This summary is provided by the STA:
UK and South African coronavirus strains not detected in Slovenia so far
LJUBLJANA - The highly virulent variants of the SARS-Cov-2 virus known as the UK and South African strains have not been detected in Slovenia so far, Miroslav Petrovec, the head of the Institute of Microbiology, told the press. The Institute of Microbiology processes roughly half of all PCR tests done in the country. "We have not detected the UK strain nor the second problematic strain - the South African strain. We have not detected either of the genotypes in the portion [of tests] that we are analysing. This is very good news," he said.
Slovenia new rescEU mechanism host country
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenia along with Belgium and the Netherlands has become the new host country of the rescEU mechanism, providing storage of medical equipment for fighting cross-border medical threats. The countries involved in the project receive funding from the EU Commission to create strategic supplies of the equipment to be distributed around Europe. Currently, a total of nine countries are storing the strategic supplies of medical and personal protective equipment: Belgium, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia, Sweden and the Netherlands.
Concern raised after police pay data released
LJUBLJANA - The Interior Ministry released on Monday a document with pay data for nearly 9,000 members of the police force and ministry employees. While this information is public knowledge according to the law governing freedom of information, some have raised concern about the potential security impact of such a full disclosure. The General Police Directorate believes the list's publication "may affect internal security in the police". Several media have highlighted as particularly problematic the inclusion of staff such as members of the special forces, criminal investigators and even undercover officers.
9,500 care home residents, 3,000 staff vaccinated against Covid-19
LJUBLJANA - As many as 9,500 elderly in Slovenia's care homes have already received the first of the two Covid-19 vaccine jabs, which means almost all of those who have not had the disease yet, and just over 3,000 staff, Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj has announced. The minister, addressing the daily coronavirus press briefing, said that a quarter of the staff at aged-care facilities had been inoculated, which was fewer than expected considering the responsible job they had.
1,860 coronavirus infections on Monday, 31 deaths
LJUBLJANA - Another 1,860 people tested positive for coronavirus in Slovenia on Monday and a further 31 patients with Covid-19 lost their lives, Jelko Kacin, the government's Covid-19 spokesman, has announced, finding the conditions for easing of restrictions have not been met. A total of 5,512 PCR tests and 8,455 rapid antigen tests were performed, of which 25% and almost 6% were positive, respectively. The number of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 dropped by three to 1,202 as 131 were newly admitted and 110 were discharged yesterday, as the number of those requiring intensive care dropped by four to 192, Kacin said.
Vaccination plan presented as vaccination of elderly over 80 starts
BRDO PRI KRANJU - PM Janez Janša and NIJZ director Milan Krek presented Slovenia's vaccination plan until the end of June, as vaccination was launched around the country. The country expects to get some 17,000 doses of Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine a week until the end of March, or a total of 245,500 doses. People older than 80 will thus be vaccinated first, to be followed by those older than 70 in the last week of January. A second dose will also be administered to those who were already vaccinated, expectedly already next week. Almost 110,000 doses are to be used for a second jab.
Religious groups advocating Covid-19 vaccination
LJUBLJANA - Several representatives of Slovenian religious communities have expressed support for Covid-19 vaccination, following an appeal for vaccination by Pope Francis a few days ago. They highlighted there were no ethical dilemmas in getting vaccinated. Slovenian Catholic bishops support all efforts to protect public health and to come up with new ways of treating Covid-19 patients as well as stand behind all those who will opt to get vaccinated, a press release reads.
Fiscal Council urges transparency as it examines Covid-19 expenditure
LJUBLJANA - The Fiscal Council made a renewed call for transparent and temporary coronavirus relief measures, finding the actual realisation of the measures last year was below government projections but had a significant impact on the worsening state of public finances. Preliminary data put the budget deficit for 2020 at EUR 3.5 billion, with the Fiscal Council noting that it was thus below the EUR 4.2 billion projected in the supplementary budget.
DeSUS MPs to contribute signatures for proposal to oust govt
LJUBLJANA - Four MPs of the Pensioners's Party (DeSUS), which left the government coalition in December, will contribute their signatures in support of a motion of no-confidence in the Janez Janša government, DeSUS leader Karl Erjavec announced. This means the informal Constitutional Arch Coalition (KUL), which brings together five left-leaning parties in a bid to oust the government, has 43 votes secured.
High school students want to return to school earlier than planned
LJUBLJANA - An organisation representing secondary school students urged the Education Ministry and the government to open secondary schools to final grade students along with the opening of kindergartens and the first three grades of primary schools. In an open letter, the DOS organisation welcomed the latest government strategy for a gradual easing of restrictive measures depending on the epidemiological situation but called for faster reopening of secondary schools.
NGOs criticise planned environmental law changes
LJUBLJANA - Environmental NGOs warn that proposed changes to the environmental protection and spatial planning acts would exclude them from key relevant procedures and scrap legislative safeguards. Without the latter an irreparable damage could be caused regarding the environment and public health, they said, as the Environment Ministry proposed scrapping an article providing judicial protection that could be used to challenge implementing spatial acts in court.
NGOs, MEPs urge continuing Student Radio funding
LJUBLJANA - Several organisations have come forward in support of Radio Študent, an independent radio station which is at risk of losing a major source of funding from its founder. Slovenian MEPs reminded the Student Organisation (ŠOU) that depriving the radio station of funds would be in contradiction with EU media plurality goals and efforts. Independent media are guardians of democracy and the rule of law and they are key to preserving our democracy, six of Slovenia's eight MEPs said in a statement.
Slovenian sea affected by coral die-off and tropicalisation
KOPER - The Slovenian part of the Adriatic Sea has not been spared from the impact of climate change in recent decades, with the worst consequences including bleaching and die-off of corals, as well as the arrival of non-native species due to tropicalisation, marine biologist Lovrenc Lipej said. Seaside wetlands are also expected to gradually disappear due to the rising sea level.
Kranjska Gora population swells as rules bent
KRANJSKA GORA - The Alpine resort of Kranjska Gora, which currently has near perfect snow conditions and roughly a meter of snow, has seen its official population double during the epidemic as over 2,000 have registered temporary residence, which allows them to invoke one of the exceptions to the ban on crossing municipal borders. While this is legal, local authorities say rules are being bent and that this does not contribute to an improvement of the epidemiological situation.
GZS celebrating 170th birthday
LJUBLJANA - The Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) is celebrating its 170th anniversary, having been throughout dedicated to advocating its members' interests and business success. Labelling 2020 as a year of special challenges, it is now looking ahead to 2021 as a year of opportunities for growth and development. It was on 12 January 1851 that the first cross-sectoral chamber of commerce in Slovenian lands was set up in Ljubljana, which happened on orders of Austrian Emperor Francis Joseph.
Celebrations of 200 years of National Museum begin
LJUBLJANA - An exhibition of the National Museum's first exhibits was launched as Slovenia's oldest museum started year-long celebrations of its bicentenary. The celebrations will culminate and end with a high-profile reception in October, exactly on the museum's 200 birthday. Entitled Museum through History, the exhibition features three parts, with the first covering the items that the museum acquired in the first decades of its existence.
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STA, 12 January 2020 - Representatives of the hospitality industry have warned that the industry is one of the most affected by the Covid-19 epidemic, and that the government's aid measures do not suffice. They want special treatment in the next legislative stimulus package and a special emergency law that would fully cover wage costs and fixed costs.
Blaž Cvar, head of the Tourism and Catering Section of the Chamber of Craft and Small Business, said in Tuesday's statement that the second Covid-19 wave was much more severe and longer and that the hospitality industry required special treatment.
According to Cvar, the number of unemployed persons in the industry increased by 30% in the last three months, while more than 3,000 establishments closed their doors last year. This requires a special emergency law to be passed.
Together with related associations, the section would like to see such law determine measures in the case that the crisis persists, and an exit strategy, as a significant drop in turnover is expected in the first months after reopening.
Cvar also thinks that the government should start gradually relaxing restrictive measures, including in hospitality, which in the initial phase would mean being allowed to serve meals and drinks outdoors.
In the next legislative stimulus package, the section would like to see loss of turnover to be covered by the government.
It proposes that for each month as of January 2021, establishments receive 70% of the amount of monthly revenue recorded in 2019, the last year when the hospitality industry operated normally.
The section also wants that the current measure of subsidised furlough be extended, and that the state subsidises wages fully, as employers are not able to cover a full gross wage as they have no revenue at all.
It furthermore also wants that universal basic income, like in the spring, is fully covered by the state - EUR 700 plus contributions in full. Otherwise, many employees will not be able to cover basic expenses.
Get the latest data on coronavirus and Slovenia
STA, 12 January 2020 - The Alpine resort of Kranjska Gora has seen its official population double during the epidemic as over 2,000 have registered temporary residence, which allows them to invoke one of the exceptions to the ban on crossing municipal borders. While this is legal, local authorities say rules are being bent.
Accommodation capacities are "surprisingly full" and there are a lot of people who are not locals, said Gregor Jarkovič, the head of a municipal inspection service covering Kranjska Gora and two neighbouring municipalities.
The local authorities have discovered that accommodation typically reserved for tourists is being leased out to businesses, which are not covered by the Covid-19 rules that have shut down hotels and other tourism accommodation.
According to Jarkovič, it is very hard for inspectors to verify whether such conduct constitutes an infringement of the rules, which means they cannot sanction potential violators.
"The fact is that we all know what is recommended and what is not. We know it is necessary to refrain from contacts and keep a distance. Any such bending of rules does not contribute to an improvement of the epidemiological situation," he said.
Blaž Veber, the director of Kranjska Gora Tourism, noted that the current rules allowed property owners to lease out to business clients, but since this is poorly defined, it is very difficult to check how such leases are implemented in practice.
"We depend on tourism and place all of our hopes in compliance with the measures and stemming this wave. It seems that this is not the way to achieve that," he said.
Kranjska Gora has near perfect snow conditions and roughly a meter of snow at the moment. While the ski lifts are shut down, social media posts show hundreds hitting the slopes to go sledding at the weekend.
According to current Covid-19 restrictions, outdoor recreation is allowed within the statistical region of residence and in observance of general precautions, but those who have temporary residence in another statistical region may go there as well.
STA, 11 January 2020 - The number of deaths in Slovenia in 2020 is expected to be the highest since the Second World War based on data collected so far. The number of excess deaths in 2020 compared to 2019 was 3,153, while compared to the last five years, it was 3,821, show data by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).
In 2019, a total of 21,112 deaths were recorded in Slovenia, but last year the figure rose to 24,265. In the last five years, 20,444 persons died a year on average.
Compared to the average of the last five years, there were 3,821 more deaths last year, of which 930 were deaths not related to Covid-19. If only 2019 and 2020 are compared, the number of excess deaths not related to Covid-19 is 262.
"Excess deaths were recorded also in connection to diagnoses and diseases that are not directly linked to Covid-19," NIJZ head Milan Krek told the press today.
According to the preliminary data by the Statistics Office for last year, 20,634 people died between January and the end of November, which is 10% more than in the same period in 2019. A total of 3,059 people died in November 2020 alone, which is 85.5% more than in November 2019.
NIJZ data show that 2,891 people with a confirmed coronavirus infection died last year. Most of the deceased were the elderly from care home.
According to Krek, the data on Covid-19 patients were being collected two ways in Slovenia. The Health Ministry collects the data on the number of deceased Covid-19 patients in hospitals and care homes every morning. The NIJZ, however, collects the data on the bases of those who tested positive to coronavirus, and death certificates and documents on deaths due to contagious diseases.
NIJZ includes in its statistics deaths where an infection was confirmed 28 days before the death.
Since the methodology is different, the data cannot be compared directly, and a unified classification is yet to be set up on a global level, Krek explained. "The procedure is time-consuming, so we cannot report on deaths for individual days."
Among the 2,891 persons with a confirmed infection who died last year, 1,682 were care home residents, which is 58% of the deaths.
"One in ten care home residents died because of Covid-19," he illustrated, adding that 15% of care home residents with the infection had died.
The most deaths where a coronavirus infection was confirmed (603) was recorded in central Slovenia, the region with the most inhabitants, but the number of deaths per 100,000 inhabitants was the highest in the Pomurje region in north-east (268). Koroška follows with 206 deaths per 100,000 people and Podravje with 156.
More than 50% of the deaths with confirmed infection was recorded among those over 85 years of age.
STA, 11 January 2020 - US Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard will leave Slovenia next week when the incoming US President Joe Biden is to be inaugurated, the embassy confirmed for the STA on Monday. Blanchard, a political appointee, sent her resignation notice to outgoing President Donald Trump today.
US ambassadors who have been appointed as a form of political patronage are personal representatives of the US president in countries where they serve, so it is common that they resign upon the arrival of the new administration, the Ljubljana-based embassy said.
"Ambassador Blanchard tendered her resignation to the president today as is customary. The ambassador expects her departure will coincide with the inauguration next week," the embassy wrote in a press release.
After Blanchard's departure, deputy ambassador Susan Falatko will step in until a new ambassador is appointed. It is not yet clear when that would happen.
The embassy staff will continue with their efforts to forward joint priorities and strengthen bilateral relations, the press release reads.
Blanchard was received by a number of Slovenian senior officials for farewell visits in recent days.
Foreign Minister Anže Logar thanked her today for her efforts to strengthen relations between Slovenia and the US during the challenging Covid-19 times.
Both Logar and Blanchard said they were glad of "the extraordinary progress made in relations between the countries", the Foreign Ministry said on Twitter.
Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik also met the outgoing ambassador today, thanking her for cooperation and wishing her all the best.
President Borut Pahor visited Blanchard at the embassy on Friday, later thanking her on Twitter for her contribution to relations between Slovenia and the US.
He also said he looked forward to cooperating with Biden and his administration, adding that the strengthening of the relations was to continue.
Blanchard was also hosted by parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič last week.
She assumed office in August 2019, succeeding Ambassador Brent Hartley, who arrived in Slovenia in February 2015 and whose three-year term expired in mid-July 2018.
Blanchard, who is not a career diplomat, was appointed the same way as numerous other US ambassadors, political appointees who have financially backed one of the US parties or presidential candidates.
She has co-founded the development foundation 100X that seeks to come up with innovative solutions to help eradicate poverty and improve lives of children worldwide. Blanchard has also co-founded B&M, a real estate investment management company.
This summary is provided by the STA:
Slovenia's Covid-19 death toll passes 3,000
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's total of deaths among Covid-19 patients since the start of the pandemic has passed 3,000 after a further 24 died on Sunday. Another 426 people tested positive from 1,720 PCR and 480 antigen tests, as the PCR test positivity rate dropped for the fifth day. Covid-19 hospitalisations rose to 1,205 with 196 patients in intensive care. Slovenia has confirmed over 139,700 infections and 3,022 deaths, show data from the Covid-19 tracker site and National Institute of Public Health. On Tuesday, the first shipment of the vaccine developed by US biotechnology company Moderna, although only 1,200 vials, is expected to arrive in Slovenia.
Committee clears Adriatic zone-related activities
LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar presented to the parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee the background of and Slovenia's planned activities regarding plans by Italy and Croatia to proclaim exclusive economic zones in the Adriatic. The strategy was endorsed unanimously by the committee behind closed doors. Logar told the press after the session the discussion had been constructive. He also announced a trilateral meeting between the Slovenian, Italian and Croatian prime ministers in Rome by the end of January.
Part of police officers on strike
LJUBLJANA - One of the two police trade unions went on strike to demand higher pay in line with a 2018 agreement that ended a previous strike. PSS trade union head Rok Cvetko said the strike would continue until a deal is clinched with the government, which deems some of the trade union's demands unjustified. Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said the Interior Ministry was in talks with the union. The ministry meanwhile posted on its website gross pay for almost 8,700 employees of the ministry, its inspection service and the police force for December to show that pay in the police force was not as low as some would think.
Financial experts stress key role of investments post-Covid
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's central bank Banka Slovenije and the European Investment Bank (EIB) discussed investment priorities in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, with Boštjan Vasle, the governor of Slovenia's central bank, saying investment success would translate into effective crisis exit strategies. A slow rise in investments was halted by the crisis, however investments are even more vital now, Vasle noted, adding they also played a role in tackling one of Slovenia's key challenges - relatively low workforce productivity.
Constitutional Court stays implementation of act on army investments
LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court said it had stayed the implementation of a law on EUR 780 million in investments in the Slovenian Armed Forces in 2021-2026 pending its final decision on the law's constitutionality. If it turned out the act is unconstitutional, the consequences of its implementation would be more severe than if it is stayed for a relatively short time until it has reached its decision, the court said. The Defence Ministry labelled the decision as "disproportionate".
EUR 660m in development incentives available to companies
LJUBLJANA - The Economy Ministry has drafted a programme for development incentives for 2021, worth a total of EUR 660 million, including EUR 248 million in grants. The priorities of the programme include providing liquidity to companies and assistance in green and digital transition for higher added value. The ministry said the Slovenian economy was robust, but it was following the situation and trends in small and medium-sized enterprises with concern, especially in the field of services.
EU Commission: Press agency compensation possible without prior notification in certain circumstances
BRUSSELS, Belgium - State aid rules enable EU member states to grant state aid to press agencies as compensation for services of general economic interest, European Commission spokesperson for competition Arianna Podesta said in response to questions by Slovenian media after the government decided to solicit a state aid opinion from the Commission following legislative changes adopted to secure financing for the STA. Under certain conditions, compensation may be granted without prior approval by the Commission. The threshold is set at EUR 15 million per year, according to a Commission working paper. Unofficial information indicates the STA public service payments could be below the threshold for notification.
US ambassador to leave Slovenia next week
LJUBLJANA - US Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard will leave Slovenia next week when incoming US President Joe Biden is to be inaugurated, the embassy told the STA, adding Blanchard, who is not a career diplomat, sent her resignation notice to outgoing President Donald Trump today. In recent days, Slovenia's top officials have met Blanchard, who started serving in Slovenia August 2019, for farewell visits. Both Foreign Minister Anže Logar and President Borut Pahor thanked her for her efforts to strengthen Slovenian-US relations.
SDS, LMŠ and DeSUS lose ground in Delo poll
LJUBLJANA - The ruling Democrats (SDS) continue to lead the field with 13.7% in the latest poll commissioned by the newspaper Delo, but have lost ground for the second month running. Its leader and PM Janez Janša saw the biggest improvement in voter approval to climb two spots to 16th on the list of the most popular politicians. The opposition LMŠ party of ex-PM Marjan Šarec and the DeSUS of the aspiring PM-designate Karl Erjavec have likewise slipped back amid growing voter discontent.
Quarantine word of the year 2020
LJUBLJANA - The Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts (ZRC SAZU) declared quarantine the word of 2020. It is followed by cycling in second place and 14 days in third. Apart from the 14-day period of isolation due to risky contacts which was later shortened to 10 days, quarantine was also used to refer to the lockdown in general. Cycling was, however, a form of protest against the Janez Janša government during lockdown.
Judge loses post for criticising Janša on Facebook
LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Dnevnik reported that judge Urška Klakočar Zupančič lost her position as the head of the commonhold department of the Ljubljana Local Court due to her posts about Prime Minister Janez Janša in a closed Facebook group. She labelled Janša as a "great dictator" and expressed hope "the age of Janšism will eventually become only a bitter memory". The judge, who says her Facebook 'friend' abused her trust, is also subject to disciplinary procedure.
Boom in public rental flats expected due to legislative changes
LJUBLJANA - The government expects that up to 10,000 new public rental apartments could be available within five to ten years under recently adopted housing act changes. The amendments to the housing act, adopted by the government last week and submitted to parliament, among others allow the national housing fund and municipal housing funds to borrow more. "The key objective of housing policy is to secure more public rental flats," Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak told the press.
Luka Koper's net sales revenue down 8% to EUR 206m
KOPER - Port operator Luka Koper generated EUR 206 million in net sales revenue in 2020, down 8% from 2019, while cargo transshipment was down by 14% to 19.5 million tonnes, shows the company's preliminary and unaudited report. "The reason for revenue dropping at a smaller rate than transshipment is better operations in additional services, filling and emptying of containers and in higher revenue from storage charge in certain segments," it said. The company felt the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, but transshipment of containers as a strategic group of goods nevertheless remained stable.
Industrial output slightly up in November
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's industrial output was up by 0.2% in November 2020 compared with the month before, but dropped 0.8% year-on-year. In the first eleventh months of last year, it was down 6.7%, the Statistics Office reported.
Number of expected deaths in 2020 to be exceeded by 3,150
LJUBLJANA - The number of deaths in Slovenia in 2020 is expected to be the highest since WWII based on data collected so far. The number of excess deaths in 2020 compared to 2019 was 3,153, but only 262 were not related to Covid-19. Compared to the last five years, excess deaths reached 3,821, of which 930 were deaths not related to Covid-19, show data presented by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).
Four mobile homes on their way to quake-stricken Croatia
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia continues to provide aid to the Petrinja area in Croatia that was hit by a devastating earthquake at the end of December, with a shipment of four mobile houses on their way there from the Roje logistic centre in Ljubljana. The Defence Ministry and the Civil Protection and Disaster Relief Administration said this was a third phase of aid provided by Slovenia to alleviate the consequences of the 6.4-magnitude quake. Aid is also being sent by charities and individuals.
Slovenian culture centre in Berlin gets new head
BERLIN, Germany - Saša Šavel Burkat was appointed the new head of the Slovenian Berlin Culture Centre starting on 9 January. The Culture Ministry described the new culture attache as an exceptional connoisseur of contemporary Slovenian and German production. A journalist and anthropologist, Šavel Burkart has worked at the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija for years, and is the author of several documentaries on visual arts and culture. She succeeds Gregor Jagodič.
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STA, 11 January 2020 - Mass testing for novel coronavirus with rapid antigen tests for residents of the Ljubljana municipality is being moved from Kodeljevo Arena to the Gospodarsko Razstavišče Exhibition and Convention Centre in the centre of the capital.
As of tomorrow, testing will be conducted at Hall A of on working days from 11am to 3pm, with registrations possible until 1:30pm. Vaccination against Covid-19 will also start at the same location tomorrow.
The testing location has been changed as the new location is more accessible and the venue is larger, as demand is increasing, the Ljubljana Community Health Centre said on Monday.
Vaccination against Covid-19 will be carried out exclusively for persons on priority lists who have expressed their wish to be vaccinated and were invited for vaccination by their personal physicians.
STA, 11 January 2020 - The government expects that up to 10,000 new public rental apartments could be available within five to ten years under recently adopted housing act changes. "The key objective of housing policy is to secure more public rental flats," Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak told the press on Monday.
The amendments to the housing act, adopted by the government last week and submitted to parliament, allow the national housing fund and municipal housing funds to borrow more.
Vizjak expects the new rules would mean an extra EUR 200 million in fresh borrowing, with an additional EUR 100 million coming from the EU's recovery and resilience fund.
According to him, this will be quite a handful for the housing funds, and anyway "we don't want to exaggerate, we want sustainable growth".
While the extra borrowing will lead to new housing developments, a second major provision of the new act would establish a public service acting as an intermediary and manager of rental homes.
Vizjak said this public service would manage rental flats on behalf of owners who are currently reluctant to rent out their properties due to risks.
In this scheme, tenants would pay non-profit rent, while some of the gap to commercial rent would be covered by the state.
"We estimate 20% of flats are unoccupied in Slovenia. In Ljubljana alone it is estimated there are 25,000," Vizjak said.
The government expects about 100 apartments would enter this scheme in 2022, rising to 500 the year after and up to 2,000 per year beyond 2025.
Arguably the key measure of the bill is the gradual increase in non-profit rent over three years from EUR 2.63 to EUR 3.50 [ed. per m2?] in a system of points assigned to a property.
Non-profit rent has remained unchanged since 2007 and no longer allowed housing funds to earn a return on their assets that they would then reinvest into new housing.
To offset any negative impact on those with the lowest incomes, state subsidies will increase.
"This means the measure does not undermine the socio-economic status of the weakest while allowing housing funds ... to continue building non-profit flats."
Vizjak said these were the most urgent changes to housing legislation, while the government will embark on a comprehensive overhaul of housing legislation within a year.
STA, 11 January 2020 - The newspaper Dnevnik reported on Monday that judge Urška Klakočar Zupančič had lost her position as the head of the commonhold department of the Ljubljana Local Court due to her posts about Prime Minister Janez Janša in a closed Facebook group.
According to the newspaper, Klakočar Zupančič wrote among other things that "I hope that the age of Janšism will eventually become only a bitter memory, take care of yourselves until then".
She also labelled Janša as a "great dictator" and added that coronavirus in Slovenia had given rise to "frustrated characters with criminal past".
The president of the Ljubljana Local Court has also launched disciplinary proceedings against the judge, Dnevnik added.
The newspaper reported that Klakočar Zupančič had told the Judicial Council that the writing was of private nature, and that her Facebook "friend" had abused her trust.
The writings have found their way to Vinko Gorenak, a state secretary in the prime minister's office, who went public with them and asked the Judicial Council and the president of the Supreme Court to respond.
Supreme Court president Damijan Florjančič labelled them as inappropriate, and the Judicial Council said it "condemned and regretted any action on the part of judges that creates the impression in public of political bias of judges as individuals and the judiciary as a whole".
In a session on 10 December the council also "emphasised that the use of disrespectful language in communication by a judge, be it public or private, disagrees with the integrity of a judge".
The council said that, regardless of the circumstances or conduct on the part of others, a judge has an obligation to maintain a dignitary attitude becoming of the post in expressing their opinions, thus preserving not only their own dignity, but also the authority and reputation of their position.
Noting that full privacy cannot be reckoned with in social networks, the Judicial Council said judges must be reserved and dignified also in their communication on social networks and follow the guidelines on judges' public and private comments as set out in the commentary of the Ethics Code.
STA, 9 January 2020 - Slovenia is to receive 26,000 doses of the newly approved Moderna coronavirus vaccine by the end of February, the Health Ministry said on Saturday. The European Commission and Moderna agreed on the supply of 80 million doses with the possibility of increase by another 80 million doses. Slovenia has the right to 369,767 doses from each supply.
Moderna vaccine was approved by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) on 6 January and its distribution among member states will start next week. It is the second coronavirus vaccine to gain approval in the EU, with Pfizer/BioNTech inoculation campaign running since 27 December.
The US-French pharmaceutical company has informed the European Commission and member states that its production capacities are limited, affecting its supply of the EU market, the Health Ministry said.
While Slovenia is to get 26,000 doses in the first two months of the year, Modern is yet to inform the Commission and member states how many doses it will be able to deliver in March, the Health Ministry said.
It also expressed hope that the company will be able to scale up its production capacities soon and underlined that Slovenia is striving to get as much vaccine as it is eligible to, no matter the price.
The European Commission has moreover called on member states to inform it of their needs for more doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, the ministry said, adding that Slovenia expressed interest for one million additional doses.
Both the Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines require two doses to achieve immunity.
Get the latest figures on Slovenia and coronavirus here
STA, 10 January 2020 - The expected rise in sea level in the coming decades and high tide flooding could affect some 3,800 people living on the Slovenian coast, flooding some nature reserves out of existence, a study has found.
High tides have been increasingly flooding low-lying parts of the Slovenian coast and sea level has risen by 10 centimetres in the past 50 years or by 1.7 millimetres a year, shows the study, conducted by researchers of the geography department of the University of Primorska Faculty of Humanities.
The researchers, Gregor Kovačič and Valentina Brečko Grubar, note that in the past 20 years the rise in sea level in Slovenia has been higher even than European and global average.
Scientists on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimate the global sea level could rise by up to 100 centimetres by 2100, but unlikely not by less than 50 centimetres.
Given a 50 centimetre rise in sea level, high tide floods would cover 700 hectares of the Slovenian coast with about 25 centimetres of water on the lowest sections of the coast.
This would mean extensive flooding of the salt pans in Strunjan and Sečovlje as important fauna and flora habitats and of some residential buildings in the town Piran.
During high tide, the water level would be comparable to that of extremely high tides or extreme floods today, with about 80 centimetres of water on low-lying parts of the coast, or even 144 centimetres in case of a exceptionally high tide.
If sea level was to rise by a metre and given an increased tide, 1,246 hectares of land would be under water, an area comparable to exceptional flooding today.
The built-up areas of low coast would be threatened such as those in the area of Koper port or Bonifika in Koper, the coastal sections of Izola, and part of the settlement of Strunjan.
Like today, Piran would be hit the hardest with large part of the old town under water. Some residential areas of Lucija would also be flooded and the entire Sečovelje salt pans.
Given such a rise in sea level, more than 800 buildings would be flooded, affecting about 3,800 residents, most of them in the Koper municipality.
The rise in sea level would cause extraordinary flooding every year and part of the low coast would be mostly under water. The flooded area would increase considerably when the tide was in.
Even if the land was dry when the tide was out, the soil would be inappropriate for farming because of the salt in it.
Conservation areas such as the Škocjanski Zatok, Sečoveljske Soline and Stjuža in Strunjan would be gone forever, the researchers warn.
They call for making out detailed mid- and long-term plans to adapt to the consequences of sea flooding, including by mapping out where certain human activities are no longer possible.