News

12 Sep 2019, 01:19 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.

A schedule of all the main events involving Slovenia this week can be found here

This summary is provided by the STA:

Pahor urged to resign over Turkey, Ukraine EU membership statement

LJUBLJANA - A group of 28 Slovenian scholars urged President Borut Pahor to resign or be impeached by parliament over his recent statement suggesting that Turkey and Ukraine should not count on full-fledged EU membership. At the Bled Strategic Forum last week, Pahor made "an inappropriate, unreasonable and xenophobic statement, a statement that is extremely harmful for Slovenia politically and diplomatically", the group said. Responding to the appeal, Pahor's office said the stance on a special status of Turkey and Ukraine within the EU had been known at home and abroad for several years. But Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said that Slovenia supported Turkey's accession to the EU.

Cerar says Russia visit not to affect relations with US

MOSCOW, Russia - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar does not believe PM Marjan Šarec's official visit to Russia could worsen Slovenia's relations with allies, either the US or the EU. The visit is very important, especially from the economic aspect, Cerar told the STA on the margins of the prime minister's first visit to Moscow. The visit is a follow-up to the story which began at July's session of the Slovenia-Russia commission, which plans joint business projects, said Cerar. "We can see these projects already bringing concrete results," the foreign minister said.

Petrol signs multimillion deal at Slovenian-Russian business meeting

MOSCOW, Russia - The energy company Petrol signed cooperation contracts with Russia's T Plus Grupa and Schneider Electric at a bilateral business meeting held in Moscow on Tuesday as part of Prime Minister Marjan Šarec's visit to the country. Petrol will cooperate with the two Russian companies in energy efficiency, said Petrol CEO Tomaž Berločnik, adding the projects would focus on optimisation of district heating. The project with T Plus Grupa will be carried out in Izhevsk, and the other in Yekaterinburg, where Petrol will set up specialised software.

Committee okays national security strategy resolution

LJUBLJANA - The parliamentary Defence Committee green-lighted the national security strategy resolution for a plenary discussion. Passing an amendment of the opposition Democrats (SDS), the committee threw out a provision granting additional powers to the SOVA intelligence service. Defence Minister Karl Erjavec said the resolution addressed very different sources of risks, including cyber and hybrid risks. Meanwhile, the Left criticised the document for failing to address threats such as climate change, poverty and inequality.

SDS urges including digital into Slovenia EU presidency priorities

CELJE - The opposition Democratic Party (SDS) unveiled a draft resolution on Slovenia's digital transformation at the International Trade Fair in Celje, urging the government to include digitalisation among the priorities of Slovenia's EU presidency in 2021. SDS leader Janez Janša said the presidency priorities set out by the government were overly generalised. He regretted that Slovenia missed the opportunity to get the digital age portfolio in the next EU Commission, saying the crisis management portfolio assigned to Janez Lenarčič was one of the hardest because it involves dealing with migration.

Talks start on public sector pay system reform

LJUBLJANA - The government and public sector trade unions launched a fresh round of talks aimed at reforming the public sector pay system toward a more performance-based remuneration system. One of the government's proposals is that employees could get up to 30% higher pay based on performance, while slowing down their promotion to higher pay brackets. The unions would only accept that if extra funds were secured for performance bonuses, rather than come from the money now used for pay bracket promotions.

Slovenia seeks to boost trade with Montenegro

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia and Montenegro explored ways to boost bilateral trade and investment at business forum held as part of a visit by Montenegrin Economy Minister Dragica Sekulić. The meeting, hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) in cooperation with the Montenegro's Chamber of Commerce, was attended by more than 120 business officials. The biggest potential was identified in energy and tourism. A business meeting held at the Celje fair yesterday heard that Montenegro's appeal for Slovenian investors was mainly that there is a level playing field for foreign and domestic investors.

Terme Maribor deep in the red again

MARIBOR - The Terme Maribor spa, until recently the biggest provider of accommodation in Maribor, posted a loss of EUR 5.2 million at the end of 2018. The Russian-owned company generated EUR 9.2 million in sales revenue, which is down almost two-thirds from 2017, the only year it was in the black since the sale to a Gazprom-owned company. According to CEO Tatjana Karpovitš, the company was affected by poor weather conditions, the cancellation of the annual Golden Fox skiing competition, and fewer international events hosted by Maribor.

Tam Europe ends 2018 with loss

MARIBOR - Tam Europe, a Maribor-seated bus manufacturer in Chinese ownership, finished 2018 with a loss of over EUR 3 million, double that in 2017. Sales revenue reached EUR 9 million, almost EUR 6 million less than the previous year. Since Tam Europe's launch in 2013, this was the toughest year as the company was forced to cut production for a longer period of time due to a lack of working capital and suspend it several times, according to the company's annual report.

Experts on close to nature forestry gather in Slovenia

LJUBLJANA - The world's leading experts on close to nature forestry gathered in Radlje ob Dravi for a four-day conference that marks the anniversary of Pro Silva, the umbrella organisation promoting sustainable forestry practices that was established at the initiative of a Slovenian forestry researcher 30 years ago. The four-day conference features 120 participants from 30 countries discussing forestry's challenges against the backdrop of climate change, technological progress and social transformation.

Eurostat projects a 13% population drop in Slovenia by 2100

LJUBLJANA - The EU's statistics office Eurostat projects that Slovenia's population will drop by 13% TO below 1.8 million in 2100. Slovenia's fertility rate is expected to gradually increase in the future, to stand in 2100 at 1.77, compared to today's rate of 1.61, and life expectancy at birth is expected to increase, standing at 89 for boys and at 93 for girls born in Slovenia in 2100. Nevertheless, almost a third of the population in Slovenia is projected to be aged 65 or older at the end of the century.

Visiting Ljubljana? Check out what's on this week, while all our stories on Slovenia, from newest to oldest, are here

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

11 Sep 2019, 19:23 PM

September 11, 2019

Festival Maribor launched yesterday and continues tomorrow, Thursday, with the Vegetable Orchestra concert, following the vegetable instruments workshop for kids and adults that took place today.

The festival of chamber and orchestral music gradually evolved over the last half a century from a baroque music festival into an event that features a broad range of classical and post-modern music and organisational styles.

In the week that follows participants can attend various concerts, workshops and shows at venues around Slovenia's second biggest city, Maribor.

For the event line-up, tickets and other details, please visit the festival’s website.

The festival will conclude with the No Borders Orchestra concert on September 19.

11 Sep 2019, 16:18 PM

STA, 11 September 2019 - A group of 28 Slovenian scholars has urged President Borut Pahor to resign for his recent statement suggesting that Turkey and Ukraine should not count on full-fledged EU membership. Should he fail to do so, parliament should impeach him.

At the Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) last week, Pahor made "an inappropriate, unreasonable and xenophobic statement, a statement that is extremely harmful for Slovenia politically and diplomatically", the group writes in the open letter.

By making such statements, Pahor contributes to Slovenia's foreign policy's credibility being further undermined, says the group, featuring Slavko Splichal, Boris Vezjak, Svetlana Slapšak, Niko Toš, Maca Jogan, Vlado Miheljak and Rudi Rizman.

"I would make a difference between Western Balkans on one side and Turkey and Ukraine on the other side. I would go with a special status as far as Turkey and Ukraine are concerned and full membership as far as countries in Western Balkans are concerned," Pahor told the BSF.

Responding to the appeal, Pahor's office said the stance on a special status of Turkey and Ukraine within the EU had been known at home and abroad for several years.

During Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's 2015 visit to Slovenia, Pahor said that "given how slow the negotiating process is, it would also be worth thinking about a sui generis status. But as long as EU law does not envisage such a status, Slovenia will advocate Turkey's EU membership," the office said.

It explained that such a stance is an attempt to find a solution to the slow pace, unclarity and absorption incapacity on the part of the EU in the enlargement process, particularly in relation to large countries.

Pahor has excellent relations with Turkish and Ukrainian leaders exactly because he is politically in favour of the two countries, which has however sometimes earned him even criticism in Slovenia, according to his office.

The intellectuals, however, believe such views could also be a reason why Slovenia has not been assigned the enlargement portfolio in the new European Commission.

Pahor's statement does not only deny his previously expressed support for Turkey's EU prospects, it also considerably exceeds "his presidential powers", the says.

He has once again proved to be a completely untrustworthy politician who cannot enjoy the trust of Slovenian citizens or European and international partners.

The group also believes that every European country meeting EU membership criteria deserves to join the EU.

It notes that closing the EU door encourages a rise in authoritarianism in the countries which lose the prospect of joining the bloc.

Pahor is also accused of bypassing the declaration and strategy on Slovenia's foreign policy, which were passed in parliament and which Slovenia's political representatives are bound to respect.

He is moreover accused of neglecting the document on Slovenia-Turkey strategic partnership which he signed with Turkish President Erdogan in 2011.

"As many times before, Pahor showed that instead of serving ... in a responsible, respectful and dignified way, he opted for populism modelled on Trump, Johnson or Salvini."

By making this statement, Pahor not only degraded the office of the president yet again but directly jeopardised the security and welfare of Slovenia and its citizens.

"This is the reason for which he should irrevocably resign as president of the republic.

"If his sense of responsibility lets him down again, the National Assembly must launch a constitutional impeachment against him, because in doing his job, he overstepped his powers from Article 107 of the Slovenian Constitution," the letter says.

Pahor's office also said that at the BSF, the Turkish foreign minister told Pahor that Erdogan would wish to visit Slovenia soon.

At a recent brief meeting in Warsaw, Pahor and new Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky also agreed to meet soon.

"So it is possible that both Erdogan and Zelensky will pay official visits to Slovenia at the end of this year or at the beginning of 2020," the office announced.

11 Sep 2019, 13:19 PM

STA, 11 September 2019 - The energy company Petrol signed cooperation contracts with Russia's T Plus Grupa and Schneider Electric at a Slovenian-Russian business meeting held in Moscow on Tuesday as part of Prime Minister Marjan Šarec's visit to the country.

Petrol will cooperate with the two Russian companies in energy efficiency. According to Petrol CEO Tomaž Berločnik, the projects will focus on optimisation of district heating.

The project with T Plus Grupa will be carried out in Izhevsk, and the other in Yekaterinburg, where Petrol will set up specialised software and provide IT support.

"Thus we will reduce energy use and optimise operative costs," Berločnik explained. According to him, the two projects are worth "a few million euro" and potentially tens of million in the future.

The business meeting, hosted by Šarec, Economy Minister Zdravko Počivalšek, Foreign Minister Miro Cerar, Labour Minister Ksenija Klampfer and Russian Digital Development Minister Konstantin Noskov, featured nine other Slovenian companies that already operate on the Russian market.

In his address, Šarec highlighted the two biggest Slovenian investors in Russia, the pharma company Krka and ICT company Iskratel.

According to Krka CEO Jože Colarič, Krka's sales in Russia will reach almost EUR 300 million this year, which is about 40% of Slovenia's total exports to the country.

Also represented at the meeting were the telecoms equipment maker Comita, air dome maker Duol, sports equipment manufacturer Elan Inventa, gas wholesaler Geoplin, industrial group Kolektor, engineering company Riko and steel group SIJ.

Šarec said that despite the EU's sanctions against Russia over the Ukrainian crisis Slovenia as en export-oriented economy was very much interested in the strengthening of economic cooperation with Russia.

He said there were many opportunities to enhance ties in high-tech and called for a joint foray into third markets.

Počivalšek echoed this call and pointed to potential for cooperation in energy, pharmaceuticals, automation and tourism, especially spas.

The economy minister noted that in 2018, bilateral trade in goods reached EUR 1.16 billion, of which EUR 790 million was Slovenia's exports and EUR 370 million imports.

In the first six months of this year, Slovenia's exports to Russia almost reached EUR 750 million. The exports are slowly approaching the 2013 level and the one billion euro milestone, Počivalšek assessed.

Currently, 38 Slovenian companies are present in Russia with total direct investments of EUR 357 million, which is 5% of Slovenia's total external investment, the minister said.

In turn, Russian companies mostly invest in the financial, metal and spa industries in Slovenia. Russian indirect investments in Slovenia top EUR 538 million.

Počivalšek called on Russian companies to increase their investment in Slovenia and take part in the final phase of privatisation of some 110 companies.

"We are striving to create a competitive environment for domestic and foreign investors and want to be green, creative and smart," the minister said.

Talking to the STA on the sidelines of the event, he rejected criticism that the strengthening of relations with Russia could have a negative impact on Slovenia's relations with its other alleys.

"Slovenia is an export-oriented economy. Out of last year's GDP, which reached EUR 46 billion, exports totalled 39 billion, which is 85%. And 80% of the exports was generated in EU markets. We're not neglecting any markets. And the Russian market is important to us," he stressed.

Slovenia's top market is the EU, the Western Balkans comes second, and China has already overtaken Russia, which is thus our fourth most important market, he added.

Cerar and Noskov, who head the intergovernmental economy commission, also addressed the participants of the business forum. Cerar stressed the importance of the "friendly atmosphere" between Slovenian and Russia, and Noskov assessed that the future of the bilateral economic relations was bright.

11 Sep 2019, 12:10 PM

STA, 10 September 2019 - Economic relations topped the agenda as Prime Minister Marjan Šarec paid an official visit to Moscow on Tuesday. Ways to increase trade were discussed and investments were also broached, including the politically sensitive expansion of the Krško nuclear power station, a project of interest to Russian investors.

 Šarec and Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev came out of talks calling for a strengthening of cooperation, noting that bilateral trade could increase despite ongoing EU sanctions against Russia.

Merchandise trade rose by nine percent last year and similar results are expected this year, Medvedev said. Both prime ministers said that it should be diversified

Both said investments should be strengthened as well, with Šarec noting that Russia is Slovenia's fifth largest destination for outward foreign investments, the goal being that it climb even higher.

Šarec was told Russian investors are interested in rail projects in Slovenia and the planned construction of a second unit at the Krško nuclear power station.

"The Russians are interested in participating. Russia is already building a nuclear power station in Hungary. I told them that we have a long procedure ahead with regard to the second unit at the nuclear power station, a process that may take as much as ten years," the prime minister told Slovenian reporters.

Šarec refused to say at whose initiative nuclear energy was broached, and when quizzed how it might affect Slovenia's relations with the US if Russia was to build unit two at Krško, he said: "Slovenia is neither pro-American nor pro-Russian, Slovenia is pro-European and pro-Slovenian."

Another major issue on the agenda was Slovenian retailer Mercator and its parent company Agrokor. The healthy assets of Agrokor are in the process of being transferred onto a new entity, Fortenova, and the Russian bank Sberbanka is among the largest creditors.

Medvedev suggested Slovenia should help in the restructuring of Agrokor, saying that "it would be good if we agree how to proceed."

Šarec said Slovenia would not oppose Mercator being transferred to Fortenova "under the condition that Slovenian suppliers remain within the system".

The government "can play its role within the bounds of the legislation and its jurisdiction... All the conditions must be fulfilled, bearing in mind that we are part of the European legal order. The Slovenian government will not oppose what is in line with the law."

While both Šarec and Medvedev acknowledged that economic cooperation was hampered by the sanctions introduced by the EU after Russia annexed the Crimea, both voiced the conviction that they would not significantly impact bilateral economic ties.

Šarec also said Slovenia and Russia did not see eye-to-eye on such issues, but stressed that dialogue needed to be preserved.

In a press release circulated after the meeting with Medvedev, Šarec's office emphasised that the two countries had diverse relations across a range of fields.

It said the prime ministers had discussed topical foreign policy issues and events in the international community, with Šarec stressing that Slovenia supported Ukraine's territorial integrity and the Minsk agreements.

He called for dialogue between all those involved and welcomed the recent prisoner exchange between Russia and Ukraine, stressing that it was necessary to build on the creation of trust.

"The prime ministers also touched on the situation in Western Balkans and the Middle Eastern region, focusing in particular on Syria. They exchanged views on the state of the Middle East peace process and the implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal," Šarec's office said.

As part of the visit, a monument to Slovenian soldiers who perished on Russian soil in both world wars was unveiled at Moscow's Victory Park, in a gesture seen as having great symbolic importance.

Both Šarec and Medvedev stressed the importance of history and the preservation of memory of Russian and Slovenian soldiers in their respective countries.

11 Sep 2019, 09:45 AM

STA, 10 September - Janez Lenarčič, the Slovenian EU commissioner-designate, has been assigned the portfolio of crisis management in the next European Commission, as President-elect Ursula von der Leyen announced the distribution of posts. First political reactions indicate the majority perceive the portfolio as lightweight.

As Von der Leyen announced, the job assigned to Lenarčič would correspond to the portfolio of humanitarian aid and crisis management in the outgoing commission, which has been the responsibility of the Cypriot Hristos Stilianides.

Lenarčič, so far Slovenia's ambassador to the EU, said that crisis management was a significant but demanding field of the EU's work, involving the saving of lives and helping people in need.

The department he will head is in charge of European civil protection and humanitarian aid, as part of which Lenarčič will have the role of the European coordinator for rapid response. He will be supported by the directorate general for European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO).

"The number of people in need of help keeps increasing world-wide due to the consequences of ever more dramatic climate change and violent conflicts," Lenarčič said, adding that growing humanitarian needs should be matched by proper and effectively applied funding.

He believes that the portfolio he was entrusted with addresses a vital part of the EU's response to topical global challenges, which call for sustainable, coordinated and innovative action by the EU and member countries.

Lenarčič understands the portfolio assignment as an acknowledgement of Slovenia's "strong tradition in providing humanitarian aid and civil protection".

But first political reactions indicate the majority perceive the portfolio as lightweight compared to other departments in the new Commission, even as they acknowledge that this is an important area for the EU.

The coalition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and Social Democrats (SD) were the only parties to label the portfolio as an important department. Other parties, even in the ranks of the coalition, were more critical.

Analysts provided a range of views about the relative importance of the department, with one saying this was not a department with political weight, and other that "Slovenia's role in Brussels is small" due to a lack of strategic policy.

Among the eight Slovenian MEPs, the news invited mixed reactions, with some members of the EPP finding the portfolio not to be one of the key ones, as it was one of the last to be announced by the Commission president-elect.

The four MEPs from the ranks of the coalition Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ) and Social Democrats (SD) welcomed the pick as a serious and demanding portfolio, saying that crisis management was an exceptionally important field.

Some MEPs from the EPP meanwhile said that the portfolio does not bring value added, and that it was obviously not a key one, while others believe that it is an exceptional opportunity for Slovenia, a demanding job involving a lot of responsibility.

Pm Marjan Šarec said the portfolio was good. "Crisis management includes humanitarian aid, civil protection - helping people in accidents and during crises. Slovenia is famous for having a good relief and protection system," he said.

"It reacts very well in crises that hit the population and others learn from us. I am confident the Slovenian commissioner will be able to contribute a lot in this field," Šarec added in a statement while visiting Russia.

Defence Minister Karl Erjavec, whose department covers civil protection and disaster relief, similarly said the Lenarčič portfolio was "important for Slovenia and the EU".

The commissioners-designate will undergo hearings before the European Parliamentary committees between 30 September and 8 October, after which the plenary is to take a vote on the line-up as a whole at a session running between 21 and 24 October.

Lenarčič said he would use his time over the next few weeks to prepare thoroughly for the hearing.

Five years ago, Slovenia's original commissioner nominee Alenka Bratušek failed to pass the committee hearing, so she withdrew her bid. The government then nominated Violeta Bulc, who went on to become transport commissioner.

11 Sep 2019, 01:14 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.

A schedule of all the main events involving Slovenia this week can be found here

This summary is provided by the STA:

Slovenia's EU commissioner-designate given crisis management portfolio

BRUSSELS, Belgium - Janez Lenarčič, the Slovenian EU commissioner-designate, was assigned the portfolio of crisis management in the next European Commission, as President-elect Ursula von der Leyen announced the distribution of posts. The job assigned to Lenarčič would correspond to the portfolio of humanitarian aid and crisis management in the outgoing commission. Crisis management is a significant but demanding field of the EU's work, involving the saving of lives and helping people in need, Lenarčič, so far Slovenia's ambassador to the EU, said in his first reaction. First political reactions indicate the majority perceive the portfolio as lightweight.

Russia expects Slovenia to help Agrokor restructuring

MOSCOW, Russia - Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev suggested Slovenia should help in the restructuring of Croatian conglomerate Agrokor and its Slovenian subsidiary, the retailer Mercator. "It would be good if we agree how to proceed," Medvedev said at the outset of talks with Slovenian Prime Minister Marjan Šarec. In a brief statement, Medvedev lauded the fact that Šarec had arrived with a business delegation and emphasised that bilateral economic relations were good, with many joint projects under way. However, he said the relations were strained by the Agrokor situation. He said he had talked to Croatian leadership but indicated he was not satisfied with the results, and stressed that the Russian owners of Agrokor, were providing for the stability of Agrokor's operations.

Bill on recourse over bank bail-in passes second reading

LJUBLJANA - A government-sponsored bill designed to provide legal recourse for holders of subordinated bank liabilities who were wiped out in the 2013 bank bailout was endorsed on second reading at the National Assembly, albeit with many amendments and the prospect of additional changes at the plenary. The Finance Committee completed the second reading after a two-month recess, having in June started the session dedicated to the belated bill, which should have been adopted by May 2017 under a Constitutional Court decision that held that subordinated creditors and shareholders did not have sufficient access to recourse under existing legislation.

Slovenia's employment prospects among strongest in the region

LJUBLJANA - The employment prospects in Slovenia in the final quarter of the year remain favourable, according to the latest employment forecast by temping agency Manpower. Seasonally-adjusted net employment forecast stands at 17%, which is one of the most optimistic forecasts in the region. The employment prospect for the final quarter is two percentage points lower in quarterly comparison and remains level year-on-year. The upbeat hiring prospects are a result of the strongest demand for labour in mining and quarrying, and the public sector and social services since the survey started nine years ago. They stand at +20% and +19%, respectively.

Industrial output rises again

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's industrial production rose again in July after it fell by over 1.5% in June. It increased by 5.1% year on year and by 2.7% over June, the Statistics Office said. The more robust industrial output was a result of strong performance in manufacturing, which grew by 3.5% in July over June. Meanwhile, the sectors of mining and of electricity, gas and steam supply dropped by 10.3% and 4% at the monthly level, respectively. Industrial revenue grew as well, rising by 3% on the previous month and by 2.7% over July 2018.

Slovenia still below OECD average in spending on education

LJUBLJANA - Education at a Glance 2019, a report by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), shows that Slovenia earmarked in 2016 the same share of its gross domestic product (GDP) for education as in the year before, 4.3%, which is below the OECD average. According to the report, which contains data for between 2005 and 2016, Slovenia is near the top when it comes to the share of persons aged between 25 and 34 who are included in education. A majority of Slovenian secondary school graduates enter university, but 12% of them drop out after the first year, which is a higher share than on average in the OECD. An additional 12% of university students drop out at a later stage.

Celje trade fair presenting 1,500 exhibitors

CELJE - The 52nd International Trade Fair (MOS) opened, hosting more than 1,500 exhibitors from over 30 countries and almost all continents until Sunday. The partner country this year is Montenegro. The main fields presented are home construction, camping and caravanning, tourism and food, equipment and material for crafts and industry, business services and consumer goods.

Slovenia still above EU suicide rate despite fewer cases

LJUBLJANA - Slovenia is marking today's World Suicide Prevention Day under the slogan Preventing Suicide Together for the second consecutive year. The country recorded a drop in the number of deaths by suicide in the past few years. However, its suicide rate is still above the EU average. The campaign raises awareness about the importance of early prevention and support. According to data by the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), Slovenia's suicide rate has decreased by as much as 30%, with the downward trend being present in all age groups.

Artist Tanja Pak presented at the Venice Glass Week Hub

VENICE, Italy - Slovenian designer and artist Tanja Pak is presenting her latest works at the main exhibition of the Venice Glass Week Hub until Sunday. Her installation dubbed Between focuses on the search for intimacy and explores the sensitivity of relationships. Pak was invited to take part in the Glass Week, featuring 107 international exhibitions and more than 100 accompanying events in Venice and the Murano island, by curator Rosa Barovier Mentasti.

Slovenia beat Israel for third Euro qualifier win in a row

LJUBLJANA - The Slovenian national football team scored a third win in a row in the qualifiers for the 2020 Euro by defeating Israel at home on Monday 3:2 to advance to second place in Group G behind the leading Poland. After beating Latvia on the road in June and defeating Poland in Stožice Stadium on Friday 2:0, Slovenia followed it up with a come-from-behind win against Israel to leapfrog Austria in the standings. Slovenia will have a one-month break before the qualifiers continue on 10 October against North Macedonia and against Austria on 13 October.

Maribor Festival wiping out boundaries, overcoming divisions

MARIBOR - The Maribor Festival of classical music, featuring eight concert nights until 19 September, kicked off with a performance by the Austro-Hungarian Haydn Orchestra led by German-French cellist and conductor Nicolas Altstaedt. According to the organisers, the Narodni Dom Maribor arts centre, the festival in Slovenia's second largest city will be about wiping out boundaries, getting out of the box, overcoming divisions and bringing together the virtually incompatible.

Visiting Ljubljana? Check out what's on this week, while all our stories on Slovenia, from newest to oldest, are here

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

10 Sep 2019, 18:54 PM

STA, 10 September 2019 - Ormož police have caught a man from Ljubljana transporting in his van as many as 40 foreigners who had illegally crossed the border. One person had to be hospitalised, while the 35-year-old driver was brought before an investigating judge, who ordered that he be placed in custody.

 Next to the 40 foreigners caught in the van, police found another six, who could not fit in the van, in a near-by forest.

Among the foreigners apprehended 40 were the citizens of Pakistan, five of Afghanistan and one of India, the Maribor Police Department said in a press release.

One of the foreigners had to be admitted to a hospital because his health condition suddenly deteriorated, while the rest have already been returned to Croatian police.

The 35-year-old driver from Ljubljana remains in custody in Ptuj.

10 Sep 2019, 15:09 PM

The Municipality of Trbovlje was caught off guard last week when its proud online announcement of a renovated school playground was met with public criticism as one of the floor games resembled the world's most notorious political symbol. 

The municipality spent about €95,000 to renovate the dilapidated elementary school yard and outdoor sport areas over the summer, and was looking forward to the first day of school when the project would be finally tested by its users.  

However, the announcement of the official playground opening on the first day of school, accompanied by video footage of the newly designed schoolyard, which the city government of Trbovlje put on Facebook, was met with criticism as many netizens noted the inappropriate shape of the board game “Frustration” (človek ne jezi se) which was painted on the floor.

The municipality took the video off its Facebook page, and promised it would add some paint to solve the issue of a swastika in the schoolyard.

A number of companies already know the potential trouble the shape of the game presents, and avoid this trouble by detaching the “home” square from the ends of the cross when inserting the game into a playground.

frustration1.jpg
Photo: screenshot of a YouTube video  
 

In some of the catalogues, however, the game remains offered in its more problematic configuration.

frustration2.jpg
Screenshot of a game catalogue
 
 
10 Sep 2019, 13:30 PM

STA, 10 September 2019 - The employment prospects in Slovenia in the final quarter of the year remain favourable, according to the latest employment forecast by temping agency Manpower. Seasonally-adjusted net employment forecast stands at 17%, which is one of the most optimistic forecasts in the region.

"Compared to the previous quarter, the employment prospect is slightly down - for two percentage points - but compared to the same period last year, the forecast remains level," sales manager at Manpower Gašper Kleč told the STA.

The employment prospect for the final quarter is two percentage points lower in quarterly comparison and remains level year-on-year.

The upbeat hiring prospects are a result of the strongest demand for labour in mining and quarrying, and the public sector and social services since the survey started nine years ago. They stand at +20% and +19%, respectively.

Among all ten industries included in the survey, the most notable hiring is expected in manufacturing (+22%) and construction (+21%).

The lowest chances of employment are expected in agriculture, forestry and fishing and the hospitality sector (at +13% each).

Geographically speaking, the strongest demand for workers is expected in the north-western region (+18%). "This is the second consecutive quarter with the employment forecast there since the survey started in 2011," Kleč said.

The hiring prospects are the strongest in middle-sized companies (+27%), while those for small companies are the highest on record (+21%).

But a gap between the demands of employers and expectations of job seekers remain. "This gap is usually created by the deviation from the desired skills or desired pay but also by the demographic changes," said regional head of Manpower Slovenija Aleksandar Hangimana.

The Manpower survey was conducted among 59,000 employers in 44 countries, 43 of whom report a positive hiring outlook for the fourth quarter.

Slovenia's employment prospects are preceded only by Greece's in this region, while globally, Japan, Taiwan, the US and India have the best net employment outlook. Spain, the Czech Republic, Argentina, Costa Rica and Switzerland are at the bottom of the list.

All our stories on employment in Slovenia are here

10 Sep 2019, 12:33 PM

STA, 9 September 2019 - Pharmaceutical company Lek inaugurated new development laboratories in Ljubljana on Monday in an investment valued at EUR 7.5 million. Among other drugs, they plan to develop sterile solid dosage forms to treat cancer patients.

Matjaž Tršek, the director of Lek's development centre, said that work on oncology medications had been somewhat limited, while the new investment would allow them to develop the whole portfolio of these medications.

As part of the centre's expansion "existing capacities for development of solid dosage pharmaceutical forms have been expanded, including with new analysis laboratories and expansion of in vitro/in vivo correlation study laboratories," said Luka Peternel, the head of pharmaceutical development at the centre.

Tršek added that "certain new technologies have been brought ... The number of staff has increased and there has been a substantial increase in funds for research". The number of employees at the development centre has increased by about 20% since 2015 to more than 330.

According to him, the centre will also get the first fully automated analysis laboratory. "It'll be the first such laboratory in Sandoz and even Novartis," he said, referring to Lek's parent company and division. The new lab is to be completed by the end of the year.

With the launch of the new labs, Lek is wrapping up a cycle of investment in new capacities, which enhances the Ljubljana development centre's position within the global development network: "We are the largest development centre within Sandoz even now, and this only enhances our position," said Tršek.

According to Lek, the Slovenia development centre is Sandoz's leading centre for the development of technologically advanced products for key markets of Europe, United States, Canada, Japan and emerging markets of Brazil, Russia, Mexico and China.

The Slovenia development centre, responsible for a quarter of all global development projects of Sandoz, Novartis's generic arm, has developed and launched more than 100 new products over the past four years.

The investment launch today comes after Lek decided to discontinue its EUR 150 million investment in expanding antibiotics production at its Prevalje location in the north of the country.

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