News

26 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:

Russian Chapel ceremony calls for solidarity among nations

KRANJSKA GORA - The traditional Russian Chapel commemoration below the Vršič Pass saw the keynote speaker, National Council president Alojz Kovšca, call for solidarity among nations. He said that a new opportunity was arising for nations to get connected in the efforts to preserve peace and coexistence. President Borut Pahor said the friendship and cooperation between Slovenia and Russia remained solid and sincere and that Slovenia would always strive for good relations with Russia. Unlike the previous years, the ceremony did not feature high-profile representatives from Russia due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Russian Orthodox Church was represented by Tikhon Zaytsev, the Major Archbishop of the Diocese of Berlin and Germany.

14 new coronavirus infections confirmed on Friday, one person dies

LJUBLJANA - A total of 918 tests for the novel coronavirus were performed in Slovenia on Friday, with 14 persons testing positive. One person did of Covid-19 yesterday, bringing the total death toll up to 116, the government data show. There were a total of 19 persons hospitalised for Covid-19 in Slovenia, four of them requiring intensive care. Four persons were meanwhile discharged from hospital. A total of 125,672 tests have been conducted in Slovenia so far, resulting in 2,066 confirmed cases in total.

Ambassador says Slovenia's interest should be to be good with Russia

MARIBOR - Russian Ambassador to Slovenia Timur Eyvazov has discussed the Slovenian-Russian relations in an interview for Večer. Asked about the reproaches during the term of the previous government about Slovenian foreign policy being pro-Russian oriented, he said he would not agree with such assessments. "Slovenia is a member of the EU and NATO and, as far as I know, implements its commitments as part of these organisations one hundred percent," Eyvazov said. He is convinced that Slovenia and Russia could boost bilateral trade, which could, in his opinion, go up to two billion euros or more.

Palfinger's revenue up 11% in 2019, but profit down noticeably

MARIBOR - The Maribor-based hydraulic loading systems producer Palfinger, a part of the namesake Austrian multinational, last year generated EUR 121 million in sales revenue or 11% more than in 2019. Nevertheless, the company's net profit was down by EUR 1 million to EUR 3.6 million. In the annual report, director Michael Steiner says that the sales had been boosted on the account on the higher production of agricultural and forestry cranes, serial cranes and lift platforms. The increase in output raised the turnover by EUR 12.5 million, but the costs of production and material were up by EUR 13 million.

Kickstarter officially coming to Slovenia in September

LJUBLJANA - Kickstarter will be officially launched in Slovenia in September, as so far users which wanted to present themselves on the US-based global crowdfunding platform had to do it through a company registered abroad. Until the end of last year, 219 Slovenian projects were presented on Kickstarter and EUR 6.8 million collected. The main obstacle for the entry of Kickstarter was the Stripe payment system, which has been available in Slovenia since last September. The most successful Slovenian campaign on the platform so far is the electric bicycle Flykly, which collected around US$700,000.

Intersex mostly seen as medical condition by doctors, says ombudsman

LJUBLJANA - The equal opportunities ombudsman has determined that the majority of health institutions in Slovenia deem intersex a medical condition that needs to be treated. The ombudsman has called on the institutions to postpone non-essential sex assignment surgeries until the intersex person is old enough to give their informed consent. Since intersex people differ from the medical and social norms regarding the typical male or female body, they are at risk of various violations of their rights, said the ombudsman.

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

25 Jul 2020, 17:44 PM

STA, 25 July 2020 - Russian Ambassador to Slovenia Timur Eyvazov has discussed the Slovenian-Russian relations in an interview for Večer. Asked about the reproaches during the term of the previous government about Slovenian foreign policy being pro-Russian oriented, he said he would not agree with such assessments.

"Slovenia is a member of the EU and NATO and, as far as I know, implements its commitments as part of these organisations one hundred percent," Eyvazov said in the interview the Maribor-based paper published on Saturday.

"At the same time, the Slovenian leadership has always understood, in our opinion, that good relations with Russia suit the interests of both the European Union and Slovenia," he added.

The ambassador believes that this is a framework within which it is possible to develop constructive relations with Russia. "We absolutely support such ambition by Slovenia, because it is also good for Russia to have good relationship with the EU and Slovenia."

Eyvazov is convinced that Slovenia and Russia could boost bilateral trade, which could, in his opinion, go up to two billion euros or more.

He sees many areas in which Russian and Slovenian technologies and capacities could work in synergy in order to produce very competitive products, which could be sold in third markets.

Eyvazov noted that the Russian market provided the opportunity for Slovenian entrepreneurs to enter the market of the Eurasian Economic Community. "This is a market of more than 200 million people and total GDP exceeding two trillion US dollars."

In the interview published on the occasion of the Russian Chapel ceremony below the Vršič Pass, the ambassador also talked about the Slovenian retailer, a part of the failed Croatian conglomerate Agrokor, which has ended up in a majority Russian ownership.

Eyvazov said that Russia was closely monitoring the situation in Mercator and Agrokor, which is owned by the bank Sberbank.

According to him, Russia understands the great importance of Mercator for the Slovenian economy. "We understand that there are a lot of Slovenian suppliers who, of course, must preserve the opportunity to get to the end buyer through Mercator."

But the ambassador noted that the Russian side did not really understand some of the actions by Slovenian institutions, in what is a reference to the competition watchdog's decision to temporarily seize Mercator shares.

"We have shown a lot of patience," he said, adding that "on the other hand, Sberbank is a state-owned bank which keeps the money of the Russian state, which is why we need to invest all effort to protect our own interests."

25 Jul 2020, 14:46 PM

The pandemic put everything on hold for a few months, and one of the events that was cancelled was the Spring Soiree, in which the SILA-IWCL (International Women's Club Ljubljana) gathers to raise money for a good cause.

To replace it the organization has joined forced with the French Embassy in Ljubljana to put the spotlight on a campaign to help furnish a new Safe House in Novo Mesto that welcomes women and children victims of domestic violence. Until the end of July you can donate money to the Safe House via SILA IWCL’s account:

Sberbank, IBAN SI56 3000 0010 4338280, SWIFT/BIC code SABRSI2X

Learn more about the project on SILA’s website, and follow the various events and opportunities that the group organizes on Facebook.

Domestic violence in Slovenia

Research shows that domestic violence remains a common problem in Slovenian, and there were fears of a surge in incidence during the lockdown. The latest study, carried out post-corona, is from the IPES Institut (Inštitut za proučevanje enakosti spolov, the Gender Equality Research Institute), titled “The atmosphere in intimate-partner relationships and families in times of quarantine and insecurity”.

It examined issues around domestic violence with data from 700+ anonymous and online surveys, completed from all of Slovenia’s statistical regions. More specifically, the study looked at: 1) the general understanding of gender-related roles in relationships (the persistence of gender stereotyping); 2) actual lockdown experience (the underside of the idealized family image); 3) coping with distress.

IMG-20200708-WA0013.jpg

The results show a high prevalence of intimate partner abuse, made worse by the pressures and confinement of lockdown. The abstract highlights the following findings:

  • ·      34.7% of men and 18% of women did not agree with the statement that the perpetrator is always responsible and guilty for an act of violence.
  • ·      30% of respondents believed that in times of crisis women work to should calm conflicts, calm potentially stressful situations and relationships and not raise their own problems.
  • ·      Just 11% of respondents stated they will have fond memories of the weeks in isolation, as they loved being at home.
  • ·      5% of respondents think that violence is sometimes justified, while a further 10% neither agree nor disagree with this statement.
  • ·      35% of the respondents believe that it is right for women to do most of the housework at home.
  • ·      15% of women answered that the corona crisis further increased their financial dependence on their partners.
  • ·      85% of respondents did not talk to anyone about their concerns during the lockdown.
25 Jul 2020, 12:30 PM

The covers and editorials from leading weeklies of the Left and Right for the work-week ending Friday, 24 July 2020. All our stories about coronavirus and Slovenia are here

Mladina: Fajon should move SD to left

STA, 24 July 2020 - Mladina takes a look at the left-aisle political parties in Friday's editorial, in particular Social Democrats (SD) interim leader Tanja Fajon, who, the left-wing weekly says, has the potential to consolidate the party, but also faces numerous challenges.

The SD is taking the lead on the left, as shown by opinion polls two months in a row, but the question remains whether the party truly belongs to the left-wing, says Mladina, noting that historically speaking, the SD is a leftist party, but neoliberal views and alleged involvement in controversial deals have cast a shadow on its policies and integrity.

Selecting Fajon as the new SD leader has been a good choice and not too risky since she is "a full-blooded politician", ambitious and popular, with MEP experience that have given her a wider perspective.

The paper also points out that Fajon is the only Slovenian MEP so far to have climbed quite high in the political hierarchy of the European Parliament.

Nevertheless, she is faced with various challenges. "Both other leading left parties are much stronger in terms of their programmes and ideologies even though they are weaker regarding staff".

Fajon is unlikely to tackle the party's unresolved issues or to reform it right away, but she still needs to move it to the left.

"That will not be easy since the moment she does that, the party's sinecure interests, which are aplenty, would be threatened. But if she fails to do that, voters' support would be quick to vanish."

Her potential downfall could also be instigated by hubris or having a thin skin as a politician, typical traits in Slovenian politics, says the editorial, headlined An Opportunity for Tanja Fajon.

"Gradually it will become clear who will be Fajon's right-hand persons inside and outside the party," argues editor-in-chief Grega Repovž, adding that such choices always indicate the future of a politician.

Reporter: Why Janša wants to subjugate RTV Slovenija

STA, 20 July 2020 - The right-leaning magazine Reporter finds in the latest editorial that PM Janez Janša wants to subjugate the public broadcaster RTV Slovenija, just like leftist governments before him have.

Editor-in-chief Silvester Šurla opens his piece headlined Golobič Looking for a New Drnovšek by saying that Gregor Golobič, an influential secretary general during the decade-long rule of the Liberal Democrats (LDS), "is said to be feverishly looking for a new Janez Drnovšek. Yet another 'new face' with realistic chances of defeating Janša's SDS in the election."

The reference is to Slovenia's late leader who as LDS chairman served as prime minister for a decade before going on to become Slovenia's president.

Šurla says the "deep state's scenario" is to call a vote of no confidence in the Janša government by putting forward a new PM-designate this autumn, followed by an early election next spring.

This is why he believes that if the third Janša government does not fall by the end of the year, it will stay on until the regular election in the first half of 2022.

Šurla notes the growing discontent among the membership of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS) as well as the "slippery slope" Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek stands on, not only because of the controversy surrounding the procurement of medical supplies, but also because the Administrative Court has upheld the anti-graft watchdog's findings that his meetings with Janez Zemljarič, the boss of the Communist-era secret police turned lobbyist, had been unlawful.

Šurla writes that Janša appears to be aware of how critical the situation is, which is why he is trying to turn all the attacks on his government and his person to his own advantage, portraying himself in public as a victim of the deep state.

A bigger threat to him than the weak opposition is the law enforcement authorities and the media, hence the replacements and legislative changes.

"The clash for the media is a clash for power. Any pretence is superfluous," writes Šurla, adding that unlike in Hungary or Serbia, the ruling regime no longer controls key media in Slovenia, like Milan Kučan or Janez Drnovšek or 'new faces' coming after them used to do.

Noting that Janša has been taking control of the media when in power, and that he has also been founding his own, he says the "biggest subject of political desire is now (again) RTV Slovenija. The large outsized media mammoth, which even after the change of regime has mostly served the political interests of the left (...).

"No matter what he says, Janša does not really want to depoliticise RTV, but rather subjugate it as much as possible, similarly as leftist governments were subjugating it more or less successfully during the transition.

"The incumbent prime minister is one of the many Slovenian politicians who have a perverted attitude to the media. Those are considered independent and objective only when they report in his favour or to the detriment of his political rivals."

All our posts in this series are here

25 Jul 2020, 12:00 PM

What follows is a weekly review of events involving Slovenia, as prepared by the STA.

If you’d like to keep up on the daily headlines then follow those here, or get all our stories in your feed on Facebook.

FRIDAY, 17 July
        FRANKFURT, Germany - Fitch affirmed Slovenia's credit rating of A with a stable outlook. The rating agency forecast that the country's GDP would shrink by 7.1% this year, growing by 4.9% next year and another 3.3% in 2022.
        LJUBLJANA - Montenegro and Luxembourg were placed on Slovenia's red list of Covid-19 highly risky countries given their epidemiologic status. Croatia remained on the yellow list, which indicates a higher level of caution is advised.
        LJUBLJANA - Early findings of the Information Commissioner inquiry into potentially problematic access to 45 politicians' personal data have not revealed systemic abuse. Only one police officer has so far been identified as having accessed such data without authorisation, the office said.
        LJUBLJANA - Anti-government protests were held in several Slovenian cities for the 13th week running. In the capital some 3,000 protesters packed Prešeren Square and later stopped at RTV Slovenija to express their support for the public broadcaster in the light of the planned media reform. The protest culminated in a "people's assembly" in a bid to formulate clear demands.
        LJUBLJANA - A group of human rights NGOs urged the government to treat Eritrean asylum seekers more fairly, pointing out that only three of 15 applications lodged by Eritreans who recently arrived in Slovenia had been granted. The Interior Ministry rejected the notion that its policy is unprofessional or politically motivated in any way.

SATURDAY, 18 July
        LJUBLJANA - Health Minister Tomaž Gantar signed a two-year cooperation agreement with the regional office of the World Health Organisation (WHO) for Europe. Cooperation is to focus on control of communicable and non-communicable disease and the strengthening of healthcare.

MONDAY, 20 July
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - An event marked the 10th anniversary of Slovenia's membership of the OECD with Foreign Minister Anže Logar saying that joining the organisation offered the country an opportunity for new development achievements. OECD Secretary-General Jose Angel Gurria, addressing the event by video call, said he was confident Slovenia would exit the current crisis stronger.
        PARIS, France - The OECD's latest economic survey praised Slovenia's response to the Covid-19 pandemic and urged the state to continue providing support measures for the economy until growth is fully restored. But as stimulus measures are gradually being wound down, the economy may need a fiscal stimulus to prevent a possible spike in bankruptcies and unemployment, it said.
        LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Anže Logar discussed the rule of law and the EU's new rule of law mechanism with European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders in a videoconference, focussing on the anticipated first rule of law report by the EU Commission. The pair talked about approaching Slovenia's EU Council presidency as well.
        LJUBLJANA - RTV Slovenija's programming council did not back the public broadcaster's changed financial and production plans for 2020, which the leadership had prepared in response to the coronavirus. The no-vote could put RTV Slovenija in a dire financial situation amid concerns that the government is trying to undermine it with a controversial media reform.
        LJUBLJANA - The latest Vox Populi public opinion poll, carried by Večer and Dnevnik, showed little change at the top of the party rankings. The ruling SDS polled at 22.7%, the same as the month before, with the opposition SocDems down half a point to 14.7%, having jumped by seven points in the previous month. The government's approval rating was at 48.5%, up slightly from June.
        
TUESDAY, 21 July
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prime Minister Janez Janša said Slovenia was pleased with the outcome of the EU budget talks since Slovenia is eligible for EUR 10.5 billion over the next seven years, of which EUR 6.6 billion in grants. He also rejected the perception that the rule of law discussion at the EU summit was about Slovenia siding with Hungary and Poland. Instead, he said, it was about clarifying the concept.
        LJUBLJANA - The registered unemployment rate in Slovenia in May, when some of the lockdown measures related to the coronavirus epidemic were relaxed, stood at 9.3%, which is 0.2 of a percentage point more than in April, the Employment Service said. The registered unemployment rate in May was up by 1.4 percentage points compared to February, the last full month before the restrictive anti-epidemic measures were introduced.
        KOPER - Austria launched an honorary consulate in the city of Koper, its second after Maribor. It will be headed by Honorary Consul Urška Svetlik, a business executive. The opening of the consulate illustrates the importance Austria attributes to Koper and the entire western region of Primorska, Austrian Ambassador to Slovenia Sigrid Berka said on the occasion.

WEDNESDAY, 22 July
        BRATISLAVA, Slovakia - The presidents of Slovenia and Slovakia, Borut Pahor and Zuzana Čaputova, welcomed the EU budget deal as they held talks in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic. The presidents discussed bilateral cooperation and later opened a business forum focusing on green technologies that featured 34 companies and institutions from both countries.
        BUDAPEST, Hungary - Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec visited Budapest for talks with Hungarian ministers of foreign affairs and innovation and technology, Peter Szijjarto and Laszlo Palkovics. Vrtovec said economic cooperation could be further upgraded with energy and road infrastructure projects, such as the Cirkovce-Pince electric power line.
        BRDO PRI KRANJU - Following the EU summit deal, the government set up two task forces to make sure the country phases all the funds available to it. It was announced that mayors and regional development agencies would be involved in the drafting of the national recovery plan, which the government intends to adopt by the end of August.
        LJUBLJANA - After a year and a half of calls for redefining rape in the penal code, the Justice Ministry said that legislative changes had been drafted. Their aim is to embed the consent standard in criminal law, making every non-consensual sexual act a punishable offence.
        
THURSDAY, 23 July
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission expressed concerned about the media legislation planned by the Slovenian government. Presenting the most recent Media Pluralism Monitor report, Values and Transparency Commissioner Vera Jourova said Slovenia should not follow in Hungary's footsteps when it came to media ownership.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia announced it planned to sign a Joint Declaration on 5G Security with the United States, which could curb the involvement of China's Huawei in the deployment of the fifth generation wireless communication networks in the country. The government submitted the declaration to the National Assembly.
        LJUBLJANA - A total of 935 tests for Covid-19 were performed in Slovenia on Wednesday, which confirmed 27 new infections, making for a total of 136 cases in the past seven days. There were 24 patients hospitalised with Covid-19, including two in intensive care. The death increased by four in a week to 115.
        LJUBLJANA/VIENNA, Austria - Slovenia and Austria agreed to try out joint surveillance of the shared border using technology such as cameras and drones, as Interior Minister Aleš Hojs held talks with his Austrian counterpart Karl Nehammer at a conference on migrations along the Balkan route.
        LJUBLJANA - The government extended the subsidised furlough scheme by another month until the end of August with Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj saying the measure was still deemed needed despite an improvement in the labour market.
        WARSAW, Poland - Visiting Poland, Foreign Minister Anže Logar met his Polish counterpart Jacek Czaputowicz and EU Affairs Minister Konrad Szymanski. The officials reaffirmed good relations between Poland and Slovenia, with Logar expressing interest in continuing and strengthening cooperation between the Visegrad Four and Slovenia. Czaputowicz said that Slovenia and the Visegrad countries achieved success together at the recent EU summit.
        LJUBLJANA - Telekom Slovenije said it had started setting up the country's first commercial 5G networks using its existing base stations and within the existing 2600MHz frequency spectrum used in 4G. Coverage will initially be provided in about 25% of the country but is expected to exceed to 33% by the end of the year.

All our posts in this series are here

25 Jul 2020, 09:25 AM

STA, 24 July 2020 - The Slovenian capital witnessed anti-government protests for the 14th consecutive Friday, with a new focus this time on women's rights.

The protesters, many of them on bicycles, gathered in Prešeren Square before doing a round of Ljubljana's centre, calling at government departments and other spots on the way.

As in the weeks before, participants carried banners expressing discontent with the government. Some were shouting slogans such as "Down with capital" "We won't give in" and calling for a world in which everyone will be able to live a decent life.

The demonstrators did a round of the ministries of health and interior affairs, as well as RTV Slovenija where they expressed their support for the public broadcaster service.

Like the week before, the protest was to wrap up with a "popular assembly" in Prekmurski Trg square, as the participants decided to form their demands and expectations for Slovenia's future.

Part of the protesters gathered already in the afternoon to call for zero tolerance of sexual harassment and violence against women and expressing support for the MeToo movement.

Those protesters, mostly women, carried slogans saying "yes means yes" to call for a redefinition of rape and crimes against sexual inviolability based on the consent standard.

Trade unionist Tea Jarc made a speech in favour of a ban on Sunday shopping after the government lifted the ban imposed at the start of the coronavirus outbreak.

The pro-government counter-protesters that have become a new feature in recent weeks announced on Twitter today that they would mix amongst the anti-government protesters to conduct a "monitoring" to "identify left extremists".

Protest campaigns were also held in some other Slovenian towns, including Maribor, Piran and Velenje.

 

25 Jul 2020, 04:10 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:

Projection: Epidemic might be getting out of hand

LJUBLJANA - The Jožef Stefan Institute warned the number of new coronavirus cases in the country is growing exponentially with the effective reproduction number higher than 1, which means "the epidemic might be getting out of hand". The institute's new model forecasts that between ten and 35 infections will be confirmed per day in the coming period. The seven-day average of the effective reproduction number - the number showing to how many people the infected person transmits the virus, currently stands at 1.16, whereas the three day-average is 1.55. Health officials said new restrictions would be imposed should the number of infections start to grow exponentially.

19 new coronavirus cases in 848 tests on Thursday

LJUBLJANA - Nineteen out of 848 coronavirus tests conducted in Slovenia on Thursday came back positive. A total of 23 persons were hospitalised with Covid-19, one fewer that the day before, including two in intensive care. No Covid-19 related deaths were reported. Three persons were meanwhile discharged from hospital. So far, Slovenia has recorded 2,052 coronavirus cases, with the national death toll standing at 115. The national infections tracker shows there are currently 259 active infections. The new cases include a health worker and a care home employee, but no nursing home resident.

Covid-19 drags tourism down 63% in June year-on-year

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. As many as 67% of overnights were generated by Slovenians. While their number increased by 2% over June of last year, the number of foreign guests was down as much as 83%. The Statistics Office said that 154,000 guests were from within the country, while the number of foreign guests dropped to 89,000. The number of nights spent by Slovenian tourists was down 3% year-on-year to 408,000, as those spent by foreign guests slumped by 84% to 201,000.

UK puts Slovenian on air bridges list

LONDON, UK - Slovenia was added to the UK's list of air bridges, which allows travel to England without needing to self-isolate. The decision, which also expands the list to Estonia, Latvia and Slovakia, is effective from Tuesday 28 July. Meanwhile, Slovenians will be required to self-isolate when entering Finland from Monday 27 July. Otherwise, Slovenians can travel to virtually all EU and EEA/Schengen countries restriction free, one rare exception is Ireland.

DeSUS executive committee backs Pivec and govt coalition

LJUBLJANA - The executive committee of the Pensioners' Party (DeSUS), meeting on Thursday, expressed full support for the party's leader Aleksandra Pivec and efforts to meet commitments set down in the coalition agreement. The committee also backed DeSUS deputy leaders. Pivec urged the closing of ranks in the wake of disagreements emerging in the party recently. The meeting came after some DeSUS regional committees issued a vote of no-confidence in Pivec in recent weeks.

Business sentiment up for third consecutive month in July

LJUBLJANA - Business sentiment increased for the third consecutive month in Slovenia in July, the Statistics Office said. At -18.0 percentage points, the figure was 5.6 percentage points higher than in June, but remained 24.3 points below July 2019. It was also 18.1 points lower than a years-long average. In monthly comparison, the figure was pushed up by confidence in the processing sector, services, retail, consumers and construction. Year-on-year, business sentiment was dragged down by a drop in confidence in services, among consumers, in processing, construction and retail.

Households showing signs of struggle, says survey

LJUBLJANA - An increasing number of Slovenians are struggling financially in the wake of the corona crisis, a survey by Mediana shows. More than a third of respondents think the government anti-corona measures are doing a good job in preserving public health and shoring up the economy. The survey shows that more and more Slovenians are breaking into their savings or considering taking out a loan. So far, the share has increased by four percentage points to almost 29%. The proportion of respondents planning to get a loan to deal with financial difficulties rose to 9% from 4% in May.

Some stores to reopen this Sunday

LJUBLJANA - Several major retailers will be open this Sunday after the government revoked a ban on Sunday shopping put in place in the earliest stages of the coronavirus epidemic. Others will wait and see how the competition responds to a decision that has come under heavy criticism from trade unions. Mercator, the country's no. 1 grocer, will initially open hypermarkets, supermarkets and stores in tourist areas. So will Tuš, Hofer and Bauhaus stores be open this Sunday, while Spar and E.Leclerc will return to Sunday opening hours on 2 August.

Anti-govt protesters take to streets again

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian capital witnessed anti-government protests for the 14th consecutive Friday, with a new focus this time on women's rights. The protesters, many of them on bicycles, gathered in Prešeren Square before doing a round of Ljubljana's centre, calling at government departments and other spots on the way, including RTV Slovenija where they expressed their support for the public broadcaster service. Protest campaigns were also held in Maribor, Piran and Velenje.

Police pull over a van with 22 illegal migrants

NOVO MESTO - The police said they had found 22 citizens of Pakistan smuggled to Slovenia in a van registered in Slovenia and driven by an Afghan and a Pakistani citizen. The van was pulled over Thursday night in Dolenjske Toplice (SE), some 20 km east of the border with Croatia. The pair of drivers, who have a residency permit in Italy, are facing criminal charges.

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

24 Jul 2020, 19:53 PM

STA, 24 July 2020- The Jožef Stefan Institute (IJS) has created a new model for forecasting the spread of the coronavirus. The institute estimates that the number of new cases is growing at an exponential rate - the figure doubles in 35 days, whereas the effective reproduction number is higher than 1, which means that "the epidemic might be getting out of hand".

In the coming period, between ten and 35 infections will be confirmed per day, projects the country's top research institute.

The institute says that the impact of imported infections is no longer relevant since the spread within the country has taken central stage now.

The seven-day average of the effective reproduction number - the number showing to how many people the infected person transmits the virus, currently stands at 1.16, whereas the three day-average is 1.55, warns the institute.

The IJS came up with four different scenarios of the epidemic unfolding, depending on the week-long average of the effective reproduction number.

If the figure was 1, meaning one secondary case per infectious case, the national death toll would increase to almost 150 by the end of September, the number of those hospitalised with Covid-19 would remain under 25 and the number of those in intensive care under 10.

Provided the effective reproduction number remained at 1.1, then the number of hospitalised Covid-19 patients would grow to nearly 50, the number of those requiring intensive care would be slightly bigger but still under 10, whereas the death toll would increase to more than 150.

In case an infected person spread the virus to 1.3 persons, 25 people would be in intensive care, close to 160 people would be hospitalised by late September and Slovenia would record almost 200 Covid-19 related fatalities.

In the event that the relevant figure stood at 1.5, same as the current three-day average, some 75 persons would require intensive care, more than 200 would be in hospital already during the second week of September, and the death toll would exceed 200 in mid-September.

Efforts should be stepped up to drive the effective reproduction number below 1 again, which would mean the epidemic is slowing down, urged the institute.

"Given the number of positive tests, the second wave of infections has so far resulted in a 70% decrease in the numbers of hospitalised patients, those in intensive care and the death toll compared to the first wave, presumably due to those infected being younger," said the IJS.

Meanwhile, the Medical Chamber said today that doctors were concerned over the developments, urging everyone to do all they could to ensure that the epidemic does not get out of hand during summer holidays when people tend to be more relaxed.

Doctors also pointed out that suspending health services again due to coronavirus concerns would put at risk many lives. They also called for protecting vulnerable groups.

Other health officials also expressed concern and called on citizens to behave responsibly, including National Public Health Institute (NIJZ) director Milan Krek and Bojana Beović, the head of the Covid-19 advisory team at the Health Ministry.

Krek told the STA that the virus was now primarily spreading from mass parties, and also from companies. "You can marry in these times, but you don't have to invite 200 people," he added.

If the number of infections starts to grow exponentially, the NIJZ will propose additional restrictive measures to the government, including limiting opening hours of shops, bars and restaurants.

What epidemiologists have noticed is that the number of infections is increasing also because infected persons do not want to reveal their contacts, Krek said, also inviting people to get tested if they have symptoms.

If the trend continues he said measures would be necessary because the capacity of the Slovenian healthcare system was limited and the authorities wanted to prevent other segments in the system from grinding to a halt.

Beović also said that the projections by the IJS were not so good, adding that the number of infected persons in Slovenia was going beyond the boundary which had been though to be manageable.

She too mentioned limits on bars and restaurants as one of the possible measures if the growth gets exponential, while measures on borders in order to prevent imported infections are also possible.

Beović said that complaining about the mandatory use of masks and hand sanitation is "nonsensical and unethical at this moment."

"If we do not adhere to this, we are in for unpleasant times," she told the STA, noting that there would also be "economic damage which will also impact human lives".

All our stories on coronavirus and Slovenia, while up-to-date statistics can be found here

24 Jul 2020, 17:24 PM

STA, 24 July 2020 - Slovenia has been added to the UK's list of air bridges, which allows travel to England without needing to self-isolate, the UK Embassy in Slovenia has announced.

Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Slovakia and St Vincent and the Grenadines, have been added to the list of travel corridors with effect from Tuesday 28 July.

Passengers from those countries will not need to self-isolate when arriving in England.

However, destinations exempt from border measures continue to remain under constant review to keep the risk of infections from abroad low, the UK Department for Transport said.

Meanwhile, Slovenians will be required to self-isolate when entering Finland from Monday, 27 July.

This is after the Finnish government placed Slovenia on a list of countries for which restrictions apply on arrival due to the coronavirus situation, along with Austria and Switzerland.

Otherwise, Slovenians can travel to virtually all EU and EEA/Schengen countries restriction free, one rare exception is Ireland.

All our stories on Slovenia and coronavirus

24 Jul 2020, 12:46 PM

STA, 23 July 2020 - Slovenia and Austria have agreed to try out joint surveillance of the shared border using technology such as cameras and drones, as Interior Minister Aleš Hojs held talks with his Austrian counterpart Karl Nehammer at a conference on migrations along the Balkan route.

The trial will "examine the possibility of effective cooperation in joint border surveillance and the transfer of these practices to the Slovenian-Croatian border, which is more prone to migration pressure," reads a press release from the Interior Ministry.

The meeting came at a conference on migrations featuring the home ministers of 18 countries at which it was decided to set up a platform to fight illegal migration on the Balkan route.

The platform, headquartered in Vienna, will facilitate coordination in four segments: border surveillance, return of migrants who are not eligible for asylum, the fight against smugglers of migrants, and the creation of faster and more efficient asylum procedures.

Hojs was quoted as having expressed concern about the situation regarding migrations, which he said was similar than in 2015. In view of abuses of asylum procedure, he urged the ministers to "examine their asylum systems and take advantage of methods to prevent abuse".

"In the past Slovenia adopted several measures that we are now stepping up. Changes to penal law are ready, and we are changing the foreigners act and the international protection act to make procedures more efficient," he said.

Hojs also stressed that protection of external borders was crucial in managing migrations through Western Balkans.

"The commitment that we are going to make in the joint statement - that countries will to a greater extent support the member states on the EU's external border - is therefore all the more important. Slovenia is definitely willing to do this to an even greater extent than so far," the minister was quoted as saying.

Hojs held several bilateral meetings on the margins of the conference, including with German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and the head of the European Asylum Support Office, Nina Gregori.

24 Jul 2020, 12:09 PM

STA, 23 July 2020 - Visiting Poland, Foreign Minister Anže Logar met his Polish counterpart Jacek Czaputowicz and EU Affairs Minister Konrad Szymanski on Thursday. The officials reaffirmed good relations between Poland and Slovenia, with Logar expressing satisfaction about Slovenia's successful cooperation with the Visegrad Group.

Logar thanked Czaputowicz for Poland's assistance in repatriating Slovenians stranded abroad in the midst of air travel restrictions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

"The gesture, attesting to solidarity and friendship between the two countries, will always be remembered with gratitude in Slovenia," said Logar.

The pair highlighted successful economic cooperation between Poland and Slovenia. Trade amounts to almost EUR 2 billion. Logar and Czaputowicz pointed to the untapped potential of collaboration in terms transport infrastructure in central Europe, said the Foreign Ministry.

Logar also highlighted the importance of integrating the Port of Koper in the future Baltic-Adriatic railway corridor, a part of the planned Pan-European transport network which will represent a state-of-the-art railway axis between the two countries.

The Slovenian foreign minister expressed interest in continuing and strengthening cooperation between the Visegrad Four and Slovenia in the future.

During a meeting with Szymanski, Logar presented the priorities of Slovenia's approaching EU Council presidency, including EU enlargement to the Western Balkans.

Both ministers expressed support for the process, agreeing that stimulating circumstances had to be fostered to promote the development of the region.

The pair also discussed migration strategies in Europe. They were of the same opinion that ways of expressing solidarity could be various and that the issue should be tackled in cooperation with source countries.

The Polish Press Agency (PAP) reported today that Czaputowicz noted Polish and Slovenian prime ministers, Mateusz Morawiecki and Janez Janša, "collaborated effectively" during the recent EU summit.

"We achieved success together. Slovenia joined the group of Visegrad countries (Poland, Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovakia), and the result of this summit is our common achievement," Czaputowicz said according to PAP.

Czaputowicz said that Slovenia was becoming an important partner of Poland as a result of "certain political processes" taking place in Slovenia.

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