09 Dec 2020, 14:05 PM

STA, 9 December 2020 - A total of 17,575 persons died in Slovenia in the first ten months of 2020, up by 2.7% on the same period in 2019, the Statistics Office data show. When it comes to October alone, 2,073 Slovenian residents died or 26.8% more compared with the same month in 2019.

Interim data, released on Monday, also indicate that in the first ten months of 2020, 15,540 babies were born, down by 4.8% compared to the January-October period in 2019.

Between 1 and 22 November 2020, 2,100 residents died, raw data show. Interim data for the entire month of November will be published in early January 2021.

Excess mortality or excess deaths in the first ten months of 2020 stood at 4.5% compared to the average number of deaths recorded in the same period between 2015 and 2019.

The most significant deviation from the 2015-2019 period in 2020 was recorded in October - a 23.7% rise in the number of deaths on the same month in the previous five years.

The national tracker Covid-19 Sledilnik has recently pointed out that since mid-October Slovenia has been recording a large share of excess deaths.

The week between 9 and 15 November saw an increase by 81%, with the tracker's data indicating that excess death growth correlates with the increasing number of Covid-19-related deaths.

Covid-19 Sledilnik has said that more detailed assessments will be possible long after the second wave ends.

However, current excess mortality in Slovenia is similar to the figures in the countries that were worst off in the first wave, the tracker warned.

09 Dec 2020, 11:16 AM

STA, 8 December 2020 - The world's top ski jumpers will converge on Slovenia's Planica this week for the Ski Flying World Championships, which has been moved up from March due to the Covid-19 epidemic. The event will be held for the first time without spectators, under floodlights, and under strict anti-epidemic rules.

Last season ended prematurely for ski jumpers and the Ski Flying World Championships was postponed to December. After almost nine months, Slovenia is thus finally hosting the main ski flying event in the world.

Slovenian jumpers will be defending their team silver medal from Germany's Oberstdorf in 2018, although without spectators, who traditionally pack the stadium below the large hill of the Planica Nordic Centre and create a roaring atmosphere.

Planica under floodlights for the first time, without spectators and under strict ant-epidemic measures

This time, the valley under the Ponce mountains in the north-western corner of Slovenia will be fully closed for spectators, and access to the valley by car will be prohibited. Fans of ski flying will have to watch the ski flyers at home.

This is not the only unusual thing, as it will also be the first time in the history of the Gorišek Brothers' ski flying hill that a competition will be held under artificial lights. The organisers needed a lot of them, equalling to lighting of two football stadiums in Ljubljana, head of competition Jelko Gros has told the STA.

Immediately after the competition was cancelled in March due to the coronavirus outbreak, the organisers saved around 9,000 cubic metres of snow from the area, which has been preserved to be used for the competition in December.

The organisation is much more difficult than usual, as precautionary measures need to be taken for possible positive Covid-19 tests. For this reason, the event will be organised with the smallest possible number of staff.

Gros will be heading a competition at Planica for the last time, and his current assistant Aljoša Dolhar will take over from him for the World Cup season finale next March.

"Due to coronavirus, we have managed the event in a way that enables it to continue even if some of were to test positive or had to be quarantined due to contact with an infected person," Gros described the problems related to Covid-19.

All participants will need to be tested, and the area will be divided into two zones. As many as 80 staff will organise the competition in the green (safe) zone or the snowflake, as the quarantine bubble is called in the winter sport circles.

The remaining staff will be in the grey zone, where they will be tested with rapid tests performed by the Jesenice general hospital. Persons from the two zones are not expected to be in contact, except in special circumstances.

Slovenian "eagles" have eight medals from world championships, but none from Planica

Slovenian ski jumpers have so far won eight medals at the Ski Flying World Championships, but none of them comes from Planica, which will this year host the event for the seventh time after 1972, 1979, 1985, 1994, 2004 and 2010.

The first medal (silver) was won by Primož Ulaga in Oberstdorf in 1988, who was followed by Urban Franc in Kulm in 1996 (bronze), and Robert Kranjec in Vikersund in 2012 (gold). It was there that Kranjec and his compatriots Jernej Damjan, Jurij Tepeš and Jure Šinkovec won the team bronze.

Two years later in Harrachov, Peter Prevc won bronze, and the most successful Slovenian ski jumper ever also won the world champion title in Kulm in 2016. At the latest championship in Oberstdorf, Slovenians continued the medal streak by returning home with the team silver in the line-up Peter and Domen Prevc, Anže Semenič and Jernej Damjan.

Slovenians ski flyers are determined to finish on the podium in Planica, with head coach Gorazd Bertoncelj having already selected the competitors from the ranks of the home nation - Anže Lanišek, Bor Pavlovčič, Žiga Jelar, Peter Prevc, Timi Zajc and Domen Prevc.

Slovenians are not really in an excellent shape, but large ski flying hills have always served as a "wake up" for them, which is something they are counting on this year.

Many unknowns about competition as coronavirus affects ski jumping

Ski jumpers have not been spared the coronavirus pandemic in the new season, and Ski Jumping World Cup director Sandro Pertile will miss the event as he has tested positive. It is not known yet what the competition will actually be like.

Having the most problems is the Austrian team, where the nine positive jumpers include Stefan Kraft, the world record holder (253.5 metres in Vikersund in 2017) and the World Cup winner from last season.

Four of them have since returned negative tests, including Kraft. The decision on who will represent Austria is expected to be taken by Wednesday.

On the other hand, the Norwegian team is coming to Slovenia in an excellent shape, after winning the team gold and the individual gold medal (Daniel-André Tande) at the last world championship in 2018. This time, the role of favourite will be played by Halvor Egner Granerud, who has won the last three World Cup events.

Having entered the season on a roll are the Germans with Markus Eisenbichler, the winner of the last event held at the Gorišek Brothers hill. Poland's Kamil Stoch, Dawid Kubacki and Piotr Žyla, who missed the last World Cup event in Russia and are training for the world championship at home, are also known for their aptitude for long flights.

09 Dec 2020, 10:59 AM

STA, 9 December 2020 - Persistent heavy rains and a high tide have flooded parts of the coast, causing landslides and blocking roads, including part of the main road leading to the Dragonja border crossing with Croatia.

While the rain continues, the situation at the moment is the most critical in the valley of the border river Dragonja, the head of the local civil rescue team Robert Zirnstein has told the STA.

Firefighters and civil rescue members were up all night monitoring the situation in the area between Sečovlje and Strunjan, which was already flooded in heavy rain on Sunday.

? Ravnokar je bila v Piranu aktivirana sirena javnega alarmiranja z opozorilom na nevarnost zaradi visokega plimovanja...

Posted by Občina Piran - Comune di Pirano on Tuesday, 8 December 2020

The traffic information centre reports that alternate one-way traffic is only possible on the main road between Koper and the Dragonja crossing due to flooding.

Firefighters have been busy pumping water from buildings and placing sand bags to secure what can be secured against flooding.

The sea flooded Piran in the morning, but Zirnstein said this was the least of their problems at the moment, as more substantial damage had been prevented by precautionary measures.

A landslide about 40 cubic metres in size slid down the road between apartment buildings in the Markovec borough of Koper, along with trees.

Landslides and water are also blocking several other local roads, and road and public utility maintenance workers have been busy repairing road lighting, pulling out cars from water and flooded vessels.

Meanwhile, heavy precipitation and wet snow have led to power cuts in the northern Primorska region in the west of the country as trees and power poles and lines buckled under heavy load.

Power distributor Elektro Primorska said a total of 2,200 its clients were without power as of 8am this morning, including in remoter parts of Bovec, Tolmin, Idrija, Ajdovščina and Kanal.

Part of the coastal town of Izola has also been affected by blackouts.

Elektro Primorska said all its available teams of electricians are on the ground trying to restore the power to all households, but large amounts of snow are hindering access in some parts.

Vanči Premrl, the head of the road maintenance team with the construction company Kolektor CPG, which is helping to repair the broken power lines, told the STA that up to a metre of snow had fallen in the Bovec area and on the Trnovo-Banjšice Plateau.

Precipitation is forecast to continue until the afternoon.

09 Dec 2020, 04:19 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

Janša and Netanyahu call for strengthening of innovation cooperation

JERUSALEM, Israel - Prime Minister Janez Janša met his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu for official talks. They discussed the strengthening of bilateral cooperation, particularly in innovation. Netanyahu said the visit was an opportunity for a new beginning in relations. He thanked Janša for declaring the Hezbollah Shia Islamist movement a terrorist organisation and for expressing support for Israel in international forums. Janša said Slovenia attempted to see the Middle East situation as it was and not as it was often depicted. Janša started a two-day official visit to Israel on Monday by meeting the representatives of Israel's innovation sector.

Logar launches strategic dialogue with US, to be continued with next administration

WASHINGTON, US - The foreign ministers of Slovenia and the US, Anže Logar and Mike Pompeo, launched on Monday 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. The Foreign Ministry said Logar and Pompeo had praised the current relations between Slovenia and the US, as the governments had strengthened cooperation in many fields. Logar and Pompeo exchanged views of the global and regional challenges, including the Western Balkans, relations with Russia and China and the situation in the Middle East. Logar also held talks with two members of the US Congress of Slovenian stock, Representative from Arizona Paul Gosar and Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar.

Slovenia and US sign memorandum of understanding on civil nuclear cooperation

WASHINGTON, DC, US - Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec signed a memorandum of understanding concerning strategic civil nuclear cooperation with the US at the State Department. Nuclear cooperation memoranda of understanding are diplomatic mechanisms that strengthen and expand strategic ties between the US and a partner country, the State Department said. Minister Vrtovec said the memorandum did not mean Westinghouse would be given preferential treatment in Slovenia's plans to build a second reactor in Krško. He said the talks were also about the development of small modular nuclear reactors, whose rollout is planned for 2026.

A record 66 Covid-19 patients die

LJUBLJANA - A record 66 Covid-19 patients died in Slovenia on Monday as 1,627 new coronavirus cases were confirmed in 6,158 tests. The positivity rate was 26.4%, one percentage point down compared to Sunday. The number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals was up by three to 1,304, of whom 193 required intensive care, three fewer than on Sunday. A total of 86 patients were discharged from hospital.

Ministers at odds about reopening of economy

LJUBLJANA - With the epidemic plateauing for several weeks, Health Minister Tomaž Gantar proposed a temporary full lockdown of all non-essential activity in the country. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, on the other hand, proposes a gradual reopening of businesses with stricter measures. Gantar's call was backed by chief Covid-19 adviser Bojana Beović, while Počivalšek's view is in line with demands by business associations, many of which issued a joint call for the reopening of all shops, and services such as hairdressers, massages, physiotherapy, and technical services.

Soldiers to bring defamation suits against singer, director

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian Soldiers' Trade Union urged members to authorise a law firm to bring damages suits against a singer and a director who they say insulted Slovenian Armed Force members and the guard of honour, as well as against the public broadcaster for airing the contentious statements. The union said the lawsuits would have a preventive effect. The NGO Inštitut 8. Marec called the move an attempt to intimidate those who express opinions opposing or critical of those in power.

Opposition petitions Constitutional Court over defence spending referendum

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 relevant act itself.

Repatriation of ethnic Slovenians from Venezuela continues

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. The recent arrivals first had to quarantine for ten days. They all tested negative for coronavirus.

STA supervisory board finds no legal basis for financing suspension

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 has no legal basis to arbitrarily suspend financing. The supervisors established that the STA leadership had not acted in contravention of the valid law in its communication with UKOM. UKOM insists the STA director must hand over the requested documents.

Tourism getting ready for multi-year recovery

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian tourism is preparing for long-term recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic. The recovery plan will span until the end of 2023, with tourism resilience being strengthened for years to come, participants of the virtual Days of Slovenian Tourism said. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek thinks that the sector will return to record-breaking results. He vowed additional aid for the hospitality and tourism sectors and the meeting industry in the emerging seventh stimulus package.

Minister supports value-based digital transformation

LJUBLJANA - Participating in a meeting of EU ministers in charge of public administration digitalisation, Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik endorsed a concept of a digital transformation based on democratic and ethical values and inclusion. Investments not only in technology but also in people and their skills are key for a successful digital transformation, the minister noted.

Tour winner Pogačar honoured for tourism promotion

LJUBLJANA - Tour de France winner Tadej Pogačar was honoured by the Slovenian tourism community as the person who contributed the most to Slovenia's promotion around the world. At the annual Days of Slovenian Tourism, Pogačar won the Crystal Triglav, becoming the second cyclist to be honoured after Primož Roglič, who finished second in this year's Tour, received the accolade last year.

book cover cook eat slovenia.jpg

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


08 Dec 2020, 17:45 PM

STA, 7 December 2020 - The first Slovenia-themed restaurant in New York has recently been opened in Amsterdam Avenue in the West Side of Manhattan, offering interpretations of classic Slovenian cuisine along with seasonal New American cuisine.

Pekarna is a Slovenian-American restaurant, cocktail bar and event venue conceptualised by Australian-born engineer Dean O'Neill.

While a grand-opening is yet to be publicly announced, Pekarna has already welcomed first guests. The restaurant's website says that it is currently in a soft-opening phase with a shortened schedule.

"The menus bring together thoughtful interpretations of classic Slovenian cuisine along with seasonal New American cuisine that will provide a familiar choice to enjoy our menus," the website adds.


The executive chef is Kamal Hoyte, who has worked at several New York restaurants, while the dessert chef is Alma Rekić, who is known for her appearances in the Master Chef Slovenia show.

The two-level restaurant features a main dining room, cocktail bar, three lower-level private banquet rooms and a garden.

It opened in the challenging times of the Covid-19 pandemic as many restaurants in New York are closing their doors.

"With the changing times we need to do things differently. We do it together as a community in order to share the load of rebuilding our energetic city," said the owner Dean O'Neill.

"Pekarna is working on new practices and changing the way a restaurant operates with one goal in mind, a safe place to enjoy food, drinks and atmosphere," he added.

Visit the website here

08 Dec 2020, 17:19 PM

STA – 8 December 2020 - A record 66 Covid-19 patients died in Slovenia on Monday as 1,627 new coronavirus cases were confirmed, up by more than a quarter from the week before. The positivity rate stood at 26.4%, one percentage point down compared to Sunday, government data show.

The number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals was up by three to 1,304 on Monday, of whom 193 required intensive care, three fewer than on Sunday.

A total of 86 patients were discharged from hospital, or 42 more than on the day before.

Much like in recent days, elderly homes accounted for roughly a fifth of new cases, with 223 infections confirmed in residents and 61 in staff, according to Jelko Kacin, the government's Covid-19 spokesman.

According to the national tracker Covid-19 Sledilnik, a total of 87,915 coronavirus infections have been confirmed in Slovenia so far, while the death toll stands at 1,862.

The number of active infections is currently 20,813, according to Sledilnik, whose data show that the figure has barely changed in a month and has even increased slightly in recent days.

Hospitals have been operating at the limit of capacity for weeks and Matjaž Vogrin, the medical director of UKC Maribor, said staff were exhausted.

The hospital has around 3,000 employees and almost 900 are currently on sick leave, many because of burnout. Roughly 300 are home after contracting Covid-19 or because they are quarantining.

"Health staff at all hospitals and other health institutions in Slovenia is on the verge of exhaustion," he told the press today.

All our stories on Slovenia and coronavirus

08 Dec 2020, 17:08 PM

STA, 8 December 2020 - Prime Minister Janez Janša met his Israeli counterpart Benjamin Netanyahu as part of an official visit to Israel on Tuesday. The pair discussed the strengthening of bilateral cooperation, particularly in innovation. Netanyahu thanked Slovenia for declaring Hezbollah a terrorist organisation.

The visit of the Slovenian prime minister is an opportunity for a new beginning in relations between the two countries, Netanyahu said in a press release published on his Twitter.

"This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship," he added.

Israel's prime minister said that Janša had always been a great advocate of the Israel-Slovenia alliance, adding that Janša's actions in his capacity as prime minister showed how deeply he was committed to this vision.

Netanyahu thanked Janša for declaring the Hezbollah Shia Islamist movement a terrorist organisation and for expressing support for Israel in international forums.

The Slovenian government declared Hezbollah a terrorist organisation last week, a step that was recently also welcomed by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

In November, Slovenia, along with 13 other countries, voted against the WHO resolution which would aim to secure access to healthcare amid the pandemic for residents of the occupied Palestinian territory and Syrian Golan.

Janša said in a press release today that Slovenia was one of the European countries which attempted to see the Middle East situation as it was and not as it was often depicted.

"We're realists and we know the true role of Israel here, the importance of Israel for peace in the world and the region. We're willing to do everything to strengthen this position," he said.

The prime ministers agreed that there were numerous untapped opportunities for cooperation, with Netanyahu highlighting AI, cybersecurity, trade and tourism as areas of untapped potential.

Netanyahu described Slovenia and Israel as advanced democracies, competent when it comes to tech advancements and forward-looking, sharing a wish to improve lives of their citizens.

He also announced that the two countries would sign an innovation agreement today.

"Opportunities belong to those who create innovations. Innovations create value added and competitive advantage as well as propel economies," he said.

Janša said that Israel, as one of the most innovative countries in the world, was a major role model for Slovenia.

During yesterday's meeting with representatives of Israel's innovation sector, he determined that there were a lot of opportunities for cooperation that would need to be explored in the future.

Janša also told Netanyahu that cybersecurity would be one of Slovenia's priorities during the country's EU Council presidency in the second half of 2021.

Since Israel is very advanced in this field, we would like to share know-how and cooperate closely, Janša added.

Netanyahu said that Israel was looking forward to using the port of Koper as an entry point for the country's products in the European market.

Janša is expected to meet Israel's President Reuven Rivlin and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi today as well.

08 Dec 2020, 14:32 PM

STA, 8 December 2020 - Slovenian tourism is preparing for long-term recovery after the Covid-19 pandemic. The recovery plan will span until the end of 2023, with tourism resilience being strengthened for years to come, the central annual event in the sector heard. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek thinks that the sector will return to record-breaking results.

This year's virtual Days of Slovenian Tourism revolves around response efforts in the wake of the coronavirus crisis.

Počivalšek noted at Tuesday's event that the number of tourists in Slovenia in the first ten months of 2020 dropped by 46% and the number of overnight stays by 37% compared to the same period in 2019.

When it comes to foreign tourists, the number of arrivals plunged by 72% and the number of overnight stays by 69%.

By the end of October, almost 6,000 tourism workers registered as unemployed at the Employment Service. Moreover, many are furloughed.

Počivalšek also pointed out that numerous tourism companies had pushed back investments due to the precarious situation.

"A longer recovery period is expected, perhaps even five years," he said, highlighting that tourism would need extensive support from the state and EU.

He vowed additional aid for the hospitality and tourism sectors and the meeting industry in the emerging seventh stimulus package.

Domestic tourism consumption will continue to be boosted by tourism vouchers, whose validity has been extended until the end of 2021, he said.

The way forward will be outlined in the 2020-2023 recovery plan. Shareholders are also coming up with projects to draw on EU funds.

Počivalšek expressed optimism regarding EU financial instruments designed to help the sector after the pandemic and said that depending on the epidemiological situation, Slovenia's partial lockdown could be eased by reopening facilities in the tourism and hospitality sectors among other things.

He believes that Slovenia's tourism will be again breaking records and bagging achievements.

Slovenian Tourist Board (STO) boss Maja Pak presented updated tourism forecasts for this year. The organisation is a bit less optimistic given the worsened epidemiological status at the end of the year as it was in late summer.

Until the end of 2020, the STO expects a 51% decrease in the number of tourists, including a 74% drop in the arrival of foreign tourists.

The number of overnight stays is expected to decrease by 42% on 2019. "This means that this year we will lose seven million overnight stays due to the pandemic," she said.

Next year is forecast to deliver similar figures. The STO anticipates a bit more foreign guests and somewhat fewer Slovenian tourists.

The number of tourists from abroad is expected to rise in years to follow, boosting tourism growth.

The recovery plan is based on several phases. The first-response phase is to be followed by the recovery phase, which is to last until the end of 2023.

The second phase will focus on the domestic market as well as neighbouring or nearby markets. Public calls as well as public health measures will be adjusted.

The third phase will focus on strengthening resilience, running until 2026. Restructuring and development of tourism infrastructure will be in focus.

Tourism will have to be at the heart of the national recovery and resilience plan, Pak said, adding that sustainable and digital development should be key.

She highlighted, among other things, re-establishment of air links, business tourism and investments as future challenges.

When tourism is relaunched, there will be many rivals, the STO boss noted, adding that Slovenia was at an advantage since it had been investing in sustainable or boutique tourism for years.

Andrej Prebil, the head of the Tourism and Hospitality Chamber (TGZS), meanwhile urged the government to draw up a separate stimulus package for tourism that would include all segments of the industry.

Additional funds for the STO are also necessary, he said, describing the organisation as the cornerstone of Slovenian tourism promotion.

Prebil believes at least EUR 10 million would be needed for recovery. Maintaining Slovenia's status as a green, active and safe country among foreign and domestic tourists is key, he added.

08 Dec 2020, 13:28 PM

STA, 7 December 2020 - The Chamber of Craft and Small Business (Obrtno-podjetniška zbornica Slovenije  OZS) has called on the government to open up small businesses and the services sector as the closure has not resulted in an improved epidemiological situation. On the other hand, undeclared work is on the rise and distress among entrepreneurs and craftspersons is deepening.

At Monday's session of the OZS executive committee, its members said that "we had expected that the government would open flower shops, hair salons and beauty parlours and non-essential shops last Thursday."

They had also expected that the hospitality sector and other services would be partially opened, OZS president Branko Meh said, adding that entrepreneurs and craftspersons were disappointed because this had not happened.

Although a large part of the economy has been closed for more than a month, the epidemiological situation is not improving, which according to Meh means that the virus is not spreading from these sectors.

The OZS said that the Health Ministry's data showing the virus was spreading the most at work were based solely on statements by employees. "Of course everybody will say that they have gotten infected at work in order to get a full sick leave compensation," Meh was quoted by the chamber.

He added that it was not only about economic damage, but also mental health, as distress among people is deepening.

The OZS executive committee thus expects from the government to open these activities, to stem undeclared work, where services are provided without supervision of the protective measures against Covid-19.

It opposes to the proposal by Metoda Dodič Fikfak of the Clinical Institute of Occupational, Traffic and Sports Medicine that Covid-19 is considered an occupational disease. "We will not allow this to happen."

Flower shop owners pointed to unfair competition, as they are not able to work while food shops and petrol stations are allowed to sell flowers. "This is completely illogical, as there are never so many people in flower shops as in food shops," said Simon Ogrizek of the OZS.

Restaurant and bar owners are also growing desperate, said Blaž Cvar, the head of the chamber's hospitality and tourism sector. "The government needs to realise that the measures do not work and that people who decide on them need to be replaced."

Peter Pišek of the OZS's transport section was critical of the measures for hauliers. "The sector has been promised aid through the SID Bank, but we have not gotten this money yet," he said, noting that other EU countries provided aid to hauliers in the form of grants.

08 Dec 2020, 13:19 PM

Slovenia has been drawn in a tough Group H against neighbours Croatia in the European World Cup qualifiers for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar.

The draw to determine the qualifying groups was conducted on Monday, December 7, pitting 55 European teams into ten qualifying groups, with 13 of those making up the 32 spots at the next edition of the World Cup in two years’ time.

Seeded in Pot 4, Slovenia was drawn against 2018 host nation Russia, Slovakia, Cyprus, Malta and 2018 losing finalists and neighbours Croatia.

Slovenia has not beaten Croatia in their eight encounters played since 1995, drawing three and losing the five, their last defeat coming in a 3-2 friendly loss in 2008.

“Certainly the charm of all this is Croatia,” said Slovenia head coach Matjaž Kek following the draw. “I already have quite a few calls from journalists from Croatia. Very challenging and also a competitive group. Slovenia is not the favourite, but it will do everything to prepare well and use all the opportunities it has in the playing staff.”

Slovakia and Malta were previously drawn against Slovenia in the qualifying Group F for the 2018 World Cup, with Slovenia finishing fourth in a group topped by England as they missed out on the global showpiece in Russia.

With favourable records against Slovakia, Cyprus and Malta and an evenly-match record against the Russians (two wins, two losses and a draw in five previous matches), Slovenia will be encouraged by their current form, having gone unbeaten in all eight internationals played this year as they earned promotion to League B in the UEFA Nations League.

Currently ranked 62nd in the World, Slovenia will be attempting to qualify for a World Cup for just the third time in their history, having only previously appeared at the prestigious tournaments in 2002 and 2010, where they exited in the group stages on both occasions.

Qualifiers will be played between March and November 2021, with all ten group winners securing qualification, with the ten group runners up, alongside the two best group winners from the UEFA Nations League who failed to secure a qualification spot in their group, taking part in a three-way play-off.

The 2022 World Cup in Qatar will take place between November 21 and December 18, the very first time the tournament will not take place in the European summer months.

 world cup draw.jpg

Full 2022 FIFA World Cup European qualifying draw:

Group A: Portugal, Serbia, Republic of Ireland, Luxembourg, Azerbaijan

Group B: Spain, Sweden, Greece, Georgia, Kosovo

Group C: Italy, Switzerland, Northern Ireland, Bulgaria, Lithuania

Group D: France, Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan

Group E: Belgium, Wales, Czech Republic, Belarus, Estonia

Group F: Denmark, Austria, Scotland, Israel, Faroe Islands, Moldova

Group G: Netherlands, Turkey, Norway, Montenegro, Latvia, Gibraltar

Group H: Croatia, Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta

Group I: England, Poland, Hungary, Albania, Andorra, San Marino

Group J: Germany, Romania, Iceland, North Macedonia, Armenia, Liechtenstein

08 Dec 2020, 04:01 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 Janša starts visit to Israel

TEL AVIV, Israel - PM Janez Janša started a two-day visit to Israel, which his office said would be an opportunity to discuss key foreign policy issues and further cooperation in cybersecurity and artificial intelligence. On Janša's agenda today were meetings with representatives of companies from the field of cybersecurity and other companies to present their potential for cooperation with Slovenian companies. He was also scheduled to have dinner with Slovenia's Honorary Consul Eival Gilady and Israel-Slovenia Chamber of Commerce representatives. Meetings will Israel's top officials are due on Tuesday.

FM Logar visits US to meet Pompeo

WASHINGTON, US - Foreign Minister Anže Logar is in Washington, DC, to meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo at the State Department, in what the Foreign Ministry said would be a visit designed to deepen bilateral relations between two friends, strategic partners, and NATO allies. Logar and Pompeo will, according to the ministry, exchange views on topical issues of common interest and discuss new opportunities for cooperation. Pompeo visited Slovenia in August.

Coronavirus epidemic shows no signs of easing

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded 480 new coronavirus cases on Sunday as the epidemic shows no signs of easing. 52 more Covid-19 patients died, taking the overall death toll to 1,796. With 1,751 tests performed, the test positivity rate remained a high 27.4%. The number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals and intensive care units remained broadly unchanged, at 1,301 and 196, respectively. Should hospitalisations drop below 1,200, Covid-19 spokesman Jelko Kacin said the government could partly reopen public transport and one-on-one services such as hair salons.

Slovenia's chief epidemiologist quits Covid-19 advisory team

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 he does not intend to share them with the public. Gantar announced the possibility of restructuring the task force to reduce the number of its members and of inviting Fafangel to join it. He said he appreciated Fafangel's work. Fafangel recently said he disagreed with some of the restrictions imposed by the government, but added that overall, tough restrictions were needed.

NIJZ chief Krek says each uninfected person counts

LJUBLJANA - If people do not become more consistent in abiding by anti-coronavirus measures, the second wave of the epidemic could last until March, the director of the National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ), Milan Krek, said in an interview with the STA. This means the third wave would start immediately after the second one, which is why it is important to have as many uninfected persons as possible. "Every single one matters. Every person that remains uninfected is important," he said.

Mandatory testing of healthcare staff mostly trouble-free

LJUBLJANA/MARIBOR/CELJE - Regular testing of healthcare and care home staff using rapid tests is mandatory from Monday. The testing protocols are mostly running smoothly in hospitals and health centres since these institutions had already been screening their staff before the relevant decree. The measure has proved more challenging in care homes though. This is also due to problems regarding testing providers and pending approvals to perform rapid tests by the Health Ministry.

Government urged to open up small businesses, services sector

LJUBLJANA - The Chamber of Craft and Small Business (OZS) called on the government to open small businesses and the services sector as the closure had not resulted in an improved epidemiological situation. On the other hand, undeclared work is on the rise and distress among entrepreneurs and craftspersons is deepening, the OZS said after its executive committee's session. The OZS's members are disappointed the government did not decide to open flower shops, hair and salons salons and non-essential shops last Thursday.

GZS estimates current cost of second wave at EUR 440-600m

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian economy 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, according to an estimate by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS). This calculation, which puts the median number at EUR 520 million, is in line with the GZS's estimate that Slovenia's GDP will have declined 8% year-on-year in the final quarter of this year.

New law reduces financial obligations of municipalities

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 to include new waivers of obligations proposed by this government, in what Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik said was a key step towards tackling problems faced by local communities. He believes the bill is an important shift in the financial independence of municipalities.

DeSUS leader Erjavec not interested in ministerial post

LJUBLJANA - While it is customary that coalition party leaders serve as ministers and deputy prime ministers, Karl Erjavec said he did not intend to become a minister in the Janaz Janša government after he was elected the leader of the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) on Saturday. He informed PM Janez Janša of this while still a candidate for a new DeSUS leader. "I haven't returned to politics to become a minister again, but mostly because I want DeSUS to remain a parliamentary party," he told the press after he met the party's senior officials and MPs. Political analysts meanwhile believe that nothing will happen quickly with Erjavec's return to DeSUS in terms of a possible new government.

Education Ministry conference focuses on Horizon Europe

LJUBLJANA - A two-day online conference hosted by the Education Ministry started to present the three pillars of the EU's emerging research and innovation programme Horizon Europe, which will next year replace Horizon 2020. European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth Mariya Gabriel said in her opening address that Horizon Europe is the biggest research and innovative programme in the history of the EU, while Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek highlighted the importance of research and innovation for Slovenia.

Slovenia calls for wide data accessibility within EU

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Public Administration Ministry State Secretary Urška Ban joined an informal videoconference of EU ministers in charge of telecommunication and digitalisation discussing the proposed legislative changes on data management. Ban stressed the importance of providing a framework for wide accessibility of data within the EU. In this context, she pointed to the directive on open data, which is complementary to the proposed act on data management.

Equal Opportunities Ombudsman challenges family law

LJUBLJANA - Equal Opportunities Ombudsman Miha Lobnik has recently asked the Constitutional Court to review as a priority parts of the family law concerning matrimony and partnership as well as adoption. The ombudsman believes these provisions contain elements of discrimination based on sexual orientation. The ombudsman says that having two different types of partnership continues to unjustifiably distinguish or divide people by their sexual orientation.

Food industry reports sluggish sales as demand weakens

LJUBLJANA - Major food industry companies are reporting sluggish revenue as sales to schools, hotels and restaurants have dried up without a corresponding uptick in retail sales. Bread and pasta maker Žito says the suspension of bread supplies to schools and the hospitality industry has been compounded by lower retail sales as people visit shops less often. The meat industry has had to cut production due to lower sales to the hospitality sector and public institutions.

Slovenia sees big drop in Climate Change Performance Index

BONN, Germany - Slovenia lost seven spots in the 2021 Climate Change Performance Index, dropping from the 44th to 51st place. The report compiled by several NGOs says that "no country performs well enough in all CCPI index categories to achieve an overall very high rating". The list includes 57 countries, including the EU as a whole, which together generate 90% of greenhouse gas emissions, and none of them is on its way to meet the Paris climate agreement goals, says the report.

Entire Slovenia declared high-risk area for bird flu

LJUBLJANA - As a third case of the highly pathogenic H5N8 strain of bird flu was confirmed on Friday in a mute swan in Ljubljana, after the first two cases were detected in the coastal town of Piran in late November, the authorities declared the entire Slovenia a high-risk area and ordered poultry breeders to take protective measures.

Museum of Modern Art gets new acting director

LJUBLJANA - Robert Simonišek has been appointed acting director of the Museum of Modern Art for the period from 23 December until the end of the latest open call for the post of director, the museum, currently run by acting head Zdenka Badovinac, confirmed for the STA. The Culture Ministry published on Friday a third iteration of the public call. The latest call was published a day after the government amended the museum's articles of association, softening candidate selection criteria.

History professors want debate on independence museum plans

LJUBLJANA - Members of the history department at the Ljubljana Faculty of Arts expressed reservations about government plans to establish a museum of independence, citing a lack of public debate as their principal concern. In a public letter addressed to Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti, 19 members of the department said that contemporary historiography, museology and the very actions that the museum is supposed to be dedicated to called for such a public consultation.

Animateka Grand Prix goes to Average Happiness

LJUBLJANA - The Jury Grand Prix of the 17th Animateka international animated film festival was bestowed on Average Happiness, a short film about statistics and visualisation of data by Maja Gehrig of Switzerland, as the competitive part of the festival ended on Sunday. The audience picked Mud Chronicles by Serbian director Vuk Palibrk, while the European Young Talents award went to Ala Nunu Leszynska for Ahead, a co-production of the London Royal College of Art and Portuguese Colectivo Audiovisual.

Slovenia get World Cup runners-up Croatia in qualifiers

ZURICH, Switzerland - The Slovenian men's football team will play in the qualifying group H for the World Cup in Qatar in 2022 along with Croatia, Slovakia, Russia, Cyprus and Malta, determined a draw by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA). Croatia are the runners-up from the 2018 World Cup, while Slovenia are also expected to have a tough time against the rest of the field in the group.

book cover cook eat slovenia.jpg

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