01 Feb 2021, 11:59 AM

STA, 1 February 2021 - Slovenia will receive the first batch of the newly approved AstraZeneca vaccine, amounting to 15,000 doses, either at the end of this week or the beginning of the next, the STA has learnt from the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).

Today, Slovenia expects to receive some 17,500 doses of the Pfizer/BionTech vaccine. The vaccine will be used for second shots, while vaccination of the elderly who have not yet received a jab will continue next week.

In the past days, the most recent Moderna vaccine shipment of 2,400 doses arrived in Slovenia and the next batch, amounting to 4,800 doses, is expected on Friday.

Three more batches of the Pfizer/BionTech are expected in the next three weeks. 17,500 doses are to arrive on 9 February, 21,060 doses on 15 February and 22,300 doses on 22 February, the NIJZ said.

Meanwhile, the supply of AstraZeneca vaccine in the future remains unclear. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said yesterday after talks with the company that AstraZeneca is to deliver 40 million doses to the EU by the end of the first quarter of the year.

NIJZ data show that 52,942 people in Slovenia have received their first jab, while 23,035 have already had two shots.

01 Feb 2021, 04:36 AM

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Parents protesting closure of schools

KOPER/LJUBLJANA/KRANJ - Rallies were held across the country as parents protested closure of schools after two regions slipped back into black tier last week. The government decided schools in the two regions should return to remote teaching and kindergartens close on Monday after pupils in grades one to three were allowed back in nine of 12 regions last week. After some 200 people protested in Trbovlje on Saturday, protests were staged in Koper, Ljubljana, Maribor, Kranj and a number of other towns. PM Janez Janša said tweeted after the Trbovlje protest, saying it was "irrational and dangerous exploitation of children for political purposes in a time of epidemic."

580 out of 4,619 coronavirus tests positive on Saturday, 13 people die

LJUBLJANA - A total of 4,619 rapid and PCR coronavirus tests were performed in Slovenia on Saturday, with 580 coming back positive, according to government data. 13 people died. 2,408 of the tests were PCR tests of which 482 were positive, a positivity rate of 20%. The rest were rapid antigen tests, of which 98 were positive, a positivity rate of 4.4%. Hospitals were treating 1.053 Covid-19 patients, six more than the day before. 165 required intensive care, the same as on Friday. 43 people were discharged from the hospital.

PM questions suitability of proposed university applications

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša wondered in a Facebook post whether Slovenia will be able to compete in the fourth industrial revolution with countries where there are twice as many people studying science and technology as humanities, whereas in Slovenia the share of the former is 37% and 39% of the latter. This comes days after the government was expected to approve public universities' enrolment plans for next year.

Cross country skier Lampič second in classic sprint

FALUN, Sweden - Cross country skier Anamarija Lampič was second in the FIS World Cup women's sprint classic final in Falun, Sweden. She finished 0.33 seconds behind Linn Svahn and ahead of Jonna Sundling, both of Sweden. Sundling and Lampič finished in the same time, with Sundling taking third place after the judges viewed the photo finish footage.

Nova24TV poll shows SDS in firm lead

LJUBLJANA - The most recent public opinion poll commissioned by commercial broadcaster Nova24TV showed the senior coalition Democrats (SDS) firmly in the lead with a support of 23.5% of respondents, up 2.6 percentage points over last week, followed by the opposition Social Democrats (SD) with 8.1%. the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and the Left are close on its heels with 7.7% each, followed by New Slovenia (NSi) and the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) with 3.6% each. Compared to last week, the latter saw the biggest drop in support among all parties, losing 2.8 percentage points.

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31 Jan 2021, 16:35 PM

STA, 31 January 2021 - Several hundred people gathered in Koper to protest against closure of schools on Sunday after the Obalno-Kraška and Zasavje regions slipped back into black tier last week. The government decided schools should return to remote teaching and kindergartens close on Monday after pupils in grades one to three were allowed back for only four days last week.

The protest was initiated on social media and drew parents, as well as children and other protesters, carrying banners saying "Schools must remain open", "Enough! Zoom is cancelled!" and "Open kindergartens, shut down government!".

"Gremo v solo" vzklika Koper. #protest

Posted by Tatjana Tanackovic on Sunday, 31 January 2021

"This is not an uprising, this is not a revolution. This is a fight for the basic rights of all of us, but especially our children. We're here today to say no to additional destruction of our children's future," one of the parents said.

The protest in Koper comes a day after some 200 people protested the closure of schools in Trbovlje. Moreover, posts on social media suggest that today and tomorrow parents will be protesting in other parts of the country as well.

Prime Minister Janez Janša responded to the Trbovlje protest in a tweet this morning, labelling it "irrational and dangerous exploitation of children for political purposes in a time of epidemic."

"The rally is also illegal. It is such irresponsible behaviour that worsens the situation in individual regions," Janša added, also retweeting a tweet saying that the organiser of the Trbovlje protest ran for the opposition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) in the 2018 local election.

In nine of Slovenia's 12 administrative units, kindergartners and pupils in first three grades of primary school were allowed to return on Tuesday, after more than three months.

But on Thursday, the government decided to once again close the schools in Zasavje and Obalno-Kraška regions following an increase in coronavirus cases that pushed the regions back into tier black.

31 Jan 2021, 14:30 PM

STA, 31 January 2021 - Prime Minister Janez Janša has wondered in a Facebook post whether Slovenia will have a competitive edge in the fourth industrial revolution compared to countries where there are twice as many people studying science and technology than humanities, whereas in Slovenia the share of the former is 37% and 39% of the latter.

This comes days after the government was expected to approve public universities' enrolment plans for next year. The proposal, sent to the government for approval by the Education Ministry, is to be discussed by the cabinet this week, Janša said on Friday.

Laying down the number of positions in public schools and faculties is one of the most important strategic decisions in any country, the prime minister said in a Facebook post on Sunday.

STRATEŠKE ODLOČITVE O NAŠI PRIHODNOSTI Sprejemamo slovenske in evropske resolucije o inovativnosti, umetni inteligenci,...

Posted by Janez Janša on Sunday, 31 January 2021

A bad decision may lead to the creation of thousands of youths without employment prospects, he said, adding that the government would pay the matter all due attention.

Pointing to numerous Slovenian and EU resolutions on innovation, AI and digitalisation, he said "we are saying that only innovation and new technologies can protect us from the effects of global warming. At the same time, we are planning enrolment in our public schools and faculties, determining the knowledge our children will have in 5, 10, 15 and 20 years":

"With a student structure of 39% in social sciences, humanities and arts compared to 37% in natural sciences, technology and IT, will Slovenia hold any competitive edge at all in the fourth industrial revolution compared against countries where this share is 1 to 2?" Janša wonders.

Plans also must take into account professional dynamics in real life, he said. "A good engineer or a doctor may become a good manager in the course of their professional career. But it is very rare that a good economics major, a philosopher or jurist becomes a good engineer or doctor in the course of their career."

The country needs knowledge both in humanities and technology. But the shares of the different professional profiles are determined by the demands of a specific time period, the needs of the business sector and public services, as well as other factors such as demographics and ecology, Janša said.

It is impossible to say exactly how many experts in which field will be needed in 5 or 20 years, but it is possible to see very clearly what highly-developed countries are doing, he said. It is also very clear what professionals have the hardest time finding work.

"Additional enrolment of a large number of unemployables despite possibilities to make realistic assessments verges on social madness," said Janša.

31 Jan 2021, 12:21 PM

STA, 30 January 2021 - A consortium of EU-wide protected crops and food products from Slovenia was established this week at the initiative of the Slovenian Beekeepers' Association. The consortium will aim to promote the products, act as a united front in providing promotional funds and work on regulating the area, the association said.

The European Commission has so far protected 24 Slovenian products using the three EU labels known as protected designation of origin (PDO), protected geographical indication (PGI) and traditional speciality (TSG).

The consortium is comprised of the owners of the protected brands, including, among others, the Planika Dairy, the Bohinj cheese-making association, Salt Production, the association of olive growers of Slovenian Istria and the Slovenian Beekeepers' Association.

All the organisations will primarily seek to work together on ensuring promotional funds for the certified products as well as to come up with a joint promotional campaign.

Moreover, the consortium aims to come up with legislative proposals to regulate the area and provide information or raise alarm regarding illicit practices or brand abuse, the Slovenian Beekeepers' Association said.

Its head Boštjan Noč has been appointed the consortium's representative for a period of two years. He highlighted the role of Slovenian EU protected food products on the occasion, describing them as part of the national identity.

"Unfortunately, I have to point out that Slovenian EU protected products are often times overlooked at the national level and depend solely on EU open calls, particularly in terms of promotion," Noč noted, adding that his aim is to step up efforts to improve the situation and make sure the products become a mainstay of the menus in public institutions and state protocol buildings.

He would like to see the first joint promotional campaign to be launched this year. Noč also said that the Agricultural Ministry had pledged to include such promotional efforts in the national food promotion scheme from 2022 onwards.

The consortium will also strive to ensure co-funding for certification procedures and to beef up monitoring over brand abuse.


Source: EU

Its programme will be presented at the international agriculture and food fair Agra in August and at the International Trade Fair (MOS) in September.

The list of the protected brands includes among others Bovec, Nanos and Tolminc cheeses, extra virgin olive oil from Istria, forest honey from Kočevje, prleška tunka cured meat, belokranjska pogača bread, idrijski žlikrofi dumplings from Idrija, prekmurska gibanica cake from Prekmurje, Piran sea salt and Istrian prosciutto.

31 Jan 2021, 12:09 PM

STA, 30 January 2021 - Three swastikas have been 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 on Saturday.

"Thank you, people of Trbovlje, for this display of gratitude for a doctor's 35 years of work in the local environment. For countless saved lives and dedicated work in the local community," she said.

Forte apologised in a follow-up tweet saying that there was no evidence this was done by a Trbovlje resident. She said police were already on the case.

31 Jan 2021, 04:46 AM

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1,290 coronavirus cases, 22 deaths reported for Friday

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded 1,290 new cases of coronavirus on Friday, a marked improvement over a week ago. A total of 22 people with Covid-19 died. The government reports 1,047 people with Covid-19 in hospital, down from 1,082 the day before, whereas the number of persons in intensive care declined by four to 165. The latest figures bring the number of cases confirmed since the start of the epidemic to 165,887 and the number of deaths to 3,490.

Opposition MP Kramar dies

LJUBLJANA - Franc Kramar, long-serving former mayor of Bohinj and MP for the opposition Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), has died aged 60 after a long illness. Kramar served as mayor of Bohinj in 1994-1998 and then between 2002 and 2018, when he was elected to parliament on the SAB slate. Kramar will be 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.

Consortium of Slovenia's EU protected foods set up

LJUBLJANA - A consortium of EU-protected crops and food products from Slovenia was established this week at the initiative of the Slovenian Beekeepers' Association. The consortium will aim to promote the products and act as a united front in providing promotional funds. The EU Commission has so far protected 24 Slovenian products with one of the three EU labels known as protected designation of origin (PDO), protected geographical indication (PGI) and traditional speciality (TSG).

Building housing state secretary's office defaced with swastikas

TRBOVLJE - Three swastikas have been 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.

Second consecutive World Cup podium for ski jumper Ema Klinec

TITISEE-NEUSTADT, Germany - Slovenian ski jumper Ema Klinec recorded her second consecutive World Cup podium finish as she won third place in Titisee-Neustadt behind the Austrian World Cup leader Marita Kramer and Norway's Silje Opseth. Nika Križnar, the best Slovenian in the overall World Cup rankings, finished fifth today.

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30 Jan 2021, 13:03 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, 22 January
        ZAGREB, Croatia - The foreign ministers of Slovenia and Croatia, Anže Logar and Gordan Grlić Radman, assessed after talks, which focused on Croatia's exclusive economic zone in the Adriatic Sea and included the border arbitration, that they had managed to raise the Slovenian-Croatian relations to a higher level in the past ten months. Logar also visited the earthquake-hit Petrinja area to express condolences to the victims' families and convey Slovenia's readiness to help.
        LJUBLJANA - Four opposition parties filed a motion to oust Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Minister Janez Cigler Kralj over his work related to care homes during the epidemic and the ministry's decision to grant funds to an NGO with close links to the minister.
        LJUBLJANA - The travel quarantine exceptions list was expanded to allow citizens of Slovenia and other EU and Schengen countries to enter the country without quarantining if they had left to perform maintenance work on private property in another EU or Schengen country, or to provide care or aid or to visit their child, for no longer than 12 hours.
        LJUBLJANA - Health Ministry official Vesna Kerstin Petrič announced that, although testing for the coronavirus is not compulsory, teachers who did not want to get tested would not be allowed to teach in person in a classroom.
        LJUBLJANA - The Environment and Spatial Planning Ministry welcomed the US's return to the Paris Agreement, praising it as a positive development in global efforts to meet the commitments from the 2015 climate deal. "This will definitely represent a new element in the process aimed at starting the implementation of the Paris Agreement," it added.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Ambassador to Italy Tomaž Kunstelj and the foreign and culture ministries expressed their opposition to in any way promote a Slovenian-curated exhibition showcasing the imagery of heroism in the former Yugoslavia and involving the Ljubljana Museum of Modern Art to be put on at the MAXXI museum in Rome, the left-wing magazine Mladina reported.
        LJUBLJANA - FM Anže Logar expressed concern about systematic violation of human rights in Belarus as he addressed a meeting of the UN Security Council on media freedom in the country. "Detaining and punishing journalists and media employees for their work is unacceptable," Logar was quoted as saying by his ministry.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Covid-19 contact tracing app, launched in summer 2020 as a measure to contain the spread of coronavirus, was upgraded to include many new features, including cross-border exchange of tracing keys.
SATURDAY, 23 January
        LJUBLJANA - Dnevnik reported that the Information Commissioner did not establish any irregularities in the police's access to the personal data of 44 politicians, including party and deputy group leaders. The procedure was launched last February after several politicians expressed concern their data might have been accessed by police without authorisation.
        LJUBLJANA - Labour, Family, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities Minister Janez Cigler Kralj said in response to the ousting motion filed by the opposition that it was not based on facts, and that care homes had been understaffed and underfunded long before the coronavirus epidemic.
        LJUBLJANA - Creditreform Rating, an European credit rating agency, affirmed Slovenia's AA- rating with a stable outlook. It said Slovenia had a strong economic environment, a flexible labour market while its private sector's indebtedness is low, which should contribute to the country's post-Covid recovery.

SUNDAY, 24 January
        LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša announced that the first case of the highly transmissible UK coronavirus variant had been officially confirmed in Slovenia in a Kosovo national who arrived from Belgium. The National Institute of Public Health said it planned to retroactively check tests from all regions that have come back positive since 11 January. The subsequent screening of 877 samples of positive PCR tests showed 16 had two genetic changes matching the highly virulent UK strain of the virus.
        LJUBLJANA - A public opinion poll commissioned by the commercial broadcaster POP TV showed that almost 60% of the respondents would probably or very probably get vaccinated against Covid-19, which is three times more than last October.
        CAIRO, Egypt - Slovenia were knocked out of the World Men's Handball Championship after a 25:25 tie with the hosts Egypt in the last match of the main round. The next campaign for Slovenia are the qualifiers for the Tokyo Summer Olympics, which Slovenia will play in Germany on 12-14 March.
        ANTERSELVA, Italy - Slovenia's Jakov Fak finished third in the men's Biathlon World Cup mass start to announce good form ahead of the Biathlon World Championships, which will take place in Slovenia's Pokljuka on 9-21 February.
        LJUBNO OB SAVINJI - After Slovenia won the team Ski Jumping World Cup event for women a day earlier, Slovenia's Ema Klinec finished second in the individual event behind Eirin Maria Kvandal of Norway. It was the 12th podium finish for the 22-year-old Slovenian.

MONDAY, 25 January
        LJUBLJANA - The Microbiology Institute reported the confirmation of the highly virulent UK variant of coronavirus in three of the 291 samples taken from positive tests performed in Slovenia between 1 and 14 January, evidence that the variant had been in Slovenia before the first official case was confirmed last weekend.
        LJUBLJANA - Mass testing of thousands of teachers and other personnel in education was carried out in what was the largest such testing operation yet, as kindergartens and the first three grades of primary school reopened on the next day.
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a new stimulus bill, with the extension of the furlough scheme until 30 April and minimum wage subsidies from January to June as the key measures. In the second half of the year, employers will be exempt from paying a part of social security contributions.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The priorities of Slovenia's EU presidency in the second half of 2021 and bilateral cooperation were in the focus as FM Anže Logar held talks with his Belgian counterpart Sophie Wilmes. Logar stressed that Slovenia would place special emphasis on strengthening the EU's capacity to address health and other crises.
        ABU DHABI, UAE - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek met Emirati Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber as he started an official visit to the United Arab Emirates. The pair agreed that bilateral cooperation could improve and expressed support for such efforts, as Slovenia is interested in strengthening ties in high-tech, green economy, pharmaceutical industry, artificial intelligence, logistic, health services and space technologies.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek said after an EU ministerial that Slovenia would like to allocate EUR 150 million of the EU recovery funds for agriculture. The main problem is a lack of projects that could draw funds fast enough, which is why the focus will be on investment and "soft" projects", he added.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia urged the European Commission to help EU pork producers, as Slovenian pork producers have suffered at least a 30% drop in revenue due extremely low prices, additional costs incurred because of African swine fever, and coronavirus-fuelled delays in some abattoirs.
        LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs urged enhanced efforts to protect children from online sexual abuse, as he attended a ministerial of the EU Internet Forum. "It is especially worrying that globally, the largest amount of footage of child abuse on the internet is exchanged in the EU," he said.
        KLAGENFURT, Austria - After another spray-painting of the Slovenian names on bilingual city limit signs in Austria's Carinthia, Slovenian minority organisations condemned the incidents once again. The National Council of Carinthian Slovenians (NSKS) said that these systemic and well-organised acts were attempts to erase the Slovenian language in the public.
        LJUBLJANA - The programming council of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija appointed Andrej Grah Whatmough the new director general. Currently the chair of the public broadcaster's supervisory board, he will succeed Igor Kadunc at the end of April.
        LJUBLJANA - The ruling Democratic Party (SDS) increased its lead to just shy of eight points in the latest poll commissioned by the commercial broadcaster POP TV. The SDS polled at 16.9%, down 0.3 percentage points from December, as the opposition SocDems lost 1.2 points to 7.9 to 9% in second.
TUESDAY, 26 January
        LJUBLJANA - After three months of remote learning, kindergartens and primary schools up to year three reopened in nine of Slovenia's twelve regions, with no major disruption was reported. Education Minister Simona Kustec announced that 53,306 children returned to school and 74,630 to kindergartens. Only a fraction of the teachers had tested positive.
        LJUBLJANA - The five deputies of the Pensioners Party (DeSUS) decided they will continue to work as a single parliamentary faction, but they have not yet decided whether to be a part of the opposition or cooperate with the coalition.
        LJUBLJANA - A new political movement called Povežimo Slovenijo (Unite Slovenia) has emerged with an initiative to bring together smaller parties, local initiatives and individuals to form a joint slate for the next general elections. The initiator, Nada Pavšer of the Greens, believes the list could get at least 20% in the next election.
        DUBAI, UAE - Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek symbolically took over on behalf of Slovenia the management of the country's pavilion at the Expo 2020 in Dubai. The minister said "Slovenia will show know-how, innovation and energy" at the the largest such exposition yet that will take place between 1 October 2021 and 31 March 2022.
        LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court stayed the implementation of a provision from one of the coronavirus stimulus packages that extends accreditations to higher education institutions until it comes up with its final ruling on the matter.
        ZAGREB, Croatia - Barbara Antolić Vupora, the first ethnic Slovenian to be elected to the Croatian parliament, announced she would run for the head of the Varaždin county in the local election in May on the list of the biggest opposition party, the Social Democrats (SDP).
        LJUBLJANA - The Swiss pharma giant Novartis said it had invested EUR 204 million last year in its R&D and production capacities in Slovenia through its subsidiaries Lek, Sandoz and Novartis Pharma Services, in line with its plan to transform from a generics to an innovative pharmaceutical company.
        LJUBLJANA - The Health Insurance Institute (ZZZS) finished last year with a EUR 87 million deficit, with revenue totalling EUR 3.25 billion or 4.9% more than in 2019, and expenditure amounting to EUR 3.34 billion, up 9.5%. Wage subsidies for sick leave represented the largest share in expenditure (16.4%).

WEDNESDAY, 27 January
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - The government decided to close shops and cultural institutions that reopened a few days ago in Obalno-Kraška and Zasavska, after the two regions no longer meet the criteria for the red tier under the exit strategy. The government also decided that stores selling food around the country will be able to sell socks and underwear again.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia issued a 60-year bond worth EUR 500 million, the second highest bond issue this year and one with longest maturity the country has ever issued. "The 60-year euro-denominated bonds were issued with 0.7% yield to maturity and a coupon rate of 0.6875% to the tune of EUR 0.5 billion," the Finance Ministry said.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia logged a total of 163,235 of coronavirus infections and 3,448 deaths since the start of the pandemic, with an estimated 17,572 active infections and a 7-day average of daily cases at 1,258, show data from the National Institute of Public Health as of 27 January. Covid-19 hospitalisations fell to 1,106 with 171 in intensive care. More than 51,650 people had been vaccinated, over 13,300 of whom had received a second jab already.
        LJUBLJANA - Maja Brkan was endorsed as nominee for a Slovenian judge on the General Court of the European Union in a near unanimous vote at the National Assembly. The associate professor of EU law at the Maastricht University's Faculty of Law will now need to pass an assessment by the court's vetting body to get the post.
        LJUBLJANA - The lower chamber of parliament failed to overturn the veto the upper chamber imposed on changes to the tonnage tax act, with only 17 MPs voting in favour, and 41 against the changes. The legislative motion was aimed at extending by another ten years a special regulation under which shipping companies pay an alternative, lower form of corporate income tax.
        LJUBLJANA - The European Commission appointed Jerneja Jug Jerše as the new head of its Representation in Slovenia. Jug Jerše, who will assume her duties in Ljubljana on 16 April, succeeds Zoran Stančič, who completed his five-year term as head of the European Commission Representation in Slovenia at the end of last year.
        LJUBLJANA - United Media, the media division of United Group, plans to expand to the Slovenian market this year by setting up a news portal under the N1 brand, which is already active in the region. The Luxembourg-based United Media has already opened the Adria News subsidiary in Ljubljana under which the N1 Slovenija web portal will operate.
        LJUBLJANA - Revenue in retail in Slovenia was down last year by 9.7% compared to 2019, the Statistics Office reported. The largest drop, by 23.6%, was recorded by shops specialised in sale of motor fuels.
        ŠOŠTANJ - The city council of Šoštanj voted against coincineration of waste at the TEŠ thermal power plant. While TEŠ parent company boss said before the vote that the project would not go forward if all local communities opposed it, the Environmental Agency is yet to decide whether it will issue an environmental approval.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Bishops' Conference condemned all forms of violence and intolerance against the Church after two attacks in the past week. A can with flammable substance was blasted in the vicinity of a Catholic pastoral centre, while a balloon filled with paint was thrown at a fresco on the exterior of St Nicholas's Cathedral in Ljubljana.
THURSDAY, 28 January
        LJUBLJANA - The government decided that schools and kindergartens in Zasavje and Obalno-Kraška regions will have to close once again next Monday. In the seven red-tiered regions, children will remain at home on Monday, as staff will get tested for coronavirus again, Education Minister Simona Kustec said.
        LJUBLJANA - Interior Ministry State Secretary Anton Olaj was relieved of his duties and appointed the new police commissioner for a five-year term. Olaj served in the police force between 1981 and 2012, when he finished his police career as Novo Mesto Police Department director.
        LJUBLJANA - The Government Communication Office said that the government had ratified the EU Own Resources Decision, the legal basis to allow drawing post-Covid recovery funds. In 2021-2027, Slovenia should be able to draw EUR 5.2 billion.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Taking part in a virtual EU ministerial, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs allowed for the possibility to reach an agreement at the EU level on mandatory redistribution of migrants in crisis situations, but only if a threshold for the number of migrants to be accepted by an individual member state is determined in advance.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia made no headway in the 2020 Corruption Perception Index compiled annually by Transparency International. Like in 2019, it ranked 39th among 180 countries surveyed, and with a score of 60 points, it once again fell short of the EU average of 64 points and the OECD average of 67 points.
        NOVO MESTO - The pharmaceutical group Krka reported unaudited preliminary results for last year which say it generated a record EUR 1.53 billion in revenue, up 3% compared to 2019, and a record net profit, estimated at EUR 286.6 million, up 17% year-on-year.
        LJUBLJANA - Director of the Krško Nuclear Power Station (NEK) Stane Rožman is this year's recipient of the Manager Association award for lifetime achievement in management. Under his watch, NEK became one of the top ten best rated power stations in Europe, the association said. In his address to the virtual annual meeting of the Manager Association, PM Janez Janša appealed for managers to support the government in its bid to fight red tape.

30 Jan 2021, 10:46 AM

STA, 27 January 2021 - The Trbovlje power station's 360-metre chimney, the tallest in Europe but no longer in use, has been turned into the world's longest artificial multi-pitch climbing route. Slovenian world-class climbers, Janja Garnbret and Domen Škofic, have already successfully ascended it.

The longest climbing route was designed by licenced Slovenian route setters Katja Vidmar and Simon Margon.

The route has 13 pitches, with the most difficult one graded 8b+. They used some 800 holds, which weighed over two tonnes.

Garnbret and Škofic, two of the world's best sport climbers, took it on in the autumn but managed to climb it only in the second attempt.

The first attempt took 12 hours but did not count because they reached the top only after several falls. The second, successful one took them seven and a half hours.

Their attempt was filmed to make a 48-minute documentary, which premiered online today.

29 Jan 2021, 04:24 AM

STA, 29 January 2021 - The government has not yet okayed this year's call for applications to enrol in university courses in what the Slovenian Student Organisation (ŠOS) sees as an encroachment upon tertiary education autonomy. The University of Ljubljana management thinks the procedure could be jeopardised, a risk Prime Minister Janez Janša dismissed.

The government did not give its consent to the release of Slovenia's call for enrolment into tertiary education institutions for the student year 2021-2022 at Thursday's session.

According to Janša, the issue is of strategic nature, taking into account youth employability, and will have to be discussed by the relevant committee prior to the government's decision.

At today's briefing the prime minister went on to say that the government had not yet discussed the matter due to a lack of time since the Education Ministry had submitted the relevant documents only a few days ago and there was no time for the issue to be debated by the government committee in the first place.

A list of items currently being discussed by the government shows that the application call proposal was released a week ago.

Janša said at the briefing that the proposal would be discussed by the government next week.

The higher education act sets down that the institutions publish the call at least six months prior to the start of the student year, meaning on 1 April at the latest.

Time is running out though as the relevant timeline envisages the deadline to be set around 1 February.

The news of the developments comes as a shock to the chancellors of Slovenia's public universities, they said after today's Chancellors' Conference.

The chancellor of the University of Maribor, Zdravko Kavčič, who also chairs the conference, warned that the entire enrolment process hinged on the 1 February deadline.

Students should have enough time to decide on their academic path so any delays in this process, even if they have a legal basis, directly harm the entire generation of senior secondary school students, he noted.

On top of all Covid-related challenges, they are now facing uncertainties regarding the number of course vacancies that could not be resolved at the coming university open days, he said, calling for the proposal to be given a go-ahead as soon as possible.

If there is anything wrong with the current system, such shortcomings could be discussed, Ljubljana University Chancellor Igor Papič said, warning that the procedural timeline should be heeded though.

"I really don't understand why we're doing this to the young. Let's be sensible," he urged.

Their calls have been joined by Chancellor of University of Primorska Klavdija Kutnar and Nova Gorica University Pro-Chancellor Mladen Franko.

Kutnar noted that the developments put public universities on an unequal footing with private ones since the latter are not required to get the government's green light.

Addressing a letter to the government's secretary general Božo Predalič, she also inquired about the matter on Thursday in her capacity as the head of the higher education council, however she has not yet received a reply.

Papič told the newspaper Dnevnik today that this step by the government could have serious consequences as the entire 2021-2022 enrolment process could be at risk.

The left-leaning think-tank Alternative Academy concurred with him in a press release, saying that the developments were a brutal and dangerous dismantling of universities.

Janša meanwhile denied that today, first on Twitter and then at the briefing, saying that the procedure had not been blocked or jeopardised.

Since the proposal has not yet been discussed, the government could not tell whether it is good or bad, he added.

On the social media platform he wrote today that to discuss the proposal, the relevant committee required data on staffing needs of the business and public sectors and the state in general.

The labour market needs are of course part of the criteria relevant for preparing courses and setting the number of course vacancies, however they are not the only or the most vital criterion, said the ŠOS in a press release, adding that the government "has made the already challenging year even more difficult for all the students at uni and secondary schools".

The organisation noted that the government had not discussed the call even though it had been coordinated by stakeholders and the ministry.

Based on experience, the ŠOS expects that the number of vacancies will be restricted mostly in terms of liberal arts courses at public universities and that enrolment in private tertiary institutions will be promoted, which according to the organisation is not effective and is not related to the needs of the market.

The prime minister meanwhile told the briefing that vacancies could not be based on wishes expressed by those managing public faculties. The matter is the state's strategic development document that should be taken very seriously, he highlighted.

It makes no sense to pledge to become digital, green, advanced and innovative if we then fail to enable a sufficient number of youths to enrol in courses training for essential professions of the future, he noted.

Janša also posted on Twitter that the proposal envisaged the bulk of vacancies in liberal arts (39%), followed by science and technology (37%).

Responding to his statements, the chancellors said that the situation also depended on the available staff and the faculties' infrastructure, noting that it was hard to predict which professions would be essential in five years' time.

They also denied they could be responsible for any delays in the procedure.

At the briefing the prime minister said that he had instructed Education Minister Simona Kustec to look into the reasons for the proposal being submitted behind schedule and to sanction those responsible for this.

The Labour Ministry has been urged to present the staffing needs by the time the government is to discuss the proposal, he added.

The higher education trade union meanwhile addressed a letter to Kustec, voicing concern over the developments and highlighting it would oppose any potential attempts to destabilise public tertiary education institutions.

The trade union called on the minister to resolve the situation or step down.

The student councils of the Ljubljana, Maribor and Primorska universities are also condemning the fact that the government has not yet greenlit the proposal, warning about the ramifications of this. They think the government has thus indicated that education is no longer regarded as a public good.

The councils condemn any education-related restrictions and urge the government to include student university representatives in the discussion.

SVIZ, the main trade union of teachers, is also upset by the developments and expects the ministry to resolutely call for the government's immediate go-ahead for the proposal.

The Education Ministry meanwhile told the STA later that it submitted the proposal on 22 January. In line with regulations, the matter will be first discussed by both relevant government committees on Tuesday and then at a government session, it added.

The government discusses the proposal and relevant documents every year, "the only difference this year is that the documents were submitted to the government too late to wrap up the discussion by 1 February".

The opposition Left has announced it will request an emergency session of the parliamentary Education Committee to discuss the matter and other opposition parties intend to back this. The parties see the government's step as yet another reason for tabling the ouster motion against Kustec.

30 Jan 2021, 04:13 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA

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