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10 Jul 2020, 12:06 PM

STA, 10 July 2020 - Slovenia's exports decreased by 6% to EUR 13.2 billion in first five months of the year, while imports fell by 11.5% to EUR 12.5 billion, show Statistics Office data released on Friday. In May, exports were down by 19.8% year-on-year to EUR 2.38 billion and imports by 22.4% to EUR 2.21 billion for an export to import ratio of 107.8%.

Slovenia recorded an external trade surplus in all of the first five months of 2020, the surplus in all five months combined amounting to EUR 726.9 million. In this period, the export to import ratio was 105.8%.

As for May, the office noted that the year-on-year decrease was smaller than in April, when exports were down 28.8% year-on-year and imports by 41.2%.

It said the negative effect of the epidemic on external trade in goods had been reduced somewhat, while adding the significant annual decline in April was also due to exceptionally high value of imports in April last year.

In May the export to import ratio was 107.8%; a surplus of EUR 172.1 million was generated in external trade in goods. The May external trade surplus is the second highest this year and the highest of the four May surpluses recorded after 2010.

Exports to EU member states in May amounted to EUR 1.53 billion (down 29.0% year-on-year) and imports to EUR 1.51 billion (30.7% less).

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"Trade with this group of countries grew continuously from October 2016 until the second half of last year, when the effects of economic cooling began to show. The epidemic negatively affected trade with the EU already in March 2020 and even more in April and May," the Statistics Office wrote.

As for trade with countries outside the EU, Slovenia exported goods worth EUR 848 million in May (up 4.5% y/y) and imported goods worth EUR 693.9 million (up 5.0%).

"Since the end of 2018, we have been recording high growth rates of trade with this group of countries, the trend continued in May, however the growth was significantly reduced by the epidemic."

More on this data can be found here

10 Jul 2020, 11:04 AM

STA, 10 July 2020 - The Culture Ministry published on Thursday proposals for extensive changes to the media act, the act on public broadcaster RTV Slovenija (RTVS) and the act on the Slovenian Press Agency (STA). The changes, which reportedly include a EUR 13 million cut for RTVS, will be subject to public debate until 15 July.

In line with the proposal affecting RTVS, 3% of the funds it collects in a year through the compulsory licence fee, presently at EUR 12.75 per household, would go to the STA and 5% to other media or what is described as the fulfilling of public interest in the media.

It is also envisaged that the public broadcaster lose revenue from its transmitting business, which would be transferred onto a new fully state-owned company. RTVS has assessed the total cuts at EUR 13 million a year.

The lost income is meant to be compensated with laxer restrictions on advertising, while changes to the media act, "aiming to enable more competitive conditions on the market" also speak of the relaxation of certain programme responsibilities.

The media act moreover received and expanded definition of public interest to include the notion of plurality, which is further elaborated as ownership plurality, world view plurality, and "media offer" plurality that involves things like genre and geographical diversity.

The proposal additionally explicitly mentions the role of courts when it comes to provisions prohibiting the incitement of national, racial, sexual, ideological or other forms of hatred and intolerance. Also, the right to demand a correction of a report is redefined as the right to secure a correction.

The changes moreover affect Slovenian music quotas, envisaging that Slovenian music must account for at least 20% of all music aired on radio or TV during daytime hours.

Meanwhile, key novelties in the act on the STA include provisions governing the appointment of supervisors and the dismissal of the STA director.

Under the proposal, new supervisors - presently appointed by parliament - could be appointed by the government within 15 days after the implementation of the act. The reasoning provided is that the STA, although state-owned and partially state-funded, is a limited liability company and that companies act rules should apply.

"This also secures more consistent responsibility for the management and operations," the proposal says, while newly listing among the reasons for the dismissal of the director a no-confidence vote by the majority of supervisors and "the inability to lead the STA".

Moreover, the article of the STA act talking about the principles of independence and impartiality would no longer contain the part stating that the STA must not become dependent - de facto, or legally - on any ideological, political or economic grouping.

While Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti started presenting the changes to deputy groups last week, the first public reactions have highlighted the short time being provided for public debate given the extent of the changes.

The head of the junior coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), Aleksandra Pivec, said on Thursday that the party had not yet studied the proposal and that the party's leadership and MPs would discuss it next week.

The head of the opposition Left, Luka Mesec, wrote that the government was out to "replace the leadership of the STA, starve out RTV Slovenija and establish some kind of media fund that would feed TV stations like Nova24", which is associated with the senior coalition Democrats (SDS).

Mesec added the changes said a lot about the priorities of the government, which is not focusing on healthcare but on "staffing at state-owned companies, machinations at the police force and the usurpation of public media". "Thus, defending the media is crucial if we want to defend democracy in Slovenia," the Left wrote.

The Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB) responded by inviting fellow opposition parties to sign a demand for an emergency session of the parliamentary Culture Committee and the session has already been called for 15 July.

Coalition partners that have commented so far, mostly commented on Wednesday on the proposed changes to the act on RTVS. The SDS said it supported the idea to distribute part of the RTVS licence fee to other media, while the Modern Centre Party (SMC) warned the Culture Ministry that attention should be paid to securing greater independence of the public broadcaster. New Slovenia (NSi) has not commented yet.

Meanwhile, Faculty of Social Sciences professor Marko Milosavljević was critical of the public debate only being given six days, telling the paper Večer that the Culture Ministry should also be interested in having well written laws.

Milosavljević welcomed the fact that some of the solutions put forward by previous teams at the Culture Ministry had been taken into account, for instance that decision making on concentration of media ownership, aimed at prohibiting concentrations that would run contrary to public interest, is being transferred to the Competition Protection Agency.

10 Jul 2020, 10:19 AM

STA, 9 July 2020 - Krka Group sales revenue grew by 6% year on year to EUR 803.8 million in the first half of the year, according to preliminary estimates. Net profit of the pharmaceutical group grew by 15% to EUR 160.3 million, Krka said on Thursday.

Sales of products and services were the highest in east Europe, standing at EUR 271.7 million, up 8% from the first six months in 2019.

Russia, which is Krka's largest individual market, added EUR 180.2 million to the total sales, which is also 8% more than a year ago.

Most other markets in east Europe and central Asia also recorded growth.

In Central Europe, where the group generates 22.8% of sales, sales were up by 8% to EUR 182.7 million. Western Europe follows with EUR 181.6 million, up 7% from the same period last year.

In SE Europe, where 12.9% of total sales are generated, it topped EUR 103.5 million.

Meanwhile, a 15% drop was recorded on the Slovenian market, where sales reached EUR 38.3 million.

The group attributes the drop to a 46% drop in the sales of health and tourism services because of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Slovenian market accounts for 4.8% of total sales.

Krka sold EUR 24 million worth of products overseas, which is 2% less than in the same period last year.

In the January-June period, Krka sold EUR 753.2 million worth of products, of which EUR 691.7 million came from prescription drugs and EUR 61.5 million from over-the-counter drugs. The sale of the former increased by 8% and of the later decreased by 2%.

Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) reached EUR 216.7 million, a 40% year-on-year increase, while earnings before income tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were up by 30% to EUR 273 million.

Krka registered four new products in the first six months of the year, three prescription drugs and one over-the-counter drug.

The group, which employed 11,658 people at the end of June or 12,751 if agency workers are included, estimates investments in the first six months at EUR 30 million.

The preliminary data was presented by CEO Jože Colarič at today's annual shareholders meeting. Krka also said in a press release published on the web site of the Ljubljana Stock Exchange that this year sales were expected to reach EUR 1.52 billion, while net profit should top EUR 210 million.

The group plans to allocate EUR 134 million for investment, and spend 10% of sales revenue for R&D.

Krka also announced a dividend of EUR 4.25 gross per share this year, EUR 1.05 more than in 2019.

10 Jul 2020, 04:25 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 sees lowest coronavirus daily count this month

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded 13 new coronavirus cases yesterday from 1,271 tests performed, the lowest daily tally since 30 June, follows from data released by the government. However, the number of hospitalised Covid-19 patients has risen by one to 15 even though one patient was discharged yesterday. There are currently 230 confirmed active cases in the country. Health Minister Tomaž Gantar told TV Slovenija last night the epidemic was expected to peak by the end of the month after which the curve should turn downwards.

MPs pass new coronacrisis package, envisage contact tracing app

LJUBLJANA - Parliament passed a legislative package meant to prepare Slovenia for the second wave of the coronavirus epidemic, including with a legal basis for a contact tracing app. The app, which the government wants to make compulsory for Sars-CoV-2-positive and quarantined persons, took flack from the left-leaning opposition, part of which spoke of a too grave interference in human rights and of a constitutional challenge, but the bill was passed in a 50:23 vote. The bill brings several other measures, notably an extension of the furlough scheme by a month.

PM keen for EU recovery plan not to depart much from Commission proposal

BRUSSELS, Belgium - PM Janez Janša summed up Slovenia's goals in the negotiations on the EU's 2021-27 budget and recovery plan in Brussels by saying the final agreement should be as close as possible to the European Commission's proposal and that it should be clinched as soon as possible. Janša met President of the European Council Charles Michel and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as well as Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. He told Stoltenberg that Slovenia planned to invest EUR 780 million in equipment and in better working conditions for Slovenian soldiers in 2021-2026. Stoltenberg said he was counting on Slovenia to continue to strengthen defence spending. Janša and von der Leyen said they discussed European issues.

FM deems first mission to Brussels successful

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Foreign Minister Anže Logar labelled his first trip to Brussels since assuming office in mid-March as successful. Logar said he anticipated close cooperation with all the top EU officials he met during the visit, which focussed on discussing Slovenia's approaching EU Council presidency. The talks mostly revolved around the country's preparations for the presidency in the second half of 2021. The foreign minister met the EU's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhely, European Crisis Commissioner Janez Lenarčič, Budget Commissioner Johannes Hahn, Miroslav Lajčak, the EU's special representative for the Belgrade-Prishtina dialogue, and Manfred Weber, the leader of the European People's Party (EPP) in EU parliament.

PM Janša to meet Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenković

LJUBLJANA - A meeting between Prime Minister Janez Janša and his Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenković is scheduled in Slovenia's Otočec this Friday. The news was announced by the spokesperson of the Croatian government and later confirmed by Janša's office. Bilateral relations and a joint fight against Sars-CoV-2 were among the topics on the agenda. This will be the first meeting of the two prime ministers in person after they talked several times on the phone amid the Covid-19 pandemic. Last Saturday Slovenia removed Croatia from the green list of epidemiology safe countries from which entrance into Slovenia is possible without restrictions.

Police say illegal migration into Slovenia on the rise again

LJUBLJANA - After restrictions imposed to contain the Covid-19 pandemic suppressed illegal migration into Slovenia, a renewed rise in the numbers trying to cross the border illegally is now being recorded. Police handled 4,993 instances of illegal border crossing between 1 January and 30 June, a decrease of 12.4% compared to the same period last year, but according to Interior Ministry State secretary Franc Kangler the six-month statistics in fact reflected the situation in three months only, as there was little illegal migration when the border was closed.

Logar to study proposal for withdrawal from global migration compact

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar announced the Foreign Ministry would examine a proposal from the parliamentary Home Affairs Committee for Slovenia to withdraw from the global compact for migration, just like it examines all committee proposals it receives. Committee chair Branko Grims (SDS) argued at Wednesday's session the agreement was but a dead letter and that by withdrawing from it, Slovenia would give a clear signal to illegal migrants that it did not want to be a destination country. While the motion was passed in a 8:0 vote, committee members from the opposition LMŠ and SD said they abstained, finding the motion unworthy of a vote, while coalition SMC hailed the compact as a political act that promotes, at the highest level, the respect for human rights.

Pivec enjoys support of DeSUS leadership

LJUBLJANA - The leadership of the junior coalition Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) expressed support to Aleksandra Pivec to carry on as party leader after she was publicly criticised by a regional faction of the party earlier this week. Pivec said it was ideological topics that are an issue for some party members. "I've never said there are no second thoughts among the membership about joining the coalition," she said, noting similar reservations had surfed whenever DeSUS had joined a right-leaning government. The party is now in for a lot of work to implement its commitments from the coalition agreement, foremost a long-term care bill as well as the establishment of a demographic fund and a government office for demographic affairs plus raising pensions, Pivec added.

Krka Group sales up 6% in H1, profit up 15% to EUR 160.3m, AGM decides on high dividend

NOVO MESTO - Krka Group sales revenue grew by 6% year on year to EUR 803.8 million in the first half of the year, according to estimates. Net profit of the pharmaceutical group grew by 15% to EUR 160.3 million. The preliminary data was presented at the annual shareholders meeting, where it was decided that shareholders will get a dividend of EUR 4.25 gross per share this year, which is EUR 1.05 more than in 2019. Economist Matej Lahovnik, the chief adviser to the government on the anti-coronavirus stimulus legislation, became one of the four supervisors.

Vizjak says hydro power, nuclear plants crucial for Slovenia's future

BRDO PRI KRANJU - Environment Minister Andrej Vizjak said at the Green Energy Summit in Brdo pri Kranju that he could not imagine Slovenia's energy future without the planned hydropower plants and the second reactor at the Krško Nuclear Power Plant. The minister announced a long-term strategy for decarbonisation that will address some major energy issues would be sent into public debate in the coming months.

State loan guarantee scheme to be fully operational in autumn

LJUBLJANA - SID Bank, the state-run export and development bank, will provide for efficient implementation of the government loan guarantee scheme to allow commercial banks to provide much needed liquidity to businesses. It expects the scheme to be up and running efficiently in the autumn.

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

09 Jul 2020, 15:02 PM

In an online event called Europe Uncensored: European Leaders on the Future of Europe, organised by the Foundation for a Civic Hungary, Slovenian PM Janez Janša joined with Hungarian PM Viktor Orban and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić in addressing what they believe are Europe's greatest challenges of the day.  

In short, according to Janša and Orban these seem to be mainly the “progressive liberal leftists”, as Orban has called the ideological problem one needs to fight on the inside, or “Cultural Marxism” as Janša has called the same thing, while on the outside the EU is facing immigration and other external threats. Vučić joined in by calling for the mutual respect of differences among the European countries and offered the Serbian army to join the prospective European armed forces.

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Aleksandar Vučić during his speech
 
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Main frame: François-Xavier Bellamy
 

The event’s moderator, the French philosopher, MEP and Deputy Mayor of Versailles. François-Xavier Bellamy, opened with a conceptual progression from the End of History towards the Clash of Civilizations, before the “special club of freedom fighters”, as Orban referred to the group, followed with a speech by Vučić, then Janša and finally Orban, the organiser of the event.

Orban however did not really organise the event himself, as he corrected his fellow participants after they thanked him for his efforts, and explained that the event was organised by the Foundation for a Civic Hungary , and he only contributed the names of the speakers he considered worth listening to.

The online meeting was also advertised on the official government website of the Republic of Slovenia, where the Slovenian translation of Janez Janša's speech with a commentary was also subsequently published. The speech of the Slovenian PM should therefore be understood as the official position of the Slovenian government.

Janša: Golden Age of Dreams of a Whole and Free Europe

Janša began with a statement of Brexit being a “strategic catastrophe” that threw Europe out of its balance of power. The future of Europe therefore, according to him, depends on the solution to the question of the balance of power.

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He then described what he calls “the golden era”, the enlargement period when everybody was optimistically speaking of Europe being whole and free, the era of “leaving the old world behind during the democratic changes”.

Then, however, the reality struck and among the “challenges” we are facing today Janša lists problems with the adoption of the EU constitution, the financial crisis, 2015 migrant crisis and the latest Covid19 epidemic. These issues pointed to some “unfinished projects” within the EU and the inability of various institutions to tackle them.

Mishandling of the migration crisis in 2015 contributed a certain percentage of votes in support of Brexit, concludes Janša, offering a possible cause for the “strategic catastrophe” he opened his speech with.

Janša : Institutional Changes Should Not be Europe’s Greatest Priority

Institutions, international in this case, also failed us in the current pandemic. For example, continued the Slovenian Prime Minister in his speech, global institutions such as the WHO, which have been created to prevent such things, were caught completely unprepared and for several weeks the European Union looked as if “in the Middle Ages”, with fences, walls and curfews, confiscations of medical equipment, without any real cooperation in place. The crisis is not over yet and the only way to avoid another lockdown is to focus on measures that work. We can only maintain our relatively normal lives by an introduction of app to monitor the spread of the virus, one app for the whole continent first, then perhaps one for the entire world if there is still no vaccine available.

This is no time on having big dreams about European institutions, Janša claimed, as this would create new instabilities. We need to stabilize the EU, we need realistic pragmatic steps forward.

Janša then proceeded with a proposal that gave Vučić’ membership in the “freedom fighters’ club” some substance. The Schengen border should extend to match the borders of the  EU and the EU should expand and incorporate the Balkan countries who would like to join it. “This is the strategic answer made by Brexit and the fulfilment of the promise to make Europe whole and free.”

Janša: The Main Threat to Europe is “Cultural Marxism”

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Main Frame: Janez Janša
 

Following his dismissal of the institutional changes being the main field in which we could tackle the problems of today, Janša then moved to the core point of his speech.

“Ideologically, the main threat to Europe is Cultural Marxism. I have been following what has been going on and I can clearly see the same formula, which was written in Communist Manifesto, written 200 and some years ago. To create a new world you need to dismantle family, private property, private schools, religion. And this is going on now. And it is obvious, there is massive offensive going on through mass media, universities, cultural industry, multinational institutions, some political parties. Everyone who stands against it is called a fascist, populist and heavily attacked from all sides. And we need a more united front against this, because this is the key issue, this is a battle for our way of life, this is the battle for Western civilization and in this battle much more is at stake than institutions only or EU only.”

According to Janša, the main problem within this “battle for Western civilization” is the demographic issue, as “if there are no Europeans, if there is no population which is sharing our values then everything is lost”.

With regard to immigration policy, Janša stated that he is against the migration policy as a “final solution” to the demographic problems of Europe. Immigration can only be treated as a demographic complement, since “cultural, economic and security considerations of migration need to be taken into account” or else the consequences can cause problems for all the partners inside of the European Union.

Janša: European Values are values of the European Christian Democrats

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Janez Janša during his speech
 

If some ideas can be too old, others are never old enough in Janša’s search for an appropriate origin. Borrowing the term from the 18th century, when the world was ruled exclusively by men, and inserting it into the 20th century Europe, Janša stated that “the founding fathers, which were all Christian democrats” created the European Union in order to prevent the sad history from repeating itself. The European Union was created as a union of values, he said, and continues that it was the success of the early years of the European project which provided the “free world” with the power needed to dismantle the Iron Curtain and Berlin Wall, thereby allowing for the unification of Europe.

This process has not yet been completed, warns Janša, and finds the answer to European problems in returning to the original European values, and then to “fight for our people, for our nations, for our freedom for our way of life and for our future” which is a “noble challenge” of today’s “European central right, the Christian Democrats”.

Although all three speakers emphasized the importance of respect for political and ideological differences, little space for understanding respect as a two directional position was left after Orban’s speech in which he praised Janša as “the bravest anti-Communist in Europe”.

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Viktor Orban during his speech
 

Orban’s main concern was in Europe’s “retreat”, a statement he supported with data showing a decline in Europe’s global relative economic output, population and military spending. Furthermore, Orban repeated the “balance of power” issue, which has been dramatically changed by Brexit with Germany sitting on the European throne again after it was “bombed into the Middle ages 75 years ago.” And thirdly, European politicians have a tendency to tell others in the world how to run their countries while they cannot even solve their own problems at home.

As for the solutions at hand, Orban cited two contesting socio-political models, “conceptions of Europe” which are the “progressive liberal leftist” in which “they promote multiculturalism, they are pushing over pro-migration policy, they follow an anti-family policy, they want to get rid of the concept of nation and nation state and they consider irrelevant the Christian social teaching”. The other conception of Europe is the opposite image of the first and is, albeit not without traitors, according to Orban, the ideological foundation of the European People’s Party (EPP). That is “a concept of the future of Europe, which is based on Christian culture that we have inherited, which cherishes the Christian social teaching, deeply anti-communist, pro-family, and it treats national identity as a value, which needs to be preserved.”

So with these two contesting “conceptualisations” within Europe, what can we do, asked Orban, having such differences, how can we stay together?

In an answer to this question, Orban then made a great leap forward and suddenly ascribed the previously discussed internal ideological division to an external attack on sovereign states: “the West should not impose its views on the Eastern countries. We need to learn to tolerate our differences again. We the Central Europeans should not go and tell the Westerners how they should go and run their countries. So if we are ready to accept that kind of differences even in terms of the vision of the future we can manage to live together and keep together the Union as a whole.”

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Main frame: Viktor Orban
 

In case someone is still missing the function of the reiterated issue of the change in balance of power within the EU, Orban concluded his speech emphasizing the importance of the European grand strategy over the minor matter of human rights. To the problem of who then is to be the one to design the European grand strategy? “On the birthday of the EPP i wish it was the EPP to be the one.”

The full event is available here.

09 Jul 2020, 12:38 PM

STA, 8 July 2020 - Parliament did not receive a formal notification of Interior Minister Aleš Hojs's 30 July resignation by the Tuesday midnight deadline. This raises the question of whether PM Janez Janša did not accept it and whether Hojs is staying on. The Prime Minister has seven days to inform the speaker about a minister's resignation.

Parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič confirmed for the STA on Wednesday that the National Assembly had not received the formal written notification.

The notification is a basis on which MPs get acquainted with the resignation, thus making it effective.

The Prime Minister's office has not yet provided an explanation, while Hojs said when asked whether he was staying on, that this was in the Prime Minister's hands.

He told the press as he arrived for a government session this morning that he and Janša had not discussed whether he would perhaps like to stay on.

Hojs thus does not know whether Janša has accepted his resignation, but said that when he had tended the resignation, he had understood Janša accepted it.

Hojs understands he is apparently still minister if the Prime Minister has not sent the resignation to Parliament.

The minister stepped down on 30 June when the police carried out several house searches, including at the home of Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, as part of a probe into alleged wrongdoing in the procurement of personal protection equipment during the epidemic.

Hojs, who told the press then that "the Prime Minster has accepted my irrevocable resignation", had assessed the probe was politically motivated and "assumed political responsibility" for it by irrevocably resigning together with the police commissioner.

Had the resignation notification arrived in parliament by the deadline, the National Assembly would have put it on the agenda of the plenary which starts tomorrow.

It now also remains to be seen what happens with a dismissal motion four left-leaning opposition parties filed against Hojs after the Interior Ministry lifted a ban on a concert by controversial Croatian singer Marko Perković Thompson.

Hojs sent his reply to the interpellation motion to parliament on 24 June. If the National Assembly does not get the notification of his resignation, the motion could be put on the parliament's September plenary.

The four opposition parties are critical of the Hojs development, with the largest one, the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) saying the minister and the government were making fun not only of the opposition, but also of citizens and all institutes Slovenia has.

The parties will insist on the dismissal motion. "I believe we'll successfully defend the dismissal motion in September if Hojs does not step down," said Matjaž Han, Social Democrat (SD) deputy group head.

Just like the LMŠ, the SD believes Janša's not sending the resignation notification to parliament is a smokescreen diverting the people's attention from more important issues, such as the fourth stimulus package, which that be debated in parliament tomorrow.

In "a normal government" sending a resignation notification to parliament should be business as usual, said Jernej Pavlič of the Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB).

Similarly, the Left believes this shows the government and the prime minister are incompetent, being unable to send a piece of paper to parliament in seven days.

Deputy group head Matej T. Vatovec said missing the deadline while Hojs publicly resigned was "problematic, encroached on democratic standards, creating confusion between the government and parliament".

09 Jul 2020, 10:55 AM

STA, 9 July 2020 - After restrictions imposed to contain the Covid-19 pandemic suppressed illegal migration into Slovenia, police have recorded a renewed steep rise in the numbers trying to cross the border illegally.

Police handled 4,993 instances of illegal border crossing between 1 January and 30 June, a decrease of 12.4% compared to the same period last year, but a renewed upward trend was detected recently.

However, presenting more detailed data at Wednesday's session of the parliamentary Home Affairs Committee, Interior Ministry State secretary Franc Kangler said the six-month statistics in fact reflected the situation in three months only, as there was little illegal migration when the border was closed.

Deputy Police Commissioner Tomaž Pečjak said that by Wednesday morning 5,514 attempted to enter the country illegally, up from 5,300 only two days earlier.

This means that more than one percentage point of the "deficit" compared with the same period last year has been offset in a matter of two days, said Pečjak.

The police recorded 1,755 instances of illegal crossing in June, which compares to 1,200 in the same peak month last year, with Pečjak commenting that if the trend continued the 2,000 mark will be crossed in July.

Committee chair Branko Grims (SDS) voiced concern about the "drastic" increase in illegal migrants, projecting that if the trend continued the total for the year would hit or even surpass 20,000.

Given the increase, there is a shortage of 700 police officers, Kangler said, urging the committee to call on the government to retable the proposal to invoke a special article of the defence act that would give soldiers police powers to secure the border.

The committee responded to his appeal by backing the corresponding resolution despite criticism from the opposition.

Grims said that the committee also backed by eight votes in favour and none against the proposal to recommend to the government to withdraw from the global compact for migration.

Arguing that the agreement was but a dead letter, Grims said that by withdrawing from it Slovenia would give a clear signal to illegal migrants that it did not want to be a destination country.

The police report shows that there has been a substantial increase in the number of Moroccans in January-June, with 1,281 attempting to enter the country illegally in the first half of the year.

Along with the citizens of Pakistan (1,264) and Afghanistan (719), Moroccans are involved in more than three out of four instances of illegal crossing, a police report shows.

The number of those expressing the intention to seek asylum decreased by almost 20% year-on-year to 1,766 as of the end of June, which the police said was because of a decline in the number of Algerians, who found an alternative route into Europe.

The most of those who expressed their intention to ask for international protection were Moroccan nationals (761), followed by Afghans (250) and Algerians (226).

Since Morocco would not repatriate its citizens, police have had difficulty returning those whose asylum applications have been rejected.

Another issue pointed out in the report is secondary migration when applicants leave the country during or after the asylum procedure and file a new request in another country if they are apprehended there.

The main point of entry for illegal migrants on the internal border remains Italy.

The number of foreigners found to have entered Slovenia without proper documents or permits across the internal border declined by 22% year-on-year in the first six months, which is attributed to the restrictions related to the pandemic.

Western Balkan countries in particular imposed restrictions on movements and even shut migrant centres, however, estimates are that between 10,000 and 15,000 migrants are stranded in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

09 Jul 2020, 04:30 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:

Govt limits gatherings to 10 people, as 24 more infections confirmed

LJUBLJANA - The government lowered the number of persons allowed in public gatherings from 50 to 10. Official events of up to 50 people will be allowed if the organiser keeps a record of all the participants. The decision came as Slovenia recorded 24 new infections with the SARS-CoV-2 virus after 1,607 people were tested on Tuesday. The outcome is in line with the slightly raised but still fluctuating curve seen in the past week. The number of active cases rose to 223, out of 1,763 positive cases so far. A total of 14 Covid-19 patients were in hospital on Tuesday.

Janša calls for single European coronavirus tracing app

BRUSSELS, Belgium - PM Janez Janša called for a uniform and not entirely voluntary coronavirus tracing app for the whole of Europe, saying this was the only option that would allow tourism to continue and prevent public life from coming to a halt again. Janša made the call in a video debate on the challenges of the EU organised by the Foundation for a Civic Hungary and also featuring Hungarian PM Viktor Orban and Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić. Janša also spoke of "cultural Marxism" as the biggest ideological threat to the EU.

Pahor, Van der Bellen to mark 100 years of Carinthian plebiscite together

VIENNA, Austria - Slovenian and Austrian presidents, Borut Pahor and Alexander Van der Bellen, agreed to mark the centenary of the Carinthian plebiscite, which determined the border between Austria and the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes, together. The programme of the 10 October event has largely been agreed, Pahor said, arguing this would be an opportunity to reflect on the past and think about the future. Pahor and Van der Bellen met on Tuesday evening ahead of the seventh trilateral meeting of the presidents of three neighbouring countries - Slovenia, Austria and Croatia. Today the presidents, including Croatia's Zoran Milanović, discussed measures to mitigate the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, and to fight climate change.

PM Janša fails to notify parliament of Interior Minister Hojs' "irrevocable resignation"

LJUBLJANA - Parliament did not receive a PM Janez Janša's formal notification of Interior Minister Aleš Hojs's 30 July "irrevocable resignation that was accepted by the PM" by the Tuesday midnight deadline. This raises the question of whether Janša did not accept it and whether Hojs is staying on. The PM's office has not yet provided an explanation, while Hojs said when asked whether he was staying on, that this was in Janša's hands. The minister stepped down when the police carried out several house searches, including at the home of Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, as part of a probe into alleged wrongdoing in the procurement of PPE during the epidemic.

Ex-PM warms up to the idea of alternative interim cabinet

LJUBLJANA - Marjan Šarec, the former prime minister and leader of the largest opposition party, appears to have had a change of heart about the idea of attempting to form an alternative government. However, he believes the new PM should not come from a political party. Šarec initially rejected the idea, championed by Alenka Bratušek, another former prime minister, to call a "constructive vote of no confidence" in incumbent PM Janez Janša by putting forward a new PM candidate, as flawed. Bratušek's SAB party and the SocDems welcomed Šarec's change of mind. The Left insists on a snap election.

Report: Ministry working on media reform not just changes to RTVS act

LJUBLJANA - The Culture Ministry is not preparing only changes to the RTV Slovenija act but a media reform that would affect the acts on the media, the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) and audiovisual media services, the newspaper Delo reported. The changes to the act on the STA would change the appointment procedure for supervisors and for dismissing the STA director, putting the government in charge instead of parliament. The changes to the media act would extend the status of special importance also to other printed and on-line media, so they too would be financed from a part of the RTV Slovenija licence fee. Meanwhile, the opposition Left tabled amendments to the STA act to assign the wire service the duty to inform the international public in English about volunteer activities and NGOs.

30 years on, reconciliation still far away

LJUBLJANA - Divisions remain rife among Slovenians 30 years, to the day since a commemoration was held in the Kočevski Rog woods in a bid to heal the wounds the nation suffered as a result of post-WWII summary killings by Partisans. The event is believed to have made the nation more united when it was seeking independence, while many are convinced that it is even more divided now. More than 30,000 people attended the 8 July 1990 commemoration, which was led by then Ljubljana Archbishop Alojzij Šuštar and addressed by then President Milan Kučan.

C-bank expects labour market deterioration, especially once support is removed

LJUBLJANA - Banka Slovenije pointed out that the coronacrisis stimulus measures are having a marked effect on the labour market and that employment and wage statistics could deteriorate significantly once they are lifted. The central bank added that a deterioration on the labour market was also heralded by surveys conducted among companies. Banka Slovenije's latest quarterly report moreover says Slovenia suffered a strong decline in GDP in April, the prospects for the second half of the year are, however, more favourable. The financial situation of businesses meanwhile remains stable, while the state's fiscal situation has deteriorated. Revenue in the first five months decreased year-on-year by EUR 720 million or 9.2%, while expenditure was up by EUR 874 million or 11.4%.

Ljubljana airport operator's boss Skobir makes another call for state aid

BRNIK - Passenger numbers at Ljubljana airport have been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic even if many routes have already been relaunched. This is why Fraport Slovenija director Zmago Skobir believes the government should help airlines with state aid to preserve routes and aviation as a whole, which he sees as extremely important for Slovenia. "The situation now is no better than we anticipated back in April," Skobir said in an interview with the STA. The airport thus expects to realise only 30% of the planned passenger transport for 2020, or half a million passengers, but only if the relaunched routes are kept.

Lonstroff announces production expansion

LOGATEC - Lonstroff, a Swiss maker of elastomers, announced that its facility in Logatec south of Ljubljana, which was launched in January, would be an excellent starting point for expanding production across Europe. The company plans to boost workforce and increase production capacities in Slovenia. The 15,000-square metre facility is turning into Sumitomo's largest plant for medicinal products, said Naofumi Harada, director at the Lonstroff owner, the Japanese multinational Sumitomo Rubber Industries. Some six million products are expected to be produced there per year.

Hisense Gorenje setting up global R&D centre in Velenje

VELENJE - Home appliances maker Hisense Gorenje announced it would set up a global R&D centre for cooking appliances and dishwashers for the entire Hisense group in Velenje. "This means the in-house development team will be in charge of the entire development of the technology and appliances," the company said. This is an important step as until last year, Hisense Gorenje had only been developing products for factories in Europe. Hisense Europe employs some 360 experts in R&D, 290 of whom in Slovenia.

Slovenia preserves 12th ranking in Agenda 2030 implementation

LJUBLJANA - A report on progress towards the goals of UN's Agenda 2030 for sustainable development keeps Slovenia ranked in 12th place, while also ranking the country seventh when it comes to the management of the Covid-19 pandemic. Among the 17 goals, Slovenia is marked best when it comes to the first goal, the eradication of extreme forms of poverty, and goal 16, the guaranteeing of peace, justice, and strong institutions. The biggest outstanding challenges for Slovenia concern measures targeting the eradication of poverty, securing sustainable ways of production and consumption, as well as measure against climate change and the preservation of the sea and its resources.

Embassy puts on display Germany's EU presidency priorities

LJUBLJANA - The German Embassy in Ljubljana inaugurated a photo exhibition featuring some of Germany's main political goals as the EU presiding country in a bid to draw the attention to the presidency's priorities beyond the coronavirus crisis. Large boards featuring urban environments, infrastructure, memorials, the countryside and people were put on the fence around the embassy in the city centre where Prešeren Road and Šubič Street meet. The exhibition runs until the end of the year.

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

08 Jul 2020, 16:02 PM

Updated at 17:25, 8 July

RTV Slovenia reports that the government is now limiting most gatherings to no more than 50 people, and that all meeings and parties for between 10 and 50 people will only be allowed in the organiser has everyone’s details - names, addresses and phone numbers - and keeps them for at least a month. The restriction will apply to private events, including weddings.

Changes to the ban on gatherings do not apply however to the number of people in restaurants and pubs or on buses. Church masses are allowed.

Sports and cultural events with up to 500 people are still possible if there is a police presence and the seating order is known.

Meanwhile, STA reports that the government has amended the border regime in force for passengers arriving in Slovenia from Covid-19 red-coded countries. As a result, only the Obrežje border crossing with Croatia is open around the clock for arrivals who are required to quarantine since last midnight.

Under amendments to its decree adopted by the government late last night, quarantine orders will be handed daily only between 6am and 10pm at the Gruškovje, Obrežje, Metlika and Jelšane crossings on the border with Croatia, Pince on the border with Hungary and Ljubljana airport.

Meanwhile, quarantine orders for arrivals who come from the Covid-19 high-risk countries coded red will continue to be handed around the clock at the Obrežje crossing.

At checkpoints on the border with Austria and Italy and at airports in Maribor and Portorož police will collect data on passengers, referring them to the Health Ministry, which will hand quarantine orders at the address of residence or where the person will be quarantined in Slovenia.

Quarantine orders are being handed at the border since Saturday. More than 1,000 such orders were issued at the weekend at the six designated border crossings.

Under the new system, health inspectors will be able to perform up to 500 inspections of adherence to quarantine rules a day.

The Health Inspectorate will also step up oversight of how eating and drinking establishments abide by the rules and measures aimed at containing the spread of the virus, including whether the distance between the tables is sufficient and whether antiseptics are available.

The Deputy Director General of the Police Tomaž Pečjak is quoted by RT Slovenia as stressing that it's very important for everyone entering Slovenia from Croatia to have evidence that they had not been travelling elsewhere. For Slovenians this would be a hotel receipt or proof of owning a property in Croatia. For Croatians the evidence is less clear, but Pečjak  said that the Slovenian Police may contact their neighbours to find out if the travellers had recently been outside Croatia. All such evidence will be accepted at the discretion of the police officer, with Pečjak adding: "If they suspect that this person is not coming from only Croatia or any other EU country on the yellow list, they can issue a quarantine decision."

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He went on to say that a bill for coffee or lunch would not be sufficient for Slovenians, "as this only proves that this person was in Croatia", but not prove that they had not been in another country. The evidence “must be personalized and must prove that this person was present in the Republic of Croatia at all times and did not go to any of the areas on the red list.”

RTV Slovenia also reports that Austria is tightening controls on it's Slovenian and Hungarian borders. Crossings will still be allowed, but there will be more inspections.

This is a developing story, and there will probably be updates later today, so please check the main page, if needed,

08 Jul 2020, 12:12 PM

STA, 8 July 2020 - Banka Slovenije has pointed out that the government's corona-crisis stimulus measures are having a marked effect on the labour market and that employment and wage statistics could deteriorate significantly once they are lifted. The central bank added that a deterioration on the labour market was also heralded by surveys conducted among companies.

Banka Slovenije's latest quarterly report, released on Wednesday, also says Slovenia suffered a strong decline in GDP in April, the prospects for the second half of the year are, however, more favourable.

The central bank pointed to a survey by the Statistics Office, which suggests demand will increase substantially in the third quarter, while it simultaneously projected a deterioration of the labour market situation in the second half of the year.

The financial situation of businesses meanwhile remains stable, which Banka Slovenia attributes to ample liquidity reserves, favourable bank financing, labour costs subsidies, the possibility of deferred tax payments, as well as the government's loan guarantees scheme.

On the other hand, the state's fiscal situation has deteriorated significantly. Revenue in the first five months decreased year-on-year by EUR 720 million or 9.2%, while expenditure was up by EUR 874 million or 11.4%.

The state deficit could reach around 8% of GDP this year, whereas public debt could rise to 2015 levels, when it stood at a record 82% of GDP.

08 Jul 2020, 11:20 AM

STA, 8 July 2020 - The Culture Ministry is not preparing only changes to the RTV Slovenija act but a media reform that would bring changes to the media act, the act on the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) and the act on audio-visual media services, the newspaper Delo reported on Wednesday.

The changes to the act on the STA would change the appointment procedure for supervisors and for dismissing the STA director. Under the proposal - the new supervisors would be appointed by the government within 15 days since the implementation of the act - the rules of the companies act would apply for appointments and dismissals at the STA.

The Culture Ministry thus proposes that the government and no longer the National Assembly appoint four supervisors, while one would be elected by the workers.

The STA director could be dismissed before the end of the term if a majority of the supervisory board decided so.

The changes to the media act would extend the status of special importance also to printed and on-line media which serve the public interest, so they too would be financed from a part of the RTV Slovenija licence fee.

Distributing a part of the licence fee to some other media is envisaged by the changes to the RTVS act. According to media reports, the draft changes envisage allocating 3% of the money to finance the STA and 5% to "implement public interest". RTV Slovenija would also have free access to STA contents.

But the public broadcaster would lose its transmitting business, which would be transferred onto a new fully state-owned company. The ministry would on the other hand mitigate advertising restrictions for RTV Slovenija.

A fund would be set up to finance Slovenian TV production. Led by the Culture Ministry, it would be financed by operators. Eligible to its funds would be TV broadcasters that have the status of a non-profit media outlet of special importance and reach at least 0.3% of viewers per month on average or are available for free via DVB-T (Digital Video Broadcasting - Terrestrial).

Culture Minister Vasko Simoniti started presenting the planned changes to coalition partners last week, but no public presentation was held yet as the ministry says changes to the draft proposal are still possible.

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