13 Dec 2020, 22:01 PM

Back in July 2019, I told Kate, my spouse, that I had a realization, and wanted to tell her about it that night at dinner.

In our cozy Albuquerque, New Mexico, adobe home we had grown comfortable, my garden outside, her art/poetry studio inside. But in 2018, we had spent three delightful months in Ljubljana, in a rental flat on Moskriceva, five floors up (no lift) overlooking green hills and Sv. Stefan, and I frequently recalled the time, relishing my newly minted Slovenian citizenship. Kate, always ready to adventure, and increasingly fond of Slovenia, told me, why don't we just move there? I demurred, enjoying my plants and compost.


That July night, I opened some red wine, and out came a cork, to my astonishment, with a dragon on the side. Appropriate, I said, telling her, that yes, it was time to sell our house, move to a small flat across town we owned, and free ourselves of accumulated debris, ready to launch to Ljubljana.

And so we began our daunting downsizing, promising to be careful with every step to avoid injury, to move methodically, poco y poco, bit by bit, as they say in New Mexico.

We proceeded, dumping and selling stuff, giving away things, including some century-plus-old heirlooms the we kept through multiple moves — Kate's grandmother's pedal sewing machine, and my Slovenian's grandparents' chandelier.

Out went my reel tapes, recorded with music on what I thought was cutting-edge technology. We told close friends about our plans, cementing our commitment. We began moving things to our flat, and rented small storage units below, to store clothes, art, my writing files and music.


2020 arrived, and we were on track to put the house on the market, targeting March. But then the COVID roof fell in, our lockdown isolation began, and life screeched to a halt.

By July, the virus seemingly subsiding, we warily proceeded with selling. The Albuquerque real estate market was hot, but we quickly found we underestimated our task. One sale failed three days before we closed the deal, so we put it on the open market, bringing a parade of masked realtors and prospective buyers. Meanwhile, our next-door neighbor, an American our age with Canadian citizenship, told us he was fed with up the USA and was moving to Canada — he sold his house in a few hours.

We learned that real estate in the USA is mafia-like — inspectors finding flaws, so-called "cousin contractors" hired to fix them, appraisers to set value. Finally, a young couple with a child— amazingly, with a chance connection to Kate's daughter who lives in Costa Rica—made an offer, and Oct. 30 we sealed the deal, frantically moving out our last stuff.

Settling in Albuquerque, pondering Slovenia

Our "loft" is in a "condominium," with individual ownership, and joint common-area ownership. We're on the third floor above storied Route 66 a few blocks from downtown Albuquerque. By Ljubljana standards, it's large, about 82 square meters, but rather than green hills, our view is New Mexico desert.

The populations of Slovenia and New Mexico are roughly equal, but New Mexico is five times larger in area than Slovenia. Albuquerque is three times the size of Ljubljana, the dragon city, and shares some similarities. New Mexico has a unique culture, a complicated blend of tribal, Spanish, Mexican and Anglo peoples, and more recently Albuquerque has evolved as a center of arts, music and poetry.

Unlike Ljubljana, it's rough around the edges, with high crime, homelessness and family dysfunction, a sort of "bad neighborhood," as a Balkan official once characterized the Balkans. Yet I find Albuquerque and New Mexico and the Balkans interestingly similar in a nice sort of way. Our Bulgarian friend, Alex, who we met by chance in Sofia in 1993, told us, roughly translated, "our shirt may be dirty but we know how to have a good time." Such is New Mexico, a poor state, but unpretentious and fun, on the peaceful, upbeat side of things.

Meanwhile, our new downtown loft life unfolds, amid the pandemic. Like Slovenia, New Mexico's COVID spiked in the spring, but lessened as summer arrived. In Slovenia, youthful fun in Croatia and at bars in Ljubljana, and in Albuquerque, parties and drinking, lead to the big Fall spike in cases — and deaths. New Mexico has more cases, but sadly, death tolls are similar — both around 2,000. Our New Mexico governor has also imposed stringent measures, but unlike Slovenia's right-wing prime minister, she's comes at it from the compassionate left, encountering stiff resistance from the rural right.

After our hectic move, we stay mostly in, venturing out weekly to stock up on food, during special hours for older folks at our well-managed organic grocery co-op. We avoid social contact, though we maintain Zoom "happy hours" with our poet, artist and journalistic friends.


And savor our so-far good fortune, though Ljubljana seems distant. Our loft is filled with bits of Slovenia — Kate's stunning dragon woodcut (based on her 2018 Ljubljana photo) and one of my blacksmith grandfather's handmade tools. We shuffle around in Slovenian slippers. And I concoct my version of čemaž, my daily morning staple.


The key & the lock: Fulfilling our Slovenia dream

When I sought Slovenian citizenship, I wrote in my application that I would be following one of my Slovenian grandmother's dream — to return. She never did, marooned in Wyoming, but now it's my, and Kate's, dream.

During multiple visits to Slovenia, beginning, by chance, in 1991, just months after independence, we've encountered, by chance, numerous nice folks who helped us along the way, poco y poco, unbeknownst to us, on our path back: Stan, the lawyer with cousins in Wyoming, partner Dragica, and Natasha, his daughter, now a banker, and in 2018 our high-rise flat neighbor; Spanish-speaking Pablo, an Argentine Slovene who returned in 1991 to work on the revived Slovenc newspaper who's also a poet, translator and librarian, and spouse Liliana, who works at the Spanish Embassy; Jasmina and Urban, from whom we rented our Trubarjeva flat and, like us, avid vegetarians, and Carlos, the Mexican writer, who married Slovenian Mojca — at his theater, we met Sonja, and discovered the Mura River.

It was at the Mura where I met Stojan, and over a Lasko, I told him about our string of coincidences, and also my discovery of an intriguing version of Que Sera, Sera, a Spanish song, by a French "trip-hop" group, Wax Tailor, that essentially says, yes, "whatever will be, will be," but if you have the key, you just have to find the lock to alter life.

Stojan tells me that that the root word for coincidence in Slovene is "nakljucje." My Anglesko-Slovenski slovar translates "key" to "kljuc," a word I heard often growing up in a Wyoming-Slovenian culture.

It's not Ljubljana, but our loft offers a window of hope, of following our dream there, and returning to Albuquerque occasionally, to visit family and our cohort of like-minded friends here who also nurture our souls.

Inside, and isolated, we thankfully have move-in tasks to complete, mostly heart-warming, like hanging random art we purchased during our travels. Now, with Kate immersed in her art in a tiny downtown studio that we found, yes, by chance, and writing poetry in the loft, and I, with my eclectic music to savor and time to write, we wait out the pandemic.


For our "thanksgiving" we cooked a vegetarian feast, lit our table candles — and savored Pleterski brinjevec, saved from our 2018 journey.

It's not Ljubljana, but I call it "Ljubljana luxury," surrounded by our "riches." Our dream continues, and we have the lock — and the key.


13 Dec 2020, 18:52 PM

STA, 13 December 2020 - Norway won the team event at the Ski Flying World Championships at Slovenia's Planica on Sunday, overtaking Germany in the last round as Halvor Egner Granerud performed better than Karl Geiger, who beat the Norwegian yesterday in the individual event. Slovenia bounced back from the turmoil in their ranks by finishing fourth.

The Norwegian team thus defended their gold medal from the previous Ski Flying World Championships to earn the fifth medal for the nation in team events.

After Geiger won the individual event and his counterpart Markus Eisenbichler finished third on Saturday, Germany were considered favourites to win their first team event, and they were actually at the very top all the way until the last round.

But Granerud turned the things around in the last jump, bringing Norway's total tally to 1,727.7 points, against Germany's 1,708.5. The bronze medal went to Poland, which scored 1665.5 points.

Following turmoil in the national team that saw jumper Timi Zajc and head coach Gorazd Bertoncelj leaving the team on Saturday, Peter Prevc returned to the squad to help Slovenia take the forth place (1,609.9 points).

The remaining four teams were far behind - Japan (5th) scored 1,483.5 points, followed by Austria (1,422.1), Russia (1,356.3) and Finland (1,284.8).

13 Dec 2020, 14:17 PM

STA, 13 December 2020 - The government has extended for another week the temporary closure of shops offering non-essential goods and services to consumers in person, as it is due to resume debate on coronavirus restrictions today.

A new decree extending the ban, which was first imposed on 16 November in a bid to contain the coronavirus epidemic, is effective from Sunday.

The government opted for the extension late last night following consultations with health and business officials, the assessment being that the coronavirus situation in the country is not improving.

At the consultations, held at Brdo estate yesterday, hospital managers warned that hospitals have limited reserves for any potential increase in the number of Covid-19 patients.

According to a report by TV Slovenija, the officials warned the number of patients requiring hospital treatment could increase by up to 30% in January, also due to other respiratory conditions.

"We've given the reserves we had into fighting Covid-19. Patients with other diseases who also need beds are coming," Aleš Rozman, director of the Golnik University Clinic of Respiratory and Allergic Diseases, told Radio Slovenija.

Bojana Beović, the head of the Covid-19 advisory group, speaking to reporters ahead of the meeting with the government, said: "We can secure, let's say an extra 100 beds, but this means another 100 gravelly ill, more dead and more people with long-term consequences."

Under the government lockdown exit strategy, the number of hospitalised patients should fall bellow 1,200 or the number of daily infections below 1,350 on average over the past seven days for the first easing of measures.

While data for Saturday are yet to be published, a total of 1,276 Covid-19 patients were hospitalised on Friday, as the seven-day average of new cases stood at 1,526, according to tracker site.

The government also met yesterday representatives of businesses, who have been stepping up their calls for the reopening of some shops such as hairdresser's, florist's and small clothes stores.

After the meeting, which dragged late into the night, Branko Meh, the head of the Chamber of Trade Crafts and Small Business, told the STA the government heard out their arguments so they expected some easing soon.

"We talked mainly about regional opening of hair and beauty salons, flower shops and clothes stores," he said, adding that the business expressed their commitment to abide by safety measures.

Boštjan Gorjup, the chairman of the Chamber of Commerce and Industry, also expects that the government will start easing some measures gradually in the coming days.

The government will resume debate on coronavirus measures in a scaled-down format today, according to the Government Communication Office. Another possible item on the agenda is the 7th stimulus package.

13 Dec 2020, 14:06 PM

STA, 13 December 2020 - Martin Čater won the World Cup season opening downhill in France's Val d'Iser on Sunday in what is the first podium finish for the 27-year-old, who entered the race with the start number 41.

In a sensational feat, Čater headed down the piste two hours into the race but his perfect line in excellent conditions allowed him to take the lead of the pack.

He finished the race 0.22 seconds ahead of Austria's Otmar Striedinger in second and 0.27 seconds ahead of Switzerland's Urs Kryenbühl in third.

"I still cannot believe it. I thought I was fast, I really had a good run, but I still couldn't believe it was enough for a victory," the incredulous Čater told reporters.

"There's been a lot of fresh snow and the organizers did their best to prepare an excellent, bump-free, smooth track, ideal in fact as I had every good conditions despite the high start number."

He said that he was in shock himself when he crossed the finish line and looked at the results board.

"Incredible sensations. I hope I won't change a thing going into the next race and keep my focus," he said.

Čater is only the third Slovenian male World Cup downhill winner since independence after Andrej Jerman, who has two wins, and Boštjan Kline, who secured the most recent one in 2017.

His personal World Cup downhill best so far was 8th in Wengen in 2019 and his World Cup best 6th spot in the Wengen alpine combined in January this year. At the super-G event yesterday he failed to get any points at all.

13 Dec 2020, 12:32 PM

STA, 13 December 2020 - A total of 830 people tested positive for coronavirus in Slovenia on Saturday as 31.3% of the tests came back positive. Government data also show Covid-19 hospitalisations rising above 1,300 and 22 more patients losing their lives.

A total of 1,315 Covid-19 patients were treated in hospitals yesterday, 39 more than the day before, despite 52 being discharged home. The number of patients in intensive care units rose by eight to 201.

A total of 2,648 tests for Sars-Cov-2 were conducted yesterday.

With the latest fatalities, the country's death toll from Covid-19 has risen to 2,063. The total case count since the start of the pandemic has exceeded 96,300.

The 7-day average of new cases is 1,497.3, according to tracker site

All our stories on Slovenia and coronavirus

13 Dec 2020, 04:38 AM

Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also follow us on Facebook and get all the news in your feed.

This summary is provided by the STA

1,744 new coronavirus cases recorded on Friday, 43 patients die

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded 1,744 new coronavirus infections in 6,127 tests on Friday. The positivity rate was roughly on par with Thursday's figure at 28.5%, fresh government data showed. 43 Covid-19 patients died, taking the overall death toll to 2,041. The number of persons in hospital was up by eight to 1,276, of whom 193 required intensive care, three down on Thursday. 121 were discharged home. A study by the Institute of Microbiology and Immunology shows that in mid-November at least some 4.2% of the population had a detectable amount of Covid-19 antibodies in their blood, meaning they had recovered from the disease.

S&P affirms Slovenia's AA- rating

LJUBLJANA - Rating agency Standard & Poor's affirmed on Friday Slovenia's AA- rating with a stable outlook. The step acknowledges that Slovenia "remains a stable country in the long run despite the difficult situation due to Covid-19", the Finance Ministry said, adding that Slovenia remained a trust-worthy country in the eyes of foreign investors. The agency said that the government anti-coronavirus measures would prevent long-term economic ramifications, according to the ministry.

Pahor's climate advisors call for climate coalition

LJUBLJANA - Marking the fifth anniversary of the Paris Agreement, President Borut Pahor's permanent advisory committee on climate policy urged the formation of a climate coalition and an alternative energy sources strategy. The committee called on the government to put efforts to tackle the climate crisis high on the agenda of Slovenia's priorities during the country's EU Council presidency next year.

Germany's Geiger wins Ski Flying World Championship at Planica

PLANICA - Germany's Karl Geiger won the individual event of the Planica Ski Flying World Championship with a total of 877.2 points after a nail-biting finish in which the second-placed Halvor Egner Granerud of Norway fell behind by only half of a point after four rounds of jumping. The best Slovenian in the first three rounds, Anže Lanišek, further improved in the last round to finish 12th with 777.2 points.

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


12 Dec 2020, 20:20 PM

STA, 12 December 2020 - Germany's Karl Geiger won the individual event of the Ski Flying World Championship at Slovenia's Planica with a total of 877.2 points after a nail-biting finish in which the second-placed Halvor Egner Granerud of Norway fell behind by only half of a point after four rounds of jumping.

Geiger led from start to finish as the individual event started with two rounds on Friday and wrapped up on Saturday with another two rounds.

The German had an advantage of 7.7 points heading into the last round but Granerud saved his best jump for the last round, soaring to the 243-metre mark for the second-longest jump so far at the championships.

Geiger responded with a 231.5-metre effort to stay in the first place by a whisker, winning 877.2 points against the Norwegian's 876.7 points. The ski flying title thus returns to Germany after Severin Freund won it in 2004.

"There was a lot of pressure. It felt good already after the first jump, but I was aware that I had to stay focused until the last jump. This is unbelievable. I really felt good right from the get-go," Geiger told reporters.

Finishing third to win the bronze medal was Markus Eisenbichler of Germany, who shook off Michael Hayböck of Austria with a 230-metre jump to earn 859.3 points and leave the Austrian more than 14 points behind.

The best Slovenian in the first three rounds, Anže Lanišek, further improved in the last round to finish 12th with 777.2 points, after managing his best jump of all four rounds of 228 metres.

Bor Pavlovčič finished in the 20th place with 715.5 points, and Domen Prevc was right behind him with 712.7 points.

There were four Slovenian competitors in the first two rounds on Friday, but Timi Zajc has been kicked out of the national team following an exchange with head coach Gorazd Bertoncelj, who has also left the team.

Slovenia will appear in Sunday's team event though, as Zajc will be replaced by Peter Prevc, who is returning to the Planica "bubble" after failing to make the team for the individual event.

Robert Hrgota, the former ski jumper and Bertoncelj's deputy, who had to jump in as the new leader after the discord in the Slovenian team, said after the individual event that Slovenians were going for a podium finish in the team event.

"Anže showed yesterday and today that he is close to the top. He is the bright star at the moment and we are happy that we have a strong trump card who will also fight tomorrow to help Slovenia rank high," he added.

In the statement for the national broadcaster TV Slovenija, the interim head coach added that the "battle for the podium will take place until the last jump. There are eight jumps in the team event and many things can happen."

* Final standings of the individual event at Planica:
 1 Karl Geiger (GER)           877.2 pts (241/223.5/240.5/231.5 m)
 2 Halvor Egner Granerud (NOR) 876.7 (221/229.5/239/243)
 3 Markus Eisenbichler (GER)   859.3 (220/247/234.5/230)
 4 Michael Hayböck (AUT)       845.1 (245.5/217/237.5/220.5)
 5 Robert Johansson (NOR)      841.0 (220/228.5/228/232)
 6 Yukiya Sato (JAP)           835.1 (222/229/228/229)
 7 Piotr Žyla (POL)            828.6 (221.5/224.5/227/224.5)
 8 Kamil Stoch (POL)           808.5 (213/229/223/222.5)
 9 Evgeni Klimov (RUS)         802.2 (237/208/222.5/220)
10 Andrzej Stekala (POL)       792.4 (224.5/215.5/224.5/212)
12 Anže Lanišek (SLO)          777.2 (196/218,5/215.5/228)
20 Bor Pavlovčič (SLO)         715.5 (207/198/207/203.5)
21 Domen Prevc (SLO)           712.7 (206/206.5/206.7/207.5)
12 Dec 2020, 13:23 PM

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

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

FRIDAY, 4 December
        WASHINGTON, US - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo welcomed Slovenia's decision to declare the Hezbollah Shia Islamist movement a terrorist organisation earlier this week. Slovenia is rejecting the false differentiation between its political and military wings, he said.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor made a renewed appeal for cross-party effort to break out of the crisis, as he addressed a ceremony ahead of the 30th anniversary of a cross-party agreement on the independence referendum.
        LJUBLJANA - STA staff representatives urged the government as the agency's sole owner to provide, in line with the law, the material conditions for their journalistic work and for their autonomy after the Government Communication Office suspended its funding.
        LJUBLJANA - Jelko Kacin, one of the STA founders as the information minister in the early 1990s, stressed the importance of the agency in the face of the suspension of its funding. "Its role and media mission to the benefit of Slovenia are extremely important and irreplaceable," he said in an interview with the newspaper Večer.
        LJUBLJANA - Pergam, a trade union association, asked the Constitutional Court to examine a communicable diseases act provision which make it possible to limit the right of healthcare staff to strike. The court was also asked to check a decree which prevents healthcare staff from taking paid days off during the epidemic.
        ILIRSKA BISTRICA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs presented two ideas to protect Slovenia's southern border with Croatia against illegal migration after a plan to activate soldiers by giving them police powers was recently rejected in parliament. One option is to change the border surveillance act to allow Financial Administration staff and various inspectors to be deployed on the border, and the other is cooperation with Italy and Hungary in police patrols.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Catholic bishops addressed a letter to PM Janez Janša saying they expect the government to lift the ban on religious services amid the Covid-19 epidemic. They also expect the government not to disproportionately limit religious freedom.
        NAZARJE - BSH Hišni Aparati, a Slovenian subsidiary of the Bosch group, was this week declared the winner of the Factory of the Year competition in the category of best large-scale mass producer in Europe. The competition is a collaboration of A.T. Kearney and the German business magazine Produktion, which was launched in 1992.

SATURDAY, 5 December
        LJUBLJANA - Karl Erjavec, 60, returned to politics after winning the leadership contest in the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) to start his fifth term as DeSUS leader. His return after less than a year-long break raised expectations of some that the party could leave the Janez Janša government.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Culture Committee urged the government to immediately pay the overdue liabilities to the STA and stop smearing the agency. It also urged the STA to provide the Government Communication Office with the requested documents.

SUNDAY, 6 December
        LJUBLJANA - New decrees on measures to stem the Covid-19 epidemic entered into force, with no substantial changes, as restrictions on gatherings, movement and sale of goods remained in force. The decrees had to be re-published in the Official Gazette as the Constitutional Court ruled the extension of distance learning was invalid because it was not published in the Official Gazette.

MONDAY, 7 December
        TEL AVIV, Israel - PM Janez Janša started an official two-day visit to Israel by meeting the representatives of Israel's innovation sector. He labelled the working meeting as an opportunity for a developmental breakthrough for Slovenian know-how and entrepreneurship. He also had dinner with Slovenia's Honorary Consul Eival Gilady and Israel-Slovenia Chamber of Commerce representatives.
        WASHINGTON, US - The foreign ministers of Slovenia and the US, Anže Logar and Mike Pompeo, launched a new, upgraded form of structured bilateral dialogue. Logar stressed the importance of this strategic dialogue and said it would continue with the next US administration.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Institute of Public Health announced the head of its Centre for Communicable Diseases, Mario Fafangel, had quit the Health Ministry task force advising the government on measures to fight Covid-19. Fafangel explained his reasons to Health Minister Tomaž Gantar, but would not share them with the public.
        LJUBLJANA - The Chamber of Craft and Small Business called on the government to open small businesses and the services sector as the closure had not resulted in an improved epidemiological situation. It also warned of a rise in undeclared work.
        LJUBLJANA - The Chamber of Commerce and Industry assessed that the Slovenian economy had suffered between EUR 440 million and EUR 600 million in damage in the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic between the end of September and end of November.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Assembly unanimously passed a bill reducing the financial obligations of municipalities by shifting several major outlays, for example health insurance premiums for the unemployed, onto the state budget. The bill was originally tabled by the previous government in December 2019 but was then expanded.
        LJUBLJANA - Karl Erjavec said he did not intend to become a minister in the Janez Janša government after he was elected the leader of the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS). He informed PM Janez Janša of this while still a candidate for DeSUS leader.
        STRASBOURG, France - Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović wrote a letter to Prime Minister Janez Janša, urging him to immediately reintroduce funding to the STA and expressing concern that the suspension of public funding could jeopardise the agency's future.

TUESDAY, 8 December
        JERUSALEM, Israel - Prime Minister Janez Janša discussed with his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu the strengthening of bilateral cooperation, particularly in innovation. Netanyahu said Janša's visit was an opportunity for a new beginning in relations. He thanked Janša for declaring the Hezbollah movement a terrorist organisation and for expressing support for Israel in international forums.
        WASHINGTON, US - Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec signed a memorandum of understanding on strategic civilian nuclear cooperation with the US. In the memorandum, the two countries express a desire for deeper bilateral strategic ties, which would improve energy security, increase prosperity and strengthen political and economic ties.
        LJUBLJANA - With the epidemic plateauing for several weeks, Health Minister Tomaž Gantar, backed by chief Covid-19 adviser Bojana Beović, proposed a temporary full lockdown of all non-essential activity in the country only to be countered by Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, who upheld demands by business associations for a gradual reopening of businesses with stricter measures.
        LJUBLJANA - Four centre-left coalition parties turned to the Constitutional Court after the National Assembly last week declared a referendum on EUR 780 million in planned defence investments inadmissible. The Left, Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), Social Democrats (SD) and Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) want the court to abrogate both the parliament's decision on the inadmissibility of the referendum and the defence spending law.
        LJUBLJANA - The repatriation of ethnic-Slovenian residents of Venezuela was suspended in March following the outbreak of coronavirus, but it was re-launched in autumn, when 13 persons arrived in Slovenia, the Government Office for Slovenians Abroad announced. A total of 36 persons have been repatriated so far.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Soldiers' Trade Union urged members to authorise a law firm to bring damages suits against singer Jadranka Juras and director Dejan Babosek over their comments about the Slovenian Armed Force members and the guard of honour, respectively, as well as against the public broadcaster for airing the contentious statements.
        LJUBLJANA - The STA supervisory board called on the government to take necessary steps to resume regular financing of the STA for the public service it performs after concluding, based on a legal opinion commissioned by the STA management, that the Government Communication Office had no legal basis to arbitrarily suspend financing.

WEDNESDAY, 9 December
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - The government decided that the bulk of coronavirus restrictions will remain in force but the government may opt for easing on Saturday following consultations with hospital directors and business officials. The only substantive change is that from Saturday only surgical or washable face masks will have to be warn in indoor and outdoor public spaces. Loose fitting coverings such as scarves or bandannas will no longer suffice.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - The government added Germany to Slovenia's red list of Covid-19 unsafe countries and regions, as well as the whole of the UK and Estonia starting from Saturday. Meeting for a weekly session, the government also moved Ireland and Iceland from the red to the orange list.
        LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Foreign Policy Committee gave the Infrastructure Ministry the green light to launch negotiations with Hungary on the neighbouring country's participation in the Koper-Divača rail investment.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor said politicians in Slovenia should end political uncertainly as soon as possible and enhance trust. It should be made clear whether the government still has a majority support in parliament and then all energy should focus on the fight against the epidemic, he said.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - The government adopted changes to the international protection act to promote fast and effective procedures. The proposed solutions are also aimed at preventing abuses of the system of international protection, the Interior Ministry said.
        LJUBLJANA - The government gave its go-ahead to the Defence Ministry's proposal to promote Brigadier General Robert Glavaš, the chief of the general staff, to the rank of major general. Glavaš meets skills-based conditions for the promotion, while he will fully meet the formal requirements on 17 December when two years will have passed since his last promotion in rank.
        LJUBLJANA - As the coronavirus epidemic takes its toll among nurses and care workers, with many being exhausted, their trade union threatened with a strike. A major issue seems to be the fact that the majority of employers in health care and social care have not yet paid out the bonuses for working in an emergency and for additional workload.
        LJUBLJANA - The Government Office for Legislation issued an opinion on the suspension of the STA financing by the Government Communication Office, saying this could only be the ultimate penalty, as a stoppage of public service would be unlawful. It also said the law secures the STA independence, also from the government.
        LJUBLJANA - On International Anti-Corruption Day, the Commission for the Prevention of Corruption launched an integrity project aimed at strengthening integrity through all levels of the education system and society. Endorsing the project, President Borut Pahor said raising awareness and education about fighting corruption was key to boosting trust in society.
THURSDAY, 10 December
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prime Minister Janez Janša welcomed the rule of law compromise put to EU leaders as "very good". If it gets the green light, it will provide adequate rule of law protection of all EU financial mechanisms as well as the recovery funds, he said on arrival at the EU summit.
        LJUBLJANA - The Court of Audit has found that Banka Slovenije was only partly successful in its oversight of banks' capital adequacy and the management of loan risks in 2008-2013. It also found it to be unsuccessful in introducing emergency measures during the bank bailout.
        ROME, Italy - The Slovenian and Italian foreign ministers, Anže Logar and Luigi di Maio, met to discuss exclusive economic zones that Italy and Croatia intend to declare in the Adriatic Sea. They agreed that they would hold a trilateral meeting on the topic with Croatian counterpart Goran Grlić Radman as soon as possible.
        LJUBLJANA - Following consultations with parliamentary deputy groups, President Borut Pahor announced he would nominate Maja Brkan for Slovenia's judge on the General Court of the European Union. Extra consultations are however needed on candidates for the EU Court of Justice.
        LJUBLJANA - The Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) remains in the government coalition but will examine the possibility of closer cooperation with the Modern Centre Party's (SMC) deputy group, DeSUS deputy group leader Franc Jurša said. A task force was to be set up with the SMC to study the potential for cooperation between the two deputy groups.
        LJUBLJANA - The defence ministers of Germany, Portugal and Slovenia held an online meeting at the initiative of Germany. Germany's Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, Joao Gomes Cravinho from Portugal and Slovenia's Matej Tonin discussed strategic decisions, cooperation between the EU and NATO, and the importance of transatlantic cooperation.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's exports totalled EUR 3.2 billion in October, up by 2.1% on the same month in 2019. Imports meanwhile fell by 8.5% to EUR 2.9 billion, creating a surplus of EUR 0.2 billion, the Statistics Office said.


12 Dec 2020, 13:07 PM

STA, 11 December 2020 - Ljubljana and Novo Mesto police are investigating posters and graffiti which have appeared in both cities and labelled some medical experts exposed during the coronavirus epidemic "murderers of the Slovenian nation".

Posters with an image of NIJZ director Milan Krek appeared overnight in Novo Mesto, south-east, labelling him a murderer of the Slovenian nation, the regional news portal Moja Dolenjska reported today.

The Novo Mesto Police Department told the STA the police had noticed the posters and flyers already on Thursday. It launched an investigation and notified the local authorities, which removed them.

The Ljubljana Police Department said similar stickers and graffiti also appeared in the Slovenian capital. The police are now gathering facts and information.

Moja Dolenjska reported the threats in Ljubljana targeted Covid-19 task force head Bojana Beović, Golnik Clinic director Aleš Rozman, who is also a member of the task force, and the government's coronavirus spokesperson Jelko Kacin.

Krek was a target of threats and harassment before. He told the STA earlier this week he had received the last life threat last Friday, while he was often followed when leaving the NIJZ offices.

At the end of November, he made headlines when rapper and anti-masker Zlatko followed him in the street posing as a journalist and video-recording him.

Rozman meanwhile said a while ago he had been receiving offensive and threatening e-mails by anonymous senders.

Last Friday the criminal police received reports of threats made to staff advising the government on Covid-19, and provided them with police protection.

It did not specify how many advisers had received the threatening letters or which measures had been introduced to protect them.

Two days later, the Medical Chamber condemned all such threats saying they were unacceptable, and urged police to act.

12 Dec 2020, 03:57 AM

Check the date at the top of the page, and you can find all the "morning headlines" stories here. You can also follow us on Facebook and get all the news in your feed.

This summary is provided by the STA

PM hails EU recovery plan compromise as win-win situation

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prime Minister Janez Janša labelled the compromise reached by EU leaders over the recovery package a typical European solution, a win-win situation with no absolute winners or losers. The winner is the EU since an opportunity for actually implementing the package as of 1 January 2021 was unlocked, he said, describing the 24-hour summit as very successful. The compromise was also hailed by Slovenia's eight MEPs with Romana Tomc (EPP/SDS) stressing the role played by Janša in the search for the compromise.

Janša says Slovenia will not shut down industry

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prime Minister Janez Janša said Slovenia would not shut down its industry. "I can predict with great certainty that Slovenia will not shut down industry, as some had proposed," he told reporters after the EU summit. If there is any easing in the coming days, it will be limited to regions with fewer cases and falling trends, coupled with stricter oversight of measures at businesses that have recorded more infections or where there are dangerous trends. The government is due to meet hospital and business officials on Saturday to determine the course of action.

Slovenian Christmas tree lit as delegation visits the Vatican

VATICAN CITY, Vatican - A Slovenian delegation was received by Pope Francis and Foreign Minister Anže Logar held talks with Bishop Paul Richard Gallagher, secretary for relations with states within the Holy See's Secretariat of State, before a 30-metre spruce tree from Slovenia came aglow with Christmas lights in St Peter's Square. Logar said the tree was Slovenia's thank-you to the Holy See for its support before and after Slovenia declared independence nearly 30 years ago. Logar and Gallagher discussed challenges related to the Covid-19 pandemic, the global and regional humanitarian situation, the future of the EU and Slovenia's EU presidency in the second half of 2021.

Pahor attends online forum on W Balkans' EU future

LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor reiterated his stance that EU prospects for the Western Balkans are the main geopolitical issue bearing on European stability, as he addressed the To Be Secure forum. His wish is for the entire region to join the EU. Although the EU has a number of challenges, such as the health crisis, the emerging economic crisis, and Brexit, to deal with, it would be a grave mistake to underestimate the role of EU enlargement, he said.

1,813 new coronavirus cases confirmed on Thursday, 49 die

LJUBLJANA - A total of 6,453 coronavirus tests were conducted on Thursday and 28% or 1,813 came back positive. The number of patients in hospitals rose by ten to 1,268, and the number of those requiring intensive care was up by seven to 196. 49 patients died. The number of active case in the country rose by 1% to 21,003 out of a total of 93,734 since the start of the pandemic. The seven-day rolling average per 100,000 residents rose by 0.3% from the day before to 1,510.9.

Chief Covid-19 adviser considered quitting but decided against

LJUBLJANA - Epidemiologist Bojana Beović told Mladina she had considered resigning as the head of the Health Ministry's Covid-19 advisory group when the situation escalated. She has however decided against it, convinced it would not help calm the situation, it would only further destabilise it. She said she had never threatened to quit, but would have done so had she been asked to argue in favour of something she could not as an expert. Beović also stressed she was "not interfering in politics".

Govt, NGOs welcome bolder EU greenhouse gas emissions goal

LJUBLJANA - The government and environmental NGO welcomed the EU summit's decision to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2030 by at least 55%. The Environment Ministry believes the goal is realistic, whereas the NGOs would like it even more ambitious. "The goal is feasible if we make maximum efforts in all sectors. We expect to have the biggest challenges in transport," Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak said. Meanwhile, climatologist Luča Kajfež Bogataj said that for a true global impact, the EU should get China and the US on board.

Four DeSUS deputies to go independent unless "things calm down"

LJUBLJANA - Robert Polnar, a deputy of the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), said four of the five DeSUS MPs were willing to quit the deputy group and become independent "if things do not calm down". The MP said he was against "experiments" such as the KUL coalition and would remain a supporter of the government. Three fellow DeSUS deputies share a similar sentiment.

UKOM repeats arguments in letter to CoE commissioner

LJUBLJANA - The Government Communication Office (UKOM) responded to a letter by Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights Dunja Mijatović concerning the funding of the STA. UKOM head Uroš Urbanija repeated the argument that the STA was obligated to provide UKOM with all the requested documents. He said the government was obliged to ensure appropriate financing of the STA and that this area had been regulated from the very beginning by the UKOM on behalf of the government.

Employers urge political unity to tackle coronavirus crisis

LJUBLJANA - The Employers' Association appealed to all political representatives to engage in responsible and unanimous conduct to resolve the coronavirus crisis and its fallout, underscoring the importance of political stability. "Efforts by individual stakeholders are not enough in the search for joint solutions where doubts and pressure sow distrust in the measures taken; to successfully overcome the crisis unity and support of all stakeholders is essential," said the association.

Retailers reiterate call for reopening of shops

LJUBLJANA - The Chamber of Commerce (TZS) called on the government to reopen non-essential stores. Non-grocery stores have been closed for four months and the chamber estimates the loss of revenue at over EUR 2 billion. The organisation said that stores were not a source of infections or a factor aggravating the epidemiological status. It warned that retailers were facing huge problems, including seasonal goods piling up in their warehouses.

Koper port operator expects 60% slump in profit

KOPER - Port operator Luka Koper will post an estimated EUR 25.1 million in group net profit this year on 207.9 million in sales revenue, which compares to EUR 40 million and EUR 229 million, respectively, in 2019. For 2021, revenue is projected to the tune of EUR 219.8 million and net profit at EUR 24.4 million. Estimates and projections published by the company show the estimated sales would be 13% below the planned figure and the estimated net revenue 21% below that projected.

Police investigate new threats to Covid-19 experts

LJUBLJANA/NOVO MESTO - Ljubljana and Novo Mesto police are investigating posters and graffiti which have appeared in both cities and labelled some medical experts exposed during the coronavirus epidemic "murderers of the Slovenian nation". Posters with an image of NIJZ director Milan Krek appeared overnight in Novo Mesto, south-east, labelling him a murderer of the Slovenian nation. Similar stickers and graffiti also appeared in the Slovenian capital.

Some resorts start skiing season

KRANJSKA GORA/MARIBOR - Despite the restrictions related to the Covid-19 epidemic, skiing season is starting in Kranjska Gora, Pohorje above Maribor and at Krvavec, but only for locals. The accompanying activities are prohibited, though, so the question is whether ski lifts will operate for long if restrictions are not lifted. The first ski lift in Kranjska Gora was launched on Thursday, although only locals may visit the resort due to the ban on travel between municipalities. Pohorje and Krvavec will launch open-air lifts on Saturday.

book cover cook eat slovenia.jpg

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


11 Dec 2020, 17:48 PM

STA, 10 December 2020 - The government has approved a proposal to amend the road transport act which introduces legal basis for digital labour platforms, such as Uber. The proposal sets down that drivers via these gig economy companies would need to get a licence. The amendments would also abolish mandatory use of taximeters for taxi drivers.

The proposal paves the way for innovative technologies in Slovenia's passenger transport which can enable service providers to exchange resources, time, knowhow and skills to provide new, expanded and lower-cost services to users, the Government Communication Office (UKOM) said on Wednesday after the government greenlit the proposal.

The amendments would change and streamline taxi services and put taxi services and private car and driver rentals on an equal footing by standardising conditions for using such apps.

Taximeters would thus no longer be necessary for taxi drivers. The Infrastructure Ministry had said that taximeters had been made pointless by digital platforms for transportation services, which enable the passenger and provider to agree on the price in advance.

The municipalities would also have a say in setting relevant rules since they would be able to determine the quality standard prescribing the type of a vehicle among other things. The ministry thinks such policy would enable local communities to pursue their environmental targets.

The amendments also include certain provisions making public transport more attractive to users and simplifying procedures for obtaining transit cards for professional athletes.

Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec announced setting up legal basis for digital platforms the likes of Uber in July.

Taxi drivers mostly oppose the changes, deeming such gig economy platforms unfair competition.

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