STA, 29 January 2021 - 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, show data released by the Statistics Office on Friday.
Slovenian tourist accommodation facilities saw a 21% increase in domestic arrivals at the annual level with their overnight stays rising by 33%.
The arrivals of foreign tourists were down by 74%, whereas the overnight stays by them dropped by 71% on 2019.
Out of the foreign overnight tourists most came from Germany (almost 25%), followed by Austrians and Italians (11% each), Croatians (7%), Hungarians and the Dutch (each 5%).
The arrivals of both foreign and domestic tourists were down by 97% year-on-year in December, to just 9,300, and overnight stays plunged by 91%, as the lockdown shut down virtually the entire tourism sector.
Foreign tourists that spent the most nights in Slovenia in December came from Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia.
STA, 27 January 2021 - The city council of Šoštanj voted on Wednesday against coincineration of waste at the TEŠ thermal power plant. TEŠ parent company boss said before the vote that the project would not go forward if the local community opposed it. Meanwhile, the Environmental Agency is yet to decide whether it will issue an environmental approval.
The council believes emissions produced by coincineration would be the most problematic aspect of the project estimated at EUR 6-10 million.
Two neighbouring municipalities, Velenje and Šmartno ob Paki, are yet to vote on their positions about the project.
In the hours-long debate, several Šoštanj councillors called on TEŠ and its owner, the state-owner power utility HSE, to act in a socially responsible way.
HSE CEO Viktor Vrečar said at the session that coal technologies would slowly become obsolete and that new solutions would have to be found. The Šalek valley does not have wind or water energy potential, while a solar plant to substitute TEŠ would cost EUR 5 billion, he said.
Vrečar said the project plans had been based on best practices abroad, adding that 22 thermal power plants in Germany had environmental permits to coincinerate.
Two opposing opinions on the impact of coincineration were also presented to the council. A report commissioned by TEŠ says that coincineration of solid recovered fuel (SRF) would not worsen air quality, while a review of the same report claims the opposite.
Moreover, Cvetka Ribarič Lasnik of the Celje Institute for Environment and Spatial Planning, who also drafted the review, said that Slovenia did not produce enough SRF for a coincineration facility and would have to import it.
Meanwhile, Šaleško Eko Gibanje, a local environmental group, accused the city of non-transparency in this project, which Mayor Darko Menih denied.
STA, 28 January 2021 - The Novo Mesto-based pharmaceutical group Krka generated EUR 1.53 billion in revenue last year, up 3% compared to 2019, while net profit has been estimated at EUR 286.6 million, up 17% year-on-year, show the unaudited preliminary results released on Thursday.
CEO Jože Colarič said in the report that, despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Krka had managed to ensure uninterrupted operations, and provide supplies of pharmaceutical products in markets at all times.
Colarič noted that even though the pandemic had hindered marketing-and-sales activities, the Krka group recorded "best sales results ever".
Net profit, estimated at over EUR 286 million, is also the highest so far, as the group obtained marketing authorisations for 20 new medicinal products, including the first one in China.
The core company increased sales of goods and services by 4% to EUR 1.45 billion, and net profit was also up by 4% to EUR 258.4 million, the report shows.
It also adds that last year, the Krka group's overall investments amounted to almost EUR 230 million, including EUR 151.8 million of 10% of sales in 2020 for research and development.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased by 30% year-on-year to almost half a billion euros, while EBITDA margin reached 32.5%, up almost seven percentage points compared to 2019.
Product and service sales were up in all regions except Slovenia (-8%) and the overseas markets (-6%). Sales increased the most in East Europe, by 7% to EUR 517.2 million, followed by South-East Europe (+4% to EUR 199.4 million.)
East Europe accounted for 33.8% of total sales of the Krka group as the largest region in these terms, followed by Central Europe and West Europe with a 22.3% share each. Sales in Slovenia accounted for 5.6% of total sales.
In Slovenia, sales of products were up by 5%, while revenue from spa and tourism services was down by 25%, mostly due to the restrictive measures related to the epidemic, said Colarič.
Russia was the largest single market with EUR 326.9 million in sales, up 5% year-on-year. Expressed in the Russian ruble, the growth on the market was 17%.
In Ukraine, sales were up by 8% to EUR 86 million, and in Poland, the leading market for Krka in Central Europe, sales were up by 2% to EUR 163 million.
Sales of prescription pharmaceuticals amounted to EUR 1.3 billion at the group level, 4% more than in 2019, accounting for 85% of total product and service sales. All regions except the overseas markets saw sales growth and volume sales were up by 7%.
Colarič noted that the price of Krka share on the Ljubljana Stock Exchange had increased by 25% last year to reach EUR 91.40 at the end of December, with its market capitalisation standing at EUR 3 billion.
As for the plans for 2021, he said that sales were expected to reach EUR 1.53 billion and net profit EUR 265 million. Investments, mostly in the expansion and modernisation of production and infrastructure, are planned at EUR 114 million.
The group plans to increase the total number of employees by 1% in 2021, so the number of full-time employees is expected to exceed 12,000 by the end of the year.
The sick leave rate in the parent company in Slovenia did not increase significantly last year despite the epidemic, as it was up by 0.2 of a percentage point to 6.4%. Only 0.4% of total sick leave was related to Covid-19.
Colarič noted that the supervisory board had appointed him the CEO for the 2022-2027 term and had given him the mandate to form a new management board for that term. The appointment of the remaining board members is planned for November.
"In the second half of the year, we intend to review the five-year strategy and upgrade the goals. During the new term, we will lead Krka by following the course of an internationally established and innovative generic pharmaceutical company," he said.
This summary is provided by the STA:
Schools closing again on Monday in two regions after spike in infections
LJUBLJANA - The government decreed that schools and kindergartens in Zasavje and Obalno-Kraška will have to close again on Monday after their average 7-day coronavirus case count pushed them back among black-tiered regions. This was only two days after schools reopened for first three grades in nine of Slovenia's 12 administrative regions following more than three months of distance schooling. In response to the decision, the opposition Left said it would bring a motion to dismiss Education Minister Simona Kustec.
1,516 coronavirus cases on Wednesday, 23 deaths
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia saw 1,516 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday from 13,597 tests, a slight increase in weekly comparison in what is a continuation of a once again rising trend, fresh government data show. An additional 23 Covid-19 patients died to push the death toll to 3,448. Some 23% of the PCR tests performed yesterday came back positive. Covid-19 hospitalisations dropped by 38 to 1,106 on the day before and the total of those requiring intensive care decreased by one to 171.
Slovenia ratifies legal basis to draw EU recovery funds
LJUBLJANA - The government ratified the EU's "own resources decision", the legal basis to allow drawing post-Covid recovery funds. In 2021-2027, Slovenia should be able to tap on EUR 1.6 billion in grants and up to EUR 3.6 billion in loans. The draft national recovery and resilience plan is to be debated by the parliamentary EU Affairs Committee behind closed doors tomorrow. The government is expected to adopt it after the legal basis is adopted at EU level, which should happen in February.
Janša invites managers to help improving business environment
LJUBLJANA - PM Janez Janša expressed his belief in an address to the virtual annual meeting of the Manager Association that the first half of 2021 would be similar to 2020 in terms of the epidemic and economic recovery, while the second half should be much better. Accepting the association's offer of cooperation to improve productivity, Janša said business executives's support was vital in the government's bid to tackle red tape, which he sees as the main obstacle to improving productivity.
Hojs allows possibility of mandatory migrant redistribution in crises
BRUSSELS, Belgium - 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. Talking to reporters after a virtual meeting of EU home ministers, he expressed pessimism about progress in the debate on redistribution of migrants as part of the new migration pact.
State Secretary Anton Olaj appointed police commissioner
LJUBLJANA - The government relieved Anton Olaj of his duties as a state secretary at the Interior Ministry and appointed him new police commissioner for a five year term starting on Friday. Olaj served in the police force between 1981 and 2012. He is the third police commissioner since the Janez Janša government was sworn in March 2020 when it dismissed Tatjana Bobnar. She was replaced by Anton Travner, who resigned in June. Andrej Jurič has been serving as acting police commissioner since.
Slovenia makes no headway in Corruption Perception Index
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia has made no headway in the 2020 Corruption Perception Index compiled annually by Transparency International (TI). Like in 2019, it ranked 39th among 180 countries surveyed. 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. TI Slovenia said the lack of headway reflected slow progress in anti-corruption reforms and the absence of measures to enforce existing rules. The anti-graft watchdog said improvement could not have been expected considering the pandemic, but was not the only reason for stagnation.
Logar calls for Europe's green and digital recovery
LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar addressed the fifth annual forum of the macro-regional strategy for the Adriatic-Ionian region held online, stressing that a green and digital recovery of Europe after the Covid-19 pandemic would be possible only in cooperation. Slovenia has initiated new forms of cooperation within the macro-region, especially in light of the EU's enlargement process. New countries expressing interest in joining the EUSAIR proves the strategy has become an extremely important instrument of cooperation in the region, Logar said.
Govt moves to set public sector pay reform in motion
LJUBLJANA - The government tasked the Public Administration Ministry to draw up by 5 February a draft blueprint to reform the public sector pay system. The government also adopted positions to start talks with one of the two police trade unions that is on strike and on negotiations with public sector trade unions on the elimination of the remaining austerity measures affecting pay. It is also proposing the pay day be moved from the 5th in the month to 15th in the month at the latest.
Slovenia donates EUR 40,000 in aid for migrants in Bosnia
LJUBLJANA - The government donated EUR 40,000 in aid to Caritas for migrants in Bosnia-Herzegovina, the charity said in a press release. The Slovenian Caritas is collecting donations for the migrants who are spending the winter in Bosnia after they had to leave their homes due to war, prosecution, climate change and extreme poverty.
Krka ups sales 3%, net profit 17% to EUR 286.6m last year
NOVO MESTO - The pharmaceutical group Krka generated EUR 1.53 billion in revenue last year, up 3% compared to 2019, with net profit estimated at a record EUR 286.6 million, up 17% year-on-year, show the unaudited preliminary results. CEO Jože Colarič noted that even though the pandemic had hindered marketing-and-sales activities, the Krka group recorded "best sales results ever". Product and service sales were up in all regions except Slovenia (-8%) and the overseas markets (-6%).
Manager Association honours NEK head
LJUBLJANA - Director of the Krško Nuclear Power Station (NEK) Stane Rožman is this year's recipient of the Manager Association award for lifetime achievements in management for leaving "a permanent mark in Slovenian business with his work, professional career and personality". Under his watch, NEK became one of the top ten best rated power stations in Europe, the association said in explaining its decision. He will receive the award at a virtual annual meeting of the association tonight.
Courts to return to business as usual on Monday
LJUBLJANA - Starting on Monday, all Slovenian courts will again operate as usual, albeit under anti-epidemic recommendations from health authorities. The suspension of procedural deadlines and deadlines related to the exercise of rights of parties in court proceedings will also be lifted. From next week, all courts in the country will again be able to conduct hearings, declare rulings and hand out court decisions in all matters.
Prosecution dismisses criminal charges against former culture minister
LJUBLJANA - The state prosecution has dismissed criminal charges of abuse of office and mobbing against Dejan Prešiček, a member of the opposition Social Democrats (SD), during his term as culture minister in the Marjan Šarec government, the SD said a day after Prešiček reported this on social media. He said the decision of the prosecution to throw out his case confirmed his conviction that he had done nothing illegal while serving as minister.
Dachau-themed works by Borčić go on digital display
MARIBOR - A virtual exhibition of prints and drawings about the Dachau concentration camp by acclaimed artist Bogdan Borčić (1926-2014) opened at the Maribor Synagogue today as part of a project supported by the Maribor municipality and the Israeli Embassy to Slovenia. The In principio erat Dachau exhibition presents a series of eight graphics and seven prints, made in 2014 by one of the most important Slovenian painters at the commission of the Dachau Concentration Camp Memorial Site.
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STA, 28 January - The Ministry of Education has notified schools in Zasavje and Obalno-Kraška regions that schools and kindergartens will have to close once again on Monday. The decision comes only two days after pupils of the first three grades and kindergartners were allowed back in nine of Slovenia's 12 administrative regions after more than three months.
The two regions have slipped back into black tier and the government decided on Wednesday that all non-essential services would shut down once again, leaving the decision on schools for today.
The closure comes less than a week after the government decided to allow in-person education for the youngest children and kindergartners, and some additional services to reopen.
Speaking to the press after the government session, Education Minister Simona Kustec said the government also introduced a key change, allowing schools to provide childcare to graders one through three whose parents work in essential infrastructure and security services.
Commenting on the decision to close the schools in the two regions, Kustec said Slovenia has entered a period of constant change and the the government followed closely its epidemic exit plan, under which schools in black-tiered regions are closed.
A number of school heads who will have to switch to remote teaching again next week have expressed regret and disappointment with the decision, with many pointing out that the situation had worsened in their region due to an increase in the number of infections in care homes.
They underlined that the rules of social distancing are being upheld at schools and several have said that their entire staff had tested negative for the coronavirus earlier this week.
Apart from Zasavje and Obalno-Kraška regions, Goriška, Posavska and Southeastern Slovenia are also in black tier.
In black-tiered regions only stores selling mostly groceries are allowed to remain open, as well as some services, such as hair dressers. Kindergartens provide child care only to children whose parents cannot arrange any other form of child care.
Meanwhile, special needs schools remain open also in the black-tiered regions, with staff obligated to get tested once again on Monday.
Exceptions to a ban on gathering in schools remain in place, so as to allow school councillors to provide emergency aid to children and to allow schools to carry out procedures related to completion or continuation of schooling, such as enrolment.
In the seven red-tiered regions, children will remain at home on Monday, as staff will get tested for coronavirus again, Kustec also said.
The National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) has advised the government to prioritise keeping the schools open if the situation deteriorates, closing instead other potential locations of infection transmission.
Bojana Beović, the head of the government's coronavirus advisory group, meanwhile told the press today that they did not have a position on whether it was sensible to close schools again after only a week.
"My personal belief is that it is unpleasant to close schools after only a week and that it would be good to take a look at regions individually," Beović said.
The latest data of coronavirus and Slovenia
STA, 27 January 2021 - In just over a week after the Ljubljana City authorities started clearing out the disused bicycle factory Rog following contested squatter evictions, large quantities of what appear to be stolen goods and drugs have been found at the old factory complex, according to the Ljubljana municipality.
The municipality said in a press release on Wednesday that the city's utility company had found a number of new household appliances, still in their original packaging.
Moreover, a large amount of used and new drug needles, as well as large quantities of illegal substances, were also found, the press release said.
Workers clearing out the premises also found nearly 400 bikes, bike wheels and bike frames, many of which seem quite new, the press release said, adding that the police had been notified of these finds.
The press release also said that all belongings of former Rog residents had been recorded and are now available for takeover.
So far, nearly 43 tonnes of waste has been removed, with the utility company estimating that at least three time as much waste still remains on the premises.
"Most of the rooms at Rog were literally overflowing with waste. This, in addition to dangerous chemicals in the galvanising section of what was once a leather factory and asbestos roofing, makes for an environmental time bomb," the press release said, referring to the leather factory that operated on the premises before these became a bike factory.
The Ljubljana municipality also said today that it started tearing down "dangerous and dilapidating constructions near the main factory building, which, in turn, is listed as a cultural monument and will be completely renovated".
The municipality is determined to clear out the waste as soon as possible, so that the planned investments may be launched in a few months, the press release said.
The new Center Rog is to provide more than 8,000 square metres of modern production space for more than 500 artists and creative groups, it added.
STA, 27 January 2021 - 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.
The portal is to be launched in the first half of this year. According to unofficial information obtained by the newspaper Finance it will kick off in spring.
N1 has established itself as a trust-worthy and independent media platform as well as number one pick by consumers in all the markets where it is present and N1 Slovenija aims to do the same in the Slovenian market by meeting the highest journalism standards, said United Media managing director Aleksandra Subotić in a press release issued on Wednesday.
Katja Šeruga has been appointed Adria News director as well as the portal's editor-in-chief. She previously worked as a journalist at public broadcaster RTV Slovenija and commercial broadcaster POP TV. She was also the newspaper Večer's editor-in-chief and editor of the commercial broadcaster Kanal A news programme Svet.
The portal will seek to boost and elevate journalism in Slovenia, she said today. N1 Slovenija will cooperate with N1 international editorial department that features among others former BBC World Service director Peter Horrocks and ENEX managing director Adrian Wells.
United Media is not planning on setting up the N1 TV channel platform in Slovenia for now, Finance reported yesterday.
United Group, whose majority share was acquired by British fund BC Partners in 2019, already owns telecommunications provider Telemach, online shopping portal Shoppster and sports channels Sport Klub in Slovenia.
Some 25% stake has been reportedly retained by Serbian businessman Dragan Šolak, the founder of United Group. N1 news channels are currently present in Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. N1 is the leading news media platform and CNN's partner in the region, reads the press release.
Meanwhile, Finance reported that five groups are interested in the takeover of telecoms incumbent Telekom Slovenije's subsidiary TS Media based on unofficial sources - one of Šolak's companies, Austrian publishing group Styria, one of businessman Martin Odlazek's groups, Hungarian TV2 and publishing company Adria Media.
Telekom Slovenije published a call for expressions of interest in a 100% stake in TS Media in November last year. The subsidiary's portfolio includes the news portal Siol.net, the search engine and web portal Najdi.si and the business news and assistance portal Bizi.si.
The state-owned telco would prefer to sell the entire stake but is also willing to consider selling TS Media's assets individually.
This summary is provided by the STA:
An uptick in coronavirus as 1,850 cases confirmed Tuesday
LJUBLJANA - A total of 1,850 people tested positive for coronavirus in Slovenia on Tuesday, an increase of 8% from seven days ago that marks an end to a downward week-on-week trend seen for over a fortnight. Data from the government show a total of 15,946 tests were performed yesterday. Of the 5,418 PCR tests, 1,430 or 26.4% were positive. A further 420 cases were confirmed in 10,528 rapid antigen tests for a positivity rate of 4%. The number of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 dropped by 13 to 1,144, while the number of intensive care patients fell by twenty to 172. A further 19 patients with Covid-19 died, bringing the total death toll to 3,425, according to tracker site covid-19.sledilnik.org.
Out of 877 samples screened for UK strain, 16 positive
LJUBLJANA - Slovenian labs have retested 877 samples of positive PCR tests for Sars-CoV-2 from the last two weeks to find 16 of them showing two genetic changes matching the highly virulent UK strain of the virus. "For the time being the English variant of the novel coronavirus has not spread extensively through Slovenia," Tjaša Žohar Čretnik of the National Laboratory for Health, Environment and Food said. The first positive sample was taken from a person in Murska Sobota and received for testing by the lab in Maribor on 11 January. Žohar Čretnik said it was impossible to infer based on the results weather the positive samples are linked, but considering the spreading there would have been more imported cases.
Govt decides to reintroduce some restrictions in two regions
BRDO PRI KRANJU - The government decided to close shops and cultural institutions that reopened a few days ago in the Obalno-Kraška and Zasavska regions, after the two regions no longer meet the criteria for the red tier under the government's exit strategy. The other seven out of 12 regions where some restrictions were lifted are fine. A decision on schools and kindergartens in Obalno-Kraška and Zasavska regions is expected to be made tomorrow. The government also decided that stores selling food around the country will be able to sell socks and underwear again.
Slovenia issues 60-year bond worth EUR 500m
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia issued a 60-year bond worth EUR 500 million on Wednesday, 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 0.70% yield to maturity and a coupon rate of 0.6875% to the tune of EUR 0.5 billion. This is comparable to the states such as France and Belgium," the Finance Ministry said in a press release.
Maja Brkan endorsed as nominee for EU General Court judge
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. She will now need to pass an assessment by the court's vetting body to get the post. Brkan, an associate professor of EU law at the Maastricht University's Faculty of Law, was backed by 78 deputies in the 90-strong Assembly. Six voted against her and three ballots were invalid. She needed at least 46 votes to be confirmed.
Report: Matej Tonin to temporarily take over at Health Ministry
LJUBLJANA - Defence Minister Matej Tonin is to temporarily take over the role of health minister from Prime Minister Janez Janša on Monday, the news portal 24ur.com reported, quoting unofficial information. Tonin reportedly already informed his closest team in the New Slovenia (NSi) party of this. Tonin is to continue to serve as defence minister as well.
MPs fail to overturn veto on tonnage tax act changes
LJUBLJANA - The lower chamber of parliament failed to overturn in re-vote 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. Several deputies, including those from the coalition, argued that the new legislation, which would apply only to the Portorož-based shipping company Splošna Plovba, owned by German shipping magnate Peter Doehle, would give it tens of millions of euros in state aid without demanding it preserve the business.
Bills toughening conditions for asylum status, residence permit pass first reading
Ljubljana - The National Assembly decided in a 51:13 vote that changes to the foreigners act tightening up conditions for residence for foreign nationals in Slovenia as well as amendments to the international protection act aiming to prevent asylum law abuses are fit for further debate. Both bills were met with mixed reactions.
Jerneja Jug Jerše to head European Commission Slovenia office
LJUBLJANA - The European Commission appointed Jerneja Jug Jerše as the new head of its Representation in Slovenia, and she will assume her duties in Ljubljana on 16 April. Jug Jerše succeeds Zoran Stančič, who completed his five-year term as head of the European Commission Representation in Slovenia at the end of last year. In the interim period the office is being run by Nataša Goršek Mencin as acting head. The Commission said Jug Jerše, who has worked in the directorates-general for internal market and for economic and financial affairs, "will be able to draw on her strong policy background and expertise, in particular in economics, in her new function".
United Media planning to expand to Slovenia with news portal
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. According to unofficial information obtained by the newspaper Finance, the portal will kick off in spring. Katja Šeruga, who previously worked as a journalist at public broadcaster RTV Slovenija and commercial broadcaster POP TV, has been appointed Adria News director as well as the portal's editor-in-chief. The portal will seek to boost and elevate journalism in Slovenia, Šeruga said.
Retail revenue in 2020 down almost 10% year-on-year
LJUBLJANA - Revenue in retail in real terms 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. The office noted that, after four months of decline on the monthly level, revenue in retail in real terms last December was up by 0.1% compared to the month before. In December alone, revenue in retail was up by 0.8% compared to November, excluding motor fuel sales.
Šoštanj city council says no to waste coincineration at TEŠ
ŠOŠTANJ - The city council of Šoštanj voted against coincineration of waste at the TEŠ thermal power plant. TEŠ parent company boss said before the vote that the project would not go forward if the local community opposed it. Meanwhile, the Environmental Agency is yet to decide whether it will issue an environmental approval. The council believes emissions produced by coincineration would be the most problematic aspect of the project estimated at EUR 6-10 million.
Slovenia marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day
LJUBLJANA/LENDAVA - Slovenia is marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a series of events, including the laying of wreaths, exhibitions and reading of the names of Slovenian Holocaust victims. Top Slovenian officials labelled the Holocaust one of the bleakest moments in history, warned against its denial and urged tolerance. Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič said that WWII was also being remembered because of the Holocaust, one of the darkest crimes in the history of modern civilisation. President Borut Pahor laid a wreath at the Jewish cemetery in Dolga Vas (NE), warning about hate speech, intolerance and incitement to violence having become an all too normal part of our life in recent years.
Another religious object vandalised, bishops urge inquiry
LJUBLJANA - A can containing unidentified flammable substance was blasted in the vicinity of a Catholic pastoral centre in the Ljubljana-Rudnik parish on Saturday, the Slovenian Bishops' Conference said on its website, condemning all forms of violence and intolerance and urging the authorities to investigate the incident. This comes after unknown perpetrators threw a balloon filed with paint at one of the frescoes on the exterior of St Nicholas's Cathedral in Ljubljana, causing several thousand euro in damage.
Rog clear-out finds large quantities of possible stolen goods
LJUBLJANA - In just over a week after the Ljubljana City authorities started clearing out the disused bicycle factory Rog following contested squatter evictions, large quantities of what could be stolen goods and drugs have been found at the old factory complex, according to the Ljubljana municipality. Police had already been notified of these finds.
Trbovlje chimney turned into longest climbing route
TRBOVLJE - 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.
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STA, 27 January 2021 - The National Assembly determined on Wednesday in a 51:13 vote that changes to the foreigners act tightening up conditions for residence for foreign nationals in Slovenia as well as amendments to the international protection act aiming to prevent asylum law abuses are fit for further debate. Both bills were met with mixed reactions.
The first bill also transposes an EU directive that regulates the situation of foreign students and researchers in Slovenia and introduces a concept of a complex crisis, which has drawn criticism from the opposition.
Interior Minister Aleš Hojs told the MPs on Tuesday that the complex crisis concept was a way of enabling a special temporary regime on the border in the event of mass migration in line with the 2019 Constitutional Court decision.
In 2019, the court annulled part of the 2017 contentious amendments, specifically sections of clause 10b of the foreigners act, explaining that they violated Article 18 of the Constitution, which guarantees the principle of non-refoulement.
Based on the latest concept, the government would be able to declare a complex crisis and effectively suspend the implementation of the law under special circumstances such as those seen in 2015 and 2016.
The changes also set down return policy in case of foreigners who are residing in Slovenia illegally and the extension of the deadline for reuniting families up to two years.
Moreover, Slovenian language skills have been made the new requirement for asylum seekers - a foreigner who is entering the country for the first time should have a basic knowledge of the language, whereas the A2 level is a threshold set for a foreigner who has been residing in Slovenia for a number of years.
The complex crisis concept has drawn criticism from the opposition, who believes the regime would pave the way for returning refugees without giving them an option of seeking international protection.
The Left said the measure was contrary to the 2019 ruling and the constitution, whereas the Marjan Šarec Party (LMŠ) described it as even worse than the 2017 controversial changes. On the other hand, the National Party (SNS) believes that the concept heeds the Constitutional Court's ruling.
The coalition New Slovenia (NSi) thinks that integration efforts should be stepped up and the ruling Democrats (SDS) think it necessary to prevent any abuse of the system.
The Modern Centre Party (SMC) also believes that Slovenia has the right and duty to adopt measures that would enable smooth functioning of the country in the event of disproportionate pressure on the asylum system as long as there is no agreement on the EU migration pact.
Meanwhile, the second bill that has been deemed fit to continue its journey through parliament aims to streamline international protection procedures in case of those who actually need such protection and strives to prevent any abuse of asylum law, according to Hojs.
The proposal envisages sanctions for obstructing the implementation of such procedures and violations of or failure to comply with relevant rules.
Those with international protection would be encouraged to integrate and movement restrictions would be made more effective.
Certain parties, including the SDS and SNS, wanted the regulations to be made even stricter, however that would not be in line with EU law, said Hojs when presenting the bill in parliament.
The NSi considers the changes necessary due to an increasing number of asylum seekers. The party said that some 80% of asylum seekers had left Slovenia for other EU countries, describing the situation as a security and social risk in the EU.
The SMC also voted in favour of the bill to pass the first reading. However, at the next stage the party would like to hear the opinion of the parliamentary legal service.
The opposition DeSUS backed the bill, lauding the proposal for what the party sees as efforts to prevent any abuse. The rest of the opposition parties are critical of the bill though, saying it restricts access to international protection or even makes it impossible to get asylum status.
STA, 27 January 2021 - Slovenia is marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Wednesday with a series of events, including the laying of wreaths, exhibitions and the traditional reading of the names of Slovenian Holocaust victims. Top Slovenian officials labelled the Holocaust one of the bleakest moments in history, warned against its denial and urged tolerance.
Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič stressed in his address at the outset of proceedings in parliament that WWII was also being remembered because of the Holocaust, one of the darkest crimes in the history of modern civilisation.
He said its memory must be preserved as a warning and reminder, arguing the causes leading to this tragedy were still not left entirely in the past.
"Nationalism, national myths, racial and religious discrimination ... have not yet become part of the past. Some are still reviving the menacing symbols of this dark period and regime."
Despite the promises and commitments to the contrary, humanity has not learned the lesson, said Zorčič, pointing to the genocides in Rwanda and Srebrenica.
The crises of the past decade have brought to the surface new forms of intolerance, racism, xenophobia and hostility, he said, adding the rising dissatisfaction and intolerance during the Covid-19 pandemic was worrying, as it gave rise to dangerous negative emotions.
The MPs also observed a minute of silence for the Holocaust victims.
Predsednik Republike Slovenije Borut Pahor je na mednarodni dan spomina na žrtve holokavsta položil venec k spomeniku žrtvam nacifašističnega nasilja na judovskem pokopališču v Dolgi vasi. #WeRemember #HolocaustRemembranceDay #HolocaustMemorialDay pic.twitter.com/aO7dPtRwaV— Borut Pahor (@BorutPahor) January 27, 2021
The Foreign Ministry said it was our common responsibility to stand up against all attempts to deny or distort the horrors of the Holocaust.
It believes the remembrance day is an occasion to remember all victims of one of the worst genocides in history, but also those who helped save lives.
The ministry and the Slovenian delegation at the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) have supported and contributed to Holocaust remembrance, education and research for years, it added in a written statement.
Slovenian IHRA delegation head Marko Rakovec praised the many organisations and individuals in Slovenia raising awareness about the Holocaust, especially among the young.
A wreath was laid on behalf of Prime Minister Janez Janša at the Jewish section of the Žale cemetery already on Tuesday, while Boris Čerin, the president of the Slovenian Jewish Community, and Rabbi Ariel Haddad, will lay one later in the day.
President Borut Pahor meanwhile laid a wreath at a memorial at the Jewish cemetery in Dolga Vas, north-east, warning about hate speech, intolerance and incitement to violence having become an all too normal part of our life in recent years.
He said this was outrageous, and called for tolerance and the freedom of thought where everyone can express their view yet in a way that preserves dignity.
He said all people but especially public figures must refrain from words or actions that could be understood as offensive or hostile. "This is our moral and human duty of those who take part in public life, but also a political commitment."
Pahor also wished good health to the Nazi concentration camp survivors who had accompanied him to the Auschwitz liberation commemorations, including Erika Fürst, a Jew from the Slovenian region of Prekmurje.
Boris Hajdinjak, director of the Maribor Synagogue, the Centre of Jewish Culture, recalled 26 April 1944, "when for the majority of the Jews from Lendava a process leading to less than 10% surviving began".
When the survivors from Lendava, which had a thriving Jewish community before the Holocaust, realised the dead had no graves, they were allowed to erect a memorial at the cemetery in Dolga Vas, he said.
But he regretted there was no other point expect the Lendava Synagogue in Slovenia where these events could be most directly remembered. He also urged the government to make sure Slovenia finally got the long-overdue memorial point in Auschwitz for all Slovenian victims of that camp.
Later in the day the Jewish Cultural Centre will host the traditional name-reading ceremony at which the names of all Slovenian Holocaust victims will be read out loud. Due to the pandemic, it will be held online.
In Murska Sobota, the Pomurje Museum launched a virtual exhibition entitled Passports for Life, which is dedicated to Polish diplomats based in Bern who during WWII forged the passports of Latin American countries to rescue Jews.
And in Ljubljana, the National Museum of Contemporary History launched an online documentary exhibition on Slovenian victims of Auschwitz. In the evening an online debate will accompany the launch of the Slovenian translation of Sonja Borus's diary.
International Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed in memory of the day in 1945 when the Red Army liberated Auschwitz, the largest Nazi concentration and death camp.
STA, 27 January 2021 - Revenue in retail in real terms in Slovenia was down last year by 9.7% compared to 2019, the Statistics Office reported on Wednesday. The largest drop, by 23.6%, was recorded by shops specialised in sale of motor fuels.
The Statistics Office noted that, after four months of decline on the monthly level, revenue in retail in real terms last December was up by 0.1% compared to the month before.
In December alone, revenue in retail was up by 0.8% compared to November, excluding motor fuel sales. In shops specialised in sale of motor fuels, revenue was up by 0.5% on the monthly level.
Revenue from retail sales of non-food products was up by 0.2% in December on the monthly basis, and revenue from retail sales of food was up by 0.3%.
Year-on-year, revenue in retail in real terms in December was down by 13.3% when sales of motor fuels are included. Without these sales, revenue in retail last month was down 8.6% year-on-year.
Compared to December 2019, revenue from retail sales of non-food products was down by 16.1%, while revenue from retail sales of food was up by 1.4%.