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30 Jul 2020, 09:48 AM

STA, 29 July 2020 - Two young Belarusians pulled over by the police near Semič close to the border with Croatia on Tuesday evening were found to be carrying a total of ten Moroccans in two vehicles with Polish license plates in what is but the latest in a series of similar incidents reported by the police.

A press release from the Novo Mesto Police Department said the Moroccans had entered Slovenia illegally.

The two Belarusians, both aged 21, will be brought before an investigating judge, while proceedings involving the migrants are still ongoing.

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

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

More than three out of four illegal migrants handled by the police in the first half of the year were citizens of Morocco, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

A total of 1,766 migrants expressed an intention to seek asylum in Slovenia, while Slovenian police returned 3,118 foreigners to foreign law enforcement authorities, 3,100 of them to Croatia's.

30 Jul 2020, 09:44 AM

STA, 30 July 2020 – The group around the drug maker Krka generated EUR 803.8 million in sales revenue in the first half of the year, a 6% increase compared to the same period in 2019, while gaining EUR 160.3 million in net profit, up 15% year-on-year, the company said in a press release on Thursday.

After the half-year report was discussed by the Krka supervisory board on Wednesday, the management issued a statement today saying that "the Krka Group performed well in the first half of the business year, and reached record results."

"Despite the coronavirus pandemic outbreak, Krka has kept the supply of medicinal products to markets across the world uninterrupted," said CEO Jože Colarič.

The release adds that the Novo Mesto-based group entered the second half of the year in a sound financial condition, and the plan for the entire 2020 is to generate operating income of EUR 1.52 billion, and to increase net profit to EUR 210 million.

"Development of the coronavirus situation, spreading of the disease, its aftermaths, and the related measures of the affected nations are highly uncertain. We are therefore closely monitoring the situation and adapting accordingly in countries where we operate."

30 Jul 2020, 03:48 AM

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This summary is provided by the STA:

Supreme Court orders competition watchdog to release Mercator shares

LJUBLJANA - The Supreme Court ordered the Competition Protection Agency (AVK) to release 70% of shares of retailer Mercator it seized from Croatian Agrokor in December 2019. The Supreme Court said that the AVK did not have legal grounds to seize Mercator shares. In line with the minor offences act, seizure of shares is only possible if there is suspicion that the perpetrator would go into hiding or abroad before the offences procedure is completed, which is impossible for a legal entity, the Supreme Court said. Agrokor's successor Fortenova, which has been taking over Agrokor's viable businesses, plans for Mercator to become a part of the new group by the end of the year.

Fourteen new infections for second day running

LJUBLJANA - Out of 919 tests for Sars-CoV-2 performed in Slovenia on Tuesday, 14 came back positive, as many as the day before when 874 people were tested. The national case count increased to 2,115, out of which 237 remain active. Two of the latest cases were recorded at the Hrastnik care home, a major hotspot in the country. Twelve more municipalities saw one new case each. Government statistics show no new Covid-19 fatalities, but the number of hospitalisations rose to 21, including four in intensive care.

Uroš Lepoša takes over as acting NBI director

LJUBLJANA - Uroš Lepoša was appointed new acting director of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) to replace Igor Lamberger after less than three months on the job. The appointment was made by acting Police Commissioner Andrej Jurič as he decided against picking any of the candidates who applied for the call for applications. Lepoša has been with the police force for 28 years. A crime investigator, he most recently worked at the development and system task division in the service attached to the police commissioner.

Alfi acquires more than 80% of grocer Tuš's debt

LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Delo reported that Alfi, a Slovenian equity fund, had acquired over 80% of the debt owed by Tuš, one of the largest grocers in Slovenia. The paper, which obtained confirmation on the acquisition of the last block of claims against Tuš from Alfi, says a framework restructuring agreement to deleverage the grocer is to be signed this week. Once the debt is converted into equity, Alfi is to hold a 75% stake in Tuš, with the Tuš founder, Mirko Tuš, preserving 15-20%.

Talum expects 20% drop in production and revenue this year

KIDRIČEVO - The Kidričevo-based aluminium maker Talum, which has recently also been focusing on products from remelted and waste aluminium, has operated disruption-free despite the coronavirus pandemic. However, CEO Marko Drobnič told the STA in an interview the company was expected to see a 20% drop of production and revenue this year. The management estimates the company will generate around EUR 60 million less in revenue than the originally planned EUR 325 million, but will break even.

STA's article-tracking tool makes EU list of best innovations

LJUBLJANA - An advanced article-tracking tool developed by the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) made the European Commission's list of the best European innovations as part of the Innovation Radar platform. The platform, available at the web address https://www.innoradar.eu/, features around 3,600 top innovations whose excellence and potential has been recognised by independent experts.

Court stays early dismissal of RTV Slovenija supervisors

LJUBLJANA - The Administrative Court stayed the government decision to dismiss early three members of the supervisory board of public broadcaster RTV Slovenija. Matjaž Medved, one of the dismissed supervisors, is seeking annulment of the government decision and a ban preventing the government from further interfering in the terms of the supervisory board's members. The court has decided to stay the government decision until a final decision is made to ensure effective judicial protection of Medved's constitutional rights, which were allegedly infringed by the replacement.

Competition watchdog opposes media act reform

LJUBLJANA - The Competition Protection Agency (AVK) warned about the drawbacks of changes to the media act regarding media concentration monitoring. The agency advocates a strict separation of monitoring the public interest in media, which should not be in the domain of the AVK, and assessing concentration in line with the competition law. The AVK believes that the proposed changes envisage an unnecessary and unclear interlinking of concentration procedure under the prevention of restricting competition act and monitoring concentration under the media reform. The separation between the two procedures is necessary, the AVK said in a press release.

28-year-old Austrian killed in paragliding accident

TOLMIN - A 28-year-old Austrian paraglider was found dead in the Julian Alps in the early hours of the morning. The man took off from the Kobala paragliding takeoff in western Slovenia alongside a friend at 1pm yesterday but when he was still missing in the evening, a report was made to the police. A search and rescue campaign was launched immediately and the man was found dead at about 3am in steep and inaccessible terrain on the mountain of Vršič above the Predolina pasture.

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29 Jul 2020, 19:41 PM

STA, 29 July 2020 - A 28-year-old Austrian paraglider was found dead in the Julian Alps in the early morning hours on Wednesday. The man took off from the Kobala paragliding takeoff in western Slovenia alongside a friend at 1pm yesterday but when he was still missing in the evening, a report was made to the police.

The Nova Gorica Police said the man was reported missing at 9pm, which triggered an immediate launch of a search and rescue campaign. He was found dead at about 3am this morning in steep and inaccessible terrain on the mountain of Vršič above the Predolina pasture.

The police said the paraglider seemed to have either fallen or crashed into the steep mountain side, sliding vertically at least 100 metres. He was found at the altitude of 1,326 metres.

His body was transported to Tolmin with a helicopter this morning.

Aviation crash investigators of the Infrastructure Ministry and the district prosecutor's office have been engaged for the investigation.

29 Jul 2020, 12:08 PM

STA, 29 July 2020 - Renoir, an advanced article-tracking tool developed by the Slovenian Press Agency (STA), has made the European Commission's list of the best European innovations as part of the Innovation Radar platform.

Innovation Radar is a European Commission initiative to identify high potential innovations and innovators in the EU-funded research and innovation framework programmes.

The platform, available at the web address https://www.innoradar.eu/, features around 3,600 top innovations whose excellence and potential has been recognised by independent experts.

The goal is to present to European public technological and scientific achievements supported by the EU funds, while also making it easier to the authors of innovations in looking for new opportunities or partners.

As part of the innovation and research project Renoir, co-financed within the Horizon 2020 programme, the STA has developed a prototype solution for tracking of articles in cooperation with international partners.

The prototype has been upgraded into an independently operating web application, called NewsMapper, which is available at the web address https://newsmapper.sta.si/.

The application is based on artificial intelligence technology and allows a series of functionalities, including machine tracking of the use of articles on the internet and early detection of new topical stories, both in real time.

NewsMapper, with which the STA targets foreign markets, makes the work easier to journalists, editors and marketing and sales divisions of media outlets.

At the same time, it is also useful to business users from non-media industries who are interested in the movement of their press releases in the media space, and related advanced analyses.

29 Jul 2020, 11:54 AM

STA, 29 July 2020 - Alfi, a Slovenian equity fund, has acquired over 80% of the debt owed by Tuš, one of the largest grocers in Slovenia, which it will convert into equity, the newspaper Delo reports.

The paper, which has obtained confirmation on the acquisition of the last block of claims against Tuš from Alfi, says a framework restructuring agreement to deleverage the grocer is to be signed this week.

About 10% of the claims against the grocer are held by British fund Anacap, Alfi's rival in the acquisition of the debt, and the rest by small creditors.

Delo says the latest transaction will step up Tuš's financial repair as the terms will be set by Alfi. The paper has learnt that the delaveraging is to be swift.

The plan is for the financial creditors to be allowed to convert debt into equity, which would give Alfi an ownership stake of 75% in Tuš, with the Tuš founder, Mirko Tuš, preserving 15-20%.

Another step in Tuš's restructuring is to be selling and then taking out a lease on its properties.

Mirko Tuš last year handed the company's management over to his son Andraž.

At the end of 2019, preventive restructuring was launched for the group, whose main line of business is retail with entertainment, recreation, hospitality and real estate as side lines of.

In 2018 the group fell from third to fourth place among Slovenia's largest grocers.

Since first Tuš shop was opened 30 years ago, the company developed into a group with 100 stores with more than 3,100 employees,  but became heavily indebted during the last financial crisis.

29 Jul 2020, 09:37 AM

STA, 28 July 2020 - The National Blood Transfusion Centre (Zavod republike Slovenije za Transfuzijsko medicino) has issued a call to people who have recovered from Covid-19 to donate blood plasma, as it contains SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. The call was issued a few days ago and so far nine people have donated plasma, the centre told the STA on Tuesday.

"It is important that we provide treatment with hyperimmune convalescent plasma in Slovenia. Only through plasma ... donations containing specific antibodies carried by those who recovered from Covid-19 can we get this treatment," the centre said when inviting donors.

Irena Razboršek of the centre told the STA that nine donations had been made, adding that the project was still in the early stage. The donated plasma is currently in storage, as test results are awaited and the centre continues to follow the latest studies.

"We must be aware that we do not have much experience with Covid-19 and that all data is very fresh," Razboršek said. However, experience from the coronavirus Sars and Mers outbreaks shows that convalescent plasma could be a good treatment for Covid-19, she said.

Throughout the past months the centre has also been doing its best to keep replenishing the national blood bank.

After initial reluctance by donors, which drained the bank in March, the amount of blood donated in June is above-average for this time of year.

However, blood donors must be healthy and must not have visited in the past two weeks a country that is deemed unsafe in epidemiologic terms, which at the moment also includes Croatia, Serbia and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

29 Jul 2020, 09:12 AM

STA, 28 July 2020 - In the past two months, the majority of coronavirus cases were detected in care homes (80 infections), followed by schools (54), shops (37), health institutions (32) and restaurants, pubs and cafes (13), show the National Public Health Institute (NIJZ) data.

A total of 30 infections were confirmed among manufacturing workers, same as among administration workers. Warehouses saw 16 cases, kindergartens 14, universities 13 and the public administration 12.

Moreover, ten lorry drivers got infected with the coronavirus as well as eight construction and engineering workers, four people working in banks and three police officers.

Špela Horjak, the government deputy spokesperson for coronavirus, told the press today that as much as 40% of the cases confirmed in the past two weeks were detected in various workplaces, urging extra caution there.

Metoda Dodič Fikfak, the head of the Ljubljana UKC Institute of Occupational Medicine, meanwhile said that coronavirus clusters in companies were mostly a result of a more carefree attitude there, advising reintroducing and heeding anti-corona measures.

Whereas companies did not turn to the institute for support before the Covid-19 epidemic, there have been plenty of requests for help with work organisation after the epidemic was declared, she said, adding that the institute also had a vital role in adapting the running of Slovenia's central hospital to the new circumstances.

29 Jul 2020, 04:09 AM

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

This summary is provided by the STA:

Slovenian and Croatian FMs see no need for stricter border measures

LJUBLJANA - Foreign minister Anže Logar received his Croatian counterpart Gordan Grlić Radman in Ljubljana during what was the Croatian minister's first visit abroad since he resumed office. The pair discussed measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic and the EU Council presidency, agreeing that there was no need for stepping up border restrictions. Logar said though that a stop should be put to the practice of people attempting to avoid mandatory self-isolation by making a stop in Croatia on their way from Bosnia and claiming they were coming from Croatia.

14 new coronavirus infections, one fatality for Monday

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded 14 new coronavirus cases from 874 tests on Monday and one more Covid-19 fatality, which takes the official national case count to 2,101 and the death toll to 117. There are now 242 active cases. Government data show the number of Covid-19 hospitalisations has fallen to 17, including three intensive care cases. The latest infections were confirmed in ten municipalities across the country, including one at the Hrastnik care home, where 42 of the 125 residents are now infected. Another resident has died, which means Covid-19 has claimed three lives in the outbreak there. Bojana Beović, the government's chief Covid-19 advisor, said the effective reproductive number by which the virus was spreading was now at around 2 at care homes, while it had fallen below 1 elsewhere.

Social institutions threaten to leave Covid-19 task force

LJUBLJANA - The Association of Social Institutions decided to leave the government task force for Covid-19 over what it perceives as a lack of strategy for care homes when it comes to coronavirus infections. The head of the task force has called for dialogue and the relevant ministry still hopes that the association will be cooperative. The association insists that the elderly who get infected need to be isolated from the care home immediately, as this is the only way to effectively prevent infections from spreading further.

Majority of infections in care homes, schools and shops

LJUBLJANA - In the past two months, the majority of coronavirus cases were detected in care homes (80 infections), followed by schools (54), shops (37), health institutions (32) and restaurants, pubs and cafes (13), show the National Public Health Institute (NIJZ) data. A total of 30 infections were confirmed among manufacturing workers, same as among administration workers. Warehouses saw 16 cases, kindergartens 14, universities 13 and the public administration 12. Moreover, ten lorry drivers got infected with the coronavirus as well as eight construction and engineering workers, four people working in banks and three police officers.

Two dozen villages in Austria to get bilingual signposts

KLAGENFURT, Austria - 23 villages in Austria near the border with Slovenia will get bilingual signposts, according to decisions of the town councils of Sankt Jakob im Rosental and Sittersdorf in the province of Carinthia. The Slovenia minority welcomed the move and expressed hope that other municipalities would follow suit. At least signpost will expectedly be erected on 10 October, when the Slovenian and Austrian presidents Borut Pahor and Alexander Van der Bellen will visit Carinthia for the 100th anniversary of a plebiscite following the disintegration of the Habsburg Monarchy that saw the people of Carinthia choose between Austria and Yugoslavia.

Slovenian army member involved in fatal car accident in Naples

LJUBLJANA - The Defence Ministry announced last night that a member of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) serving at the Allied Joint Force Command Naples had been involved in a car accident in which one person died. It said the accident happened in his free time and involved a private car. As the investigation is ongoing, the ministry would not comment on Italian media reports suggesting that the SAF member had caused the accident under the influence of alcohol and even attempted to flee the scene but was prevented by members of the public. He allegedly hit a motorbike driven by a carabiniere that also carried his wife, who later died of her injuries in hospital.

Spurned constitutional judge nominee seeks vote annulment

LJUBLJANA - The newspaper Dnevnik reported that jurist Andraž Teršek, who failed to get elected a Constitutional Court judge by parliament June, had turned to the Constitutional Court asking it to annul the vote and order a new vote on his bid. Teršek won 42 votes in the secret ballot at the National Assembly on 16 June, four votes short of an outright majority, despite more than 50 members of the 90-strong legislature having pledged their support for him. Considering that eight ballots were invalid, Teršek is challenging the MPs' right to cast such ballot and the parliamentary rules of procedure on secret ballot, which he believes are unconstitutional.

PM's office warns against online scam featuring Janša's photos

LJUBLJANA - The prime minister's office issued a warning against internet fraud after a website featuring Prime Minister Janez Janša started making rounds on social media. The website redirects the users onto a site featuring a number of criptocurrency trade websites. The website appeared under the headline Special report: Latest investment by Janez Janša scares govt and big banks and features statements never uttered or written by Janša, the PM's office said in a press release. The office said it had already lodged a demand for withdrawal of the website but the final decision about this lies in the hands of the services provider.

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28 Jul 2020, 10:20 AM

STA, 27 July 2020 - The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted Slovenian companies much more unequally than the latest recession in 2009. While 58% of companies have had negative effects, 17% of them had positive effects, according to a survey carried out by the Slovenian Marketing Association and the pollster Valicon.

In the autumn of 2009, 79% of the companies which participated in the recent survey had reported about negative effects of the global economic crisis in a poll carried out by the Marketing Association at the time.

Back then, positive effects were felt by 6% of the participating companies, the association said, adding that "compared to the 2009 crisis, when companies mostly did not detect positive effects of the economic crisis, a larger asymmetry is noticeable now."

Also implying that the pandemic has not affected all companies equally is the fact that only 41% of the polled companies think that they will be affected by the pandemic equally as other companies in their industry.

"In 2009, 63% of companies assessed that they will be affected to the same extent as other companies in the industry," the association said on Monday.

More than half (56%) of the recently polled companies plan to keep the marketing activity at the same level after the epidemic), 21% plan to scale back their marketing and 24% to boost it.

Almost three-quarters of the companies (71%) intend to keep the funds intended for marketing at the same level in 2021, the association said, noting that during the 2009 crisis, it was marketing budgets that had gotten the most restricted.

Among the planned marketing activities, more investment is expected in the opening of digital sales channels (62%), introducing new business models (50%), apps and web interfaces (47%) and advertising on social media (46%).

Marketing Association president Petra Čadež commented on the survey by saying that despite the negative effects of the pandemic, a positive shift in the strategic understanding of marketing in companies could be detected.

"It could be noticed that some companies have found new opportunities within the given situation and adjusted their strategies," she added.

Matjaž Robinšak of Valicon said that the time was most probably coming when marketing would have to adapt several times. "Constant search for new models and looking for new opportunities will be the key for success," he added.

The Marketing Monitor 2020 survey was carried out in June on a sample of 64 members of the Marketing Association.

28 Jul 2020, 10:05 AM

STA, 27 July 2020 - The Constitutional Court has stayed implementation of a municipal decree amending the naming of streets, squares and villages in the Radenci municipality until there is a final say on a referendum proposal launched by locals who oppose renaming a road that bears the name of the former Yugoslavia's communist leader Tito.

In late May, the local council of the spa town of Radenci in the north-east decided on the initiative of Radenci Mayor Roman Leljak that Titova Road shall be renamed to Slovenian Independence Road.

Some locals do not agree with the decision, saying that the name Titova Road reflects a historical fact and that the renaming efforts are but a provocation attempt by the mayor.

Leljak responded to the decision on Facebook, saying that the "Administrative Court is also deciding on the procedure and, to me personally, it does not make sense that the Constitutional Court has skipped the Administrative Court."

Is this a matter of distrust in the Administrative Court or an agreement between the courts, which would be a grave violation of the principle of legality", he added.

Leljak said he would probably propose to the municipal council that the decree renaming Titova Road be annulled, and that a referendum be held in which the name of the road would be decided on.

He believes the referendum could be held in the spring of 2021.

The mayor also noted that the procedure was causing the municipality much costs with legal fees, and that it could take a year or more. "The cost of referendum would be considerably smaller than the cost of litigation."

The Constitutional Court has determined that staying implementation of the decree could not lead to major repercussions, taking into account the fact that the name Titova Road has been in use since 1979. The road was named after former communist leader Josip Broz Tito (1892-1980).

In the event the court did not stay implementation and the decree was to be later annulled due to it being unconstitutional, the locals as well as the municipality could suffer from unnecessary expenses. Moreover, the potential ramifications of implementing the decree would surpass the potential repercussions of its staying, said the court.

The decision was passed on 1 July in a 7:2 vote.

In 2011, Slovenia's top court ruled unanimously that the 2009 decision of the Ljubljana city council to name a street in the capital after Tito was unconstitutional given that Tito's name symbolised the former totalitarian regime and that naming a street after him could objectively been seen as a recognition for this regime.

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