News

01 Aug 2022, 04:18 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:

Justice minister vows to monitor restrictive measures adoption

LJUBLJANA - Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan has vowed to keep a close eye on the government's work if new restrictive measures will need to be imposed due to a surge in coronavirus cases. Talking to the STA, she also said she advocated the suspension of unconstitutional proceedings launched against individuals under the previous government.

Low-profile memorial event to be held at Russian Chapel

KRANJSKA GORA - A low-profile memorial event was held at the Russian Chapel below the Vršič mountain pass honouring the memory of Russian POWs who perished while building the pass during the First World War. Because of the war in Ukraine, only members and friends of the Slovenia-Russia Association gathered for this year's event, whereas in the past the annual memorial had been a high-level event, with Vladimir Putin attending in 2016.

Development of eGovernment in Slovenia close to European average

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia placed well within the European average at 19th out of 35 countries as the European Commission published the latest results of its regular eGovernment Benchmark comparative analysis of eGovernment services development in the EU and another eight countries for 2022. Slovenia is below average in terms of the digitalization rate, but above average regarding the use of internet in society.

30 Jul 2022, 14:10 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, 22 July
        MOSCOW, Russia - Russia added Slovenia on the list of countries considered unfriendly by the Kremlin, which means Slovenia will no longer be allowed to hire employees for its diplomatic missions in Russia. The Foreign Ministry regretted the move, but said it had no effect on Slovenia's embassy in Moscow.
        LJUBLJANA - Andriy Taran, Ukraine's new ambassador, presented his credentials to President Borut Pahor, thus formally starting his service in Slovenia. Taran, a former Ukrainian defence minister, succeeds as ambassador Mykhailo Brodovych, who had served in Slovenia since 2015.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia welcomed the European Commission's plan for EU countries to reduce gas consumption by 15% if necessary in response to the Russian gas supply crisis. Chamber of Commerce and Industry boss Aleš Cantarutti quoted a survey finding Slovenia's industry could reduce gas consumption by 10%.
        LJUBLJANA - Due to rising Covid figures, the Covid-19 task force recommended for face masks to be be reintroduced in all indoor public spaces and that they become mandatory in healthcare institutions. They also urged vulnerable groups and those over 60 to work from home and get vaccinated.
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - The European Commission approved Slovenia's EUR 2.1 million scheme for state aid to primary food producers impacted by the war in Ukraine. Farmers will receive grants to cover higher prices of energy, animal feed, fuel and raw materials.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's banks, including market leaders NLB and NKBM, announced they will stop charging negative interest rates on large deposits of individuals and legal entities starting from 1 August, after the ECB raised its key interest rates.
        LJUBLJANA - Business sentiment in Slovenia deteriorated by 1.7 percentage points in July over June, and by 7.2 points year-on-year to -1.1 percentage points as consumer confidence worsened.

SATURDAY,236 July
        LJUBLJANA - Vojko Volk, a seasoned diplomat and advisor to PM Robert Golob, told Večer in an interview that by entering the Schengen area, Croatia would, legally speaking, recognise the borders of the countries already in the area, including Slovenia, and thus indirectly the border arbitration award.
        BOVEC - Addressing the annual get-together of his Democratic Party (SDS), former PM Janez Janša expressed the confidence that the candidate supported by the SDS would win this year's presidential election while noting the party being as a rule successful in local elections, to be held in the autumn.
        LJUBLJANA - A tonne and a half of fish was found dead in Mali Graben, a river canal of the Gradaščica river in Ljubljana, in a second major incident in the Gradaščica after decomposing pork was found in the water a fortnight ago. A subsequent lab test could not confirm presence of toxic substances in the water samples, but lab officials believe the water was contaminated.

SUNDAY, 24 July
        KOSTANJEVICA NA KRASU - After more than a week, the wildfire in Kras, the largest ever in Slovenia, was brought under control. It affected over 3,500 hectares of wood and farmland but people's homes and lives were spared. In total more than 10,000 voluntary and professional firefighters and 1,200 support staff were involved in the effort along with aircraft from Slovenia, all four neighbouring countries as well as Romania, Slovakia and Serbia. Visiting the area PM Robert Golob announced a comprehensive plan to be drawn up to protect Kras against such fires in the future and President Borut Pahor praised the remarkable solidarity displayed by everyone involved. Pahor phoned the presidents of all the countries involved to thank them.
        LJUBLJANA - A poll commissioned by the commercial broadcaster POP TV showed the voter approval rating for the Robert Golob government falling by two percentage points to 51% in a month, and Golob's Freedom Movement polling slightly lower at 27.8% as the opposition Democrats (SDS) stayed put at 18.8%. The result suggests merging with the LMŠ and SAB had not paid off for the Freedom Movement.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia saw a natural decrease in population for the fifth consecutive year in 2021 as the number of births dropped to just 18,984, and 23,261 people died, Statistics Office data showed.
        PARIS, France - Tadej Pogačar, the 26-year-old Slovenian UAE Team Emirates rider, failed to defend his two-time Tour de France title, finished as the runner-up to Dane Jonas Vingegaard of Team Jumbo-Visma. Still, he won his third straight white jersey of the best young rider.

MONDAY, 25 July
        LJUBLJANA - Marjan Eberlinc, CEO of the gas transmission system operator Plinovodi, told Radio Slovenija that Slovenia was managing the gas supply situation very well given the developments in the wake of the war in Ukraine with no disruption to supply so far. He said there would be quite a few alternative options for Slovenia if Russia indeed cut off gas supply to Europe.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia confirmed 2,939 new cases of coronavirus in a nearly-four-month high as modelling expert Janez Žibert assessed the summer wave of infections had plateaued with the 7-day remaining at around 1,600 for a week. This was a day after the country saw the highest daily death toll among patients with Covid in more than three months, numbering eight.
        LJUBLJANA - Fresh data from the Statistics Office showed visitors spent almost two million nights in Slovenia's tourism accommodation facilities in June, which is nearly double year-on-year and a third of the total figure for the first half of 2022. The figures thus virtually reached pre-epidemic levels.
        LJUBLJANA - The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food temporarily protected at the national level a type of sheep milk cheese from the Istria region, Istrski ovčji sir/Istarski ovčji sir, using a protected designation of origin in a move initiated by Slovenian and Croatian sheep breeders.
        VELENJE - Fourteen miners sustained light injuries as a stope collapsed at the Velenje coal mine, but they managed to get out of the pit by themselves.
        LJUBLJANA - The safe-internet use portal Safe.si released the results of a survey showing that one out of three female secondary school students, and one out of four girls at primary schools aged 12-15 had considered getting plastic surgery as a result of beauty standards posted on social media.
        LJUBLJANA - As part of the 150th birth anniversary celebrations of architecture mastermind Jože Plečnik, Ljubljana introduced a new city bus to visit 28 of the best known Ljubljana landmarks designed by him.

TUESDAY, 26 July
        BRUSSELS, Belgium - Infrastructure Minister Bojan Kumer said there would be no cuts to gas supplies to Slovenian households this winter after EU ministers in charge of energy agreed a voluntary 15% reduction in gas demand.
        LJUBLJANA - Acting Police Commissioner Boštjan Lindav, talking with the STA in an interview, listed staff shortages in the police force and restore the autonomy of the uniformed and criminal police and the National Bureau of Investigation as key challenges he is planning to take on.
        LJUBLJANA - Acting Police Commissioner Boštjan Lindav reappointed Darko Muženič director of the National Bureau of Investigation after he was dismissed in early May 2020 under the previous government.
        LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian authorities condemned the executions of four democracy activists in Myanmar in the strongest terms, with the Foreign Ministry tweeting that the military junta's actions represented an escalation of repression and their contempt for human rights.
        LJUBLJANA - The Pirate Party announced it will endorse lawyer Nataša Pirc Musar's bid in the 23 October presidential election under a decision taken by this non-parliamentary party at the 23 July congress.
        LJUBLJANA - The government approved co-financing of public rental housing from the recovery and resilience plan for a total of 34 projects as part of which a total of 1,036 housing units will be constructed. The total amount of grants is EUR 60 million.
        LJUBLJANA - Under a plan approved by the government on 22 July, army and firefighting tank trucks started transporting water to the coastal region, which is facing shortages due to severe drought. In a EUR 2.85 million project water is being extracted from the river Unica, north of Postojna, and brought to a water works facility near Črni Kal to be treated. The first such operation in the country started just as the region got some of the much needed rain.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) and investment firm Meta Ventures reached an out-of-court settlement in a dispute over SSH's sale in 2020 of the state's 49% stake in Meta Ingenium, a company that at the time held 10.8% of biotech firm Bia Separations. SSH will get an additional EUR 2.09 million for the stake, plus variable part of the proceeds based on Bia Separations' results over next three years.
        KOPER - After being defrocked by the Vatican church court for sexually abusing a minor, former priest Anton Kmet will not be tried in Slovenia as the case became statute barred.
        CHISINAU, Moldova - The Slovenian football champions Maribor were eliminated from the UEFA Champions League qualifying, after being defeated by Moldova's FC Sheriff 0:1 on aggregate in the second round. They will now face HJK Helsinki in the third qualifying round of the Europa League.

WEDNESDAY, 27 July
        KYIV, Ukraine - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon visited Ukraine to express Slovenia's support and solidarity with the country, meeting her counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitchko and investment office head Sergiy Tsivkach. She promised Slovenia's support both in dealing with the consequences of the war and efforts to join the EU. The next day she announced an additional package of aid for the country.
        LJUBLJANA - The Government Office for the Support and Integration of Migrants said it had increased capacity in the Ljubljana asylum centre and moved vulnerable groups to the Logatec branch following a report by the web portal N1 that police had filed a criminal complaint over a rape of an underage girl there in early May and NGOs raised concerns over overcrowded and worrying conditions.
        LJUBLJANA - German flag carrier Lufthansa cancelled scheduled flights to and from Ljubljana due to a strike by ground staff that affected more than 1,000 flights from and to Munich and Frankfurt.
        AUGSBURG, Germany - Slovenia opened the 2022 Canoe Slalom World Championships successfully as Benjamin Savšek, Luka Božič and Anže Berčič won the gold medal in the men's C1 team event and Eva Terčelj, Ajda Novak and Eva Alina Hočevar won silver the women's kayak team event.

THURSDAY, 28 July
        LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a bill to reduce VAT on electricity, natural gas, firewood and district heating for all consumers from 22% to 9.5%. The lower rate will apply for the heating season, from 1 September to 31 May next year. The lower VAT will result in EUR 130 million less budged receipts.
        NOVA GORICA - The Solkan Hydropower Plant was temporarily shut down due to extremely low flow of the Soča river caused by prolonged drought. The plant realised only 54% of the planned output in the first half of the year, similar as power plants on the Drava and Sava.
        LJUBLJANA - The government tasked the Ministry of Defence to draw up a damage assessment report in the wake of the wildfire in Kras based on which Slovenia will seek aid from the EU Solidarity Fund.
        NEW YORK, UN - The UN General Assembly adopted a historic resolution declaring access to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment a universal human right. The resolution was proposed by a group of countries, with Slovenia playing a significant role as a co-leader of the process.
        LJUBLJANA - After filing for referenda challenging the new laws on the government and the public broadcaster, the opposition Democrats (SDS) initiated procedures for a referendum a law delaying the implementation of the long-term care act, which was passed under the previous government.
        LJUBLJANA - The police administration announced that staff from the new motorway police units in Koper, Celje and Maribor will be temporarily assigned to the respective road traffic police stations on 1 August due to severe staff shortages. This leaves only the Ljubljana motorway police unit operational.
        LJUBLJANA - Slovenia improved its ranking in the EU's Digital Economy and Society Index placing eleventh in what is the best result so far. It is above EU average

30 Jul 2022, 08:00 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:

Annual inflation rate hits 11%

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's annual inflation rate accelerated to 11% in July, up 0.6 percentage points from the month before, driven mostly by high prices of petroleum products, data from the Statistics Office shows. It is the highest annual inflation rate since August 1995. Higher prices of petroleum products contributed as much as 2.1 percentage points to the annual inflation rate as well as half a point to the monthly inflation rate of 1%. Another 2 percentage points were added to inflation by a 13.5% hike in food prices, and a 30.4% increase in electricity prices contributed 1.1 points. Measured with the harmonised index of consumer prices, an EU gauge, the annual growth of consumer prices was 11.7% and the monthly growth was 0.9%.

Govt measures to affect inflation in September, PM says

LJUBLJANA - Government measures designed to mitigate the effects of rising cost of living should start showing their effect on inflation in September, Prime Minister Robert Golob commented on Friday, after the Statistics Office said the country's annual inflation rate accelerated to 11% in July. Golob said that inflation would likely be even higher in August, adding that the government hoped to keep inflation at 10% or lower.

Court blocks Mokrice hydropower plant project

LJUBLJANA - The Administrative Court decreed that the planned Mokrice hydropower station on the river Sava cannot get a building permit until it has ruled on legal action brought against the project by the Slovenian Native Fish Society. Announcing the decision, the society said it was important because it blocked the investors' plan to obtain a partial building permit from the Ministry and Spatial Planning and start with the plant's construction despite their legal challenge. Mokrice, located near the border with Croatia, is the last hydro plant to be built on the lower Sava, four having already been completed as part of a project started 16 years ago. Under initial plans the Mokrice plant was slated for completion as early as 2018.

Govt to strengthen cooperation with NGOs

LJUBLJANA - PM Robert Golob and Public Administration Minister Sanja Ajanović Hovnik met with representatives of some dozen NGOs for the second time to discuss current issues. The government is keen to include NGOs into the decision-making process, Golob said after the meeting. Representatives of some NGOs expressed their discontent with the government's decision not to include them in discussions on measures aimed at reducing the cost of living amidst price hikes.

Golob calls serial referendum initiatives abuse of law

LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Robert Golob has responded to the third referendum initiative brought by the biggest opposition party by arguing referendum legislation is being abused to block the executive and legislative branches of power. "Such tactics can have a counterproductive effect, especially in the run-up to elections," Golob said on Friday, a day after the Democrats (SDS) filed their third referendum initiative. He said the referenda would be held on the same day, regardless of how many more were to be called, because they would not let one party cause excessive costs to the state through its ill-judged policies.

Minister: High time politics no longer played a role in judge appointments

Ljubljana, 29 July - Justice Minister Dominika Švarc Pipan said in an interview for the STA she will not approach changes in the judiciary haphazardly, but wants to see well-thought-out solutions under a broad consensus, while noting it was high time politics no longer played a role in judicial appointment procedures. The minister would like to see a broad consensus among experts and politicians, as well as politics retreating from the appointment of judges, but she does not support hasty or reckless solutions in reforming the judicial network. Lengthy court proceedings are another bane of Slovenia's judiciary, whose reputation is being damaged. The minister believes that the reasons for this are many and cannot be attributed to judges alone.

Minority seeks permanent seat in Italian parliament

LJUBNO OB SAVINJI - Slovenian minority officials pledged to work to secure a permanent seat for the minority in the Italian parliament as the Office for Slovenians Abroad hosted a debate on the issue today. This comes amid concerns that the Slovenian minority in Italy could end up without its representative in the Italian parliament following the 25 September snap election. The election will be held after the electoral law has been amended to reduce the number of seats in both houses of parliament, including from the Friuli Venezia Giulia region, where most ethnic Slovenians live.

Threats reason for ombudsman getting security protection

LJUBLJANA - The government has included the country's human rights ombudsman among officials who are provided with security protection by the police. The ombudsman had so far not been listed in the police security protection regulation, but his office suggested a while ago the Interior Ministry consider including the ombudsman as one of the officials eligible for level 4 of security protection. The office "is an independent body, ranked seventh in the diplomatic hierarchy, whose position is quite similar to that of the president of the Constitutional Court," the office told the STA. The ombudsman's office sought the security also because Ombudsman Peter Svetina has often been target of threats over the past two years.

Survey unemployment rate slightly down to 3.8% in June

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's ILO-compatible survey unemployment rate was at 3.8% in June, down by 0.1 of a percentage point on May and 0.6 of a percentage point year-on-year, the Statistics Office reported on Friday. Its estimates show there were some 39,000 unemployed people in Slovenia last month. The share of men among the unemployed aged 15-74 in June equalled that of women. The survey unemployment rate stood at 3.5% for men and 4.2% for women, dropping by 0.2 of a percentage point for the former.

Daily coronavirus count down 8% week-on-week, two patients die

LJUBLJANA - A total of 1,484 new coronavirus cases were recorded in Slovenia on Thursday in what is an decrease of almost 8% compared to the same day a week ago. Two patients with Covid-19 died yesterday, shows data from the Health Ministry. The number of patients hospitalised for Covid-19 as their primary condition is exactly 100, of whom 14 are in intensive care, which is 22 and six more on a weekly basis, respectively. Data from the National Institute of Public Health puts the 7-day average of new daily cases to 1,645, down by 18 over the day before, while the 14-incidence rate per 100,000 people dropped by five to 1,076.

Mediana poll shows people not very concerned about coronavirus

LJUBLJANA - A July opinion poll by Mediana has found that concern among residents of Slovenia is not growing despite an increase in the number of newly-detected coronavirus infections. Around 39% of the respondents are worried about the Covid-19 epidemic in July, which is actually 0.7 of a percentage point less than in June. Some 28% of the people polled think that other countries are coping with Covid better than Slovenia. While the difference compared to June is not significant, the proportion of respondents with such an opinion has been declining since March (39%). The proportion of respondents who say that the Covid-19 epidemic has helped them appreciate more what they have has been declining since May, when it stood at 52%, compared to 47% in the July poll.

Slovenia confirms 35 monkeypox cases so far

LJUBLJANA - A total of 35 cases of monkeypox have so far been confirmed in Slovenia since the first case was reported in late May, according to the National Institute of Public Health. The institute's data shows just over one third of the cases were individuals who got infected abroad - in Spain, Italy and Bosnia-Herzegovina - and a good third got infected in Slovenia. The source of infection for the other cases could not have been determined. The first case in Slovenia was confirmed on 24 May in a man who returned from the Canary Islands, with the second case confirmed a day later in a person who had been to Spain as well.

Some fish species endangered due to low water levels, heat

LJUBLJANA - Fish in Slovenian rivers are generally doing well, but certain species are highly affected by low water levels and overheating and some areas have seen fish kills in recent weeks. Water levels are extremely low in the Primorska and Notranjska regions, including Lake Cerknica, as well as in the Savinja and most small tributaries of large rivers. Particularly threatened are species of the Salmonidae family, such as brown trout, grayling and Danube salmon, as well as certain warm-blooded species in areas where there is a lack of water or oxygen, the Slovenian Fishermen's Association has told the STA.

Industrial fire in Kranj causes EUR 100,000 in damage

KRANJ - A fire that broke out at the Blisk foundry on the outskirts of Kranj on Thursday evening has caused damage worth EUR 100,000 according to a police estimate, while nobody was injured. Kranj police said today that no impact on the environment could be identified, while an environmental NGO urged a thorough investigation. The Kranj Police Department said in a press release the cause of the fire appeared to be a glitch in the electrical wiring.

All three Slovenian clubs out of UEFA Europa Conference League

LJUBLJANA - It was a devastating Thursday evening for Slovenian clubs in the UEFA Europa Conference League, the third-tier European club football competition, as Olimpija, Koper and Mura were all eliminated in the second qualifying round by their respective opponents. The national champions Maribor thus remain the only Slovenian representative in the European competitions even though they were eliminated from the Champions League qualifying this week by FC Sheriff of Moldova. Maribor were relegated to the third qualifying round of the second-tier UEFA Europa League, where they will play HJK Helsinki on 4 and 11 August.

Double exhibition opening at Maribor Art Gallery

MARIBOR - A double exhibition will open today at the Maribor Art Gallery (UGM) Studio. A cross-generational selection of artists mainly from Central Europe will be showcased on the ground floor, while on the lower ground floor Roma artist Mara Oláh from Hungary will be presented. The international group exhibition dubbed An Eclectic Attempt to Complete the Torso in My Head showcases representations of the body through different media, somewhere in-between folklore punk and new materialism. The lower ground floor is meanwhile dedicated to a single artist - the first solo exhibition of Omara (Mara Oláh) in Slovenia.

29 Jul 2022, 16:55 PM

STA, 29 July 2022 - Fish in Slovenian rivers are generally doing well, but certain species are highly affected by low water levels and overheating and some areas have seen fish kills in recent weeks. Water levels are extremely low in the Primorska and Notranjska regions, including Lake Cerknica, as well as in the Savinja and most small tributaries of large rivers.

Particularly threatened are species of the Salmonidae family, such as brown trout, grayling and Danube salmon, as well as certain warm-blooded species in areas where there is a lack of water or oxygen, the Slovenian Fishermen's Association has told the STA.

The last three summers have been somehow manageable in terms of water levels and similar conditions were seen in 2017 but not for such a long period as this year.

The federation thus banned angling clubs from organising competitions and recommended them to ban fishing in the most affected rivers.

It would also like activities such as swimming or other sport activities in rivers to be banned because this "puts even more pressure on the fish".

The association would also like to see the Agriculture Ministry as the regulator in charge of introducing obligatory measures play a more active role.

"We would like supervisory bodies, such as inspection services, to be more active. It is also totally unacceptable that watercourses are being encroached on."

Here the association criticised a plan to pump water out of the Rižana river to fill the water supply system reservoirs as the coast has been hit by the worst drought in 35 years.

It believes this would "lower the water level below the ecologically permissible and acceptable flow. This simply means that some people don't care about fish."

The association monitors the situation through the fisheries service and staff at angling clubs, also cooperating with the country's public Fisheries Research Institute.

On a more positive note, Slovenia has made progress in terms of cleanness of waters, with a number of rivers being in the first quality class and most of the remaining ones in the second quality class.

Slovenia also has pristine nature, especially in the areas of the Alpine rivers, which attracts fishing tourists, the association said, adding that fish stock is also good.

What worries the fishermen is a constant and reckless encroachment on watercourses, the cutting of riparian vegetation and the warming of the water during the summer months, which forces the grayling and trout to move upstream, which means that certain fish species are disappearing in certain areas.

Slovenia remains an attractive destination for foreign fishermen, but the association is worried about the impact global warming will have on rivers and lakes and on fishing tourism.

It has been also pushing against regulation of watercourses and for considering bringing rivers back to their original state, giving them space and planting a lot of vegetation along their banks to return the fish to their natural habitat and help them survive.

29 Jul 2022, 11:21 AM

STA, 28 July 2022 - The wildfire that raged across Kras in the past two weeks proved to be extraordinarily challenging because the area is littered with thousands of explosive devices from World War I, which may detonate when subjected to extreme heat. Over 500 devices have gone off during the fire which has since been extinguished, but the area remains dangerous.

Experts estimate that the site of the Isonzo Front in World War I remains littered with about 70 kilos of unexploded explosive ordnance (UXO) per square metre [sic].

The wildfire spread across a surface area of 3,500 hectares located on what used to be the Italian-Austrian border in the early 20th century and the site of many World War I battles between the two countries.

The fire detonated hundreds of devices, posing an extraordinary risk for thousands of firefighters who battled the blaze. "Luckily, the explosions took place where we predicted, in the zones we mapped out," Darko Zonjič, the commander of Slovenia's special UXO unit, told the STA.

"The most important thing was that firefighters followed our safety instructions, otherwise there could have been a catastrophe," he said, adding that there had been some "close calls", but luckily nobody had been hurt.

The UXO unit has only just started their work of removing the unexploded ordnance and found over 250 devices weighing a total of 1.4 tonnes. "But we are far from over. Only when the fire is extinguished completely and we will be able to access the burnt down areas, a realistic picture will begin to emerge."

Movement across burnt down areas becomes somewhat safer after the fire had been extinguished for over 48 hours. "But there are still hot spots where explosions can occur. Therefore we are warning that walking across fire sites is still dangerous."

The UXO unit members are continuing their inspection of outer edges of the burnt areas. The majority of ordnance they found so far were Italian and Austrian 75-millimetre cannon grenades, followed by Austrian 100-millimetre grenades.

"We have not yet found 150-millimetre grenades, but we expect to find them at the centre of the fire site under the Veliki Vrh peak. So far we have inspected only a fraction of the burnt area," Zonjič said.

Very big calibre UXO are mostly underground and will only detonate in case of fire, when temperature reaches about 300 degrees Celsius, he added.

Some of the grenades were found in heaps, likely piled together by metal collectors after the war. "They took brass of the grenades, having known already back then which were dangerous and which weren't.

"Mostly these are individual grenades which had not exploded after launch. If these missiles... are not moved they don't go off, that is why we haven't had an accident like this in a long time."

The missiles become dangerous during fires or when untrained individuals start playing with them. People are advised not to move UXO but report their location to the relevant services instead.

29 Jul 2022, 11:12 AM

STA, 28 July 2022 - The government decided to reduce value added tax (VAT) on energy products for all users at Thursday's session, Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič told a press conference. The reduced tax rate of 9.5% will apply for the heating season, from 1 September to 31 May next year.

The government proposes to reduce VAT on supplies of electricity, natural gas, firewood and district heating. These are being proposed in a bill on emergency VAT measure to mitigate rising energy prices, which is being put forward to parliament to be passed in emergency procedure.

"By temporarily reducing the VAT rate from 22% to 9.5%, the government is addressing the impact of energy price increases during the peak energy consumption period, the heating season. The lower rate applies to all consumers of these energy products, both households and commercial," the Government Communication Office said in a press release.

The lower VAT on electricity and natural gas adds to the measures already taken to regulate the prices of these energy products, but when it comes to firewood and district heating, the reduced VAT rate is the first such measure the government is taking to mitigate price hikes, Boštjančič said.

VAT reductions cannot be applied to heating oil due to a European directive, and the government has limited options for wood biomass, where it cannot regulate prices. "We hope that the reduction in this area will not translate into higher margins of traders," he noted.

In the next steps, the government will also address the regulation of heating oil and district heating prices.

The lower VAT will result in a roughly EUR 130 million shortfall in the state budget, some EUR 40 million less this year and EUR 90 million less next year. The positive impact on households is expected to be between a few hundred euros and more than a thousand euros during the heating season, according to the minister.

He also announced that the government is "very likely" to prepare a supplementary budget for this year. "It is no secret that both the expenditure and revenue sides will be quite different from those in the adopted budget," he said.

Changes to the existing budget will be prepared while adopting the 2023 and 2024 budgets, and discussions on these will start after 20 August.

29 Jul 2022, 04:23 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:

Fajon announces additional aid to Ukraine

LJUBLJANA - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon briefed the government on the situation in Ukraine following her trip to Kyiv yesterday. She said that after five months of war the Ukrainians were exhausted and frightened, and announced a debate in the coming days at the government level about an additional package of aid for the country. Including aid from NGOs, Slovenia has so far donated almost EUR 9 million in humanitarian aid to Ukraine.

UN adopts environmental resolution co-sponsored by Slovenia

NEW YORK, UN - The UN General Assembly adopted a historic resolution declaring access to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment a universal human right. The resolution was proposed by a group of countries, with Slovenia playing a significant role. "The resolution is a key milestone for the entire international community in connecting environment and human rights, thus strengthening hope for new generations," Slovenia's Ambassador to the UN Boštjan Malovrh said.

VAT on energy products reduced from 1 September

LJUBLJANA - The government adopted a bill to reduce VAT on energy products for all consumers from 22% to 9.5%. The lower rate will apply for the heating season, from 1 September to 31 May next year. VAT is to be reduced on supplies of electricity, natural gas, firewood and district heating. The lower VAT will result in a roughly EUR 130 million shortfall in the state budget, some EUR 40 million less this year and EUR 90 million less next year, Finance Minister Klemen Boštjančič said.

Solkan hydro plant shuts down due to drought

NOVA GORICA - The Solkan Hydropower Plant has been temporarily shut down due to extremely low flow of the Soča river caused by prolonged drought. The last time this happened was in 2003. The plant's operator, SENG, said the river's average flow was so low that it did not allow for the turbines to operate safely. The parent company HSE said the SENG had realised only 54% of the planned output in the first half of the year. The situation is similar at power plants on the Drava and Sava.

Slovenia to ask for EU solidarity aid over fire

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia will seek aid from the EU Solidarity Fund in the wake of wildfires that have ravaged the western region of Kras. The government tasked the Ministry of Defence to draw up a damage assessment report, which State Secretary Damir Črnčec expects to be ready by mid-September. The country can ask for EU aid provided the damage amounts to at least EUR 279 million. The ministry will also draw up legislative amendments to secure payments to firefighters and measures to improve fire security.

Fires in Kras under control, firefighters on stand by

KOMEN - The fires in the western region of Kras were brought under control during the night. However, as the flames on the Italian side of the border still pose a threat and Slovenian firefighters are helping out there now. The risk is that the winds will turn in the afternoon and spread the fire to the Slovenian side, like they did last week. "We are kind of seeing the story from the first days repeating when the fire jumped to the Slovenian side and posed a threat," civil protection official Ervin Čurlič said.

Unexploded ordnance still significant risk after fire

KOSTANJEVICA NA KRASU - The wildfire that raged across Kras in the past two weeks proved to be extraordinarily challenging because the area is littered with thousands of explosive devices from World War I, which may detonate when subjected to extreme heat. More than 500 devices went off during the fire which has since been extinguished, but the area remains dangerous. The UXO unit has only just started their work of removing the unexploded ordnance and found over 250 devices weighing a total of 1.4 tonnes.

Minority in Italy fears losing representative in parliament

LJUBLJANA - Representatives of the Slovenian minority in Italy will be meeting officials from the Government Office for Slovenians Abroad on Friday to discuss the risk that the minority may not have its representative in the Italian parliament for the first time in 60 years after the 25 September early election in Italy. The early election will be held under the new law which reduces the overall number of deputies and senators, including from Friuli Venezia Giulia region, which is home to the minority.

SDS proposes yet another referendum

LJUBLJANA - After filing for referenda challenging the new laws on the government and the public broadcaster, the opposition Democrats (SDS) initiated procedures for a referendum a law delaying the implementation of the long-term care act, which was passed under the previous government. The SDS argues the delay by a year would hurt the elderly, but the Labour Ministry said it was needed to sort out the financing. The opposition New Slovenia (NSi) is yet to decide whether support the referendum bid.

Changes made to security protection of officials

LJUBLJANA - The government amended the police security protection regulation, adopting a special regulation on security protection of the prime minister without changing the level of his protection. The level of security protection of deputy prime ministers was reduced by a notch to level 4 except when risk assessment should dictate otherwise. The human rights ombudsman too was added on the list of officials enjoying level 4 security. The PM and president enjoy level 2 security protection.

Three out of four motorway police units disbanded over staff shortages

LJUBLJANA - Staff from the newly-established motorway police units in Koper, Celje and Maribor will be temporarily assigned to the respective road traffic police stations on 1 August due to severe staff shortages, the General Police Administration announced. This means that one motorway police unit, in Ljubljana, remains operative. Road traffic police stations had staff shortages even before the motorway police was established in early 2021.

Almost 2,000 coronavirus cases logged on Wednesday

LJUBLJANA - A total of 1,973 coronavirus cases were recorded in Slovenia on Wednesday, around 145 more than a week ago, and three infected patients died, data from the Health Ministry shows. The number of patients hospitalised for Covid-19 as their primary condition is just below 100. Data from the National Institute of Public Health puts the 7-day average of new daily cases to 1,663, up by 18 in a day, as the 14-incidence rate per 100,000 of the population rose by 11 to 1,081.

Slovenia does better in Digital Economy and Society Index

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia improved its ranking in the EU's Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI), placing eleventh in what is the best result so far. It is above EU average. "The DESI index's latest data - the 2022 Digital Economy and Society Index - also reveals that the work of Slovenian experts in this field has borne fruit in recent years," said Digital Transformation Minister Emilija Stojmenova Duh. She said the country's biggest challenge was human capital or digital skills, which her department would work on.

Equinox triples net profit in H1 y/y

LJUBLJANA - Slovenian real estate fund Equinox posted EUR 933,000 in net profit in the first half of the year, an increase from the EUR 309,000 generated in the first six months of 2021. Net sales revenue more than doubled to EUR 3.2 million. During the period the fund signed long-term lease contracts for three of its hotels. The company, which was incorporated by spinning off the real estate arm from the Union Hoteli group, generates the vast majority of its revenue from rents.

Slovenia praised for its Hepatitis C strategy

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia has been named an example of best practice in fighting Hepatitis C by the World Health Organisation, infectologist Mojca Matičič said on World Hepatitis Day. While only a fraction of cases get treated in many countries, the majority of patients in Slovenia are diagnosed and treated. "Doctors actively look for those infected and provide immediate treatment to prevent outcomes such as liver cancer and cirrhosis," she said. More than 80% of infections have been uncovered and two-thirds of the patients have been cured. There are currently over 1,000 undiagnosed Hep C patients in Slovenia.

Lab analysis fails to establish cause of Ljubljana fish die-off

LJUBLJANA - The Jožef Stefan Institute, which performed chemical analysis of water samples taken after the fish die-off in Mali Graben, a river canal of the Gradaščica river in Ljubljana, could not confirm the presence of toxic substances in the water although they believe this is what happened, TV Slovenija reported. The contaminated water may have drained away by the time the dead fish were spotted and samples were taken. As much as 1.5 tonnes of fish died in the Mali Graben canal on Saturday.

Some 50 kg of fish die off in Homška Mlinščica

DOMŽALE - The newspaper Dnevnik reported about yet another fish die-off, this time in Homška Mlinščica, a tributary of the Kamniška Bistrica river. Some 50 kg of fish died, mostly brown trout and greyling, many of them still fingerlings. The cause of the incident remains unknown, although fishermen suspect water contamination. Around a tonne and a half of fish died in Mali Graben last week.

28 Jul 2022, 15:37 PM

STA, 27 July 2022 - A campaign has started to transport drinking water to the Slovenian coast, where restrictions have been introduced due to water shortages. The water is extracted from the Unica river, north of Postojna, and taken by trucks to a water works facility near Dekani. The project was launched at about the same time as the region finally got see some rainfall.

The water is being extracted as of Tuesday morning to water trucks of the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF) and the firefighting service. It takes about two hours and a half for one such truck to take the water to the facility and return.

Five trucks have been secured by fire brigades, and four 10,000-litre tankers of the SAF, the authorities announced at a press conference at the site where the water is being extracted from the Unica, under the bridge in the village of Planina.

"Firefighters always want to help, even though we are looking back at a difficult week in Kras," said Franci Petek, the commander of the Firefighting Association of Slovenia, referring to the huge fire in western Slovenia that has recently been contained.

Darko But, the head of the Civil Protection and Disaster Relief Administration, added that the government had make it possible to hire private contractors with larger water trucks to help out in the effort.

But he noted that the extraction of the water by no means impacted the water supply for the nearby towns of Postojna and Pivka, while Martin Pregelj, the head of the the Rižana water utility noted that "it is a national project".

The measure to alleviate the water shortage in Slovenian Istria was confirmed by the government last Thursday, and will be in force until the end of August.

In the meantime, all restrictions remain in place. After the use of water for non-urgent purposes was banned and cuts for businesses was introduced, the total consumption decreased to 30,000 m3 a day, the local water utility said.

As the area has seen some rainfall in recent days, the utility has detected a slight rise in the level of the groundwater, but said it was not enough to revive the main natural spring of the Rižana river, which remains dry.

A total of 700 m3 of potable water was brought on Tuesday to the Cepki water works facility, and it has been estimated that under the current pace, the situation could be brought back to normal in ten days.

Some 20 litres of water per square metre fell on Tuesday in the nearby area of Brkini, and some of the water entered the Rižana system, while the water level in aquifers above the source of Rižana has also increased slightly.

While the main source is still dry, the Rižana flow at the downstream measuring point has increased to 115 litres per second, the water utility said, also noting that the consumption had also decreased compared to Monday figures.

28 Jul 2022, 11:59 AM

STA, 28 July 2022 - The Solkan Hydropower Plant has been temporarily shut down due to extremely low flow of the Soča river caused by prolonged drought, its operator, Soške Elektrarne Nova Gorica, has announced. This is the first time the Solkan plant has been non-operational since 2003.

Currently, the average flow of the river in Solkan is so low that it does not allow for the turbines to operate safely, explained the hydropower company.

The ecologically acceptable flow is ensured by guiding the water over the gates of the dam and is equal to the natural inflow of the Soča river.

Up until Wednesday, a slightly higher-than-natural flow was ensured by emptying the reservoirs.

However, reservoir levels on the Soča have reached critical levels that no longer allow for them to be emptied, the company added.

Primorski Dnevnik meanwhile reported that Stefano Zannier, the agriculture minister of the bordering Friuli Venezia Giulia region in Italy had urged the Italian government to contact the Slovenian government to see whether it was possible to increase the river flow at the Solkan dam.

The newspaper of the Slovenian minority in Italy added that, according to the hydropower plant operator, this will most likely not be possible.

Right after the turbines at Solkan stopped, the water level of the Soča in Nova Gorica started dropping, most noticeably near Ločnik where larger amounts of water are redirected to the Fara channel.

As a result, fish have started gathering in large pools near Gorizia and Sant'Andrea in Italy, the minority newspaper reported.

The local land reclamation consortium also noted the diminished water flow on Wednesday, and acted accordingly, managing to prevent a massive fish die-off by reducing the flow to all irrigation canals and shutting down all irrigation devices.

The situation is also being closely monitored by the regional fisheries institute in Friuli Venezia Giulia. It has also ensured that fish from the driest parts of the Soča river were transferred to safety, Primorski Dnevnik noted.

The Slovenian newspaper Primorske Novice also reported that the flow on the part of the Soča waterbed between Savogna and Sagrado, south-west of Gorizia had completely stopped in what is an exceptionally rare occurrence.

The 5-kilometre strip now only has pools of waters where fish are seeking refuge, and a similar situation has developed at the confluence of the Soča and Vipava rivers, the newspaper notes.

The average flow of the Soča in the first half of the year was 39 cubic metres per second, half the usual.

The power utility Holding Slovenske Elektrarne (HSE) said that SENG had realised only 54% of the planned output for the first half of the year, and that the situation was similar when it comes to the power plants on the Drava and Sava rivers.

Compared to the five-year average, electricity production is down by 31% on the Drava, by 45% on the Soča, and by 39% on the lower section of the Sava.

HSE is well-equipped to deal with dry spells, the company told the STA, adding that the plan was to deal with energy shortages by acquiring electricity on foreign markets and restructuring production in their hydropower plants.

However, due to the instability of the energy market, the drought has had a negative impact on HSE's operations.

28 Jul 2022, 10:38 AM

STA, 27 July 2022 - Foreign Minister Tanja Fajon travelled to Kyiv on Wednesday, meeting with her Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba, Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal, Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitchko and investment office head Sergiy Tsivkach. She promised Slovenia's support in the future, both in facing the consequences of war and efforts to join the EU.

She expressed support and solidarity with Ukraine and also talked about aid provided by Slovenia so far and learnt about Ukraine's aid needs.

"Slovenia remains a friend and supporter of Ukraine and its residents who have shown great courage," Fajon was quoted as saying by the Foreign Ministry on Twitter. She again condemned Russian aggression on Ukraine.

She presented to Kuleba the scope of humanitarian aid provided by Slovenia, which totals EUR 8.8 million, together with contributions donated by NGOs. Since the start of the war, Slovenia's government has contributed EUR 3.2 million. The country has become a refuge for many refugees and has taken in 20 orphans from Luhansk.

Slovenian NGOs have provided EUR 5.5 million in aid to Ukraine and Ukrainian refugees in Slovenia, a press release from the Foreign Ministry said.

"We talked about concrete humanitarian aid projects, such as demining and rehabilitation of the wounded, fields in which Slovenian experts can help," Fajon was quoted in the press release. During her visit, she also signed a memorandum on cyber security with Ukraine.

Prime Minister Shmyhal thanked Slovenia for the humanitarian aid it provided, while Fajon told him Slovenian companies were interested in helping to rebuild Ukraine after the war.

She also met the Kyiv mayor, saying he was very motivated and had great faith in the capital's residents. They talked about the need to end the war and Kyiv getting back to normal life.

The foreign minister also visited Irpin, which suffered heavy attacks from the Russian forces. Alongside Kuleba, she laid a wreath to honour the victims of war in the Donbas region, the ministry also tweeted.

She condemned killings of civilians in the strongest of terms, saying these were violations of humanitarian law and human rights, also underlining that the perpetrators must not go unpunished.

28 Jul 2022, 10:29 AM

STA, 27 July 2022 - The biggest wildfire in Slovenia's history spread across 3,500 hectares over the course of 12 days. Efforts to put it out involved over 12,500 firefighters and 2,500 members of support services, such as civil protection, police and military force, medics, explosives experts and air support crews, among others, an initial report shows.

The Forest Service estimates that the fire destroyed some 2,700 hectares of forest. Roughly half of that was pine forest and the other half was deciduous forest, says an interim report by the Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief, which the government is to discuss tomorrow.

According to the report, more than 12,500 firefighters took part in the firefighting operation between 19 and 26 July, using nearly 3,000 fire engines and other vehicles.

Some 2,500 members of support services also took part, including civil protection units, the police and military forces, emergency medical teams, the Red Cross, the unit for unexploded ordnance, air support crews, rapid response crews, Forest Service staff, Slovenian State Forests teams and volunteers. Exact figures are still being updated.

Due to the large number of firefighters, the military medical unit was also sent to the site. In total, 62 injuries were recorded in the 12 days of firefighting, none of them serious.

International air support was of extraordinary importance, due to risk posed by unexploded ordnance from World War I scattered across the area.

Nine helicopters, five air planes and firefighting units from Austria, Croatia, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia and Serbia helped out based on the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and bilateral agreements. Moreover, help was offered by Sweden in the form of two air planes.

Unexploded ordnance made the effort to put out the blaze even harder and very dangerous, demanding the constant presence of the unexploded ordnance unit. Every day, six to eight members of the unit were present at the site, steering the firefighting and removing the ordnance found.

It is estimated that the fire caused more than 500 detonations. By Tuesday, the unit removed 230 explosive devices weighing a total of 1,300 kilograms.

To get a better overview of the fire, the area was mapped by the Copernicus Emergency Management Service as of 21 July.

Apart from Slovenian president, prime minister, defence minister and other officials, the site was also visited by European Commissioner for Crisis Management Janez Lenarčič and Serbian Interior Minister Aleksander Vulin.

The table below shows information about aid received through the EU Civil Protection Mechanism:

Country      Duration       	      Type          Estimated water
        quantity
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Austria     (20-24 July)     	 1 helicopter             200,000

Croatia (17 July and 20-23 July) 1 helicopter
                                 1 Canadair plane
                                 1 unit of 8 firefighters 400,000

Romania   (23-24 July)           2 Spartan planes
                                 1 Hercules plane          20,000

Slovakia  (21-24 July)           1 helicopter
                                 3 fire vehicles,
                                 8 firefighters,
                                30 soldiers               702,000

Serbia    (22-24 July)           2 helicopters            590,000
-------------------------------------------------------------------
Total                                                   1,912,000

Source: The Administration for Civil Protection and Disaster Relief

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