News

12 May 2021, 20:29 PM

Note: the end date wasn't clear in the STA report - we'll update this story when things are confirmed...

STA, 12 May - The government eased several coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday, including increasing the cap on gatherings to 50, and easing restrictions on hospitality, tourism, sports, culture and education. It also extended the state of Covid-19 epidemic by another 30 days from 17 May (ed. until 16 or 17 June – the report isn’t clear).

The cap on organised public events and public gatherings in- and outdoors will be raised from 10 to 50 starting on 15 May.

Exceptionally, more than 50 participants will be allowed under conditions prescribed by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ) and on its prior approval.

Moreover, several decrees have been changed to allow cultural, sports and other events to reopen to 50% sitting capacity for visitors that have been vaccinated, tested or recovered from Covid-19.

The 50% capacity limit will also apply to cinemas and churches, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs has told the STA.

A further easing is that it will be made possible again to interrupt the quarantine imposed on entry into country after five days with a negative PCR test.

Meanwhile, the allowed opening hours for hospitality establishments are being extended to between 5am and 10pm, from 7am-7pm in force now.

While indoor tables will still need to be three metres apart, the distance between people seated at the same table is no longer prescribed, the Economy Ministry said on its Twitter profile.

Moreover, the four-per-table rule will no longer apply to families with children up to the age of 18.

The one-customer-per-20-sq-metres rule will no longer apply to children up to the age of 18 when accompanied by a parent or carer or for persons that need to be accompanied.

Campsites will be allowed to open up to 70% of available units, up from 30 units currently.

Casinos and gaming parlours are also being allowed to reopen between 5am and 10pm for visitors who can produce a proof of vaccination, negative test or recovery from Covid-19. Gaming parlours can be open to up to 50% capacity.

Easing will also benefit education, as secondary schools will be allowed to reopen next week for all pupils, who will no longer need to alternate between in-person and remote schooling.

Moreover, university students will be able to attend lectures in person from Monday, the Education Ministry has announced.

Face masks remain mandatory except for physical education classes. So remains weekly testing in force for staff, except for those who have been vaccinated or have recovered from Covid-19.

The relaxation comes after Slovenia entered yellow tier of infections as Covid-19 hospitalisations fell below 500 and the 7-day average of new infections below 600.

However, the government extended the Covid-19 epidemic until 16 June [ed. we assume, but could be 17] as all the country's statistical regions continue to have incidence of cases above the prescribed threshold for the epidemic.

The government declared the epidemic for a second time on 19 October and has been extending it since by 30 days each time. In the first wave the epidemic was in force for 80 days, from 12 March to 31 May.

The conditions for the epidemic include the 14-day cumulative incidence per 100,000 residents above 104. It is currently at 423, according to data from the National Institute of Public Health.

Covid-19 hospitalisations and intensive care cases are also above the thresholds of 250 and 50, at 463 and 127, respectively.

The government today also changed the list of high-risk red countries by removing Slovakia, Israel and St Vincent and Grenadine, while adding Sudan. The changes, which also affect parts of Denmark, France, Greece, Norway and Spain, take effect on 15 May.

12 May 2021, 20:23 PM

STA, 12 May 2021 - Slovenia has confirmed a case of the coronavirus first detected in India, follows from the GISAID portal, which provides open-access to genomic data of influenza viruses and the novel coronavirus.

According to the portal, the Indian variant was confirmed by the Institute of Microbiology and Immunology (IMI) at the Ljubljana Faculty of Medicine in a sample taken on 20 April.

IMI head Miroslav Petrovec told the STA the Indian variant had been confirmed in one of the sequences deposited with the institute. The sample belonged to a person who tested positive on 20 April having returned from India.

The institute confirmed the Indian variant after back analysing all Slovenian samples again after updating on 11 May the algorithm to sequence the variants according to official Pango lineages as the B.1.617.2 variant was declared a new worrying genetic mutation.

In the latest screening of 576 samples taken between 26 April and 2 May the Indian variant was not confirmed, while the UK variant was confirmed in 90% of the samples.

Meanwhile, no new cases of the variants first detected in Brazil, South Africa or Nigeria were confirmed, nor the variant spread most widely in the French overseas department of Mayotte.

Nor have the California or New York variants been confirmed in Slovenia so far.

Between 24 February and 4 May the IMI, in cooperation with the National Institute of Public Health, sequenced 147 genomes of coronavirus from samples taken from vaccinated persons.

84 got infected more than two weeks after receiving the second BioNTech/Pfizer jab, and three after getting the second Moderna jab, while 60 caught the virus more than three weeks after receiving one dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

The genetic variants with the vaccinated persons were those that are frequent in Slovenia and in about same proportions as they appear generally in the population.

Maja Rupnik of the National Laboratory of Health, Environment, and Food said that given data from the UK, the Indian variant is similarly virulent as the UK variant and did not cause any worse symptoms.

She said he data available so far indicated the Indian variant was not as changed that the antibodies developed after catching Covid-19 or getting vaccinated would not work against the variant.

The labs sequencing genomes of the novel coronavirus enter their data into the GISAID database, a global scientific initiative that promotes rapid sharing of data from all influenza viruses and the coronavirus causing Covid-19.

The latest situation on coronavirus variants in Slovenia is to be presented at Thursday's Covid-19 press briefing.

The World Health Organisation has said that the Indian variant B.1.617 is more transmissible and thus cause for concern.

12 May 2021, 13:22 PM

STA, 12 May 2021 - The Health Ministry and the National Institute for Public Health (NIJZ) told the STA on Wednesday that the vaccination of children and adolescents in Slovenia would start when the European Medicines Agency (EMA) gives its approval.

"We are currently waiting for the EMA's opinion on whether the vaccine is suitable for the age group of over 12 years. Once this is approved, we will start to promote vaccination in primary and secondary schools as well," said Mateja Logar, head of the ministry's advisory group on Covid-19.

On Monday, the US Food and Drug Administration approved the emergency use of Pfizer and BioNTech's Covid-19 vaccine for teenagers aged 12 to 15 years. This is the first vaccine in the US to be licensed for this age group.

EMA executive director Emer Cooke told several European newspapers on Tuesday that Pfizer's vaccine could be approved for the 12-15 age group in the EU later this month, although initially this was expected by June. She said that they were still waiting for data from a clinical study carried out in Canada.

12 May 2021, 11:57 AM

STA, 12 May 2021 - The newspaper Dnevnik reports that the Ljubljana District Court has resorted to hiring a detective to try to deliver court mail to Prime Minister Janez Janša, who is not picking up mail related to the Trenta case.

The case involves a piece of land in the Trenta Valley that Janša bought in 1992 and sold in 2005 for nearly nine times the price he paid, and for which an indictment against him and another two defendants was filed last autumn over abuse of office.

Related: Janša Formally Indicted for Abuse of Office in Property Deals

Until Janša receives the mail, the court cannot continue to decide on the defence's request to exclude members of the judging panel.

The documents the court would like to deliver to Janša are related to the request for exclusion of the judges.

Following its first request, Janša's defence counsel filed another two requests, so the court must successfully deliver all three replies before proceeding.

The Specialised Prosecutor's Office filed an indictment against Janša over abuse of office last October, after five years of investigation.

Also indicted are Branko Kastelic, a former chairman of Imos company, and Klemen Gantar, a former director of Eurogradnje.

According to the unofficial information obtained by Dnevnik, the court had no problems delivering the mail to Kastelic and Gantar.

12 May 2021, 10:40 AM

STA, 11 May 2021 - Prime Minister Janez Janša denied on Twitter on Tuesday media reports that he had been sidelined from the inauguration ceremony of the conference on the future of Europe held in Strasbourg on Sunday. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Gašper Dovžan told reporters in Brussels Janša could have attended the ceremony if he wanted to.

The newspaper Delo reported on Monday that the government had proposed in writing that the leaders of all three EU countries that will be presiding the EU Council during the conference - Portugal, Slovenia and France - take part in the ceremony, including the Slovenian prime minister.

Being a member of the conference's executive committee, Dovžan addressed a letter to the other two countries from the trio in April.

Given that the EU Council has a rotating presidency, it will be represented by the leaders of the presiding countries - Portugal, Slovenia and France, he wrote. "That is why I firmly believe leaders of all three countries should have the opportunity to be present at the ceremony," he added.

But according to Delo, the co-chair of the executive committee, Guy de Verhofstadt, allegedly did not want Janša to be invited to the ceremony, which sources in the European Parliament confirmed for the paper.

Dovžan, who took part in a session of the EU General Affairs Council in Brussels today, told reporters that leaders had received no invitations and that if the Slovenian prime minister wanted to attend the ceremony the French authorities had been prepared, and that if his obligations allowed it he could have attended it.

Janša wrote on Twitter that the EU Council was represented at the conference by the prime minister of the current presiding country, which was Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa until the end of June. "From 1 July 2021 Slovenia will be the presiding country and the co-chair of the conference on the future of the EU will, next to President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and President of the European Parliament David Sassoli, be Janez Janša. Guy has not influence on this."

12 May 2021, 04:32 AM

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

This summary is provided by the STA

Janša denies reports over his non-attendance at Strasbourg ceremony

LJUBLJANA/BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prime Minister Janez Janša denied on Twitter media reports that he was being sidelined from the inauguration ceremony of the Conference on the Future of Europe in Strasbourg on Sunday. Foreign Ministry State Secretary Gašper Dovžan, speaking in Brussels told reporters in Brussels Janša could have attended the ceremony if he wanted to. The newspaper Delo reported the co-chair of the executive committee, Guy de Verhofstadt, allegedly did not want Janša to be invited, but Janša said the Council of the EU was represented at the conference by the PM of the current presiding country, Portugal, while he would co-chair the conference next time.

Minister says she's done everything to appoint EU delegated prosecutors

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Following several calls to speed up appointment of Slovenia's two delegated European prosecutors, Justice Minister Lilijana Kozlovič said she had done all in her power, while it was now on the government to act. The minister made comments as she visited Brussels as part of Slovenia's preparations for EU presidency. She said making the European Public Prosecutor's Office operational was of utmost importance for preventing corruption and money laundering across the EU. The minister will outline her view to European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders tomorrow.

Procedures to buy military aircraft to start this year

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Defence Committee discussed an amended national defence plan for 2018-2023 that would allow for the purchase of a tactical transport aircraft for the army, and two helicopters for the special forces. The procedure to purchase the plane will start this year and for the helicopters by 2023. Defence Ministry State Secretary Uroš Lampret said Slovenia needed its own capabilities due to deterioration in global security and the distance to NATO's international operations. Opposition Left criticised the planned purchases.

Pahor visits Astral Knight exercise

ČRNI KAL - President Borut Pahor as the commander-in-chief of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) visited SAF air defence unit members and their US counterparts who are taking part in the international exercise Astral Knight as part of the Defender Europe 2021 war games. Pahor, who was accompanied by the chief of the SAF general staff, Major General Robert Glavaš, said it was important SAF members were testing their capabilities with partners in international military exercises.

Coalition MPs file bill to raise funding of private primary schools

Ljubljana, 11 May - In a bid to have a Constitutional Court ruling implemented, coalition MPs tabled a bill to secure 100% state funding of private primary schools' obligatory curriculum and 85% of their optional programmes. Public primaries, which present a large majority, are fully funded from the state budget, while state covers only 85% of the obligatory and above-standard curricula at private primaries. The changed funding is to increase annual education spending by EUR 350,000.

Hojs discusses returning of migrants with EU counterparts

LISBON, Portugal - Interior Minister Aleš Hojs took part in a ministerial conference on migration organised by Portugal's EU presidency in Lisbon with EU ministers and ministers of several African countries sharing their experience with migration. The talks focussed on finding a solution to return migrants from the EU to African countries, said Hojs, who was one of the ministers attending the conference in person. He believes countries will likely stick to bilateral agreements.

EUSAIR strategy forum marks end of Slovenia's AII presidency

PORTOROŽ - As Slovenia is concluding its third presidency of the Adriatic and Ionian Initiative (AII), the Izola Declaration was adopted at the EUSAIR strategy forum in Portorož, underlining the European perspective of the Western Balkans. At the annual EU Strategy forum for the Adriatic and Ionian Region (EUSAIR), Slovenian Foreign Minister Anže Logar also hosted a meeting of the foreign ministers of the nine AII member countries. Slovenia will pass the presidency of the AII to Albania on Wednesday.

Podgoršek presents EU presidency priorities to Kyriakides

LJUBLJANA - Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek discussed Slovenia's EU presidency priorities concerning food safety, and animals and plants with European Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides via videoconference. He said Slovenia would devote utmost attention to consumer safety and food traceability. In trade agreements with third countries that concern agriculture, the minister believes the high EU standards need to be protected, especially in veterinary medicine.

Conditions met for yellow tier

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia met the conditions to move to the yellow tier of infections as the 7-day average of new coronavirus cases fell below 600, to 549, the lowest since October, and Covid-19 hospitalisations dropped to 477. This was after 491 new cases were confirmed from 3,642 PCR tests on Monday, a 45% drop from a week ago. Three Covid-19 patients died, while 131 patients require intensive care, government figures show.

Nearly half unwilling to be vaccinated, survey finds

LJUBLJANA - Three-quarters of respondents in a survey supported by the pollster Valicon and the Covid-19 tracker community are somewhat worried about the epidemic, but almost half are still unwilling to be vaccinated. The main reason for people's reluctance to be vaccinated is fear of possible side effects, as out of those who do not want to be vaccinated, more than 80% said they were "at least somewhat" concerned. The poll was conducted on 16-23 April among 1,042 participants.

Former foreign minister tipped for top job at Book Agency

LJUBLJANA - Dimitrij Rupel, a long-serving former foreign minister, is tipped for the job of the director of the Slovenian Book Agency in an interim role after none of the candidates were picked in a call for applications issued in February. "I'm in talks with the ministry, the matter is not definitive yet, a decision has not yet been taken," Rupel told the STA. The 75-year-old served four stints as foreign minister between 1990 and 2008, and he was also a university professor, the editor of several political magazines and mayor of Ljubljana.

NLB bank more than trebles Q1 net profit

LJUBLJANA - NLB, Slovenia's largest banking group, reported a net profit of EUR 64.6 million for the first quarter of the year, about 3.5-fold the figure posted in the same period a year ago. This was as EUR 15.5 million in net impairments and provisions were released. The parent bank posted EUR 39.3 million in profit, which compares to EUR 7.5 million a year ago. While virtually all subsidiaries operated at a profit, the group's results, in particular interest income, were boosted by its latest acquisition, the Serbian group Komercijalna Banka.

Erste Group also interested in NKBM, Finance reports

LJUBLJANA - The business newspaper Finance reported, citing unofficial but reliable sources, that apart from Hungarian bank OTP, Austria's Erste Group is also interested in acquiring NKBM, the second largest bank in Slovenia. While NKBM's owner Apollo, a US private equity fund, declined to confirm the report, sources in the financial industry close to Apollo confirmed that OTP, which entered Slovenia with the acquisition of SKB Bank in 2019, is not an exclusive potential buyer of NKBM. Erste Group is present in Slovenia with its Sparkasse bank and had already sought to expand its presence.

Police officer fined over unauthorised data access

LJUBLJANA - The Koper District Court has fined a Nova Gorica police officer EUR 5,000 due to unauthorised access to police data on almost two dozen persons in 2019, including the defence minister at the time, Karl Erjavec. Officer Zdenko Kabaj accessed the data while working at the Aliens Centre in Postojna. His search triggered a red-flag warning because of Erjavec's status as a protected person, prompting an internal investigation, several media reported.

Croatian journalists express solidarity with STA

ZAGREB, Croatia - Croatian journalists issued a statement to express solidarity with journalists in Slovenia, where "the public and independent press agency STA is exposed to increasing political and financial pressures". The Croatian Journalist Association (HND) and the Trade Union of Croatian Journalists (SNH) are worried about the situation which forced the STA to seek "donations from citizens, who must be guaranteed the right to information".

Conference remembers 1821 Congress of Laibach

LJUBLJANA - Ljubljana is hosting an online conference marking the 200th anniversary of the Congress of Ljubljana, which put what was then a small provincial town in the spotlight of European diplomacy. The congress was an attempt of the monarchical powers of the Holy Alliance to address demands for more political rights in the aftermath of the Napoleonic Wars. Ljubljana, at the time called Laibach, was chosen due to its proximity to Austria and Italy, where unrest emerged in the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies.

Michelin-starred chef to cook for Slovenia's EU presidency guests

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Distinguished Slovenian chef Tomaž Kavčič will be in charge of cuisine at all top-level events during the upcoming Slovenian presidency of the Council of the EU, which makes Slovenia the first country to entrust such a job to a Michelin-starred chef. As announced by JGZ Brdo State Protocol Services, the aim of the cooperation with Kavčič is to combine first-class service, excellent staff and cuisine at the highest level. He will be in charge of the culinary programme at four locations - Villa Tartini, Strmol Castle, Villa Bled and the renovated Elegans Brdo hotel.

Rodent-borne haemorrhagic fever on the rise in Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - Haemorrhagic fever with renal syndrome is on the rise in Slovenia as the National Institute of Public Health recorded as many as 95 cases so far this year. More than half of the cases (56) were registered in the Ljubljana area. There were only eight cases of the fever recorded in 2015, 12 cases each in 2016 and 2018, and 76 in 2017, but they peaked in 2019 at 252. The State Forests company said that the increased mice population may be due to a prolific beechnut season.

11 May 2021, 14:14 PM

STA, 10 May 2021 - Some EUR 189,000 has been raised a week into what is planned to be a month-long fundraising campaign to secure funding for the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), which the Association of Slovenian Journalists labelled as an exceptional start. This roughly equals the monthly compensation for the public service performed by the STA.

Launched on 3 May and called "Za obSTAnek", the campaign aims to raise two million euro via small SMS donations and from potential larger donors, as the agency has not received budget funds for its public service for four months.

The Association of Slovenian Journalists said on Monday that donors had responded to the association's call for help, launched on World Press Freedom Day, to make sure that almost 100 STA employees get paid for the work they are doing.

It said that the campaign had brought together individuals, various organisations and companies that are aware of the importance of the public service provided by the STA and that "do not accept journalism dictated by the authorities."

Despite the warnings from the domestic public and international organisations, the decision-makers are yet to fulfil their obligations required by law when it comes to financing the STA, which is why the campaign continues, the association added.

The goal is to secure an amount that equals a one-year compensation for public service to ensure stable operation, regardless of what the government does, as the agency is awaiting a court decision in an enforcement procedure and is looking for some other solutions.

"The position in which the advocates of public interest and public services have found themselves is unsustainable, as individuals and companies again finance the performance of public service instead of the state," the association added.

The details of the fundraising campaign are available at https://zaobstanek.si/.

11 May 2021, 12:21 PM

STA, 11 May 2021 - Three-quarters of respondents in a survey supported by the pollster Valicon and the Covid-19 tracker community are somewhat worried about the epidemic, but almost half are still unwilling to be vaccinated. The main reason for people's reluctance to be vaccinated is fear of possible side effects.

The survey was carried out by three Slovenian researchers in collaboration with a team of Polish, Hungarian and Romanian researchers. The key findings for Slovenia were published on the Covid-19 tracker's website.

Almost 37% of respondents say they will be vaccinated against Covid-19 if the vaccine is available and recommended, while 47% say they will not, and 16% are undecided.

Out of those who do not want to be vaccinated, more than 80% says this is because they are "at least somewhat" concerned about the unknown side effects of vaccines.

Almost as many think that vaccination may cause issues that may not yet have been detected, while about two-thirds believe that vaccines can cause unforeseen problems in children.

Almost two-thirds think that vaccines bring large profits to pharmaceutical companies while having no positive effects on ordinary people, and that authorities promote vaccination for profit rather than people's health.

Just over 50% agree with the claim that there is much deception related to the vaccination programmes.

Only a quarter of the vaccinated participants agree that they feel safe after the vaccination, while a third confirmed that they feel protected. Just over a third believe that vaccines will stop serious infectious diseases.

When asked to rate their vaccine preferences, over two-thirds chose the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, two-thirds chose Moderna, followed by Sputnik with 57% and J&J with 52%, while only 31% chose AstraZeneca.

Concerns about possible side-effects is a major discouraging factor for more than 80% of respondents, while over 75% are concerned about vaccine safety. For two-thirds of respondents, the main concern is that the vaccine is new and they would like to see how vaccines work in other people first.

Just over 60% of respondents said they did not trust the government to ensure the safety and efficacy of the vaccine, while just over half believe that the vaccine will not work.

The data was collected between 16 and 23 April among 1,042 participants.

11 May 2021, 09:19 AM

STA, 10 May 2021 - Laibach have announced a new European tour called The Coming Race, which is to start at the end of October. Before that, the band is scheduled to perform at the Exit Festival in Serbia in July. Whether the festival will happen at all, given the current situation, will be known in the coming weeks.

"The organisers assure us that the festival is confirmed and advertise it as such. We will know in the next few days or weeks whether it will actually happen or whether it will be postponed again," the group said of the Exit festival in Novi Sad, which is scheduled for 8-11 July.

Laibach also announced a new European tour, The Coming Race, with the first concert planned on 29 October in Schorndorf, Germany, although they said that the real tour begins next year. The first part will be in February, the second part probably in the autumn. In the meantime, they plan to play a few more concerts and festival appearances.

The form and structure of their tour abroad are unclear, as it depends on the epidemiological situation, and the situation in the countries they plan to visit is currently similar to Slovenia. On their official website, Laibach announced concerts in Germany, Belgium, Romania, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Poland and the Czech Republic until the end of February 2022.

Related: 70 Quotes for Žižek’s 70th Birthday

"Concert programmes are diverse, because sometimes we perform at festivals and we generally present a festival programme there, while other times the organisers have expressed the wish for a programme with more emphasis on the diversity of our repertoire," the group explained.

The upcoming tour will feature some new material from the soundtrack album for the film Iron Sky: The Coming Race. In the coming months, Laibach also plan to release a new album with Mute Records, Wir sind das Volk. It is based on the texts of the distinguished German playwright and poet Heiner Müller, created as part of a project also named Wir sind das Volk at the Hebbel am Ufer theatre in Berlin.

"We might also mention that we have just released a documentary album We Forge The Future under the independent Austrian label GOD Records, featuring footage of our concert at Madrid's Reina Sofia Museum in 2017, which coincided with the exhibition Capital to Capital," the group added.

See all the dates and get tickets for Laibach shows here, while here are all our stories on the band

11 May 2021, 04:07 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

Border police get help from Estonia, Lithuania and Poland

NOVO MESTO - Police officers from Estonia, Lithuania and Poland joined their Slovenian colleagues to help patrol the border with Croatia and prevent illegal migrations. The 21 officers will be deployed for at least a month and up to six months and are soon to be joined by additional officers from several European countries. Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said the National Assembly's refusal to clear the deployment of soldiers played a major role in the decision to seek help in the EU.

Janša presenting EU presidency priorities in Athens

ATHENS, Greece - Prime Minister Janez Janša presented the priorities of the Slovenian EU presidency at the Delphi Economic Forum, highlighting resilience to health crises and cyber attacks, and the European way of life. " I think we have all learned a lot in the last few months and that a large majority of Europe agree we must build a Europe that will be resilient to new epidemics but also to other challenges that we have to be better prepared for, one of them being cyber security," he said. Janša also held talks with his Greek counterpart Kyriakos Mitsotakis and European Commission Vice President Margaritis Schinas.

FM Logar stresses importance EU's involvement in W Balkans

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Foreign Minister Anže Logar emphasised the importance of the EU's continued engagement in Western Balkans as EU foreign ministers reaffirmed the EU membership prospects of countries in the region. He expressed regret over the standstill of the enlargement process and the negotiating frameworks for North Macedonia and Albania and voiced the hope that Portugal's EU presidency will be successful in efforts to remove any reservations about that.

Logar says Slovenia well prepared for EU presidency

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar told the commercial broadcaster POP TV Sunday that Slovenia would be well prepared to preside the Council of the EU. Asked whether Slovenia being in the spotlight of EU institutions due to the "war with the media" and issues concerning the rule of law was bad for its presidency, Logar said that "this is a matter of individual perception". He described Slovenia as a reliable partner and said the government was not encroaching on media freedom.

Vaccination rollout gathers momentum

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's vaccination rollout is expected to gather momentum as jabs became available to adults under 50 years of age, while older and more vulnerable will continue to take priority. Mass vaccination for all adults comes after a nation-wide vaccination booking app was launched last week. Data from the National Institute of Public Health show nearly half a million or nearly a quarter of Slovenia's population have received one shot and roughly half of them or 12% have been fully vaccinated.

Public told AstraZeneca supplies sufficient for 2nd jab

LJUBLJANA - After the European Commission decided not to order new Covid-19 vaccines from AstraZeneca beyond June, Bojana Beović, the head of the national advisory committee on immunisation, assured those who had already received the first dose that they would also receive the second one. She said 133,000 people had received the first dose and were waiting to get another while almost half a million doses were expected in May and June. Should that fail, they would get a mRNK vaccine.

Covid-19: 7-day average drops further as hospitalisations rise

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia logged 147 coronavirus infections for Sunday as the 7-day average dropped further to 606. Six patients with Covid-19 died, fresh data from the government show. The number of patients hospitalised with Covid-19 inched back above 500 after falling just below that figure yesterday. Given more hospital discharges and a continuation of the declining trend in new infections, the country could move to the yellow tier of coronavirus restrictions in coming days.

Agreement signed to end police strike

LJUBLJANA - The Police Trade Union (PSS) and Interior Minister Aleš Hojs signed an agreement designed to end a strike that police officers started on January and suspended a month later. Under the terms of the deal, some police wages will increase, a bonus for working on the Schengen border will be reinstated, and talks on a new collective agreement for the force should start within a year. The strike will formally end once the agreement is fully implemented.

SDS and govt make gains in Delo poll

LJUBLJANA - The ruling Democratic Party (SDS) gained two percentage points in the latest Barometer poll commissioned by Delo, to poll at 17.4%, the highest since November. The voter approval rating for the government also increased slightly as the share of those who assess its work negatively dropped from 57% to 55%. The main opposition parties lost some ground, including the SocDems, who rank second at 12.2%. Almost a third of those questioned were undecided or would not vote for anyone.

EU Court candidate wants to continue successful work

LJUBLJANA - Marko Ilešič, the Slovenian judge at the Court of the EU in Luxembourg who has been nominated for another term, said he would like to continue what he deems has been successful work there. Ilešič, who has been representing Slovenia at the court since 2004, said he had decided to run again because this was an intellectual challenge for him and because he believed that he had performed the job well so far, noting that as rapporteur, he had the main say in some of the major decisions of the court, including a 2014 ruling involving Google.

EUR 189,000 raised in first week of campaign for STA

LJUBLJANA - Some EUR 189,000 has been raised a week into what is planned to be a month-long fundraising campaign to secure funding for the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), which the Association of Slovenian Journalists labelled as an exceptional start. This roughly equals the monthly compensation for the public service performed by the STA. The Za obSTAnek campaign aims to raise two million euro via small SMS donations and from potential larger donors.

Exports up 18% in March year-on-year

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia exported EUR 3.5 billion worth of goods in March, 18% more than in the same month last year, when trade slowed down due to the Covid-19 outbreak. Imports were up by 20.4% to EUR 3.4 billion, with Germany being the most important partner in both directions of trade. Trade with the EU member states accounted for 68.6% of total exports and 69.8% of total imports, the Statistics Office reported.

Industry records growth in first quarter

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian industry recorded year-on-year growth in the first quarter, with the total value of industrial production increasing by 3%, turnover by 4.1% and inventories by 0.6%. In March, the value of industrial production was 1% lower than in February, while turnover was 1.2% lower. The quarterly increase was driven by manufacturing, where output rose by 3.5%, data from the Statistics Office show.

Laibach announce new European tour

LJUBLJANA - Laibach have announced a new European tour called The Coming Race, which is to start at the end of October. Before that, the band is scheduled to perform at the Exit Festival in Serbia in July. Whether the festival will happen at all, given the current situation, will be clear in the coming weeks. Laibach also plan to release a new album with Mute Records, Wir sind das Volk. It is based on the texts of the German playwright and poet Heiner Müller.

Queue jumping trial ends with acquittal

LJUBLJANA - The Ljubljana District Court acquitted all the defendants in a case involving queue-jumping at Slovenia's largest hospital, UKC Ljubljana. The judge said that bribery must involve a business activity, which public health service is not. The chief defendant Uroš Smiljić worked at the UKC Ljubljana warehouse at the time when he was said to be accepting bribes in exchange for faster medical treatment; he was involved in neither business nor medical activity.

10 May 2021, 13:28 PM

STA, 10 May 2021 - The boss of the company operating the Postojna Cave has told the weekly Reporter he does not expect a normal flow of tourists this year due to the strict and rapidly changing restrictions in the EU member states. Speaking about "tourism cannibalism", he says Slovenia is in for a very poor season.

"Restrictions are harsh and they change on a weekly basis. This means there will largely be no normal tourist flow," said Marjan Batagelj of Postojnska Jama, the operator of one of the Slovenia's main landmarks.

In the interview with Reporter, published on Monday, Batagelj added that tourism was not bars and restaurants and their terraces, as the revenue in the sector came mostly from foreign guests.

And if there are no foreign guests in Slovenia, and if the airline industry does not get back on its feet, Slovenia is in for a very poor season. "This is not something that pleases the ear, but it is true. I will be happy if I was wrong."

Batagelj also spoke about what he labelled as "tourism soloing by countries", which implicates the beginning of "tourism cannibalism".

"Before the crisis, tourism regions were united to a certain extent at least when it came to joint promotion in remote, overseas or continental markets. Now there are no friendly tourism countries any more. Every country will bet on their domestic guests, and tourist flows will be stopped."

He noted that the situation for tourism workers had been deteriorating for one year and a half, while he is putting a lot of hope in the upcoming special emergency law for the tourism and hospitality industry.

While Batagelj commended the state aid, he was critical of tourism vouchers, as the idea would have been very good if it was intended for all stakeholders in tourism, which is "not only accommodation, overnight stay."

It is also about sights, natural and cultural heritage of Slovenia, museums, agencies, guides, transport industry, restaurant owners - everybody who serve guests, he said.

The Postojna Cave, which remains closed until the end of the epidemic is declared, last year had EUR 4 million in revenue, compared to the target of EUR 35 million. "I don't even want to mention this year's numbers, because there are no numbers."

Batagelj is worried about this year's season, as he does not think that people will start visiting the landmark now that restrictive measures are being relaxed as tourists are "shyly cautious". "This season will be worse than last year's."

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