What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.
FRIDAY, 30 October
LJUBLJANA - The government late on 29 October extended a number of anti-corona measures for a week as projections suggested case and hospitalisation figures would keep growing for some time. The week-long autumn school break was extended for a week for primary school children, and the list of exceptions allowed to operate during the lockdown was expanded with libraries as well as construction, maintenance and installation works where there is minimal contact with customers.
LJUBLJANA - Matej Tonin, the leader of the junior coalition New Slovenia (NSi) party, turned down the invitation to enter talks in a bid to form an alternative government after meeting economist Jože P. Damijan, a potential candidate for prime minister. Zdravko Počivalšek, the economy minister and leader of the Modern Centre Party (SMC), said talks on a possible government replacement were tasteless and inappropriate given the country was battling an epidemic.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's consumer price index remained in negative territory for the third month in a row in October, standing at -0.1% at the annual level despite a 0.3% rise in consumer prices over September, the Statistics Office said.
LJUBLJANA - Law professor Jurij Toplak joined an appeal by the Slovenian Journalists' Association for a system under which court decisions would be public by default, after access to decisions was constrained by May's Supreme Court ruling that he described as "one of the most damaging judgements".
SATURDAY, 31 October
CHARLOTTE, US - Ana Belac won the women's Carolina Classic golf tournament in what is by far the greatest success for Slovenian golf ever. By winning the US$200,000 tournament four shots ahead of the American Allison Emrey, the 23-year-old came very close to making it to the world elite in the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA).
SUNDAY, 1 November
BRNIK - Due to the worsening coronavirus situation and restrictions, French carrier Air France announced it would suspended a number of flights in Europe, including to Slovenia starting on 7 November. A report by the Ex-Yu Aviation news portal meanwhile said EasyJet postponed the resumption of scheduled flights to Ljubljana airport.
MONDAY, 2 November
LJUBLJANA - The four centre-left opposition parties accused the government of brutal staffing and of undermining the independence of institutions as the National Assembly held an emergency session on the topic at their behest. While the opposition sees the replacements as guided primarily by party affiliation and servility, the government and coalition parties insisted the replacements had been legal and were normal under all governments.
LJUBLJANA - Good relations with Slovenia will remain a priority for the US regardless of the outcome of the presidential election, US Ambassador to Slovenia Lynda Blanchard said in a video address, published on the embassy's Twitter on the eve of the election.
LJUBLJANA - The Day of Slovenian Bankers, an annual event, pointed to the need to direct the recovery measures for the current crisis towards socially responsible and sustainable development and to the crucial role of banks in this endeavour. Stanislava Zadravec Caprirolo, the head the Bank Association, and central bank governor Boštjan Vasle noted a favourable liquidity situation in Slovenia, with Vasle praised fiscal measures, chiefly the moratorium on loan payments.
LJUBLJANA - The programme council of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija did not adopt a motion proposed by 13 councillors to dismiss director general Igor Kadunc. The 14:9 vote in favour was one vote short of the necessary majority to dismiss him. The motion accused Kadunc, whose term ends in April 2021, of working negligently and causing significant damage to RTV.
LJUBLJANA - Job prospect projections in Slovenia for 2021 remain relatively encouraging; a survey by the Employment Service suggests demand will exceed labour market supply in many professions, although the opposite is also possible for a long list of jobs.
TUESDAY, 3 November
LJUBLJANA - In an address to Slovenian citizens, PM Janez Janša said Slovenia was "in for at least a month of a hard battle with the virus and then months of great caution", yet he believes the country can successfully weather the health crisis. As fast antigen tests become more accessible, it will be possible to contain individual outbreaks of the virus more easily, he said. Two polls meanwhile showed Slovenians are more optimistic about the future course of the epidemic and they trust the government more on taking action to stem the spread of the virus.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenian officials condemned Monday's terrorist attack in Vienna and expressed solidarity with Austria. PM Janez Janša called for "zero tolerance against radical Islam" and President Boruto Pahor wrote a condolence letter to his counterpart. The Foreign Ministry said it was "appalled by the terrifying events in #Vienna", calling for unity in the fight against terror. The Islamic community in Slovenia also strongly condemned the attack, while defence experts Vladimir Prebilič and Iztok Prezelj believe the perpetrator did not act alone. Prezelj said the attack confirmed the links of Islamic radicals in Austria with the Western Balkans.
BUDAPEST, Hungary - Defence Minister Matej Tonin and his Hungarian counterpart Tibor Benko discussed possibilities for closer cooperation in protection and disaster relief in defence and security, including during the ongoing pandemic, as Tonin paid an official visit to Hungary.
LJUBLJANA - Viktor Vračar, until now the director general of the TEŠ coal-fired power station, became the new director general of the state-owned HSE energy group for four years after the supervisors dismissed Stojan Nikolić. The change at the largest Slovenian producer of electricity comes after October's overhaul of the HSE supervisory board.
LJUBLJANA - Telekom Slovenije suspended the procedure to sell its Kosovo subsidiary Ipko Telecommunications, which was founded in December 2007. The company is the leading provider of fixed communication services in Kosovo and holds a significant share of the mobile telephony market.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia placed 11th in the EU in the latest Gender Equality Index, the same as in 2019. With a score of 67.9 points out of 100, slightly lower than last year, the country placed just below the EU average.
ALTO DE'L ANGLIRU, Spain - Defending champion and Slovenian rider Primož Roglič (Jumbo-Visma) won the stage 13 time trial at the 2020 Vuelta de Espana, donning the leader's jersey again ahead of the remaining five stages.
LJUBLJANA - Japan honoured Slovenian Olympic Committee president Bogdan Gabrovec, a former judoka, with the emperor's Order of the Rising Sun, Golden Rays with Rosette, for promoting judo in Slovenia and exchanges of athletes between Japan and Slovenia.
WEDNESDAY, 4 November
LJUBLJANA - As the US presidential election drew much attention in Slovenia, PM Janez Janša tweeted it was "pretty clear that American people have elected Donald Trump" for another four-year term and congratulated the Republican Party "for strong results across the US". Twitter posted a warning about his tweet being posted before the election race was decided. The tweet also prompted a series of questions from foreign media at the European Commission's midday briefing.
LJUBLJANA - Slovenian pundits do not expect any mayor changes in US foreign or economic policies regardless of who wins the presidential race. If Democrat Joe Biden wins, Ajša Vodnik, the director general of AmCham Slovenija, expects primarily changes in rhetoric rather than action. She also thinks Biden could strengthen the partnership with the EU. Kruno Abramovič from NLB bank meanwhile believes Donald Trump would take a more pragmatic approach should he win a second term, while he finds Biden a much bigger unknown.
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj announced that Slovenia will send its draft recovery and resilience plan to Brussels by the end of 2020, whereas the deadline to submit draft national plans to draw from the EU's EUR 750 billion recovery plan is 30 April 2021.
LJUBLJANA - The ZSSS trade union confederation and the OZS chamber of small business proposed their separate sets of measures for easing the consequences of the epidemic as the government is preparing the sixth stimulus package. While the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) proposed a delay in the implementation of the 1 January 2021 minimum wage rise by two years and the OZS would like it delayed by at least a year, ZSSS warned againt helping companies at workers' expense.
LJUBLJANA - The Judicial Council endorsed Marko Ilešič and Maja Brkan as the candidates for Slovenia's two spots at the EU's General Court in Luxembourg. The country's efforts to fill the two spots began in June 2018, but no candidate got further than the vetting committee so far.
LJUBLJANA - The registered jobless total in Slovenia stood at 83,654 at the end of October, down 0.1% on September but up 15.5% year on year, the Employment Service said, adding that anti-coronavirus restrictions did not increase unemployment last month.
LJUBLJANA - Canada extradited a Slovenian man wanted on an international arrest warrant, unofficially Sergej Racman, who is wanted on prostitution and sex trafficking charges. The former owner of the cinema chain operator Kolosej is wanted for his alleged role in a prostitution ring that was allegedly operating in the Marina Sauna Club near Nova Gorica.
LJUBLJANA - Zdenka Badovinac, a curator, art historian and director of Slovenia's Museum of Modern Art, is this year's recipient of the biennial Igor Zabel Prize for culture and theory. Badovinac, at the helm of the museum since 1993, was honoured as one of the most important locally anchored and globally connected figures in cultural production in recent decades.
PIETRAMURATA, Italy - Slovenia's Tim Gajser won the penultimate race of the MXGP class of the FIM Motocross World Championship season in Pietramurata to secure the title of world champion by finishing second in the first leg. This is the third title for the 24-year-old motocross racer after the 2016 and 2019 seasons.
THURSDAY, 5 November
LJUBLJANA - The government extended a ban on movement between municipalities and a ban on gatherings of more than six people for another week while allowing some more services and businesses to reopen, including specialised shops selling baby items, technical goods, cars, bicycles and furniture. It also amended the coronavirus status of several countries as a result of which the whole of Croatia, Austria and Hungary plus Serbia and most of Italy will be on Slovenia's quarantine list.
LJUBLJANA - The government announced that after the extended autumn holidays, primary school pupils will switch to distance learning next week instead of returning to classrooms. Secondary schools launched remote teaching at the beginning of this week.
LJUBLJANA - The latest coronavirus figures showed a declining trend in new infections as the country limited testing to the most vulnerable groups. Hospital admissions and intensive care cases increased to new highs of 979 and 161, respectively, and the daily death toll peaked at a record 30, putting the total at 471.
LJUBLJANA - A violent protest originally organised by Anonymous Slovenia saw several hundred protesters clashing with the police, using flares and throwing granite pavement cubes at the riot police. Several people were injured, including police officers and a photojournalist, and ten rioters were apprehended. The organisers of Friday bicycle protests disavowed the protest beforehand. Prime Minister Janez Janša expressed support for the police.
LJUBLJANA - The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption detected multiple corruption risks concerning the purchases of personal protective equipment in spring as part of a focused review of these purchases. It will launch its own inquiries and inform relevant authorities of suspected wrongdoing that it not within its purview. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek said that he had followed all the rules and that the report would help improve proceedings in the future.
LJUBLJANA - The European Commission forecast Slovenia's economy would contract by 7.1% this year, roughly on a par with its previous estimate. A rebound of 5.1% is expected in 2021, a percentage point lower than July's forecast. The economy is expected to return to pre-coronavirus levels in 2022.
LJUBLJANA - The Competition Protection Agency said it had launched an investigation into potential collusion among energy companies Butan Plin, Ina Slovenija, Istrabenz Plini and Plinarna Maribor, which are suspected of secretly agreeing to only accept the returns of their own liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders.
LJUBLJANA - Trade unions voiced staunch opposition to the possibility of freezing the 1 January 2021 rise in the minimum wage, as demanded by businesses and supported by the economy minister. ZSSS confederation head Lidija Jerkič said the raise, legislated as part of the 2018 changes to the minimum wage law, was non-negotiable.
LJUBLJANA - Telekom Slovenije, the majority state-owned telecoms incumbent, saw net sales decline by 4% year on year in the first nine months of 2020, to EUR 440 million. Net profit declined by 7% to EUR 27.4 million. The figures exclude the media arm Planet TV, which was sold to TV2 in Hungary, and the Kosovo subsidiary Ipko.
This summary is provided by the STA:
Daily coronavirus tally and deaths drop but hospitalisations keep increasing
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's daily coronavirus tally dropped by over a hundred to 1,564 on Thursday as the share of positive tests inched down to 26.53%, and the daily death toll fell to 26 from 30 the day before. Hospitalisations increased to 1,069 as 92 patients were discharged home, and the number of patients in intensive care units rose by a further seven to 168, but government spokesman Jalko Kacin presented data by the government indicating the peak has been passed. "The trend is good (...) if the trend continues the same way we can look forward to the future and can consider what the government could do next week," Kacin said.
C5 ministers meet online to discuss Covid-19 measures
LJUBLJANA - FM Anže Logar and his counterparts from Austria, Czechia, Slovakia and Hungary met on-line as part of the informal Central 5 (C5) initiative dedicated to measures to curb the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular cross-border movement of people, goods and services. The Slovenian Foreign Ministry said they agreed that undisrupted cross-border business should be secured as soon as possible and that measures should be unified at the EU level. They endorsed the introduction of a joint European form for reporting passenger travel, while noting that personal information needed to be protected. The ministers also resolutely condemned the Vienna attack and all forms of violence and terrorism which endangered security, human values and people's trust in peaceful and dignified life.
Official says rapid tests no silver bullet
LJUBLJANA - Miroslav Petrovec, the head of the Institute of Microbiology and Immunology, dampened expectations that rapid antigen tests could soon be a key part of the efforts to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, but said efforts were under way to improve their reliability and the tracing of their results. "We cannot solve the Covid-19 epidemic by means of rapid tests and we cannot replace measures that we have a duty to abide by," he said. Slovenia has joined the European Commission's plan to bulk buy rapid tests, which would mean cheaper and more reliable tests. Petrovec said these could be useful as an aid, but PCR tests remained the norm.
Intel oversight commission to debate violent protests
LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Commission for Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services will convene a session next Friday to look into the possible role of intelligence agency SOVA in violent protests in Ljubljana. Commission chair Matjaž Nemec scheduled the session after PM Janez Janša posted on Twitter a photo of Ivan Gale, the employee of the Agency for Commodity Reserves who came out with accusations of wrongdoing in the purchases of personal protective equipment in spring, that the screenshot showed was shared by the SOVA director, leading Nemec to wonder what role SOVA played in the protests. Janša said the picture was from Facebook, which subsequent media reports showed was true.
Condemnation after protests turn violent
LJUBLJANA - Senior officials and several organisations condemned the violence that erupted at protests in Ljubljana on Thursday, leaving 15 police officers injured and resulting in multiple arrests. President Borut Pahor said he resolutely rejected violence as a means of achieving political aims, while Ljubljana Mayor Zoran Janković said in such protests were "not endorsed in Ljubljana or elsewhere, and we do not need them." The opposition also distanced itself from the riot, rejecting the claims it was behind it and announcing to investigate it. Ljubljana Police Department chief Stanislav Vrečar said infrastructure had also been damaged and assessed that the use of force by police was proportionate.
EFJ condemns attacks on media in Slovenia
LJUBLJANA - The European Federation of Journalists (EFJ) condemned in the strongest terms verbal and physical attacks on the media following an anti-government protest that turned violent Thursday evening. "We strongly condemn the attacks on media workers and express solidarity with them. It is very worrisome to see that Slovenian politicians are greatly contributing to the increasing hostility and hatred towards journalists," EFJ general secretary Ricardo Gutierrez said. Anti-government protests have been a mainstay of Friday afternoons for months, however, the groups organising the Friday protests have distanced themselves from the rally organised yesterday, mostly by a group named Anonymous Slovenija.
Three Seas' investment fund to narrow infrastructure gap
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's SID Banka will contribute EUR 23 million to an investment fund that twelve Three Seas Initiative countries between the Baltic Sea, Adriatic Sea and Black Sea have set up to improve infrastructure in transport, energy and digitalisation in a bid to narrow the infrastructure and development gap with Western Europe. "SID Banka will gradually contribute EUR 23 million and thus try to provide additional funding to Slovenian business and the public sector," its CEO Sibil Svilan said. For Slovenia, the fund is a novelty in that projects have been so far financed mainly with debt instruments.
Sava Re cancels shareholder meeting, dividend payout on hold
LJUBLJANA - Sava Re, Slovenia's second largest insurance and reinsurance group, called off a general meeting scheduled for 16 November and consequently suspended the payment of dividends due to potential new risks stemming from its international reinsurance business. It said on Friday it had now been informed of "new circumstances that had arisen in certain EU insurance markets and in the United Kingdom that are in contrast to previously obtained legal advice".
Travel agency Kompas sold to Luxembourg company
LJUBLJANA - Kompas, Slovenia's oldest travel agency, has been sold to the Luxembourg-based company Special Sits General Partner II, with the newspaper Delo reporting that the company behind the new owner is a Spanish venture capital fund. The seller, Croatian group Fortenova, has already notified the competition watchdog, which needs to give its go-ahead for the takeover. According to the news web portal Siol.net, Kompas employs more than 200 people in Slovenia alone, generating about EUR 75 million in annual sales revenue. Kompas was recapitalised in 2017 and has been operating at a profit for the past three years.
Sekulić named new coach of men's national basketball team
LJUBLJANA - The executive committee of the Slovenian Basketball Association (KSZ) appointed Aleksander Sekulić the new head coach of the men's national basketball team. Taking over from Radovan Trifunović, he will coach the team for the first time as it continues the qualifiers for the 2022 EuroBasket at the end of November. The 42-year-old assistant coach with Nymburk in the Czech Republic is expected to present the roster on 18 November, the KZS said on Friday after announcing the appointment. The new coach is also to introduce himself to the media as the training camp starts on 22 November.
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STA, 6 November 2020 - Senior coalition figures as well as opposition leaders strongly condemned on Friday the violence that broke out during Thursday's protest in Ljubljana, which was directed against the government's coronavirus measures. The opposition also distanced itself from the riot, rejecting the claims it was behind it and calling to investigate it.
The government's Covid spokesperson Jelko Kacin said it was irresponsible and inadmissible for riots to be organised in the centre of the capital amid the biggest health crisis in the country.
National Assembly Speaker Igor Zorčič tweeted that blame for the violent protest is on those who resorted to it, and congratulated police officers on decisive action. "Looking for a culprit in the government, opposition or the media takes us away from appeasement and from addressing the distress caused by the epidemic."
Already yesterday, Prime Minister Janez Janša tweeted support for the police officers, saying that peaceful protests when there is no epidemic are a constitutional right, but riots and physical violence against the police are criminal acts and will be punished. He commended the police for being professional.
Similarly, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs commended the police on Twitter, saying "they were well prepared and contained the riot to the greatest extent possible". Noting the police would launch adequate procedures against the perpetrators, he condemned any form of violence.
Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, the leader of the Modern Centre Party (SMC), stressed that now we need peace and cooperation regardless of different views on the health crisis. "Slovenia is committed to peaceful resolution of conflicts, Slovenian society is committed to co-existence and mutual respect."
"Violence has no place in Slovenian society and cannot be acceptable even as a form of expressing disagreement," tweeted Defence Minister Matej Tonin, the leader of New Slovenia (NSi). He condemned yesterday's violence as irresponsible to say the least while the country is fighting the coronavirus.
Distancing themselves from the riot and condemning it, the opposition LMŠ, SD, Left and SAB said they believed the violence at the protest was staged, announcing they would investigate its background on the parliamentary Home Affairs Committee and the Commission for Oversight of Intelligence and Security Services.
"No violence, be it physical or verbal, has a place in a free and democratic society," SocDem leader Tanja Fajon told the press. She believes the riot was a result of several months of tensions created by the government as it divides people and attacks the media.
She also condemned Hojs's yesterday's statement in which he blamed the riot on the media and the Social Democrats (SD), while urging the public to be tolerant and stressing the opposition would do all in its power to change the government.
Similarly critical of the government was LMŠ leader Marjan Šarec, who believes Minister Hojs's presence at the protest proves the violence was staged.
"The minister did not appear at any peaceful Friday protest," he said, calling on people not to be fooled by such provocations, which he believes are meant to discredit Friday anti-government protests.
Left leader Luka Mesec said the government would have to explain how the police had known in advance that Thursday's protest would turn violent.
While the National Assembly worked normally on over 20 Fridays when protests were held, this Thursday MPs were told to leave the premises by 4pm because the police expected violence at the protest scheduled for the afternoon, Mesec said.
Both Mesec and SAB leader Alenka Bratušek recalled the anti-government protests in 2012 when "thugs were sent by one political party" to mix among the protesters.
STA, 5 November 2020 - The closure of restaurants, hotels and other tourism facilities in the wake of Covid-19 has put companies in the sector in an unenviable position. Some have already been forced to lay off staff, but most of them are hoping the planned sixth stimulus package will help preserve jobs.
The key measures to protect jobs in tourism and hospitality would be to cover the total cost of the furlough scheme and to compensate business for income loss.
Unemployment was not on the rise in Slovenia in October despite partial lockdown. The companies did not repeat mistakes from the first wave of the epidemic when they were quick to let go workers and re-hire them after the government measures stepped in.
The Gorenjska unit of the Employment Service received only one announcement of major downsizing in tourism and hospitality in the autumn, Drago Perc with the unit told the STA, noting that one company said it would lay off some 30 staff.
Many companies are making use of the furlough scheme in the meantime, however Marcela Klofutar, manager of Vila Podvin and Linhart hotel in Radovljica, believes that the measure is not sufficient.
In the spring businesses were refunded the entire compensation for furloughed workers, meaning 80% of their pay, whereas now they only get EUR 870, which means that employers have to cover the rest, that is at least EUR 1000 per gross pay, she said, adding that businesses closed due to the epidemic cannot afford that.
Numerous companies in the sector are without any income. Vila Podvin is trying to get by until the sixth stimulus law is passed to see whether the pay compensation measure would be the same as in the spring.
"If that is not the case, people would have to register as unemployed," she warned, pointing to Austria as an example of good practice since the country has ensured compensation totalling 80% of last year's revenue.
Sava Turizem, one of the major Slovenian tourism companies, is also stressing the importance of stimulus measures. If the government does not endorse measures proposed by the tourism sector, then layoffs could not be avoided, said the company.
Given the sector has been worst hit by Covid-19 ramifications, additional boosts are necessary, including direct one-off aid to offset losses and a new edition of holiday vouchers, said Sava Turizem.
Meanwhile, some are not relying on government support but only on themselves. Matija Blažič, managing Hotel Ribno in lakeside resort Bled, has already laid off 40% of his employees.
"If the state measures were sufficient and announced in advance, it might have been different, however everything is passed last minute in Slovenia," he said.
"There does not exist a tourism company that could pay the entire team for half a year without work." Lakeside resort Bled might see better days around Easter next year, according to him.
A pessimistic outlook for the winter tourism season is shared by Janez Hrovat, the mayor of mountain resort Kranjska Gora and also a businessman trying to survive in the struggling sector.
He believes many, particularly those who invested heavily prior to the epidemic, will be in trouble and hopes the second wave will bring similar measures to those in the first.
Blaž Veber, the head of Turizem Kranjska Gora, has also urged stepping up boosts and following the examples of Austria and Germany regarding compensating revenue loss.
He believes the government measures have been effective so far, however the situation is worsening and the sector does not require help but compensation since it is not its fault it cannot function. It would probably take years to get to the pre-Covid level, he added.
Many providers of tourism services as well as owners of bars and restaurants are also concerned about having generated negative cash flow during the coronavirus crisis, which is thus expected to be followed by the debt crisis, heard yesterday's online debate on tourism after Covid-19.
The discussion, hosted by the Ljubljana School of Economics and Business, featured the head of Fraport Slovenija airport services Janez Krašnja, the head of the Association of Slovenian Hoteliers Gregor Jamnik and restauranteur Martin Jezeršek.
The last two urged the government to provide grants in the sixth stimulus package, warning that the debt crisis would halt the development of the sector.
Krašnja meanwhile said that the aviation industry has had a catastrophic year and that the recovery could last until 2024 at the minimum.
However, air passengers are still expected to be those who spend the most and the industry will have to adjust to the new normal, he said, adding that coronavirus tests could become part of airport checks in the future.
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STA, 6 November 2020 - Slovenia's daily coronavirus tally dropped by over a hundred to 1,564 on Thursday as the share of positive tests inched down to 26.53%, and the daily death toll fell to 26 from 30 the day before. Hospitalisations kept increasing but at a slower pace and data presented by the government suggest the peak has been passed.
Government data show the latest cases come from 5,895 Sars-Cov-2 tests on Thursday, roughly on a par with the day before, while the positivity rate has decreased by almost two percentage points.
Presenting fresh data, government spokesman Jelko Kacin also said that the R0, the figure showing how many people one infected person passes the virus on, had dropped to 1, which means the outbreak is no longer expanding.
What is more, the 14-day and 7-day incidence graphs he presented at the press briefing on Friday show the peak had been reached days ago with the curve well on its path down and a simulation suggesting it could flatten sometime in early December.
According to tracker site sledilnik.org, the rolling 14-day average of cases per 100,000 residents fell to 1,113 on Thursday.
"The trend is good (...) if the trend continues the same way we can look forward to the future and can consider what the government could do next week," Kacin said, offering the promise of an easing of measures as the cabinet reviews restrictions next Thursday.
However, the number of Covid-19 patients in hospitals keeps increasing, but even there Kacin noted that the growth is slowing down.
Hospitalisations increased to 1,069 as 92 patients were discharged home, and the number of patients in intensive care units rose by a further seven to 168.
Yesterday, there were 50 new admissions when deducting discharges and fatalities, which compares to 76 at the peak on 31 October.
The tracker site shows the total number of coronavirus cases so far confirmed in the country has exceeded 42,600 with 23,336 cases still active. The death toll has inched close to 500, at 497.
STA, 5 November 2020 - The government has amended the coronavirus status of several countries as a result of which the whole of Croatia, Austria and Hungary plus Serbia will be on Slovenia's quarantine list starting from Monday, as will almost entire Italy.
Calabria will be the only Italian region not yet on Slovenia's red list, as the amended decree on the movement across the border takes effect, expectedly on Monday.
This is even as Calabria will be one of the four red regions that Italy will impose the tightest coronavirus restrictions on starting from Friday.
Meanwhile, even those parts of Croatia, Austria and Hungary that have so far been on Slovenia's orange list are being moved to the red, which entails mandatory ten-day quarantine, except for any of several exceptions.
Also moved to the red list are the whole of Serbia, Spain, Cyprus, Bulgaria, the Vatican and San Marino.
The list is thus being extended from 116 to 147 countries, some of those having only certain administrative regions on the list.
Arrivals from those countries can avoid quarantine with a negative coronavirus test, or if they fall under one of the 17 exceptions such as daily migrant workers, international hauliers, persons in transit and members of foreign official delegations.
Other exceptions include those attending to urgent business, having health examinations or surgeries, or owners of property in a neighbouring country. Some exceptions also include close family or household members when travelling together with the person eligible.
Presenting the latest changes to the government measures, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said the government advised against all non-essential travel outside the country anyway.
He said the same restrictions to travel across the border as for Slovenian citizens also apply to foreigners residing in Slovenia who have relatives in other countries of the former Yugoslavia.
"As you arrive on the border and you don't produce [proof of] one of the reasons for the crossing of border municipalities, you will be fined," said Hojs.
This was after a line of vehicles stretching several kilometres formed at the Obrežje crossing with Croatia on Friday as many arrived there without documents proving their eligibility to travel.
The government today also extended the green list of Covid-19 safe countries that only comprises third countries to add Japan, South Korea, Rwanda, Singapore and Thailand. Arrivals from those countries can enter without quarantine.
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STA, 5 November 2020 - SPACE-SI, the Slovenian Centre of Excellence for Space Sciences and Technologies, posted on Thursday the first images made by their satellite Nemo HD, which was launched into space in early September.
The microsatellite, launched together with another Slovenian satellite on 3 September, will circle the Earth for the 1000th time this weekend, says SPACE-SI's website.
The centre posted what it termed "the first, historic image" the microsatellite made above eastern Slovenia on 18 September.
Although the image only shows clouds, the team is very happy that the sensitive optic system survived the pressure and acceleration during the launch.
The centre said that all of the satellite's vital systems were working well.
Nemo HD is producing panchromatic and multispectral images, helping monitor the Earth for agricultural, forestry, urbanist and maritime transport purposes.
The launch and calibration of the 65-kg satellite is expected to be completed at the end of December, to be followed by technological demonstrations.
Nemo HD and Trisat were launched as the first Slovenian satellites to be ever launch in space after a series of delays due to poor weather.
They are seen as an important milestone for Slovenia's and European space technology efforts.
The launch, which took place in French Guiana, was part of a project by the European space company Arianespace.
STA, 5 November 2020 - The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption has detected multiple corruption risks concerning the purchases of personal protective equipment in spring as part of a focused review of these purchases. It will launch its own inquiries and inform the competent authorities of suspected wrongdoing that it not within its purview.
The findings will be forwarded to the National Review Commission, the Market Inspectorate, the Court of Audit, police, Financial Administration and the Agency for Medicines, Commission president Robert Šumi told the press on Thursday.
He did not specify the persons or authorities that individual cases of suspected wrongdoing refer to beyond saying that the Commission will launch its own inquiries targeting several persons, including public officials, as early as this month.
Following a series of media reports about suspected irregularities in the purchases of protective face masks and ventilators in the earliest stages of the epidemic, the Commission launched a focused preliminary inquiry into the matter.
Šumi said that the Commission realised how grave and demanding the situation was at the time, which demanded swift and effective action.
"We also realise that the purchasing of protective equipment was conducted in extraordinary circumstances, when the need to buy protective equipment to protect the citizens was the priority. Nevertheless, we emphasise that even in such circumstances it is necessary to act responsibly, transparently and with a high degree of integrity."
The watchdog detected risks in all phases of PPE procurement, pertaining to unclarity as to the role of individual stakeholders in the process.
As a result, it also detected specific risks throughout the process of a lack of traceability and transparency, unequal treatment of bidders and selected contractors and influence peddling by unauthorised persons.
Since this would be outside its remit, the watchdog has not passed its opinion on purchases through intermediaries, but it has detected issues regarding the role of the Agency for Commodity Reserves.
The watchdog's Katja Mihelič Sušnik noted a lack of clarity as to the role of individuals involved in the selection and purchasing. However, Šumi said the commission is yet to examine accountability of individual persons.
The commission can also initiate a process for the protection of witnesses, something requested by Ivan Gale, a former employee at the Agency for Commodity Reserves who came forward with allegations of wrongdoing in spring.
The watchdog will try, within the scope of its powers, to establish a causal link between Gale's alleged disclosure and his recent dismissal from the job at the agency, said Šumi, adding that Gale had been subject to close examination by the watchdog as well as a person involved in the processes under examination.
The watchdog has acquired information on alleged wrongdoing based on media reports, complaints and public disclosure.
The oversight has been running since May 2020, involving extensive documentation, interviews with various individuals and meetings with organisations.
Mihelič Sušnik said the watchdog had not had difficulties in acquiring documents; the investigation focused on purchases of protective face masks and in part on ventilators.
The commission has issued 15 recommendations to the key stakeholders in the purchasing procedures, pertaining to detailed defining of roles of individual players, the quantities of purchases and the required proofs and selection measures and criteria, among other things.
The commission sent its report today to the government, the Agency for Commodity Reserves, the ministries involved in the PPE procurement procedures, and the Civil Protection and Disaster Relief Administration.
The report contains tables of all 61 contracts and three purchase orders and tables listing the revenue of chosen suppliers, while it does not include the values of orders and supplies, said Mihelič Sušnik.
This summary is provided by the STA:
All pupils switching to distance learning
LJUBLJANA - After an extended two-week holiday, primary school pupils will not return to schools on Monday due to the coronavirus situation in Slovenia, as the government decreed that distance learning will be introduced once again for primary schools as well. This is after secondary schools switched to remote teaching this week. Kindergartens remain closed as well, but childcare will continue to be available to parents who work in vital services.
Lockdown restrictions extended, new exceptions added
LJUBLJANA - With the coronavirus situation remaining serious, the government extended restrictions on movement outside municipalities and gatherings for another week, while it allowed some more services and businesses to reopen from Friday. These are pedicure services, and specialised shops selling baby, childcare and mother care items, technical goods, cars, bicycles, furniture, photographic and photocopying services, watch and jewellery shops. Only one customer per 30 square metres is allowed.
All of Austria, Croatia, Hungary on Slovenia's quarantine list
LJUBLJANA - The government amended the coronavirus status of several countries as a result of which the whole of Croatia, Austria and Hungary plus Serbia will be on Slovenia's quarantine list starting from Monday, as will almost entire Italy with the exception of Calabria. Also moved to the red list were the whole of Serbia, Spain, Cyprus, Bulgaria, the Vatican and San Marino. Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said the government advised against all non-essential travel outside the country.
Coronavirus cases down slightly but deaths and hospitalisations record high
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's daily coronavirus infections fell to 1,685 on Wednesday from over 2,000 the day before, however, the number of hospitalised Covid-19 patients and those in intensive care increased to new highs of 979 and 161, respectively. So did the daily death toll rise to a record 30. The share of positive tests decreased by four percentage points to 28% and the rolling 14-day average per 100,000 residents fell to 1,114, which government spokesman Jelko Kacin said was a good sign. The R0 fell to 1.11.
Violent protesters clash with police
LJUBLJANA - A violent protest originally organised by Anonymous Slovenia in Ljubljana saw protesters clashing with the police, using flares and throwing granite pavement cubes at the riot police. The police used a water cannon for the first time since 2012. Several persons were injured, including a photojournalist who had to seek medical assistance, and several police officers sustained light injuries. Ten of some 500 protesters were apprehended. Prime Minister Janez Janša tweeted support for the police officers. The organisers of Friday bicycle protests disavowed the protest beforehand.
Brussels projects Slovenia's GDP to contract 7.1% this year, rebound by 5.1% in 2021
LJUBLJANA - The European Commission forecast for Slovenia's economy to contract by 7.1% this year, roughly on par with its previous estimate. A rebound of 5.1% is expected in 2021, a percentage point lower than the forecast in July. The economy is expected to return to pre-coronavirus levels in 2022, when GDP growth is estimated to be at 3.8%, according to the Commission's autumn report. Job losses have been smaller than expected and the measures taken have avoided a surge in bankruptcies thanks to public policy measures, the commission said.
Centre-left coalition says Janša no longer fit to serve
LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Arch Coalition (KUL), the recently formed initiative of four centre-left parties, said that PM Janez Janša lost all credibility in the international arena with his tweets on the US election. Such a person is not fit to serve as PM and even less so to lead the EU presidency next year, KUL wrote, saying that Janša has absolutely no regard for the values of democracy, coexistence and harmony that took decades to build.
Anti-graft commission detects corruption risk in PPE purchases
LJUBLJANA - The Commission for the Prevention of Corruption has detected multiple corruption risks concerning the purchases of personal protective equipment in spring as part of a focused review of these purchases. It will launch its own inquiries as early as this month and inform the competent authorities of suspected wrongdoing that it not within its purview. Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, a key official responsible for the procurement, responded by saying he had followed all rules and that the report would help improve proceedings in the future.
Govt approves aid for countries hit by pandemic
LJUBLJANA - The government approved humanitarian aid for developing countries and countries facing humanitarian crises during the coronavirus pandemic. EUR 45,000 will be allocated to the World Food Programme for the global Covid-19 response plan, and EUR 50,000 to address humanitarian needs in North Macedonia. Slovenia has so far contributed a total of EUR 1.22 million for response to Covid-19 in developing countries.
Slovenian MEPs welcome deal tying rule of law to EU funds
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Half of Slovenia's eight MEPs welcomed the agreement of the member states and the European Parliament tying the rule of law to states' access to funds. "The EU will no longer be a cash machine while its basic values are being trampled in some member states," Ljudmila Novak (EPP/NSi) tweeted. Tanja Fajon (S&D/SD) labelled the agreement historic and so was the agreement welcomed by MEPs Irena Joveva and Klemen Grošelj (both Renew/LMŠ).
Judicial Council backs Ilešič, Brkan for Luxembourg posts
LJUBLJANA - The Judicial Council unanimously endorsed the bids of Marko Ilešič and Maja Brkan for the country's two spots at the EU's General Court in Luxembourg. This time, the council issued its opinion on the candidates in a shorter procedure, without interviewing them, and without assessing the other candidates that applied for the job. Slovenia's efforts to fill the two spots on the EU's General Court in Luxembourg began in June 2018, but so far no candidate got further than the vetting committee.
For unions, legislated minimum wage rise non-negotiable
LJUBLJANA - Trade unions are strongly against the possibility of freezing the 1 January 2021 rise in the minimum wage, as demanded by businesses and supported by the economy minister, with ZSSS confederation head Lidija Jerkič saying that the unions won't negotiate on it. Opposition was also expressed by the KSJS confederation of public sector trade unions, and the opposition Left. From 2021, the minimum wage is due to rise above the minimum cost of living.
Telekom revenue, profit down slightly in Jan-Sep
LJUBLJANA - Telekom Slovenije, the majority state-owned telecoms incumbent, saw net sales decline by 4% year-on-year in the first nine months of 2020, to EUR 440 million. Net profit declined by 7% to EUR 27.4 million. Operating profit was up 7% to EUR 40.1 million and profit before income tax, amortisation and depreciation was down 1% to EUR 144.6 million. The figures exclude the media arm Planet TV, which has already been sold to TV2 in Hungary, and the Kosovo subsidiary Ipko, which was supposed to be sold by now but has not been after the sales procedure was terminated.
Slovenia's 2019 gross R&D spending record high
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's gross domestic expenditure on research and development (R&D) amounted to a record EUR 989.3 million in 2019, up 10.8% from 2018 and 5.8% more than the previous high in 2013, preliminary data released by the Statistics Office show. Last year thus saw the second consecutive rise in R&D spending - that of more than EUR 90 million in nominal terms and that of 10% in relative terms. R&D expenditure was higher in all sectors. Businesses accounted for 61% of the spending.
Banks at low to moderate risk to climate challenges
LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian central bank's report on climate risks in Slovenia shows that banks are not greatly exposed to climate-related risks in the most climate-sensitive sectors, such as manufacturing, electricity production, transport and construction, or in relation to households. Their exposure shares range from 36% to 44%. Financial systems are faced with a new kind of risk stemming from climate change, which reflects in higher costs of natural disasters, which bring more physical risks.
Watchdog suspects collusion among four LPG providers
LJUBLJANA - The Competition Protection Agency said it had launched an investigation into potential collusion among energy companies Butan Plin, Ina Slovenija, Istrabenz Plini and Plinarna Maribor. They are suspected of having secretly agreed to only accept the returns of their own liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) cylinders, to parcel up the LPG cylinders market. This could constitute orchestrated action that aims to prevent, hamper or distort competition in Slovenia and in a substantial part of the EU's internal market.
Metronik named Delo Business Star of the year
LJUBLJANA - Metronik, a Ljubljana-based company specialising in automation and digitalisation of production, critical infrastructure and smart buildings, was declared the 2020 Delo Business Star by the newspaper publisher. The company convinced the jury with its business results, success on foreign markets and sustainability. The readership choice award went to prefabricated house maker Marles Hiše Maribor.
Dismissed NBI head fails with motion to halt appointment of successor
LJUBLJANA - A court in charge of labour disputes has reportedly rejected the motion by the lawyer of Darko Muženič, the dismissed director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), to halt the call for applications for his successor. According to a report by the newspaper Dnevnik, the reasoning is that although the Administrative Court found Muženič's May dismissal to have been illegal, it did not determine that he needed to be reinstated to the post.
Canada extradites Slovenian charged with sex trafficking
LJUBLJANA - Canada has extradited to Slovenia Sergej Racman, who was wanted on international arrest warrant on sex trafficking charges. Slovenian police said Wednesday evening the man had been handed to police after being deported from Canada and taken to the Koper prison. The former owner of the cinema chain operator Kolosej had been wanted under an Interpol Red Notice alert for his alleged role in a prostitution ring that was allegedly operating in the Marina Sauna Club near Nova Gorica.
First image by Slovenian satellite Nemo released
LJUBLJANA - SPACE-SI, the Slovenian Centre of Excellence for Space Sciences and Technologies, posted the first images made by their satellite Nemo HD, which was launched into space in early September. The microsatellite, launched together with another Slovenian satellite on 3 September, will circle the Earth for the 1000th time this weekend, says SPACE-SI's website. The centre posted what it termed "the first, historic image" the microsatellite made above eastern Slovenia on 18 September.
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STA, 5 November 2020 - A violent protest organised above all by Anonymous Slovenia took place in Ljubljana city centre, with protesters clashing with the police, using flares and throwing granite pavement cubes at the riot police. The police have used a water cannon for the first time since 2012.
After clashes broke out in the afternoon in front of the Parliament House, the police pushed the protesters, there were several hundred, from the Republic Square, dispersing them along several streets in city centre. Some are rallying against the government, others against coronavirus measures.
Trying to bring the riot under control, the police also used a water cannon, while a police helicopter was circling over the city centre the whole time.
The protests caused some damage on buildings and other infrastructure, as rioters threw granite pavement, and also aimed flares and other pyrotechnical devices at the police, as well as yelling "sheep" and "crooks" at the police.
The head of the Ljubljana Police Administration Stanislav Vrečar said in the evening that some 500 people were protesting and that was clear that they had no interest in peaceful protests. Ten have been arrested.
He said that a fight that broke out around 5pm was the point marking when the protest turned into a riot. In addition to the water canon, gas was also used later in Prešeren Square, said Vrečar, adding that public order was reestablished at around 7pm.
Several police officers have been mildly injured, he said, but could not yet give a number as some were still working. Most of the injuries were caused by pavement cubes. "If a cube hits your helmet, that's a nasty concussion, believe me," he illustrated.
According to his information there were no severe injuries among the police or civilians. He said the Ljubljana police force was aided by officers from other parts of the country but would not give a number, as today's intervention is not yet over.
Prime Minister Janez Janša tweeted support for the police officers, saying that peaceful protests when there is no epidemic are a constitutional right, but riots and physical violence against the police are criminal acts. He commended the police for being professional.
Podpora @policija_si za profesionalno opravljeno delo, za varovanje premoženja in ljudi. Mirni protesti, ko ni epidemije in nevarnosti okužb, so ustavna pravica. Ragrajanje in fizično nasilje ter napadi na policiste pa so vedno in povsod kriminalna dejanja, ki bodo kaznovana. https://t.co/crQ17pnnzo— Janez Janša (@JJansaSDS) November 5, 2020
According to media reports, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs also expressed support for the police officers on the ground today. He attributed part of the responsibility for the protests turning violent to the media. "You've supported and fed them for months... and now here you have wounded police officers," he told a reporter of the commercial broadcaster POP TV.
The Ljubljana Police Administration has meanwhile said that the situation is under control.
Two civilians reportedly sustained serious injuries and were taken to hospital.
Several media outlets reported that their news crews had been shoved around, while a photographer was reportedly injured.
The Slovenian Journalists' Association (DNS) condemned the violence, saying that a photojournalist had to seek medical aid at the emergency department after being attacked by as yet unknown perpetrator.
"We reiterate that any violence is unacceptable and that such conditions cannot become standard work risk environment for journalists and cameramen performing their mission of gathering and communicating information to the public, who deserve to be kept up t date," the DNS stated.
The association understands Hojs's comment that media share the responsibility for today's riots as pressure on the work of journalists and media, and as yet another attempt by the government to lay the blame for the epidemic and all that is bad at the media's door.
The Trade Union of Police Officers of Slovenia, one of the two biggest police unions, expressed concern today in a tweet over "irresponsible behaviour of individuals... acting violently, unaware of the consequences of their acts in what are demanding times health-wise".
The protest and riots were also condemned "in the strongest terms" by Defence Minister Matej Tonin, who tweeted that such conduct was at least irresponsible at a time when all efforts were devoted to fighting the virus and helping people and healthcare. "Violence has no place in Slovenian society, and cannot be acceptable even as expression of disagreement," the New Slovenia (NSi) leader tweeted.
Earlier this afternoon the protest movement organising the Friday bicycle protests against the government distanced itself from today's rally because some of the organisers called on people to disregard the health protection measures in place and to use violence.
RTV Slovenia's news portal also said that the Friday protestors had warned days ago that coronavirus-deniers and conspiracy theory groups had started calling to protests against the government.
Anonymous responded to this by tweeting that this was proof that the Friday protestors were not serious and did not really want Prime Minister Janez Janša gone.
Meanwhile, public gatherings in Slovenia are still capped to only six persons due to the coronavirus situation and with the country in second lockdown this year.
STA, 5 November 2020 - The government has extended a ban on movement between municipalities and a ban on gatherings of more than six people for another week, while it has allowed some more services and businesses to reopen.
The businesses that are being allowed to reopen from Friday include pedicure services, and specialised shops selling baby, childcare and mother care items, technical goods, cars, bicycles, furniture, photographic and photocopying services, watch and jewellery shops.
Presenting the changes to the relevant decree, which were adopted at the government correspondence session today, Economy Ministry State Secretary Ajda Cuderman said restrictions were being eased on activities "where there's a very small possibility of transmission of infection".
For pedicure she said it was "of exceptional importance for preventive care of the many older people, and to prevent any serious conditions with the elderly, who have been warning of that".
The establishments that are being opened will need to observe additional safety measures, including limiting customers to one per 30 square metres, as opposed to 20 square metres per customer so far.
In shopping centres, entrances and exits for customers will have to be separated, with hand sanitisers at both ends and regular airing required, among other things.
Cuderman indicated that other services such as beauty shops and ophthalmologists would be allowed to reopen when the coronavirus situation has improved.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said the ban on restriction to movement and gatherings was being extended for another week with small technical amendments to the decree.
He said that Serbia was additionally added to the list of Covid-19 unsafe red countries for which quarantine applies, from Monday, but said that the government advised against all non-essential travel outside the country anyway.
He said the same restrictions to travel across the border as for Slovenian citizens also apply to foreigners residing in Slovenia who have relatives in other countries of the former Yugoslavia.
"As you arrive on the border and you don't produce [proof of] one of the reasons for the crossing of border municipalities, you will be fined," said Hojs, referring to foreign residents.
Additionally, oversight of compliance with restrictions to movement can now also be exercised by city traffic wardens, aside police officers and health inspectors.
The government has also added new sports to the list of those where competition can resume for top athletes, including water polo and futsal.
This is the second time that the government has extended top-tier lockdown restrictions since imposing the highest level of restrictions on 24 October to cut coronavirus cases.
Only stores selling essential items or services remain open, including grocery shops ans supermarkets, produce markets, pharmacies, shops selling medical and orthopaedic equipment, farming and gardening stores, florists, DIY shops, car and bicycle repair shops, bank, postal and insurance offices, newsagents, pet food stores.
Delivery services are also allowed and restaurants can offer takeaway. A week ago, the government also allowed libraries and repair services to reopen.
The government will review the restrictions again in a week.
STA, 5 November 2020 - After two weeks of holidays, primary school pupils will not return to schools on Monday due to the coronavirus situation in Slovenia, as distance learning will be introduced once again. Secondary schools have already launched remote teaching at the beginning of this week.
Kindergartens remain closed as well, but childcare will continue to be available to parents who work in vital services.
Education Minister Simona Kustec said that the government would review the decision in a week, either extending or ending the measure.
Universities and other higher education institutions also remain in remote schooling mode. Moreover, schools for children and adults with special needs will remain closed as well.
The latter, especially, can be demanding for students, parents and teachers, with the minister saying a special memo had been sent to special needs teachers, adding it was expected the teachers did their best for special needs education to be as normal as possible.
When asked whether the government had considered reopening schools that have few or no coronavirus cases, Kustec said that the Slovenian Constitution stipulates that all students get the same access to education, meaning that school must be the same for everybody.
The government has instructed schools and local communities to organise free meals for underprivileged children, which will be covered by the state budget.
Municipalities and schools are to invite parents and children to apply for meals, which they will be able to pick up at their school. Lunch deliveries are also to be organised for children who cannot pick up their meals.
The Association of Towns and Municipalities (SOS) has meanwhile said that meals should be organised by the state and primary schools, adding that municipalities can assist the schools if required.
The association noted that under the law, the state provides funds for education programme, while local communities are obligated to maintain and invest in infrastructure. In line with this, it is also the state's obligation to provide warm meals to pupils in emergency situations.
The Ljubljana municipality also responded by saying that it cannot take on this obligation. Organising meals in this way, in Ljubljana this would amount to 5,000-6,000 a day, is impossible and irrational, the city said. It proposed that children be allowed to come to school to eat, adding also it would be even better if schools reopen completely.
The Education Ministry forwarded to the STA on Tuesday numbers showing the extent of coronavirus infections in schools and kindergartens.
In kindergartens, 524 members or 3.74% of all staff have contracted the coronavirus since the beginning of the school year in September. Additional 637 staff (4.55%) have been quarantined.
In primary schools, the number of reached 1,207 (4.84% of staff), with additional 1,261 people (some 5%) in quarantine, while in secondary schools, it reached 110 (1.18%), with another 1,261 in quarantine (just over 5%).
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The Igor Zabel Award for Culture and Theory acknowledges the exceptional achievements of curators, art historians, theorists, art writers, and critics whose work supports, develops or investigates visual art and culture in Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe.
The award is named in honour of the distinguished Slovenian curator and art historian Igor Zabel (1958–2005). It has been conferred biennially since 2008 in cooperation with ERSTE Foundation (Vienna) and the Igor Zabel Association for Culture and Theory (Ljubljana). With total prize money of €76,000, it represents one of the most generous and prestigious awards for cultural activities related to Central, Eastern, and Southeastern Europe.
This year Zdenka Badovinac, the curator, art writer, and director of Ljubljana's Moderna galerija has been is named the Igor Zabel Award laureate. On 4 December 2020, at the biannual ceremony in Ljubljana, Badovinac will thus be awarded for her outstanding institutional leadership as the director of the Moderna galerija/Museum of Modern Art and the Museum of Contemporary Art Metelkova (+MSUM) in Ljubljana, as well as for her radical curatorial work and significant contributions as a writer and editor to international discourses on the geopolitics of contemporary art in Eastern Europe and global art history. Igor Zabel Award Grants will also be given to Slavcho Dimitrov, Katalin Erdődi, and Ivana Bago.
The award comes at an interesting time for Slovenian cultural institutions, which are currently under threat of new staffing arrangements to promote the current government’s agenda, with some NGOs also losing their premises in Metelkova, Ljubljana’s cultural quarter. And it’s in this politically charged context that the Igor Zabel Award 2020 jury has recognized Zdenka Badovinac as one of the most important and rigorous locally rooted and globally connected professionals in the field of cultural production in recent decades.
Badovinac became the director of Moderna galerija in Ljubljana in 1993. According to the jury, since she was appointed to this post, and through her curatorial innovations, Badovinac has made Ljubljana's Moderna galerija into one of the most progressive, critical, and referential art institutions worldwide. The jury also emphasized Badovinac's important contributions to new paradigms in art theory, the politics of art, curatorship, practices of exhibiting, institutional critique, and strategies of solidarity within the (institutional) contemporary art field. Her remarkable achievements prove that the subversive potential for radical change lies not only in professional expertise, but also in combining this expertise with personal devotion, a sense of solidarity, and a commitment to building alliances.
This year's Igor Zabel Award Grant recipients selected by the jury are:
Slavcho Dimitrov (Skopje), activist, cultural theorist, and curator, in recognition of his contributions to reimagining the cultural and social life of the Western Balkan region, and for bringing LGBTQIA+ and women's rights and struggles to the heart of that vision.
Katalin Erdődi (Vienna/Budapest), curator, dramaturg, and cultural worker, in recognition of her locally embedded and inclusive curatorial practice, distinguished by its scope as well as its critically reflexive and joyful qualities.
The third grant recipient was selected by the laureate.
This year Zdenka Badovinac selected Ivana Bago (Zagreb), curator, art historian, and art writer, in recognition of her excellence and insistence on the art historical research, writing, and exhibiting of Yugoslav and Eastern European art.