07 Feb 2021, 15:11 PM

STA, 7 February 2021 - Nearly a week after actress Mia Skrbinac publicly accused an unnamed actor and drama teacher of sexually harassing her while she was a student, the academy said it expected their former student would file a complaint shortly, while some media have named the professor.

"We cannot confirm any name yet, but we will, as soon as we receive [the complaint] initiate all procedures, including with the police, if the complaint indicates a suspected criminal offence," the Ljubljana Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television (AGRFT) said in response to a query by the STA.

Some Slovenian media have named the alleged harasser as Matjaž Tribušon, a 57-year-old award-winning film and theatre actor with the SNG Drama Ljubljana, who also teachers drama at the AGRFT. The STA has been unable to reach him for comment.

"For the time being, the academy only has information that has been published in the media. Considering that RTV Slovenija reported [...] again that Mia Skrbinac is working on her complaint, we believe she will submit it next week," the AGRFT said.

The academy also said that Skrbinac had told them she was still considering what kind of complaint to make and where. They plan to wait for her decision before taking further steps.

The decision to wait was partly due to the opinion of NGOs helping sexual abuse victims which believe it is up to the victim to decide when and how to report the harasser.

Aleksandra Golec, the spokesperson for the Ljubljana Police Department, said she could not comment on a concrete case, but the department had not received any such complaint or a report.

However, the police said anyone can report an offence that is prosecuted ex-officio, while "state bodies and those having public powers" have an obligation to report such an offence to the police, and police can open an investigation based on indications from the media in case of such an offence.

Skrbinac was the first public figure in Slovenia to come forward as a victim of sexual harassment since the start of the Slovenian offshoot of the #MeToo movement.

In a programme aired on the main news and the magazine show Tednik on TV Slovenija on Monday she revealed how she had been subjected to psychological and physical violence by an unnamed actor professor during acting classes and outside class between 2014 and 2016.

"He would wait for me outside the toilets, at the Drama [theatre house] bar, and elsewhere," she said. A fellow student of hers at the time, Sara Lucu, corroborated the professor's inappropriate behaviour for the programme.

07 Feb 2021, 11:44 AM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 5 February 2021. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Janša getting ready for snap election

STA, 5 February 2021 - The left-wing weekly Mladina says in its latest editorial that Prime Minister Janez Janša has been gearing up for a snap election for a while by deliberately weakening the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) and the Modern Centre Party (SMC) so that he can hold them in his grip.

According to unofficial information, Janša threatened the SMC at Wednesday's coalition meeting with election. Allegedly, he said that if SMC MPs did not vote for a government proposal on public agencies he would initiate a snap election.

Janša has made it clear in many ways that he is prepared for an election: he has initiated the coalition Unite Slovenia, he has amendments to the election law ready, and the Democrats (SDS) have their lists of local candidates almost ready according to local sources, Mladina says.

"And what is the craziest of it all? That the SMC do not get that at some point Janša will indeed trigger an election. And not only that: that Janša knows that at that point they will be left all alone and without support."

Janša has been making sure all along that the SMC and DeSUS will not be able to recover after their political U-turn.

"We all remember how he and [former government Covid-19 spokesman Jelko] Kacin used to humiliate DeSUS minister Tomaž Gantar day after day. Just as it seemed the public trusts him, he got at least one political slap in the face every week.

"And what is Janša doing to the education minister, Simona Kustec, an SMC member? He humiliates her every week. Honestly, every week. He annuls her every move thus making a fool of her."

But just as DeSUS MPs do not understand that the arrows flying towards Gantar were intended for them because Janša wants them to be as weak as possible, the SMC does not understand that by humiliating Kustec, Janša is humiliating the entire SMC.

SMC president Zdravko Počivalšek does not see how cleverly he is being manipulated by Janša only to be left high and dry in the end. "That's simply what Janša does to 'friends'. After all it's what he also did to [former SDS leader] Jože Pučnik," says Mladina under the headline Violent Rule.

Demokracija: Criticism of university enrolment approval delay unreasonable

STA, 4 February 2021 - The right-wing weekly Demokracija comments on Thursday on the criticism with which the delay in approving university enrolment figures for the next academic year was met. "The toxic arrows" aimed at the government are completely unreasonable, it says.

The reaction by privileged sub-systems in the swamp of cultural Marxism to the government's action was fierce, with the main argument being that the government was now interfering in matters that were a mere formality so far.

"Yes, my dears, this is the problem, this mere 'formality' of approving something nobody in the country needs, approving something that only serves an ideological course created by the consecrated: creating a mass of humanities majors to lecture about social fairness. But nobody comes to think that sooner or later we will run out of those earning money with their hands."

The magazine says that "intellectual and academic terrorism" had been controlling the education system for far too long.

The current state of affairs with humanities offering 39% of new study places, while there are 2 percentage points fewer places to study technology, IT and natural sciences, does not reflect reality, the weekly says under the headline Planes Don't Land Here Anymore.

This only causes the need to create new jobs for the unemployables, mostly in the public sector, while the country needs to lure in engineers and doctors from abroad.

All our posts in this series are here

07 Feb 2021, 10:56 AM

STA, 5 February 2021 - Several Slovenian MEPs expressed the view on Friday that the EU must insist on equal treatment of all its citizens, as they responded to a report that citizens of five EU countries, including Slovenia, will have to pay more for their UK work visas. Slovenia also called on the European Commission to take action.

The news portal Politico reported today that citizens of Slovenia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania and Romania are not eligible to a GBP 55 visa fee reduction enjoyed by nationals of all other EU member states.

MEPs Klemen Grošelj (Renew/LMŠ), Franc Bogovič (SLS/EPP), Romana Tomc (SDS/EPP) and Milan Brglez (S&D/SD) share the view that the EU must insist on equal treatment. They believe that this is an attempt by the UK to undermine the EU's unity.

"The UK is playing a game with which it wants to create a rift between member states," Grošelj said at the MEPs' briefing in Brussels, adding that the UK uses different methods of pressure with different countries. In the case of France, the Netherlands and Belgium, for example, it is using fisheries, he said.

If unequal treatment persists, the MEPs will bring the issue up at the European Parliament, with Brglez saying that MEPs from the five member states could have the matter discussed in parliament.

"This is a touchstone for the unity of the EU, said Tomc, expressing the belief that the solution to this will depend on the EU. "If we give in, this approach will continue in all fields."

Slovenia's Foreign Ministry confirmed that Slovenia, Romania, Bulgaria, Lithuania and Estonia had urged the European Commission to take action. Slovenia is also looking into the possibility of taking action within the European Council.

The UK's list of countries eligible to the fees discount is based on the list of signatories of the 1961 Council of Europe's Social Charter (CESC).

Slovenia ratified the revised 1996 document, which means that like many other countries it did not ratify the relevant Article 18.2 on visa fee discounts. However, Slovenia argues that the UK's exclusion of signatories of the revised version goes against the provisions of the document, the ministry told the STA.

"It is our position that a country is obligated to uphold documents and provisions it has passed, even in relation to countries that ratified a different version of the document and without respect to whether these other countries took on the relevant obligations.

"Moreover, a non-discrimination clause in the preamble to the 1961 document applies to all provisions of the document, including the provisions relevant to visa fees," the Foreign Ministry said.

Politico also points out in its report that several countries which had not signed the 1961 charter were still eligible for the visa fee discount, among them Croatia, the Czech Republic, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Malta and Portugal.

07 Feb 2021, 04:52 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.

This summary is provided by the STA

Slovenia seeking to join MED7

NICOSIA, Cyprus - Bilateral ties, EU issues, the Cyprus issue and Slovenia's desire to join the MED7 topped the agenda as Slovenian Foreign Minister Anže Logar held talks with Cypriot counterpart Nikosom Hristodulidesom. Logar said Slovenia wanted to join the MED7 club of Mediterranean EU members because like all Mediterranean countries, it wishes to have a stronger say in tackling common issues. According to Hristodulides, Cyprus fully supports the idea.

Slovenia receives first shipment of AstraZeneca vaccine

TOLMIN - Slovenia received the first shipment of the coronavirus vaccine made by AstraZeneca, said Health Ministry State secretary Marija Magajne. The vaccine will be deployed starting next week. Slovenia initially expected 15,000 shots of the vaccine but the figure was later reduced to 9,600. Magajna did not have information about the exact number of doses.

Stores reopening amid complaints about testing

LJUBLJANA - Many stores in Slovenia opened after the government last night gave the go-ahead for the nation-wide reopening of a large segment of services businesses. All shops and workshops under 400 m2 were allowed to open regardless of the goods they are selling or service they are performing. Some services that have long been shut down, for example real estate agencies, may reopen as well. The reopening however comes with a broad testing mandate for staff, in some cases even for customers.

Under 1,000 new coronavirus cases, 18 deaths reported for Friday

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia reported 990 new cases of coronavirus for Friday, the continuation of a steady decline. A total of 18 Covid-19 patients died. The number of patients in hospital fell by 62 to 926, of which 157 were in intensive care compared to 161 the day before. A total of 121 patients were released from hospital.

University enrolment plan confirmed

LJUBLJANA - The government cleared the plan of enrolment in university programmes for the next academic year after increasing the number of available posts for students of medicine and computer science, and raising the number of posts set aside for non-EU students. The overall number of posts for first-year university programmes at four public and ten private universities is 18,520, down 120 compared to the original proposal.

Two top-three finishes for Slovenian ski jumpers

KLINGENTHAL, Germany/Linz, Austria - Slovenia ski jumpers won two World Cup podium positions as Bor Pavlovčič finished third in Klingenthal for his first-ever top-three finish, whereas Nika Križnar was the runner-up in Hinzenbach.

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


06 Feb 2021, 14:23 PM

What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.

If you’d like to keep up on the daily headlines then follow those here, or get all our stories in your feed on Facebook.

FRIDAY, 29 January
        LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court, deliberating on an act providing recourse to investors who lost their investments during the 2013 banking sector bailout, said it turned to the EU's Court of Justice with multiple questions, including about the payment of compensation by the Slovenian central bank and release of data. The procedures related to the case are thus suspended pending a reply from the EU court.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša said no major easing of anti-epidemic restrictions was to be expected in the coming weeks and the government would stick to the easing plan adopted earlier this month, which meant that schools and businesses might have to close again if the situation deteriorated.
        LJUBLJANA - The government failure to okay this year's call for applications to enrol in university courses before the 1 February deadline upset students and the academia. However, PM Janez Janša said the issue was of strategic nature because it concerned youth employability, so the government would give it all due care.
        LJUBLJANA - National motorway company DARS announced that Slovakia's Skytoll had been selected to set up a system for electronic tolling of cars, due to be operational in December. Skytoll offered to set it up for EUR 15.7 million and its bid was the only one meeting the criteria among the three DARS had received.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded slightly over three million arrivals of domestic and foreign tourists in 2020, down by almost 51% on 2019, as a surge in domestic tourism failed to offset the collapse in foreign tourist arrivals. Tourist accommodation facilities saw a 21% rise in domestic arrivals and a 74% drop in arrivals of foreign tourists.
        LJUBLJANA - Preliminary data released by the Finance Ministry showed Slovenia had a budget deficit of EUR 3.5 billion last year, considerably below the figure predicted in the annual budget. Total budget revenue declined by just over 10% to EUR 9.08 billion, whereas expenditure surged by nearly 27% to EUR 12.56 billion.

SATURDAY, 30 January
        LJUBLJANA - Franc Kramar, a long-serving former mayor of Bohinj and MP for the opposition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), died aged 60 after a long illness. He was succeeded as MP by party leader Alenka Bratušek, by virtue of her having achieved the second best result for her party in the Kranj electoral district.
        TRBOVLJE - Three swastikas were spray-painted on a building in Trbovlje where Health Ministry State Secretary Alenka Forte, a medical doctor, has her office. The police have launched an investigation, Forte said on Twitter.

SUNDAY, 31 January
        KOPER/LJUBLJANA/KRANJ - Rallies were held across the country as parents protested against school closures after two regions slipped back into black tier last week after the first such protest was held on Saturday in Trbovlje. The government decided schools in the two regions should return to remote teaching and kindergartens close on 1 February after pupils in years one to three were allowed back in nine of Slovenia's 12 regions at the beginning of the week. Protests continued in the following days.
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša's office announced Janša had nominated Slovenian Madagascar-based missionary Pedro Opeka and his humanitarian organisation Akamasoa for this year's Nobel Peace Prize.
        LJUBLJANA - A public opinion poll commissioned by commercial broadcaster Nova24TV showed the senior coalition Democrats (SDS) firmly in the lead with 23.5%, up 2.6 percentage points over last week, followed by the opposition Social Democrats (SD) with 8.1%.

MONDAY, 1 February
        LJUBLJANA - A new test carried out by the National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Food confirmed that the first confirmed case of the UK strain of coronavirus in Slovenia was brought to the country by a person who came from England in December.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor sent an invitation to the leaders of all nine parliamentary parties for a joint meeting in a bid to overcome political differences and reach a consensus on focusing on the epidemic, post-pandemic recovery and Slovenia's EU presidency. The invitation was turned down by two opposition parties.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor had a video talk with his Austrian counterpart Alexander Van der Bellen to discuss topical international issues and agree closer cooperation in fighting climate change. The pair also talked about the Covid-19 pandemic and the Slovenian minority in Austria.
        VIENNA, Austria - A law providing EUR 4 million to the Austrian province of Carinthia in the period until 2024 on account of its Slovenian ethnic minority as promised by the federal government on the centenary of the Carinthian plebiscite last year was published in German and Slovenian, in what is the first such instance in post-WWII Austria.
        LJUBLJANA - Mia Skrbinac became the first Slovenian actress to speak out publicly about sexual harassment as she revealed for TV Slovenija she had been sexually harassed for two years by a well-known actor and acting professor during her time as a student at the Ljubljana Academy of Theatre, Radio, Film and Television. She did not disclose his name.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Home Affairs Committee discussed the conduct by Court of Audit president Tomaž Vesel in the wake of alleged conflict of interest caused by his work at FIFA. The session was boycotted by four opposition parties and ended with two proposals, one of them being for Vesel to resign.
        LJUBLJANA - Maj-Gen Robert Glavaš, the chief of the general staff, and Force Commander Brig-Gen Miha Škerbinc announced the Slovenian army will increase the number of troops, adjust its structure and overhaul military education in 2021, while international missions and cooperation with police remain among the key tasks.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia has used 83.5% of the Covid-19 vaccine vials it has received so far, which puts it fifth among the 15 European countries for which preliminary data are available in the relevant tracker launched by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
        BEGUNJE NA GORENJSKEM - Sports goods maker Elan presented its new product, Elan Voyager, highly-efficient versatile foldable carving skis, the first such innovative product in the world.

TUESDAY, 2 February
        LJUBLJANA - The Foreign Ministry said Slovenia was shocked at Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny being sentenced to prison, and urged "his immediate and unconditional release", joining calls from several countries, including the EU.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission disbursed the remaining EUR 913 million to Slovenia in the form favourable loans as part of the SURE instrument after the country received EUR 200 million last year to mitigate unemployment risks during the coronavirus pandemic.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission approved EUR 5 million in state aid for Fraport Slovenija, which the company operating Slovenia's No.1 airport will use to compensate the damage from the pandemic.
        LJUBLJANA - Karl Erjavec, the leader of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), announced he would submit a new motion of no-confidence in the government next week despite being short of the 46 votes required to unseat the Janez Janša government.
        LJUBLJANA - The Defence Ministry sent into public consultation a draft bill overhauling military education and bringing a number of benefits to improve the status of Slovenian soldiers, including by allowing soldiers on international missions to take more rest.
        LJUBLJANA - Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek held an online meeting with European Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski discussing topics that will be on the agenda of Slovenia's upcoming EU presidency.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Institute of Public Health data confirmed reports that numerous Covid-19 patients had got infected in health institutions. So far, at least 956 severe hospital-acquired infections have been recorded.
        VIENNA, Austria - Around 26,000 Slovenian daily migrants to Austria will have to present a negative test for coronavirus as Austria introduced stricter entry conditions.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Bureau of Investigation conducted house searches as it investigates a suspected EUR 30 million case of corporate fraud which revolves around the sale of retailer Engrotuš's brands in 2016.
        LJUBLJANA - The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) announced its director general Sonja Šmuc was leaving by mutual agreement on 28 February.
        LJUBLJANA - A building in Ljubljana housing Zavod Iskreni, a Christian NGO, was defaced as unknown perpetrators spray-painted two swastikas on its facade and entrance and wrote "Corruption?" on the door, in what is another in a series of similar recent incidents.

WEDNESDAY, 3 February
        LJUBLJANA - Parliament passed the eighth economic stimulus law, worth around EUR 320 million. The key measures are the state shouldering the minimum wage rise, an extension of the furlough scheme, and introduction of fines for vaccine queue-jumping. Matej Lahovnik, the economist heading the taskforce preparing the mitigation measures, suggested it was now time to start thinking about an exit strategy.
        LJUBLJANA - The four-left leaning opposition parties filed a proposal to oust Education Minister Simona Kustec over what they see as "unprofessional and harmful policies" in organising child care and education during the epidemic, which has led to the longest school and kindergarten closure in Europe.
        LJUBLJANA - The government amended the rules for entry into Slovenia to scrap some of the exceptions for entering the country without a quarantine or a negative coronavirus test. The new rules will take effect on 5 February.
        KRANJ - Several classes of pupils in primaries and kindergartens in the Kranj area had to switch back to remote learning after their teachers tested positive for coronavirus in Monday's rapid testing. However, most of the positives turned out to be false, causing frustration and calling the reliability of rapid antigen tests into question.
        LJUBLJANA - The University of Ljubljana confirmed for the STA it had not extended the tenure of associate professor Igor Pribac from the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts after several students made allegations of sexual harassment. Having denied all the allegations, the 63-year-old philosopher is considering taking the matter to court. On the same day, the parliamentary Education Committee unanimously condemned sexual harassment in the academia and urged universities to adopt the necessary regulations to prevent and sanction it. The Justice Ministry was tasked to change the penal code, by also including the "yes means yes" principle.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor and Archbishop of Ljubljana Stanislav Zore discussed a number of topics over working lunch. The pair agreed it would be appropriate for the country to pay respects to those who lost their lives due to Covid-19. The pair also agreed a papal visit would be welcome to coincide with major national anniversaries this year.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's jobless total hit 91,499 at the end of January, up 4.8% on December and 14.6% year-on-year. The monthly increase is mainly due to the expiry of fixed-term job contracts, the Statistics Office said.
        LJUBLJANA - A group of 38 public figures from social and political spheres called on politicians, media and opinion leaders to de-escalate tensions, bridge the divides and meet the current challenges together.
        LJUBLJANA - Russian flag carrier Aeroflot announced it would restore flights between Ljubljana and Moscow next week, and to operate one flight a week until the end of the winter schedule.
        LJUBLJANA - The Koper investigators filed criminal charges against four people over the June 2019 freight train derailment that led to a massive kerosene spill near Hrastovlje, SW. They are suspected of failure to conduct supervision in public transport and causing damage to the environment.
        LJUBLJANA - The opposition Left announced it had recently nominated whistleblowers Julian Assange, Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning for the Nobel Peace Prize.

THURSDAY, 4 February
        LJUBLJANA - The latest coronavirus coronavirus statistics show that Slovenia has so far recorded around 171,350 cases, of which over 16,900 are estimated to be active. As many as 3,580 people died. There are currently under 1,000 patients in hospital, with 165 reported to be in intensive care.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - As the epidemiological situation keeps improving slowly, the government decided to suspend the current regional approach to coronavirus restrictions and move the entire country into the red tier, meaning that kindergartens and the first three forms of primary school will be open across the country next week. Museums, galleries and libraries can open from 5 February and ski resorts from 6 February. PM Janez Janša said differences between regions had been significant only weeks ago, but now the incidence of new coronavirus cases had converged.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - The leaders of all three coalition parties stressed their commitment to continue working together as the government faces a vote of no-confidence in parliament. Asked about the status of Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) MPs following the party's quitting the coalition, PM Janez Janša said the answer was in the vote on the latest stimulus package, which all five DeSUS MPs endorsed. New Slovenia (NSi) leader Matej Tonin said a cabinet reshuffle was possible after the vote of no-confidence.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - In an interview with the Brussels-based Politico, Foreign Minister Anže Logar said Slovenia would be an honest broker dealing with all EU issues when it takes the EU presidency on 1 July. He indicated a preference for a peer-review system over Article 7 procedure against member states.
        LJUBLJANA - The Fiscal Council urged for simple and targetted anti-crisis measures, as it noted that EUR 472 million had already been paid out from the national budget for coronavirus relief measures, more than half of the funds reserved for this purpose in 2021.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Commission for National Communities endorsed amendments to the general election act that would simplify certain procedures for the election of the two MPs representing the Italian and Hungarian minorities. The current system is to be replaced with a first-past-the-post system.
        LJUBLJANA - The Austrian energy group OMV announced it would sell off its 120 petrol stations in Slovenia as part of an ongoing EUR 2 billion divestment programme. In Slovenia, the group operates filling stations under the brands OMV, Eurotruck, Avanti and Diskont.

06 Feb 2021, 10:20 AM

STA, 6 February 2021 - The government has cleared the plan of enrolment in university programmes for the next academic year after increasing the number of available posts for students of medicine and computer science, and raising the number of posts set aside for non-EU students.

The overall number of posts for first-year university programmes at four public and ten private universities is 18,520, down 120 compared to the original proposal. There are 43 more posts for full-time students and 154 fewer for part-time students, the government said on Friday evening.

A total of 2,365 posts are available to Slovenians without Slovenian citizenship and students from non-EU countries, up 88 from the year before.

The increase is "a result of activities that higher education institutions have invested in recent years into internationalisation and increased cooperation with foreign markets," the government said.

After consultation with individual faculties, the number of posts at the Ljubljana Faulty of Computer and Information Science increased by 50 across all study courses.

Enrolment at both medical schools, at the University of Ljubljana and University of Maribor, will increase by 50 to 271. The Education Ministry ill secure extra funding for all faculties where enrolment will increase, the government said.

It was not immediately clear from government materials which courses were scaled down.

The decision comes after the government refrained from clearing the plan, which had been finalised in talks between higher education institutions and the Education Ministry.

The decision was met with resistance from education stakeholders, but the government said it was necessary to conduct a strategic deliberation on what Slovenia's labour market truly needs.

The government held a consultation with university representatives on Thursday evening and lack of medical students, in particular due to low admission numbers, was highlighted as a particular problem.

06 Feb 2021, 10:14 AM

STA, 5 February 2021 - More than a month after Slovenia launched vaccination against SARS-CoV-2, prioritising the elderly, the number of hospitalisations has decreased. Elderly care homes report that those who were infected between jabs only suffered mild or no symptoms.

Slovenia started vaccinating the elderly in care homes first, as care homes recorded frequent outbreaks and suffered the most fatalities.

By today, nearly 9,500 elderly care home residents received at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. A total of nearly 20,000 institutional care users have received at least one jab by now, the Ministry of Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities has told the STA.

Immunity develops in a specific period after the second dose, seven days after the second jab for the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine and a fortnight for the Moderna vaccine, which have been the two most widely used vaccines in Slovenia.

The country has also recently received the first batch of a vaccine developed by AstraZeneca, which is, however, recommended for a younger population. Elderly care home residents are on average older than 80.

Many homes reported high shares of residents getting infected between jabs. However, these infections were much less severe, with most patients showing only mild symptoms or none at all. Most importantly, none of those who were infected showed severe symptoms.

Apart from the elderly, nursing home and hospital staff are also being vaccinated in Slovenia at the moment. UKC Ljubljana, the country's biggest hospital, has reported that staff had gotten infected between doses, all suffering mild symptoms or none at all.

The latest data on COVID and Slovenia

06 Feb 2021, 10:11 AM

STA, 5 February 2021 - One day into the implementation of a decree that sets the public health rules for border crossing, the government has changed the decree to make it simpler for daily cross-border commuters and students, after complaints that the system was unsustainable due to insufficient testing capacity.

The changed rules that entered into force today required that cross-border commuters and students must provide a negative test no older than seven days, a requirement similar to than put in place by Austria that takes effect next week.

Under the changes expected to enter into force on Saturday, the negative test will only have to be submitted for arrivals from countries whose 14-day number of cases per 100,000 population is higher than Slovenia's, government spokeswoman Maja Bratuša said Friday evening.

The same rules apply to EU and Schengen zone nationals who cross the border to help family, maintain contact with children, perform maintenance on property, and some other, smaller groups of exemptions.

The list of countries whose coronavirus statistics are worse than Slovenia's is very short at present and includes only Spain, Portugal and Czechia. The list will be updated on a weekly basis, Bratuša said.

The decision comes after cross-border commuters living along the borders with Austria and Italy started complaining about potentially insurmountable hurdles, a point also raised by centre-left opposition parties.

In the Nova Gorica area in western Slovenia people lined up for hours today to get a free rapid antigen test before free-testing sites close for three days.

Slovenia has a bank holiday on Monday and those working or going to school in Italy on Monday would not be able to get tested on time otherwise.

Simon Vendramin, a senior member of the civil protection force in the region, said the local community health centre was overstretched and would not be able to handle large groups of daily commuters on top of all walk-in tests and regular testing of teachers each start of the week.

The changed government decree is to be published in the Official Gazette this evening and take effect today, according to Bratuša.

06 Feb 2021, 04:20 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.

This summary is provided by the STA

Requirements for daily cross-border commuters simplified

LJUBLJANA - One day into the implementation of a changed decree that sets the coronavirus-related rules for border crossing, the government changed the decree once more to make it simpler for daily cross-border commuters and students. The rules that entered into force today required cross-border commuters and students to provide a negative test no older than seven days. Under the changes to enter into force on Saturday, the negative test will only have to be submitted for arrivals from countries whose 14-day number of cases per 100,000 population is higher than Slovenia's. At the moment, these are only Spain, Portugal and Czechia.

Stores and repair shops up to 400 m2 to reopen, provided staff get tested

LJUBLJANA - Additional businesses will be allowed to reopen under a government decree that is expected to take effect on Saturday, which significantly expands the testing mandate. Some but not all businesses which are currently open will have to test their employees on a weekly basis, including grocery shops, effective from 12 February. For some types of businesses that will now be newly open, both providers and customers will have to be tested.

Thursday's coronavirus count below 1,000

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded 959 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, the first time since late October that the daily increase in infections fell below 1,000 on a weekday, except for Christmas and New Year's Day, as the 7-day average fell to 1,076. 14 Covid-19 patients died. 779 infections were confirmed from 5,247 PCR tests and another 180 cases from 7,657 rapid antigen tests, for positivity rates of 14.8% and 2.4%, respectively. The tracker site shows the PCR positivity rate has not been this low since the first half of October. Hospitalisations fell by one to 988 and the number of intensive care patients by four to 161.

Advisory body recommends restricting AstraZeneca vaccine to under 65s

LJUBLJANA - The national advisory committee on immunization recommended restricting the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19 to people aged 18 to 64, due to a lack of data on the vaccine's efficacy in older people. However, the committee, which acts as an advisory body to the National Institute of Public Health, recommends giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to immobile persons at home, regardless of their age. Slovenia is the latest European country to limit the vaccine to persons under the age of 65.

Four opposition parties file motion to oust culture minister

LJUBLJANA - The opposition Social Democrats (SD), Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), the Left and the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) filed an ouster motion against Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti. Talking to the press, opposition MPs listed a number of arguments, among them ineffective Covid crisis measures in the culture sector. The opposition holds the minister accountable for refusing to pay pre-agreed funds to film makers and for attacks on media freedom and independent journalism. It also believes he failed to uphold the principle of separation of church and state and tried to bend the culture sector according to the SDS policy.

Logar discussing EU and Mediterranean cooperation in Malta

VALLETTA, Malta - Foreign Minister Anže Logar was on a working visit to Malta meeting Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Evarist Bartolo, President George Vella and Speaker Angelo Farrugia to discuss a number of EU topics ahead of Slovenia's EU presidency in the second half of the year. Logar and Bartolo called for closer cooperation, including in tackling key issues in the Mediterranean, such as migrations.

Pahor and Janša address diplomatic corps

LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša and President Borut Pahor looked back at the country's achievements in 2020 and highlighted the priorities for 2021 as they addressed diplomats accredited to Slovenia as part of the annual, albeit virtual New Year reception. Janša pointed to trust, cooperation and solidarity as the key values and principles of cooperation in the neighbourhood and at regional level. He said Slovenia would build its policies in 2021 on the experience of cooperation, consolidation of mutual trust and solidarity from the pandemic year 2020.

Central bank says risks to financial stability remain high

LJUBLJANA - Risks to financial stability remain high at the start of 2021 as the economic situation remains tough, Banka Slovenije said, pointing to revenue and credit risks. Without quick and extensive economic policies the situation would be much worse, the central bank added. Despite the deterioration of the epidemiological situation and harsh business conditions in 2020, the banking system had generated a relatively high profit until November 2020. The central bank said a merger of two banks had a major impact on this.

EIB ready to co-fund Slovenia's post-crisis recovery

LJUBLJANA/LUXEMBOURG - The European Investment Bank (EIB) vice-president Lilyana Pavlova expressed the bank's willingness to help Slovenia financially after the Covid-19 crisis. The EIB has been active in Slovenia since 1977 and in this period it has allocated more than EUR 7 billion for various projects, Pavlova noted. In the past decade, it has invested over EUR 3.7 billion to support SMEs and infrastructural projects. Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj stressed the importance of investment for post-epidemic recovery.

Preliminary environmental approval issued for Magna expansion

HOČE - The Environment Agency issued a preliminary environmental approval this week for an expansion of the factory of the automotive giant Magna near Maribor. The document has been sent to the planing authorities. Magna's application will now be reviewed, whereupon a public consultation will follow involving environmental and other groups, and then an environmental approval can be issued as a precondition for a construction permit.

Govt keen to secure more places for medical, care students

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Prime Minister Janez Janša announced the government would secure extra funding to increase enrolment places for medical students, as the government met representatives of higher education and business on Thursday before it decides on the university enrolment plan. Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj argued that demand for healthcare and social care staff would remain the strongest in the future, as both him and Janša listed labour market surpluses of law, management, social sciences and similar graduates. University chancellors taking part in the debate urged the government to approve the uni enrolment plan.

Two petitions to review latest retirement provisions at top court

LJUBLJANA - Equal Opportunities Ombudsman Miha Lobnik filed a petition to the Constitutional Court to examine two provisions in the seventh economic stimulus law after trade unions represented on the Economic and Social Council already did that in late January. The provisions enable employers to unilaterally terminate the employment contract when a worker meets old-age retirement criteria - being 60 or 65 years old and having 40 or 15 years of pensionable service, respectively.

Slovenian MEPs say EU must insist on equal treatment over UK visa fees

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Several Slovenian MEPs from different political groups called on the EU to insist on equal treatment of all its citizens, as they responded to a report that citizens of five EU countries, including Slovenia, will have to pay more for their UK work visas. The news portal Politico reported that citizens of Slovenia, Bulgaria, Estonia, Lithuania and Romania are not eligible to a GBP 55 visa fee reduction enjoyed by nationals of all other EU member states.

Slovenia's annual deflation rate at 0.7% in January

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's consumer price growth remained negative in January, as the annual deflation rate stood at 0.7% mainly due to lower prices of fuels and energy (by 9.4%), the Statistics Office said. Year-on-year, prices of services increased by 0.4%, while prices of goods fell by 1.2%. Slovenia also recorded deflation at the monthly level, running at 0.4%, due to winter sales of clothing and footwear.

Three die in workshop explosion near Radovljica

RADOVLJICA - Three people have died in a blast in a carpentry workshop near Radovljica, the police said. The cause of the blast is unclear at this point. Kranj police spokesman Bojan Kos said it appeared the blast originated in a wood stove in a workshop that was not in active use.

Ski jumps: Double victory for Slovenian female team in Austria

HINZENBACH, Austria - Slovenia celebrated a double victory at the Women's Ski Jumping World Cup as Nika Križnar bagged her first World Cup victory, followed by Ema Klinec. "It's a dream come true. I've been wanting to win a World Cup event for a long time," Križnar said.

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05 Feb 2021, 15:46 PM

STA, 5 February 2020 - Data by Johns Hopkins University from the US shows Slovenia has the highest percentage of population of any EU country that has already received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine. A table tracking vaccine efforts around the world shows that 0.90% of Slovenian population has been fully vaccinated.

Some 70,940 doses have been administered in Slovenia, with 18,726 receiving both jabs by now, the Johns Hopkins table shows.

Slovenia's covid tracker Sledilnik, which draws data from the national vaccination registry, shows that more than 54,200 people have received at least one dose of a vaccine by Thursday and over 36,000 the second shot.

Slovenia started vaccination, which is voluntary and free of charge, in late December, with the elderly, care home and hospital staff taking priority.

It is currently using three different vaccines produced by Pfizer/BionTech, Moderna and AstraZeneca, all of which require two jabs.

Israel has the highest percentage of fully inoculated population (18.28%), with the rest lagging far behind. The UAE are in second place, followed by Iceland, the US, the Isle of Man and Slovenia in place six. The EU average is currently at 0.29%.

05 Feb 2021, 14:38 PM

STA, 5 February 2021 - The national advisory committee on immunization has recommended restricting the use of the AstraZeneca vaccine against Covid-19 to people aged 18 to 64, due to a lack of data on the vaccine's efficacy in older people.

However, the committee, which acts as an advisory body to the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), has recommended giving the AstraZeneca vaccine to immobile persons at home, regardless of their age, according to a release posted on the NIJZ website.

This is because the vaccine, unlike messenger RNA vaccines (mRNA) such as Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna vaccines, is more stable and can be transported ready for application to the vaccination point.

Since there are currently not sufficient data on the vaccine's efficacy in patients with chronic conditions, the advice is that those should rather be jabbed with mRNA vaccines.

The advisory committee recommends the AstraZeneca vaccine to be used as a priority in health workers who have not been inoculated yet, for education and childcare staff, institutionalised persons who have not jet received a jab, for staff and pupils in special needs schools, and for staff in other critical services.

A second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine should be applied nine to 12 weeks after the first jab.

Slovenia has thus joined a growing number of European countries who have limited the AstraZeneca vaccine to persons under the age of 65.

Apart from the fact that it can be stored at standard refrigerator temperatures and that it is cheaper, the vaccine is also less effective than mRNA vaccines.

The first batch of the AstraZeneca vaccine is due to arrive in Slovenia on Monday with inoculation due to start of Tuesday. It is expected to contain 9,600 doses, less than the initially expected 15,000.

A batch of 4,800 Moderna vaccine doses has arrived in Slovenia today, the NIJZ told the STA.

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