STA, 27 July 2020 - Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec has defended her conduct after questions were raised about potential ethics breach over her appearance in a wine maker's promotional video and uncertainty over who paid for her family's trip to western Slovenia at the end of June.
Pivec said in a Facebook post on Sunday she had paid for the accommodation for herself and her sons during the 25-26 June visit to Kras region. If necessary, she will show the receipts to the competent institutions.
As for her starring in a promotional video for Vinakras, she said that as minister she had committed to visiting people and companies working in the agri-food chain since she became minister.
"I'll always be proud to wear T-shirts, badges, aprons ... of farms, associations, organisations and companies in my sector," she said, adding that all Slovenians should be proud of domestic food producers.
She said she would continue to "proudly represent our farmers, farms, associations and companies".
The statement comes after Dnevnik reported last week that she had visited Vinakras and starred along with her family in the company's promotional video, wearing a T-shirt with the company's logo.
The minister later explained the first day of the visit had been private and on the second day she was a guest at Vinakras, where she attended several meetings and launched a renovated courtyard in the evening.
POP TV later presented leaked emails showing a vice-president of Pivec's party had arranged the details of both the official and private parts of the visit.
Prime Minister Janez Janša yesterday defended Pivec, saying on Twitter that "It is expected of members of the government of the Republic Slovenia like everywhere else in the normal world that they will promote domestic companies, entrepreneurs and farmers, their products and destinations. The more the better."
The cooperative Vinakras today issued a press statement in which it rejected in the strongest terms the allegations of corruption as unacceptable and ill-willing.
It said the minister's visit had never been planned as the cooperative's promotion but rather for her to inaugurate a refurbished traditional farmyard, and to present the state of agriculture in Kras and the need to link agriculture and tourism.
Vinakras noted that the minister had also met the local mayors and farmers, viewed the farmyards and visited several other spots.
The release said that the video shot during the minister's visit featured several companies, young farmers and sights in the Kras area. "Our desire was in good faith to combine the recordings into a video presentation for remembrance and to present the actual state of agriculture and tourism in Kras."
This summary is provided by the STA:
Five new coronavirus cases reported for Sunday, no fatalities
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia recorded five new cases of coronavirus from 335 tests performed on Sunday, the lowest single-day increase since the end of June. The latest increase brings the total number of confirmed infections since the start of the pandemic to 2,087. Twenty people were in hospital on Sunday, down one on the day before, with the number of those in intensive care likewise dropping by one to three. The death count remains at 116, because two deaths at the Hrastnik care home have not been added to the tally yet.
Pivec defends conduct, says she paid for accommodation
LJUBLJANA - Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec defended her conduct after questions were raised about potential ethics breach over her appearance in a wine maker's promotional video and uncertainty over who paid for her family's trip to western Slovenia at the end of June. Pivec said in a Facebook post she had paid for the accommodation for herself and her sons during the 25-26 June visit to Kras region. If necessary, she will show the receipts to the competent institutions. The wine maker said the minister's visit and the video were not meant to promote the company.
Jaka Brezigar named European prosecutor from Slovenia
BRUSSELS, Belgium - Prosecutor Jaka Brezigar was appointed the Slovenian member of the European Public Prosecutor's Office (EPPO) by the Council of the EU, along with prosecutors of 21 other participating member countries. Brezigar, 41, was one of the three candidates nominated for the position by the Slovenian government last year, along with prosecutors Tanja Frank Eler and Marjana Grašič. The EPPO is to become operational at the end of the year. It will investigate, prosecute and bring to justice crimes against the EU's financial interests.
POP TV poll shows SDS firm even as govt rating slips
LJUBLJANA - The ruling SDS remains firmly in the lead in the polls even as the rating for the Janez Janša government as a whole dropped below 40% for the first time since it took office, shows a poll run by POP TV on Sunday. The SDS gained more than half a point to 17.4%, while the Social Democrats (SD) in second rose by four points to 12.3%, leapfrogging the Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), which shed more than two points to 8.1%. The Left remains in third place at 9.3%, up from 8.9% in the month before.
Incoming ambassadors present credentials
LJUBLJANA - President Borut Pahor received the credentials of newly appointed German Ambassadors Natalie Kauther and Adrian Pollman in what is the first such ambassador rotation duo. Credentials were also presented by Algerian Ambassador Ali Mokrani, the Sultanate of Oman's Ambassador Yousuf Ahmed Hamed Aljabri and the Dominican Republic's Ambassador Lourdes Gisela Antonia Victoria-Kruse.
Ombudsman says failure to wear mask cannot be penalised
LJUBLJANA - The Human Rights Ombudsman assessed that the failure to comply with the government decree on the mandatory use of face masks in public indoor spaces cannot be penalised. The ombudsman's opinion is based on an appeal by a citizen who opposes the rule that was reimposed on 25 June. The ombudsman's office says the issue is that the rule is based on an article of the communicable diseases act that is only a general provision, while fines are foreseen with reference to a separate chapter of the act.
Top court stays renaming Titova Road until referendum
LJUBLJANA - The Constitutional Court stayed implementation of a municipal decree amending the naming of streets, squares and villages in the Radenci municipality until there is a final say on a referendum proposal launched by locals who oppose renaming a road that bears the name of the former Yugoslavia's communist leader Josip Broz Tito. Radenci Mayor Roman Leljak, who initiated renaming Titova Road Slovenian Independence Road, was critical of the decision. He believes the referendum could be held in the spring of 2021.
Retail sales down by a tenth in January-June
LJUBLJANA - Retail sales in Slovenia declined by 9.6% year-on-year from January to June as the coronavirus epidemic shut down most stores for several weeks in spring. The figures for June suggest the sector is slowly picking up. Lower sales were reported across all segments of retail for the six-month period. In June, however, only the motor fuel segment (-17.9%) and the food and drinks segment (-8.4%) saw sales contract.
Pandemic's impact on companies more uneven than 2009 crisis
LJUBLJANA - The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted Slovenian companies much more unevenly than the latest recession in 2009. A survey carried out by the Slovenian Marketing Association and the pollster Valicon shows that 58% of companies have had negative effects, 17% of them have benefited. In the autumn of 2009, 79% of the companies surveyed reported negative effects of the global economic crisis. Back then, positive effects were felt by 6% of the companies surveyed.
Ultra cyclist breaks world record
DOBROVNIK - Slovenian ultra cyclist Marko Baloh has set a new 1,000-km time trial world record with 28 hours, 50 minutes and 14 seconds, bicycle maker Spiegel Bikes reported on its Instagram. The 53-year-old started chasing a number of world records over the weekend. He bagged the major one, the 1,000-km record, whereas Austrian Christoph Strasser remains the person who has ridden the longest distance on a road bike in 24 hours (896.2 km); Baloh managed 865.3 km in a day.
If you're learning Slovenian then you can find all our dual texts here
STA, 27 July - The Human Rights Ombudsman has assessed that the failure to comply with the government decree on the mandatory use of face masks in enclosed public spaces cannot be penalised.
The ombudsman's opinion, issued on Monday, is based on an appeal by a citizen who does not agree with the mandatory use of face masks in closed public spaces being reintroduced on 25 June.
The citizen claims that there is no basis for the measure, because the state of emergency or epidemic has not been declared (again). She assesses the measure as a disproportionate encroachment upon the constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms.
The ombudsman's office said that while individuals had the right to have doubts about the effectiveness of face masks, these evaluations were in the domain of the epidemiologic profession.
This is why the decree also says that the government re-assesses every two weeks whether a specific anti-epidemic measure is still justified.
But the office noted that the decree on the mandatory use of face masks in enclosed public spaces had been adopted based on an article of the infectious diseases act which is only a general provision.
Fines for violations are meanwhile envisaged only for the failure to respect the measures adopted on the basis of a separate chapter of the infectious diseases act, it added.
It is because of this that, in the ombudsman's opinion, an individual who does not wear a face mask in an enclosed public space cannot be fined for committing an offence.
"Although the measure is worded as an obligation, it is an example of the so-called incomplete legal norm, for violations of which no penalties are envisaged," it said, noting that this was supported by a relevant decision of the Constitutional Court.
The office assessed that the government had opted to introduce mandatory wearing of masks without the possibility of penalty because it wanted to point to the duty of individuals to protect their own health and the health of others.
Considering this, the government is apparently aware that forced implementation of such an order would be ineffective or impossible, as the measure relates to all citizens and all enclosed public spaces.
"Possible sporadic penalising of only some of the violators would project an image of arbitrariness," the office concluded.
STA, 27 July 2020 - Slovenian ultra cyclist Marko Baloh has set a new 1,000-km time trial world record with 28 hours, 50 minutes and 14 seconds, bicycle maker Spiegel Bikes reported on its Instagram on Monday. Baloh failed to smash the 24-hour record though.
The 53-year-old started chasing a number of world records in Dobrovnik in north-east Slovenia on Saturday.
He bagged the major one, the 1,000-km record, whereas Austrian Christoph Strasser remains the person who has ridden the longest distance on a road bike in 24 hours (896.2 km); Baloh managed 865.3 km in a day.
Apart from the 1,000-km record, the Slovenian endurance cyclist also beat the 100-km, 200-km and 300-km fastest times.
Since the 2020 cycling season saw no races until late June due to coronavirus, Baloh decided to tackle smashing world records after ten years of putting that on hold for racing.
In 2008, Baloh had already set a world record at an outdoor velodrome and he topped that feat by becoming a record-holder at an indoor cycling track in 2010. That year he also became the first person to have ridden more than 900 km in 24 hours (903.75 km).
Broken Bones (BB), the Ljubljana-based distillery that recently took home the title best gin in Europe have finally released their first whisky. The finally is because BB was started with the aim of making whisky, but the process takes so long that they started working on gin while the first batch was still waiting in the barrel. Now, 3 years later and the name Broken Bones already synonymous with small batch gin (available online, at the distillery the company and a few select bars and restaurants) has achieved it’s first aim – to produce a top-quality whisky in Slovenia.
It’s a Scottish style whisky aged in oak, first in Slovenian barrels, then finished in used bourbon oak barrels from the US. Time and this process transforms Slovenian water, barley, yeast and air Into the rich flavours of a whisky for sipping and slowly enjoying.
Polona, Borut & Boštjan. Photo: JL Flanner
We’ve covered the BB origin story before, but in short the broken bones refer to the accidents that befell the other BB at the distillery – Boštjan Marušič, a computer scientist, and Borut Osojnik, a professor of philosophy – when starting the business. The team is rounded out by the third co-founder, Polona Preskar, responsible for sales and marketing.
The still. Photo: JL Flanner
While gin can be produced in a matter of weeks, whisky takes time, and the colourless 70% alcohol new make needs at least a year in the barrel before it can even legally called whisky. Beyond a year, whisky can be kept as long in the barrel as people are able to resist drinking or selling it.
This whisky is only the start of the story. At the end of the year the second batch will be released, a peated whisky that I sampled. It tasted like an Islay, and is something to look forward to. From then on the plan is to release a new small batch twice a year, expanding production along with the market.
The whisky is a premium product, at €155 a bottle, and not intended for use with shot glasses or Coke. It’s for whisky lovers who enjoy collecting the rare and curious – with this batch available in a limited edition of 66 – and those interested in following the progression and development of BB whisky, with the peated version due in December, and the 4th year batch next summer.
The distillery is not far from the centre of town, and on the bus and train routes. Photo: JL Flanner
The whisky was launched with full social distancing and safety measures. Photo: JL Flanner
STA, 26 July 2020 - One of the Slovenian companies that has benefited from the coronavirus pandemic is Tik Kobarid, a manufacturer of disposable medical devices. Its sales revenue trumped projections by 9% in the first half of the year, which comes on top of continuous growth in recent years.
Tik generated EUR 6.5 million in sales revenue last year, 6% more than the year before and 28% more than five years ago, with exports accounting for 86% of the revenue, shows the company's report for 2019, filed with the AJPES agency for public legal records.
The positive drive continues. "At these 'odd times' we're proud to say our performance in the first half of the year trumped the expectations," the company's CEO Petra Borovinšek said, adding that she expected better-than expected results for the whole year.
Tik Kobarid was founded in 1951 as a manufacturer of sewing machine needles. A few years later, it started making hypodermic needles and by the late 1970s in had begun to expand production to several other disposable medical devices and tools.
The company went through a difficult patch after the breakup of the former Yugoslavia, its traditional market. In late 1997 it was acquired by the Cerkno-based company Certa, now Larix Invest, whose majority ownership has since passed to Postojnska Jama, the company owned by Marjan Batagelj which operates the Postojna Cave and several other tourism assets.
Tik has recently launched a new clean room to expand cleanroom production capacity to more than 40% of the output or a total of 1,500 square meters. Also this month, an additional catheter wetting unit has been launched to wrap up a two-year investment cycle in the urology line valued at EUR 2 million.
The company, which employs 159 people, phased out production of non-medical productions completely by March 2019 to focus solely on disposable medical devices. Its clients are mainly medical equipment distributors from Europe, as well as those from Turkey and the Balkans. Catheters represent 76% of the sales revenue.
STA, 26 July 2020 - The Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a huge blow to the Koper port's passenger terminal, as cruise line operators have been postponing planned voyages. The first cruise ship is due in Koper on 30 August.
The first planned arrival this season is Marella Explorer, the cruise ship operated by Marella Cruises which has a capacity for 1,900 passengers and 900 crew members.
A further 14 passenger ship arrivals are scheduled in Koper until 22 November. However, the port operator Luka Koper says the shipping companies remain cautious. Nor will the ships be fully booked.
Luka Koper had initially planned to open the passenger season in early April with 61 arrivals originally announced by cruise ship operators until the end of the year.
This comes after more than 115,000 passengers arrived in Koper last year on 72 ships, an all-time high.
The port follows a strict nationally-coordinated coronavirus protocol with detailed procedures prescribed for the event of an infectious disease being discovered on a ship.
The incoming ships need to submit their health declaration to the Maritime Administration even before their arrival. If an infection is suspected, the procedure is taken over by an epidemiologist from the National Institute of Public Health who decides whether the ship can enter the port, and gives instructions to everyone involved.
This summary is provided by the STA:
Hrastnik care home major 16 new coronavirus infections, the bulk in Hrastnik care home
LJUBLJANA - Slovenia's daily tally of new coronavirus cases hit 16 for Saturday, including 12 residents and one staff member in the Hrastnik care home, and another person at this east central municipality, which now has the most of the country's 241 active cases. While no new Covid-19-related fatality was reported for Saturday, the care home said one of its residents died of the disease during the night to Sunday in the home and another died at Maribor UKC hospital. This would bring the national Civid-19 death toll to 118. The Hrastnik home had recorded 41 infections among its residents and 11 among staff.
14,000 quarantine orders, EUR 100,000 fines during first Covid-19 wave
LJUBLJANA - Slovenian authorities issued nearly 14,000 quarantine orders during the first wave of coronavirus infections from 12 March to 31 May. The government helped repatriate some 2,300 citizens, while fines imposed for beach of lockdown and quarantine rules exceeded EUR 100,000, shows a report adopted by the government on Thursday for the Sars-CoV-2 epidemic, which formally ended on 31 May. The country's total coronavirus case count stood at 1,473 by then, but has since crossed 2,080.
Janša defends minister over promo video appearance
LJUBLJANA - Prime Minister Janez Janša endorsed Agriculture Minister Aleksandra Pivec's appearance in a promotional video of a private company, which is being looked into by the country's anti-graft watchdog. Janša tweeted it was expected of government members to promote domestic companies. This was after a controversy arose over Pivec making a visit to the Kras region with her family on 25 and 26 June as a guest of the local winemaker Vinakras during which time she appeared in the company's promotional video.
Pandemic boosts demand for Tik Kobarid products
KOBARID - One of the Slovenian companies that has benefited from the coronavirus pandemic is Tik Kobarid, a manufacturer of disposable medical devices. Its sales revenue trumped projections by 9% in the first half of the year. Tik generated EUR 6.5 million in sales revenue last year, 6% more than the year before and 28% more than five years ago, with exports accounting for 86% of the revenue. The company, which employs 159 people, expects good results at the end of 2020 as well.
Beti developing innovative eco-friendly yarn
METLIKA - Beti, a leading European manufacturer of dyed polyamide yarns, is developing an innovative eco dye yarn made of waste plastic bottles in what it hopes will be a major development breakthrough. Maja Čibej, the CEO of the Metlika-based company, says the EUR 10,000 project involves optimised dye process that will reduce consumption of water by almost a third, cut CO2 emissions and save energy. The new yarn, made of fully recycled polyester, is to be launched onto the market next year.
If you're learning Slovenian then you can find all our dual texts here
STA, 26 July 2020 - Slovenian authorities issued nearly 14,000 quarantine orders during the first wave of coronavirus infections from 12 March to 31 May. The government helped repatriate some 2,300 citizens, while fines imposed for beach of lockdown and quarantine rules exceeded EUR 100,000, a government report shows.
The report, adopted by the government on Thursday for the period of the Sars-CoV-2 epidemic, which formally ended on 31 May, shows that health inspectors processed more than 1,500 reported cases of suspected breach of the government-imposed lockdown rules and the health minister-issued orders.
Inspectors conducted more than 4,800 on-site inspections, issuing more than a hundred orders prohibiting the sale of goods and services. They imposed more than 850 fines totalling over EUR 100,000.
The police referred a total of 13,992 quarantine order motions to the National Institute of Public Health (NIJZ), most of them for citizens of Bosnia and Herzegovina (6,439) and Slovenia (4,731). Under the NIJZ's guidance, the civil protection accommodated 50 persons in hotel quarantines.
The police conducted 189,475 checks under the ban on gatherings and movement, acting on 2,534 reported cases and establishing violations in 8,458 cases. They referred 6,957 cases to health inspectors, issued 5,500 warnings and orders, while finding 88 cases of breach of public order and peace law.
However, the police did not ascertain a single instance of criminal offence of transmission of an infectious disease.
During the epidemic, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs helped 800 Slovenian citizens stranded abroad to return home in organised groups, assisting an additional 1,500 to return on their own. The government organised 24 repatriation transports by air and bus.
Between 14 March and 25 May, the police supervised the transport of 66,729 lorries across Slovenia's territory, 24,567 of them headed for Croatia and on to other countries, and a further 42,162 en route toward Hungary and further on.
These were conducted in 35 convoys of 1,428 lorries crossing Slovenia from the border with Italy to the border with Hungary, and 115 convoys numbering a total of 4,891 trucks that crossed Slovenia from Italy to the Croatian border.
According to the national Covid-19 tracking site, Slovenia had recorded 1,473 coronavirus cases by the formal end of the epidemic on 31 May, along with 108 fatalities, with two more deaths added for April later on. By midnight on 25 July, the case count had risen to 2,082, including 116 fatalities.
One of the challenges in the epidemic was securing sufficient number of hospital beds. A field hospital and a mobile medical unit were set up at the Edvard Peperko army barracks on the outskirts of Ljubljana providing a total of 120 beds, including 40 beds for gravelly ill.
From the end of February to the end of May, more than 35 million items of various equipment were dispatched from the national logistics centre in Roje on Ljubljana's outskirts.
The relief effort between 13 march and 30 May involved 205,092 disaster protection, rescue and aid staff or an average of 2,596 a day.
Slovenia also helped other countries, providing an estimated EUR 110,000 worth of personal protective equipment to North Macedonia, EUR 133,000 in material aid to Bosnia and Herzegovina via the EU's civil protection mechanism, and helping Italy's Friuli Venezia Giulia region with 500 protective garments.
As education moved into the virtual realm, schools provided more than 4,000 computers to disadvantaged kids and the Ministry of Education in addition collected more than 1,300 computers and 950 modems with the help of donors.
The Slovenian Red Cross distributed more than 300 tonnes of food products from the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived, as well as aid it had raised itself and with the help of donors. A further 62,421 people benefited from material and psychological and social aid provided by Slovenian Caritas.
STA, 25 July 2020 - Kickstarter will be officially launched in Slovenia in September, as so far users which wanted to present themselves on the US-based global crowdfunding platform had to do it through a company registered abroad.
The platform established in 2009 provides entrepreneurs, artists and organisations the opportunity to present their products, which may be a prototype, and then collect contributions to finance the launch of production.
According to the Slovenia Crowdfunding Meetup community, the Slovenian partner of Kickstarter, more than EUR 4.32 billion has been collected through the platform, and around 185,000 projects have reached the target amount of funding.
Among the projects presented until the end of last year, there were 219 Slovenian projects, with their creators collecting a total of EUR 6.8 million.
In order to present their projects, they needed a company registered in the US or in a country to where Kickstarter later expanded.
In practice, the problem was usually solved by Slovenian authors using a foreign partner, explained Slovenia Crowdfunding Meetup, which has been hosting events and assisting authors who want to present themselves on the platform since 2017.
The main obstacle for the entry of Kickstarter to Slovenia was the Stripe payment system, which has been available in Slovenia since last September.
The most successful Slovenian campaign on the platform so far is the electric bicycle Flykly, which helped its creators collect around US$700,000.
STA, 25 July 2020 - The traditional Russian Chapel commemoration below the Vršič Pass was held on Saturday, with the keynote speaker, National Council president Alojz Kovšca calling for solidarity among nations. He said that a new opportunity was arising for nations to get connected in the efforts to preserve peace and coexistence.
"Let us persist in determination that we have learned a lot of good lessons from history so that we do not repeat past mistakes. Let us join our powers, knowledge and influence so that peace stays and that friendship gets strengthened and upgraded," Kovšca said.
"If not for those who sacrificed their lives, let us have in mind those who come after us. Let these be happy generations who have the privilege to live in reconciliation and friendship and for whom cosmopolitanism is that original drive for preserving peace at any cost."
The small chapel on the mountain road above Kranjska Gora (NW) pays tribute to Slovenian-Russian friendship and this year the idea of the ceremony was to point to solidarity and connectedness between nations during the Covid-19 pandemic.
"If solidarity failed in the last few months where it had been most expected, this time all of us have been given the opportunity to call it back", Kovšca said, labelling the Slovenian-Russian relations as friendly and going beyond a mere political inclination.
"The Russian Federation is an important economic and strategic partner for Slovenia, and we also must not overlook the cultural and artistic connections. We together can be proud of that," he added.
The Russian Chapel was constructed 104 years ago to honour Russian POWs in the First World War who were killed by an avalanche while being forced to build the mountain road above Kranjska Gora in north-western Slovenia.
On the Slovenian side, the main guests of the ceremony which was scaled back due to anti-epidemic measures, were President Borut Pahor, parliamentary Speaker Igor Zorčič and several government ministers.
Pahor said the friendship and cooperation between Slovenia and Russia remained solid and sincere and that Slovenia would always strive for good relations with Russia, "although we have some differing views and we are not allies in the military sense."
"But it seems right to me that we try to cherish traditionally good ties with all nations, including Russians, because there is never enough friendship in the world," the president was quoted by the public Radio Slovenija.
Unlike the previous years, the ceremony organised by the Russian Embassy, the municipality of Kranjska Gora, the Russkiy Mir foundation and the Slovenia-Russia Association did not feature high-profile representatives from Russia.
At the ceremony, the Russian Orthodox Church was represented by Tikhon Zaytsev, the Major Archbishop of the Diocese of Berlin and Germany.
The event, which used to be attended by thousands of people in past years, was preceded by a church mass in Kranjska Gora on Friday, and is followed by a meeting of members of the Slovenia-Russia Association.