News

01 Aug 2020, 12:13 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work week ending Friday, 30 July 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Gross negligence over care homes

STA, 31 July 2020 - The left-wing weekly Mladina argues in its latest editorial that the government has committed a criminal offence of negligence by failing to prevent a repeated coronavirus outbreak at care homes despite knowing what happened there in the first wave of infections.

Grega Repovž, the editor-in-chief, writes that the situation at the Hrastnik care home, a major Covid-19 hotspot in the country, is different than in the case of outbreaks at aged care facilities during the first wave.

It was an error of judgement not to admit infected care home residents to hospitals and isolate them outside the homes, and "the fact could not be denied that fewer elderly would have got sick and fewer would have died" given a different course of action, "but we do not think this was done in ill faith", he writes.

"The Hrastnik case is different. It is different because today we all know most care homes are built in such a way that it is impossible to prevent infected air from spreading between units and floors (...).

"However, the ministries of health and labour and the PM - who publicly interferes in everything - have made no plan in those months how to rescue the aged residents," Repovž writes under the headline Conscious Negligence.

He says the authorities can no longer cite the state of emergency as an excuse, also because of many examples of best practice, including in Croatia, where healthy residents have been immediately moved out of the infected building.

"You do not have to be an epidemiologist to know the biggest risk is socialising in large groups in indoor places. In that respect care homes are much riskier than nurseries or schools."

Repovž goes on to say that care homes are even more risky than night clubs and bars the government has been warning about. He also says that there are plenty of empty facilities - from empty hotels to youth hostels and dorms - that care home residents could be moved to and dispersed into smaller groups.

"When the infection breaks in, the elderly are systematically left there, in the homes without good ventilation, knowing the infection will spread and some will die because of it (...). It is an act of negligence. Negligent conduct that leads to death is a criminal offence in Slovenia."

Demokracija: EU budget success

STA, 30 July 2020 – Demokracija, the right-wing weekly, commends in its latest commentary PM Janez Janša for standing firm in the negotiations for the next EU budget, which it argues has brought Slovenia credibility and more funds. It meanwhile berates the opposition for minimising and relativising what it deems as a success.

"The ruffle in the Slovenian opposition shows that they do not even know what this was about," Jože Biščak, the editor-in-chief of the right-leaning weekly says under the headline Club of Elite Liars.

It was not only about money in Brussels, but also about control - and not only control of the use of money, but over countries themselves, as a desire was expressed for the EU to become a federation and Brussels the flag bearer of the ideology.

"The rule of law, which sounds nice, is collateral damage, an excuse for forcing progressive migration policy on Poland and Hungary," the weekly adds.

"The defiance and firm negotiating positions of the Visegrad Group countries, which were joined by Slovenia, that the eligibility to funds for the recovery of Europe must not be made conditional on sovereign countries giving up on their concern for the nations's culture, tradition and identity and sovereignty ... was an important (stage) win."

Demokracija adds that "despite the great foreign policy success for Slovenia, the media mainstream and opposition kept minimising and relativising the matter all the time, lied about it and manipulated with it, and accused the ruling coalition of giving up on the rule of law."

All our posts in this series are here

01 Aug 2020, 11:07 AM

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, 24 July
        LJUBLJANA - The Jožef Stefan Institute warned the number of new coronavirus cases in the country was growing exponentially with the effective reproduction number higher than 1, which meant the epidemic might be getting out of hand.
        LJUBLJANA - The number of overnight stays generated by tourists in Slovenia in June dropped by 63.2% to nearly 610,000 compared to the same period last year, the Statistics Office said. As many as 67% of overnight stays were by Slovenians.
        LONDON, UK - Slovenia was added to the UK's list of air bridges, which allows travel to England without needing to self-isolate effective from 28 July after Slovenia had earlier placed the UK as the last on its green list of safe countries.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian capital witnessed anti-government protests for the 14th consecutive Friday, with a new focus this time on women's rights. Protest campaigns were also held in Maribor, Piran and Velenje.

SATURDAY, 25 July
        KRANJSKA GORA - The traditional Russian Chapel commemoration was held below the Vršič Pass, drawing much thinner crowds than usual due to the coronavirus restrictions.
        MARIBOR - Russian Ambassador to Slovenia Timur Eyvazov said in an interview with Večer he disagreed with assessments that Slovenia's former government was pro-Russian.

SUNDAY, 26 July
        LJUBLJANA - Several major retailers opened their stores after being closed on Sunday for four months due to coronavirus restrictions.
        LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša endorsed Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec's appearance in a promotional video of a wine maker made during a trip to the Kras region after questions arose of a potential breach of integrity legislation and ethics code. Pivec and the winemaker later denied the allegations of impropriety and said she had paid for private accommodation during her trip.

MONDAY, 27 July
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prosecutor Jaka Brezigar was appointed the Slovenian member of the European Public Prosecutor's Office by the Council of the EU, along with prosecutors of 21 other participating member countries.
        LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor received the credentials of newly appointed German Ambassadors Natalie Kauther and Adrian Pollman. Credentials were also presented by Algerian Ambassador Ali Mokrani, the Sultanate of Oman's Ambassador Yousuf Ahmed Hamed Aljabri and the Dominican Republic's Ambassador Lourdes Gisela Antonia Victoria-Kruse.
        LJUBLJANA - The Human Rights Ombudsman assessed that the failure to comply with the government decree on the mandatory use of face masks in public indoor spaces cannot be penalised.
        LJUBLJANA - Retail sales in Slovenia declined by 9.6% year-on-year from January to June as the coronavirus epidemic shut down most stores for several weeks in spring. The figures for June suggest the sector is slowly picking up.
        LJUBLJANA - A survey carried out by the Slovenian Marketing Association and the pollster Valicon showed that the Covid-19 pandemic had impacted Slovenian companies much more unevenly than the recession in 2009; 58% of the surveyed companies have had negative effects, while 17% had positive.
        LJUBLJANA - The Defence Ministry said a member of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) serving at the Allied Joint Force Command Naples had been involved in a car accident in which one person died. Italian media reports said the man had caused the accident in which the wife of an Italian law enforcement officer died.
        DOBROVNIK - Bicycle maker Spiegel Bikes announced that Slovenian ultra cyclist Marko Baloh had set a new 1,000-km time trial world record with 28 hours, 50 minutes and 14 seconds.

TUESDAY, 28 July
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign minister Anže Logar and his Croatian counterpart Gordan Grlić Radman discussed measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic and the EU Council presidency, agreeing that there was no need for stepping up border restrictions.
        LJUBLJANA - The National Institute of Public Health reported that the majority of coronavirus cases in the past two months had been in care homes (80), followed by schools (54), shops (37), health institutions (32) and restaurants, pubs and cafes (13).
        KLAGENFURT, Austria - 23 villages in Austria near the border with Slovenia will get bilingual signposts, according to decisions of the town councils of Sankt Jakob im Rosental and Sittersdorf. The Slovenian minority welcomed the move and expressed hope that other municipalities would follow suit.
        LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Dnevnik reported that jurist Andraž Teršek, who failed to get elected a Constitutional Court judge by parliament June, had turned to the Constitutional Court asking it to annul the vote and order a new vote on his bid.

WEDNESDAY, 29 July
        LJUBLJANA - The Supreme Court ordered the Competition Protection Agency to release 70% of shares of retailer Mercator it seized from Croatian Agrokor in December 2019. It said that the AVK did not have legal grounds to seize the shares.
        LJUBLJANA - Uroš Lepoša was appointed new acting director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to replace Igor Lamberger after less than three months on the job.
        LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Delo reported that Alfi, a Slovenian equity fund, had acquired over 80% of the debt owed by Tuš, one of the largest grocers in Slovenia, saying that a framework restructuring agreement to deleverage the grocer would be signed soon.
        LJUBLJANA - Newsmapper, an advanced article-tracking tool developed by the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) made the European Commission's list of the best European innovations as part of the Innovation Radar platform.
        LJUBLJANA - The Administrative Court stayed the government decision to dismiss early three members of the supervisory board of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija until adopting a final ruling in the matter.
        LJUBLJANA - The Competition Protection Agency (AVK) warned about the drawbacks of changes to the media act regarding concentration monitoring. The agency advocates a strict separation of monitoring the public interest in media, which should not be in the domain of the AVK, and assessing concentration in line with the competition law.
        LJUBLJANA - Violent storms with strong winds, downpours and hail caused substantial damage and disruption across central, eastern, northeastern and southeastern Slovenia. The hardest hit was the Domžale area in central Slovenia, where hail the size of an egg caused around EUR 2.5 million in damage.

THURSDAY, 30 July
        LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana University Medical Centre (UKC), the country's largest hospital, said it was preparing for an expected surge in coronavirus infections with the arrival of autumn and winter. This was after 24 persons tested positive for the day before, taking the national case count to 2,139, including 242 active cases. The death toll rose to 118.
        NOVO MESTO - The pharma group Krka reported EUR 803.8 million in sales revenue for the first half of the year, a 6% increase year-on-year, as net profit rose by 15% year-on-year to EUR 160.3 million. The management said the results were record-breaking.
        LJUBLJANA - The telecoms group Telekom Slovenije reported EUR 335.4 million in operating revenue for the first half of the year, a decline of 2% year-on-year, while net profit was down 24% to EUR 14.8 million, which was blamed on the pandemic and the effects of the agreement on the sale of Planet TV.
        IDRIJA - The industrial conglomerate Hidria, a major car industry supplier, announced it had signed a EUR 15 million deal with Germany's Audi and Porsche and Italy's Lamborghini under which it will develop and supply them with key aluminium engine parts.
        LJUBLJANA - A poll conducted by Mediana and run by the newspaper Delo showed that more than half of respondents do not believe a potential attempt by the opposition to vote out the Janez Janša government would succeed.
        LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court ruled that the 2019 supplementary budget documents were not in conflict with the Constitution. This was after the then opposition Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) petitioned the court in April 2019, claiming the budget expenditure planned was so high it violated the fiscal rule.

All our posts in this series are here

01 Aug 2020, 08:04 AM

STA, 31 July 2020 - The Islamic community in Slovenia will celebrate this year's Eid al-Adha, a major Muslim holiday, somewhat differently due to the restrictive anti-epidemic measures, as believers are coming to the new Muslim Cultural Centre in Ljubljana on Friday in groups of 50 in four separate ceremonies.

Also called Eid Qurban or Bakra-Eid, the Feast of the Sacrifice is considered the holier of the two major Muslim holidays, honouring the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son Ismael as an act of obedience to God's command.

It is also connected with the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, called Hajj, but this year Slovenian Muslims have not travelled to the holiest city in Islam due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Islamic community in Slovenia said on the occasion that Eid al-Adha is the time when people think about their families, relatives and friends and about how they feel.

"Hajj is a symbol of unity and deep belief, but also of diversity among people. It teaches them that everything is passable on Earth and that ethical and moral values are key for harmonious mutual relations," it added.

The community has recommended Slovenian Muslims focus on their families in the four days of celebration of Eid al-Adha, and advised against mass gatherings so that the unnecessary spread of the novel coronavirus is prevented.

"In their prayers, they should remember those who have found themselves in a difficult situation due to the epidemic. They should also think about healthcare workers, who are the most exposed to the virus and make the most sacrifices."

The first ever Eid al-Adha ceremony in the Ljubljana mosque was addressed by Mufti Nedžad Grabus, who pointed to the values of human life and equality, but could not avoid talking about the conditions dictated by the pandemic.

"The circumstances we live in demand full responsibility from all of us," said Grabus.

Nevzet Porić, the secretary general of the Islamic community in Slovenia, told the STA that, due to the restrictions, the ceremony had been attended by some 200 people, considerably less than in past years (up to 4,000).

"It's Eid al-Adha, but the feeling is strange, because you cannot shake hands with your friends and embrace them," he added, while calling on the community to be responsible as a few of its members already had died of Covid-19.

Grabus added that this year's prayers were also focused on "god easing the situation related to the contagious disease, which the entire world is fighting with, to protect the community from illness, worries and temptation."

01 Aug 2020, 03:56 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:

Slovenia changes Covid-19 status of several countries

LJUBLJANA - Bulgaria, Romania, the Bahamas, India and five Spanish administrative units have been added to Slovenia's red list of countries from which arrival entails a mandatory two-week quarantine due to coronavirus. Spain, Belgium, Australia, Morocco, Andorra and Canada have been removed from the green list of safe countries, and downgraded to yellow. The changes were made by the government last night and are effective from today. The red-listed parts of Spain are Valencia, the Basque Country, Catalonia, Navarre and Aragon. Sweden and Portugal were upgraded to yellow.

Daily tally of coronavirus infections down, but one fatality

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's death toll from Covid-19 increased to 119 after one more patient died on Thursday as 17 new infections were confirmed from 917 tests, down from 24 the day before, fresh government statistics show. The number of hospitalisations increased by two to 24 after three more patients were admitted and one died. Five patients remain in intensive care. The latest infections take the total case count to 2,156, out of which 240 remain active cases.

Member of PM's staff tests positive for coronavirus

LJUBLJANA - A staffer at the office of Prime Minister Janez Janša has tested positive for coronavirus. He has been on leave for a week and has not been in direct contact with the prime minister. All the staff at who had been in contact with the infected person have been tested and the results of all the tests were negative. Prime Minister Janša, who has been tested as a matter of precaution several times before, has not been tested this time, his office said. He is currently on holiday.

Czech media: Pompeo to visit Slovenia in mid-August

LJUBLJANA - The Czech news web portal Lidovky.cz reported on Thursday that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was due to visit Prague, Vienna, Ljubljana and Poland in mid-August. The Slovenian Foreign Ministry would not comment on the report, and the US Embassy in Ljubljana responded by saying "we do not have anything to announce at this time", however neither denied the news. According to Lidovky.cz, Pompeo is to start his European tour in Prague on 11 August with one of the topics of his talks with the European allies being the new digital infrastructure and the deployment of 5G technology.

TV report alleges seaside town hosted Pivec on semi-private trip

LJUBLJANA - The public broadcaster reported on Thursday that the Izola municipality paid for the hotel accommodation for Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec during her official trip to the seaside town in June with a hotel invoice suggesting she was there with her sons, a charge the minister denied. The minister's office told the STA that Pivec visited Izola between 12 and 14 June at the invitation of the municipality, which also paid for hotel accommodation for ministry officials. The allegations, as well as those concerning her late June trip to Kras, will be examined by the anti-graft watchdog. So has her Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) urged Pivec to provide explanations.

Mladina says questionable asylum policy enforced, ministry denies claim

LJUBLJANA - Mladina reported a new asylum regime had been implemented since June at some police stations on the border with Croatia, which it said had no basis in legislation. The regime restricts the movement of asylum seekers and places them in the centre for aliens in Postojna, where they live in inhumane conditions. NGOs, including Amnesty International Slovenia, expressed concern about the developments. The Interior Ministry and the police rejected the accusations and said asylum applicants were treated in line with the law. The ministry released figures showing a marked increase in the number of asylum seekers sent to the Postojna centre, but said all decisions were made on a case-by-case basis.

Slovenian in Croatian parliament vows to promote minority rights

ZAGREB, Croatia - Barbara Antolić Vupora, the first ethnic Slovenian to be elected to the Croatian parliament, has pledged to strive to ensure implementation of the rights of the Slovenian minority in Croatia. The Social Democratic Party of Croatia (SDP) has her back, Antolić Vupora told the STA in an interview. She said she thought she could do more for the Slovenian minority as a party MP than she would if she were a minority MP. In the Sabor, she will be in charge of safeguarding minority rights and promoting elderly care.

Suffering of Roma and Sinti in WWII remembered in Maribor

MARIBOR - The Nazi genocide against the Roma and Sinti during the Second World War was rememberedby the local centre for Jewish cultural heritage, with the ceremony including a lecture connecting the genocide with modern populisms. Entitled The Night Violins Went Silent, the event hosted by Sinagoga Maribor was addressed by Vita Zalar of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts, who spoke about the Roma genocide in WWII in the light of populism of today.

Budget records EUR 1.9 billion deficit in H1

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian state budget recorded a EUR 1.92 billion deficit in the first six months of the year, mostly on the account of a considerable drop in revenue related to a lower tax yield as the government introduced restrictive anti-epidemic measures, figures from the Finance Ministry show. The EUR 1.92 billion deficit in the January-June period compares to the EUR 219.7 million surplus in the same period last year. Budget expenditure increased by 27.7%, while revenue contracted by 15.5%.

Slovenia's inflation running at 0.3%

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's annual inflation rate ran at 0.3% in July despite a 0.1% dip of consumer prices in a month-on-month comparison due to clearance sales at clothes and footwear shops, data from the Statistics Office show. Measured with the harmonised index of consumer prices, an EU-wide gauge, Slovenia posted an annual deflation rate of 0.3% in July and prices fell by 0.2% in a month. Inflation was mostly driven by costlier food as fruit prices surged by 16.2% and meat prices rose by 6.3% y/y.

Easyjet back in Slovenia

BRNIK - British low-cost carrier Easyjet has returned to Ljubljana airport after more than a four-month break due to the pandemic. Easyjet is the eighth airline to resume its services at Slovenia's central airport in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. On Sunday, its Ljubljana-Berlin route was renewed, while the first flight from London Gatwick was due today. Airport operator Fraport Slovenija anticipates the return of at least six more carriers, including those flying to Warsaw and Brussels.

Slovenia's population expands by 0.6% with foreign residents

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's population increased to 2,097,195 on 1 April, 0.6% more than on the same date last year, the Statistics Office reported. In the first quarter of the year, the number of Slovenian citizens decreased by 1,900 or 0.1%, whereas the number of foreign citizens residing in Slovenia increased by 3,200 or 2.1% to 159,582, which represented 7.6% of Slovenia's total population. There were 51.2% women among Slovenian citizens and only 33.4% among foreign residents.

Muslim Eid al-Adha celebration adjusted to coronavirus

LJUBLJANA - The Muslim community in Slovenia celebrated its first Eid al-Adha, a major Muslim holiday, at the new Muslim Cultural Centre in Ljubljana. However, under strict anti-epidemic measures believers were let in in groups of 50 in four separate ceremonies. Also called Eid Qurban or Bakra-Eid, the Feast of the Sacrifice is considered the holier of the two major Muslim holidays. It is linked with the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, but this year Slovenian Muslims have not travelled there due the pandemic.

Dance project intertwines Ljubljana and Tenerife

LJUBLJANA/SANTA CRUZ, Spain - A dance production entitled Dance, No Goal by choreographer Carlota Mantecón will premiere at the Ljubljana Dance Theatre as well as in Tenerife tonight. The international dance project explores societal relations towards ageing and movement. All the performers are aged above 65 and non-professional dancers. The joint premiere is a result of the pandemic. If it was not for Covid-19, the show would have first opened with the entire ensemble in Tenerife and then in Ljubljana.

Extreme summer temperatures not easing up

LJUBLJANA - This year's July saw similar temperatures compared to the same period in recent years, but more rainfall. One of the warmest days this month is in store for today; extremely high temperatures were recorded already in the morning. Cities and the coast are in for a scorchingly hot weekend. By 9am today temperatures had climbed to 22 degrees Celsius in the northern Gorenjska region and up to 28 degrees in the Primorska region in the west, show data from the Environment Agency.

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31 Jul 2020, 19:51 PM

STA, 31 July 2020 - Slovenia has added Bulgaria, Romania, the Bahamas, India and five Spanish administrative units to its red list of countries from which arrival entails a mandatory two-week quarantine due to coronavirus. Spain, Belgium, Australia, Morocco, Andorra and Canada have been removed from the green list of safe countries, and demoted to yellow.

The changes were made by the government last night and effective from Friday 31 July.

Get the latest news from the border police here

Five of Spain's administrative units - Ceuta, Melilla, Asturias, Galicia and the Canary Islands - are now on the green list, and five - Valencia, the Basque Country, Catalonia, Navarre and Aragon - are now on the red list.

The government in addition upgraded from the red list to yellow Djibouti, Sweden, Gibraltar, the Cayman Islands, Portugal, Equatorial Equatorial Guinea and the Seychelles.

Persons with permanent or temporary residence in the countries on the green list or persons arriving from those countries can enter Slovenia without restrictions or a mandatory quarantine.

From yellow-listed countries entry without the need to self-isolate is granted to Slovenian citizens and foreigners with permanent or temporary residence in Slovenia if they submit a proof (such as an invoice for the accommodation or property ownership certificate) that they have not come from a red-listed country. If they cannot produce such a proof they are ordered to self-isolate for 14 days.

Arrivals from red-listed countries regardless of citizenship and those who have temporary or permanent residence in those countries are also subject to a mandatory two-week quarantine or isolation, except for several exceptions, including transit and international transport.

31 Jul 2020, 09:19 AM

STA, 30 July 2020 - Slovenia's residents are among the most satisfied in the EU in terms of inter-personal relations, a survey by Eurostat released on Thursday shows. The average mark for satisfaction in Slovenia on a one-to-ten scale is 8.6, well above the EU average of 7.9.

The only other countries in the EU to reach this rate of satisfaction with inter-personal relations are Austria, Malta and Ireland.

On the other side of the spectrum are Bulgaria with the mark of 6.6, which is below Greece (7.1) and Croatia (7.5), with 1 meaning complete dissatisfaction and 10 complete satisfaction.

Overall, satisfaction with inter-personal relations in the EU has not changed much since 2013, when it stood at 7.8. It has increased in 19 EU member states in this period, the most in Bulgaria (by 0.9). In Slovenia, the increase was 0.3.

31 Jul 2020, 09:08 AM

STA, 30 July 2020 - The Slovenian contact tracing app will be localised and uploaded to GooglePlay and AppStore by Saturday, the deadline for the app to be up and running under a relevant contract, said the Public Administration Ministry on Thursday. The app is operational and currently being tested by the ministry and National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ).

The app #OstaniZdrav (#StayWell) is expected to be available for download in mid-August or the second half of August, given the experience by other countries which also based their contact tracing apps on Android and IOS mobile operating systems, said Peter Geršak, the ministry's state secretary at today's coronavirus briefing.

Saturday marks the deadline by which the app must be localised on the basis of the German Corona-Warn-App under the contract the government signed with developer RSteam, said Geršak, highlighting that the app would help stem the spread of the coronavirus and urging citizens to use it.

The institute and ministry (MJU) are currently testing the product to ensure the internalisation of the open-source app has been done right and to assess its operations, functionality and information security.

Primož Cigoj, RSteam director and a researcher at the Jožef Stefan Institute, said today that #OstaniZdrav would be easy to use and would require no special skills. After downloading it, the user will get instructions on its use and activation will be only one click away.

"The app requires nothing of you. If you get infected, you enter a 10-digit code given by an epidemiologist, and even that is voluntary," said Cigoj.

logotip covid tracking app logo2-01.png

The logotip of the app

#OstaniZdrav will warn the user about the level of risk of contracting the virus using three colours - green will represent low risk, blue an unknown state indicating relevant data is still being gathered, and red increased risk, meaning contact with infected persons.

Both Cigoj and Geršak said that the issues experienced by the German app regarding exchanging data have been resolved in the Slovenian version.

The state secretary pointed out that the app would not be used for geolocation data tracking and would not have access to any personal information stored on the phone which could give away the user's identity.

The Information Commissioner has not yet given the final go-ahead for the app, said Cigoj, but he does not expect any problems. The app is currently available only in Slovenia, he added.

Later in the day, Information Commissioner Mojca Prelesnik reiterated that the legal basis for the introduction of the app was inappropriate.

The ministry's outcome estimate regarding personal data protection which did not stem from the relevant law is not enough to mitigate the shortcomings of the legislation, she said, adding that such a document should have been drawn up before endorsing the law.

She pointed out that the standpoint of all European data protection watchdogs on such legal bases was the same in that respect.

31 Jul 2020, 08:53 AM

STA, 30 July 2020 - Four citizens of Belgium, Bulgaria and the Netherlands face charges after they have been found helping a total of 46 migrants enter Slovenia illegally in the area covered by the Murska Sobota Police Department in the north-east of Slovenia.

According to a press release issued by the department on Thursday, two Belgian citizens and a Bulgarian were apprehended on Tuesday, 21 July after helping 17 migrants cross the border illegally.

A day later, a Dutch national was apprehended along with a group of 29 migrants he had assisted to enter the country illegally.

All four alleged smugglers have been remanded in custody by an investigating judge and their vehicles have been seized by the police.

Meanwhile, the Maribor Police Department has reported that four illegal migrants were found hidden away in two lorries at two border crossings with Croatia on Wednesday evening.

A Palestinian was discovered hidden in an articulated vehicle with Turkish licence plates at the Gruškovje crossing after two Syrians and an Afghan were found on a lorry with Slovenian licence plates at Središče ob Dravi.

The Palestinian has been returned to the Croatian authorities, while the Croatian police took over the procedure for the two Syrians and the Afghan because the two police forces conduct joint border checks at Središče ob Dravi.

Slovenian police handled 4,993 illegal border crossing attempts from January to the end of June, a decrease of 12.4% compared with the same period last year, a fall blamed on the pandemic lockdown and border restrictions.

The cases were up in May to 903 and surged to 1,689 in June, which compares to 1,200 in the same peak month last year.

31 Jul 2020, 04:09 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:

24 people test positive for coronavirus, one death

LJUBLJANA - A total of 879 tests for the novel coronavirus were performed in Slovenia on Wednesday, with 24 persons testing positive. One person died of Covid-19, the latest government data show. A total of 22 persons were in hospital with Covid-19, five of them requiring intensive care. So far, a total of 2,139 novel coronavirus infections were detected in Slovenia and the national death toll increased to 118. The Ljubljana University Medical Centre (UKC), the country's largest hospital, has started preparing for an expected surge in coronavirus infections with the arrival of autumn and winter. Insights acquired so far will help in the treatment of patients.

Violent storms cause huge damage across country

LJUBLJANA - Violent storms with strong winds, downpours and hail hit Slovenia Wednesday evening, causing huge damage and disruption across central, eastern, northeastern and southeastern Slovenia. Several hundred firefighter units were dispatched to over 500 locations to pump water from houses, patch up roofs, divert torrents and clear fallen trees and debris from roads. Power outages landslides and flooded premises were reported. The Domžale area in central Slovenia was hit the hardest, battered by hail the size of an egg. As Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek inspected the damage it was estimated at around EUR 2.5 million the municipality alone.

Contact tracing app deemed operational

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian contact tracing app #OstaniZdrav (#StayWell) will be localised and uploaded to GooglePlay and AppStore by Saturday, the deadline for the app to be up and running. According to the Public Administration Ministry, the app is operational and currently being tested by the ministry and National Institute of Public Health. It is expected to be available for download in mid-August or the second half of August. However, the Information Commissioner deems the legal basis for the app inappropriate.

Krka group ups net profit by 15% to EUR 160.3m in half year

NOVO MESTO - The pharma group Krka reported EUR 803.8 million in sales revenue for the first half of the year, a 6% increase year-on-year, as net profit rose by 15% year-on-year to EUR 160.3 million. The management said in the half-year report that "the Krka Group performed well in the first half of the business year, and reached record results." The release adds that the Novo Mesto-based group planned for the entire 2020 to generate operating income of EUR 1.52 billion, and to increase net profit to EUR 210 million.

Telekom Slovenije net profit down 24% to EUR 14.8m in H1

LJUBLJANA - The telecoms group Telekom Slovenije made EUR 335.4 million in total operating revenue in the first half of the year, a decline of 2% year-on-year, while net profit was down 24% to EUR 14.8 million. "The Telekom Slovenije group revenue in the first half of the year was affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, with revenue in the mobile segment decreasing due to lower revenue from roaming," the company said. Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) stood at EUR 20.7 million, but adjusted for the effects of the agreement on the sale of Planet TV, EBIT would amount to EUR 27.3 million, or 15% or EUR 3.5 million more year-on-year.

Hidria signs EUR 15m deal with three luxury car brands

IDRIJA - The industrial conglomerate Hidria, a major car industry supplier, announced it had signed a EUR 15 million deal with Germany's Audi and Porsche and Italy's Lamborghini under which it will develop and supply them with key aluminium engine parts. In the next five years, the Idrija-based company will be supplying parts for high-performance diesel and petrol engines for premium and super-sport vehicles of the three marques. Audi, Porsche and Lamborghini will install in their vehicles aluminium parts developed in Hidria, which will make the vehicles lighter and more efficient, with better fuel economy, faster acceleration and lower emissions.

Mediana poll suggests odds slim for Janša govt to fall

LJUBLJANA - Almost 41% of those questioned in a poll by Mediana for the newspaper Delo do not favour an early election, and more than half do not believe a potential attempt by the opposition to vote out the Janez Janša government would succeed. Almost 44% believe that there is no suitable candidate to lead an interim government in the given parties and a new person would have to be found for such a job.

Constitutional Court says 2019 budget did not violate fiscal rule

LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court ruled that the 2019 supplementary budget documents were not in conflict with the Constitution. It was the then opposition Democrats (SDS) and New Slovenia (NSi) who petitioned the court in April 2019, claiming the budget expenditure planned was so high it violated the fiscal rule. The court said that the shortcomings claimed by the two parties did not amount to jeopardising the fiscal sovereignty of the country.

Newly established AI centre hosts first event

LJUBLJANA - The International Research Centre On Artificial Intelligence (IRCAI), which was established under the auspices of UNESCO in March, completed its first cooperation with UNESCO this week, an online consultation on drafting of guidelines about AI ethics. IRCAI, which is a part of the country's top research institute, the Jožef Stefan Institute, hosted the online conference involving players from Europe alongside the Ministry of Education. Apart from Slovenia, 23 other countries had been invited by UNESCO to nominate AI experts for ethics guidelines cooperation.

Slovenians among most satisfied in EU with inter-personal relations

BRUSSELS, Belgium - An Eurostat survey suggests that Slovenia's residents are among the most satisfied in the EU in terms of inter-personal relations. The average mark for satisfaction in Slovenia on a one-to-ten scale is 8.6, well above the EU average of 7.9. The only other countries in the EU to have reached such rate are Austria, Malta and Ireland. Overall, satisfaction with inter-personal relations in the EU has not changed much since 2013, when it stood at 7.8. It has increased in Slovenia in this period by 0.3.

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30 Jul 2020, 21:58 PM

STA, 30 July 2020 - Violent storms with strong winds, downpours and hail hit Slovenia Wednesday evening, causing huge damage and disruption across central, eastern, northeastern and southeastern Slovenia.

Several hundred firefighter units were dispatched to over 500 locations across the country to pump water from houses, patch up roofs, divert torrents and clear fallen trees and debris from roads, the Civil Protection and Disaster Relief Administration said.

The biggest damage was sustained by the area of Domžale about 15 kilometres north-east of Ljubljana, which was battered by hail the size of an egg for more than half an hour. Other parts of the country experienced landslides and flooding and power outages.

The state of the damage in Domžale was inspected on the ground by Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, who said more than 390 buildings had been damaged there. Deputy Mayor Renata Kosec put the damage estimate at around EUR 2.5 million.

The hail damaged so many cars that some repair shops there have run out of spare windshields.

The Civil Protection and Disaster Relief Administration received "an unbelievable 851 calls for help" between 9pm and 11pm from the Domžale area, a municipality with a population of 13,000.

Only there, 300 firefighters helped out locals throughout the night plus civil protection unit members, deputy civil protection chief Peter Gubanc said.

Teams continued their work during the day to tackle the worst damaged buildings, along with insurance agents who were busy assessing the damage throughout the country.

In and around Domžale, most damage was done to roofs and cars, while hail was reported to have destroyed this year's crops in some parts of Koroška in the north of the country.

In Prevalje, a municipality with a population of less than 7,000, the damage has initially been estimated at more than EUR 300,000 with many roads blocked by landslides or fallen trees and some public buildings flooded.

Prevalje Mayor Matic Tasič said it would cost between one and two million euro to repair the damage by what was the third such extreme weather occurrence in just two weeks.

Zasavje in central Slovenia also had to cope with impassable roads and flooded buildings and Laško to the north-east was also hit by hail. Much of the village of Rečica there is under the water and tap water in Žalec is no longer fit for drinking.

Sections of roads were carried away by torrential water, a group of scouts had to be evacuated after being flooded and a home in Slatina pri Ponikva caught on fire after being struck by lightning.

Several locations were also flooded in Velenje and Polzela.

Počivalšek will notify the government of the state on the ground and they will examine how the government can help and tackle the damage as soon as possible.

30 Jul 2020, 13:30 PM

STA, 30 July 2020 – Poor wine sales brought on by the coronavirus lockdown not only affected the pockets of winemakers but at least in one case appear to be bad news for the environment as well. After fish began to die off in a stream near Gornja Radgona and other animals were seen behaving as if drunk, analysis showed high amounts of sulphur and alcohol in the water.

Since Monday, local anglers in Gornja Radgona, a town in the idyllic wine country of Slovenske Gorice, have been retrieving dead fish from the Lisjakova Struga stream, a tributary of the Mura river.

While the fish likely died from sulphur molecules tying to the oxygen in the water, analysis conducted for a fishpond feeding from the stream on Monday showed alcohol level as high as 0.47%, while alcohol content in the stream was 0.35%.

The local angling association suspects that somebody had dumped large amounts of wine in the stream or had been cleaning barrels with alcohol and sulphur. Their suspicions stem, in part, from the fact that wine sales tanked during the Covid-19 epidemic.

Franek Radolič of the angling association told the STA that truly large quantities had to have been dumped into the stream considering that the waterway is over 1.5 kilometres long. The association took immediate action, liming the pond and taking measures to raise oxygen levels, but to no avail.

Radolič said that oxygen levels in the water had dropped significantly; whereas there are usually between 5mg and 6mg of oxygen in a litre of water, the levels in Lisjakova Struga dropped to a mere 1mg.

The anglers also said that animals drinking the water from the stream had been behaving unusually, as if they had been drunk, the newspaper Slovenske Novice has reported.

Although a report has been made to the police and the relevant Environment Inspectorate, the anglers doubt that a culprit will be found for what they say is not the first such incident.

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