07 Dec 2020, 16:47 PM

STA, 7 December 2020 - 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 have declared the entire Slovenia a high-risk area and ordered poultry breeders to take protective measures.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food said in a press release on Monday that a dead mute swan found in the Ljubljana area had tested positive for avian flu.

According to media reports, the swan was found in the Koseški Bajer pond in north-western Ljubljana, in what is the third case in wild birds in Slovenia after two were detected in the Piran municipality in late November.

The ministry has thus again called on poultry breeders to consistently follow the temporary protective measures issued by the Administration for Food Safety, Veterinary Sector and Plant Protection.

The administration has declared the entire Slovenia a high risk area for bird flu and urged breeders around the country to monitor the health condition of their poultry and report any changes.

Avian flu is a highly contagious viral disease that can infect all types of birds. The disease is transmitted through contact between sick and healthy birds, their faeces and infected products that have not been thermally treated.

The infection can only spread by means of contaminated feed, water or litter. Humans can spread the virus with contaminated footwear, equipment and means of transport but are not at risk of contracting the disease.

07 Dec 2020, 15:25 PM

STA, 7 December 2020 - A poisoning incident took place in a village close to Nova Gorica in the West on Sunday evening. Urgent assistance was provided to a couple of German citizens who had been victims of carbon monoxide poisoning. The 61-year old woman and 66-year-old man were transferred to the nearby hospital and their condition is reportedly stable.

The pair's neighbour was the first person to arrive at the scene of the accident, having heard the woman's cry for help.

Upon his arrival, the woman was still conscious, however the man was unconscious. The neighbour immediately dialled the emergency number, the Nova Gorica Police Department said on Monday.

The German couple had been renovating their house in the Grgarske Ravne village and had an electricity generator turned on on the ground floor.

Local firefighters gauged the amount of carbon monoxide particles in the air and determined the level was three times the standard quantity. The house was then aired.

The police are to investigate the circumstances of the incident today.

Every year, during the heating season, the police deal with a number of carbon monoxide poisoning cases. The most common source of such accidents is incorrect handling of heaters or poor maintenance.

Carbon monoxide is a poisonous gas which is all the more dangerous because it has no smell or taste.

In case of carbon monoxide or CO2 poisoning, the victim should be removed from the contaminated area as soon as possible and the premises should be aired out.

07 Dec 2020, 13:12 PM

STA, 7 December 2020 - 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 on Monday. The Culture Ministry published on Friday a third iteration of the public call.

The latest public call will wrap up on 18 December and was published only a day after the government adopted a decree amending the museum's articles of association.

The step softened candidate selection criteria. Prior to the changes, candidates eligible to be appointed had to have at least five years of work experience related to the institution's field of expertise.

Under the decree, it is sufficient now that a candidate has five years of leadership experience at the minimum and that they are familiar with the museum's work.

Experts in art history and fine arts expressed concern in late October because of a long-standing procedure of appointing a new director at the helm of the museum and the ministry's intention to amend the articles of association.

Robert Simonišek was born in Celje in 1977. He initially established himself as a poet and critic, and later as an author and art historian.

He graduated in philosophy and art history and obtained a PhD on the subject of fin de siecle art. This year, he was appointed a member of the Prešeren Fund management board.

07 Dec 2020, 12:13 PM

STA, 7 December 2020 - Mario Fafangel, Slovenia's chief epidemiologist, has quit the Health Ministry task force advising the government on measures to fight Covid-19, the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) said on Monday.

The head of the NIJZ's Centre for Communicable Diseases, Fafangel has informed Health Minister Tomaž Gantar of his decision and explained his reasons, but he does not intend to provide a public explanation.

Fafagel has recently told the political weekly Mladina that he disagreed with some of the restrictions the government has imposed, but he stressed that overall, tough restrictions were needed to contain the epidemic.

Coronavirus epidemic shows no signs of easing

STA, 7 December 2020 - Slovenia recorded 480 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, a three-week Sunday high, as the epidemic shows no signs of easing, according to data released by the Health Ministry. 52 more Covid-19 patients died, taking the overall death toll to 1,796.

The latest cases are from 1,751 coronavirus tests, which means that the test positivity rate remains a high 27.41%.

Addressing the daily coronavirus press briefing, Jelko Kacin, the governments' Covid-19 spokesman, said data from the National Institute of Public Health showed the rolling 14-day average of cases per 100,000 was 972 as of Sunday.

Five regions have currently incidence lower than the average, Goriška in the west (657), Central Slovenia (701), the broader coastal and Kras region (707), Gorenjska in the north-west (776) and Zasavje in mid-east (875).

The seven-day average, one of the criteria for a potential easing of measures, is 1,482. The figure needs to drop below 1,350 for the country to move out of the top-tier restrictions, or alternatively the number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals needs to drop below 1,200.

Hospitalisations remained stable, decreasing by one to 1,301 as 44 Covid-19 patients were discharged home and 81 were newly admitted on Sunday. The number of patients in intensive care units likewise fell by one to 196.

"The difference between new admissions and discharges does not bring any substantial relief, the situation is the same as a few days ago," commented Kacin.

He said the government would expectedly meet Wednesday afternoon to discuss new measures.

"If the average of infections falls below a certain level or if the number of occupied [Covid-19 hospital] beds dropped bellow 1,2000 the government will discuss potential easing," said Kacin.

He mentioned limited resumption of public transport, services such as hair salons and stores, provided the 30-square-metre per customer per rule is obeyed.

"The situation is far from favourable," Mateja Logar, an infectiologist from the UKC Ljubljana Department of Infectious Diseases, said as she addressed the briefing by videolink.

She said that with most Covid beds full at UKC Ljubljana, a third location at the newly refurbished temporary Covid-19 department was being opened. She said the youngest patient was 17 and the youngest intensive care patient 35.

Kacin also presented the latest statistics on infections at care homes, where a total of 2,712 residents and 1,078 staff are actively infected, an increase of 65 and 17, respectively.

There are also 231 actively infected residents and 151 staff at facilities for people with special needs.

Slovenia has so far confirmed over 86,000 coronavirus cases.

07 Dec 2020, 04:03 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

1,030 infections confirmed on Saturday, 44 die of Covid-19

LJUBLJANA - A total of 1,030 new coronavirus infections were confirmed in Slovenia on Saturday in 3,744 tests, for a positivity rate of 27.5%, while 44 patients died of Covid-19, the government announced on Sunday. Compared to the day before, the positivity rate was up by two percentage points. The number of patients increased by 30 to 1,302, including 197 in intensive care, which is two fewer than on Friday. A total of 51 persons were meanwhile discharged from hospital. With another 44 persons dying of Covid-19 on Saturday, the national death tally was up to 1,744. A total of 555,886 tests have been performed in Slovenia so far to confirm 85,805 infections. A total of 20,481 cases are currently active.

Anti-coronavirus restrictions re-published by government

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 as the Constitutional Court ruled the extension of distance learning was invalid as it had not been announced properly. The government adopted at Saturday's correspondence session a new decree banning gatherings in educational institutions, to which the country's top court related to, as well as new decrees on other restrictions based on instructions from the government's legal office. With the remaining decrees, gatherings of people in public places, movement between municipalities and movement between 9pm and 6am remain prohibited. Public passenger transport remains suspended and all non-essential shops closed.

Slovenia to sign memorandum on civilian nuclear cooperation with US

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia is to sign a memorandum of understanding on strategic civilian nuclear cooperation with the US, with the document expressing the desire of both countries for deeper bilateral strategic ties, which would improve energy security, increase prosperity and strengthen political and economic ties, the government said. It will be signed by Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec, who would accompany Foreign Minister Anže Logar on his visit to the US on Monday. Vrtovec told the STA that the memorandum was not a basis for a concrete deal in the selection of technology for a possible new reactor at the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK). It might serve as a catalyst for additional cooperation, he added.

book cover cook eat slovenia.jpg

Looking for a gift this Christmas that says “Slovenia” and will keep you and your loved ones happy and well fed for years to come? Then check out the beautifully produced book Cook Eat Slovenia, with 100 easy to follow recipes for all seasons. The book has won three awards at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2020, for best translated, best self-published, and best food tourism cookbook for Slovenia, and for the second best in the world for food tourism, and third best  for self-published. Our review is here, and you can order a copy from anywhere in the world here.

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


06 Dec 2020, 16:31 PM

STA, 6 December 2020 - New decrees on measures to stem the Covid-19 epidemic entered into force on Sunday, with no substantial changes, as restrictions on gatherings, movement and sale of goods remained in force. The decrees had to be re-published as the Constitutional Court ruled the extension of distance learning was invalid as it had not been announced properly.

A total of 1,030 new coronavirus infections were confirmed in Slovenia on Saturday in 3,744 tests, for a positivity rate of 27.5%, while 44 patients died of Covid-19, the government announced on Sunday.

The government adopted at Saturday's correspondence session a new decree banning gatherings in educational institutions, to which the country's top court related to, as well as new decrees on other restrictions based on instructions from the government's legal office.

The court said on Thursday the decision by the education minister to switch to distance learning due to a worsening of the coronavirus epidemic in October and the decrees with which the government had been extending it were invalid because they had not been published in the Official Gazette.

In a response, the government said on Friday it would remedy the situation and again decide on relevant measures and publish them in the Official Gazette, as requested by the Constitutional Court.

Schooling will this continue to be implemented remotely, with the decree also being in force for educational institutions for children and youths with special needs (except those that have been established for work with children with emotional and behavioural disorders).

The Constitutional Court said in the ruling that, if the government decided to extend the closure of schools, conditions would be met for a temporary staying of the ban on in-person schooling in schools and institutes for children with special needs.

The number of children in such schools and institutes is too small for their return to significantly impact the efforts to stem the spreading of the new coronavirus and manage the epidemic, the court said, adding that further implementation of what is potentially an unconstitutional regulation could have detrimental consequences on special needs children.

With the remaining decrees, gatherings of people in public places, movement between municipalities and movement between 9pm and 6am remain prohibited. Public passenger transport remains suspended and all non-essential shops closed.

06 Dec 2020, 12:49 PM

STA, 4 December 2020 - Slovenia's major beverage companies are no exception when it comes to the devastating impact of the pandemic on the industry worldwide. Some companies have recorded a major drop in sales in the second Covid-19 wave, particularly due to the hospitality sector lockdown.

Retail demand has increased due to the closure of hotels, restaurants and bars, however the drinks companies do not believe that this uptick could offset or significantly mitigate the overall contraction.

Slovenian brewers, including the country's largest beer maker Pivovarna Laško Union, have been experiencing the ramifications of anti-coronavirus restrictions since beer consumption largely depends on socialising.

An estimate by the Association of Slovenian Brewers shows that some 38,000 jobs are at risk due to the closure of restaurants, bars, pubs and cafes.

There is a silver lining - online shopping trends, which are expected to continue to point up.

Nevertheless, the situation is expected to remain precarious in the coming months, Pivovarna Laško Union has told the STA.

The Slovenian beer sector estimates that domestic sales of individual producers may drop by at least 30%, some may even experience a 95% contraction of sales.

Mineral water producer Radenska has told the STA that hospitality sector sales had ground to a halt during the second wave.

The wine sector is seeing similar problems. The winery Vina Koper told the STA that most of its plans had to be pushed back. After stabilising operations between May and September, it faces a challenging period, a season deemed vital for the sector.

The winery Klet Brda used to generate almost half of its income via exports, but this advantage turned to dust under current circumstances.

The company remains an optimist given foreign distributors' forecasts and first positive signals from the US market.

06 Dec 2020, 12:44 PM

STA, 6 December 2020 - Three decades after Slovenia's parties reached a joint agreement on an independence referendum in which an overwhelming majority opted for independence, the country's first president Milan Kučan says unity cannot be taken be taken for granted, explaining why it is elusive now.

 "Independence was a clear, understandable project. If there's no such project, appeals for unity are but a political cliche and an excuse for political impotence," Kučan told the STA in an interview.

What made unity over independence and its success possible were in his view four elements, which he believes could also be useful to politicians today.

"The most important one is that it could have never been a project of one part the citizenry against the other. If it were, the project, the plebiscite including, would never have succeed," he says.

"Nor was independence a romantic realisation of the nation's millennium dream, but the result of a series of thorough rethinks and decisions in the given historical circumstances, culminating in the political and economic crisis in Yugoslavia and the spread of nationalism."

Another key aspect was the legitimacy and lawfulness of independence through the passage of constitutional laws and the plebiscite law, and the "painful" debate on what quorum should be sought in the plebiscite helped overcome distrust.

At the time, the opposition parties, largely represented by groups that evolved from the former Communist party and other associations that existed under the former regime, believed a majority of all eligible voters should vote in favour in order for the referendum to succeed. This solution was adopted.

The fourth major aspect, according to Kučan, is that independence was a project of a country rather than a party.

"This is not to say that I underestimate the fact that the project matured within the DEMOS coalition, based on the concept of the Slovenian national programme that was more or less set down in volume 57 of Nova Revija," he said in a reference to the January 1987 issue of the literary journal.

Kučan never doubted the referendum on 23 December 1990 would succeed (on a turnout of 93%, 95% voted in favour of independence). "People were willing to accept the independence concept as long as politicians told them plain truth."

However, unity began to unravel soon after the country declared independence on 25 June 1991, which Kučan believes is because the awareness of the need for shared responsibility for the country was lost and the interests of a party, group and bloc have prevailed.

"The moment citizens realise we are being treated like fools, when the epidemic is being used as a cover for the pursuit of ideological and political interests and resorting to repressive apparatuses, trust in politics is gone. (...)"

"What has the government's dealing with the statistics office, media, museums and police got to do with the epidemic," he wondered.

Considering the suspension of financing of the STA "it may appear as if the government was running out of time and was in a hurry to subjugate all subsystems and institutions, while in fact it is how the largest ruling party has always operated and how it has understood democracy".

He finds it less understanding that the Democratic Party (SDS) is being uncritically supported by other coalition parties in "its ambitions and its dismantling of the principles of democracy and its institutions".

Apart from the coronavirus epidemic, other projects too call for unity, including electoral reform, the course of Slovenia's foreign policy, and the need to form a comprehensive concept of a green country.

Despite much effort that has been invested in the electoral reform, decreed by the Constitutional Court, including by President Borut Pahor, Kučan believes parties have embarked on the project in ill faith.

"Each party has calculated what would suit it best, even though the most suitable solution would be to abolish electoral districts and adopt a system that we have for elections to the European Parliament," involving a preferential vote.

Kučan is of the opinion that Slovenia's foreign policy is moving away from the guidelines passed by parliament with writings by Prime Minister Janez Janša and Foreign Minister Anže Logar, which were not the positions of the government.

He believes it will take quite a while for Slovenia to restore the "trust of the external world". "The uncertainty about Slovenia's international position and interests and its tarnished reputation in the world will also tarnish the authority of the Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU."

"We're aspiring for friendship with those we shouldn't be friends with and have nothing in common with. Hearing arguments that us who used to live in the East have a different understanding of democracy and the rule of law than long-established democracies, it feels as if we are making fools out of ourselves," he said.

He believes Slovenia should have a balanced relationship with the superpowers - the US, Russia and China, and in the future he would like to see the country at the core of a successful EU as a major world player.

06 Dec 2020, 12:29 PM

STA, 6 December 2020 - As Slovenia is about to mark the 30th anniversary of a referendum in which people nearly unanimously voted for independence, Lojze Peterle, the then prime minister, says the nation should focus on what unites it, while it will have to put WWII and post-war history behind if it ever wants to achieve understanding and progress.

Looking back on independence and the plebiscite, Peterle finds it crucial that DEMOS, the coalition of parties forming the first democratic opposition, won the first multi-party election in April 1990. "Had DEMOS not won at the time, there would have been no plebiscite," he told the STA in an interview.

Another key move was that his government started forming Slovenia's own armed forces as soon as it assumed office. "With the first line-up a week ahead of the plebiscite, we showed people that we have a real force to protect our determination for a free Slovenian state."

While the decision for the independence referendum was taken by the DEMOS leadership in the night between 9 and 10 November 1990, DEMOS invited the opposition to join in the effort and an agreement to that effect was signed 30 years ago, to the day.

"The result was that the law that formed the basis for the plebiscite was passed with no one voting against. The agreement sent out a strong message to the people of unity in Slovenian politics."

While he never doubted the result of the plebiscite, Peterle had not expected such a convincing outcome, with 88.5% of all eligible voters or 95% of those who cast their ballots voting in favour.

Such an outcome was important both "internally, because it prevented greater divisions, and externally because it gave the government the needed legitimacy in talks with Belgrade. The world had to acknowledge that too."

Peterle does not think a similar cross-party agreement is needed now as Slovenia is battling the coronavirus epidemic: "We have a democratically elected government that has the mandate, responsibility and the needed majority in parliament to implement its policies. There's no need for national consensus for every thing."

However, he says it is against national interests that "the opposition should be pressuring for one thing only at these difficult times - for change of power at all cost - especially given the fact that the previous government resigned".

"And now, for 30 years really, keeping all of Slovenia busy with allergy against Janez Janša, which has come as far as violent riots, it cannot be a statesman-like response to this government's work."

Still, he does believe politics should try to near positions on some points, such as overcoming divisions stemming from the past, which should be done with truthfulness and justice.

"There's not a single political meeting that wouldn't end with a debate on World War II and revolution, even though hardly anyone from that time is still alive.

"This is because we haven't processed and overcome it. Once we'll have to let bygones be bygones and head on. As long as we keep watching each other through the WWII and revolution gun pointers, there'll be no peace or progress."

He believes one of Slovenia's problems is a lack of structural change similar to other former Communist countries. "We formally introduced democracy, but in fact many things go on the old way (...)

"It's not just the right which finds that the rule of law doesn't work the best way. I'm even more worried about a lack of respect for the dignity of others and those who are different."

Touching on electoral reform, Peterle says the best way would be to redraw electoral districts: "If we abolish them, big urban centres and established faces from TV screens get most benefit.

"The existing system with electoral districts has made it possible for people to enter politics whom we didn't know as big politicians but whom people trusted to represent them. This quality of the electoral system should be preserved."

Peterle would also like to see more consensus in politics on foreign policy "rather than having the situation when one government goes to Washington, and the other to Moscow".

He does not think there is any major dilemma as to whether Slovenia should look to the Visegrad Group or to the core Europe.

"We're part of the core Europe as part of Central Europe with specific political, historical and cultural experiences and thus a different sensitivity, which means we see some things, including values, a little bit differently than they see them in Brussels.

"This is why I believe Brussels should work more on understanding why Central Europe is a little bit different. More dialogue is what's needed."

Slovenia can support that dialogue with creative proposals, which is why he welcomes PM Janša's letter to European leaders in reference to the rule of law and recovery aid.

"The letter doesn't boost the blockade but is aspiring to removing the blockade with a sensitivity for realpolitik. This is also how Angela Merkel understood it."

He believes tensions in Slovenia are largely a matter of money "when you hit a monopoly, a formal or informal structure that has roots in undemocratic times, everything is wrong.

"We introduced democracy to make change possible, so that corruption doesn't become entrenched. You don't solve things by calling them ideological, untouchable," he says.

06 Dec 2020, 04:21 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

Karl Erjavec returns to politics as DeSUS leader

LJUBLJANA - Karl Erjavec, 60, returned to politics having won the coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) leadership contest as the party declared the results of its electoral congress. He is starting his fifth term as DeSUS leader after defeating the only rival, Srečko Felix Krope, in a 146:71 vote. In his address to the membership, he announced he would meet the party leadership and MPs on Monday to decide how to go on "in this very difficult situation". His return comes when the political arena is rather polarised, with many wondering whether with Erjavec, the party could leave the Janez Janša government.

Almost 1,640 new Covid-19 infections confirmed on Friday

LJUBLJANA - 1,636 Covid-19 infections were confirmed in Slovenia on Friday from 6,344 tests, which puts the positivity rate at 25.7%, slightly down from 26.3% on Thursday. The number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals stood at 1,272, down 12 from Thursday. The number of new deaths was 47, down from Thursday's record 61, putting the national death tally at 1,700. The seven-day average of new infections per 100,000 residents at 1,493, wgile 1,350 would triger easing of restrictive measures.

US welcomes Slovenia's decision on Hezbollah

WASHINGTON, US - US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who is to meet Slovenian Foreign Minister Anže Logar in Washington, DC, on Monday, welcomed Slovenia's decision to declare the Hezbollah Shia Islamist movement a terrorist organisation. This week Slovenia declared the entire Hezbollah a terrorist organisation, rejecting the false differentiation between its political and military wings, Pompeo said in a written statement on Friday.

Govt urged to reintroduce STA funding, STA to provide documents

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 (UKOM) with the requested documents, as it completed a seven-hour heated debate on the STA funding suspension early on Saturday morning. The committee's session had been requested by the four left-leaning opposition parties.

Musician Tadej Hrušovar dies

LJUBLJANA - Pop music composer and singer Tadej Hrušovar died today, aged 73. He has written more than 400 songs, among them a number of hits. In 1975, his Pepel in Kri group represented Yugoslavia at the Eurovision song contest with Dan Ljubezni (Day of Love), arguably one of the most beautiful and memorable Slovenian pop songs. While Pepel in Kri gave no cause of his death as it announced the news of the death, several media recently reported that Hrušovar had been admitted to hospital for Covid-19.

Slovenia's Žan Kranjec second in giant slalom

SANTA CATERINA, Italy - Slovenian Alpine skier Žan Kranjec finished second in a World Cup giant slalom race after clocking in the best time in the first run, conceeding the victory to Croatia's Filip Zubčić, who finished 12 hundredths ahead of Kranjec. The second place is his first podium result this season. The Slovenian camp welcomed the result, yet with some bitterness given that Kranjec was in the running for a win.

book cover cook eat slovenia.jpg

Looking for a gift this Christmas that says “Slovenia” and will keep you and your loved ones happy and well fed for years to come? Then check out the beautifully produced book Cook Eat Slovenia, with 100 easy to follow recipes for all seasons. The book has won three awards at the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2020, for best translated, best self-published, and best food tourism cookbook for Slovenia, and for the second best in the world for food tourism, and third best  for self-published. Our review is here, and you can order a copy from anywhere in the world here.

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


05 Dec 2020, 14:41 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, 27 November
        LJUBLJANA - In response to a referendum initiative launched by the opposition Left and SocDems against an act envisaging EUR 780 million in additional defence spending in 2021-2026, parliament adopted in a 51:33 vote a decree that declares such a referendum inadmissible. The Left said it would turn to the Constitutional Court.
        LJUBLJANA - The Health Ministry announced that a strategy for vaccination against Covid-19 would be ready within three weeks. Presenting some outlines, it said the plan was to first provide vaccination in care homes, for those over 60 with chronic conditions, and for staff in healthcare and critical infrastructure.
        LJUBLJANA - Taking part in a virtual ministerial of the Regional Forum of the Union for the Mediterranean, Foreign Minister Anže Logar expressed support for further strengthening of relations and cooperation as part of the alliance, and called for greater security, stability and development of the Mediterranean region.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar and Icelandic Minister of Foreign Affairs and Development Cooperation Gudlaugur Thor Thordarson discussed a number of topics via a video call, supporting a strong and united EU, and strong transatlantic ties.
        LJUBLJANA - After a break of a few weeks, the Friday anti-government protesters hit the streets of Ljubljana again, this time in cars, as public gatherings are banned. The police issued dozens of fines, including for illegal honking, and one protester filed a criminal complaint against the police force accusing it of unlawfully singling him out from the line of cars in what he said was abuse of police powers.
        VIENNA, Austria - The Austrian Service Abroad conferred this year's Austrian Holocaust Memorial Award on Slovenian Dušan Stefančič for his contribution to preserving the remembrance of the Holocaust. The 93-year-old survived six Nazi concentration camps.
        LJUBLJANA - Delo journalist Jožica Grgič won the lifetime achievement award given out annually by the Slovenian Journalist Association (DNS). The jury said that for Grgič, facts were more sacred than the Pope and that she understood them in a very broad context.
        LJUBLJANA - Reporter Boštjan Videmšek's book about climate change, Plan B, which he made together with photographer Matjaž Krivic, was declared the 2020 Book of the Year at the Slovenian Book Fair. Plan B took the pair around the globe to bring stories of unusual visionaries who are each in their own right fighting against the climate crisis.

MONDAY, 30 November
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's economy contracted by 2.6% year-on-year in real terms in the third quarter but seasonally-adjusted GDP increased by 12.4% from the quarter before, the Statistics Office said. Domestic consumption contracted by 5% annually and gross investment by 19.6%.
        LJUBLJANA - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs reiterated dissatisfaction with Croatia's protection of the border as he took part in a debate on the future of the Schengen zone, hosted by the European Commission. He said Schengen's collapse did not start with the novel coronavirus but due to ineffective control of migration.
        LJUBLJANA - The government declared the Lebanon-based political party Hezbollah as a criminal and terrorist organisation that represents a threat to peace and security. The work of Hezbollah is intertwined with organised crime and terrorist or paramilitary activity at the global level, it said.
        LJUBLJANA - The government took note of the information from the Government Communication Office (UKOM) that it had not been able to implement the contract with the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) for 2020 and to conclude a contract for 2021. As a result the STA has not received the monthly payment for the performance of public service for October.
        LJUBLJANA - The supervisory board of Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) confirmed the annual asset management plan for 2021. The plan includes the acquisition of the Luxembourg-based York fund's 43% stake in Sava company in what is seen as a key step towards the planned state tourism holding.
        LJUBLJANA - The government dismissed Tina Bregant from the post of state secretary at the Health Ministry upon proposal by Minister Tomaž Ganrat over loss of trust. It appointed Marija Magajna to replace her on 1 December.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian men's basketball team qualified for the 2022 Eurobasket with wins against Ukraine and Austria in a mini "bubble" tournament held in Ljubljana's Stožice Arena as part of the qualifying Group F. Slovenia will thus be defending their gold medal from the previous European championship in 2017.
        LJUBLJANA - Journalist and editor Ženja Leiler was appointed the new director of the Slovenian Cinematheque for a full, five-year term, starting on 1 December. She told the STA her priorities are enhancing the role of the institution in the public cultural space and raising the awareness of the importance of film heritage.
        LJUBLJANA - The government appointed Sebastjan Eržen acting director of the Slovenian Book Agency as of 2 December. Eržen, who was first relieved of his duties as a member of the agency's council, will run the agency until a full-fledged director is appointed, but no longer than six months.

TUESDAY, 1 December
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded 2,429 new coronavirus cases, the third highest daily increase since the start of the epidemic, as the test positivity rate hit 33.8%. Health experts said the increase in cases could be attributed to the introduction of rapid tests at health institutions and care homes, which are then double-checked with PCR tests.
        LJUBLJANA - The decision by the Government Communication Office (UKOM) to withhold the financing of STA due to the management's refusal to hand over various documents was met with protest. The management said the agency's future work was threatened, but pledged it would continue its mission. The opposition said the move amounted to an attack on media freedom, a point also raised by domestic and international organisations of journalists.
        LJUBLJANA - Public Administration Minister Boštjan Koritnik presented a redistricting proposal to amend the electoral law to implement a 2018 Constitutional Court ruling. The proposal will be sent to coalition deputy groups, which have not agreed on the matter yet. Koritnik said the proposal was based on the current law and introduced changes only in those parts that had been deemed problematic by the Constitutional Court.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj sought to alleviate concerns about the stall in the passage of the EU recovery package due to Poland and Hungary blocking the deal because of rule of law provisions. He believes a solution will be reached, while pointing to contingency plans.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Foreign Minister Anže Logar commented on the latest NATO report by a group of experts or the so-called new wise men as he attended a meeting of allied foreign ministers where the document was presented. Logar said that proactive communication was the best guarantee for mutual solidarity and unity in NATO.
        LJUBLJANA - Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlovič held a video conference with European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders focusing on plans for Slovenia's presidency of the Council of the EU in the second half of 2021, challenges related to the European Public Prosecutor's Office, digitalisation of the justice system and justice cooperation.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) approved the plan by the state-owned rail operator Slovenske Železnice to sign a strategic partnership between its cargo division and the Prague-based EP Holding, which will get a 49% stake in a joint venture in exchange for a capital injection reportedly in the EUR 60-100 million range. SSH said the goal was long-term growth and development of the transport and logistics activity.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Slovenian MEP Romana Tomc (EPP/SDS) is this year's recipient of The Employment, Social Affairs & Regions Award by The Parliament Magazine. Tomc said the accolade was proof that Europe had not forgotten about its citizens in these difficult times and that efforts regarding social affairs, employment and demographic issues were vital.

WEDNESDAY, 2 December
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Foreign Minister Anže Logar said Slovenia always acted in a European spirit and expected the same from European partners as he commented on intentions by Italy and Croatia to declare exclusive economic zones in the Adriatic Sea. He said this was a strategic issue that would be addressed in tolerant dialogue, not in the public square.
        LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Tomaž Gantar attended a video conference with EU counterparts discussing the current state of the coronavirus pandemic and the proposed EU strategy for a coronavirus vaccine. He stressed more cooperation and coordination was need at the EU level.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor said the STA was doing important work in the interest of the public, which was why its existence should not be jeopardised. He called on the government and the STA management to resolve issues that had resulted in suspended financing of the agency.
        LJUBLJANA - The winners of this year's Zois Prizes for lifetime achievement in science and research are researcher Tamara Lah Turnšek of the National Institute of Biology, who has discovered a protease enzyme, and University of Ljubljana professor emeritus Radovan Stanislav Pejovnik, credited with spearheading pioneering study into lithium batteries 30 years ago.
        LJUBLJANA - The state-run motorway company DARS announced it had received three bids in response to a tender to set up a system for electronic tolling of cars, which is to become operational in December 2021. The lowest bid, valuing the project at EUR 14 million, was submitted by the Slovenian company Iskratel in partnership with Hungarian ARH Informatics.

THURSDAY, 3 December
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a five-tier strategy for the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions. The relaxation of measures will hinge on the seven-day rolling average of daily infections and the number of Covid-patients in hospital. Restrictions will be lifted at pre-determined thresholds.
        LJUBLJANA - The government confirmed a Covid-19 vaccination strategy under which vaccination will be free of charge and available to all residents regardless of their health insurance status. Vaccines for around 50,000 residents are expected to be available in the first phase.
        LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Tomaž Gantar announced plans to launch mass testing before the end of the year. His ministry is purchasing half a million rapid antigen tests with another million to follow. The first delivery of the tests is expected by 11 December.
        LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court established that the temporary measures banning the gathering of people at educational establishments were extended with invalid government decisions. Its decision will take effect in three days to allow for organisational adjustments for the reopening of schools.
        LJUBLJANA - It was announced that Prime Minister Janez Janša will start an official two-day visit to Israel on 7 December. He is scheduled to hold talks with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Reuven Rivlin and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. Foreign Minister Anže Logar will meet US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Washington, DC on 7 December.
        LJUBLJANA - Feri Lainšček, a writer and poet from Slovenia's north-easternmost region, and Marko Mušič, an architect who has made a name for himself in Slovenia and throughout the former Yugoslavia, are the winners of the Prešeren Prizes for lifetime-achievement for 2021. The country's top accolades for artistic accomplishments will be presented on 7 February.
        LJUBLJANA - The government endorsed state aid worth EUR 5 million to Ljubljana airport operator Fraport Slovenija pending EU approval. The amount corresponds to about a third of the estimated damage the operator expects to suffer due to the pandemic.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia joined the Global Learning and Observation to Benefit the Environment (GLOBE) programme, as part of which citizen scientists and students help scientists collect data for better understanding the environment. The agreement was signed by Education Minister Simona Kustec and US Ambassador Lynda Blanchard.
        LJUBLJANA - Primož Roglič won the 2020 Vélo d'Or award by the French cycling magazine Vélo Magazine, given annually to the cyclist considered to have performed the best over the year. The 31-year-old is the first Slovenian ever to win the award since its introduction in 1992.


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