 2019 - Innovation stimulates economic growth, while infrastructure plays a key role in facilitating connectivity in the Three Seas region, which still lags behind Western Europe, heard participants of a panel debate held as part of the Three Seas Initiative summit in Ljubljana on Wednesday.

"Innovation stimulates economic growth, creates new and better jobs, enables social mobility, combating climate change and poverty, and improves overall wealth," said Bulgarian Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov.

According to him, new technologies have the potential to bring about significant social, economic and environmental benefits.

He believes the challenges faced by this region, such as rapid technological development and changed economic relations, require active work and joint policies that address day-to-day problems of entrepreneurs and researchers.

Ian Brzezinski of the US think tank Atlantic Council, who moderated the debate, concluded that this was a region of high economic growth but to sustain this high growth innovation will be crucial.

"Infrastructure is key, because it facilitates connectivity, it facilitates the movement of products and above all of ideas ... Robust, modern, efficient infrastructure can facilitate innovation," he said.

Noting that the world was in the midst of the fourth industrial revolution, he said it was critical for this region to remain at the forefront of this revolution.

Sonja Šmuc, general manager of the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS), called for innovation not only in industry but also in government.

She agreed that infrastructure is important. "Some say that with internet you don't need roads that much any more. That's not true. We still travel, we still have to exchange ideas in person."

In 2015, there was talk about suspending the Schengen area to protect the EU borders and back then it was calculated in Brussels that each truck that waits a minute at the border costs 2 euros, she noted.

"If we turn to the Western Balkans - two countries are in the EU, six are not - and look at the long lines at the borders. How much money is lost there," she said, pointing to "illogical processes that make us poorer".

She believes this is just a matter of decision. "Infrastructure is important, but infrastructure that is connected, and with IT solutions available we can achieve much better results."

Aleš Cantarutti, state secretary at Ministry of Economic Development and Technology, called for investments in society 5.0 - the transfer of the concepts such as internet of things, artificial intelligence and big data into every-day life. These technologies could be used also to tackle the problem of ageing population, he believes.

Mark Pleško, CEO and co-founder of the Slovenian high-tech company Cosylab, said that everyone wanted to have a monopoly position. Innovation is one way to get it, but until there are other, quicker ways such as cronyism or even corruption, people will chose the easiest way.

He called for opening of the markets and fighting dishonest business practices.

Both Cantarutti and Šmuc agreed that the Three Seas initiative could further strengthen innovation by creating a platform for more integrated cooperation of companies and a fund that would financially support projects to reduce the risks of failure that prevent a potential breakthrough of many innovative entrepreneurs.

Several bilateral meetings at Three Seas summit

STA, 5 June 2019 - President Borut Pahor and Foreign Minister Miro Cerar took the opportunity of the Three Seas Initiative summit taking place in Ljubljana for a number of bilateral meetings. Pahor met the presidents of Latvia and Poland, and Cerar met his Polish counterpart.

Pahor decorated Latvia's President Raimonds Vejonis with the Order of Exceptional Merit for strengthening bilateral relations and bilateral cooperation with a view to promote Europe's common and safe future.

In turn, Vejonis bestowed on Pahor the Latvian cross for strengthening bilateral relations, political dialogue and friendship between Slovenia and Latvia, Pahor's office said in a press release.

Pahor also met Polish President Andrzej Duda, with whom he opened an exhibition on Polish ethnographer Emil Korytko (1813-1839) at the National Assembly.

Foreign Minister Cerar and his Polish counterpart Jacek Czaputowicz hailed the political and economic relations between Slovenia and Poland.

They discussed cooperation within the Three Seas Initiative, sharing a view it could enhance the development of transport and energy infrastructure in Central Europe, which was key to the region's economic development.

Another topic Cerar and Czaputowicz discussed was cooperation within the EU, with the focus on EU enlargement.

Presidential panel suggests Three Seas Initiative moving from words to actions

STA, 5 June 2019 - The presidential panel at the summit of the Three Seas Initiative, which began in Ljubljana on Wednesday, was marked by calls for a move from words to action as part of this Central European cooperation project focusing on multiplying transport, energy, and digital interconnections.

The host of the meeting and moderator of the panel, Slovenian President Borut Pahor, started the discussion by pointing out that the 12 countries participating will have concrete proposals to present as the new team of the European Commission shortly takes office.

"It will be a kind of common list of goals presented and the Commission will be invited to consider them seriously," said Pahor, who has described the summit as one of the largest political and business meetings ever held in Slovenia.

Croatian President Kolinda Grabar Kitarović, who was one of the initiators of the Three Seas, highlighted the fast progress of the initiative since what was only an explorative first meeting in 2015. "Today we are forming the fund of the initiative which means it is becoming a truly practical initiative," she said.

Grabar Kitarović, who said the initiative was looking to help achieve true cohesion in the whole of the EU but also beyond, "in the Atlantic space because we very much value the partnership of the US and of course of Germany, which has also become the partner of the initiative".

While German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier will be joining the presidents for dinner tonight ahead of the summit tomorrow, US Secretary of Energy Rick Perry participated in the panel.

Underlining that time for talk is over, Perry said that the US supported the EU and "efforts to create this energy union, to better integrate Europe in these energy markets and improve energy security".

"It's time for us to be taking true action ... to send the message ... around the globe that we are going to be working closely together. That the Three Seas Initiative member nations are ready and willing and that we are going to meet our objectives."

He swore that the US would never use energy for political coercion, earning an applause from the audience. "It is for these reasons that we continue to oppose the North Stream 2 pipeline. The pipeline will weaken the energy security of Europe and the sovereignty of its nations, especially Ukraine."

Noting that the 75th anniversary of liberation of Europe will be commemorated tomorrow, Perry said he could think of "few greater ways to honour the US's commitment to defend and support freedom in Europe than continuing to work together for the betterment and prosperity of our nations and our people".

Polish President Andrzej Duda said it was time to move from analysis to action and illustrated that the journey from north to south eastern Europe takes days, while in the west it takes hours, adding that this affects not only travel and tourism but also economic and social relations in this part of Europe.

It is thus key that the countries pursue coherent investment policies to overcome transportation gaps. He announced that the initiative was launching in Ljubljana the Three Seas Fund.

"Poland and Romania have inaugurated the functioning of the fund. We see it as a new sources of financing for infrastructure investments. This will be a practical dimension of the Three Seas Initiative cooperation. A tool to make our plans and dreams come true."

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto stressed the need to come out as a winner in a what were times of turbulent global political and economic change that he felt made it fair to speak of a new world order.

Quick and common sense decisions will be key, said Szijjarto, who argued Central Europe "is and will be the engine of growth in Europe".

Stressing the need to address infrastructure shortcomings in the region, he said energy diversification must become more than just a word, with Hungary also being very vulnerable energy-wise.

"If we cannot change this infrastructure situation, then my country will be in a position again to engage in a long-term cooperation with Russia when it comes to gas supply," Szijjarto said.

Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid also noted the Commission's support, echoing Grabar Kitarović, as well as Bulgarian President Rumen Radev. She also hailed Slovenia's decision to bring innovation into the debate alongside the three main focuses of the initiative. She noted this was key to making transport and energy "not only competitive but also clean".

Kaljulaid, who is also in favour of dedicating attention to environmental topics as part of the initiative, meanwhile highlighted the need to leverage the private sector. "We politicians, we can start communication ... but nothing we create is durable unless you take over, then it is sustainable and durable, if you the private sectors of the initiative work together."

Bulgarian President Radev expressed satisfaction that the meeting in Ljubljana is not attended only by heads of states but also by government representatives, agencies, business representatives and strategic partners, such as the US, represented by Perry.

06 Jun 2019, 02:10 AM

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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

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Slovenia hosts Three Seas Initiative summit

LJUBLJANA - A two-day summit of the Three Seas Initiative got under way with a large business forum featuring more than 600 participants from over 40 countries. The summit, hosted by President Borut Pahor, is attended by the presidents of Bulgaria, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania, while Austria, Hungary and Slovakia are represented by junior officials. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and US ebergy Secretary are the guests of honour. The presidential panel was marked by calls for moving from words to action. Pahor as the moderator of the panel said the participating countries would have concrete proposals to present as the new team of the European Commission shortly took office.

Energy, transport high on agenda of Three Seas Initiative summit

LJUBLJANA - A high-profile panel on energy held as part of the Three Seas Initiative summit pointed to diversification of sources, decreasing dependence on one source of energy and investments in expansion of renewable energy as the most important measures in the field. A panel on transport meanwhile saw the participants highlight connectivity and decarbonisation of transport as the main future priorities in the EU and in the countries of the initiative, which are heavily in rail infrastructure, to close the gap with the west. European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc pointed to four priorities - decarbonisation, digitalisation, investment and innovation, putting a special emphasis on the last one.

US keen on selling nuclear tech to Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - Meeting President Borut Pahor and Prime Minister Marjan Šarec on the sidelines of the Three Seas Initiative summit, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said the US was keen on selling Slovenia technology for small modular nuclear reactors. Slovenia is "an excellent potential market for this game-changing technology", Perry told reporters when asked why Slovenia, which is considering building a second reactor in Krško, should choose a US-made reactor over designs from other countries. He said the issue was not only about the best technology but also about safety and non-proliferation.

Brussels tells Slovenia to proceed with reforms and privatisation

BRUSSELS, Belgium/LJUBLJANA - The European Commission made a repeated call on Slovenia to secure fiscal sustainability, reforms in healthcare, long-term care, the pension system and labour market, improve the business environment and proceed with privatisations. The recommendations, issued as part of the European Semester, were also extended to investment with the Commission saying it should focus on innovation, energy transition, sustainable transport and environmental infrastructure. Responding to the recommendations, the Finance Ministry said the Commission had acknowledged the progress Slovenia made in public finance.

Cerar, Šarec say speculation about EU commissioner candidate uncalled for

LJUBLJANA - In response to the speculation he was tipped as a candidate for Slovenia's EU commissioner, Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said the coalition had not yet discussed potential candidates, adding PM Marjan Šarec would be the one to nominate them. Cerar said the speculation, coming after he decided not to stand for re-election as SMC leader at his party's congress in autumn, were uncalled for and inappropriate, a view also expressed by Šarec. Šarec said there were several suitable commissioner candidates, so the government would have a hard choice to make.

EU enlargement in focus of Montenegrin speaker's visit

LJUBLJANA - Montenegro's EU integration and the Western Balkans featured high on the agenda as Speaker Ivan Brajović began an official two-day visit to Slovenia by meeting his counterpart Dejan Židan and Foreign Minister Miro Cerar. Židan congratulated Brajović on Montenegro's progress towards the EU, hoping the integration process would be completed as soon as possible. He is convinced this will contribute to stability in the region and give hope to some other countries aspiring to join the EU. "Montenegro can count on Slovenia's support," Židan said. Brajović said Montenegro counted on becoming the first new EU member when the Union expanded.

CoE urges Slovenia to bridge "impunity gap in hate speech cases"

STRASBOURG, France - A report by the Council of Europe's anti-racism commission covering 2014-2018 finds progress in anti-discrimination legislation in Slovenia, but it also calls on the country to bridge the "impunity gap in hate speech cases". The report by the European Commission against Racism and Intolerance also notes a lack of reliable and updated data needed to combat racial discrimination, and continued issues faced by Roma with respect to access to housing and safe water.

Slovenia protests over Trieste councillor map

LJUBLJANA - PM Marjan Šarec and the Foreign Ministry condemned a move by Trieste city councillor Lorenzo Giorgi, who marked Italy's Republic Day, observed on 2 June, by posting on his Facebook a map of Italy with parts of Slovenia as well as Croatia's Istria and Dalmatia. "Historical revisionism goes against the basic principles of the European system, while such actions do not benefit neighbour relations," the ministry said, while Šarec called the move a stab in the heart.

Lobbying reports quadrupled in four years, corruption watchdog report shows

LJUBLJANA - The president of the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption, Boris Štefanec, presented the watchdog's report for 2018, expressing satisfaction with more reported cases of lobbying. In 2014, some 1,120 cases were reported to the commission, while the figure exceeded 4,860 last year. He believes the rise shows the commission was successful in raising awareness about reporting all attempts at influencing decision making. He also indicated he might apply for re-appointment as his term expires at the end of March 2020.

Vilenica Prize goes to Dragan Velikić

LJUBLJANA - Dragan Velikić, one of the most esteemed Serbian authors, is the winner of the Vilenica Prize, which will be presented at the conclusion of the 34th Vilenica International Literary Festival in Slovenia in mid-September. Commenting on the news for the newspaper Primorske Novice, Velikić said the Vilenica Festival was very important to him. Velikić has won all the major literary awards in Serbia as well as accolades abroad.

Slovenia showcased at Prague Quadrennial with mural, triptych

PRAGUE, Czech Republic - Kapital 2018, a mural by art collective Irwin, and a triptych of video books, are Slovenia's show pieces at the 14th Prague Quadrennial of Performance Design and Space. Running between 5 and 16 June, the Quadrennial is the largest international festival of theatre and stage design. Curated by Barbara Novakovič Kolenc from independent art producer Muzeum, the Slovenian installation, themed Warped Space, is showcased in the main section, Exhibition of Countries and Regions.

Slovenia's joblessness keeps falling

LJUBLJANA - The number of people registered as unemployed with the Slovenian Employment Service decreased by 2.6% in May to 72,012, a decline of 6.1% compared to the same month a year ago. In May 4,515 people were freshly registered on the unemployed roll, a drop of 9% compared to April and 11% fewer than a year ago. Out of the 6,468 removed from the roll, 4,723 found a job or got self-employed. This is 20% fewer than in April and 10.5% fewer than in May 2018.

Slovenia's minimum wage ranks 9th in EU

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia ranks ninth among the 22 EU member states that have a statutory minimum wage in terms of the gross minimum wage rate. This year's increase in Slovenia's minimum wage to EUR 886.63 was among the modest ones, finds the annual report on minimum wages in the EU and Norway, published by Eurofound on Monday. The highest wage rate was registered in Luxembourg (EUR 2,071.10), and the lowest in Bulgaria (EUR 286.33).

TEŠ drags HSE group into the red

VELENJE - As the Šoštanj coal-fired power station (TEŠ) sunk deeper into the red last year, its owner, national power utility HSE, also posted a loss in 2018, HSE CEO Stojan Nikolić said on the sidelines of an energy conference. The loss amounted to EUR 31 million, but HSE can still cope with it, as it is within plans. Nikolić attributed TEŠ's mounting loss to impairments.

Slovenia and Hungary sign energy memorandum

LJUBLJANA - Infrastructure Minister Alenka Bratušek and Hungarian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Peter Szijjarto signed a memorandum of understanding on energy cooperation which focuses on gas pipelines and high-voltage power lines. The pair also discussed Slovenia's construction of a new rail line to its port of Koper, with Bratušek noting a decision on whether any country would take part in the project "will be taken shortly, perhaps by the end of the year". Hungary had been mentioned by the previous Slovenian government as one of the possible landlocked countries to co-finance the investment.

Plastics maker Plastika Skaza honoured by German business

LJUBLJANA - Plastika Skaza, a fast-growing maker of plastic products, is this year's winner of the award for innovations given out by the Slovenian-German Chamber of Commerce. The company was honoured for its focus on synergies, sustainable development and corporate social responsibility.

05 Jun 2019, 15:49 PM

STA, 5 June 2019 - A municipal councillor of the Italian city of Trieste Lorenzo Giorgi marked Italy's Republic Day, observed on 2 June, by posting on his Facebook a map of Italy which reincorporated parts of Slovenia as well as Croatia's Istria and Dalmatia. The Slovenian Foreign Ministry denounced his actions on Wednesday.

 

"Historical revisionism opposes the basic principles of the European system, while such actions do not benefit neighbour relations and coexistence between the two nations," reads the ministry's press release.

The ministry added that Slovenia rejected and denounced territorial claims, which were indicated in the Facebook post. It also expects that Italy's political representatives will act in line with common European values and the rule of law.

A similar reaction came from Prime Minister Marjan Šarec, who noted his criticism of European Parliament President Antonio Tajani's comments about "Italian Istria, Dalmatia and Rijeka". He also noted that he did not accept Tajani's apology at the time because it was not sincere.

"All such attempts and actions must be condemned. This doesn't mean the relationship between the two countries is deteriorating. Not at all. But it needs to be said what bothers us. Such things not only bother us but are an outright stab in the heart," Šarec commented on the sidelines of the Three Seas Initiative summit.

Giorgi, a member of Berlusconi's centre-right party Forza Italia, has been in charge of European projects as a councillor since the past week. According to the regional newspaper Primorski Dnevnik, apart from including the controversial map, Giorgi also wrote "Our Italy" in the post.

The map of Italian irredentism claims parts of Slovenia, Croatia's Istria and Dalmatia, French Corsica and parts of Provence as well as Swiss canton of Ticino as parts of Italy. All those territories used to belong to Italy in the past.

Related: European Parliament President Apologises for "Long Live Italian Istria”, But Salvini Remains Defiant

The incident comes in the wake of the Basovizza controversy, a similar incident when Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament and a member of the same party as Giorgi, caused controversy in Slovenia and Croatia with his revisionist statements at the ceremony commemorating Italian victims of World War II massacres in February.

Slovenia and Croatia accused Tajani of territorial claims and World War II revisionism.

05 Jun 2019, 15:42 PM

STA, 5 June 2019 - The United States is keen on selling Slovenia technology for small modular nuclear reactors, US Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Wednesday as he made a stop in Slovenia for a summit of the Three Seas Initiative.

Related: Slovenia Hosts Three Seas Initiative Summit Wed, Thu (Background)

Slovenia is "an excellent potential market for this game-changing technology," said Perry. Asked why Slovenia, which is considering building a second reactor in Krško, should choose a US-made reactor over designs from France, China or Russia, Perry said "US nuclear technology is the best in the world" and "Westinghouse makes the best reactors in the world."

Perry noted that since the existing reactor in Krško had been build, the technology had changed, while adding that this was not only about the best technology but also about safety and non-proliferation.

"We want to be your partner. Slovenia may not show up on everybody's radar screen as the country you want to do business in, but for the United States it is an important country," he said, noting that the expansion of the Krško plant was "an opportunity for the US and US companies".

Perry also said that next month the first US-EU forum on small modular nuclear reactors will take place in Brussels and it will be a great opportunity "for the region to come together to hear some exciting things that are going on in the small modular reactor world."

Both President Borut Pahor and Prime Minister Marjan Šarec have been invited to the conference in bilateral talks earlier today and they are "both very interested," he said.

Pahor's office said the talks revolved around diversification of energy sources, which both said were important, while also highlighting the need for protecting the environment.

Šarec meanwhile stressed that Slovenia and the US were strategic partners which should continue deepening political, economic and security ties.

Cooperation in energy with the aim of providing "safe, sustainable and competitive energy" was also highlighted by Šarec's office, which quoted the prime minister as saying that nuclear energy was important for reliable energy supply in Slovenia.

Another major US interest, not just in the Three Seas region but also in Europe in general, is to export liquefied natural gas (LNG), which Perry framed as Europe's change to diversify energy sources and routes, and reduce its dependence on Russia.

As Perry pointed out, the US made 40 shipments of LNG to Europe in the first quarter alone, which is "an astonishing number". But the availability of US gas is also pushing down global prices, which is why the notion that US LNG cannot compete with Russian gas is not true.

He pointed out that the US is not saying Europe had to buy its gas, as countries such as Qatar and Australia can also act as suppliers. "The multiple supplier formula is very good for Europe," he said.

Another component of the US energy policy on Europe is opposition to North Stream 2, a new proposed gas pipeline from Russia into Europe.

The Trump administration is considering imposing sanctions on companies behind the project, which Perry confirmed was an option. But he was also quick to point out there is opposition to the project in Europe as well, since many countries "do not want to rely on a single source of fuel".

05 Jun 2019, 14:27 PM

The website Ex-Yu Aviation, essential reading for anyone with an interest in reginal air transport, reports that Slovenia is continuing in its efforts to attract nonstop flights to the Gulf, with a focus on te United Arab Emirates. The efforts include moves by the Ministry for Economic Development and Technology, as well as the Slovenian Tourist Board, which is funding marketing activities to promote direct links to Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

Related: Slovenia to Subsidize Marketing Efforts to Encourage New Ljubljana Flights

The website notes that the UAE's Economy Minister, Sultan bin Saeed Al Mansoori, sees considerable potential for tourism between the two states, and that direct flights between Dubai and Ljubljana would open Slovenia to the more than eighty million passengers who pass through Dubai Airport each year.

Related: Ljubljana Airport Continues to Seek Direct Flights to the Middle East

At present the closest direct link is the deal that the Emirates has established with GoOpti, the Slovenian shuttle bus company, which enables Emirates customers to use the carrier’s website to book tickets from Ljubljana to Zagreb Airport.

All out stories on air travel are here

05 Jun 2019, 13:15 PM

STA, 5 June 2019 - Slovenia ranks ninth among 22 EU member states that have statutory minimum wages in terms of the gross minimum wage rate. This year's increase of the country's figure to EUR 886.63 was among the modest ones, says the annual report on minimum wages in the EU and Norway, published by Eurofound on Monday.

The highest rate was registered in Luxembourg (EUR 2071.10), while Bulgaria has the lowest (EUR 286.33).

The report of the EU Agency for the improvement of living and working conditions placed Slovenia among the countries with the lowest share of minimum wage earners - 4.1%. The country ranked sixth in this category, with Czechia (2%) ranking the lowest and Poland ranking the highest (13.7%).

The survey registered big differences among all participating countries in this category, noting that in 2016 the average share of minimum wage earners in the EU was 7.2%.

Eurofund also pointed at considerable differences between the gross and net rates, saying that in Slovenia a share of 24.77% of the total minimum wage value is contributed to the social security system, including taxes and contributions. The country's share is among the higher ones in that respect.

The survey said that almost all countries, excluding Latvia, had increased the minimum wage rate since January 2018, with Slovenia raising it by 5.2% in nominal terms. The increase was quite modest, listing the country as third in the group of six countries with mid-level minimum wage rates - Slovenia ranked behind Malta (1.93%) and Portugal (3.45%).

The issue of minimum wage rate has been in the spotlight recently. The National Assembly adopted the Left's proposal for the minimum wage act in December 2018 despite employers' opposition, thus raising the rate.

The act stipulates that all allowances will be excluded from the statutory rates as of 2020 and will thus have to be paid on top. It also regulates the rate's lower and upper limit, setting the bar at at least 20% and top 40% above calculated minimum living expenses.

Employers argue that the adoption was rash and will have a detrimental effect on the whole society, while trade unions are willing to protect the act by any means necessary. Meanwhile, the government keeps insisting that the risks are manageable.

05 Jun 2019, 12:00 PM

STA, 4 June 2019 - The shareholders of the chemical company Cinkarna Celje agreed at Tuesday's general annual meeting to allocate nearly the entire distributable profit for dividends at EUR 28.27 gross per share, or a total payout of EUR 22.8 million, the company's CEO Tomaž Benčina told the STA.

The shareholders also authorised the board to buy treasury shares in the total amount of up to 10% of the group's share capital, with the authorisation valid for a year. The buyback price was set between EUR 170 and EUR 270.

The shareholders had already authorised the management board to start implementing its buyback strategy last year, setting the price between EUR 250 and EUR 300 as proposed by the biggest shareholder, insurer Modra Zavarovalnica.

The insurer owns 20% of the group's shares, followed by the Bank Assets Management Company (12.83%) and Slovenian Sovereign Holding (11.41%). All of them agreed to amend the group's statute following last year's decrease in share capital.

The shareholders also took note of the resignation of supervisor Urška Podpečan, effective as of 1 April. She will be replaced by lawyer Luka Gaberščik from Ljubljana. The supervisory and management boards were granted a discharge of liability for the past business year.

Cinkarna Celje generated EUR 45.5 million in net sales revenue in the first quarter of 2019, a 13% decrease compared to the same period last year. Its net profit dropped by 64% to EUR 4.6 million. Despite the declines, both figures exceeded the group's expectations.

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